How did you do?

I earned 82.5 points with the largest contributions from that man, Drogba, PRobbo and the Hammers pair of Collison and CCole.

I leap-frogged Neal this week - a big 2.5 point gap! - as he earned 55 points with Drogba and Collison his big (only!) hitters.

Monday Morning Manager coming this evening.  In the meantime, how did you do, and whom did you grab on the barn door? 

Matchday Open Thread

I apologize to everyone who is navigating to this space in hopes of finding a Live Chat to supplement their watching of the Saturday Premier League matches.  Unfortunately, life has intervened and between house guests for the Thanksgiving holiday and preparation for vacation, I just won't have time to make a decent effort at it.  I hope for one week that the "old school" way of connecting everyone while they're watching will suffice.

Enjoy the matches...

Cheers - Neal

Late Fitness Test

Ok... let's head around the country and around the league and look at the matches this weekend. Along the way I'll try to justify explain my team selection. Hopefully we can spark some thought and maybe a little debate.... after the jump.

Injuries and Suspensions

Do you want to start, or should I? I don't know... is that a set of golf clubs over there?

More news and ruminations coming later, but for now here are a couple of quick links for you.

Yahoo!UK Team News
Yahoo!UK Choose 'em or Lose 'em
F365 News Roundup
SkySports Previews
BettingZone Previews

The Week Ahead

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers everywhere around the world. For those of you not familiar with the US Thanksgiving holiday, I started writing an explanation of the "whys" and "wherefores" of it but it wasn't very good so I'm linking you to the Wikipedia entry.  The quick answer is that it is the day that we give thanks for all of the good in our lives and celebrate with a harvest feast consisting of somewhat ridiculous quantities of turkey, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, potatoes, and a lot of other stuff.  Many families have added drinking way too much to the mix because, well, if they're going to have to see each other then they should probably be drunk.  The final innovation that has been added to the holiday weekend in recent years is "Black Friday" or the orgy of shopping and deep retail discounts that marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.  Stores have taken to opening in the wee hours of the morning (we're talking 2 AM, 3 AM, etc) and for some reason people have decided it is worth getting up at that time to get in on the "exceptional deals" that the merchants have put on offer.

In the spirit of the holiday, here are a few things vaguely related to fantasy footie and the blog that I'm thankful for...

  1. the pending emergence of Gabriel Obertan - there just haven't been enough decent fantasy midfielders on Big Four teams this season and Obertan has the chance to stake a claim in among a fairly useless set of ManYoo wingers - he certainly can't be worse than Nani/Valencia/Park for fantasy purposes.
  2. the opening of January Silly Season - I know most people tire of the rumors but I love it all - the baseless speculation, the tabloid-driven rumors, and the occasional actual deal that might give us fantasy owners something new to throw into the mix
  3. the fact that our move is done and we should be relatively settled for the next six to eight months until we move again
  4. the fact that FiOs (our new TV/Internet service provider) includes Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV, and NFL Red Zone in their basic package (nice not to have to pay a premium for them anymore)
  5. Tim Howard getting shelled over his two matches this past week and one of the guys near me in the standings in our private league having him  (that was a big -12.00 for T-Ho and Jon)...
OK, on to the players...

Monday Morning Manager

Gallagher, Andrews, Nelsen and Robinson before the match.

Counting the cost of Friday's trades, after the jump.

The Barn Door Live - November 22

I'm up before the rest of the family - it's 5:30am here - so I'm going to try my hand at the live commentary thing. So join me for Bolton/Blackburn.

The Barn Door Live - November 21, 2009

You're looking live for one last time at Neal's townhouse basement - the next time we come to you it will be from temporary quarters in a condo while we wait to buy our next house (which probably won't happen until the off-season).

As Jeremy stated, it's been a crazy week for both injuries and injury news (BBC and Sky + ESPN seemed to disagree wildly about the status of some key players like Danny Murphy and Drogs).

Anyway, I ended up with Robbo (crossing fingers), Verm, Heiti, Emerton, Cesc, Dunn, Duffmen, Jummy, Drogs, Campbell, and Saha.

