The Barn Door Live - Oct 31

Happy Halloween Everyone. Great match to start off the Premier League morning/day/evening. Looking forward to it.

My line-up is Given, Verm, Heiti, Dunne, Lamps, Kranj (GRR as he starts on the bench), Kightly, Milner, Drogba, Gabby, and Diamanti. Not my favorite line-up ever but I wasn't too excited by the alternatives either.

Looking ahead to next weekend - Arsenal get Wolves; Liverpool host Birmingham; Citeh host Burnley; and Villa continue the fantasy-manager-friendly portion of their schedule by hosting Bolton. ManYoo play Chelsea so probably not a bad idea to ditch players from both of those sides (other than those you have at a significant discount).

Injuries and Suspensions

Premier League Team News - Barclays Premier League - ESPN Soccernet

So, what to make of the return of David Bentley - will he finally fit into what Spurs do? Will he be the same unmitigated disaster that made him one of the worst transfer buys of the last 5 years?  Will he even start? Or is 'arry just using this as a smoke screen while planning to start Jenas, Kranj, Palacios, and THud in some arrangement?

My guess is that he'll play but certainly not be up to the standards he set while at Rovers for fantasy performance (no guarantee he'll take kicks which Kranj has been doing).  Overall analysis? He'll be OK but probably won't be worth the price which is still high (10.83).  If you're into risk, there's definitely upside at that price but there's also a fair amount of downside.

Elsewhere in this match - Arsenal will likely recall Almunia as their keeper as Mannone has certainly not lived up to his first few performances.  Walcott and Rosicky with definitely miss out with Nasri not likely to start twice in a row coming off of his long-term absence.

Elsewhere around the league - ManYoo has a bit of a crisis going at the back where it seems likely that at least one, if not both, of Vidic and Rio will be out.  Evans becomes much more attractive in this case.  Ordinarily, I'd wonder if their defence would hold but with H1N1-infested Rovers the opposition, I think things will be OK.  Evans, Rafael, and O'Shea are all probably strong bets at a much more reasonable price than the average ManYoo defender in most weeks.  Oh yeah, Fletch and Park are also both out and Giggs "has a knock" for whatever that's worth.

At Chelsea the big concern is over the health of Ivanovic who will undergo the dreaded "late fitness test" which is code for "make fantasy managers crazy" - I'd stay away from both he and his likely replacements as we have no idea what will come of this.

Another question mark, this one for Burnley is Jensen.  If he starts at home against Hull both he and Mears are interesting plays.  If not, neither of them are nearly as interesting.  The problem? Jensen's status seems unclear.  I'd stay away here too.

Seems like Jummy is still hurting as his body adjusts to playing footie again.  He didn't train on Thursday and I'd be very careful about starting him.  Probably best to wait until a) Hull are at home; and b) until he has a clean bill of health.

AJ and Gerrard will both miss LIV/FUL as will new boy Aquilani (virus) and Glen Johnson (calf).  Not good news for Liverpool as this match has "trap" and/or "let down" written all over it.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Sorensen is likely to be back for Stoke after Simonsen deputized while Sorensen was out with the flu.  More rumors of Tuncay "forcing his way into the starting line-up" but I'll believe it when I see it.  Sorensen immediately becomes a strong option in net given the weak opposition.

DBent is a question mark for Sunderland and I'm pretty sure no fantasy manager feels badly for him after the stinker that he posted last weekend for lots of us who had him.  The doubt reduces his value while at the same time not increasing that of Frazier Campbell enough to make him worthwhile.

Not too much else of note other than Scott Parker and Jermain Defoe's suspensions.  Best of luck in your selections and I'll look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow for the Live Chat.

Early Doors

As we edge closer and closer to decision day, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with my line-up and frantic in my trade ideas. I think you'll see from the roundtable - after the jump - that I've come to a conclusion, but that Neal is sensibly (and probably in my best interests) trying to talk me back from it.

But before we get to that, just a few other items of note.

1. I want to remind everyone that I'm tagging what I read using the 'fantasyepl' tag on Delicious. You can see the latest on Delicious or down the center column. Mostly it's small injury and form related news that doesn't warrant a full post (and/or will likely be covered in TWA or I&S posts) but that could be relevant for your team selection. For example:
2. I've started a Twitter list of English Premier League and specifically fantasy English Premier League sources. Feel free to follow it, and more importantly feel free to suggest other feeds to add. You can reach me at @jspitzberg or in the comments section of this blog. Or on the Fantasy English Premier League Facebook page, etc... You get the idea.

