Monday Morning Manager

Manchester City 4 - 2 Arsenal
The match everyone is talking about. The fantasy implications of a K2 suspension could be huge with Citeh really down to Bellamy in attack. Maybe a chance for Petrov, though we'll have to wait and see how Robinho and Ireland are rated for the Manchester derby. K2 scored for the fourth consecutive match but only returned seven points due to a silly yellow and SWP's inability to finish what was an amazing run and cross from the big striker. I'm not sure that you want to get in on Citeh ahead of the derby - in fact, if you have the likes of K2 or Given at or close to cost you may want to get off the bus - but Bellamy and Richards could be good value beyond this weekend.

Almunia continues to challenge Tim Howard for most disappointing goalkeeper, losing double-digit points for the second week in a row. In Arshavin's absence Diaby, Fabregas, and off the bench Rosicky returned points and RvP was back on form. Diaby could be an interesting play home to Wigan this weekend. Yes, he was out of his depth agains ManU, but Wigan aren't that caliber. And he'll likely be given an attacking brief with even Fabregas sitting deeper to allow Diaby to support van Persie.

Fulham 2 - 1 Everton
A match-up of two of the Premiership's European representatives, and if this were last season no doubt there would have been a lot of fantasy interest. But this season those players we relied on last year are too expensive and neither side had done much of anything to date. So in the end it's Fulham who take advantage, getting a goal from Damien Duff (Duff! Duff! Duff!) winning the game. Duff's 22pt week is almost as much as any other Fulham player has accumulated over the course of the season. And though Duff is an attractive option, his price tag isn't. Fulham have to travel to Bulgaria in midweek and then are on the road again to a better than expected (if not great themselves) Wolves team.

There's much more fantasy interest in Everton, despite their terrible form. Jack Rodwell has a very attractive price and with Neville's knee injury he should keep his midfield spot for the foreseeable future. Heitinga has been added to the system, though we'll have to wait and see what his role will be. Baines is their best fantasy player, but his price tag more than reflects that. It's incredible to me that Tim Howard is in the red for the season, but there you have it. Everton's upcoming schedule is nice - Rovers, @Pompey, Stoke, Wolves, @Bolton - but other than Rodwell as a midfield enabler, I'm not sure you want to invest in the Toffees until they prove they can turn their season around.

Birmingham City 0 - 1 Aston Villa
This was always going to be an ugly match, and so it proved. Birmingham continue to be hard to beat, but beatable none-the-less. Chucho Benitez continues to be a substitute, but Birmingham are going to need goals and I think he's going to be a starter starting this week. Birmingham play @Hull, Bolton, and @Burnley before the schedule toughens again and they're going to have to score to win these games and they'll expect points from these games. He's a gamble, but if you're looking to get in at the start of something... otherwise, Queudrue and Hart are good choices at reasonable prices.

Villa have the gift of a home game against Pompey coming up. Of course Ashley Young is the pick of the litter, but Villa's new-look defence has some promise, if not much value. Friedel, Warnock, Collins, Cuellar and Collins Dunne could get you point, but will cost you.

Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 3 Manchester United
ManU continue to dominate Spurs. If this was a litmus test for these teams the result is - same as it ever was. For fantasy managers, Rooney continues to be the man and Defoe got on the score sheet again. ManU's midfield rotation continued with Nani the surprising (to me at least) casualty. I'm thinking that like Chelsea's mid, it's not worth trying to out-guess the real manager. There are enough other players on other teams who will get the call week in and week out that it's not worth the heartache.

Spurs have to travel to Chelsea this upcoming weekend, but they follow that with Burnley, @Bolton, @Portsmouth and Stoke. Managers looking for a K2 replacement (should he be suspended) could do worse than Defoe for that stretch.

Wigan Athletic 1 - 0 West Ham United
West Ham continue to struggle while Wigan rode a second goal of the season from Rodallega and five saves from Kirkland to win. Gomez continues to collect points with three shots on target this week. However, Koumas and N'Zogbia have gone missing since week one and Martinez may have to think about bringing Scotland into the starting lineup now that he's not coming back from international duty before game time. I don't know that that is the answer, but seemingly it's his only other striker option.

Zola is also looking for attacking options as they are too reliant on CCole and he's not someone you want to put too much faith in. It was Zeb Hines' chance to play in a 4-4-2 with Cole with Diamanti on the bench and Jimenez not even that close to the match, and clearly it didn't work. Diamanti looked dangerous when he came on and would be a nice option if West Ham didn't have a pretty rough stretch of games coming up. Still, he's a bit of a free-kick wizard scoring two in a midweek reserve match and putting another one just wide against Wigan.

