The fightback is on! AM FC is on a really decent run in Yahoo Fantasy Premier League right now and has slotted in to the top 1,500 with 150 points so far in Week 17 with Ramsey to go tonight. The good run has coincided with handing Luis Suarez the captaincy on a weekly basis so unless he gets himself suspended, or injured I expect to continue this tactic for the the rest of the season, regardless of fixture, and I would advise you all to do the same.
Now we have a rare treat for Week 18, in that it falls on Boxing Day here in the UK (December 26th) and all twenty teams play on the same day. This is a Premier League fan's dream, provided you can escape the family commitments to catch a game or two.
The match-ups are as follows ...
Week 18 Fixtures
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Cardiff v Southampton
Chelsea v Swansea
Everton v Sunderland
Hull v Man Utd
Man City v Liverpool
Newcastle v Stoke
Norwich v Fulham
Tottenham v West Brom
West Ham v Arsenal
From that lot, Everton at home to Sunderland and Arsenal at West Ham both look extremely tempting and both should secure comfortable wins, so I expect to have a couple of players from each side in my Yahoo starting XI. Chelsea should play a more attacking side to beat struggling Swansea at Stamford Bridge and I'd expect (hope) Tim Sherwood's Tottenham will have too much attacking quality for still-manger-less West Brom to deal with. I fancy Manchester United to continue their improved form with three points at Hull, while Newcastle will be looking to beat Stoke at St James Park to continue their unlikely quest for a European spot.
The big game of the weekend is Manchester City v Liverpool, which is the late kick-off (5:30pm GMT) and should round the day off nicely. Neither side has been particularly secure defensively so I expect both teams will go for the three points, which should ensure an open game and some goals. However, I'm not sure whose favour this will play in to so I may well avoid adding any new players from either side and just stick with Alvaro Negredo and Suarez.
Norwich may edge Fulham at Carrow road, while I've got Cardiff v Southampton and Aston Villa v Crystal Palace down to end as low-scoring draws.
The Week 18 player recommendations follow on the next page ...
Tim Howard - He's expensive but with a home game against Sunderland, Howard is the top scoring keeper in the Yahoo game and is the pick of the bunch this weekend. Unfortunately I can't afford him, so I'm going with ...
Tim Krul - I picked up Krul before his price went up after the clean sheet at Palace and I reckon the in-form keeper is good value for a positive score at home to Stoke.
Brad Guzan - Aston Villa aren't playing particularly well but this is giving Guzan the chance to shine in net, and the Week 18 visitors to Villa Park are Crystal Palace, who are hardly prolific in front of goal. Petr Cech is another option for Chelsea's home game against Swansea, but I prefer the three options listed here.
*UPDATE: Wojciech Szczesny - Also a great pick that I'd somehow missed, playing at goal-shy West Ham. I may actually swap Krul for him.
Kyle Walker - If you have money to burn this weekend then Walker is my pick of the premium defenders. He's getting forward more than ever and is taking some free-kicks and corners, so is capable of a big score even if Spurs fail to keep a clean sheet against West Brom.
Bryan Oviedo - Leighton Baines is close to a return so Oviedo knows he needs to keep up his sensational performances if he's to have any hope of keeping his place in the side, and he has a great opportunity to impress again at home to rock-bottom Sunderland.
Mathieu Debuchy - Not much to say about Debuchy, who most of us own and should continue to own for the foreseeable future. Wonderfully consistent and at home to Stoke, he should be in your team.
John Terry - Chelsea aren't keeping many clean sheets (which is why Cech isn't in my top three keeper picks) but Terry is returning solid points thanks to his work in the opposition's penalty area, and I fancy he could pop up with a goal against Swansea.
Phil Jones - Playing in central midfield under David Moyes, Jones is improving game-by-game and his all action displays means he is another "defender" he picks up points regardless of whether Manchester United keep a clean sheet. He could be in for another good return at Hull.
Joel Ward - Now out on his own as the top scoring defender in the entire Yahoo game, I've not personally picked him all season and it's something I regret now his price is so high. Win, draw or lose you can expect a minimum of 6 points and he regularly pulls double figures, mainly down to his phenomenal 'tackles won' record (56 and counting so far this season).
Thomas Vermaelen - I imagine you've all seen the photos circulating on Twitter of the cut Laurent Koscielny suffered to his knee against Manchester City two weeks ago, which looked pretty disgusting. He didn't make the Chelsea game and I don't expect him to recover in time to play on Boxing Day, which means former fantasy favourite Vermaelen should start again at West Ham, and he's capable of big points.
Stephen Caulker - The classy defender is having a terrific season and is always worth considering for Cardiff's home games, with Southampton coming to town in Week 18 having not won in six matches. I really wish Spurs hadn't sold him.
Ross Barkley - The now shaven-headed midfielder put in a sparking display against Swansea and capped it with a wonderful winning free-kick, returning a very handy 22 points for those us who backed him (I started him and benched Ozil). With a very winnable home game against Sunderland he should be in your thoughts.
Theo Walcott - If I didn't already have Ramsey and Ozil in my squad then I'd 100% be picking Walcott for Arsenal's game at West Ham. I'm not his biggest fan but he does have this knack for being in the right place at the right time and he's always been a very good finisher. He had a quiet game against Chelsea and was booked, so his price will dip slightly. West Ham are frail at the back so the winger could fill his boots.
Yohan Cabaye - The heartbeat of the Newcastle side, it's hard to believe he was dropped by Alan Pardew back in October. Cabaye scored against Crystal Palace, delivered some glorious set pieces and he's currently in my Week 18 team for the home game against Stoke.
