Welcome to Week 25 of my player picks for the Yahoo Fantasy Premier League game - published on a Monday due to a full set of mid-week fixtures. PLEASE NOTE: The deadline is 6:45pm GMT on Tuesday, one hour before the first match kicks-off.
The Rotoworld Cup 3rd Round results from Week 24 will be published later this week once I've had a chance to calculate them.
On the subject of Week 24, it was officially the worst week I have had in my 12 seasons of playing Yahoo Fantasy Premier League. Literally everything went wrong due to a combination of poor decisions and bad luck - too many things to list here - but a weekly total of 40 points (with 43 points stuck on the bench) tells its own story. I'm actually on a horrible run of form over the past few weeks and have lost my discounts on Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez in the process, so I'm feeling pretty down in the dumps right now. Things can only get better ... right?
Week 25 Fixtures
Arsenal v Leicester City
Chelsea v Everton
Crystal Palace v Newcastle
Hull City v Aston Villa
Liverpool v Tottenham
Man Utd v Burnley
Southampton v West Ham
Stoke v Man City
Sunderland v QPR
West Brom v Swansea
The stand out fixture by a mile is Arsenal at home to Leicester City as the Gunners look to take out their North London derby frustrations on the Premier League's bottom side. Chelsea at home to Everton is another attractive proposition with Roberto Martinez's men looking completely out of sorts at the moment and we should expect to see a better performance from Manchester United at home to Burnley. Southampton are strong enough to beat West Ham at St Mary's, while Sunderland can take the three points from away-winless / manager-less / Charlie Austin-less Queens Park Rangers.
The rest of the fixtures are closely matched, although I'd give Crystal Palace the slight edge over Newcastle at Selhurst Park, with the Eagles winning three of their four league under Alan Pardew – a man who will feel he has a point to prove to the Geordie fans. Liverpool v Tottenham could be a cracker with plenty of goals, West Brom v Swansea has "1-1 draw" written all over it and Hull City v Aston Villa could easily end 0-0. That leaves Stoke v Manchester City - another potential banana-skin for Manuel Pellegrini after the disappointing home draw with Hull. City obviously have the talent to win at the Britannia but it will be a tough battle, and Yaya Toure will still be missing, so I doubt I'll be investing beyond Sergio Aguero.
With that in mind please click over to the next page to view my Week 24 player recommendations.
David Ospina - Managed to look unconvincing despite a host of saves against Spurs but Ospina will keep his place for the Leicester match and has an excellent chance of a clean sheet.
Costel Pantilimon - If you have the money to spend but don't fancy Ospina you could go for. Pantilimon. The Sunderland stopper is up against a QPR side missing Charlie Austin due to injury. £11million is a stretch, but you're likely to be rewarded.
Thibaut Courtois - Another price drop over the weekend has Courtois well and truly back in the "affordable" category at £6million, and a home clash with Everton presents a clean sheet opportunity.
Alan McGregor / Brad Guzan - Hull v Villa is going to be a low scoring affair so it's really down to you to decide who to pick up if you're going for a cheap GK. Both are priced around £3million. I’d probably take Guzan.
Patrick van Aanholt - A unexplainable zero against Swansea in Week 24 has done fantasy managers a big favour by pulling PvA's price below £10million for the home match against QPR. You should try to find a way of getting the attacking left-back in to your team.
Hector Bellerin - Surprisingly the most affordable Arsenal defender despite that stunning performance against Villa in Week 23, Bellerin should get plenty of chances to get forward against Leicester and could grab a clean sheet too.
Jores Okore - I cannot explain how frustrating it is to see Okore's 16 fantasy points staring back at me from the second spot on my substitutes bench after he scored a goal and picked up a host of defensive points against Chelsea. The Villa man is playing well despite his side's struggles and could be in for another productive match at Hull.
Marcos Rojo - The cheapest way in to the Manchester United defence for the home match with Burnley. There's even a chance that Rojo could be played at left back with Luke Shaw suspended, which should present more attacking opportunities than usual.