Sunderland 4 - 1 Hull City
Hull showcased their tendency to lose big, giving up at least three goals for the third time this season. But the story has to be Stephen Hunt's becoming a must-have midfielder. He's still just above 9 and averaging 12.2 fantasy points per week. I love players like him who are reasonably priced and get phantom points - crosses, corners won, etc - week in and week out, even when they aren't scoring goals. They're the bedrock of any successful fantasy team.

Darren Bent was back on the score sheet with a penalty kick and later in the game taking advantage of a defensive mix-up with Sonko playing him miles onside. (Sonko might develop into a nice do-no-harm defender now that he's starting for Hull rather than languishing in Stoke's reserves. He might be another good enabler if you're looking to squeeze a bit more money out of your defence - and are tired of getting points from the likes of Bassong or Wilkinson.) Sunderland play @Burnley and Wolves before @ManU and Liverpool so if you want in, get in now.

Stoke City 1 - 2 Chelsea
Tuncay's value was never going to be in Tuncay's fantasy returns was it? As expected Tuncay was on the bench for this one and didn't return any points after coming in late. However his price was "corrected" to 7 so he's no longer the incredible deal. It will still be interesting to see how Pulis uses him.

Chelsea rotated their midfield again - I'm off that bus - and had Kalou come in for Anelka and Ivanovic for Carvalho. But Drogba was again the man with a sweet first half equalizer before Malouda, perhaps fortunately, won the match at the death. Lampard scored well too.

Portsmouth 2 - 3 Bolton Wanderers
Four consecutive headers in the box, the last scoring a winning goal even though two other players were in offsides positions. Has to be Bolton, doesn't it? They pick up their first points of the season and leave Pompey stranded at the foot of the table. O'Hara came in and created both Pompey goals , from from a corner and the other from a blocked shot which unfortunately didn't return any fantasy points for him. But I do think he's going to be a good midfield option even on a horrible team... really they are Championship quality at most all positions and are heading to that level in a handbasket. I may even think about betting against them before lining up players against Hull in the coming weeks. And as much as I want to bet against Hull, that's saying something.

Liverpool 4 - 0 Burnley
This was the Benayoun show... if only Rafa would give him a regular run in the side! He played off Torres, relegating Gerrard to a deeper midfield role, and just KILLED Burnley netting three and setting up more. Until he has a regular place it's probably just too risky to bet on him, especially at his newly inflated price. Gerrad had another good game, justifying his elite status while Torres went missing as he is wont to do (as Neal likes to point out). Glen Johnson was a hot pick coming into the weekend and while he had a good day I know fantasy managers were looking for more. Kuyt also had a good game, continuing his year and a half run of being probably the most underrated player in both real and fantasy football.

Not much to say for Burnley other than Jensen continues to performe well in victory or defeat. This week he retunrs 8.5 points making ELEVEN saves while conceeding 4. If one were looking for a keeper to rest Given for the derby, one could do worse than Jensen at home to Sunderland.

Blackburn Rovers 3 - 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
David Dunn is the latest middie to be deployed in an advanced positions - Gomez, Gerrard, Milijas, Diaby, etc - and as we predicted he put up points. Though to be fair his goal was about as much his as Nugent's England goal belong to Nugent. But Big Sam is moving to a 4-5-1 to give Dunn a chance to create from the hole and his run might continue at struggling Everton next week.

Wolves needed a goal from their Austrian giant, and Maierhofer is in line for more playing time. That could help Jarvis, who has been playing really well for fantasy managers, and Kightly as he returns from injury. Milijas continues to disappoint. He was supposed to be the fulcrum of the Wolves' offense, but more often than not he comes out early in the second half. If he comes out of the dressing room at half time at all.


  1. Anonymous4:55 AM

    How come there are 2 Collins in Villa's defense? Don't you mean Dunne? =)

  2. Champions League Fantasy Pool:

    league: BEAT THE BLOGGERS 1

  3. Anonymous9:20 PM

    For next week ...

    Diaby or O'Hara?
    Lennon or Fabregas?

  4. Anonymous11:45 PM

    I must say, your writings have improved quite a bit since you went independent. I guess you had restrictions that you were forced to adhere to in your capacity as official writers.


  5. @EA, we never had restrictions at Yahoo!. They were great hosts. However, the publishing platform here is much more flexible and we're always trying new things, especially this season as we've had to think about it a bit more. I'm glad you like some of the changes.

    As for middies, @anonymous... I have a strange feeling about Diaby this week. And Fab for the premium middie too. I don't want to invest in anyone going against Chelsea and Wigan aren't air-tight at the back, clean sheet against West Ham notwithstanding.