3. My basketball site, is coming out of the gate. Check it out if you are interested in youth basketball in the United States or are looking for tips/drills/advice on how to play the game and play the game better anywhere in the world.

Now, on with the fun...

The Week Ahead (with more Baseball)

So, here I am recovering from a pretty rotten weekend.  Let's recap.  I managed to pick all around the points (Cesc instead of MPet, Milner instead of Gabby, Stuck with Bily over Kightly, etc.) and ended up with 65 points or so.  Arsenal couldn't capitalize on a weekend where ManYoo got outplayed and beaten; and the rest of the pretenders (Citeh, Villa, Sunderland, Everton, and Spurs) all dropped points.  My own footie match was canceled because the field was saturated with water from the night before even though the actual day of the match was a beautiful day for a match.  Throw in some ugly fantasy NFL results and top it off with a lackluster game from my NFL team (the Eagles) on Monday even though they won. Even worse? I have had to wait an entire week for my baseball team to get started with the World Series.

Speaking of baseball, I'm writing this during Game 1 of the World Series so you'll be getting sporadic updates from the game [Phillies loaded the bases with 2 outs in the first inning but couldn't get a run across - so far so good since the Yankees pitcher is supposed to be the second coming].

Hopefully, this week is off to a better start.  Arsenal's reserves/youth team beat Liverpool's reserve/youth team in Carling Cup action.  Not the biggest news ever but I'm hoping it means that things are about to turn around.

[3 up and 3 down for the Yankees in the bottom of the first - nice start from Cliff Lee - I like it]

Two gamers

It's official.

WHU/AST on Wednesday.  Adjust your teams accordingly.

Blog Roundtable

Because you haven't demanded it, the return of your least favorite blog feature.

[12:57] JSpitzberg: ok...
[12:58] JSpitzberg: kpb/sonko --> sidwell/mears
[12:58] Neal J Thurman: who does Mears have this week?
[12:59] JSpitzberg: home to hull
[12:59] Neal J Thurman: seems reasonable
[13:00] Neal J Thurman: although Sidwell got killed in F365's winners and losers feature for just not being very good for pretty much the entire duration of his post-Reading career which makes it hard to pull the trigger on that today
[13:01] JSpitzberg: ha
[13:01] JSpitzberg: that's what made me look at him
[13:01] Neal J Thurman: the reverse Sports Illustrated/Madden Jinx?
[13:01] JSpitzberg: buy low
[13:01] Neal J Thurman: if those guys tend to start underperforming as they regress to the mean, then Sidwell should be better as he progresses back toward the mean?
[13:02] JSpitzberg: sonko @ 3 something....
[13:02] JSpitzberg: hate that
[13:03] JSpitzberg: enablers should be a buck
[13:03] JSpitzberg: hate a midfield enabler too
[13:03] JSpitzberg: but at 2 per match...
[13:03] JSpitzberg: that's 4 v. sonko's 0
[13:03] JSpitzberg: assuming you don't bring him back having kept a cleanie
[13:03] JSpitzberg: then i like mear's matchup and return
[13:03] JSpitzberg: i dunno
[13:04] JSpitzberg: don't like anything about this
[13:05] Neal J Thurman: I'm hoping to just write this weekend off as picking around the points (DBent over Saha, Cesc over MPet, took risk on Bily, etc) and try not to stress about it
[13:05] Neal J Thurman: Milner looked a good bet but did f*ck-all
[13:06] JSpitzberg: yup
[13:06] JSpitzberg: but gotta ride him through the 2 games
[13:06] Neal J Thurman: yup
[13:07] JSpitzberg: then maybe he becomes bily?
[13:07] JSpitzberg: so sidwell becomes someone decent...
[13:07] JSpitzberg: well 1/2 decent... as well
[13:07] Neal J Thurman: will have to see what the prognosis for Bily is (between health and Pienaar coming back)
[13:08] JSpitzberg: and osman being out
[13:08] Neal J Thurman: right
[13:09] Neal J Thurman: Everton a bit of a mess really
[13:09] JSpitzberg: and of course saha scores
[13:09] JSpitzberg: after we all loaded him up and then bailed
[13:10] Neal J Thurman: yup
[13:11] JSpitzberg: collison interesting
[13:11] JSpitzberg: but that might mean gutting kranc instead of kpb
[13:11] JSpitzberg: and i'm 1 for 1 betting against Ars ;-)
[13:13] Neal J Thurman: guys who take kicks always seem to be a good bet against ARS - lots of bad penalties and scrambles at the back that lead to corners
[13:13] Neal J Thurman: penalties = fouls
[13:13] JSpitzberg: some of both
[13:13] Neal J Thurman: but the occasional penalty too
[13:20] JSpitzberg: kightly off the schnide...
[13:20] JSpitzberg: into the black for the year ;-)
[13:21] JSpitzberg: @stoke (wouldn't have him this week anyway)...
[13:21] JSpitzberg: ars (taking kicks against)....
[13:21] JSpitzberg: @che (ouch)
[13:21] JSpitzberg: brm, bol, @spurs, @man, burn, @liv, mac
[13:22] JSpitzberg: *sigh*
[13:28] Neal J Thurman: gonna be tough to pick him - especially now that he's shown that he's a big YC guy
[13:29] JSpitzberg: but for the cost...
[13:29] JSpitzberg: gonna be hard to stay away :-(
[13:29] Neal J Thurman: true


