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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 23 October, 2014

Fantasyland: The business end

It’s another curtailed week in the world of Fantasy Football so be sure to avoid picking those FA Cup contenders from Liverpool and London.

Image: Nick Potts/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A TUMULTUOUS ROUND of midweek fixtures saw the title race blown wide open by a quite brilliant Shaun Maloney goal.

However, we have to agree with Roberto Mancini on this one, it’s finished, and that could be underlined by 3pm tomorrow – 25 hours before United even kick off.

That doesn’t mean you’re allowed to kick back and allow your team enter holiday mode. There are plenty of points still to be picked up to earn bragging rights all through summer.

Alex Ferguson’s side face Big ‘Eck’s lowly Villa on Sunday. The Midlands’ biggest club are teetering on the edge of a bitter relegation dogfight and to put it mildly, McLeish has form for taking teams down.

Arsenal are in their favourite time of the season and will relish a shot at (an admittedly in-form) Wigan. The bottom three are all away from home, but with Swansea the destination Blackburn’s sat-nav, it could be a crucial week in their survival.

That damned FA Cup sideshow is depriving us of Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea and Spurs. So make sure you get Andy Carroll and Darron Gibson out of your team… why were they ever in there in the first place?

Two players to pick this week

Robin Van Persie: The great RVP ended a (for him) long goalscoring drought with a penalty against Wolves. Back on home soil against Wigan, we’re expecting more of the same.

James McClean: While some dodgy displays in the FA Cup give the impression that the Mackems have gone off the boil, James McClean has done anything but.

Even in Sunderland’s defeat to Blackburn (one of two losses in the last seven) McClean’s left foot has never ceased finding the gaps between fullback and goalkeeper. Better finishing would see him with plenty more assists to his name and when he get a chance to pull the trigger, it’s worth taking notice.

Now if only we can convince a certain 73-year-old Italian to pick him too.

Two players to avoid this week

Ashley Williams: Swansea are currently the team everyone wants on their fixture list. They may be just a point from securing safety, but the welsh club have gone well off the boil. Especially when up against a team with something to play for and enjoys a high tempo game. Ladies and gents: I give you, Blackburn.

Joleon Lescott: Whereas Swansea are coasting, mid-table Norwich and Paul Lambert are refusing to let their foot off the pedal. City (the Manchester edition) have not won any of their last four away games. The Canaries have only failed to score once in their last six games.

Predictions:

Norwich 2 – 2 Man City

Sunderland 2 – 0 Wolves

Swansea 0 – 1 Blackburn

West Brom 2 –  1 QPR

Man Utd 2 – 0 Aston Villa

Arsenal 3 – 0 Wigan

How my team got on last week:

We’re putting bad performance this week down to the irregular start date. 12 of my 31 points came via Manchester City defenders, seven more from Tim Krul. Not a single goal between them – mid-table mediocrity.

Who’s leading TheScore.ie league?

It’s finally happened. Tog in Your Useless has been knocked off the top. Noel Crowley’s Crilly’s Fella’s now lead the way and have opened up an insurmountable gap of… one point.

PJ Browne and his team MacFistycuffs is the highest scoring team this week. 81 points coming by way of Sergio Aguero’s captaincy (38 points), Robin Van Persie and Danny SImpson.

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