Welcome back...just in time to play United. Merry Christmas? - Shaun Botterill
The latest team news from the Premier League and how it impacts your fantasy EPL selections for Match Week 18.
Here's the rundown of all the team news if you'd like the source material. Here are the highlights relevant to fantasy managers and what they mean for you:
Wigan vs. Arsenal - As suspected, Wigan continue to be decimated while Arsenal are relatively healthy (it's a Christmas Miracle). I'm still not bought in on Arsenal long term but for this weekend the signs look good for the attackers.
Manchester City vs. Reading - The absences of Mario Balotelli, Samir Nasri and Aleksander Kolarov are good news for fantasy managers as it greatly increases the likelihood that Tevez and Aguero will start. Elsewhere, the questions around Kompany mean that Kolo Toure's already dubious value is lessened by uncertainty over his role and probability of starting. In general, I'd stay away from the City defense - too expensive for not enough production.
Southampton vs. Sunderland - Another reminder here that Adam Lallana is out injured with James Puncheon and Gaston Ramirez the two players likely to get his points. Ramirez is less expensive while Puncheon has been very effectively lately (leading to a high price).
Tottenham vs. Stoke - Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson are both back and worthy of selection for different reasons which are being a bad@ss and being cheap respectively. Both have a pretty good match-up.
West Brom vs. Norwich - The suspension of Youssouf Mulumbu isn't important because people were thinking of picking him up for their teams but it is important because he's a core element of the Baggies' defense. Without him Norwich attackers become even more attractive. One very interesting option given Grant Holt's likely absence is Steve Morison who is cheap and was fairly effective last season when he got a chance in Holt's absence.
West Ham vs. Everton - We know Marouane Fellaini is out suspended but the rest of the injury news from Goodison Park is shrouded in mystery. In the NFL here in the US, David Moyes' mysterious comments would get him fined for not being forthcoming about injuries. In the Premier League, I guess it's OK to just sort of say "we've got a bunch of injury concerns, that is all" - I'd tread very carefully here.
Liverpool vs. Fulham - None of the actual injury news is very interesting but there's a line about Raheem Sterling needing a rest at some point. No guarantee of when that might be but it certainly should put fantasy managers looking at Sterling at retail this week on alert. For those who have him at a deep discount, I'd be less concerned and just suck up the zero.
Swansea vs. Manchester United - Not a great week for Vorm to come back into the line-up huh? At United, Rafael is still out meaning that it seems likely that Phil Jones will get a start. No real indication of which of Vidic/Rio/Evans will start at CB though. Given the injury situation and the number of fixtures coming up I'm guessing we're in for a mix-and-match situation over the next two weeks for United at the back. Don't get too frustrated if the one you pick doesn't play when you pick him. If that is going to get you too frustrated, then look somewhere else for your cheap defenders.