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AM's Week 12 Fantasy Player Picks

An early look at who you should be considering for your fantasy line-up ahead of the Week 12 deadline.

Alex Livesey

My Yahoo fantasy season continues to go from bad to worse as Week 11 brought my lowest weekly total so far. A miserable 51 points has left me floundering down in 3200th overall and there's no sign that I'm going to escape the slump any time soon, with my decision to stick with Eden Hazard over Olivier Giroud combined with Kevin Mirallas' hamstring injury after 20 minutes typifying how things have been falling for my team.

I'm going to need to find something from somewhere for Week 12 as it is of course the 3rd Round of The Blog Cup. 1203 teams remain in the competition but we'll be cutting that down to 900 come the end of the weekend and with the league leaderboard drifting further and further away it may be my only chance of glory this season.

Enough moaning, let's look at the pick of the fixtures from a fantasy point of view ...


The two Manchester clubs are slugging it out for top spot in the Premier League at the moment so despite improved performances from both Aston Villa and Norwich recently I just don't see either of them having enough to hold out this weekend. Manchester City will have the added motivation of revenge after Villa knocked them out of the League Cup earlier in the season and with David Silva back pulling the strings it should be a comfortable home win. Norwich have already upset Arsenal and Tottenham at Carrow Road but there's a different level of mental strength within Alex Ferguson's squad - shown by their multiple comebacks already this season - and I have a hunch this could be the game for United to turn on the style.

FULHAM v Sunderland
WEST HAM v Stoke
EVERTON @ Reading

Fulham, West Ham and Fulham are all having terrific seasons so far and the fixtures fall favourably for them in Week 12 with winnable games against Sunderland, Stoke and Reading respectively. Dimitar Berbatov is inspiring a Martin Jol team for the second time in his career and with Craven Cottage something of a fortress these days it seems fairly certain that the 3 points will be going to the home side. West Ham find themselves flying high after picking up a massive win at Newcastle in Week 11 while Stoke are having a rotten season on the road and are finding goals hard to come by, so it could be a win to nil at Upton Park. As I mentioned last weekend, Everton are playing some of the best football in the league and I don't expect Reading to be able to halt their momentum, even with home advantage.

Arsenal v Spurs
Liverpool v Wigan
Newcastle v Swansea
QPR v Southampton

There should be plenty of goals across these four matches with leaky defences all over the place. First up is Arsenal v Spurs (Neal v Nik) which could be wide open affair with both teams struggling for form, both defences struggling to keep clean sheets and both managers desperate for a result. Recent North London Derbies have ended 4-4, 2-3, 5-2 and with nothing to suggest we won't see a similar result here there should be attacking fantasy points galore; I'm predicting a high scoring draw.

Liverpool v Wigan is a difficult one to predict as it will all depend on which Wigan turns up. If it's the side that taught Spurs a lesson in Week 10 then 'Pool could be in trouble, but there are signs that Brendan Rodgers is starting to get a reaction from his side and Luis Suarez has been close to unplayable in recent weeks. This combined with the ever faithful Anfield crowd perhaps tips it slightly in Liverpool's favour but I don't see any clean sheets and I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised this one also ends in a score draw.

Newcastle need a result after the disappointing home defeat against West Ham and they should have enough to do Swansea who were slightly lucky to get a draw at Southampton last weekend. I'm going to stick my neck on the line and call QPR's first win of the season against Southampton to just about keep Mark Hughes in a job. Again, I'm not expecting to see a clean sheet in either of these games.

The only game I'm avoiding completely from a fantasy standpoint is West Brom v Chelsea - the players for both sides are expensive and I feel there's better value elsewhere.

Let's move On to the players ...

Jaaskelainen - My biggest regret of this season so far is dropping Jussi at 3.91. The West Ham stopper is now the top point scoring keeper by far in the Yahoo game, he has a solid defence in front of him and appears to have the best clean sheet chance of the bunch at home to Stoke.
Schwarzer - The big Aussie saved Fulham from an undeserved defeat with a magnificent injury-time penalty at Arsenal and has been in fine form all season. He should pick up decent points in a comfortable home win against Sunderland.
Cesar - As mentioned above I don't expect a clean sheet for QPR but I do think they'll win and Southampton take a lot of shots which should provide the excellent Julio Cesar with plenty of save points.