A little in the way of apologies and self-promotion. 

I've been missing 'round these parts for the better part of a month and I'm sorry.  I started several Monday Morning Manager posts, but didn't finish any of them.  And while I've continued to pour everything I could into playing the game, I just didn't have the time or attention span to also coherently and entertainingly write about it very much.  The reason is iHoops - a new venture my company has launched together with the NCAA and NBA (some of the big boys in the sports world here). And tonight is our coming out party! The following commercial will debut at halftime of TNT's broadcast of the Celtics/Cavs game and we're really excited about it.

We're going to be adding a lot to the site very quickly, so if you are interested, please check back often. Otherwise, thank you for your understanding about why blogging has been a little light. Hopefully I can get back up to speed quickly, maybe with more smaller items and fewer of the big features - which Neal is better at anyway.

Figueroa out with injury

Football - Tottenham Hotspur v Wigan Athletic FA Cup Third Round

via Yahoo!UK/Eurosport:

Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa is facing several weeks on the sidelines after damaging knee ligaments during the 3-1 win at Burnley on Saturday.

Figueroa had to leave the field after only 28 minutes at Turf Moor having sustained the injury, while team-mate Paul Scharner required 10 stitches stitches in a facial wound he picked up creating the Latics' third goal for Emmerson Boyce.

The damage to Scharner is only superficial, but Figueroa's condition is more concerning for manager Roberto Martinez, who told the Wigan Evening Post: "Maynor has a grade two medial ligament problem in his left knee. We will assess it further to see how bad he is, but it doesn't look too good."

He added: "Normally with this sort of injury, you are talking about weeks rather than months - but the signs are not nice.

A few thoughts as Wigan travel to Pompey so are perhaps more fantasy-relevant than usual...

If as happened on Saturday, N'Zogbia drops back into defence then his value will be reduced.  The winner there would be Gomez who came on in the more attacking role.  However, the other option is that we might see Erik Edman (6.04) get a run at left back.

UPDATE: N'Zog set for defensive role as Edman is concussed. He'll be back in a month; Figueroa in three to four. So, could it be "Go time" for Gomez?

Dude, Where are my points?

If there's one question I don't miss from the Yahoo! gig it's, "Where are the points?" We'll leave that to the Fantasist. But without knowing a definite number, how did you do? I had a much better day today, getting goals from RVP and Diamanti to add to Saturday's Drogba strike and Sonko's clean sheet.  It remains to be seen how Given holds up having allowed two goals and unless my midfielders earned any phantom points that was a total lost cause.  Grrrr!  But overall, a VERY depressing weekend.  You?

A Few Thoughts...

It isn't my intention to steal the MMM's thunder but I figured I'd throw out a few observations from my weekend of watching a pretty crazy amount of footie...

1. This is definitely the year where forwards are re-establishing themselves as the league's goal-getters.  In recent seasons we've seen the ascent of CRon, Lamps, Gerrard, Ashley Young, and others among the league's top goal scorers.  This year, the strikers are doing their work.  As fantasy managers, this is certainly worth noting as you choose where to spend your money.

2. The Pretenders Struggle - As usually happens, there are some pretenders to the Big Four at the beginning of every season.  In this case Villa, Everton, Sunderland, and Spurs (plus Citeh who are yet to play this weekend as of this writing) and all three have dropped points to inferior opposition (Wolves, Bolton, Birmingham, and Stoke respectively).  If they're serious about challenging, that just can't happen.

