Does Toon/Fulham Really Constitute a Double?

My inclination is to say "NO" emphatically. Now, if Souey promised to play Robert for all 90 minutes of both games, there might be something to get excited about but the prospect of rolling out any combination of Shearer, Amiobi, Milner, Ambrose et al. even getting two games to everyone else's one just doesn't get me too excited. I'm as big a fan of probability and risk mitigation as anyone but my gut is telling me that they're all bad bets. This is the moral equivalent of splitting 5s in blackjack - you can do it and, theoretically, you have more chances to win, but no one that knows anything about blackjack does it.

That said, here we go on line-ups for the week:

Boa Morte - Hoping Fulham scores in both games (which is always a doubt) and LBM has at least one good game in two. Might switch to AJ
Roonaldo - Even when he doesn't score a miraculous goal, he's putting up lots of phantom points which is good because the only way ManYoo is scoring these days is via miracle goals
FAS Dean Ashton - Hello Southampton...

Lampard - no brainer
Cahill - I like the Fulham match-up
Downing - Liverpool have been terrible so far after mid-week games and they will undoubtedly be resting up the studs for the Tuesday rematch with Chelsea
MGP - the late season hero?

Cole - vs. WBA seems like a good bet
Quedrue - see Downing above
Nelsen - no reason to stop now

Lehman - see Cole, Ashley although Jones from Middlesboro is an intriguing option as well - I'm sure I'll waffle between the two freqently over the next 12 hours

Oh Yeah, MLS...

Now that the excitement of the first couple weeks of the MLS season is dwindling but that's no reason to ignore a perfectly good fantasy sport as well as a league with a rapidly improving quality of play (unless you happen to have caught any of DC United's last three games - not good times here in Our Nation's Capitol). FC Dallas look like they have a front line that could at least compete in some of the better leagues in the world (probably not the Prem, La Liga or Serie A) but definitely in France, Holland, or Portugal and maybe Germany along with the 2nd tier of England, Spain and Italy. Between EJ, Ruiz, Mulrooney & Ronnie O'Brien there's not only a lot of talent but a variety of scoring options. Come to think of it, I wouldn't be shocked if a few teams in the Big 3 leagues wouldn't trade their attack straight up for the guys in Dallas (are you listening West Brom? Charlton? Athletico Madrid?). A few other random notes from the games I've seen so far...

I'm creaping towards the Nate Jaqua (S, Chicago) bandwagon. Not quite ready to hop on but he made a difference when he came in vs. DC and brings a physical presence to the penalty area. Probably won't be creating too many of his own goals but neither has Brian McBride throughout his career. Having a guy like Thiago (the one on Chicago, not the one on Chivas) will really help open things up for Nate. Here's hoping he continues to get PT.

Is it something about the Meadowlands? I know its supposed to be tough playing in New York and all but I think that mostly applies to the teams like the Yankees, Knicks and Giants who have an army of local reporters and a rabid fan base criticizing every little thing. I don't live up there but I'm pretty sure the Metros aren't making the back page of the Post on a regular basis (if ever). How is it that they can't put even a decent team together? An ever harder question to answer with a good coach and great midfielders in place. Mystifying. Any chance their sister team is Liverpool?

Fantasy Note: Chicago and New England play an extra game this week so if you're thinking about using any of your transactions for points rather than budget accumulation, this might be the week. A bigger bonus in that both teams play strugglers (Columbus and Chivas respectively) on the weekend. Nate Jaqua, welcome to my starting line-up (along with the aforementioned Thiago and Michael Parkhurst). Bummed that I can't afford Dempsey but if you can - go for it.

Line 'em up...

EJ - Until National Team duty calls, he's there.
Buddle - Until the Injured List calls, he's staying too.
Jaqua - Cashing in on Cerritos and jumping on the bandwagon

Mulrooney - Toss-up between he and O'Brien but he's cheaper and has produced slightly better so far.
Brad Davis - Fun to watch him play, but I'd love to trade him to the English National Team for Ledly King, Sol Campbell or someone else who will probably never play for the 3 Lions again now that Terry and Rio seem set for the next 5 years.
Thiago - Like his energy and creativity, throw in an extra game and he's in
Cuadros - Mediocre team but he seems like he's in the middle of whatever goes on with Chivas

Parkhurst - Two games and he's been playing reasonably well and at least getting full matches, all for a reasonable price.
Freeman - The second rookie defender on the squad. Colorado looks to be playing tight D and I'm still on the bandwagon waiting for his offense to come once he gets settled at this level.
Albright - Still can't believe he's on the squad, but he's producing and LA seems set to score a lot of goals this season vs. a mediocre Western Conference

Garlick - Don't think this is changing anytime soon.

