Fantasy Premier League Player Picks Week 24: The Week Ahead

He just keeps scoring goals - Alex Livesey

A quick rundown of what you need to know to make your Premier League fantasy player picks for this week's midweek matches.

It is my sincere hope that things at work and home slow down a little bit here in the near future - it has been very difficult to maintain proper focus on writing for NMA along with all of the research - watching matches and keeping up with player, team and transfer news - that it requires. There's reason to believe that things will ease up shortly and I'll be at a little more liberty to contribute soon. Once everything is settled I'll tell the story of what's going on and hopefully it will go some way toward explaining how this season - both my writing and my actual fantasy performance - has gotten away from me a little bit.

In the meantime, here's a quick rundown of my approach to Match Week 24:

The Schedule - The match-ups that I'm trying to double down on are Manchester United vs. Southampton, Chelsea traveling to Reading, and Newcastle traveling to Aston Villa. I'd like to focus on Manchester City at QPR as well but it just didn't work out because there isn't a ton of value on the City team and I couldn't fit Nastasic in before his price went up the weekend before last. I'm also optimistic about Stoke's defense (hosting Wigan) and the attacks for Spurs (playing suddenly slumping Norwich), Arsenal and Liverpool who face each other in a match-up of teams that are mistake-prone on defense.

The Picks

In the nets, I'm going with Asmir Begovic at his retail price of 5.84 and am thanking the nice gentlemen from Swansea for knocking his price down a little bit. My second choice would be Tim Krul at the rock bottom price of 4.69 but I'm already too invested in Newcastle this week.

On defense, I have Cesar Azpilicueta (7.85) and Nemanja Vidic (4.78) at solid discounts and picked up Mathieu Debuchy at retail as an enabler with some hope of upside. If I were looking for an alternative enabler, I'd probably look at Ryan Shotton from Stoke or Stephen Kelly of Reading.

In midfield I'm continuing to keep the faith with Santi Cazorla and Michu at their season-opening prices. My big risk is keeping Yohan Cabaye at 9.40 and hoping that he is, as widely reported, fine after being taken off early in the Magpies last Premier League match as a precaution against re-injuring his groin. It seems like a safe bet. Finally, I'm wrapping up the midfield with Joe Cole at 4.69 and hoping that he was omitted for West Ham's match against Arsenal because he wasn't ready to play twice in quick succession. Solid alternatives include Oscar (more likely to start with Eden Hazard suspended), Shinji Kagawa (if you're bold enough to take a risk on him getting a start), and Gareth Bale if you have the money to make it happen.

The forward options this week are many. I'm keeping the faith long-term with Daniel Sturridge (at 8.53) who has looked nothing but impressive since arriving at Anfield. I'm also banking on Juan Mata to make up for the loss of Eden Hazard. Finally, I am throwing in the money on Robin van Persie because the match-up is strong and he's just been so good. I don't really expect he'll return value but I don't want to get sucked in to Wayne Rooney because I have no faith in him. Demba Ba, Olivier Giroud, Clint Dempsey, Papiss Cisse and Carlos Tevez/Sergio Aguero are all reasonable alternatives.

So, not my usual format but in a pinch it will have to do. See you tomorrow for The Barn Door Live.

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