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Fantasy Football: Pick Manchester United and Aston Villa players this week

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It was a momentous week in the Premier League, as we saw Arsenal give further ammunition to those who claim they have a soft centre with a late collapse at West Ham, Nemanja Vidic pick up a third successive red card against Liverpool, Harry Redknapp beg Aaron Lennon not to leave him and Liam Ridgewell play his way into the Fantasy Premier League team of the week. Yes, people, Gameweek 10 had it all. Thrills, spills, and those sweet, sweet points.

You can join the Football Media fantasy football league (and try your hand at beating Neil to the finish line) by signing up here.

This week’s Fantasy Football column is brought to you by Soccerlens Babes, and this week’s lovely lady on the right is Asdis Ran, a rocking model and mother from Iceland. We love her, she loves us, it’s a match made in heaven. And we also interviewed her this week: Asdis Ran interview.

The Men in Form

It was a good week to be a Chelsea midfielder, that’s for sure. Blackburn’s squad may have had swine-flu on their mind when they travelled to Stamford Bridge, but Carlo Ancelotti’s diamond geezers still had to swot them aside. And swot them aside they did, with Frank Lampard (14 points), Michael Ballack and Michael Essien (both 11) making up an all-Chelsea midfield in the team of the week. Competition in this position will increase now Joe Cole and his fancy footwork has returned, but Chelsea’s engine room are driving the team forward at the moment.

So too, is Hugo Rodallega at Wigan. The Colombian is a talent and a half, according to South American expert Tim Vickery, and he is wowing the Premier League with his all-round game and inventive finishing. Two goals at Burnley made the Wigan man the week’s top striker, and his season tally of 54 puts him up at the top end of the game’s forwards.

The Men to Avoid

It was a strange week last week, in that my men to avoid actually didn’t do too badly. Nicola Kalinic, Croatian not Serbian of course, picked up a goal – albeit a penalty – in the Carling Cup, but his fellow “avoidee” Lucas Neill collected two assists for Everton at Bolton, and looks set to retain his place this week. But still I persist, and it is fair to say that my record this season is more right than wrong.

Ok so this week my first man to avoid is Javier Mascherano. Avoid him like he is steaming towards you with his studs up. Mascherano is a fine player, one of the best in his position, but at Fantasy level he is more of a hindrance than a help. His red card last week proves this. He will pick up more bookings than assists, and has scored just once in his three year Anfield career. Avoid.

Same goes for Nigel De Jong at Manchester City. Speak to any City midfielder – Gareth Barry for example – and they will sing the Dutchman’s praises. He gives us a platform to attack, they say. He never wastes the ball. Fine, but he also has just 11 points from 8 appearances this season, and has not really threatened to pick up any more. The unsung hero is all well and good, but not too unsung please.

Bargain Hunt

Jamie O’Hara (Portsmouth) – That’s the thing about struggling sides, you always wonder when they will hit form. Pompey have taken four points from their last six, and that is down to players like O’Hara (and my own favourite, Kevin Prince Boateng). The on-loan Spurs midfielder costs just £4.5m, and takes a mean set-piece with his left foot. Three bonus points at Hull last week hint at his potential.

Joe Hart (Birmingham) – The big goalkeepers are not the way forward. That is a fact. Pepe Reina, Edwin Van der Sar and Petr Cech may be the best keepers in the league, but their value is disproportionate. For a couple of million less, you can pick up a bargain like Birmingham’s Joe Hart (£4.1m). The young keeper cannot play this week, as he faces parent club Manchester City, but is very much first choice at St Andrews. Bargain.

Abdoulaye Faye (Stoke) – Stoke keep clean sheets more often than most mid-lower reach sides. And Abdoulaye Faye costs just £4.7m. You do the maths.

Premier League Fixtures

Arsenal v Tottenham
Bolton v Chelsea
• Burnley v Hull City
Everton v Aston Villa
Fulham v Liverpool
• Portsmouth v Wigan
• Stoke City v Wolves
• Sunderland v West Ham
Man Utd v Blackburn
• Birmingham v Man City
• West Ham v Aston Villa

A couple of points worth noting. Blackburn take their swine-flu to Old Trafford, having shipped 11 goals at Chelsea and Arsenal. Get a United man in there. Liverpool’s resurgence can continue at Fulham, whilst there is a north London derby to start the weekend. Interestingly, Aston Villa and West Ham players feature twice this week, as the Claret and Blues face off in a re-arranged fixture next Wednesday. A Villain or two may be sensible.

My Team

It has happened. The wildcard has been played. As manager’s may blandly put it, “I just felt I needed to freshen things up”. Fitness doubts over Steven Gerrard played a part, he has gone and Frank Lampard has replaced him. In also come James Collins, James Milner, Jamie Carragher, James Dean, Jay Spearing and Jim Leighton (ok, not the last three). Dave Edwards and Liam Ridgewell make up my new-look squad.

Last week was a so-so week. Captain Didier Drogba picked up 18 points for me, whilst Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Ryan Shawcross all made useful contributions, but by and large it was a week of missed chances.

Football Media League

But I am still top! Albeit by only four points from Jon Eggert Hallsson, but top nonetheless. There are new challengers emerging of course, with 67 point Westfield Irons – under manager Jon Reeson – and Mark White’s 82 point side, The White Oxen. In general though it was a moderate week for most, with 55-60 points the average score. With my reshuffled side set to take on the world this week, will I yield top spot? Or zoom away? I predict the latter. Of course.

You can join the Football Media fantasy football league (and try your hand at beating Neil to the finish line) by signing up here.

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Right, where to start? My name is Neil Jones, I'm 23 years old and from Liverpool- therefore I'm a Liverpool F.C. supporter. I have been writing football related bits and bobs for as long as I can remember. It was a massive ambition of mine right the way through school to be a sports writer, until the smell of money distracted me from University at 18! But now I'm determined to give it another go, starting from now! I guess I find it easy to write about something I seem to spend most my life talking/thinking/reading about, and have an awful lot of passion for. Hope you enjoy reading my pieces, and don't be afraid to cut me down if you disagree with my opinions. After all, that's what football is all about isn't it?