Tribute to Frank Arnessen...

Last summer it was Jeremy's buddy Rommedahl plus Robben and Kezman...

This summer it was Park Ji-sung, Mark van Bommel and Johann Vogel...

Today it was Wilfred Bouma...

By tomorrow, Lee Young-Pyo may join the list...

Will the last one out of Eindhoven please turn the lights out?

Monday Morning Manager

What the hell, Neal? Not only did you steal the Manager's gig... you stole his format for the week. Not to mention some of his points. Sports is prone to copycats (see cover-2 or the 4-5-1 formation, to be more relevant to the blog) but this is just ridiculous.

But the Manager is nothing if not stubborn. So here goes his random musings after Round 4/Week 3 of the EPL/fantasy season:

  • Ruud finally broke his 100% shots to goals ratio, firing two on net against Newcastle but only scoring one. The new "Pires Award" leader is Geoff Horsfield with his own 100% record - 4 shots, 4 goal. Very impressive. Let's hope he can keep it up. WBA are going to need all the help they can get.

  • Was Del Horno the fantasy no-brainer of the season, or what? Not only have Chelsea kept a clean sheet in each of their games for a cheap 12pts, but he has attacking statistics that would make most midfielders happy. All for an initial $5 investment. And yet not even 40% of fantasy owners have him on their squads. How is this possible? Anti-Russian billionaire sentiment? Basque nationalism?

  • Is Dennis Rommedahl at all distinguishable from Jesper Gronkjaer? When they show up for national team duty do they have to wear name tags? To be fair, Rommedahl sends his crosses over everyone's heads while Gronkjaer had this weird stutter-step... it was almost a nervous tic... but it always allowed his defender to step in and block the attempted cross. Either way it isn't very productive. It will be very interesting to see what Curbishley decides to do when Ambrose comes back from suspension.

  • Meanwhile Boro, Charlton's opponents (to be kind) on Sunday looked TERRIBLE. They we a step slow across the pitch. And Yakubu has yet to click with his new teamates. But for all their possession and territorial dominance, Charlton owed their first goal to a tackle on George Boateng. He had to be taken off the pitch for medical attention and on the replay you can see him running at Danny Murphy as he gets waved back on to the field by the referee. But he doesn't get there in time to prevent the pass that led to Rommey's goal. You can be sure that that move doesn't happen with him in position

  • Kevin Phillips and Milan Baros kicked off their new partnership in fine style, beating Rovers and combining well through-out the game, but mostly on Baros' 13th minute goal. It will be interesting to watch these two play together as they both made their names playing off a larger target forward. Niall Quinn for Phillips at Sunderland, and Jan Koller for Baros on the Czech Republic national team. My guess is that Phillips becomes more of the set-up man as he seems to have a better sense of the game. He plays with his head up and looks for the right pass whereas Baros puts his head down and runs at the defense. Baros will drop deep and wide into the midfield looking for the ball, but will usually end the play himself, either with a shot or more likely winning a throw-in, a corner kick, or drawing a foul. Look for Solano and/or Berger (should they be healthy and available to play) to get some good looks at goal from dead ball situations with Baros around.

International week this week, which mean no EPL games. But we have the "hot stove" coming to a boil (ugh!) on Wednesday. Who will be the transfer market winners and losers? Check back later and the Manager will tell you. Unless Neal gets to it first.

Wait Until January...

Despite the fact that Norwich is playing terrible football Mr. Ashton is still shining - Norwich have scored 4 goals in the Championship and Dean has 3 of them. You have to think that he'll be on the market in January if Norwich continues to stink up the place - he's only worth keeping if they think they can be promoted.

Oh, and by the way...

As Jeremy already knows (and has probably mentioned to most of us at some point), San Diego rocks.

Stay Classy...

Sunday Night Manager...

Just so I beat Jeremy to the punch.

Bad Ideas Recap
Heading into the International break, it's getting close up here at the top - Jeremy came back to the pack a little bit and Jon had a strong weekend tying for the best score of the weekend with Toby who also got closer to the top. Kris & Emer, were you on vacation this weekend?