3. My biased view of Arsenal's chances at the title.  Thus far they've lost twice to very good competition on the road.  That these matches happened early and consecutively gave the impression that they aren't ready.  That said, if they win their match with WHU later today they will be 3 points behind the leaders (as ManYoo are currently trailing Liverpool 1-0 and hardly looking like they are going to take the full points from Anfield) with a match in hand.  It will certainly come down to how Wenger's team does in its remaining matches with the rest of the Big Four but thus far, they haven't done anything to distance themselves from the title.

4. Really?  Does it depress anyone else that with Gerrard injured that the best central midfielders in the ManYoo/Liverpool match-up are Masch and Lucas?  I'll grant you that Masch is a pretty strong holding midfielder but Lucas is average-at-best and there is no one fr ManYoo that seems likely to punish Liverpool for not having a better alternative.  Could get ugly when Chelsea's midfielders are the opposition.

5. On a lighter note, I really enjoyed the ManYoo supporters use of beachballs at the opening of the match today - fun stuff and it put to rest the notion that Mark Hughes had signed the Liverpool Beach Ball to a contract ahead of the January Transfer Window. 

The Barn Door Live - Oct 24

Welcome back...

A few things to keep in mind...West Ham and Villa (despite not appearing as such on the Yahoo game) will be two-gamers next weekend; Stoke host Wolves; and ManYoo host Rovers.  Arsenal and Spurs face-off so they'll be good candidates for you to drop them.

Here's my line-up...Given, Verm, Heiti, Ivanovic, Fab4, Kranj, KPB, Bily (I don't know if he'll play but I'm willing to take the risk to keep him at that price), Milner, DBent, and Drogba

Injuries and Suspensions

The Injury Files: Friday October 23

Not too many explicit updates of note...

The big guys - Gerrard, Nando, Johnson, Rooney, and Fletcher - from the big game are still all facing the dreaded "late fitness tests".  Given the match-up and the doubt, that rules all of them out of my line-up for this weekend.  What does it mean? Berbs becomes more valuable...Owen becomes a possibility (although there's no guarantee he'll start over Giggs playing a deeper lying striker role with 4 midfielders behind him)...Evra IS healthy which means he'll play over Fabio who had a chance to be an interesting option this weekend.  Hard to pick any of Liverpool's reserve attackers given their quality, the quality of the opposition, and the uncertainty surrounding the starting line-up.

Elsewhere...EdS is available for Arsenal and there's a chance he'll slot into the spot Walcott's injury is opening up.  With Sicky and Bendtner no better than 50/50 to play, there aren't too many other choices unless Wenger is going to start Eboue or dip into his Carling Cup squad (Wilshere? Vela? Ramsey?).  What does that mean to me? Too much doubt to pull the trigger on any of the above...

At Chelsea, Bosingwa is confirmed out which means that Ivanovic is a strong bet to get a start either centrally or on the right.  He is available at a good price.

At Citeh, Robinho is still out increasing the chances that MPet will get another start (and he's been very good when he's played).  No word on K2 which is very odd because PhysioRoom (see the widget to the right) has him listed, like Bellamy and Toure as "Doubtful" - not sure what to make of this.  I saw someone on the TWA comments thread indicate that he should have been in the "Best of the Rest" category for the week - I'd tend to agree if I had a better sense of whether he was going to play.  Like Arsenal, this situation is a bit of a mess so unless you have strong convictions on a specific player (you're SURE he's going to play AND do well) then I'd stay away in favor of guys who are going to start.

Finally, the news that we all feared - while at no point do they actually say Bily WON'T play for Everton this weekend, they do call him "the latest casualty" of Everton's injury crisis.  Could just be me reading too much into word choice but that seems incredibly vague.  Also odd that between Football365 (thigh) and BBC (calf) they can't even agree on what's wrong with him.  In any event, the low-risk move is to change him out of your line-up.  That said, the injury certainly doesn't seem like a major one so if you have him for less than 5.00, you might want to suck up the 0 for this week and hope he comes back next week.  Sort of depends on your financial situation.

Finally, the virtually useless information that Jummy "might" get his first start.  Will he? Who knows.  If he does, I'd imagine he'll do well for fantasy managers.  That said, at his current price, he's definitely a risk of having another weekend like last weekend where he came on as a sub and did very little.  This also impacts the value of Geovanni and Hunt who will be more valuable if Jummy starts the match on the bench and JVoH who will probably be more valuable if Jummy starts.

Sorry not to be more helpful but the information available this weekend isn't the greatest or the most certain.  I guess maybe my best advice is to go with the guys from places like Villa who you know are going to start and have a good match-up.

