Jeremy Spitzberg

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First XI: Early Week 23 Picks

Thursday, January 23, 2014


1. Joe Hart - £9.94 - The selling point for Hart is that even when he doesn't keep a clean sheet, like last week against Cardiff, Manchester City are more likely than not to get the win. So while Sczcesney was the only premium keeper to return big points, Hart stayed in the black. He will likely keep his place in my fantasy team at Spurs, but it is tempting to promote Gerhard Tremmel (for a buck) from the bench. Swansea host Fulham, and that's been a recipie for home team success for years.

2. Branislav Ivanovic - £9.26 - Ivanovic returned from his knee injury, and slotted straight back into his right-back role against Manchester United. He didn't do much good (fantasy-wise) against Ashley Young and sometimes Adnan Januzaj, but that dropped his price down to reasonable single-digits. With a home match against West Ham and a decent run of matches upcoming after they travel to the Emirates next week, I'm happy getting my teeth in to the big Serbian defender now.

3. Cesar Azpilicueta - £13.46 - Chelsea's starting left-back for the home match against West Ham. Chelsea, who have shipped all of two goals (against Liverpool and Manchester United) since dropping out of the League Cup before Christmas. Yes, please.

4. Ryan Bertrand - £1.0 - Completing the set of Chelsea defenders this week... Wait, what!?!? On loan at Aston Villa, you say? Well that complicates matters. Still, at home to West Brom is a decent match up. And the price tag can't be beat. It allows for some options further up the pitch. Including...

5. Santi Cazorla - £16.23 - Too much money for the schedule (@SOU, CP, @LIV, MANU, before Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but has been playing really well of late. While I can't expect a two-goal haul every week, it was nice to be rooting for Santi again. It made me all nostalgic for last season when we all had him in our teams for 6 bucks and didn't even notice out fourth midfield spot because of him.

6. Adam Johnson - £16.7 - Speaking of too much money, market price is probably too much for Adam Johnson. But he's one of the form players in the League with four goals and two assists in his last two matches. Sunderland are full of confidence now, having beaten Manchester United on penalties to advance to the League Cup final against Manchester City. After Kidderminster in the FA Cup, they host Stoke City in the League. Stoke have the joint worst road record of any team along with Hull City, having collected on 5 points, while scoring 8 and allowing 24. After Stoke, it's @Newcastle then the aforementioned Hull City. Then their schedule gets dire. So it might be time to make hay while the Sunderland still shines.

Sorry.

7. Willian - £11.36 - I would love to get Eden Hazard into the team for this week. And I still may, despite his price and his mis-classification in the Yahoo! game as a forward. But I'm more than happy to grab Willian, who is listed as a midfielder, and in Frank Lampard's absence has been taking corners. Willian has been returning his value in defensive points alone for the most part over the last monthIn that, he's the new Joel Ward! If he can add a little more attacking return - and who would bet against a goal or an assist against the Hammers? - he could be the signing of the week.

8. Christian Eriksen - £13.14 - Picking against the match-up here. Actually, holding against the match-up. Manchester City haven't been water-tight away from home, and with a big club visiting, Spurs may play with one striker up top. That would see Eriksen in the hole behind Emmanuel Adebayor again. And of course he's on all set pieces now. I may think about benching him, but I'm not selling anytime soon.

9. Luis Suarez - £19.7 - It had to happen some time, didn't it? Suarez had a merely human-level performance against Aston Villa as the Midlands club lived up to it's reputation as a team that's more comfortable on the road that at Villa Park. The schedule for the Reds is a bit up and down over the next month, and this week is the BIG Merseyside derby. The biggest in twenty years, even! You know who might show up in such an atmosphere? Maybe the hottest striker in the world! Okay, I'm trying to psyche myself up for this. I sure hope Brendan Rodgers can sort out his formation and his tactics so that we see happy, free-flowing Suarez, rather than pouting, complaining, one more foul and it's a yellow card Suarez. It's probably 50-50, but I still can't see past him as captain.

10. Danny Welbeck - £15.0 - Manchester United are going from crisis to crisis, but unless Wayne Rooney and/or Robin Van Persie are back for their home match against Cardiff City (who are terrible on the road - 6 points, 7 goals scored, 21 allowed) then I can't look past Danny Welbeck. Well, I can't unless I gut a midfielder down to Adnan Januzaj and "upgrade" Welbeck to Eden Hazard. But for now, in my first XI, I like Welbeck's potential.

11. Wilfried Bony - £11.77 - Yes, Swansea have been terrible. Yes, Bony is a fantasy wasteland if he doesn't score goals. But he's got three in three (2, 0, 1 to be specific), and he gets Fulham at the Liberty Stadium, where he's scored all (I think) of his goals. The price is right, the match-up doesn't get better, and I can see riding Bony for a few weeks going forward.



Jeremy Spitzberg writes about fantasy soccer (football) and is a Rotoworld contributor. You can find him on Twitter @JSpitzberg.
Email :Jeremy Spitzberg





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