Premier League – Fantasy: Choose ’em or lose ’em

This week’s Fantasy mantra has to be: if in doubt, leave ’em out.

FOOTBALL 2007-2008 Premier League Liverpool Dan Agger - 0

With so many players returning from international duty with knocks, there is too much at stake to choose a player if he is not going to feature. So, it is best to leave them out entirely – a policy that can be applied to a number of key players this week.

GOALKEEPERS

Choose ’em: You’d be mad not to pick England reject Paul Robinson (7.32), with Blackburn travelling to the Reebok to face a Bolton team who have failed to win at home since their opening day defeat of Stoke. But if it’s a bargain basement &lsquokeeper you’re after, why not gamble on Newcastle’s Shay Given. At just 1.39 he’s cheap as chips, and with Newcastle at home to Manchester City who’s to say he won’t keep a clean sheet as Robinho and Co. fire overhead kicks and backheels over the bar ad nauseum. If you’re a shrewd investor, however, Carlo Cudicini (11.48) could be your man. With Petr Cech injured, the Italian could mop up some buffet points as Chelsea travel to toothless Middlesbrough for a sure-fire away clean sheet.

Lose ’em: Tim Howard (8.72) is a really nice guy and a decent goalkeeper, but we have a sneaky feeling Arsenal might rattle up a cricket score against Everton at the Emirates. Advance with caution, and in if doubt, leave him out.

DEFENDERS

Choose ’em: Pretty much any Manchester United defender will do this week with a home fixture against West Brom on the horizon. Just be wary of picking Wes Brown (12.17) though – the England defender may be overlooked in favour of the returning Gary Neville (7.71). But if you’re of the gambling persuasion, why not pick up Aston Villa‘s Carlos Cuellar for a mere 4.38 – the Spaniard could get the nod to start against Portsmouth.

Lose ’em: Continuing the ‘if in doubt’ theme, steer well clear of Liverpool stoppers Martin Skrtel (8.11), Daniel Agger (pictured, 6.90) and Sami Hyypia (8.32) – Skrtel’s out injured, but Agger is by no means a shoe-in to replace him with Hyppia also standing a chance of playing against Wigan. Meanwhile there’s bad news for those banking on an Arsenal clean sheet against Everton – half the Gunners’ starting back four are injured so it’s time to ditch both William Gallas (7.71) and Bacary Sagna (9.24).

MIDFIELDERS

Choose ’em: Returning Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick looks a good bet at 6.49 this week while Arsenal duo Denilson (7.79) and Theo Walcott (6.95) are tempting for lovers of bargains. But perhaps the best bargain to be found in north London is Abou Diaby (3.53), who stands an outside chance of playing at the Emirates.

Lose ’em: Portsmouth duo Lassana Diarra (4.23) and Richard Hughes (3.85) are normally great purchases. Not this week though; both are out injured so lose them sharpish. Likewise, Liverpool’s Ryan Babel (5.91), Blackburn duo David Dunn (5.90) and Steven Reid (4.66) and any number of crocked Chelsea stars.

FORWARDS

Choose ’em: He might be a horrible little man with a tendency to swing golf clubs at his team-mates, but Craig Bellamy (6.26) is the obvious choice to lead your forward line this week. The Wales international played superbly against Germany in midweek and will relish the chance to rip apart Hull’s over-rated defence. Our second recommendation is England’s superhero elect Wayne Rooney (17.23), who has been scoring goals for fun of late, and could very well destroy West Bromwich Albion in a Manchester United goal-fest at the Theatre of Dreams. But why go with the obvious? If it’s a left-field selection you’re after we suggest you put your hard earned fantasy money on Dave Kitson (8.07). The Stoke striker may not have scored all season, but his team are up against Spurs this week – officially the worst team in the Premier League. Fill your boots. Finally, a mention for Spurs man Darren Bent (7.46), who loves to hit the onion bag and could well trouble the scorers against Stoke.

Lose ’em: Arsenal’s Robin van Persie (17.53) is doubtful for the Gunners’ home clash with Everton, so it’s well advised you spend your crazy money elsewhere. If in doubt, leave him out. Michael Owen (11.53) is another obvious one to ignore with injury ruling the England striker out of Newcastle’s clash with Manchester City. Finally, remember to ditch Tottenham’s Roman Pavlyunchenko (5.60) who will be replaced by Bent.

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