Everton travel to Manchester United in a rare treat of EPL football.
As we breach December and the doors of advent calendars are decimated, the countdown to Christmas and the halfway point of the season is truly upon us.
Arsenal, astride the summit of the English Premier League, have a four-point lead over second-place Chelsea. Manchester United, down in eighth, dropped yet more points, whilst the wheels may be starting to not necessarily come off the Liverpool locomotive but they certainly require oiling.
At the bottom of the table, things are equally exciting. Sunderland are looking less gormless, as exemplified by their gutsy 0-0 away draw to Aston Villa (they could have left the Midlands with all three points had Emanuele Giaccherini not missed an open goal).
Crystal Palace, galvanised by the installation of Tony Pulis as boss, now look to be taking heed from an underrated adage: It's not how big the dog is in the fight, but how big the fight is in the dog.
As the various bouts get more heated and teams begin to ramp up their expectations, we are fortunate enough to be handed a midweek festive fiesta of football.
Let's now take a look at which players are a gift, and those who you can shift.
Fantasy football stats from Fantasy Premier League.
Opponent: Manchester United (A)
Fantasy Price: £5.4 million
Fantasy points so far: 18
A new dawn has begun at Goodison Park. Following Roberto Martinez's arrival in the summer, an advent of free-flowing football has started.
While Martinez's predecessor, David Moyes—now, of course, at Manchester United—did not mould his Everton team to play unattractive football, he often found himself stymied by a desire to just win, which didn't necessarily yield pretty football.
Now, however, the shackles are off. With Leighton Baines galloping up the left flank, Phil Jagielka dominating the defence and live wires Kevin Mirallas, Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley now settled into life on Merseyside, they fully deserve their current place in fifth.
The Everton faithful in the Gwladys Street stand now have another hero to hail. Signed on-loan from Barcelona, Gerard Deulofeu is a winger-cum-striker of the old-fashioned variety. Think Stanley Matthews but with more raw potential.
Announcing himself to the EPL with a virtuoso performance against Stoke at the weekend—where he scored one, set up one and contributed toward a clean sheet—he joins Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj, Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey as being a real prodigious talent.
There are many reasons why you should transfer the 19-year-old into your team. Primarily, he is exciting: Running at players, he displayed the fearlessness that will either result in an assist or a goal.
Secondly, Everton have to play him. For every game that they leave him on the bench, their fee to his parent club increases.
Wearing the No.10 shirt, he plays with the gusto and care-free abandon reminiscent of a certain Argentine who occupies the same number for Deulofeu's parent club.
As the Toffees head to Old Trafford, where Moyes is awaiting his former charges, it will be a real test of Deulofeu's mettle.
If you deem this occasion too momentous to sub him in, you could do worse than acquire his Everton teammate Bryan Oviedo, who has a guaranteed spot as the team's left-back for the foreseeable future while Baines recovers from a broken toe.
Club: Manchester City
Opponent: West Brom (A)
Fantasy Price: £6.2 million
Fantasy points so far: 9
Reading this slide, your thought process will be inevitable: "£6 million? Nine points? And I should sub him in? Theo Rowley has finally lost it."
Hear me out, dear reader. What is paramount to remember is that Vincent Kompany is not your average defender. He is a colossal, game-changing man-mountan who has an incompatible will to win.
We need to cast our minds back 18 months, when Manchester City had just pipped despised cross-city rivals United to the Premier League title on a nerve-shredding final day of the season.
Despite his reputation as a world-class centre-half—a player that is constantly linked to a move to Barcelona, as explored by Cyrus Engneer of The Express—Kompany was notoriously signed pre-takeover, before City's Abu Dhabi owners rode in and invested exponential amounts of their money.
Now in his fifth season at the Etihad, the stats support the assertion that without their Belgian lynchpin, the Citizens are impotent.
Manchester City have a rigorous run of games approaching. After travelling to West Brom on Wednesday (a team who are perenially unpredictable), they have away trips to high-fliers Southampton, then a top-of-the-table clash against Bayern Munich before welcoming league leaders Arsenal to the Etihad.
They are the only one of England's 92 league teams to still boast a 100 percent record at home this season. With Kompany coming back into the side, it is very likely that record will remain intact for even longer—and that will, subsequently, result in points for your side.
Club: West Ham
Opponent: Crystal Palace (A)
Fantasy Price: £4.9 million
Fantasy points so far: 51
It has been very well-documented that West Ham are struggling for firepower.
With Modibo Maiga as their only recognised striker—a player who this week celebrated commiserated 12 months since his last goal for any club in any competition—they have reverted to playing a 4-6-0 formation, a la Spain.
This reaped dividends in last month's 3-0 defeat of London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, but since then they hadn't won in any of their next five Premier League games.
That was, however, until the most recent round of games this weekend, when West Ham steamrolled their cross-capital counterparts Fulham, as east defeated west 3-0.
At the very heart of this victory, to bolster his reputation as a constant source of reinforcement while the Hammers struggle for goals, was Guy Demel, the 32-year-old Ivorian international.
Now in his third season at the Boleyn Ground, the former Hamburg and Borussia Dortmund defender has played with the commitment and desire that the team's fans demand.
Operating on the right-hand side of defence, he has scored 51 points, the same amount as teammate Winston Reid.
While Reid, currently injured, has scored a goal (in that aforementioned defeat of Spurs), Demel is yet to trouble the scoresheet.
