Festive fixtures were not kind to my fantasy selections, so I am happy to get back to a more normalized schedule. We have a great looking set of fixtures for Week 21 that should provide plenty of differential picks to make up for the spots you may have dropped in your leagues.
Let's take a look at the fixtures for Week 21:
Sunderland v Liverpool
Immediate stand out teams with good fixtures include Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Liverpool, while I think you can find good differential value in West Brom, Swansea, West Ham, and Aston Villa. I would be focusing this week on the first 4 sides then sprinkling in a few players from the differential matches. I certainly have some ground to make up, so it is important to predict which differential player will return value. Easier said than done, so let's jump into which players you should be considering for Week 21.
Player Picks for Week 21:
Wojciech Szczesny - Arsenal stuttered over the festive period but a home game with an inconsistent Stoke City persades me to think the Gunners have the best chance of a clean sheet. Szczesny is also nicely priced at 7.79mil making him easily affordable for the risk. Those that want to forget the Courtois and Chelsea shocker should look no further for Week 21.
David de Gea - I know United have been operating with a shocking number of defensive combinations to various effect this season, but they have been climbing the table none the less. Currently in 3rd, I expect United to prove too much for Southampton at Old Trafford. Had this been a reverse fixture, I wouldn't have been so keen to recommend de Gea. But as it is, I wouldn't doubt United to scrap out a 1 or even 2 nil at home. At 10.80mil, the Spanish shot stopper will require a bit of investment.
Ben Foster - West Brom are playing at home under Tony Pulis for the first time since his appointment in the Premier League. Pulis is renown for his ability to stabilize teams and get their defensive muscle flexing. I expect the same when Hull City come to visit. At 3.61mil, Foster is my bargain pick of the week. Although there is a solid risk here, the differential bonus is huge.
Thibaut Courtois - With the next match against Newcastle back home at Stamford Bridge, I expect an immediate rebound from Chelsea both offensively and defensively. I doubt their will be another crazy scoreline like the Spurs match, and I expect Jose Mourinho to correct the defensive errors that lead to that humiliation. For those who have at discount, certainly hold, if not bench for another keeper if you have the funds. At retail, 6.17mil is the lowest the Belgian star has been since his initial price malfunction at the start of the season. Is that a good or bad indication? Just food for thought.
Kieran Trippier - Call it a hunch, but I just see Burnley putting up a strong fight against QPR. I know QPR have been on a general up turn, but Burnley have been resilient even if the results haven't gone their way. Trippier is still one of the top scoring defenders in the game this season with 185pts. At 10.33mil you know what you should get from the man, but you hope he can deliver the big numbers from his set pieces. He is currently in my side this week.
Mamadou Sakho - I know, a Liverpool defenser? Well hear me out, Sunderland haven't been all that effect in front of goal and Sakho has seemingly established himself in the back for a bargain price of 6.58mil. Granted, Liverpool have been shaky at the back, conceding a two goal lead to Leicester comes to mind. But the price seems reasonable this week given the fixture.
Branislav Ivanovic - After recommending John Terry the week of his goal against Stoke, if you had told me he would go on to score a total of 3 times in 4 games I would have been a delighted owner. But his price is now just too high for retail, so Ivanovic comes back into the favored Chelsea defender pick podium. At 12.34mil, he is by no means cheap, but as I stated above, I feel Mourinho will have Chelsea locked tight at the back in response to their last disappointing outing.
Kyle Walker - Even though the former fantasy favorite fullback has been largely disappointing on his return from injury, Walker was able to acquire a positive +7 result against Chelsea with no clean sheet. Still nicely priced at 6.34mil, we may have just have needed to wait a bit longer for Walker to shake off the injury rust. Needless to say, an away match to Crystal Palace looks potentially good at that price.
Phil Jones - Uniteds back line is frustratingly hard to predict given their injury problems and rotation, but Phil Jones seems to be first choice when fit and healthy. Southampton will be a handful, but this could be one of those matches where 10.85mil is worth the investment. Phil Jones has the ability to go big with defensive phantom points for time to time, this just feels like one of those occasions.
Kieran Gibbs - Generally a good attacking phantom full back, Gibbs has been up and down this season due to various reasons. With a very affordable price of 8.67mil, the chance of a clean sheet and attacking returns look worth the investment. For the home match against Stoke City, you could do a lot worse with more funds.
