Week 24 is a welcome return to single games after the Chelsea / Southampton and Arsenal / West Ham doubles in Week 22 and 23. My Yahoo team has benefited massively from backing the two-game teams - climbing up the rankings to 516th overall - but being forced to focus on just two squads when picking your side isn't particularly fun and leads to very similar looking teams across the board. You'll be pleased to read there are seven teams worth looking at for the upcoming gameweek, which begins on Tuesday evening (although the deadline is 12:00 GMT). Week 24 is also the quarter final of The NMA Blog Cup where we'll be cutting 250 teams down to 100 ahead of the semi final in Week 28 and the final in Week 32.
As for the teams for Week 24 your eyes will immediately be drawn (and rightly so) to Manchester City visiting Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea traveling to Reading. City are on a run of 6 wins in a row in all competitions and they should comfortably extend that to 7 against the league's bottom side at Loftus Road, while I expect Chelsea to bounce back from a couple of poor results with a big win against another side in the relegation zone.
Manchester United will surely claim 3 points at home to Southampton with Robin van Persie nicely rested after he sat on the bench for the FA Cup and I feel you have to fancy Newcastle who travel to a desperate Aston Villa side. Villa's confidence is shot to pieces after they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by 4th tier Bradford City and then lost to Millwall in the FA Cup on Friday night, while Newcastle have bolstered their squad with 4 new signings from France and should be too strong for Paul Lambert's men.
Tottenham are worth looking at for their trip to out-of-form Norwich, Stoke City should bounce back from a poor run with a victory over Wigan at home and I expect goals for both sides in the most exciting looking fixture of the weekend, Arsenal v Liverpool (I've gone for a 3-3 draw in my prediction league). Everton will be favourites to beat West Brom at Goodison Park so you may want to consider some of their players but I'd avoid Sunderland v Swansea and Fulham v West Ham unless you have a specific hunch - or hold Joe Cole @ 3.
Let's look at the players:
Lloris - A long term hold for many of us at around 2.00 in the Yahoo game, Hugo Lloris continues to impress, Spurs are looking more solid and they should win at Norwich.
Begovic - If you aren't holding a keeper for the long term and are therefore "buying new" this week then the only viable option given current prices is Stoke's Asmir Begovic at home to Wigan.
Vertonghen - He was sick and could only take a place on the bench against Manchester United but Super Jan Vertonghen will be ready to return against Norwich and he's due a goal.
Vidic - Completely rested for Manchester United's FA Cup tie, Nemanja Vidic will return to center of defence alongside Rio Ferdinand for the league clash against Southampton to please Yahoo manager who hold him at 4-plus-change. If you don't have Vidic at discount, go for Rio.
Debuchy - Newcastle's new fullback has had a quiet start to his fantasy career and as a result his price has dropped to 3.5 - a bargain for the French international.
Lescott - With Vincent Kompany injured and Kolo Toure away at the ACN it means Joeleon Lescott will get a rare start for Manchester City at QPR for a relatively reasonable price.
Terry - It seems he isn't a certain starter for the big games anymore but John Terry could get a start at Reading and he's a snip at 5.84.
Wilkinson - The cheapest way to get a Stoke defender into your line-up if you fancy a clean sheet, although we need an eye on team news regarding Andy Wilkinson as Ryan Shotton is also in the picture
S.Kelly - Stephen Kelly has been loaned from Fulham "to play regular first team football" for Reading so at 1.54 I'd suggest we have a new bargain filler option guaranteed a start.
Bale - He scored twice in this same fixture last season and given his current good form and Norwich's poor run, I wouldn't call you crazy for spending 25 on Gareth Bale this week.
Cabaye - Available for just 9.40 on the barndoor which was a no-brainer, Yohan Cabaye is still a terrific pick even at his current price as Newcastle travel to Aston Villa. Make no mistake - he knows his team are in a relegation battle and he'll be pushing on his teammates, he'll be on all set pieces in Ben Arfa's absence and I expect him to run the midfield and return great points.
