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...

Of the two-gamers, Fulham is far and away the best choice with a home match against mediocre Blackburn and an away match with below average (but not entirely rotten at home) Birmingham.  Everton are the next best team talent-wise but they are on the road for both matches including a visit to Old Trafford.  Hull are at home for both matches but before you get too excited a) they're Hull and b) the opposition isn't terrible in the form of WHU and EVE.  Finally, Rovers are on the road twice against Fulham and Bolton - not daunting opposition if you're the Big Four but if you're Rovers, it certainly isn't going to be a walk in the park. 

Of the one-gamers, Chelsea would normally be the most attractive if any of their good players were going to be healthy and they'll probably still win it's just that you're not going to be sure who will get the points (or the starts) in the absence of the usual stalwarts.  Honestly, outside of Chelsea, there's no match that I really love this weekend for the match-up.  In weeks past, I would have focused on Stoke because Pompey are visiting but Pompey have been much better the past few weeks and while they may lose this one, it certainly doesn't line up to be the fantasy-point-fest for Stoke that I would have predicted earlier in the year.

OK, so if match-up isn't the thing, what is? How about talent+certain playing time? That's the way I'm heading this weekend...

The consensus is that Drogs will be out for 3 weeks and RvP will be out for 6.  If the Friday team reports back up both assumptions then it probably makes sense to drop both players (Drogs because after 3 weeks you'd get him back briefly but then lose him again to the ACN and RvP because 6 weeks is just too long and this is Arsenal's training staff so 6 weeks probably means 10 weeks).  What does this leave us? At the top end, it leaves us Nando, Roonaldo, and the Elk with K2 and Bellamy a little further down the list with Gabby and Kuyt thrown in although I'm really not convinced that either are premium price-worthy.  Your choices in this grouping all come down to what you believe will happen between Liverpool and Citeh.  If you think the match is going to be a grind-it-out affair between two clubs scrapping for every point then you probably want to focus on the Elk.  If you think that it is going to be a goal-fest along the lines of the Liverpool/Arsenal match at Anfield last season then Bellamy and Nando are your guys.  If I were betting, I'd go with the former scenario and give the Elk the slight nod over Rooney.

Much more importantly, is where you go in the replacement market.  EdS, Kalou, and Frazier Campbell are all inexpensive options that will be starting for high-profile strikers who won't be playing this weekend.  Throw in Saha as a two-gamer and you have a potentially inexpensive strike-force available.  I wish I could recommend forwards from Hull, Fulham, and/or Rovers but the pickings are pretty slim.  Of that group of strikers, Jason Roberts and Benni McCarthy are the most talented but neither started either of Rovers last two matches.  Roberts seems likely to regain a starting spot but at his current price of nearly 10, he's also an expensive option given his production.

If I were going to go outside of the two-gamers, the low-cost bargains, and the traditional premium guys then I'd probably steer you towards John Carew who had a great match before the International break and despite that fact is still pretty affordable.

A much more interesting group than the forwards this weekend both because of the overall quality that remains uninjured as well as the higher quality of two-gamers at the position.  While Lamps is likely out due to injury, Gerrard appears to be back in business (albeit with a less-than-ideal match-up) and Cesc, Jummy, Dempsey, Duffman, Dunn, Gosling, Nasri, and Rosicky are all extremely strong options.

Honestly, if what I've written doesn't scream 3-5-2 to you then I'm not sure there's anything I can write to help you.  I'm sure people will do well with 3 forwards this weekend but they certainly won't be going with the odds to get there.

As strong as the midfielders are, the defenders are a much less happy thing.  Distin and Paintsil are decent value but not spectacular.  You could do worse than taking a risk on Alex as a JT fill-in for a few weeks.  If you want to take a risk that Rovers gets a clean sheet then Emerton might be a decent play as he will get clean sheet points while playing in a midfield role (although this hasn't worked out for anyone yet).  Givet did well earlier in the season but hasn't produced much - that said, the stats say that two games of someone averaging 5+ points/match for under 6 is a good deal.  O'Shea and Wes Brown are also decent one-match options. The same could be said for whichever of Armand Traore or Mikael Silvestre starts for Arsenal although I'm firmly convinced that if Silvestre starts, there will be no CS points to be had so take that advice with a grain of salt.