Late Fitness Test

Getting the band back together! I'm going to party like it's 2001-2002.  I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

It's been a crazy week, hasn't it?  With all of the injuries... and the fact that the injuries were to the studs of the league... and the fact that we didn't know the extent of those injuries until, well today... if we know at all.  So to get my head right as I set my team for the week, here's a round up of what I'm looking at and what I'm thinking.  And despite that, whom I'm choosing.

Injuries and Suspensions

Premier League Team News - Barclays Premier League - ESPN Soccernet

The news is slow to come in to SoccerNet today but I'm in off-site planning meetings for 2010 as part of my day job so I'm getting a head start of things. 

Arsenal - I'm not going to repeat the entire injury list because I just don't have the time.  Here's what you have to know...1) RvP is out.  Nasri should be fully healthy and start.  EdS is their only real option at striker.  Gibbs, while not as crocked as first reported, will miss out.  Silvestre is likely to deputize.  I'm not sure how thrilled I am with Silvestre as an option given that he weakens the defence overall but he's a nice option at a cheap price.  EdS is almost a must-have.

For Sunderland Fulop will deputize for the injured Gordon and Turner and KJones are both suspended.  Frazier Campbell remains a great inexpensive striking option (I don't know where they came from but he had 9 points for a cost of 3+ last time out - just saying).

For the feature match of the weekend - Gerrard, GJohnson and Agger should play.  Nando is going to miss out.  Yossi and Riera are likely but not certain and Aquilani is going to come off the bench.  For Citeh MPet, Bellamy, Robinho are the relevant players on the sidelines.  That's a lot of striking power not playing.  For me, that means that Ireland is an interesting play.

Very interesting news from Chelsea on the BBC site which seems to imply that JT, Ballack, Drogs, and ACole should all be back from their rumored injuries while Lamps will miss out with a thigh strain.  The big question is which Chelsea midfielder does this benefit? Deco? Ballack? Essien? JCole? FloMal? What it does do is make it likely that Kalou will remain on the bench and not be the fantasy boon everyone was hoping.  Hopefully, people didn't get too carried away and sell Drogs thinking he'd indeed be out for an extended period.

For the ManYoo/Everton match - Vidic is likely to play while Rio, GNev, O'Shea, and Evans are all rated somewhere between doubtful and out which means that ManYoo's entire defence is going to be pretty shaky.  I'd stay away.  On the Everton side, Bily (suspended), PNev, Osman, and Pienaar are all rated as out for this weekend.  The complication is that the last three are all "close to returning" which means they might play midweek complicating life for fantasy managers.

Of the other 2-match teams, Rovers are pretty much fully healthy, Fulham should have Danny Murphy and he should be taking a lot of kicks which is a good thing for his value.  Hull may still be missing Myhill not that you should have been considering him (or any Hull keeper) very strongly.  Geovanni is also back from suspension but not sure he's that terribly valuable either.

Other random notes...Carlton Cole should be back at WHU as should SPet at Villa (back from suspension)...SeaBass remains out...Lennon might make it back...Modric still out...

Not too much else to report.  Good luck with team selection.  For those who follow the live chat on Saturdays - I'm not sure if I'll be able to host or not.  If you're interested, please come by and check it out but my wife and I are moving so I can't make any promises.

Cheers - Neal

The Week Ahead

How to begin making sense of this week? 

We start out with the crazy happenings between Ireland and France today - if ever there was a case to be made for instituting replay, this was it.  Sadly, the case of the Irish is not likely to be sufficient to make it happen.  Until a major team (that draws major crowd and sponsorship support) misses out on the World Cup or Champions League because of a poor decision that would have been overturned by a replay we won't see any significant action.  If it had been England or Germany that missed out on the same type of play, you can bet that we'd see replay happen quickly.  Why the difference? No one is thinking "well, if it happens to Ireland, it can happen to me too" whereas the WOULD be thinking "if it happens to England/Germany/Brazil/Italy/Spain/Argentina then it could most definitely happen to me"  Just something to contemplate as the Irish go home completely bummed out and the French prepare for an undeserved World Cup campaign next summer.

