And we're back...

After that brief MLS interlude, its time to ignore the fact that Chelsea has wrapped things up because there's still some chance that the Galway Galacticos will choke under the pressure of pending nuptuals and there will be the opportunity to catch them for the Bad Idea Teams title. Injury updates aren't available yet, but here's the early line on who to play on this most fantastic of sports weekends - EPL in the home stretch (OK, doesn't matter this year), Final Four, Opening Day for MLB and MLS. Good times people. Here are the match-ups that are important as you make your line-up decisions...

Chelsea is going on the road to Southampton - doesn't matter where they play.

Arsenal will be hosting Norwich and future Arsenal striker Dean Ashton - if Henry plays, it seems like a good bet that Arsenal will score at least 3 goals.

ManYoo at home to Blackburn who are playing excellent defense but have nothing on offense - look for a 1-0 home win - 2-0 max. ManYoo defenders and Roonaldo are probably your best bets.

Everton are travelling to struggling Fulham - Everton aren't particularly hot but lots of people seem to get hot when they play Fulham these days. Is this the day Beattie breaks out? Cahill?

So, here's how they line up...

Henry, Arsenal - if he's healthy, of course
AJ, Crystal Palace - Home to waning 'Boro - just because he hasn't been in the news recently is no reason to sleep on him
Roonaldo, ManYoo - Still pains me to do this, but he's been getting more and more consistent.

Joe Cole, Chelsea - What can I say, he's on fire and Robben shows no signs of playing anytime soon.
Frank Lampard, Chelsea - Remember the evergreen list...'nuff said
Duffman, Chelsea - I'm going for the Chelsea midfield trifecta - nothing else gets me fired up.
Downing, 'Boro - Can't believe I'm advocating two players in the Palace/Boro game but you'll thank me for it

John Terry, Chelsea - Again with the evergreen list
Heinze, ManYoo - Ditto
Gallas, Chelsea - OK, perhaps an uninspired choice...

Cech, Chelsea - I'm not sure there's any reason to go away from this now although if you're looking for a point of differentiation go with T-Ho

Are you ready for some...

MLS? Who would have guessed that the MLS could create compelling soccer news while the following were still going on:

1) European Domestic League Seasons - OK, England and Spain are pretty much done thanks to Roman's riches and the ravages of the aging process on the gentlemen of Madrid. But Juve and Milan are still fighting it out in Italy, Bayern are trying to hold off the competition in Germany and PSV are just barely on top in Holland (and no, no one cares about the French first division so it doesn't deserve a mention).

2) Champion's League - Liverpool vs. Juve? Yikes

3) World Cup Qualifying - How is it that there are no good match-ups in European qualifying?

Anyway, with all that still going on MLS somehow managed to get my attention this week in a few different ways:

1) Landon Donovan - um, is there any evidence that he actually landed in Germany and played for Leverkusen? I'm starting to think that this is just a continuation of Germany's attempt to get inside our collective head because they realize that we were better than them in JapOrea '02. Does it mean that we're making progress as a soccer nation now that we've started throwing people tabbed for super-stardom under the bus before they turn 24?

2) Ruiz-to-Dallas - the fallout of Donovan-to-LA might lead to the first legitimately frightening strikeforce in MLS history. OK, its not exactly Ronaldo and Raul (circa 2003, that is) but tell me that Blackburn Rovers or West Brom wouldn't rather have Ruiz and Johnson than the chumps that they're sending out there right now. OK, maybe they will and maybe they won't forge a productive partnership but on pure talent, MLS has never had anything close.

3) Hunter Freeman - OK, this one is purely speculation on my part but I'm going to back this kid as Rookie of the Year. Somehow I've gotten pretty good at reading reports on athletes and deciding which ones are blowing smoke and which ones have something to them. This kid is going to be our first legitimate wingback. He'll play pretty good defense and still manage to be a difference-maker on the offensive end of the field. Sort of like the role that Albright has started carving out for himself - except he'll be better at the defense part and the offense part.

Not exactly the stuff that national sports headlines are made of in this country and I'm sure no one in Europe other than Landon Donovan's neighbors in Germany have noticed any of this as they watch their national teams beat up opponents who can barely fit both a soccer stadium and a practice pitch inside their national boarders but I'm here to make sure that at least the 5 people that read this blog have noticed.