Schwarzer is the clear winner for the week in my mind - two matches, makes saves, should be in line for two draws at the least and could well get two wins with at least one clean sheet.  Honestly, not too much else to like from the two-match guys.  T-Ho could do OK but I have a hard time seeing him do better than Schwarzer and the prices aren't that different.  Robbo is Robbo and anyone who has had him in the last few years will tell you it isn't worth the lost hair - especially during a week when you can sell your expensive strikers and pay a premium for a keeper.  To be honest, I think my second highest recommendation would be to find a way to spend the money for Cech or EvdS (with a slight preference for Cech).

Looking forward to a pretty crazy weekend with things turning out a little oddly due to all of the injuries to prominent players.  Should be fun...or at least interesting.

See you Friday for Injuries and Suspensions...

Cheers - Neal


  1. DarkZero12:08 AM

    Will gosling be playing? He did perform last week, but for double game..i'm not too sure.. =)

    and for cheap mid, what do you think of Chung Yong? They're playing blackburn, and home ground for Bolton


  2. Anonymous12:58 AM

    who should i replace drog??? any advise???

  3. Anonymous1:01 AM

    game on! we r no longer in a 10 players fantasy football game, drogba's injury is indeed a big news as he will no longer stuck in the forward position for half of all fantasy teams... at least, managers r finally using their brain for the 11th spot... happy selling/holding drogba!

  4. Anonymous1:03 AM

    no word on baines?

  5. Anonymous1:30 AM

    I did a small analysis.

    The best performance is likely to be a team of

    The Beast (Jensen)

    Givet, Samba, Zayatte, Heitinga

    Dunn, Duff, Bullard, Etherington

    Yayga (Rodallega), Saha.



  6. Anonymous3:40 AM

    Has your 'small analysis' made you the top team in fantasy?

  7. Eduardo is a good shout, he's overdue goals and Arsenal haven't stopped scoring so far this season. If anyone placed any bets on the Ireland match last night, spare a thought for the French punters (it's hard, I know), who were facing these appalling odds because of the European betting monopolies supported by the EU. Please support the Right2bet petition so we can abolish them!

  8. Anonymous6:06 AM

    2 comments, firstly OShea went off injured in the France game, secondly, couldn't this feature be called The Week Ahead Talk, mack more amusing name, oh, hang on tho, people would see the letters and assume it was a blog about Phil Brown.....

  9. this is my team

    dunn/duff/jummy/joe cole

    do you think joe cole will play 90 minutes?

  10. Anonymous6:24 AM

    which 1 is better;

    kalou/rosicky @ eds/j.cole?

    help me..huhu

    -dean winchester-

  11. Anonymous7:48 AM

    eds/jcole of course!!!

  12. Anonymous8:35 AM

    I have O hara, Bily and Fab at massive discounts....this week could be a big drop for me...

  13. Anonymous9:04 AM

    I'm affraid of the prospect of having Hunt while Geovanni and Bullard are back. I can move to Geovanni, who might even get to be a forward, but I'm not sure about this move. I've dropped Rooney to get Anelka, but it isn't final.
    With 3mil remaining, I thought about getting someone else than Hunt - with Cahill and Krancjar being the top options.
    Cahill - two games, but they're difficult and he knows how to commit fouls.
    Krancjar - one easy game, but where was he the last couple of weeks?



  14. Anonymous11:05 AM

    Jeremy, myhill will play or not this coming game?

  15. Anonymous11:51 AM

    To Anyone - J. Roberts or Deco? J. Roberts has 2 games but will he play both or even get big points? Now on the other hand, if Deco plays he'll be taking kicks/corners in the absence of Lamps...but will he play? I have a big feeling he will. Thanks all, (Honduran-Saul)

  16. Anonymous12:53 PM

    Deco/Giovanni or Dempsey/Roberts? Whacha think?