OK, on to the insanity that is the injury situation in the Prem and how it impacts everyone's line-up.  If you don't think it impacts your roster, then you either don't have a great roster or you haven't been reading all of the injury reports.  Half of Arsenal's senior squad is crocked plus Drogs, Lamps, JT, Berbs, and MPet who are also somewhere between questionable and out make up what is sure to be a complex injury puzzle for this coming weekend.

Throw in the fact that there are four mediocre-at-best teams (Rovers, Hull, Fulham, and Everton) that are two-gamers and things are going to be pretty strange out there.  So, here we go with this week's analysis...

Fantasy Injury Focus - Arsenal

The great entertainers, and the great source of fantasy points over the years.  Also, a great source of injury frustration as year after year players come in and disappear into the training room only to reappear briefly and inevitably too early, finding themselves injured all over again.

The latest blow is of course Robin van Persie being ruled out for two months with ankle ligament damage. But that's by no means the extent of Arsenal's woes. They were already missing Bendtner, Walcott, Vela, Djourou, Clichy, Denilson and added Diaby (calf) and Gibbs (foot or ankle, depending on who you read) to the list after their latest international commitments. And Arsenal have only just gotten Rosicky and Nasri back from their long-term injuries.

So what can we expect from Arsenal against Sunderland? Wenger is very stubborn when it comes to formations. He stuck with 4-4-2 forever, and will likely use his new 4-3-3 regardless of who is available to play. Almunia is entrenched in goal again. The back four likely is Sagna - Vermaelan - Gallas - Silvestre, though another option would be to bring Senderos into the center of defence and move Gallas to left back where he has been unhappy, but very effective for Arsenal and Chelsea before that.

The midfield three will likely be Cesc playing in front of Song and Nasri with Nasri replacing Diaby and having more license to get forward. Ramsey would also be an option, having played really well against Wolves. The front three would seemingly have to be Arshavin - Eduardo - Rosicky.

Eboue is a wildcard in all of this. He would give the squad more balance as Nari, Rosicky, Eduardo and Arsahvin all favor the left if they can't play through the middle. Maybe, just maybe, Wenger does go back to the 4-4-2 with Rosicky and Eboue on the wings and Arshavin and Eduardo pushed up front together.

However they line-up, Sunderland probably won't have to face a barage of crosses or long punts into the box. This will be a diminutive team with Song the long 6-footer. Arsenal may win tons of corner kicks, but I would be stunned if they were to convert any of them. Expect lots of CWs, but very few SCs.  On the other hand, Reid may have a big day if he gets the chance to aim crosses at Bent and Jones (and Turner et al coming up from the back).

Blog Roundtable

Talking Chelsea and two-gamers with my friend, and fantasy football newbie, Tundra United.  After the jump.

Fantasy Injury Focus - Chelsea

Yes, no, maybe, no, no, yes, no, yes, maybe, maybe, yes

I want nothing more than to break down the injury situation this week in a clear and useful fashion. I'm afraid that I won't be able do it though. There are so many injuries to so many high-profile players - and so many questions hanging around the extent of some of these injuries - that I know I'm going to miss something. But bear with me as I try to sort it out for myself, by myself and with the help of some roundtable participants.

I guess we have to start with Chelsea, and specifically Drogba. He's the top scorer in the game, and on more than half our teams... at a significant discount. And he's going to be out for three weeks with a broken rib. Or will he? All the reports seem to find their source at The Sun and I'm going to wait until I hear something more official before making permanent changes to my team.

But that being said, if he's out for three weeks he could miss Wolves, @Arsenal and maybe @Citeh. Then he could play up to five relatively easy matches - Everton, Portsmouth, @West Ham, @Birmingham, Fulham - before he would miss a month of games to the African Cup of Nations. Of course this all depends on when he could play with a broken rib, if he indeed has a broken rib, and when he would be required to join up with the Ivory Coast team ahead of the competition. The uncertainty of it all is maddening, but hopefully we'll know more as the week progresses.

In all honesty, I'm leaning towards sell. If the reports are true, I'm likely to gamble that I can make up enough points to compensate for the lack of Drogba in my team. And then I'll be hoping that there are some attractive arrivals in the January transfer window - paging David Villa - that I can rebuild my team and/or buy Drogba back.