Out of the Valley
The story of my weekend was being undone by Danny Murphy - tragic given my pre-season treatise the positive things going on at Charlton. I guess I'll have to take solice in the fact that strikers are going to start coming to me to make sure I start them on the weekends. Just to recap - that's two straight weekends, 3 strikers - one goal each. Now if only I could figure out how to pick defenders like Jer, I'd be golden.

We shall serve no whine...
BTW, Edwin van der Sar got completely screwed out of an assist on Rooney's goal - I want my points.

(Another Reason) Why I hate Sir Alex
How could he not insert Wes Brown into the line-up at the end of the match to kill a little more time? Would have been the cheapest 5 points ever, but it still would have been 5 more points.

Gentlemen, start your pondering
So, for all of you who bailed on Henry for the weekend, do you re-reconstruct your team or go with a more balanced squad since van der Sar, Robert, Pedersen, Del Horno, and Bent are scoring at nearly the same clip for between a third and half the cost each? To say nothing of Horsfield's performance in one fewer games. For your $28.20 you can get Henry or a front line of Horsfield, Bent and Sherringham. In the former case, you're scrapping for every other position (averaging $7.18 per other player). In the later, you've got an average of nearly $9 per player to spend. Enjoy the decision, you have a lot of time to ponder...

Week 3...

So it would seem that all is right in the world. Frank Lampard and Thierry Henry have finally had their respective cups of coffee and started playing like the pre-season was over. Arsenal was back to marauding through midfield and forcing the opposition keeper to have a fantastic match just to avoid being embarrassed and Chelsea ran rough-shod through in their 4-0 win. Now, for all you Henry owners out there, the big decision comes. Do you keep him this weekend, bit the bullet and get no points? or do you keep him for whatever below-market price you have him for and assume you'll make it up later? As Jeremy said over IM this morning "...but selling Henry...that's bad juju..." - so beware. Looking at the standings, you have to think he knows his juju. So, with Arsenal and Liverpool players out of the frame, here are my thoughts for the week... (and no, I'll try not to recommend any injured players this week - I paid for that last week by having to sit behind both Jon and Kris/Emer in the standings for at least one more weekend).

Chelsea - Robben...out; Carvalho...out; coincidence that both of the guys who have complained about the rotation system coming up with minor knocks? who knows? but it does make things a bit easier for Fantasy Managers. SWP and Duffman are almost certain to start on the wings - of course, the negative of knowing that is that they're both expensive and have little to show for their playing time so far this season. Lampard is still Lampard and likely to do great things if you can afford him. The other factor is that Chelsea are playing Tottenham which has the makings of another 1-0 match as opposed to being a recreation of the midweek goal-fest. Given the high prices and quality of the opposition, this is probably a week to stay away from the Chelsea guys.

The Former "Big Two" - With Arsenal at home resting this weekend, this is all about ManYoo and the thrashing they're about to give to the miserable group out there "representing" NUFC. If I were guessing a scoreline, I'd go with 3-0. Even Bolton scored 2 against them and they'd been pretty anemic so far. ManYoo on the other hand, seems to have been re-introduced to the notion of scoring goals. By dropping Rooney back behind Ruud, they have more answers when it comes to creativity coming into the attacking end. Ruud's return to form has also provided more room for the wingers to roam and cause problems. As much as it might be "bad juju" for an Arsenal fan to load up on ManYoo players, I'm in. Ruud and Rooney are excellent bets. The biggest question is around Park/Ronaldo - which ever one starts is probably a good bet for some points but which one gets the start seems to be a bit up in the air. Ditto, the choice between Heinze and O'Shea who is fit again. Finally, with the lone remaining Neville Brother on the bench, Wes Brown is likely to be a good value as the right back. One final Arsenal note, should Henry owners ask for a price discount if Henry is going to voluntarily give up points by refusing to take PKs? And should Arsenal fans ask for a discount if Wenger continues to let Lauren sub for Henry from the spot?