Good luck with your final moves of the week and I'll see you on the Live Chat tomorrow if you can make it.

Cheers - Neal

Everton Down to Bare Bones

Everton lost badly today, but their injury situation is what will worry fantasy managers.
To add to Moyes' injury woes, Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov ended the match with a strapping to his thigh and is doubtful for the Barclays Premier League match at Bolton on Sunday.

Moyes added: "We will need to assess him when we get back as well. I am not sure either yet who might be fit for the weekend."

So that just adds to the long list... Neville, Arteta, Jagielka, Pienaar, and now Yobo and Osman. Bily was a very popular pick up - attacking middie, taking kicks - especially after his goal last weekend. At Bolton was a decent fixture as well. But now, we'll likely have to look elsewhere for that spot. If you got him at 4-something your options are VERY limited. Rodwell, Kightly, Mok... Brown is suspended. Is Scholes back yet? Something to look at. Kilbane playing at center back? Sidwell?

The Week Ahead (with baseball interruptions)

With all apologies to the footie-mad world, I have to say I'm a bit distracted by more provincial sporting pursuits this week.  As I write my hometown Philadelphia Phillies (that's Major League Baseball if you aren't into the American sports scene) are in a best-of-seven series with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the right to go to the World Series (to presumably face the New York Yankees). 

Is this significant? I'll let you be the judge.  I am about to turn 40 years old (in January).  I have been a rabid fan of the Phillies (and all other Philadelphia sports teams) since I realized what sports were (I'd estimate that was somewhere around age 5).  In the 35 years or so that I've been following them they've won 2 championships (one when I was 10 years old in 1980 and the other last year).  They have gotten to the World Series and lost on two other occasions (once in the early 80s and once in the early 90s where they lost in heartbreaking fashion).  The rest of my life, they've been bad far more often than they've been good.  The chance to win back-to-back championships is unprecedented in my lifetime.  In fact, the only team that I support that has won back-to-back championships at any point is DC United (Major League Soccer).  Technically the Philadelphia Flyers (National Hockey League) did it when I was barely aware of what sports were but I'm not going to count that.  So, like I said, this is an opportunity for my sports fandom to navigate into uncharted waters. 

So, if you aren't a Dodgers or Yankees fan, and you happen to see a baseball game on wherever you are then think fondly of your favorite fantasy footie blogger and pull for the Phightin' Phillies. 

OK, I'll try to put the baseball aside and concentrate on this post for a bit...

Note for O'Hara fans

The Salady Bits Gossip
Also, quick line from The Daily Star - they report that Jamie O'Hara will be allowed to stay at Portsmouth after his loan deal runs out in January.
I know it's just gossip but worth reporting just so you have it on your radar.  Maybe he's not necessarily going back to Spurs in January.  Anyway, resume your normal activities.  And for those of you who follow American Baseball, you'll know that I'm about as fired up as one can be after last night's Phillies game.

Cheers - Neal

How did you do?

I have a respectable 95 points with Geovanni and Sonko to play. Neal wrapped up his week at 105.  The totals were mostly thanks to strong midfield picks.  Neal fielded Krancjar, Fabregas, Prince-Boateng and Bilyaletdinov while I got points from Dunn and Prince-Boateng as well.

How did you do this weekend and who was it that did the business for you?

The Barn Door Live - Oct 17

Neal's Line-up: Given, Verm, SeaBass, Heitinga, Cesc, Bily, KPB, Kranj, Drogba, K2, Saha

Something to Think About

Stan Kroenke increases Arsenal stake yet again - Barclays Premier League - ESPN Soccernet

I'm not really a conspiracy theorist and I'm usually not one to give much credibility to one + one = three "Journalism" but here's something for you all to ponder as we head back into Premier League matches after the International Break. 

Fact 1: The link above shows that Stan Kroenke - owner of the Colorado Rapids (MLS, where current Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis was Deputy Commissioner before moving across the pond) among other US-based sports franchises - has been steadily increasing his stake in the club.  He is very close to the 30% threshold that will require him to make a takeover bid.

Fact 2: The St. Louis Rams of the National Football League are up for sale and Kroenke owns 40% of that club.  That club is valued in the neighborhood of $500 Million.  I read that as Stan Kroenke coming into about $220 Million in free cash in the not too distant future. 

