OK, not really - but the jersey is the right color and it would confirm every horrible thought that the Brits have had about the Glazer era which makes it an even more amusing thing to think about. Keano gone and the golden arches on the front of the jersey - sad days in Manchester indeed...and that midweek Champions League performance couldn't have helped any.
In fantasy news, there are some good match-ups this week (see Newcastle's visit to Everton and Boro hosting WBA) and one (Chelsea visiting the south coast) that might be a bit less appealing than it was before Pompey sacked their manager. Also, everyone should keep in mind that Liverpool and Sunderland have two matches this week so that has to go into everyone' s mental calculus as they prepare their line-up. So, with all that in mind, away we go...
Chelsea - This one can go either way. In one scenario, Pompey's players fear for their jobs as they try to impress a new manager and draw 1-1; In the other, things are completely in disarray and despite the new manager, Chelsea completely destroys Pompey 5-1. The fact that Pompey will score at least one goal in this match is down to the absence of Claude Makelele - probably the one player that Chelsea don't have anyone resembling a replacement for. He's the anchor of their defense which has been sort of sketchy the last month and a half anyway. On offense, Drogba is healthy again but Crespo has scored in two straight matches so who the hell knows what's going on there. Lampard is set for a big match after being quiet last weekend. Duff turned a mediocre weekend into a nice one with a cheap goal at the end of the match but might be a decent (albeit expensive) bet. Robben is still out and as a result, Joe Cole might be a decent pick-up but there are probably other worthwhile things to spend your money on. As for Pompey, I wouldn't waste your time on anyone but Robert and, like Cole, there are better ways to spend your money.
The Former "Big Two" - Steadily gaining momentum in the Premiership, this will be an important weekend for United who have a winnable away match against West Ham. This is the sort of away match against a mid-table opponent that they always found a way to win as recently as two seasons ago. No mystery in the fact that Rooney and Ruud are the two guys that you want in this one. Alan Smith is playing (slightly) better but is listed as a Striker so he isn't a good value. Ronaldo is still too expensive for his (lack of) production this year. Not much excitement to be had on the West Ham side of the ball. After a bright start, the Hammers have failed to produce many excellent fantasy performances. Even more distressing is the lack of consistency from their creators - strikers are always up and down but midfielders SHOULD be easier to predict. If you think that ManYoo are likely to get a clean sheet (about 50/50 in my opinion) then Wes Brown is an inexpensive bet in defense.
At Highbury, up and down Blackburn come to town (DWLWL in their last five). Not only have Rovers been up and down with their results but their offensive and defensive form has varied dramatically from week to week ranging from their 4-1 win over Charlton to a 1-0 loss to Liverpool to the 4-2 loss to Chelsea to the 0-0 outing with Citeh last week. So, who knows what you're going to get from Rovers. The best I can tell is that Rovers matches seem to take on the character of the team that they're playing which is a good sign for Arsenal because they've been exceptional at home. Henry and van Persie have been as good as it gets over the last couple weeks and there's no reason to think that it will stop now. That said, Arsenal seem to give away a soft goal so I wouldn't count on a clean sheet. For some reason, I'd also bet on Pires to pick up another PK in this one but he's relatively expensive for what you're likely to get for your money. On the Blackburn side, the one goal they'll get has Dickov written all over it. He's the type of annoying striker who will give Arsenal's makeshift defense fits. One other source of possible offense for Rovers will be Emerton who will definitely start on the right against Arsenal's depleated left side as Bentley sits out against the club that owns his rights. He may not score but he'll have a lot of "phantom points" (e.g., successful crosses, corners won).
Against the Relegation Zone - Welcome back to this category to the Toffees. This week, they will host Newcastle who are coming close to being at full strength with the returns of Alan Shearer and Michael Owen to the line-up. Look for Newcastle to win and for Owen to have one of THOSE matches where he scores two or three against an extremely poor opponent. Luque is also back for the Magpies but his place in the line-up is in question due to his health and the performance of Charles N'Zogbia. Not too much reason to pick any of the Toffees in this match. Cahill might be back, but I wouldn't think you'd want to take him until you know for a fact that he'll be starting and maybe not even then.
The rest of this category will go by quickly as Birmingham travel to the Stadium of Light to face off in a "six-point" relegation struggle with Sunderland leaving us to wonder "if a match happens and no one watches, do the fantasy stats count?" Given that the answer is probably "yes", you might want to think about Anthony La Tallec if you're looking for a cheap striker so you can afford someone else (or for Sunderland's two game "potential"). Whitehead has been an excellent fantasy point-producer for his price and not too bad at any price and represents something of a no-brainer in this week where he plays twice and one of those two vs. Birmingham. Pennant is about the only guy worth mentioning when the topic is Birmingham. Jarosik started off brightly but hasn't done much in over a month - in other words, he went from being cheap and productive to just being cheap - not good times in the Jarosik household.
Random Notes - First some random buys from the non-two gamers and then we'll get to Liverpool last (I have to make sure everyone reads the whole thing since I spent the time to write it). Wigan hosting Spurs and no one has said anything about Defore starting or not. Look for a 1-1 match. Too many other interesting options out there to buy anyone new in this match. I still have YP "Free" Lee from Spurs defense but that's mostly because I have him cheap and he's done OK. Michael Carrick is a solid seven points every week but seems unlikely to do much more than that. The Addicks travel to Villa Park in a match-up of a bad team (Villa) and a fading team (Charlton). The middle of Villa's midfield and defense isn't very good and this might be the week Murphy and Bent regain some measure of form. I'm not ready to buy back in, but if I were going to, I'd go after Murphy. As Jeremy pointed out, I'm on the Darren Ambrose bandwagon and have been for a while so I'll recommend him if you're looking for something a little different from the pack. Bolton is likely to score more than 1 goal this week as they travel to the Capital to play Fulham who will still be missing Claus Jensen. Nakata might be an interesting pick-up to capitalize on this mismatch. Finally, Boro hosts wretched West Brom and my man Yakubu is on a hot-streak - I shouldn't need to tell you much more than that. Mendieta is still uncertain so you probably want to stay away. In his absence, Rochembeck is likely taking Boro's kicks and might be in for a big week as Boro are likely to repeat last weekend's three-goal outburst.
OK, now to Liverpool. Xabi Alonso is hurt and therefore he shouldn't be considered a two-gamer. Luis Garcia is reported healthy and is worth considering. Ditto Morientes who seems to be a first choice at striker regardless of who else is playing at striker (Cisse/Crouch). Reina is a no-brainer for inclusion and, finally, the only time you'll hear this from me this season - Josemi isn't a bad bet. He's still cheap and he might end up with two clean sheets in under 10 minutes played (which means he isn't likely to get more than one yellow card over the two matches). Not the ideal situation but for the money spent, he's a pretty good value compared to the other affordable defenders (e.g., Jon Spector).