Drogba, however, isn't the only Chelsea injury. Bosingwa is out for months, Ashley Cole is suffering from a shin fracture, Lampard is out for weeks with a thigh injury... breathe... Terry and Ballack are doubts with ankle and knee injuries, respectively, and Deco came out of Portugal's playoff with a groin strain. Anelka becomes the must-have Chelsea player for fantasy, but with Wolves' struggles and the Arsenal match looming, I wouldn't be surprised to see the likes of Alex, Kalou (a potential fantasy steal!) and Malouda play this weekend. A bit more of a stretch - but not that much - would have Joe Cole (another fantasy value) at the point of the midfield. Maybe Ferreira, also around 6, at left back? Though Zhirkov played for Russia, so he may be an option as well.

Injuries and International Friendlies

The Injury Files: Monday November 16

You have to imagine that a lot of high profile managers in the Prem are F U R I O U S to say the least after a spate of injuries to important players that happened in matches that meant exactly nothing in the grander scheme of things.

The biggest of the injuries came to RvP and Drogba (granted Drogba's injury theoretically came during the ManYoo clash) who likely face 6 and 3 weeks on the shelf respectively. 

Elsewhere, Lamps and JT were both out of England's friendly with Brazil (at least they didn't pick up their injuries in a match that meant nothing but regardless, they seem likely to be crocked for Chelsea's next match if not more).  Just in case you thought things couldn't get more Arsenal-like at Chelsea, it looks like Ballack has some sort of knee infection concern that may or may not keep him out for a while.

At Eastlands, the news is no better with MPet picking up a fresh problem with his knee. 

What do I take from all this? 1) it's a good thing for them that CHE are playing Wolves next weekend; 2) Kalou, Deco, and Joe Cole just got a lot more interesting; and 3) ditto Eduardo.

Just some items to contemplate as you get ready to resume the fantasy season this coming weekend...

Cheers - Neal

Monday Morning Manager

International week, so who knows if anything from this week past will carry over through the break.  But just in case, here are some impressions of the - disappointing, for most - week that was, after the jump.

Caption Competition

Chelsea's captain John Terry jumps into the arms of team-mat... AFP/Getty Images - Sunday November 8, 06:32 PM

Remember, this is a family-friendly site.

The Barn Door Live - Nov. 7

Here's my squad for the weekend
Given, Verm, Heiti, Gibbs, Fab4, MPet, DDunn, BFAR, Drogs, Bellamy, Campbell

and here's Jeremy's team for those interested...
Given, Verm, Heiti, Gibbs, Emerton, BFAR, DDunn, Collison, RvP, Bellamy, Drogs

Looking ahead to next week (OK, two weeks from now since there's another International break coming up next weekend) - Rovers, Fulham, Everton, and Hull are all 2-gamers.  None are exceptionally exciting based on the quality of the clubs and the match-ups (Everton - the best of the group - is on the road twice with one being ManYoo; Rovers - both on the road - against teams that are playing better than they are; Fulham is on the road against Brum who aren't terrible at home and home to Rovers; and Hull are, well, Hull.

Outside of the two-gamers Chelsea host Wolves and Stoke host Pompey.

Live chat after the jump.

Injuries and Suspensions

Premier League Team News - Barclays Premier League - ESPN Soccernet

You can check either the link above or yesterday's The Week Ahead post for a complete listing of those missing through suspension after the Premier League's refs.  As I mentioned yesterday, the interesting opportunities that will result from suspensions are O'Shea being a line-up definite and Frazier Campbell deputizing for Kenwyne Jones.  Hard to imagine guys like Nigel Reo-Coker or Paul Robinson (the defender) doing much for their fantasy managers regardless of the opportunity to start.

Elsewhere in injury news...
Looks like Rovers have kicked the H1N1 thing and are fully healthy - that may put Brett Emerton's place in the midfield in doubt (although I'm not sure Big Sam actually knows what his best line-up is).  I'd downgrade Emerton from "very promising risk" to "a big gamble."

K2 and Kolo back for Citeh making both expensive but potentially strong picks.