Playing Against the New Guys - Should be an interesting weekend as two of the newly promoted teams square off as Wigan travels to pointless Sunderland (and, yes, that wording was intentional). Sadly, Camara is on the shelf for this match otherwise he'd be a great value as a midfielder. Anthony Le Tallec had a nice start to his Sunderland career and might represent a nice bargain for those looking to get some fantasy points on the cheap while Henry's $$ and roster spot sit fallow. Bolton return from their first ever European adventure and head to London to face the Hammers in the other battle involving a newly promoted squad. The rub here is that West Ham has clearly been the more interesting fantasy team so far (and probably more interesting in general as well). Spitzberg favorite Nigel Reo-Coker is a great bet in defense as are Youssi Benayoon up front and Matt Etherington in midfield. For the Wanders, Stelios has been on a nice run of form and might be a worthwhile mid-market pick-up for your midfield at 9.22.

Other Random Musings - My other Five Star Lock of the Week is that Man Citeh will do well at the City of Manchester Stadium against what is a terrible Pompey squad. Robert has been his typical great fantasy self for Pompey but they have NOTHING ELSE. Andy Cole and Trevor Sinclair are both reasonable bets for this weekend and Reyna might be worthwhile as well although his price has risen a little bit. Feels like a 3-1 scoreline to me - so ignore the defenders in this one. I will give you a Joey Barton warning - he's had a great fantasy season so far out of no where but one of these weeks he's going to do something incredibly stupid and earn a -8 for his fantasy managers. This may not be the week but he is who he is and it'll happen sooner or later. MGP is proving that last year wasn't a fluke - I'm pretty sure he's in my line-up to stay. Both of the Jensen boys at Fulham are worth giving a look to if you need a bargain for either midfield or defense as is Alexi Smertin from Charlton in midfield. Speaking of Charlton, this will be an interesting weekend for the surprise team in the Prem so far. Traveling to Boro will be a much better test of their progress than either of their first two matches have been. Here's hoping that Darren Bent continues doing his best impersonation of Jermaine Defoe.

Ashton signs extension to Norwich deal


"Dean has committed his future to Norwich City Football Club."

The end of the saga... or just a lull until January?


Did Pascal Cygan score two goals in one game? Let alone an entire season? If anyone anywhere predicted this and wasn't either related to Mssr. Cygan or doing dirty things to him, then I applaud you and want to know what stocks you're buying.

Claus Jensen, like San Dimas High School Football, rules!!!

Has he taught Alan Smith this trick yet?

from Sky Sports:
"Samuel damaged his knee in a crunching challenge with Manchester United captain Roy Keane, and it now appears that the injury is worse than first feared."
The more things change.

More speculation about Deano...

If the Hammers land him, you have to think they'll stay up comfortably...

Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce has registered an interest in Norwich striker Dean Ashton. But he will have to beat West Ham to his signature if the Canaries change their minds and agree to sell the England Under-21 international. The Hammers are offering cash plus Marlon Harewood but after seeing a number of players leave since being relegated, Norwich are determined to hold on to their star striker, but a bid in the region of £7m may be difficult to refuse.

Monday Morning Manager

Week 2, and Monday Morning Manager finds itself in a bit of a quandry. The games have only been half played as everyone but the European con(pre)tenders will go another round Tues or Wed. Are there lessons to be learnt from the weekend games? Or do we wait and see what the mid-week brings?

One thing for sure, the Manager missed Friday's "Hey, let's all pick up Robert and Pedersen as they're sure to kick ass this weekend!" discussion. A set-piece goal from Larry Bob, and a goal and an assist for MGP but their owners (and most folks seemed to have had both or none) in a good mood today. Danny Murphy also showed well again v. a promoted side. Time will tell if Charlton (and Murphy and Darren Bent in particular) will keep up the pace once they face sterner tests. But in Robert, Pedersen, and Murphy you have players who will score fantasy points regardless of what their team does.

Hanging in that category, but just barely, is Jermaine Pennant as Birmingham seem to be stuck in the furrow they plowed all last season. Still Pennant seems to be lively and is winning corners and putting over lots of crosses. He just needs to get free off the wing and come in for a few more shots and hopefully goals. Perhaps when BRM have solidified their midfield with Dunn and Izzet back from injury (no offense to Butt or Jarosik... who am I kidding, they should take that personal) Melchiot can get forward more often and drag a few defenders wide of Pennant.

