Gameweek 21 Fantasy Preview
There is one more round of matches in Segment 1. GW 21 is when managers must use what transfers and budget remain. No transfers or budget surplus will carry over when Segment 2 begins January 12.
Tuesday, January 1 WBA (10-3-7) – Fulham (5-7-8): Both teams come off loses. The Baggies miss and are without Jonas Olsson but could get Claudio Yacob back. Romelu Lukaku is a force at forward. Fulham hope to have injured keeper Mark Schwarzer back after David Stockdale's howlers against Swansea. Bryan Ruiz scored and takes defensive attention away from Dimitar Berbatov.
Manchester City (12-6-2) - Stoke City (6-11-3): Carlos Tevez did not play against Norwich City. Edin Dzeko's hat trick will make it hard not to have him in the first XI. Sergio Aguero also scored while Samir Nasri was red-carded for violent play. The Potters get Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron back from suspension after uncharacteristically giving up three goals (one by Andy Wilkinson’s OG) to Southampton Steven N'Zonzi was red-carded. Kenwynne Jones is fantasy material. He scored, as did Cameron Jerome.
Swansea City (7-7-6) - Aston Villa (4-6-10): The Swans hope Michu will return from injury against hopeless Villa, who has bled 39 goals (15 in their last three, in which Villa were also clean-sheeted).
Tottenham (11-3-6) - Reading (2-7-11): Spurs will be without suspended Gareth Bale. Jermain Defoe needs service and Aaron Lennon delivers. Emmanuel Adebayor is a fantasy disappointment. Clint Dempsey is a likely starter. Expect Jan Vertonghen back in the first XI. Reading has had two clean sheets in a row.
West Ham (6-5-8) – Norwich City (6-7-7): Kevin Nolan and James Collins are on five-card suspensions. Big Sam has forward Ricardo Vaz Te back playing after being out since October with a dislocated shoulder. Against Reading, Vaz Te could not locate the goal from 4 yards out. The Canaries were a handful for Man City. Defender Russell Martin had two goals, unfortunately Mark Bunn had one, too - an OG. Grant Holt should be back for needed offense up front.
Wigan (5-3-12) – Manchester United (16-1-3): Wigan beat up PL patsy Aston Villa and now face 50-goal United. Arouna Kone has two goals and an assist in his last two matches and is the fourth best fantasy forward. A rare clean sheet for Man U shows the value of Nemanja Vidic who is getting back in form. Patrice Evra is having an excellent fantasy season. Fantasy managers hope Robin van Persie will start against the Latics. Chicharito, who did not play against WBA, may start.
Southampton (4-5-10) – Arsenal (9-6-4): Rickie Lambert has two goals in his last two games. The Saints may soon escape the relegation zone, but face reality in Arsenal. Theo Walcott’s hat trick and Oliver Giroud’s brace against Newcastle have the Gunners in top gear. Santi Cazorla would have more goals if Walcott and others passed him the ball. Per Mertesacker is out with illness.
Wednesday, January 2 Chelsea (11-5-3) – QPR (1-7-12): Chelsea, with a game in hand is now, third and pressing for a Champions League spot. Bad fantasy news is that Rafa Benitez may rotate his squad and bench Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Frank Lampard. Petr Cech is out with an injury. QPR looked as wretched as a team can be in the rollover at home against Liverpool.
Liverpool (7-7-6) – Sunderland (5-7-8): The Reds are on the positive side of .500 and Luis Suarez looked unstoppable at QPR. But then the Rangers brought their white flags of surrender. Suarez and Steven Gerrard are in fine fantasy form. Jose Enrique is out injured. Sunderland’s defense will be far tougher. Keeper Simon Mignolet has seven clean sheets. John O’Shea (hammy) is out. Steven Fletcher is a warrior on bad wheels.
Newcastle (5-5-10) – Everton (8-9-3): The injury-racked Magpies' freefall toward the relegation muck continues. Demba Ba is a lone bright spot with 11 goals. Demolished at Arsenal, they face Everton and Marouane Fellaini, who is back from a three-game suspension.
Captain recommendations: Ba, Fellaini, van Persie, Cazorla and Walcott (although players who have had big games rarely duplicate that the next time out),
Look for blog pieces during January 3-12 to help you with new team selections for Segment 2.
Happy New Year!