Nik Argiropoulos

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AM's Week 23 Player Picks

Saturday, January 25, 2014


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KEEPERS
Gerhard Tremmel - We've been through this before. A keeper at 1.00 is usually that price for a reason, but Swansea have one of the better fixtures this weekend at home to Fulham. Tremmel is a risk but a calculated one, as he allows you to spend big elsewhere. If Michel Vorm is back you can't be that upset with a zero either.
Petr Cech - The safest option this week is the Chelsea keeper. Cech has the stand-out fixture at home to West Ham so the odds are in favour of a clean sheet for the home side and that means he could be worth his £14million price-tag.
Julian Speroni - Crystal Palace are on a bit of a roll under Tony Pullis and have every chance of picking up another vital win at home to Hull who have tended to struggle on the road. If Speroni isn't for you then maybe take a look at Aston Villa's Brad Guzan.

 

DEFENDERS
Aleksandar Kolarov - A revelation under Manuel Pellegrini, Kolarov is having by far his best season since joining Manchester City three years ago and he seems to have taken over as first choice left back. I expected to see Gael Clichy start the FA Cup tie against Watford but Kolarov got the start, so we'll need to monitor team news for midweek. If he does play at Tottenham on Wednesday he could prosper against the often-out-of-position Kyle Walker.
Branislav Ivanovic - I can't remember the last time I saw Ivanovic's price below 10.00, but it is, and so you should be snapping him up for Chelsea's home game against West Ham. This has been the Serbian's poorest season in terms of fantasy returns, but he's always a danger from set pieces and he has the chance of a clean sheet, so he'll be in my team.
Phil Bardlsey - Warming my bench at just £1.50millon, Bardlsey is earning a promotion to my starting XI this week as Sunderland face a winnable home game against Stoke. Even at full price the full-back is worth a look as his all action displays have brought some fine fantasy returns, and even a couple of goals.
Ryan Bertrand - The Chelsea man has moved on-loan to Aston Villa and his price has dropped to 1.00 after a booking on his debut against Liverpool. Bertrand will start at home to West Brom and even if you don't want him in your XI, he could prove a terrific option to keep on your bench long-term.
Joel Ward / Adrian Mariappa - Since moving in to midfield you may have noticed that Ward's fantasy production has dipped slightly, while his replacement at right-back (Mariappa) is returning good points. I'll leave it to you to decide who the better option is for Palace's winnable home game against Hull.
Mathieu Debuchy - He's back, he's back! After three games out through suspension, Debuchy should slot back in to the Newcastle defence as they travel to Norwich. I know many of you kept him on your bench to keep the discount - a wise move - but even if you didn't he should be under consideration at £9.8million given his performances this season.
Phil Jones - Don't expect to see a clean sheet from Manchester United, but Jones is one of the those players who will generate fantasy points from tackles, blocks and interceptions. He should start in defence in Nemanja Vidic's absence, although there's always the potential bonus that he gets moved in to midfield which brings with it an increased opportunity for attacking points.