Falling out of the "points no matter what" category is Claus Jensen as Fulham didn't generate much of anything. And with the other Jensen (Niclas) now an option on free kicks Claus' value will drop and Niclas' will rise. However, Jensen is still good and cheap. Maybe he was just tired from tearing the England squad apart last week. So until some of this season's transfers start making an impact, he may stay in the Manager's squad.

Speaking of squads, starting lineups are still a moving target, especially with teams playing games back-to-back this week. While the Manager usually recommends picking the sure starter, he is chastened by Crespo and Drogba alternating in the super-sub role for Chelsea. Now Mourinho says that Robben will be on the bench @WBA, so look for him to do something special on Wednesday.

ManU fielded a settled side, but with Ronaldo and Giggs coming back to health, for how much longer? Ruud and Rooney seem the best bets, though Rooney is playing in the midfield and Ruud can be boom or bust. How long can RVN keep up his Pires-like run of 2 goals on 2 shots? Ditto Scholes. The only player who could ruin dead-ball responsibilities for ManU. For god's sake, before Henry there was Beckham.
(photo for Kate)

Stealing from The Sports Guy...

Nothing like being called "our resident mouth..." in the intro by your editor :-)

In a side note, let's hear it for my forwards (Defoe, Drogba, and Bent), who all scored over the weekend and Mort Gamst Pedersen and Lauren Robert who both scored a unbelievable goals for the Get Bent cause. Good thing too, my neck was starting to hurt after a week of looking up the table at everyone.

Week 2...

Big ups to Jeremy for a superlative first weekend. The rules paid off in spades for him, especially as they apply to Nigel Reo-Coker who, in addition to a great goal, played a great match and led the Hammers to an impressive season-opening win. All that while I watched Darren Ambrose destroy a promising first match as a starter with a terrible challenge resulting in a red card - the difference between a 10 point day and a 1 point day. This is the first week that the Champions League insinuates itself into EPL fantasy thinking with ManYoo, Liverpool, Everton, Charlton, Wigan and West Ham playing only one match to everyone else's two. Throw in the Arsenal/Chelsea match up on Sunday and it should be quite an interesting weekend. Here we go...

Chelsea - what a crap first match against a team that they should have crushed. Robben looked sort of lost before he was replaced at halftime. Chelsea was lucky to get the win and their players just didn't look good for fantasy purposes. The defenders and Cech managed some good points but don't be deceived, they were more lucky than good - Wigan had a bunch of good chances. Frank Lampard showed why he is a fantasy stud by having an adequate day despite the Blues' offensive woes. And now come the Gunners. A shutout seems unlikely. Drogba seems like a good bet based on his success against Arsenal in the Community Shield and their continued inability to defend in the air. Lampard is always a reasonable pick-up if you can afford him.

The Former Big Two - ManYoo looked pretty good, but not great, in their season opener against Everton. Ruud looked more lively than he did at any time last year. The worry in picking up any ManYoo players is that they only have one match this week before their Champions League qualifier. No word on Ronaldo's health but Giggs and Wes Brown are definitely still on the shelf. Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge for the showdown with Chelsea before they welcome Fulham to Highbury in midweek. Freddie and Henry had nice fantasy weeks last season but are both expensive. Bergkamp, sadly, looked his age while van Persie looked superior replacing him for the last 20 minutes. Fabregas and Gilberto Silva are still inexpensive options but not likely to have two superlative fantasy performances. Hleb seems destined for a role as "super sub" until the regulars need to be rested. The big question is who will line up next to Henry - Bergkamp? Reyes? van Persie? The answer isn't clear enough for me to take a risk on any of them.

Playing Against Newly Promoted Teams - This didn't turn out to be much of a bargain last weekend unless you were playing for Charlton. Both Wigan and West Ham turned in excellent performances. Liverpool play Sunderland at Anfield but that's their only match so you'd better hope that any 'pool players you include has two games worth of points against Sunderland. Newcastle plays host to West Ham on the weekend and then travels to Bolton - now if only anyone on Newcastle was healthy. Like Liverpool, Charlton gets newly promoted Wigan at home but only plays the one match. I'm sticking with Bent because I have him cheap but otherwise, it's tough to justify their inclusion in your line-up.