Sad day when no one from United seems worthy of being included, but unless the refs are going to keep giving us two PKs a game, it's going to be tough.

The Phantom Game

Jeremy and I have been discussing the notion of Phantom Points (the stuff that doesn't show up on ESPN Gamecast) a lot recently. Today, we may have to add "The Phantom Game" to that discussion. If a game happens and it has no real impact on the standings and Yahoo doesn't count it for Fantasy purposes, did it really happen? Will Stuart Downing get credit in the FA record books for the two goals he will inevitably score today causing fantasy players into a full lather. We shall see...

Next week presents us with the possibility of Newcastle and Fulham playing two games each and everyone else playing one. How depressing. A search of defenders turns up no un-injured defenders from either of those sides on the first two pages in terms of average weekly performance. Boa Morte and Shearer are on the first page of strikers but Shearer hasn't had a standout week in months and Boa Morte (according to the runaway leader going into the clubhouse turn, Mr. Hall and contrary to Jeremy's previous posting on this site) is Portugese for Yellow Card. So, with so few appealing choices amongst the doubles, what's left. Outside of the typical Arsenal, ManYoo, and Chelsea guys, Everton plays dismal Fulham which might mean good things for Cahill who has been playing very well and my man Dean Ashton is playing miserable, relegation-bound Southampton.

More on specific line-ups as the end of the week approaches...

Ferdinand in snapper bust-up

Ferdinand in snapper bust-up

Raise your hand if you read this headline and A) knew what it was about or B) didn't giggle like a 15-year old.

The Dauphin of Phantom Points

Not quite the pedigree of a Pires or a Terry, but Richard Chaplow came through with 12 big points over 2 games this week. He's hot! Where the points came from, I have no idea. But I'll take 'em.


My once and future desktop wallpaper. It's even the correct ratio for my cool new flat screen monitor at work.


Contemplating a First Favorite Player

Since soccer (Football is what has their draft today) is still relatively new to me (despite my utter and complete dominance of the fantasy world), I guess its time for me to adopt a favorite (or favourite) player. Since I was duped into being a ManU fan by my fiance, I will be more discriminating about my selection of a favourite (favorite) player. The nominees are . . .

Henry - Yes, Neal, its true - but he is technically DQ'd as being with Arse - he is the best player to watch, except for . . .

Ronaldino - that dude is out of control - granted he needs some dental work, but besides that - the best I have seen

Garcia (Liverpool) - scores great goals and will actually be with LIV next year, unlike Gerrard (See Everton/Rooney)

AJ - the little bald messiah - ok, his team is terrible, but just think of what he might do on a real team

Rooney - granted a bit of a raging bull loose cannon, but he has some serious game

Actually, I think that is all of the soccer players that I know by name, so that's my list

Please feel free to opine, comment, mock and ridicule at your leisure.

Contemplating a Replacement

Recently, a new friend - only starting to understand the depths of my footie-mania - asked me who my favorite player is. After telling her about the genius that is Dennis Bergkamp for exponentially more time than she was probably hoping for, a sad thought occurred to me. This might be it for Bergy. Playing out the string in the Prem and an FA Cup Final in Cardiff and then the decision over one more year at Highbury or retirement. Apparently, his original club Ajax has offered him a final year in the sun but his agent claims its Arsenal or a ride off into the Amsterdam sunset (which, come to think of it, doesn't sound so bad). This yielded two reactions - first an immediate price check on flights to Wales for the FA Cup final because it might be the last chance to see him play live. The second was to start contemplating who might serve as a replacement if the unthinkable were to happen. Sounded like a blog entry (or more likely a series of entries) waiting to happen, so here goes...

First, some criteria...
Creativity - He needs to exhibit the same type of sublime skill that turns a normal looking play into something special that few could pick out and even fewer could execute.