Sunderland have no holding midfielder with Cana suspended and Cattermole still injured.  Could be a good thing for the Spurs attack who are likely to get Lennon back and will definitely get Defoe back.  SeaBass is out but Woody may be ready to go.

Clichy, Bendtner, Traore, Vela, Denilson, and Walcott are out for Arsenal - the big question is "which of Rosicky, Nasri, and EdS are likely to join the clearly first choice Cesc, Song, Arshavin, RvP, and (seemingly) Abou Diaby?"  Nasri has been playing well but he's only just returning from injury.  EdS would be a more natural fit as a third player up top in the 4-3-3.  Rosicky has probably performed the best of the three thus far.  Hard to handicap this race so I'm going to stay away.

For ManYoo - Rio is out but Vidic is back.  Berbs is good to go (make your own joke about whether that's actually a positive or negative for ManYoo).  Park is also out.

For Chelsea's part, it looks like Zhirkov and Bosingwa are the only injury doubts meaning that the only real questions are related to which midfielders will start.  Lamps aside, your guess is as good as mine...

No word yet on Carlton Cole for this week's match.  Zavon Hines would be an interesting play but probably not worth it unless news comes out that CCole is definitely out.  Just so I have it written down somewhere, I think Hines is going to be a nice solid fantasy player at some point in the next couple of years.

No AJ or Murphy for Fulham and Duffman (who has been a good fantasy player) is facing the dreaded "late fitness test" - I'm not a big fan of Fulham on the road and even less so with those guys missing.  The only guy this really benefits is Clint Dempsey who is almost certain to start in an attacking role.

OK - that's about it.  Good luck with your Friday moves and we'll look forward to seeing you on the Live Chat tomorrow.

Cheers - Neal

The Week Ahead

My apologies to one and all for the lateness of the post.  The combination of the deciding game of the World Series last night (the bad guys won) and all-day meetings today have left me scrambling a bit for this column.  Now, by scrambling, I don't mean that I'm scrambling for things to write - anyone who has been reading for any length of time will realize that I'm rarely at a loss for words - but rather for time. 

I do have two topics that I want to cover before I get to the recommendations...

Bargain Shopping

So, if I want Bellamy for the weekend - which I do - that leaves me 6.03 for a fourth middie or defender.  Who to choose?  And of course, the caveat here is that whomever I pick will be wrong.  The candidates after the jump.

Matchday Open Thread

Just comments stream today.

Diamanti on the bench. Milner injured, but Petrov passed fit.

Good luck, all.

Clichy suffers stress fracture

We won't see Bendtner or Clichy again for a month

via Sky Sports:
Arsenal defender Gael Clichy is facing a month on the sidelines after suffering a suspected stress fracture in his lower back.

The left-back is an integral member of Arsene Wenger's first XI but has been forced onto the treatment table after sustaining the injury.

France international Clichy will miss Wednesday's UEFA Champions League clash with AZ Alkmaar and the next European clash against Standard Liege on 24th November.

The problem will also keep him out of the reckoning for the forthcoming Premier League games against Wolves, Sunderland and London rivals Chelsea.

Gibbs is 6.23 and looks a good bet all of a sudden.

Also, with Bendtner out for a similar length of time, a Premier League fantasy manager's eyes will wander to Eduardo (8.28) or the perpetually returning Rosicky (9.06).

Monday Morning Manager

Good week for me -- great Saturday then gave most of it back on Sunday. 107 points with five 2-gamers. Not that I'm expecting much from them.  More on that after the jump.

Bassong injury blow for Tottenham

In happier times

via Yahoo!UK/Eurosport:
Tottenham's injury problems show no signs of abating, as Sebastien Bassong has revealed he is likely to be out for a month with a hamstring problem.

The classy Cameroon defender played the entire 90 minutes of Spurs' 3-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday, but manager Harry Redknapp said after the game that Bassong had picked up an injury.

Redknapp did not elaborate on the nature of the problem, but Bassong explained that a hamstring injury is likely to rule him out until December.

"It's not good news. It's a hamstring. I'll be out maybe four or five weeks. It just feels like my muscle is gone," he said in the Daily Mirror.
Anyone have him at enough of a discount that they'll take the zeros for a month or so?