Seriously, what happened to this guy? - Clive Rose
The matches just keep on coming and we have all of the injury and suspension news combined with player picks for the first matches of 2013. May it be a better fantasy year (at least for Neal) than 2012.
First things first, here's the full list of team news from our friends at SoccerNet. In honor of the holiday season and my miserable streak of picking my own team, I'm going to use a slightly different format for today's post. I'm going to do my typical recommendations by position (which have been solid) and then let you know which ones I'm going to pick (at least as of the time I hit "publish"). My hope is that this helps you determine which of an entirely logical set of recommendations to stay away from. There are lots of very enticing options so let's get right to it:
Danny Welbeck - I'd love to pick Kagawa but I find it hard to believe that he'll play two straight matches in such a short time coming off a long term injury. If you can afford Robin van Persie then he's certainly preferable but I'd imagine not too many will have the money.
Lukas Podolski - Arsenal forwards (or attackers in general) haven't been very consistent this season so when I dive in I try to do it at a reasonable price and Podolski seems like the best combination of price and likelihood to start.
Danny Graham - Not guaranteed to start but the match-up is enticing enough to make him worth considering.
Emmanuel Adebayor - With Gareth Bale out, Spurs will have to do something a little different which might be just the tonic for K2 to get back to his best (or something approaching it). I've had rotten luck with Defoe and he's pretty expensive so this is the direction I'd go.
I'm currently on Bryan Ruiz (at a discount) and Danny Welbeck so you should feel free to pick just about any and all of the above players (except Welbeck).
Jonathan De Guzman/Nathan Dyer/Pablo Hernandez - With Aston Villa the opposition just about anyone from Swansea's midfield is a strong option. De Guzman is a bit expensive coming off a strong weekend but he's also been the most consistent.
Michael Carrick - 8.5, 6, 11.5, 9.5 I don't think that much of him as a player but these are the results of his past four matches. In a week where there are lots of expensive players to choose from here's a relatively inexpensive one who has been very productive recently. As I mentioned above, I'd like to pick Shinji Kagawa here but I don't have the b@lls to guess that he'll play twice in 4 days.
Theo Walcott - Perhaps the hardest guy to judge this week. Arsenal players have been disappointing coming off big matches but Walcott is a) playing for a payday; b) playing at his original club; and c) playing for a payday.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Can he do it twice in a row? He isn't playing for a contract (he's already signed up long term) but he's also back at his boyhood club.
Steven Gerrard - See Suarez, Luis and the same logic applies but at about 66% of the price/productivity.
Sylvain Marveaux - He's coming off of his first exceptional match in the Prem but he's got every opportunity to keep things going with leaky opposition (Everton) and a chance to start in an attacking role. The price isn't bad despite his strong match against Arsenal.
Yaya Toure - With Nasri suspended, Toure will likely play a bit more forward and he's built for a match against a team like Stoke who will have Shawcross and Cameron back.
I'm currently on Santi Cazorla, Michu, Nathan Dyer, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Theo Walcott so I'd go with the other ones...
Vincent Kompany - You get the feeling that something just isn't quite right with the Belgian center back but, like Toure, I like him in a match against equally big but less skilled opposition in Stoke. For not a lot more money, you might want to move up to Matija Nastasic who has been more consistent from a fantasy standpoint this season.
Phil Jones - He seems likely to get rotated into the mix at a very reasonable price against poor opposition.
Dwight Tiendalli - This is completely a price/match-up play. He's reasonably priced and playing against Aston Villa who have been horrible. Don't expect miracles but you probably need the money elsewhere in your squad.
David Luiz - He's probably going to pay off about once every three matches but vs. QPR seems like a reasonable guess as to when that might happen.
Michael Dawson - Seems likely that Spurs will rotate a little bit against Reading and Dawson is a nice option at a very reasonable price.
Branislav Ivanovic - Been a while since he's put one in the net, hasn't it?
I'm on Vidic, Luiz and Azipicueta (all on decent discounts) so I assume at least two of them will be rotated. Feel free to select the others on the list.
Ross Turnbull - Has to be the odds on favorite to be the most selected goalkeeper this match week with his low price and tantalizing match-up. Can Chelsea keep the clean sheet in front of him? Here's hoping.
Michel Vorm - His price is fairly reasonable and the match-up is great.
Mark Bunn - Norwich are slumping but hard to see West Ham scoring a bunch so if you need the money elsewhere, Bunn is a strong option.
Like so many others, I'm on Turnbull so I'd recommend you go with Lloris or Vorm.