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04th Dec 2015

Fantasy football cheat sheet: We’re mixing up our midfield this week and ditching a ‘keeper

Crunch time

Darragh Murphy

Who needs strikers, eh?

With Sergio Aguero injured AGAIN, Daniel Sturridge having picked up a knock AGAIN and Diego Costa causing off-the-field stirs AGAIN, we’re putting our faith in some creative midfielders this week to get the job done.

An old fashioned winger, a false number 9 and a free kick whiz are all tremendous options as we enter the festive period and here are our picks for some potential point-grabbers.

Three players to sign

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League

Poor old Aiden McGeady! What chance does he have of breaking into the Everton starting XI with Gerard Deulofeu tearing it up on the Goodison Park wing.

Quietly, Deulofeu has become something of a cheap as chips midfield must-have, having amassed 31 points over the last five weeks.

In fact, the Aston Villa game two weeks ago was the only match in the last month during which the Spaniard has failed to register either a goal or assist.

He comes up against a Crystal Palace defence who haven’t kept a clean sheet since October so chances will be there for an Everton team who have been absolutely banging in the goals.

Manchester City v Liverpool - Premier League

When will Newcastle stop being shit, you ask? Not this week, we answer!

In recent weeks they’ve conceded five to Palace, three to Leicester, three to Sunderland and would have been trounced by Bournemouth if not for some quirk of luck.

They host a Liverpool side who have been gulping down Jurgen Klopp’s magic juice and, no, that’s not meant to sound sexual you filthy, filthy reader.

Manchester City and Southampton have two of the meanest defences in the league yet the Reds fired a combined 10 past them in the past few weeks so we shudder to think what will happen when Liverpool’s creative force arrives at St James’ Park this weekend.

We were spoilt for choice with Liverpool players to pile into our fantasy football team but we’ve selected Roberto Firmino as he’s looked unstoppable as of late and was the stand-out player against City two weeks ago.

Chelsea v Southampton - Premier League

If Deulofeu or Firmino don’t float your boat or if you’re one of the fortunate ones who’ve held out until December to wildcard your face off, why not get a little bit of Willian into you (not sexual either).

In a team of underperformers, the Brazilian has been a shining light for Jose Mourinho this season.

He’s yet to really get his free kick heroics going in the Premier League but he’s been a revelation in Europe so it’s only a matter of time before he begins punishing defences domestically.

What better side to get going against than Bournemouth, who have the joint worst defence in the whole league and who concede an average of more than two goals a game.

If the Cherries concede a free kick anywhere near their box, expect them to be put to the sword by Willian who is rapidly becoming one of the best set-piece specialists in Europe.

Three players to sell

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United - Premier League

West Ham without Dimitri Payet are essentially West Ham with Sam Allardyce.

Since the Frenchman’s injury, the Hammers haven’t won a game and their creativity has dwindled so much that they’d probably consider Louis van Gaal some kind of lunatic football radical.

Manuel Lanzini has been a decent shout in recent weeks but he comes up against the best defence in the league.

Manchester United haven’t conceded a goal at Old Trafford since September and we can’t see West Ham being the ones to break that forcefield.

It’s got United 1-0 or 2-0 written all over it and Lanzini is of no use to us in that case.

Norwich City v Stoke City - Premier League

Listen, we love ourselves a little bit of Jack Butland but the Christmas fixture list isn’t kind to Stoke and there’s no better time to give the Potters stopper a bit of a break.

Stoke host Manchester City at the weekend and Manuel Pellegrini’s side are in free-scoring form this season.

The modern, Barcelonified Stoke will try to outplay City on Saturday afternoon and that’s a recipe for disaster because they simply don’t have the quality to deal with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva.

Butland ought to concede more than one and with games against United and Everton coming up in December, Stoke’s goalkeeper may need to take some time out.

Newcastle United v Southampton - Premier League

6.9% of you still have this man, a Newcastle player, in your fantasy football teams.

Stop thinking that Steve McClaren is going to turn things around. He’s definitely not.

The Magpies are going down and Georginio Wijnaldum, as talented as he is, is not going to be able to stop that inevitability.

He comes up against Liverpool this weekend, Spurs next weekend and Everton, United and Arsenal around the New Year.

Aston Villa face some stiff competition in the relegation race and a Newcastle clear-out is absolutely necessary.

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