Personality - There are too many guys who have the creative skill but are either wusses or WAY too impressed with themselves

Loyalty - It isn't necessary that they play for Arsenal but it would certainly be a bonus. Inter Milan or Ajax would be a nice consolation prize. Teams I currently have little to no feeling for one way or the other would be fine. Absolutely cannot play for Man United - one must have standards.

Novelty - Its a little to easy to pick someone who's already a stud in their prime, that bandwagon has already been and gone. Part of the appeal of rooting for Bergkamp was having first seen him early in his career playing for Holland in the '94 World Cup and getting in on the bandwagon early. There will definitely be a premium on guys who haven't entered their prime yet.

Locality - Sort of hard to root for Germans (other than Jurgen Klinsman) and Italians because of their preferred style of play - and I say this despite those two countries representing the lion's share of my family heritage. Also hard to root for the Spanish, Brazilians and Argentinians due to their tendency to (in the immortal words of Mr. Langlais) roll around on the ground like they're on fire at the slightest touch. None of the above are out of the running (unless they play for ManYoo - Sorry Mr. Heinze), but there will definitely be a premium placed on Americans, Brits, the Dutch, and random Eastern Europeans.

The First Batch of Contenders
Eddie Johnson - fortunately, I documented jumping on this bandwagon not too long after this blog started in August. Potentially the first American superstar on the international scene. Has speed and finishing ability and somehow the ball just seems to find him at the right time. On the downside, he's been linked to ManYoo and he really doesn't bring much in the way of creativity to the game. More of a traditional center forward type.

Dean Ashton - despite the amount of gushing I've done over young Mr. Ashton in this space over the last month and a half or so and my claim to being the driver of his bandwagon and insistance that he will move from Norwich and become the next great Arsenal striker, I'll have to see a few more games before deciding if he's got the creative spark to be more than merely a great forward. His outside of the foot chip to the far post gave me some reason to hope, but I haven't seen a transcendent pass from him that turns a mediocre teammate into a goalscorer. If he transforms himself from Future-Arsenal-Striker Dean Ashton to Arsenal Striker Dean Ashton, that'll certainly help his cause. Singlehandedly beating ManYoo for lowly Norwich certainly helps his cause - its always good to see Fergie THAT red in the face.

Freddie Adu - who would have guessed that there would be a second American on the list. All the potential to be the guy but its probably too early to tell if he'll mature into someone worthy of being "the guy" for the next 10 to 15 years. His goals for DC vs. LA at RFK where he danced around 5 guys in the box certainly gives one hope, but he needs to find more consistency and gain about 20 more pounds before he gets serious consideration. Doesn't hurt that he plays for DC and I saw that goal live. A ton of "I was there from the very start" bonus points.

Arjen Robben - skill-wise, the closest thing so far - he's more of a wing player than Bergy but every time he touches it, there's a chance that something outstanding is going to happen. Can't be a coincidence that Chelsea was winning games 1-0 while he was hurt and 4-0 when he was healthy. Has the passing skill, the shot, and at least a little grit. There are three things holding him back right now 1) the silly way he runs - hard to take him as seriously as I should because of it; 2) he plays for Chelsea (not a disqualifier, but not good); and 3) his propensity to be injured. Granted, Bergkamp has been injured a lot the last couple years but he's old like me so I understand that. Robben is barely into his 20s and is missing games in big chunks.

Fracsesc Fabregas - The first goofy haircut may be too much to get over and the fact that it was followed by the current (slightly less) goofy haircut doesn't help but the kid is 17 and playing central midfield for Arsenal...well. Has made some excellent passes and some fantastic runs. Like Freddie, the jury will probably be out on him for at least another year as he works his way into the side and gains some strength and maturity. Hopefully, getting into the English game early will cure him of the Spanish propensity for diving and flailing on contact but it hasn't seemed to for Christiano Ronaldo (who along with Rooney would be on the list if they weren't ManYoo guys and, in Rooney's case, assholes).

Robin van Persie - The presumptive choice around Highbury because he's Dutch and playing the same position as Bergkamp. His last three goals have all been fantastic but I'm not ready to hand over the title quite yet. He carries himself like a petulant child and hasn't done nearly enough to prove that the results are worth putting up with that kind of attitude yet. He's young and that may work itself out, but even if it does, I'll have to overcome the first impression.