Martin Kelly / Brede Hangeland - Kelly is the usual "go-to" Palace defender but there is competition for the full-back slots after Pardew's busy transfer window activity, so it's a slight risk. Hangeland replaced the injured Scott Dann on Saturday so he may be the slightly safer option if team news suggests the former Fulham man will keep his place. Both players can be picked up for less than £7million.
Florin Gardos - With Ryan Bertrand suspended and Matt Targett suffering a bad head injury at QPR it should open the door for Gardos to start after he played well off the bench at the weekend. This should be at the centre of defence against West Ham with Maya Yoshida pushed out to cover at left-back.
Kurt Zouma - Apologies to all those fantasy managers burnt by Zouma's benching on against Villa as Jose Mourinho decided to recall Gary Cahill. I'm confident Zouma will be back in the starting XI against Everton but it's understandable if it's not a risk you're willing to take.
Alex Bruce - It seemed sensible to include a Hull defender given the potential clean sheet at home to Villa, so the manager's son Alex is the recommendation. Bruce is the most affordable option and should be guaranteed a start after he kept Sergio Aguero quiet in Week 24, with James Chester out until April after shoulder surgery.
Santi Cazorla - Very quiet against Spurs as his space was removed by the impressive shutting down from Ryan Mason and others, but life should become a lot easier for Cazorla against Leicester. The Spaniard's price is back down to a justifiable £17million and he’s on penalties, so it could be a toss-up between him and Hazard. Although you have the option of going with the cheaper Mesut Ozil.
Eden Hazard - Another game, another goal for Hazard at Villa and he's stepping up to the plate in the absence of Diego Costa. Everton have proved tough opposition in the past but something isn't right at under Martinez at the moment and Chelsea can power their way to another efficient victory with the Belgian wizard running the show.
Sadio Mane - After Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic starred in the early months of the season it is Mane who is coming through strong recently, putting in a string of bright performances before the African Cup of Nations and returning with a match-winning display against QPR on Saturday. Playing "in the hole" behind the striker, the Senegal star is the Saints' best fantasy option right now.
Theo Walcott - Surprisingly limited to a quiet 20 minute cameo from the bench in the North London derby, one has to think Walcott will start against Leicester on Tuesday night. The pacey winger looked great in Arsenal's last home match against Villa and is a bonafied bargain at £6million.
Angel Di Maria - What has happened to Di Maria? After a thrilling start to his Old Trafford career the Argentine has been well off the pace in the past month and is without a Premier League goal or assist since the win at Arsenal in Week 12 (albeit with a long time out with injury). Our patience is rightly wearing extremely thin but he IS world class, so I'm willing to give ADM one final chance against Burnley before moving him on to the "dead to me" list.
Seb Larsson - It was a close call between Larsson and Adam Johnson for which Sunderland midfielder made the list, but the former's set piece duty gave him the edge. QPR are woeful away from home so the Black Cats should have plenty of attacking possession and this feels like the sort of match where Larsson could pop up with a goal.
Carles Gil - One of the few bright spots from Villa's mess of a season has been the early form of Carles Gil, who offers a creative spark from midfield and has already shown he can deliver a fine corner. 10 fantasy points despite defeat against Chelsea could be a sign of positive things to come.
Wilfried Zaha - The move to Manchester didn't pan out as Zaha would have wanted but United's loss is Palace's gain as the winger signed back permanently for a bargain fee in January. He was excellent against Leicester in Week 24 and can cause Newcastle problems in the Pardew grudge match against Newcastle.
Raheem Sterling - Should've done better with two chances against Everton but Sterling is still getting in to the right positions and remains the main danger man in the Liverpool midfield. Daniel Sturridge's return will work in his favour as it eases some of the special attention the young man gets from opposition defenders.