Silva - Starting to show his very best form for Manchester City, David Silva is an outstanding option for the trip to QPR. Again, his barndoor price made him an easy option but he's still worth a look at his current price given the advanced positions he's finding himself in. Samir Nasri could be a decent alternative if team news suggests he could start.
Walcott - He's back on the wing but he just keeps scoring goals and while I had no plan to keep him beyond the double week, I'm finding it very hard to justify dropping Theo Walcott @ 16.
Cazorla - Keeps bringing home the points but everyone has him so I'll probably stop including him in my Player Picks from next week onwards.
Fellaini - If you're looking to add an Everton attacker to your team for their game against West Brom then the fluffy-haired one, Marouane Fellaini appears to be your best option.
Lennon - If you agree that Spurs should beat Norwich fairly comfortably but can't stretch your budget to fit Bale in then the increasingly influention Aaron Lennon could be a great alternative.
Kagawa - Back to fitness, he was rested against Fulham yesterday so should come back in to the starting line-up against Southampton.
J.Cole - He should be back in the line-up after a rest at Arsenal.
van Persie - Is 29 too much to spend on him? Well, I expect him to score at least once against Southampton given his current goalscoring streak and there's a decent chance he'll be on penalty duty given Wayne Rooney's increasingly miserable record from the spot. I will say that Robin van Persie is in my team at the moment.
Mata - With Eden Hazard missing for at least three games there's no chance of a rest for Juan Mata in the league and with Demba Ba more expensive and sharing minutes with Fernando Torres, Mata is my pick of the Chelsea attackers for their trip to Reading.
Aguero - He was rested for the FA Cup tie at Stoke so should slot in to starting line-up for the QPR match in place of Eden Dzeko (who played the full 90 minutes) and Sergio Aguero is a tempting alternative if you're not sold on spending 29 for van Persie.
Sturridge - Arsenal are often a bit of a mess defensively so if Luis Suarez is in the mood he could give them a torrid time, but is he worth spending 25+ on? Possibly not when you can grab Daniel Sturridge for just 13.17, a man who has scored in each of his first 3 games for Liverpool.
Rooney - I can't remember the last time Wayne Rooney cost as little as 17 in the Yahoo game and he's another who falls in to the "tempting" category uf you don't want to stump up the money for RvP.
P.Cisse - With Ba long gone it really is time for Papiss Cisse to step up and help lead Newcastle away from the relegation zone and he won't get many better chances to fill his boots than at Villa Park on Tuesday night.
Giroud - 4 goals in his last 2 games, I'm still not entirely convinced by Olivier Giroud but he's definitely done enough to earn himself another start against Liverpool and with Walcott, Wilshere, Podolski and Cazorla feeding him chances he could easily be amongst the goals again.
Walters - His Chelsea nightmare dropped his price significantly and he's still on penalties so he's a decent choice at home to Wigan.
That's it for the players. Please check back here at NMA on Monday / Tuesday for all the important team and injury news to give yourself the best chance of fielding 11 starters.
Here's what I currently have on my Yahoo team page...
Lloris, Debuchy, Terry, Vertonghen, Joe Cole, Cazorla, Nasri, Walcott, Sturridge, Podolski, van Persie
I missed Cabaye and Silva on the barndoor so I'm currently looking at taking a different approach but if everyone in the team above was certain to start I'd be happy. There are risks re: Terry and Nasri which I'll have another look at on Friday and I'm also too heavy on Arsenal so expect to see me trade out Podolski for either a Chelsea or Newcastle attacker. Lloris, Debuchy, Vertonghen, Joe Cole, Cazorla, Sturridge and van Persie should all stay, although I'm aware that downgrading RvP to Rooney or Aguero would allow me to make massive improvements across my entire XI.
How's your team shaping up?