MIDFIELDERS
Yohan Cabaye - My love-in with Cabaye has led to him being recommended in the this column more-often-than-not this season, and he's fast approaching the "must own" status previously held by Aaron Ramsey. Five goals in his last seven games, shots on target, successful crosses, assists, tackles, passes intercepted - you name it, he does it, and he's in my team this weekend.
Adam Johnson - Are we seeing an AJ renaissance? Well, he's doing his very best to suggest so with four goals and an assist in his last two league games. Despite missing the initial bandwagon Johnson is now in my team for the home game against Stoke.
Adnan Januzaj - The one bright spot in a season of huge disappointment for Manchester United so far, Januzaj is taking the weight of the team on his shoulder in the absence of Rooney and van Persie and he could dove-tail beautifully with Juan Mata if that transfer is concluded over the next few days. The young man is the only Manchester United player in my fantasy XI for Week 23.
Willian - A few people raised eyebrows when Chelsea stockpiled Willian to stop Spurs getting him, but the midfielder has surprised many by becoming an integral part of Chelsea's gameplan this season. It's not just the creative work he does well, but he's working his butt off in the defensive areas of midfield (something Mata rarely did) and the fantasy points are starting to flow more easily. A rotation risk, so we need to check Jose Mourinho's line-up in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Santi Cazorla - Those of us who kept faith with Mesut Ozil last weekend are still hurting from the performance of Cazorla, who pitched up with a two goal, 30 point return. The Spaniard too expensive at full price with a tricky trip to Southampton, but if you grabbed him at a cheaper price then he's one to hold on to given current form.
Jason Puncheon - Yes, his penalty against Spurs is still in orbit, but Puncheon hasn't let that affect him and he scored a priceless goal to give Palace the three points against Stoke in Week 22. Playing in an attacking midfield position drifting in from the right, he's getting plenty of opportunities to shoot from distance and should still be on penalty duty if the chance arises. An interesting alternative to the usual names.
Frank Lampard - The veteran midfielder made the bench for Chelsea's game against Manchester United and is likely to feature in the FA Cup. It is also fully possible that Mourinho gives Lampard a run-out for the game against his old club West Ham, as he has a terrific goalscoring record against them.
Yaya Toure - Expect him to dominate the central midfield areas against a Spurs side lacking a true defensive midfielder under Tim Sherwood. Yaya will offer a goal threat as always, boasting an impressive 11 goals and 4 assists from 21 games this season.
Christian Eriksen - If you're holding the Danish midfielder at a discount then he's one to keep hold of, despite an extremely difficult match against Manchester City. Eriksen was magnificent against Swansea last weekend, assisting Adebayor's opening goal with a wicked cross, taking set pieces, hitting a shot or two on target and showing some lovely skill, pace and strength on the ball. It took a while for him to adapt to the Premier League, but we're now starting to see what all the fuss was about.



STRIKERS
Luis Suarez - You all have him and you should all keep him, but do you captain him? The Merseyside derby will be a tough game for Liverpool and in a heated environment Suarez is a likely candidate for a yellow card and maybe even a red card. He's still my captain at the moment but I am considering other options.
Eden Hazard - An inconsistent fantasy performer in the Yahoo format, but this just feels like one of those weeks where you need Hazard in your team. West Ham really are poor at the moment, desperately low on confidence and an early Chelsea goal in Week 23 could open the floodgates. The Belgian trickster in my team.
Sergio Aguero - Pellegrini has confirmed Alvaro Negredo will miss a week with the shoulder injury picked up in the League Cup so Aguero is certain to start. It's actually Edin Dzeko who has a phenomenal scoring record again Spurs but I don't feel you can look past Aguero for this match.
Samuel Eto'o - The injury to Fernando Torres combined with his hat-trick against Manchester United should see Eto'o get a run of games now, and if you grabbed him before his price shot-up he's an excellent alternative if you're struggling to afford Hazard for the standout fixture of the weekend.
Loic Remy - The Frenchman had his best game in a couple of months at West Ham and added to an already impressive goal tally with his eleventh of the season. If this was the sign of a return to form then he should be in your thoughts for Newcastle's trip to Norwich.
Wayne Rooney / Javier Hernandez - It seems like a never ending question; when will Wayne Rooney and / or Robin van Persie be back? Rooney remains the most likely to make the Cardiff game, but if not then Hernandez probably did enough against Sunderland to deserve a start. We await the team news on Monday.
Wilfried Bony - Unlucky to be on the losing side against Spurs in Week 22, Bony caused problems throughout the 90 minutes and scored a deserved late goal. The powerful forward is capable of causing Fulham's leaky defence plenty of problems this week.


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So those are the players I'm considering for my Week 23 Yahoo team. For now I have the following on my own team page:

 

First XI: Tremmel, Bardsley, Ivanovic, Kolarov, Johnson, Januzaj, Willian, Cabaye, Hazard, Aguero, Suarez (C)
Subs: Bertrand, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Spencer, K.Davis

 

Aside from Tremmell, I like it a lot. I'll need to keep an eye on Willian and Januzaj's starting status, but I'm confident they'll both continue, having impressed in recent games. In short, it could be my final team.

 

Check back here early next week for all the team and injury news coming out of the manager's press conferences on Sunday and Monday to assist you with your final decisions ahead of the Tuesday deadline.

 

How's your Week 23 team looking? Who are you handing the captain's arm-band to?



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Nik Argiropoulos is a London-based soccer writer for Rotoworld and co-founder of Never Manage Alone. You can find him on Twitter @nikarg.
Email :Nik Argiropoulos



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