He has instead submitted strong and consistent performances. With a 76 percent passing success, he can move the ball in an astute manner.
At only £4.9 million, he is cheaper than Chelsea' Branislav Ivanovic, Arsenal's Laurent Kosciely and Tottenham's Michael Dawson, yet he has accrued more points.
As they make the short trip to South-East London, they face basement boys Crystal Palace, a team who have only seven points from a possible 39. While it looks unlikely the Eagles will add to this amount on Tuesday, Demel looks certain to acquire more points.
Club: Aston Villa
Opponent: Southampton (A)
Fantasy Price: £8.9 million
Fantasy points so far: 38
With Belgian football experiencing such a golden era, we are privileged enough to witness some of their finest exports hone their abilities here in the EPL.
Similarly to a latest fashion accessory, players from the low country are seen as the current plat du jour.
Manchester United have one (maybe two depending on your views of Adnan Januzaj's nationality), Chelsea have four (two of them, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois, are out on loan) while Tottenham have three.
Many of them are affirming the view they are experiencing their pomp as they enjoy profitable seasons. There is a Belgian player in the top seven of all fantasy football positions: Simon Mignolet, Jan Vertonghen, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.
One player who is not reaping the benefits of these plaudits, though, is Aston Villa's Christian Benteke.
With six goals in his 17 international appearances, he is a permanent feature of the Belgian national team, but he is struggling domestically.
Having scored 19 league goals last season—as well as contributing four assists—the 22-year-old has, as we near the halfway point, found the net on only four occasions. Two of these came against Arsenal on the opening-day win, while he has failed to score in his last seven outings.
Of course, the former Standard Liege striker may be suffering from what is colloquially known as "second season syndrome": After a maiden campaign where they performed exceptionally well, the player struggles to hit the heights that they have set as a precedent.
As Villa journey to Southampton for tomorrow's game, you should rid yourself of Benteke as it is very likely he won't score: The Saints boast the joint-best defensive record in the league.
Club: Stoke City
Opponent: Cardiff City (H)
Fantasy Price: £5.5 million
Fantasy points so far: 44
Succumbing to a 4-0 defeat away to Everton, a Stoke City side who are chronically renowned for their physicality were instead reduced to rag dolls.
Tossed aside as the Toffees put on a passing masterclass, Mark Hughes' Potters were given much food for thought to ponder over on their return journey down the M6.
One thing looks certain: Stoke City will not concede four goals every game. In Asmir Begovic, they have one of the league's most assured goalkeepers. Ahead of him, the likes of Robert Huth and Geoff Cameron possess too much strength and guile (respectively).
In addition, left-back Erik Pieters has settled in well following a summer move from PSV Eindhoven.
Alongside Huth, his central-defensive partner Ryan Shawcross is a player who, in years gone by, was a real gem for fantasy football managers. In all but one of the last five seasons, he has surpassed the 100-point mark.
Despite this pedigree, he has not accrued the most points for a Stoke outfield player—that accolade belongs to Pieters, Shawcross's Dutch defensive colleague, who is available for £500,000 less.
On Wednesday, Stoke welcome Cardiff City to the Britannia Stadium. Both teams are smarting from defeats, but whereas the Bluebirds have recently endured tough games against Arsenal and champions Manchester United (from whom they took a valuable point), Stoke have no such excuses.
Having played the full 90 minutes of all 13 league games thus far, former Manchester United player Shawcross has scored one goal and contributed to four clean sheets. He has, however, also been booked twice and been awarded only three bonus points.
One thing is certain: You can find defenders who represent better value for money.
Opponent: Tottenham (H)
Fantasy Price: £4.9 million
Fantasy points so far: 19
Now that Fulham have axed Martin Jol—and replaced him by his countryman and former No.2 Rene Meulensteen—fans of the Lilywhites hope that their season can still be salvaged.
Two places off bottom, they occupy the third and final relegation spot. Both teams below them, Crystal Palace and Sunderland, had already changed their manager prior to last weekend and have subsequently looked less clueless.
Despite enjoying several years on Sir Alex Ferguson's coaching team, Meulensteen is yet to be the head honcho of an EPL team. While he is only the interim boss, it is hoped he can utilise his exposure to title-winning teams as to revive Fulham's fortunes.
However, this is not a good time to have any Cottagers in your team. On Wednesday they welcome a Tottenham Hotspur side whose manager, Andre Villas-Boas, is also circling the plughole.
Despite being three points off a Champions League place and through to the knockout round of the Europa League, Spurs are being willed on to up their performances.
Their manager, Andre Villas-Boas, is odds-on to be the next manager to be sacked. Judging from his defiant post-match press conference (as reported by the BBC), that is not something he wants to see happen.
With this gritty determination, any unsuspecting team may get caught in their cross hairs. This is not a good sign for Fulham and Meulensteen.
Maarten Stekelenburg should not be near your team. He is costly, short on confidence and in his seven appearances (injury stunted his start to life in the EPL), he has kept just one clean sheet.
Signed from Roma in the summer, the 31-year-old has established credentials: A title-winner with Ajax, he supplanted himself as Holland's first-choice goalkeeper.
His maiden season in the EPL has not gone to plan, though. After leaking three goals against West Ham at the weekend, you should not be part of the 1.5 percent who has him in their team.