Fact 3: Kroenke's recent purchase of .2% (or 90 shares) of the club cost him $1.2 Million.  That would value the entire club at approximately $600 Million. That puts the cost of the remaining 70% that Kroenke doesn't currently own at $420 Million.  I don't know too much about Kroenke's personal fortune but the fact that more than half of the cost to buy the balance of the club is coming free leads me to the conclusion that he is at the very least in a position to make it happen despite the difficult economic times.  This wouldn't necessarily be the highly-leveraged type of transaction that we saw at ManYoo or Liverpool.

Like I said, I'm not saying that this IS going to happen (per the article, Kroenke says it isn't his intention) just that the facts line up in such a way that you can't help but think that there's a good chance that it will happen.

Just something to ponder on a chilly, rainy Friday evening (at least here in DC).

See you tomorrow for the Live Chat

Injuries and Suspensions

The Injury Files: Friday October 16

As you'll see on the other side of the link above, there are some huge names missing...

Gerrard, Nando, and Rooney are all confirmed missing for the weekend.  Huge deal all around for Liverpool as they are on the road to a pretty solid opponent with no firepower.  My thinking is that this diminishes the value of ALL Liverpool players as there is less chance of a clean sheet (they'll have the ball less) and fewer attacking options.

Also uncertainty around Berbs whose wife gave birth.  Old guys Owen and Giggs may be asked to produce the attacking numbers.  This means Giggs MAY justify his price and Owen is probably a bargain.  Might be worth looking at someone like Obertin (sp?) who might get a run as well.

Clichy and Bendtner are out for Arsenal and apparently Alumnia is healthy although there's no definitive word on whether he'll get his spot back. 

More later as it comes in but those are likely to be the big stories that impact your roster.

The Week Ahead

Well, Jeremy stole a little bit of my thunder with his post on what to do about O'Hara/Rooney for this weekend. The fact that he points out some excellent options in midfield and at forward combined with the fact that work has been very busy this week is going to lead me down the path of writing my first Lightning Round TWA column of the season...

So here we go, Larry King-style (from his column in The USA Today for those not familiar)

Great comeback from the USMNT to win their qualifying group last night here in DC...All of our thoughts and prayers here at blog central for US Forward Charlie Davies who was in a terrible car accident on Tuesday night - we hope he heals and if footie remains a possibility, all the better...

Where were we?

Ah, yes...

It's hard to come back from international break. But re-focus we must. So to get us all up to speed - and yes, there are games today so no due dilligence can start in earnest until tomorrow - let's look at my O'Hara issue. ;-)

I have O'Hara at 4.23 and he's averaging 5 points per match. However, he's ineligible to play against Spurs this weekend and he's being played in a more withdrawn role in the midfield. So naturally I'm desperate to sell. But 4.23 doesn't get you very far. Good news then that Rooney is a doubt for the Bolton match. Well, maybe not as he's expected to train with United this week. But still, the door is open! So between Rooney and O'Hara I have 22.77 to spend. What are my options?
  • Keep the both. Maybe not the worst idea ever. Take the hit this week but know that points are coming.
  • Keep Rooney and sell O'Hara for Kightly.  I like this option because I feel like I would be buying low on Kightly.  Surely his playing time will only increase and last week's -2 will be seen as an anomoly.
  • Blow them both up and replace them with two mid-priced players with good match-ups this week.  This is the fun option because of how wide open it is.  Who might those options be?  Let's take a look.

    At forward:
    • Saha  - home to a poor-traveling Wolves team.
    • Diamanti - West Ham aren't in good form, but Diamanti is taking kicks and getting points regardless.
    • Bellamy - Robinho not back yet, and Bellamy's form would probably keep him out of the side anyway.  At up-and-down Wigan.
    • Defoe - wait for word on his hand injury and thus his prospects to start, but playing at another of his old clubs he'll want to get on the scoresheet.
    • A.Johnson - home to Hull. 'nuff said.

    At middie:
    • Benayoun - If Gerrard is hurt, Benny is Liverpool's most creative player and even @Sunderland, there could be goals.
    • Giggs - bit of a reach in price, but rested he should star against Bolton.  Especially if Rooney is limited.
    • Geovanni - much like last season, he's at the heart of whatever Hull do (and yes, that's damning with faint praise).
    • Lennon - @Pompey
    • Osman or Cahill - @Wolves
    • Andy Reid - facing Liverpool, but taking kicks for Sunderland and averaging 10 points per match.
    • Dunn - home to Burnley, though this is a local derby so it takes a bit of the shine off
    • Gera or Duff - home to Hull. 'nuff said.  Well one more thing, Dempsey is injured so they're more assured spots.
Honestly, I'm at a loss right now. Anyone have any thoughts?

