It's going to be a short and sweet post this week as another deadline approaches straight after the mid-week matches. Firstly a reminder that Week 24 is the Quarter-Finals of The Blog Cup and we start getting tough now, reducing 250 teams down to 100 ahead of the Semi-Finals. Good luck if you're still involved (you can check here).
As for this week's fixtures I'm not going to duplicate effort - Neal has already analysed the Week 24 schedule and I found myself in almost complete agreement with how he sees the matches taking shape. You can read his post here but to summarise ...
- Arsenal (v Blackburn Rovers), Manchester City (v Fulham), Queens Park Rangers (v Wolverhampton), Norwich City (v Bolton Wanderers) & Newcastle (v Aston Villa) all have very winnable home games so take note of the defensive and attacking options for all 5 sides.
- Swansea City and Sunderland are both in great form so it's definitely worth looking at their attacking options, but they face tricky away matches at Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion so don't go crazy.
So I like a lot of sides this week ... Arsenal, Man City, QPR, Norwich, Newcastle & Everton followed by Swansea & Sunderland.
Let's look at the players. Please Note that I'm going to be limiting the number of recommendations I make each week, listing only my top 3 Keepers, 8 Defenders, 10 Midfielders and 8 Strikers ...
Three keepers who performed very well in Week 23 are recommended for Week 24. Wojciech Szczesny is at home to Blackburn and the defence in front of him looks more sturdy now Sagna has returned, Paddy Kenny also has better protection thanks to new arrivals and is at home to Wolves who don't score many goals, while Tim Krul is in sensational form for Newcastle and faces Aston Villa at St James Park. I believe all 3 of these men have a very good chance of a win and clean sheets.
He's more effective when playing in the middle but Thomas Vermaelen will keep being my number 1 defensive pick as long as he's fit - the fact he faces Blackburn is just an added bonus and I'm going to put my neck on the line and say he'll score this week. Elsewhere, Vincent Kompany is my pick of the Man City defenders as he certain to start and there's always that slight concern that a home game with Fulham will give Roberto Mancini the opportunity to rest Micah Richards for Pablo Zabaleta.
Next come three attacking full-backs; QPR's new loan signing Taye Taiwo made his debut last night and looked threatening throughout the game so he has to be considered given his value and a home game against Wolves. Angel Rangel needs little introduction, he'll be bombing down the right-flank for Swansea against a beatable West Brom and Newcastle's Davide Santon back in the list now he has a home game, priced at 7ish and facing Aston Villa.
Ciaran Clark is still well priced and doesn't need to rely on clean sheet points seeing as a lot of his work is being done in the Aston Villa midfield, Nedum Onuoha is a fantastic choice if you want to cover the possible QPR clean sheet but can't stretch to Taiwo seeing as he costs just 4.30 and Sebastien Bassong is another bargain now he's signed a loan deal at Wolves. I can no longer recommend Daniel Ayala - any player who averages a negative score after 6 appearance can't be on the list!
Gareth Bale's form for Spurs keeps him at the top of the midfield recommendations but of course you shouldn't be paying full price for him - this is more to make it clear that if you're holding him at a decent discount do not sell him even though he has a tough match at Liverpool. David Silva has been quiet for a while now but he's still my pick of the Man City midfielders at home to Fulham, while I fancy set piece expert Mr Sigurdsson to break double figures again during Swansea's trio to West Brom.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is one hell of a prospect and should continue to feature out on the wing for Arsenal at home to Blackburn, so with his current price below 5.00 he's a no brainer. Anthony Pilkington is another youngter who has impressed this season scoring a stack of goals for Norwich and I fancy his chances to add to those at home to Bolton, while Ryan Taylor should continue in Newcastle's midfield with Yohan Cabaye suspended and Hatem Ben Arfa's form erratic.
Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon has been magnificent since Martin O'Neil arrived and will be playing right up the top at Stoke, while in-form Antonio Valencia has a tough game at Chelsea but could get some joy with Ashley Cole suspended. I have a horrible feeling that Monday night's game between Liverpool and Spurs could be the perfect stage for Steven Gerrard to put in one of his famous Anfield performances so I have to recommend him and finally Darron "I like shooting" Gibson is here as he, erm ... likes shooting. Oh, and faces bottom side Wigan.
Robin van Persie is as cheap as he's been for some time - that's still not that cheap but at 25ish I honestly think everyone should stretch their budget to get him in their team. Sergio Aguero has been trying my patience recently with some sub-standard performances and point returns but I'm giving him another go at home to Fulham and I think he'll come out of his slump in front of his own fans, while Demba Ba comes straight back in to the recommendations now he's back from the African Cup of Nations.
Djibril Cisse is here after a great start to his QPR career, banging in a goal after just 12 minutes. He's at home to Wolves and costs less than 10 - what's not to like? Craig Bellamy is at the very peak of his powers so you should hang on to him for the Spurs match if you have him at discount and after barndooring him last night I'm going to give Sunderland's Fraizer Campbell a go away at Stoke after seeing him score two brilliant goals in his first two games back from an awful knee injury.
The final two men on the list are Everton's Landon Donovan who should get plenty of space to work his magic away at Wigan and I'm also tipping Norwich's captain and talisman Grant Holt to find the net at home to Bolton. You may wonder why Nikica Jelavic isn't listed and it's because he's new to the league and I'd like to wait and see (a) if he starts straight away and (b) if he's any good in this league, so I'd wait for the barndoor if you're interested. I very nearly added Papiss Cisse to the list but a Newcastle fan at work insists he'll start on the bench.
That's it for the players - there will be plenty of fall-out from the midweek matches so please ensure you check back here on Friday for the important team, injury and suspension news which should help clarify any doubts you may be having.
As for my own team, it currently looks like this:
Krul, Ayala, Taiwo, Vermalen, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sigurdsson, Sessegnon, Silva, Campbell, Aguero, Van Persie
I have 2.85 left in the bank so I'll use that to change Ayala and / or Sessegnon but everyone else should stay. I was out yesterday evening and feared I might miss the barndoor so I dropped Clint Demsey for Van Persie before the matches in case he went goal crazy at Bolton. This is a decision I now regret because Fulham have a great run of fixtures after this weekend and I could've have made moves to hold Dempsey instead of Sessegnon and still got RvP in had I been a bit smarter. Unfortunate, but I feel better today than I did on Tuesday as a total of 82 points in Week 23 moved be back up to 494th overall,
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Let me know how your team is shaping up for Week 24. How did Week 23 go for you?