Stephane Sessegnon - Teams with new managers generally play up another level for a few matches as the initial excitement settles. But I fully expect West Brom to make a positive impact under Tony Pulis. Largely know for his defensive stability, Pulis has added more attacking threat into his game as of late. Step up Sessegnon. I wouldn't bet against Sessegnon flourishing under Pulis. This means more attacking returns and threat of goals. At 8.88mil, I am willing to chance it this week.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - My Arsenal midfield pick of the week due to injuries. The young winger has looked good in his recent role and I expect Arsenal to bounce back at home. At 7.61mil, the Ox seems like a down right bargain. Just keep an eye on 4.51mil priced Theo Walcott as to when he may just off the bench.
A Tottenham midfielder - Well, certainly Tottenham's midfield has been hard to predict and pick accordingly, always coming up big when you don't invest and returning paltry points when you do. Nacer Chadli was the big winner out of the midfield group against Chelsea. Christian Eriksen has been the more often than not usual scorer so far this season, but has been up and down. Erik Lamela has seemed to shine in brief moments but just hasn't cemented his place in the side just yet. I would say Eriksen would be my choice this week at 12.70mil, with 12.29mil for Chadli just seems like point chasing at this stage. If Lamela were slated to start, I'd be more abt to shell out the 7.04mil for the young Argentine. Either way, an away match to Crystal Palace could be fruitful.
Raheem Sterling - Steven Gerrard got the points last week with two well taken (if not slightly dubious) penalties. But Sterling looks primed to finally have a break out match. With most of Liverpool's midfield similarily priced, Sterling is your best bet for retail buying at 12.35mil. I expect goals at the Stadium of Light clash and it is about time Sterling got amongst them once again.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - This spot was going to be for one of Siggy or Downing, but as my preference always leans towards the home side, the Swans win out. Both midfielders are similarily priced around 12mil but I feel your funds will be better spent with the former now returned Swans chief play maker. We will just have to see if Gomis can perform as a decent replacement for the departed W. Bony (African Cup of Nations duty).
Riyadh Mahrez - The Foxes midfielder has been quietly racking up the fantasy points, hitting 158pts total for the season. His point production is represented in his price of 12.21mil, but he has been involved in a lot of the Leicester City attack lately. The Foxes have looked much better than their present league position might suggest. You feel they could steal all three points at home to a vulnerable Aston Villa.
Saido Berahino - The young England youth team hopeful started like wild fire early in the season, but then curtailed in recent weeks, allowing his price to drop to a very nice 7.67mil. With Pulis looking to steady the ship, Berahino will undoubtably be in his plans to carry the attacking threat. A home match against Hull City represents the perfect opportunity for Berahino to remind us of why he was touted as being the next big England star.
Alexis Sanchez - Really a no brainer at this point, but even at retail this week, a very strong option home to Stoke City. Arsenal will be looking to rebound, and with a bit or rest under his belt, Sanchez will be ready to tear up the pitch.
Robin van Persie - Playing much better over all in the last month or so and still much cheaper than Rooney who is playing from midfield. With his penalty duties and price of 12.03mil, I like RvP over Rooney this week. But when ever I pick him he flops, so this is a dangerous one for me.
Christian Benteke - Had a brief spurt of goals then cooled off quite a bit. Aston Villa will need their star man firing all the way until May however. An away match against a defensively shaky Leicester City could be the way for Bentke to get back into the goals and lift Villa further up the table to safety. 9.16mil is relatively decent given the risk to reward factor. I do sense there will be goals in that match.
Diego Costa - Simply not going any where despite not really having the strong performances you've come to expect. If you hold at retail not need to drop or bench.
Stevan Jovetic - There are serious defensive problems at Everton right now and I expect Manchester City to exploit that. Jovetic is only fit and game ready striker and will be looking to continue leading the line once again against the Toffees. The Man City striker will surely find a pocket with a pass from Nasri, Silva, and/or Milner.
That's it from me! I currently sit on: Courtois, Trippier, Sakho, Bertrand, Fabregas, Sterling, Silva, Sessegnon, Berahino, Sanchez, Costa w/ my bench Kelly, Okore, Walcott, Robles. I am not totally satisfied and might free up funds to swap out Courtois to the bench and bring in Szczesny. Lot's of tinkering left to do.
Who are you looking at bringing in for Week 21? Who are your must have players for this week?