Let me begin by saying thank you to all of you who provided your insights on my first installment of this post this past weekend; it's definitely nice to have a good reception and a lot of feedback. With that in mind, I may need to come up with a better name for this column, so if any of you have any ideas, feel free to throw them out there (for those of you who are new to this space, my intention is to highlight one player at each position to consider on the Barn Door for the next gameweek. The majority of these players will not be the more popular choices such as DDG, Vermaelen, Bale, and Aguero). With that said, let's look ahead to Game Week 18.
Keiren Westwood - Sunderland will have had the opportunity to settle into the Martin O'Neill era a bit by the time their home match against Everton rolls around in Week 18. Westwood has been playing above the level we're used to from stand-in keepers, and may even keep Mignolet out of the side when he is fit again. Anyone who remembers O'Neill's time at Aston Villa will remember that his sides don't tend to give away too many goals, and a visit from an Everton side desperate for Landon Donovan's arrival in January seems the perfect recipe for a clean sheet.
Ryan Shotton - His emergence in the Stoke starting lineup in the past few weeks has been refreshing, as the youngster represents a more well-rounded option than either Rory Delap or Jermaine Pennant. While he may not be up to their level with regard to their signature skills, Shotton does possess a great long throw and enough pace and trickery to represent some real value in a side that depends on tall, powerful strikers to score. If he continues to play in midfield, he is almost a must for a home match against struggling Aston Villa.
Nathan Dyer - Swansea seem to be bipolar when it comes to home and away matches this season, performing heroics at Liberty Stadium and failing as miserably as Derby County on the road. The diminutive midfielder has gone off the boil a bit of late, but look for him to be heavily involved in the creative play against QPR. His poor run of form has seen his price drop below 7, but during his best stretch this season he was averaging more than 10 points per game.
Andy Carroll - I know some of you will question the credibility of this article (or even my sanity) after reading that name, but with Suarez's suspension looming, Carroll will be desperate to prove his worth to Liverpool and put a run of starts together. His height will come in handy on defensive set pieces against Chris Samba when Blackburn visit Anfield, and I expect him to cause a few problems for a defense that will struggle without Scott Dann or Ryan Nelsen. If it goes well, you heard it here first. If not, at least I didn't recommend Fernando Torres?
So there you have it: my top picks for Game Week 18. Please feel free to provide your own player picks for Week 18, and know that I will be tracking their performances and monitoring my picks to see how I do. Look for the results from my Week 17 picks in my next post. I promise I'll be a little further from the deadline next time as well. Good luck to you all, and may you Never Manage Alone!