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Staff Picks: Best EPL Fantasy Fixture, Week 23

With midweek FA Cup action, there may need to be some precautions taken when investing in certain teams and/or players this weekend. Here's where we think the best bets are for fantasy investment.

Two sides with a lot to play for. Will investment in either side prove beneficial this weekend?
Two sides with a lot to play for. Will investment in either side prove beneficial this weekend?
Alex Broadway/Getty Images
Chris - Everton vs. Swansea City

There are certainly other match-ups I'm more interested in, notably Arsenal v. Chelsea, West Ham v. Manchester City, Leicester City v Stoke City and Crystal Palace v. Tottenham, which promise to be tightly contested, hard-fought games with an impact on the title and Champions League races. As I expect those to be fairly low-scoring, I'm looking instead to the fixture at Goodison Park for widespread fantasy returns. Everton has amassed the second most goals while allowing the most at home, where it has recently been involved a 4-3 loss to Stoke City and a 3-2 loss to Leicester City. On top of that, we've all surely got last week's crazy 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge fresh in our minds. Swansea, meanwhile, joins Everton in the bottom half of the league with respect to goals allowed overall, including a wild 4-2 loss to Sunderland two games ago. 

There's an abundance of firepower from Everton with Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and offensive-minded defender Leighton Baines looking forward to entertaining the home crowd. Things are decidedly less prolific for the Swans side, but given Everton's less than savory defensive record along with injury absences of Tyias Browning, Seamus Coleman and Bryan Oviedo, this is a weekend you should not be averse to rolling with Andre Ayew, Gylfi Sigurdsson or perhaps a more under-the-radar pick such as Jack Cork or Ki Sung-Yeung as the desperate visitors push for three points in their frantic fight to remain outside of the relegation zone.

Simon - Sunderland vs. AFC Bournemouth

Week 23 is a tough one to pick a fixture with great fantasy returns. The relegation sides are suddenly finding a little stubborn form while the big guns still don't convince.

I'm picking what to me looks the most open game on the list. Sunderland cannot defend at all but have a white hot forward in Defoe, while Bournemouth are full of attacking drive but leave the back door open when they commit their attacks.

The gap between the sides is 6 points and both will view this one as a winnable. Both teams will score and there are many value picks worth risking in the game from Defoe, Lens, AJ, Borini, Stanislas, Afobe and even attacking full backs PVA, Daniels and Smith.

Charles - Watford FC vs. Newcastle

It's tough to score goals on the road in the English Premier League. For some it is tougher than others. Newcastle has only scored 5 in their 10 road matches, lowest in the premiership, by 3. Watford also plays tough at home, conceding only 10 in their 11 home fixtures.

Consider adding Heurhelo Gomes or any of the Watford defenders. Nathan Ake or Nyom appear to be good bets for attacking bonus. I might also consider Odion Ighalo as a forward. He has been scoreless the past three matches, but the Magpies defense might be just what he needs to get going again.

I hesitate to recommend any player from Newcastle, but if you wish to take a chance on someone it might be Georginio Wijnaldum, who has delivered a lot of fantasy punch this season.

Zach - Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Crystal Palace have hit a rough patch, there is no denying that fact. Their previous 4 fixtures, albiet with a solitary 2-1 victory over Southhampton, have made for grim viewing. A 3-0 loss to Chelsea, 1-0 reverse to Aston Villa, and a 4-0 defeat to Manchester City have seen the Eagles ship 9 goals while scoring just twice (against the aforementioned Saints). The goals have seemingly dried up while Palace's defense has started to fracture. One could say that the loss to bottom club Aston Villa was due to a Wayne Hennessey blunder. But the fact remains that Alan Pardew's side were unable to find a way through what is one of the weaker defenses in the league.

Week 23 hardly serves up an easy fixture for Palace as they host an in-form Tottenham Hotspur. Mauricio Pochettino has his side working in top gear just 5pts off the summit. Having mediated a small dip in form of their own, after a 1-1 draw with Everton and a late 1-0 loss to title rivals Leicester City, Spurs showcased their ability to punish teams in front of goal against Sunderland, netting 4. With Harry Kane firmly in his stride after a slow start to the season and the rest of the Spur's starting players backing him up, Pochettino's side should be favorites against Crystal Palace. Using recent results as a guide, defensive and offensive returns look likely for the North London club.

Gavin - Everton vs. Swansea City

Roberto Martinez returns to his old stomping grounds with his Everton side looking consistently dangerous in attack, but shaky in defense. Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley have led the way for the Toffees attack this season, but a decline in form for the aging Tim Howard, coupled with injuries to key defenders like Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, have made life difficult at times for the Merseyside club. However, Baines and Jagielka are both back to full fitness and playing well. Seamus Coleman is the absentee at the back now, but Ramiro Funes Mori has been an able deputy for whoever is injured and should continue at center back with John Stones shifting out wide to right back. Expect a significant attacking display here, especially as some of the other bit-part players like Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon are also rounding into form.

For the Swans, the appointment of a new head coach helped their confidence plenty in their 1-0 win over Watford last weekend, but an away trip to Goodison represents a much bigger task. The departure of Jonjo Shelvey to Newcastle has increased the fantasy value of Ki Sung-Yueng, however, so if you are feeling confident of the Welsh outfit's chances of getting on the score sheet against what is still not a completely full-strength Everton defense, perhaps it will be the South Korean who should be in your thinking. I'm expecting a higher chance of a rare Toffees clean sheet, though, and will be looking to invest in defenders and attackers from their squad.