Fantasy Football advice: Week 24

Following the fourth round of the FA Cup, Sports Mole's fantasy football advice returns for the 24th week of Premier League fixtures.

After a break for a set of FA Cup matches, the Premier League will be back this weekend for its 24th round of fixtures.

As a result, our advice for those that have a fantasy football team has returned and although we didn't cover ourselves in glory last time, here's hoping for better things on this occasion!

Below are three players that we believe are worth selecting and a further three that would be best off being swerved.

Who to pick

1. Robin van Persie: Having missed seven matches with a thigh problem, it took Robin van Persie just six minutes to rediscover his clinical touch against Cardiff City last time out. What's more, he looked sharp for a player that had spent a lengthy time on the sidelines. This weekend he should be included in the Manchester United starting lineup that takes on a Stoke City side that has shipped 36 goals prior to tonight's trip to Sunderland. With the likes of Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj as teammates, it would take a brave person to bet against the Dutchman being presented with a handful of opportunities.

Robin van Persie of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Cardiff City at Old Trafford on January 28, 2014© Getty Images

2. Adam Lallana: On occasions, when a player breaks into the England setup, it can go to their head and hamper their performances at club level. It's not an accusation that can be aimed at Southampton's Lallana, though. Playing in an advanced midfield role, the 25-year-old has scored six goals, including one against Arsenal on Tuesday evening. Also, he has laid on a further five goals for his teammates. On Saturday the Saints travel to Fulham, who have a slow midfield pairing in Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell. If Southampton are to collect a positive result, you'd expect Lallana to be at the hub of proceedings.

3. Phil Bardsley: Sunderland have shipped a hefty 36 goals this season, so it may seem strange to include one of their defenders in this section. However, the full-back has been one of the higher point-scoring defenders in terms of fantasy football this season, thanks largely to his four goals in all competitions. This Saturday the Black Cats will take on rivals Newcastle United, who will be without leading goalscorer Loic Remy through suspension and Paris Saint-Germain-bound Yohan Cabaye. Sunderland will not have a better chance to keep a clean sheet in a Tyne-Wear derby.

Who to avoid

1. Dimitar Berbatov: The Bulgarian's presence on this list is based upon him being a Fulham player come the weekend as recent reports have linked him with a return to Tottenham Hotspur. Providing that he remains at Craven Cottage, Berbatov will come up against Southampton, who tend dominate possession, regardless of whether or not they are playing at home or away. When that is the case, you need your strikers to work hard and not allow the defence time to settle on the ball, which put kindly, are not Berbatov's strengths.

Dimitar Berbatov of Fulham reacts after a missed chance on goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Swansea City at Craven Cottage on November 23, 2013© Getty Images

2. Ryan Shawcross: Mark Hughes knows exactly what he is going to get from Shawcross every time that he crosses the white line. The centre-back is going to give 100% to the Stoke City cause with a no-nonsense attitude to defending. While those are admirable traits, more often than not it comes off second best to attackers with genuine quality. At the Britannia Stadium, Shawcross could be charged with the task of marshalling a defence that has to contend with Van Persie, Rooney, Mata and Januzaj.

3. Diego Lugano With the greatest of respect to the experienced Uruguayan, he has appeared to be running through treacle during his eight outings for West Bromwich Albion. One thing that a defender needs when dealing with Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, just as Lugano will be doing on Sunday, is mobility. Unfortunately, 33-year-old Lugano has no pace whatsoever, so it could be a long afternoon for the centre-back against two of the Premier League's most in-form strikers.

Steven Gerrard of Liverpool scores his penalty during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield on January 18, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City87102942522
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd86202121920
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs85211551017
4Watford84311313015
5Chelsea8413138513
6Arsenal84131210213
7Burnley834186213
8Liverpool83411312113
9Newcastle UnitedNewcastle832398111
10West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom824279-210
11Southampton823379-29
12Huddersfield TownHuddersfield823359-49
13Swansea CitySwansea822458-38
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8224610-48
15West Ham UnitedWest Ham8224814-68
16Everton8224513-88
17Stoke CityStoke8224918-98
18Leicester CityLeicester81341013-36
19Bournemouth8116412-84
20Crystal Palace8107218-163
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