Other Bargains and Thoughts - Promising (and cheap) newcomer Emre managed to hurt himself on international duty in midweek so scratch him from your rosters...Craig Bellamy also seems unlikely to play either match for Blackburn this week...Boro looked pretty mediocre on offense at home vs. 'pool - hard to tell if they miss Bolo that much or if Liverpool is just getting better defensively. Either way, Yakubu dropped a little bit in price but plays on the road twice. I was impressed with Wayne Routledge last season and think he might be a nice low-budget midfielder - even more so since he has a home game and then an away match at struggling Blackburn (who do get Ryan Nelsen back this week). Otherwise, remember to look at Jeremy's rules article and act accordingly.

Latest Injury Report for This Weekend (8/20-8/21)

ESPN's Soccernet has a fairly comprehensive listing of who is injured by team and potential replacements. Should help some of you who fielded less than full teams last week.

Monday Morning Manager

First week of the season is in the books. Everyone settled in now? Ready for the real work ahead?

Now we know most team's starting lineups and we've seen how they fared against their first opponents. But did we learn anything? Leave it to the Monday Morning Manager to try and suss out the lessons from week 1 of the EPL season.

First lesson... play by the rules! Danny Murphy isn't going to win any player of the year awards outside the Valley, but he takes Charlton's free kicks. Those are free points people! Look, Fulham v. Birmingham was THE MOST BORINGEST GAME OF ALL TIME. Yet Claus Jensen got 2 silly shots on target because he takes Fulham's free kicks. 0-0 scoreline, but your guy gets 6 points (at the minimum) right there.

Second lesson... play by the rules! Nigel Reo-Coker is a box-to-box midfielder for West Ham United who scored a few goals last season. And he's listed as a defender by Yahoo! But I bet you know that now that he's scored against Blackburn. Players listed behind their actual position are gold in this game. They're normally cheaper than their correctly-listed peers and are more likely to grab you points.

Third lesson... don't go for the defensive midfielder! There are plenty of cheap attacking middies out there. Yes, Jenas a good player. But for the same amount of money you could have Emre who is MORE LIKELY TO GET YOU POINTS. Granted, no one could forsee this tackle on Gilberto (a yellow-card offense, we now learn). But while Jenas might get you more tackles won, he won't get you as many successful crosses or corners won. And the offense is where the points are. Besides, fouls, yellows and the occassional red are the downside of the challenges that the defensive middie makes his living on.

So for those of you with Davids, or considering Davids when he returns from injury... don't.

Fourth lesson... never bet against Henry. He was pretty poor against Newcastle (as was most of Arsenal). I think he's taking this captaincy too seriously. He stayed too central, and passed a few times when he should have had a shot himself. But he still came away with 17pts. If can afford him, buy him.

Fifth lesson... it pays to do your homework. Etherington, Whitehead, Reo-coker, Kirkland, Bent... the top scorers this week were a who's who of promoted sides, loan signings, and summer transfers. Don't miss out just because these guys are new or not talked about above-the-fold.

Sixth lesson... injuries and squad rotation will ALWAYS bite you in the ass. No way around it. Fantasy EPL is a cruel mistress. My sympathy to those of you with Ronaldo, Cisse, Davids, etc. As Phil Ochs sang, "And there but for fortune (not Quinton), may go you or I."

(photos courtesy of ESPN

Free At Last???

From Football365...

In just about the most credible rumour of the day, The People reports that 'Wigan boss Paul Jewell is making a record-breaking £5million move for Norwich hot-shot Dean Ashton after selling Nathan Ellington.'The Premiership newcomers desperately need a striker after selling Ellington this week.

Clearing a spot on my roster as we speak...

It's official...

... I could care less about MLS. Of course for most of you, this has been the case all along. And to you all I ask is that you scoot over one seat and try not to giggle and point.


ManUSA Continues???

check it out

Gettin' to be that time...

Can you feel the excitement? 3 more days until it all starts again!! Here's the frist big posting of the season. I'm going to try something new for the start of the season - instead of giving you my line-up or a close approximation thereof, I'll give you a running set of categories that I'm using to select my guys. Here goes...