Robinho is ten days away from Manchester City return

via Yahoo!Sports:
Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has revealed that Robinho could be ready to make a return to first-team action in ten days time.

A stress fracture of the ankle has kept the Brazilian forward out of action since City's game with Portsmouth at the end of the August, but Hughes is hopeful that he could return against Scunthorpe United in the League Cup.

"'Robi' is not far away, he's probably got about ten more days and then he can be back in the group," Hughes told City's official website.

"He's working every day, we're trying to get him back as soon as we can but with a bone injury there is a certain length of time to give the injury."

Hughes also had good news regarding Michael Johnson and Roque Santa Cruz, who have both made returns from long-term injuries in recent weeks.

He added: "They are both back in the fold, but they still need games and we are looking to get some more match-play into them, if we can, in between being involved at first-team level.

Injured Rooney out

Gerrard, however, is ok.

via Yahoo!UK/Eurosport:

Wayne Rooney has pulled out of England's World Cup qualifier with Belarus on Wednesday. The Manchester United forward picked up a calf strain during Saturday's 1-0 defeat away to Ukraine. After having the injury assessed at England's training base in Hertfordshire, he has been released back to the Old Trafford club.

The news is a shock because if anyone was expected to pull out, it had been Rooney's close friend, and Liverpool skipper, Steven Gerrard. Whereas Gerrard only lasted until half-time at the Dnipro Arena yesterday, Rooney got through the entire game...

But whereas Gerrard has been given the all-clear to remain with the England camp for the final match of a successful Group Six campaign, Rooney must now undergo treatment in the hope of being fit for United's Premier League encounter with Bolton.

Van der Sar hoping for Bolton return

Edwin, give us a wave

from Yahoo!UK/Eurosport:

Edwin van der Sar is certain he will be ready for Manchester United's Premier League clash with Bolton on October 17.

The 39-year-old has been out of action since breaking a couple of fingers in a pre-season encounter with Bayern Munich in July. However, the former Holland skipper returned to action in Tuesday night's reserve team triumph over Everton at Widnes.

"I will be ready for Bolton," he told MUTV.

"I feel good and I haven't had any reaction. The match is still 10 days away so I have more training to do, then I will be ready for my first start of the season."

So be sure to ship out Foster if you're still on him.

Aquilani could debut against Sunderland

Soon to be a game worn souvenir?

Telegraph UK:
Sunday's 2-0 defeat against Chelsea highlighted Liverpool's need for a creative force alongside Steven Gerrard in the middle of the park and the upcoming international break should serve as enough time for Aqualini to complete his rehabilitation and take his place in the match-day squad on Oct 17.
From the bench one would assume.  But everytime I say that they start. Regardless something to keep an eye on as we come out of the international break.

UPDATE:  Or, maybe not.  Don't pencil him in until the end of the month, @Fulham in the League at the earliest.

And speaking of @Fulham, Jummy might be back for Hull's next match!

Bily to get a run in the side

... even if we won't "see [his] true quality... for some time yet."

from Yahoo!UK/Eurosport:
"In truth, it could be six months or even next season before he's totally right. But the situation we've got at Everton means we've got to play him," the Toffees boss told the Liverpool Echo.

"From that point of view, maybe it will help him in the end. I think the games that are coming up he will be more than likely put in, and he'll have to pick up the pace a little bit.
Guess I should have picked him up as my O'Hara replacment under 5. Insert sad face icon here.

Monday Morning Manager

Part two, looking at Sunday and Monday's matches, after the jump. Part one, here.

Monday Morning Manager

The Manager would like to apologize for the relative lack of blogging. He's been scouring YouTube looking for new talent to sign. Well, actually he's just been stuck at work for 12 to 14 hours a day. But with tonight at home to catch up on football (and soon, sleep) we'd like to give you the first part of the weekend review early. So here is a look at Saturday's Premier League matches, after the jump.

Barn Door Live - Oct. 3

Here are a few notes as well as the line-ups for me and Jeremy...

Players I'm tracking for potential Barn Door for two weeks from now (next week we have an International Break)...

RvP (I already have him this week but I'd be looking at him if I were you); Saha/Bily/Heitinga (and really anyone from Everton as they host Wolves next weekend); and Spurs players (especially SeaBass, THud, and Crouch) - I'll be mildly interested in ManYoo and Citeh players as their match-ups are at least somewhat advantageous next weekend.