Selling my soul...

Not a pleasant thought on a weekend that started with the single greatest day on the sports calendar - St. Patricks Day and the first day of March Madness combined. As might be imagined, that quickly led to the hangover that comes from realizing that lots of good fantasy players are hurt and those that might ordinarily be second tier choices are playing away to good defensive teams (AJ meet the Chelsea back 4, Thierry, Didier, Arjen meet the trainer). The sad conclusion that I am left with is, as the title suggests, selling my soul to the Devils. That's right, 3 of those bastards up top this week and praying that this is the week that Ruud finally puts it all together.

Here's how they line up in my little part of the world...

A - Ruud, Rooney, Ronaldo

M - Lamps, Duffman, Downing, Robert

D - Gallas, Terry, Heinze

K - Cech

And don't think I'm not bitter about this but Bergkamp has a knock and I have no idea where Arsenal will get their offense if that is the case. Drogba is questionable and Morhinio killed me last week so I'm not going back there. Plus, its hard to get excited about the notion of Fulham doing a great job on the road at OT.

Better Late Than Never

In an abbreviated week of games, the rule of thumb should be All Chelsea, All The Time. With apologies to Liverpool and the two guys from their squad I included in my line-up (Garcia and Gerrard) its all about Chelsea back close to full strength playing at home. Here's the quick rundown:

F - Drogba, Defoe (ok, he doesn't play for Chelsea yet)

M - Lamps, Robben (he's back...), Duff, Garcia, Gerrard

D - Terry, Gallas, Carvahlo

G - Cech

Not the most creative line-up ever but it should get the job done. Of course, if Chelsea find themselves reverting to their beginning of the season 1-0 ways, this line-up will look like a terrible mistake.

Gonna be a quick one...

because the day job beckons and no one seems interested in paying me for my opinion on Fantasy Footie...

Arsenal are devastated by injury and suspension and can't seem to figure out who will start opposite a recently gimpy Henry. Probably no one worth taking here outside of Henry and Freddie.

ManYoo have indicated that they're going to start Ruud. Wither the human yellow card? Will he get the rest Sir Alex promised last week? Who to start in midfield? Giggs? Scholes? Ronaldo? If I were running the team Ruud, Rooney and Ronaldo would start every game possible but since I'm not, you can never tell when their guys are going to get a random rest. Ruud vs. Drogba is the 3rd striker dilema (with Henry and AJ who, repeat after me, I will not rest).

Now we get to find out whether it was losing Drogba or losing Robben or just that both happened at the same time that has crushed Chelsea's offense. I'm leaning towards taking Drogba over Ruud (mostly because I don't want to have a Devil in my line-up if I can help it). Lampard is back and its hard to justify sitting him for any reason.

Pennant is, I believe, in jail. JP Angel and SWP are injured and definitely out. The entire Liverpool squad is apparently hurt.

So, here's the rundown:

A - Henry, AJ, Drogba

M - Lampard, Downing, Freddie, Gerrard

D - Heinze, Terry, O'Shea

G - Cech

Enjoy the games

This probably means I need a life...

But Jeremy and I were rambling on about lineups for next week and somehow stumbled upon an IM stream about the best names in the game. We started of with the guy who has got to be an all-time all-name-team hall of famer, Jan Vennegor of Hesselink. Just incredible, his name is more of a sentance than anything else. Throw on top of it that he's the leading scorer on the top team in his league and a Quarterfinalist in the Champions League (PSV for those of you not geeky enough to know these things) and you have an unstoppable combination. Also getting mention were the following:

1) Nicky Butt, Newcastle/injured list - you can't help but snicker a little bit each time you say/hear that name
2) Kaka, AC Milan - see above
3) Obefemi Martins, Inter Milan - If only David Letterman knew about this guy, he'd find a way to get him in a room with Oprah and Uma
4) Gianluca Pallicua, Italy - Our tribute to a great name and the golden age of SportsCenter, Keith, you're needed back home in Bristol
5) Perluigi Collina, Italy/baldness - from the officiating division, and you gotta love the hairline
6) Papa Bouba Diop, Fulham - just a good, solid name
7) Pick a Brazilian, All Over - Dunga, Socrates, and the list goes on and on

So, that was our quick winner and some runners up. Please feel free to add to the list.