Chelsea - Back to the selection game. The only guys who we know will start are Cech, Terry, Makelele, and Lampard - all extremely expensive. Robben is likely to start since he's healthy but he looked like crap in the pre-season and is still very expensive. Drogba had a nice pre-season and seems likely to start over Crespo - as an added bonus, he's fairly affordable. All that means Jose will probably sit him just to spite fantasy managers everywhere and the extremely affordable Crespo will score twice. In the defense, Del Horno is the lock of the year. He looks to play in a nice long ball and he's cheap.

The Former Big Two - Remember last season when Rooney came out with guns blazing against some Turkish squad or another in Champion's League Qualification and everyone had to have him on their fantasy roster to open the season? Remember what he did in the Prem for the first few weeks? Don't say I didn't tell you so when you buy the hype and get nothing but a yellow card in return. The Red Devil most likely to be a great bargain is the newly acquired Van der Saar - he's still priced like he's at Fulham and despite their scoring woes, ManYoo generally has a strong defense. On the other hand, there do seem to be some bargains available in an Arsenal side that is hosting unsettled Newcastle. Newboy Hleb, Fabregas, Silva, and Senderos are all inexpensive. Hleb will likely come off the bench and be very productive and the other three are 90%+ to start with Senderos being 100%. Can't fail to mention Henry who will almost certainly score 2 this weekend but is too expensive for my blood. Reyes and Ronaldo will be interesting since they are now listed as midfielders but neither is particularly cheap and it is uncertain as to where Reyes will fit in Wenger's line-up (my guess is the bench until Bergkamp gets hurt or needs a rest). Of the two, Ronaldo is the better bet but more expensive.

Playing Against Newly Promoted Teams - Chelsea are playing Wigan so there is even more value in their players than there is in a normal week. Outside of the ugly-looking Chelsea/Wigan match-up, two teams that are predicted to be on the rise this season, Blackburn and Charlton get to lead off their seasons with newbies West Ham and Sunderland respectively. This means that Craig Bellamy, MGP, and Brett Emerton are likely to do well and that Big Bad Brad Friedel is probably another good value between the pipes. The Charlton camp holds a number of possibilities as well. Long-time fave Darren Ambrose has left Tyneside for some regular playing time at Charlton and seems to be playing in a wing position in a combination 4-5-1/4-3-3 - and he's cheap (7.80 or so). Darren Bent is playing in the middle of this new offense and is a bargain at 5.something. Finally, American Devil Jon Spector is on loan at Charlton and looks to have secured a first team spot in the center of the defense - another cheapy that's likely to produce in the first week.

Other Bargains and Thoughts - Sadly, two bargains face a terrible match-up this week. James Milner and Emre are both likely to be good fantasy bets throughout the season and if they were playing against Wigan this weekend, they'd be no-brainers for inclusion. As it turns out, they're playing at Arsenal - not so good. Not sure who will play at Tottenham but until it is a little more clear, I'm going to stay away. Liverpool are the trendy pick based on their Champion's League winning campaign but it will be very interesting to see how they do against a very good Boro side who have Blog fave Yakubu up front now. Sadly, the Yak is pretty expensive but the first time he drops down, he's in unless Henry is down there with him. Gerrard might be too hot to keep out of your line-up and Cisse and Morientes are both fairly inexpensive striking options. Robert is a tough call at Pompey since he really has no support. What this means is that he's pretty much guaranteed to start but if there are 3 people covering him, will that be worth anything?

Dean Ashton Watch - One game, one goal.

More on Yanks Abroad...

Thanks to Jeremy for helping me think through a couple of the selections...

Rob, commence to giggling about the picture...

ESPN, you have some 'splaining to do!

ok, this post is about MLS. so 90% of you can just skip past it. But i'm wondering why ESPN2 is showing Real Salt Lake (still a terrible name, IMHO) v. Chivas USA this Saturday? It's like showing Bolton v Birmingham in the EPL. Just pointless.

But it's even worse. It's like showing Bolton/BRM on the same day that Arsenal open Emirates Stadium and Theirry Henry returns from a long injury (god forbid!). Because as the RSL/Chivas games ends, FC Dallas will open Pizza Hut Park (does any name in this league not elicit giggles?) and hopefully will welcome back Eddie Johnson to the lineup.

I know which game I'd rather watch.

Phil Neville to Everton...


Now THAT is fantasy football.