Yakubu - Doesn't fit very many of the criteria but gets into the contest based on his contribution to my beating down of Kris in fantasy soccer last season and his singlehanded beating of Man United at Old Trafford last year. If he actually gets to play for a decent club one of these days, who knows, his candidacy could gain momentum.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink - On name alone, he's on the list. He's a high scoring Dutch forward which just pushes him further up the list. I must admit I haven't seen him play yet but am looking forward to the Champion's League semi-final vs. AC Milan this week and hopefully will have the chance to evaluate him in the EPL next year if the rumored move to Tottenham comes through.

That's all for now - more contenders to come and then, eventually, the narrowing down of the choices.

Helpful Disinformation

In repsonse to Mr. Thuman's musings, I thought I would add my 2 cents (er, pents) about this week's match-ups, so with massive fanfare and minimal analysis, here goes . . .


Ronaldo - he can't possible get a yellow card for "simulation" 3 matches in a row, can he?
Ruud - not sure who to go with for the free-falling ManU - Ruud, Rooney, Ronaldo, but Ruud had fun v NUF last time
JFH - if yahoo sees fit to give him 2 matches and if he skips the pre-match fish and chips
AJ - has he and his team jumped the shark tank - have we lost faith - I think he has some penalties left in him
Dean Ashton - Future Chelsea Striker

Middies -

J.J. Okocha - coming on strong just like he started the season
Pires - looked good versus Chelsea (well, except for his lack of aim)
Emerton - Old School Selection of the Week - 2 matches might make him worthy like last season
Robben - do you have the cojones to start him (Jose might rest Duff or Cole and let the dutchman start?)
SWP - Is he back in form? I always like players with catchy initials (see MGP, JFH, RVN, AJ, etc)
Robbie Savage - 2 matches means good chance for 2 yellow cards

Defenders -

Heinze - could score many points this week v NUF
I guess those Blackburn defenders Neal mentioned, I don't know their names . . .

Goalie -

Not Maik Taylor - 3 goals allowed (one of which was an own goal for negative 7 or something - dooh)

Well - those are my unhelpful thoughts

On a very busy Friday...

Here are some quick thoughts...

WBA and Blackburn appear to be the only two teams doubling up on the Yahoo schedule - not sure why the Boro/Newcastle match on Wednesday doesn't make the grade, but apparently it doesn't. Don't say you haven't been warned. Match-up-wise, Fulham's trip to the Bridge seems like a bloodbath waiting to happen. Rumors abound that stud-boy Arjen Robben may make his return. In other stud winger news, MGP is facing a fitness test and his status remains uncertain. Finally, Luis Garcia, he of the crazy goals and excellent recent form, is also questionable for this week. So, where does that leave us?

Gera - he's doubling up and has been playing well
Rooney - I'm worried about this one because he hasn't exploded and done something stupid for a while but hopefully the Neviller and Scholes were channeling his bad energy on Wednesday.
Ashton - Not sure there's anything else I can say about FAS Dean Ashton without risking a restraining order or at the very least some questions about my sexual preferences

MGP - even if he were just playing one, I'd include him in my line-up - the possibility of two games makes him a no-brainer
Lamps - if this weren't already a no-brainer, the Fulham factor would certainly make it such
Downing - he's been struggling along with his team, but whole "he's due" thing along with the possibility that Yahoo will change its mind and include Boro's extra game makes it worthwhile risk
Pires - no good reason here other than I liked the way he looked vs. Chelsea - seems to have shaken off his mid-season lethargy.

Nelsen - Former DC United man, great fantasy stats so far in the ELP, Blackburn in form, two games, 'nuff said
Neill - needs to learn how to spell his last name right but otherwise should benefit from Blackburn's double and good form
Terry - Salivating over the number of corners that will be coming his was vs. Fulham

Friedel - worked out nicely last weekend (better than Cech by enough points to get me to 2nd place) and has a double - USA, USA!!

In a related note, I haven't really had much of a chance to contemplate my MLS line-up but since last week worked out well (my first week ever in 1st place), I'm sticking with what I got...

Johnson, Buddle, Cerritos
Mulrooney, Davis, Cuadros
Albright, Parkhurst, Boswell, & my man Hunter Freeman

FAS Dean Ashton and other midweek notes...