Shorey - He's starting to put up big phantom points, which is not unexpected when you discover he attempted 22 crosses against Norwich. I'm holding him at 5.91 and he's looking like a season keeper as long as he's keeping Ian Harte out of the Reading side.
Riether - He was very unlucky to concede the penalty at Arsenal but it worked in our favour as it took his score down to -2.00 and dropped his price below 7.00 ahead of the Sunderland match.
Maicon - There was no taxi required for Maicon against Spurs as his introduction as a right-wing back changed the game. We await team news but he must have a decent chance of starting now he's fully fit and he would be an outstanding option against Villa.
Reid - After weighing up price vs production he's my pick of the West Ham defenders to cover their possible clean sheet against Stoke.
Vertonghen - Arsenal can't currently defend set pieces. Vertonghen has proved he is very dangerous at set pieces.
Nelsen - A couple of quiet weeks has led to a price drop but Ryan Nelsen remains a good choice at home to Southampton with plenty of chances to block Lallana & Co's many attempts on goal.
Wilkinson - Another cheapie and the fullback's all-action displays for Stoke always give him a chance of returning his value, with or without a clean sheet.

Taarabt - Greedy, selfish, often unreliable but he's also vastly talented and I believe he remains QPR's best chance of getting out of the mess they currently find themselves. This is the definition of a must-win game for the team, the manager and the fans and I'm expecting a massive performance from Taarabt.
Nolan - Kevin Nolan scores goals. He has that uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time and he's thriving on the knock-downs from Andy Carroll.
Cazorla - Santi has looked a little tired recently but should be ready to express himself in an open game and has the ability to torment Spurs.
Fellaini - In the form of his life. If you hold him below 10.00 I am very jealous of you - expect more bumper points at Reading.
Silva - You could instantly see the different the return of David Silva made to City last weekend, with his probing through passes setting up countless chances and eventually leading to Dzeko's late winner. I don't expect the young Villa midfield to be able to cope with him.
Sterling - The little man is playing well and there's very little risk involved when a shot on target and corner won more-or-less returns his value. The perfect filler for Week 12.
Ben Arfa - Newcastle's best player against West Ham, he was unlucky not to score and with Cabaye's price rocketing he remains my pick of the Newcastle attackers for their winnable home game against Swansea.
Lallana - Win, lose or draw the Southampton captain is always involved in situations which can earn him solid fantasy points and QPR aren't exactly air-tight.
Kacaniklic - After a bright start to the season Kacaniklic had fallen out of favour, but his introduction for the injured Kieran Richardson changed the game at the Emirates and must surely earn him a start against Sunderland.

Suarez - Love him or hate him, he's almost unplayable at the moment, everything goes through him and the fantasy points are flowing now a larger percentage of his shots are hitting the target. He's my pick of the strikers at home to Wigan.
van Persie - RvP was inches away from another 30 point week at Villa as he struck the woodwork twice and I don't expect him to draw another blank at Norwich. If you hold him at discount or can find the cash he's never a bad choice, but you'd need to feel very confident to spend that much.
Berbatov - Seems to be loving life at Fulham and when he has a smile on his face he's as good as any striker in the league. I can't see a reason not to pick him against Sunderland.
Aguero - It's impossible to read Roberto Mancini's brain but with a Champions League exit on the cards he surely has to prioritise his best striker for the league campaign. Aguero's quality finish got City back in to the game against Spurs and I'm tipping him to start and score against Villa on Saturday.
Hernandez - Must surely start after his match-winning display from the bench at Villa, especially with Wayne Rooney reportedly struggling with injury.
Giroud - Continuing to improve as his confidence grows and Spurs are looking poor at the back so he'll have the opportunity to convert more chances in the NLD.
Jelavic - Grabbed the winner against Sunderland as Fellaini's presence drew two defenders out of position and he could once again profit from the space created in around Reading's penalty area.

That's it for the players. Please check back here at NMA on Friday for all the team and injury news once we've analysed the fall-out from the midweek friendly internationals, with the dreaded "jet-lag" sure to rear it's ugly head.

This is what I currently have unsaved on my Yahoo team page ...

Cesar, Shorey, Riether, Vertonghen, Kacaniklic, Sterling, Cazorla, Taarabt, Giroud, Berbatov, Suarez

... with 3.03 left in the bank. There is obviously a problem here in that I am lacking any presence from four of the teams I'm most keen on - Manchester United, Manchester City, West Ham and Everton - so there is work to be done. Jelavic, Aguero, Hernandez, Silva and Nolan are all on my radar, as are Reid and Maicon.

How's your team shaping up?