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
Blackburn Rovers v Stoke City
Sticking to my Dunn for this one. Stoke finally kept a clean sheet last week but that came down to a lousy PK from KPB. Earlier in the season I would have run away from this match. Stoke were so tough to beat. But now they seem to have lost a bit of that steel and Rovers are playing alright at home. And anything they do, they do through Dunn.
I'm also going with Robbo this week. And as you know, that scares the hell out of me. But he's been in the green all season despite Rovers' woes and Stoke aren't the most prolific of teams. So I'm hoping to see a few points - enough to justify a price tag just over 3 - even if he doesn't keep a clean sheet.
Fulham v Bolton Wanderers
Dempsey was the big winner in the just-completed 2-match week for Fulham. He was pushed up as a striker after Zamora came off and with Bobby Z doubtful for this one, Demps could find himself as a striker again. I love a player playing ahead of his listed position so I'm happy to spend a bit of money to get Demps. AJ and Nevland may be available, but I wouldn't think Hodgson would partner those two.
Bolton have been terrible recently, losing at home to Rovers was a real nadir. Baird (Paintsil, Schwarzer or any Ful defenders) may be a good bet again, but with Murphy coming back to the team I'm not going to risk a "will he or won't he play" situation. Duff is also a good bet in this match, but I just wonder how he'll fare playing another game on short rest.
Manchester City v Hull City
This should be a fun one. Hull is resurgent after 3 home matches against questionable opposition. Citeh are struggling through matches and drawing them when they would have snuck out a win earlier in the season. I expect goals from both sides in this match and while I wouldn't argue with Given I think there are other options. Jummy and Hunt are doing well for Hull but I woudln't look much beyond the two for points. For Citeh the problem is a plethora of options. K2, Bellamy, Tevez, SWP could all be in-line for a return. I'm assuming Tevez comes in for Ireland and while Robinho should be back, I'm betting on Bellamy to start and do well. I could move from Bellamy to K2 and leave 0 in the bank, but that never has worked out for me the few times I've been able to swing it. So my money is on the Welshman.
Portsmouth v Manchester United
An easy ManU victory that they'll make look difficult with scorers that you wouldn't have expected going in. That's my take on this match. Rooney would be a good bet, but there are so many other good options this week at well below his price. Giggs is the other Red Devil I would look at, but in this case I'm giving that spot to Dempsey.
West Ham United v Burnley
Like Citeh/Hull, this is the other match in which I'm looking for goals. Burnley aren't as abject on the road right now and WHU can still attack but still can't defend. And without Upson, well I don't think clean sheets are in the cards. I've picked up CCole on the cheap after his own-goal. Also I'm back on Collison, whom I love! Very excited about that. I also have Alexander in the last defensive spot. Maybe there is a PK in the match and he takes it. I don't expect him to get clean sheet points, but playing in midfield he may get forward a bit and earn points that way. A bit of wishful thinking, sure... but why not?
Wigan Athletic v Sunderland
I don't expect 9-1, but I sure would love to see Andy Reid get back on track in this one. He's been in a bit of a slump recently, but for the money I think it's worth the risk.
Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur
I don't expect 9-1... in fact, I see this settled by the odd goal, if at all. Neither team wants to lose this one and they match up pretty well against each other. I don't have anything invested in this match but it will be interesting to see if SeaBass is back and how Downing looks (and where he plays) as he continues his comeback.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Birmingham City
I have to admit to Friday trading. I've moved Ridgewell to Alexander. Vignal is back, but I really don't expect him to disrupt BRM's settled defence. I think Ridgewell is a good pick, but am going with Alexander on the "player listed behind where they play" rule. This will be a really tight match, but I don't see it ending goalless.
Everton v Liverpool
Ugly. It's got to be ugly, right? This game means so much to both teams in a usual year, and now both teams are just reeling. Bily will be back for Everton and he could be an interesting pick. Gerrard on the other side, but I don't know if I can justify his price right now. And Torres' injury is WAY to much of an unknown quantity.
I have Heitinga, but as I said last week I don't even look at his spot or Vermaelan's.
Arsenal v Chelsea
The big one! This should be a very interesting match. Every time we've had one of these Big 4 matches it seems like there's been an over-whelming consensus for one of the teams. And seemingly each time that team has lost. So does that put Chelsea in jeopardy? I would guess not. I'm looking forward to Drogba's return. And if Arsenal have to play Senderos... well, I'll be disappointed by anything less than another 20pts from the Ivorian.
On the other hand, while I'm not backing any Arsenal players this weekend, it will surely be fun to watch them. And if they happen to come down in price a bit ahead of a reasonable December... well, that would be nice too.
That's my look ahead. We'll be in and out this weekend, but we'll be looking back on Monday. In the mean time, who are you looking at and who are you putting you faith in this game week?