Mr. Ashton proved again in stoppage time that he is a stud and, Mr. Hall, if you would like to mock my unabashed praise, well, take him out of your line-up next week and see how that works out for you - or you could just ask Dan ;-) But I'd rather have a repeat of last year's Yakubu fiasco on your part. And, btw, if there will be no Yakubu jersey forthcoming - I'd gladly accept an Ashton gamer as a substitute when I arrive on your shores next month.

Jeremy formally welcomed me to the Morten Gamst Pedersen bandwagon this afternoon and expects to welcome more of you soon if the injury that caused him to leave after 74 minutes doesn't prevent him from playing in Blackburn's next match. Who would have guessed that there would be two Blackburn players worth starting on any given week? Three this week since Friedel did quite nicely with a few saves, a win and a clean sheet.

Finally, could there be any sweeter outcome of the ManYoo/Everton match (for me) than Rooney having a lot of SOTs but not scoring, Ronaldo with a yellow, Neville with a Red for being stupid and ManYoo losing. As they say, good times!! Wonder how the board feels about all that money that Sir Alex has spent on strikers over the last 14 months (paging Mssrs. Saha, Smith & Rooney at a combined total of something like 50 million pounds).

Luis Feather Necklace of Death

(cross-posted from the group postings)

Luis Boa Morte is the king of the phantom fantasy points. This is the second week in a row that by looking at the gamecast and match report I've underestimated his return by half.

I saw his 12 pts this week and just assumed they were the Muslim Pilgrim's point total. But no. Those are still to come! Oh happy day.

God bless the random points and all hail their king!


Mid-Season Report Revisited

From the Archives of the Dean Ashton Jock Sniffing Association . . .

"If teams in our fantasy league were actual EPL teams - Toby would be Chelsea (looking strong)...Kris would be Everton (shock to all that he's still here)...Jeremy would be Arsenal (always good and lurking near the top)...Neal would be Boro (relatively new to the top but likely to be in it)...Stoltz would be Villa (currently outperforming previous track record)...Mike would be Liverpool (perenial quality not achieving usual standards)...Dan would be Newcastle (see Liverpool, but worse)...and Jon would be ManYoo (traditional power fallen on hard times)..."

EPL/MLS Extravaganza...

...take II. Hopefully, this one will actually make it to the servers. Welcome to the (probably too) well documented B Team weekend where we're left with a lot of options that we normally wouldn't consider unless we were strapped for money at the beginning of the season. For all those of you who missed, or couldn't make it all the way through, the previous posting. No Arsenal, No Chelsea, No ManYoo, No Everton, No Boro, No Newcastle, No Ryan Nelson (err, Blackburn), and No West Brom this weekend. And, on the MLS side, no LA Galaxy and no New England. So what to do, what to do?

Here's my take on both...

Yakubu - its that time of year...
Dean Ashton - Hard not to take him since I'm driving his bandwagon
Defoe - The safe play although he seems bound for ManYoo based on the correlation of his fantasy ineptness and me putting him in the line-up

Camara - Like Yakubu, he seems to come on at the end of seasons (pushing for a new club/contract?)
Pennant - Still waiting for the breakout week but he's one of only a few even capable of big things playing this weekend
Solano - Worthy of consideration even when the big guys are playing, one of the few no-brainers
Garcia - Having a hard time deciding between him and the newly healthy SWP and Berger - I'll probably go back and forth between the three of them all day.

Olaf Mellberg - can we say crapshoot
Matt Upson - Since I can't feature any Arsenal guys, I'm going with once (Upson and Pennant) and future (Ashton) Arsenal guys this weekend - you got a better system?
J Lloyd Samuel - he has his moments and that's about all you can hope for this weekend

David James - just a hunch, can't really justify it but I couldn't really justify anyone playing this weekend.

Eddie Johnson, Buddle, Cerritos

Mulrooney, Davis, Cuadros

Albright, Parkhurst, Boswell, Freeman


Early Ramblings

I apologize to everyone out there (all three of you) about not posting last week. I had a great double post written from my hotel room in New Jersey and when I hit "publish" I got an error and lost the text. Just to recap, I called Pires' return from the dead and Cahill's explosion (and backed those calls up by putting them on my various teams). My MLS picks were sort of crap except for Scott Garlick in goal for Dallas (get on the bandwagon now, they're going to win a lot of games) and Brad Davis (1 G, 2 A for a team that's going to need to score a lot because they can't defend). The rest were mediocre with Eddie Johnson and Edson Buddle following up great first games with relative stinkers. Oh well, on to bigger and better things...