But maybe they just want his wife, Julie, hanging around:

Is that cross she's wearing the only thing keeping him from biting into her neck? Holy Nosferatau, Batman!

10 Shopping Days Left...

Early Musings, Starting XI style...
1) What happened to the transfer market?
- Del Horno seems like a no-brainer (sorry if I'm letting the cat out of the bag but you weren't the only one who noticed him)
- Hleb looked like a keeper in preseason (yes, I've already seen two Arsenal pre-season matches - I've got a sickness, lets move on) but does he start?
- Crespo is being treated like a newbie, but who knows how he and Drogba will split up minutes.
- Not many other new guys who are guaranteed to start

2) Speaking of sicknesses...I'm actually bullish on Charlton
- Bent has 5 pre-season goals and is the early candidate to be this season's Dean Ashton making the transition from the Championship to the Prem.
- Spector (injured in training yesterday) has been playing well in the middle of the defense
- Ambrose hasn't hurt himself yet and seems to be playing on the wing in what appears to be something between a 4-3-3 and a 4-5-1

3) Sickness, Part III - Could Blackburn actually score a little with Bellamy, Pederson and Emerton in the offense? Would look a lot better with a real target player in the mix, or even Emil Heskey but Bellamy, if healthy, will certainly be better than Dickov. Combine that with the air-tight defense that emerged after Ryan Nelsen came over from DC United and you might have a full-fledged revival. And anyone who doesn't see this coming hasn't been paying attention - sign Dean Ashton and this club has a chance at a UEFA Cup spot. If not, they'll finish between 8th and 10th and it'll still be an improvement.

4) Reyes and Cristiano are both listed as midfielders this season - woohoo!!

5) Peter Crouch already hurt himself - out at least 3 weeks

6) Philosophy question...if Lauren Robert crosses a ball in the woods and no one is there to head it, does he have any fantasy value? And what's the over/under on how long until he starts whining about the fact that his team sucks?

7) Emre, Parker and Milner seem to be looking good in pre-season for NUFC but can you stomach the risk of an opening away match at Highbury?

8) Strange year, the teams at the top are definitely treading water while some of the 2nd tier (Liverpool and Tottenham) clubs seem to be catching up a bit.

9) How is it that Everton have a) Wayne Rooney money; b) Thomas Gravessen money; and c) Champions League money and can't figure out a way to buy ANYONE? Milan Baros? They already have Marcus Bent playing the "run really fast and distract the defenders while not scoring many goals" role. Shouldn't they at least have gotten in on the Tottenham rush to buy every young English player available? Those purchases all seem to have been made for under 2 million.

10) Rooney and Ronaldo both crocked (both ankles) vs. Antwerp, Saha theoretically fit, Ruud scored a hat-trick vs. a terrible squad after going 0 for Asia, Roy Keane goes 90 and manages not to get in a fight with SAF - stay tuned for more on Glazer-Our-Lives.

11) Fearless Prediction: A week from Saturday will be the last day that anyone on West Ham United will cost 16+ (that's right ladies and gentlemen, for the low low price of just over 16, you can have Roy Carroll - you loved his antics at Old Trafford, now see what he does without Rio, Keano, Heinze and Co. protecting him).

And a bonus...
12) Farewell to the Evergreens - Henry, Lamps, Heinze and Cech we'll miss you until Yahoo screws up and your prices drop way below your value

Happy Shopping

Peter Crouch on hols?

or just another in a long line of 2-sport athletes like Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders?

REPOST: The Rules

REPOST: Fantasy EPL - The Rules

For the new season and for any new players in the Yahoo! game, I'll repost my "rules" for fantasy EPL. Live and learn, Grasshoppers.

First Fantasy Blog of the Season...

5 Chelsea midfielders on the first page? half of the top 6? Apparently, Yahoo is voting for a starting midfield line-up of Lamps, Robben, SWP, Cole, & Duff - not sure how Claude feels about that but maybe he's still too concussed from that last Milan game to care.

Will be funny when one of the top 9 midfielders (by price) doesn't start the first weekend of the season and neither injury nor suspension is the culprit. Now, if we only knew who it would be...

Let the insanity begin...

When Did Supporters Groups Become Fraternities?