My line-up: Given, Verm, SeaBass, Heitinga, Hunt, O'Hara, Kightly, Lennon, Drogba, RvP, Rooney

Jeremy's line-up: Given, Verm, SeaBass, Sonko, Hunt, O'Hara, Kightly, Lennon, Drogba, RvP, Rooney (believe it or not we arrived at line-ups this similar without talking about it during the week - when we IM'd about it yesterday we were both a bit bummed about it).

Injuries and Suspensions

Premier League Team News - Barclays Premier League - ESPN Soccernet

At the time of this writing, Soccernet still doesn't have all of the content entered into the link above (and they seem to be having a few issues with the graphics as well) but it is the best one-page consolidated review so I'm linking to it...

Here is my take on the fantasy impact of this week's injury news...

Wolves v. Pompey - With Segundo Castillo out it looks like Kightly will indeed start this weekend, great option for fantasy managers given the opposition.  Not much else to add to what I posted in TWA about Kightly and Doyle.  No significant news from Pompey.

Burnley v. Brum - The big news here is that Benitez will be in Ecuador on compassionate leave to visit his father who was in a car accident.  Definitely a bummer for both the Benitez family and fantasy managers alike - we wish the senior Mr. Benitez a speedy recovery.  As for this match, we expect it to be an ugly slug-fest between two defensive-minded clubs so expect lots of cards and not so many fantasy points.

Hull v. Wigan - Three matches reviewed and each of them potentially ugly. At least both teams here are pretty much entirely healthy - so much so that there's even news that Jummy might start playing again soon.  The big question for fantasy managers is what Jordi Gomez's fate will be.  He was on the bench against Chelsea and Wigan won, not good news if you were hoping he'd make a quick return to the starting XI.

Bolton v. Spurs - Elmander is definitely out and Defoe is extremely doubtful.  I'm pretty sure the first part of that sentence is irrelevant to fantasy managers but the second part could be very relevant.  Crouch is really the only other healthy starter (PVC is struggling with an injury as well) so he should cross your mind as a serious option.

ManYoo v. Sunderland - Foster is back, Owen is out (shocking, I know).  Foster should be high on your list of goalkeeping options this week but otherwise, not much of note here since SAF didn't reveal anything about his midfielder rotation policy and how it will impact this weekend (will he continue to tempt fate and start Giggs regularly? Which of his other mediocre midfielders - Scholes, Park, Valencia, Nani, Carrick, Anderson - will join Fletcher who should be starting each week?  No major news of fantasy import from the Sunderland side unless you're considering Lee Catermole - if you are, I don't think I can help you.

Arsenal v. Rovers - Walcott and Bendtner are back while EdS will not make the 18.  Not sure what that means for the starting XI other than that EdS won't be in it.  If I had to guess I'd assume Arshavin, RvP, and Bendtner will start with Theo replacing Bendtner at about the 65 minute mark.  Oddly, Almunia continues to be "hurt" - I assume all Arsenal supporters are hoping that his "injury" lasts all season with the way that Mannone has been playing (you know, actually stopping shots and stuff).  Good news for those who got on that bandwagon before the price went up.  Arsenal attackers could be even more valuable on the news that Ryan Nelsen and Chris Samba have fitness concerns with their backs.  Either they will pass their fitness tests and be at something less than 100% or they will make way for reserves who will have a hard time keeping up with the Arsenal attack - just saying.

Everton v. Stoke - Followers of the blog will chuckle (or cry) at the news that Tuncay "could make his first start of the season" but really? do you believe it will happen.  If anyone has stuck with him at 1.00, I hope it happens for you but I'm not holding my breath.  In other news, Yobo is a question mark but no word on which two of Bily/Pienaar/Osman will start on the wings.

West Ham v. Fulham - In the battle of the frequently-injured Duffman is out for Fulham while Upson is back for WHU.  Not too much else to report really.

Chelsea v. Liverpool - No definitive statement on which of Hilario or Turnbull will replace Cech in net (not sure you'd want either one with Liverpool as the opposition).  Ballack should be back in contention after returning from his never-reported calf issue from last weekend that sent a bunch of fantasy managers over the edge.  Masch back for Liverpool but otherwise, you should expect the usual suspects from Rafa.

Villa v. Citeh - The return of K2 is really the only significant news here unless you think Sidwell is somehow relevant and if the latter is the case, well, like I said above, I'm not sure I can help you.  On K2, will be interesting to see if he has retained his form while sitting on the bench, he was always one to ebb and flow for little apparent reason.  No news on Robinho so I am assuming that MPet will get the start again which could be a good thing to get in on. 

Good luck with your selections and I'll look forward to seeing you on the Live Chat tomorrow.