Fantasy Football round 23 preview

In association with Monroes

So we are halfway through January and it looks all over bar the shouting as Liverpool extended their enormous lead at the top to 14 points with a hard fought 1-0 success over Spurs in north London. Elsewhere Watford's great escape continues to gather momentum as they defeated fellow strugglers Bournemouth 3-0 on Sunday to climb at of the relegation zone for the first time this season; Man City annihilated Aston Villa 6-1; and Southampton exacted revenge for their 9-0 hammering in October, inflicting a 2-1 defeat on Leicester to all but kill off The Foxes' faint title hopes.

But what repercussions did game week 22 have on the standings in the Advertiser Tribal League in association with Monroe's Tavern? Let's have a look at the top three.

Top three

1 Declan Ryan - Decs Villains - 1,380

The Villains held onto first place for another week thanks to a haul of 63 points over the weekend. It is hard to find fault in Declan Ryan's 3-4-3 formation which saw clean sheets for Jordan Pickford, John Lundstram, and Trent Alexander-Arnold, assists for Jamie Vardy and Kevin De Bruyne (2 ), and goals for Richarlison, Danny Ings, and Tammy Abraham. The only criticism that could be levelled at Ryan's team if I were being incredibly pernickety would be his side should have found the back of the net a few more times at the weekend. However, it was a good weekend for the league leaders and if they maintain their form, The Villains will be difficult to catch.

2 Cian de Lamport - Chris Woodbines - 1,365

The average score for game week 22 was 57 points and that is exactly how many point Chris Woodbines garnered over the 10 matches. However, when you are at the upper echelons of the Tribal League average is not good enough as Cian de Lamport's men fell a further six points behind. Like the league leaders, there are very few criticisms that can be aimed at The Woodbines with shut outs for Ben Foster, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Djibril Sidibé, assists for Kevin De Bruyne (2 ) and Jamie Vardy, and a goal for Richarlison. But a worry for de Lamport will be their profligacy in front of goal with only one success registered over the weekend. A marquee striker is needed if The Woodbines wish to keep pace.

3 Kieran Ryan - TheDodgyTickers - 1,339

The Ticks are back in the top three with a big performance at the weekend scoring 70 points. Captain Kevin De Bruyne (18 ), Richarlison (10 ), and Marcus Rashford (12 ) were the top performers for Kieran Ryan's charges with John Lundstram (6 ), Anthony Martial (8 ), and Jamie Vardy (5 ) chipping in handy scores as well. At the back is where The Ticks could be considered dodgy with only one clean sheet from four players. Tighten up the defence and Ryan and co could be in business come May.

Top picks

With another round of top flight action on the way, who are the men to get the job done in game week 23?

Sergio Agüero (Man City - £11.8 million ) v Crystal Palace

The Argentine hitman may not be as deadly as he used to be but as he showed at the weekend with a hat-trick over struggling Aston Villa, the striker still knows where the goal is and how to finish. The goals mean he is now the highest goal scoring foreign player in Premier League history overtaking Thierry Henry's record of 175 goals. The hat-trick also made it four goals in four matches for Agüero who has missed a large chunk of the season due to injury. On Saturday afternoon Crystal Palace are Man City's opponents at the Etihad. Roy Hodgson's men are unbeaten in four, however, have failed to keep a clean sheet in six. Agüero will extend that run to seven games on Saturday. Get him in your team.

Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford - £5.6 million ) v Spurs

Four wins and a draw in the last five league outings sees Watford climb out of the dreaded relegation zone for the first time this season. That is 21 game weeks that The Hornets have languished in the bottom three, however, coach Nigel Pearson is working his magic and has got his side buzzing. One of the key players in Watford's good form is box-to-box midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré. The former French U21 international has two goals and an assist in his last three appearances and I believe he will again be crucial to his side's chances when they host Spurs at Vicarage Road at Saturday lunchtime. José Mourinho's men continue to blow and hot cold with the performance against Liverpool last weekend a perfect summation; a dreadful showing in the first 45 should have seen them three of four down before a spirited second half could have resulted in a deserved point. I can see Spurs once again slipping up so I am going with a Watford win with Doucouré to get his name on the score sheet.

Richarlison (Everton - £8.1 million ) v West Ham

The Brazilian midfielder-cum-forward was one of the very few Everton players who was performing near to a required level that is expected of a Premier League when Marco Silva was the gaffer at Goodison Park. With two goals and an assist in his last three league appearances, Richarlison seems to be, along with everyone else in the squad, enjoying life under new coach Carlo Ancelotti. On Saturday, The Toffees make the trip south to east London to take on West Ham. The Hammers started life under new manager David Moyes with a thumping 4-0 win over Bournemouth and then were robbed of a dramatic late equaliser thanks to football enemy number one - VAR. I think this match will see goals galore and Richarlison will help himself.

Don't miss a minute of action with Monroe's Tavern

Remember you can catch all of game week 23's action live at Monroe's Tavern where punters can enjoy wings and a pint or burger and a pint for €10 during the matches.

Saturday:

Watford v Spurs (12.30pm ) BT Sport.

Man City v Crystal Palace (3pm ) Premier Sports.

Newcastle v Chelsea (5.30pm ) SKY Sports.

Sunday:

Burnley v Leicester City (2pm ) SKY Sports.

Liverpool v Man United (4.30pm ) SKY Sports.

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