Like a week in the Premiership minus all of our fantasy standbys. Where have you gone Thierry Henry and Wayne Rooney? (FA Cup Semis, thank you very much) How about the Chelsea legions (sitting at home this weekend while scheduled ManYoo tries to salvage SOMETHING from this season). No Everton, Blackburn nor Newcastle players will be available for inclusion, although one might argue that its been a while since that's made a difference - with the recent exception . And finally, will anyone even notice that West Brom won't be featured?

So, just to make sure that everyone is familiar with who actually plays for the strugglers that make up this week's schedule - here's a little primer, picks will follow tomorrow or Friday...

Charlton - Danny Murphy, the giant Hermann Hriedarsson, Langlais' favorite player Luke Young and not a lot more from for the fantasy player which is amazing because they are quietly in the top half of the table.

Bolton - everyone's early season darling Jay-Jay Okocha and always angry looking Stelios lead a group that hasn't produced much over the second half of the season, still 6th by virtue of a great first half run but, like Everton, they're a fantasy manager's nightmare since they tend to get contributions from a different player every week.

Palace - I'm pretty sure that they could be renamed AJ and the 10 dwarves and no one would be able to object. Even AJ is starting to wilt under the pressure of being options 1, 2, 3 and 4. Is this the week he breaks out?

Norwich - Can't say enough about how much I've enjoyed watching these guys this season. Despite the fact that they are almost certain to be relegated, they've been on TV here fairly frequently and usually put on a good show. Darren Huckerby is having a great fantasy season (you can look it up) and Future-Arsenal-Striker Dean Ashton has been fantastic since moving up from Crewe in January. Throw in the buff Leon Mackenzie, Damien Francis and Robert Pires' eventual replacement (David Bentley) and you've got an entertaining team. Don't get sucked in by the hype too much, they are still relegation fodder but they're playing struggling Palace and have to be on a high after beating the Devils.

Fulham - I know I should root for them since they have two, count 'em, two Americans playing meaningful roles (Bocanegra and McBride) but I can't do it - they're terrible as well as being hard to watch - a deadly combination. Boa Morte is about the only guy worth considering unless you have a vision that this is Andy Cole's weekend to shine.

Citeh - what a frustrating team, it used to be that you could get excited about Anelka (so long as you didn't have to actually interact with him) and SWP but no more. Robbie Fowler is actually having a bit of a resurgent season but, for some reason, I'm having a hard time getting on board. The couple games I've seen lead me to believe that Kiki Musampa has some game but that hasn't translated into a ton of fantasy success so far. David James is also a reasonable bet for a great game in net - especially since Fulham are involved.

Liverpool - what to say? I had an entire paragraph dedicated to the puzzle that is this year's Liverpool team. I think it can be boiled down to Luis Garcia who somehow is transformed from mediocre EPL midfielder to goal scorer supreme when the big lights of Europe come on. Apparently, these guys just can't get up for weekend trips to West Brom and Fulham. With Gerrard uncertain, Alonso, Garcia, and Finnan are reasonable bets as is the hideous Riise who hasn't had a 20 point game for a while but is probably due.

Tottenham - Great strikers, young midfield with potential, good keeper, solid defense - hard to believe these guys aren't doing better. At the very least they should be a credible threat to Everton and Liverpool for the 4th spot but they really aren't. Not sure exactly what's going on here other than a general inferiority complex that comes from being, on their best day, the third best team in their own city. Worth giving consideration to whomever starts at striker - and let's all hope its Mido because where he is, interesting things seem to follow. I like what I've seen of Michael Carrick but like Musampa at Citeh, it doesn't seem to translate much into fanasty production. Defoe is clearly the class of the group assuming he starts. Not too much else that you can count on unless you think Spurs will produce a shutout on the road.

Southampton - God bless Harry Redknapp for continually producing mediocre-at-best teams that have value for fantasy owners. Crouch might be cooling off a bit but is worth considering and Camara is very capable of a 20 point day since he obviously has no qualms about launching a shot every time he touches the ball. S'oton defenders also seem to figure in the fantasy points pretty regularly so Le Saux and Delaney are options, especially since Villa have a history of being terrible on the road.

