So, what do we know after either one or two matches per team? I have to say, not a heck of a lot. Here's a quick recap of my observations...
1) CoverItLive is a really great tool - thank you to everyone who showed up to the blog over the weekend and contributed their observations and questions - it was a blast and one that we'll re-create as frequently as we can (sorry, mid-week won't work because I have a day job and Premier League matches are generally on at 3 PM on the East Coast of the US).
2) We have two new nicknames that came out of the weekend live chats...Hugo Rodallega has now been dubbed Yayga (giving us the option to call his goals Yayga-bombs and/or eventually calling him the Yayga-meister if he turns into a good player). The other nickname is SeaBass for Sebastien Bassong - fill in your own Austin Powers jokes as appropriate.
3) We learned that Liverpool, Villa, and ManYoo, while they will not be as bad as their worst performances (Liv v. Spurs and ManYoo v. Burnley) they are both diminished from what they were last season. You can't lose integral talent like they did and not drop off a bit. Last season CRon would have rescued at least a point if not all three in that Burnley match.
4) We learned that Jordi Gomez and Nenad Milijas are both strong fantasy players. Milijas will suffer a bit from being on Wolves who will be outclassed from time-to-time and Gomez will suffer from the number of people at Wigan who can take kicks. Still, both are going to be strong additions to Premier League fantasy rosters at their current low prices.
5) We learned that it doesn't matter who (other than Big Phil) manages Chelsea - they're going to play ugly and win ugly. Jose...Grant...Hiddink...Ancelotti - all roads lead to the same destination. You have to think they're early season favorites by a nose at this point.
6) We learned that Citeh's best spending was on Given, not all of those attackers. Although they could still really use another central defender.
7) We were reminded that, if given a regular role, Darren Bent tends to score goals. As you can see from Jeremy's "Cake Walk" article, there's reason to believe that it might continue for the next month or so.
8) We learned that 'arry might have figured out how to get Spurs off to a fast start as opposed to the dismal openings of the last couple seasons. Even better for them (but not necessarily fantasy managers) they're getting contributions from a lot of different players.
9) We were reminded (again) that while the margin may have been an , that Wenger guy in North London might know more that we do about, well, just about everything football (with the possible exception of the gridiron kind).
10) Finally, we learned that Neal has sufficient self-control to stiffle his glee when the final result came through on his scoring update widget while he was in a client meeting.
11) We were reminded that, as is true every season, we won't know much for a few more weeks and just as soon as we think we are figuring it all out, other players will find their form, others will lose theirs, and injuries and rotation policies will start throwing everything into chaos. That's why you have the blog, to try to make some sense of it all.
OK - hopefully, TWA will be a little easier this week as everyone only has one match so here we go...
Schedule Arsenal and Citeh seem to be at the greatest scheduling advantage as they are both at home to teams that are going to struggle all season (Pompey and Wolves respectively).
Everton would seem to advantaged as well heading to Turf Moor but one home drubbing for Everton and one win for the ages at home for Burnley and all-of-a-sudden you have to wonder how great this match-up is. Remember that the last time Everton got close to breaking in to the big time they nearly got relegated the following season with almost the exact same line-up. Not saying it's going to happen again but they just aren't as deep as the Big Four which makes it difficult to sustain that sort of performance.
Speaking of teams that SHOULD have a strong match-up but you now have to question - ManYoo if Nani isn't back seems like they might struggle for attacking ideas against a Wigan team that looked pretty strong over the weekend (I didn't get to see the mid-week match).
Finally, Chelsea v Fulham (derby match); Sunderland v Rovers (similar talent), West Ham v Spurs (Spurs still a question on the road to a decent team); Hull v Bolton (should be a grinder), Birmingham v Stoke (also a grinder) are all likely to be without a clear match-up advantage.
That brings us to Liverpool v Villa. Seems like a match-up that Liverpool SHOULD win big based on Villa's deficiencies in central defence however this is usually when Liverpool lets us down and ends up with a lackluster draw or a late 1-0 win. Hard for me to get as excited as I probably should be about this one.
Best Value of the Week - For me, this competition comes down to Tevez (they didn't pay all that money for him to come off the bench regularly), Bendtner (he was very good last weekend despite having very few fantasy points to show for it), and Jo (seems unlikely that Saha is going to start and he should get chances against Burnley). Of the three, Jo is the least likely to miss due to rotation so he takes the prize for me with Bendtner in second and Tevez just behind.
Best Premium Striker of the Week - Hard not to like Robinho in a match-up where the defenders are unlikely to be able to keep up with his combination of skill and speed. Nando Torres also merits a mention here - he warmed up a bit today and Villa's gaping hole in front of the keeper might be just the thing to keep that going. RvP must also be in consideration here.
Best of the Rest - Yayga is still inexpensive; DBent is hot and the schedule is kind; If you have Defoe at pre-hat trick prices there's no reason to get off that bandwagon.
Best Value Midfielder of the Week - This answer depends on the health of Nani. If he is going to go (and go more than 45 minutes) then he is definitely the value pick of the week. If he's not healthy then we have to start thinking about options like Cahill or Fellaini from Everton. I'd also be willing to consider emerging Blog Favorite Nenad Milijas for this spot. Wolves are likely to lose to Citeh but even a team like Rovers that generally doesn't generate a lot of attacking momentum picked up decent points as they peppered Shay Given's net and forced a lot of strong saves. It might not be in a scoring effort but I'll bet on Milijas to get a bunch of phantom points.
Best Premium Midfielder of the Week - Do you go with Cesc who had almost an entire fantasy season in one match last weekend and hope he keeps it going? Or do you go with Arshavin who is probably going to be the more consistent goal-scorer over the course of the season? Can you get to both? Throw in Gerrard who is off to a flying fantasy start (even if his big fantasy showing vs. Spurs was the quietest 20 points that you'll ever see) and you have plenty of options. Lampard is definitely the low man on this totem pole as he faces a tough derby match up at Fulham.
Best of the Rest - Gomez, Jiminez, Delap, Hunt, and KRich
Best Value Defender of the Week - I'd really like to write a lot here but I'm not sure how you end up at any conclusion other than Vermaelen in this spot. SeaBass might have had a shout for inclusion here at 6.60 but he was left out of the match today which means that despite his debut goal he isn't a certain starter.
Best Premium Defender of the Week - I'm going to go with Jeremy's intuition on this and say Baines is the man here. Gallas certainly isn't a bad option either after getting off to a 2-in-2 start between the Prem and Champions League qualifying.
Best of the Rest - Insua, Carvalho, Richards/Bridge, Fabio (depending on the injury situation at Old Trafford), and Wilkinson
Almunia is the safe premium bet; Given is sort of mid-priced now but also excellent value; and THo is great value if you think Everton will rebound; and finally, Myhill is your really low end option.
Best of luck everyone - back with Injuries and Suspensions on Friday.
Cheers - Neal