Jonjo Shelvey - Shelvey is one of those frustrating players who seems to have all the tools to becomes a top player but fails to apply himself in big matches and often struggles with poor discipline. However, he has played very well in the absence of Gylfi Sigurdsson and has one final chance to impress in an attacking midfield role against West Brom before the Icelander returns from suspension in Week 26.
Mousa Dembele - When Dembele is in form and in full flight he is a joy to behold, which is why the past 18 months have been so frustrating. However, the Belgian appears to have won over Mauricio Pochettino by improving his work rate and - playing in the number 10 position - has finally remembered that he is actually allowed to shoot at goal. You've got to love the price of £4.2million.
Jermain Defoe - From Week 24's column: "One thing on this earth is certain - if you feed Defoe chances, he will score goals." It's two in two games for the ex-Spurs man - who has already surpassed the number of Premier League goals scored by Jozy Altidore in 18 months at the club - and he'll be licking his lips at the prospect of facing QPR at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday night. A great bit of business by Sunderland, and at a fantasy price of £8million Defoe should be filling a spot in striking line up.
Olivier Giroud - With Alexis Sanchez not even on the bench against Spurs on Saturday it would be a surprise to see him in start for Tuesday night, so Giroud looks like the way to go. It was tough for the Frenchman against Spurs as he was limited to one chance (the slice which set up Ozil's goal) but his general form has been very good and we should expect to see him on the score-sheet against Leicester.
Harry Kane - £18.7million for an away match at Liverpool is too much to spend, but I wanted to include Kane in the column to remind long term owners (as if you needed reminding) that you MUST keep in your team for the rest of the season. I love him.
Robin van Persie - With Wayne Rooney playing deep in midfield and Radamel Falcao in and out of the side, there is only one option if you want to include a Manchester United striker against Burnley. van Persie has started to return some decent fantasy scores again and remains well priced given he takes penalties.
Loic Remy - As with Zouma we were fooled in to thinking a great performance against Manchester City would result in another start against Aston Villa, when in fact Didier Drogba got the nod. However, the 36-year-old was ineffective and is unlikely to start twice in four days so expect to see Remy lead the line against Everton.
Sergio Aguero – Hmmmm, something isn't right. City are obviously missing Yaya Toure but they still have hundreds of millions of pounds worth of talent in that squad and Yaya's absence is no explanation for Aguero's complete loss of form. Those quick feet and that burst of acceleration that provide the space to get a powerful shot away have mysteriously vanished, but this is SERGIO AGUERO - he's got to come good soon, hasn't he? A match away at Stoke seems an unlikely place for any striker to suddenly find form, but for some reason I can't let him go just yet.
Daniel Sturridge - Another long run-out from the bench in the Merseyside derby will surely pave the way for a Sturridge start against Spurs. The England striker wasn't given a sniff of a chance at Goodison but he'll get at least one in a potentially open game in Week 25 and that's usually all it takes at Anfield.
Saido Berahino - There's definitely a whiff of an attitude problem about Berahino and Tony Pulis benched him accordingly for the match at Burnley, but with Victor Anichebe injured again the Baggies boss may not have any choice but to play his top scorer from the start against Swansea. Berahino will definitely have a point to prove if he does get the nod.
So those are the players I'm considering for my Week 25 Yahoo team. Please make sure you check back here tomorrow for Ben Dinnery's team and injury news column, where he'll run through all the squads ahead of Tuesday night's deadline.
My own team page currently looks like this ...
XI: Courtois, Kelly, Okore, Yoshida, Walcott, Mane, Di Maria, Hazard, Giroud, Aguero, Defoe
Subs: Fabregas, Cresswell, Gardos, Robles
It's a very early draft which hasn't been touched since Saturday evening. I quite like it but in the unlikely event of Sanchez being confirmed fit to start then he'll need to come in, I will try to find a way to squeeze in van Aanholt and Cazorla is obviously tempting. Lots of thinking to be done before Tuesday evening - follow me on @nikarg and I'll tweet my updated line-up out on Tuesday afternoon.
How's your Week 25 team looking?