Aaron Ramsey - I'm likely to bench Ozil again after Wenger's comments that he's due a rest before the Chelsea match, but Ramsey is set to continue and he's due a performance after a few quiet games in recent weeks, including a poor performance against Chelsea (admittedly in very difficult weather conditions).
Adel Taarabt - The mecurial talent is back in the Fulham line-up under Rene Meulensteen and put up a big score despite their heavy defeat against Manchester City. The Yahoo game is ideal for someone like Taarabt, who is greedy, shoots from everywhere and takes most set pieces. I grabbed him on the cheap before his price shot up and if he's set to start again at Norwich I'm planning to field him. Even if Fulham lose he can have a big impact.
Adnan Januzaj - How good could this kid be? Pretty darn good by the looks of it. Another fine goal against West Ham for Januzaj should ensure he stays in the team for Manchester United's trip to Hull. His performances don't always translate in to fantasy points but I still think he's an interesting option.
Frank Lampard - Doesn't Swansea at home just feel like the sort of game Lampard would grab a couple of goals in? It does to me, although he played 90 minutes against Arsenal tonight so could be benched in Week 18. Wait for team news over the next 48 hours but it could be safter to go with Oscar if you want to include a Chelsea midfielder, as the Brazilian was used sparringly from the bench at the Emirates.
Adam Lallana - The outstanding player for Southampton against Tottenham, Lallana was unlucky to be on the losing side, adding another goal to his already impressive tally this season. You can see why the midfielder is now fully integrated into the England set-up and if he keeps up this form he could raise his profile further at next summer's World Cup. Despite a tricky trip to Cardiff he's still worth a look.
Jordan Henderson - Aaron Ramsey excluded, is there are more improved player in the Premier league this season? I'm not sure there is and Henderson seems to be thriving in Gerrard's absence. Undoubtedly a difficult game at the Etihad, but his link up play with Suarez will prove a nuisance to the Manchester city back-line and he could be a good option if you're looking to do something a bit different.
David Silva - The little Spaniard was magnificent against Fulham, scheming just behind the front men and ensuring the impact of Sergio Aguero's absence was minimised. He's my pick of the Manchester City midfielders this weekend.
Romelu Lukaku - Disappointing against Swansea, Lukaku definitely blows hot and cold, but for a home game against Sunderland he must be considered. Any Everton fans know if he's on penalty duty with Baines out? Answers in the comments section below, cheers.
Wayne Rooney - With Robin van Persie out for another few weeks, Manchester United are more reliant than ever on Rooney. He was excellent in the win over West Ham despite not being 100% fit and I'd expect him to continue in the same vein at Hull. He's currently in my team.
Luis Suarez - It doesn't matter that he's facing the toughest home side in the league. Suarez's form is on another level to everyone around him right now and he is capable of producing another huge haul at the Etihad. Captain again.
Alvaro Negredo - They call him "The Beast" and you can see why. It's going to be a tough game for Manchester City, but Negredo's physical presence will ensure it's an even tougher day for the Liverpool defence, and there will be chances created by the likes of Silva and Samir Nasri, which this man rarely misses out on.
Olivier Giroud - With Bendnter and Lukas Podolski both available there is a slight risk that Arsene Wenger will rest Giroud at some point over Christmas, but I don't think that'll be in a London derby. Provided the Frenchman is set to start this one, he's a fine option at West Ham, despite a recent run of missed chances against Manchester City and Chelsea.
Emmanuel Adebayor - I'm as surprised as anyone at Adebayor's form in his first two games back in the first team, and I don't expect it to last too long, but for now he seems to have a point to prove and that's usually when he's at his most dangerous. He'll get the chance to add to his three goals in two games at home to struggling West Brom.
Samuel Eto'o - We saw Fernando Torres start at Arsenal - and he did nothing - so Eto'o should get his chance to impress at home to Swansea. There are better option listed above but I'm sure plenty of readers will be interested in fielding a Chelsea forward, so he's my choice with Eden Hazard due a rest at some point.
Gary Hooper - After a slow start to his Norwich career I've been really impressed with Hooper, who has more than filled the sizeable gap left by Grant Holt. He'll get the chance to add to his four league goals at home to Fulham and could be a nice choice if you're looking to gamble.
So those are the players I'm considering for my Week 18 Yahoo team. For now I have the following saved on my own team page:
Starting XI: Krul, Oviedo, P.Jones, Debuchy, Ramsey, Taarabt, Barkley, Cabaye, Negredo, Rooney, Suarez (C)
Subs: Ozil, Bardsley, Spence, Harper
I'm happy with it although I need to make a decision on my keeper as Szczesny could now come in for Krul. I'd like Lukaku but can't see myself dropping any of the front-line, so the current outfield players could form the final team barring any bad news tomorrow. Although Walcott could come in, perhaps for Taarabt if I can find the cash.
Check back here on Rotoworld on Christmas Eve for all the team and injury news coming out of the manager's press conferences to assist you with your final decisions ahead of the deadline, which is 12:00GMT on Thursday 26th December. Hull vs Manchester United is the early kick-off so we'll get their line-ups before deadline. Follow me and Rotoworld_PL on Twitter and I'll ensure these are tweeted out.
This could be my last AM's Player Picks post of 2013, so I'd just like to take the opportunity to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for your continued support; enjoy any time off you have over the holidays, enjoy the football feast and I wish your fantasy team every success over the next week or so. See you in 2014!
How's your Week 18 team looking? Suarez for captain again?