Villa - Some fun fantasy players on this squad as well. Nobby Solano, despite a poor showing last week, is generally good for some fantasy points and JP Angel is likely to participate this weekend and would have to be considered one of the (few) strikers worthy of that title on display this weekend. In defense, J Lloyd Samuel and Olaf Mellberg are reliable for points on both the offensive and defensive ends of the pitch. Sorenson, given that Birmingham isn't involved this weekend, is also worth a passing thought - even more so since Southampton IS involved.

Birmingham - Very much an up and down squad but facing a traveling Pompey squad, Pennant, Pandini, and Upson are all worth consideration in your line-up. None have dazzling stats but that's what we're left with when all of the big teams are left out for the weekend.

Pompey - Sadly, I've had to leave the Yakubu bandwagon parked in the garage for most of the season as he's struggled along with his team. That said, he, the amusingly named Tresor LuaLua, and Patrick Berger (if healthy for once) are all worth fantasy consideration. And just one final comment to the first place team in our division - YAKUBU BABY - just so you remember why I beat you last season.

Fantasy EPL

I am sorry. I will never doubt you again.

Fantasy MLS

of course, you know that the only MLS in my heart these days is here. but i have a title to defend, so here we go again.

Game is different so the team selection is approached a little differently. I had a few guys I wanted on the team, but the rest are bargain-hunting. Minimum cost guys (mostly new transfers) whom I hope to make some money on so I can afford the Eddie Johnson's and Amado Guevara's in the next few weeks once the league has settled down and we know who plays and who is playing well.

So in the interest of full disclosure, here's my starting XI:

Moreno Jaime DC -- still got it. and playing CD Chivas this week (sorry, Whit). should continue to be in the points with goals and assists.

da Conceicao Ednaldo LA -- new Brazillian forward. may or may not start, but should see time and is a minimum $ guy i hope to see rise in value.

Gomez Christian DC -- see Moreno, above. same applies.

Mulrooney Richard FCD -- gotta get me a piece of that Ruiz/Johnson action without mortgaging the team. should take some kicks and i look for him to rack up the assists. Cheaper than the similarly situated R. O'Brien.

Davis Brad SJ -- stud. unsung, but will take kicks for San Jose. should be an attacker from the left or middle.

Ramirez Guillermo LA -- didn't show well v. the US on Wednesday, but minumum $ guy and takes kicks (supposedly). how will he handle losing his buddy Ruiz? And will miss games b/c of national team commitments.

Morales Martin COL -- know nothing about this guy but he's minimum $ and supposedly takes kicks. How could I resist?

Burciaga Jose Jr. KC -- defender on probably the league's best team and is starting to get more involved in the attack. Remember his goal v. DC?

Rojas Marlon RSL -- minimum $ and expected to lineup in midfield.

Freeman Hunter COL -- gotta have this kid. good word of mouth and an all name team honoree.

Wells Zach NY/NJ -- minimum $ and will start for a few weeks. Good game v. RSL this weekend and I can afford a better keeper.

Good luck!

And we wait...

...and wonder how Arsenal's team physio, in concert with Mssr. Wenger will screw us by giving or not giving the information we need on whether to include Henry in our line-ups. The short version of the story for this week is that ManYoo and Arsenal have good match-ups (although Blackburn will probably not concede more than 1 goal, 2 at the outside). Chelsea is Chelsea and will probably score at least 3 on the South Coast and get their customary clean sheet. Can it be that the fact that the race is decided in the Prem is pushing me towards the excitement of new possibilities in the MLS season? Shocking but there's still no excuse to fold down the stretch of the fantasy season where we can only hope that Mr. Hall chokes under the weight of his pending nuptuals and the residual hangover from his bachelor party in Vegas. Here's how they line up for the week...

Henry, if healthy (C. Ronaldo or Drogba if he isn't)

Joe Cole
Duffman or Robert if you don't want all your eggs in the Chelsea basket

Pick your favorite ManYoo or Chelsea defender who you're pretty sure will start (I'm going w/ Gallas)

Cech if you want to play it safe, Howard if you need to make up ground