Gameweek 24 preview

January 31, 2014

01 Feb 12:45 Newcastle   v   Sunderland
01 Feb 12:45 West Ham   v   Swansea
01 Feb 15:00 Cardiff City   v   Norwich
01 Feb 15:00 Everton   v   Aston Villa
01 Feb 15:00 Fulham   v   Southampton
01 Feb 15:00 Hull City   v   Tottenham
01 Feb 15:00 Stoke City   v   Man Utd
02 Feb 13:30 West Brom   v   Liverpool
02 Feb 16:00 Arsenal   v   Crystal Palace
03 Feb 20:00 Man City   v   Chelsea

And so we start February, a month of four gameweeks, including one set of midweek fixtures and one weekend off for the next round of the FA Cup. The Buckets Cup starts in the first week of March, and over the next four gameweeks we’ll know the other four teams receiving byes into the 1st round proper. Romeo’s and (Your Ad Here) are already there. If you top the weekly chart between now and March you’ll be joining them.

It’s the last week in which you can play the January wildcard, so if you haven’t used it yet, it’s now or never. And with a new raft of injuries to deal with, a bag load of suspensions from the last gameweek’s play, and some new players introduced courtesy of the January transfer window, there are plenty of reasons to activate it.

News has broke today that Aaron Ramsey is another six weeks away from a first team return, so those Buckets teams valiantly holding on to the Arsenal midfielder, it really is now now time to make that change. Ramsey will still earn you £7.1 millions worth of spends, but had you booted him out when he was first injured, you’d have had an extra half a million to play with. The 11.30am deadline for transfers tomorrow is no help to those sweating on whether Sergio Aguero is going to be fit enough to play on Monday night against Chelsea. Obviously, if you keep him in, he won’t play, and if you get rid, he will. That’s just how it works.

The “light” injury suffered by Seamus Coleman hasn’t healed. He is officially out, and no longer doubtful, adding to defensive woes for Everton highlighted by their hammering at the hands of Liverpool in midweek. Injuries to Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz mean young John Stones will continue to deputise in the middle alongside Phil Jagielka. Everton’s European challenge is going to be tested over the next few weeks until they can get their first choice defenders back. Add to that the six or so weeks Romelu Lukaku looks likely to be out, which leaves Gary Naismith as their main attacking option. If their periphery players can rise to the occasion, then their cheapness could be an attractive proposition. Stones will set you back £4.2 and Naismith £4.6 million, leaving plenty of scope for splashing out elsewhere.

It’s the North East derby, and Newcastle go into the game without their two best players. Yohan Cabaye has gone forever, and Loic Remy must serve a three game ban for his bout of handbags at Norwich on Tuesday night. It leaves Shola up top. But Shola always scores against Sunderland, so don’t be afraid to pick him.

The last day of the transfer window is under way. There’s rumour on a few big money deals involving City. And Chelsea have signed a kid from St Etienne called Kurt Zouma, but loaned him straight back. There’s a few players who have made switches between Premier League clubs. Zaha has gone to Cardiff with Fabio. Lewis Holtby has switched to Fulham.

Dimitar Berbatov and Adel Taraabt have jumped ship to warm benches at Monaco and Milan respectively. Sunderland have brought in Liam Bridcutt and Ignacio Scocco. Scocco is a once capped Argentinian international, and is priced at £5.5 million. Those kind of transfers could go either way. Does anyone remember Mauro Boselli? Thought not.

As always, it’ll take a week or two to see whether any of these deals will be worth our while. The switches between Premier clubs can generally be relied upon more than the unknown Argentinians. You’d expect Zaha and Holtby to go straight into their respective trams, but they’re the bottom two teams in the league, so they need to start performing straight away.

Breaking news – Aguero out for a month.

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