  17. "a small analysis"! That team looks like shite, no offense chief. Bily saw red two weeks ago and is suspended I believe, I could be wrong. No one is talking about Defoe but he will shine for Spurs this weekend! Deuce, Jummy, Dunn, Geovanni are an almost must have and Deco looks like a great play as I blieve he will play and take all of Frank's kicks and corners. Verm and Alexander on the way cheap I'm keeping and Givet/Paintbucket as a 3rd. Up top it's Defoe and EDS...not hitting save changes until tomorrow night, have a weird feeling about Drogs and like most of us, I have him at 10.76.

  18. what a muddle! i guess selling drogs is the only way to go if he's going to miss all this time, plus international duty in january. but that didn't stop a little part of me from dying when i clicked on "save changes" after swapping him out for eduardo.

  19. Anonymous4:34 PM

    @ Joon - Did the same thing mate...switched Drogs to Eduardo and upgraded Samba to Baines we'll see how it works out(If it does, that is).
    My team for the moment is...
    I'm thinking of switching Dempsey/J.Roberts to Deco/Giovanni. If Gio is a definite starter, I think I'll opt for the later. Comments greatly taken.

  20. Anonymous4:43 PM

    @ Last post, maybe you should change Duff/J.Roberts to Deco/Giovanni. Duff played 120 minutes with Ireland and may be tired. As for Deco, will take kicks if he plays...

  21. Anonymous8:25 PM

    Torres isn't suppose to play this weekend actually but Stevie G is

  22. Anonymous8:53 PM

    @anon...geovanni is listed as if u want to switch dempsey/j.roberts, u must have another forward as an option with deco..


  23. Anonymous9:02 PM

    j.cole/gabby or milner/kalou? stuck..


  24. Anonymous9:53 PM

    "@anon...geovanni is listed as if u want to switch dempsey/j.roberts, u must have another forward as an option with deco.." no, he just needs to change formation to 3-5-2, he still would have Saha and Eduardo

  25. Anonymous9:59 PM

    I still don't get why so many are hooked on Heiti. I've got
    Schwarzer, Vermaelen, Alexander, Nelsen,
    Dunn, Bullard, Dempsey, Cahill
    Carew, Saha, Eduardo.

  26. Anonymous10:26 PM

    I'm hooked this week. 2 games....

  27. SHANE CITY2:39 AM

    schwarzer, givet, paintsil, dunn, dempsey, bullard, and saha in my team. all have 2 games each and if everyone of them score a pathetic 5 points per game, i would have 70 points already for the weekend. add to them my premium players, wow, this is going to be a good week.

  28. Anonymous2:56 AM


  29. Anonymous4:08 AM

    Who are deuce, yummy or jummy, and gabby?

  30. Anonymous4:11 AM

    jummy=bullard, gabby=agbonlahor

    hmm..between nasri & rosicky who will get to play 90 minutes?

  31. Anonymous4:30 AM

    Thanks, I thought jummy might be bullard. Any idea who deuce is?
    Right now I've got:

    alexander (got him cheap 6 weeks ago), givet, samba
    deco, duff, dunn, dempsey, geovanni (damn, there goes my all D middle)
    eds, Saha

    I have 2.2m left, trying to figure out a way to get schwarzer. Robbo's shite but cheap.

    Any thoughts on the lineup?

  32. Deuce is Clint Dempsey, and he's in your team.

  33. Duff / Dunn / Saha? Does Duff even take set pieces for Fulham?

  34. guys,..

    anelka/nelsen or saha/distin?

  35. Anonymous7:33 AM

    If Henry had been British the media would not be hounding him. They would rather concentrate on the win. But I do agree that Henry must be punished & you're right about video repalys.

    I'm just saying the media are hypocrites just like when Ronaldo( Portuguese) was taken off and acted angrily they said he was petulant and rude, BUT when Rooney (English) did exactly the same thing the media said he was just showing passion and always wants to play.

    2 100%different ways to discribe an 100% equal situation!

  36. Anonymous8:07 AM

    Which option is the better one:


  37. Anonymous8:47 AM

    Reports are that Saha is hurt and will miss out @Utd - can anyone confirm or deny this?!

  38. Let me add to the Drogba headache now:

    The official Chelsea website says that Drogba will only be out for the game against Wolves and WILL play on Wednesday against Porto.

    I now have no clue what I'm going to do now. Did everyone already sell?

  39. Anonymous9:52 AM

    Also ever important in that post...

    Deco is out as well!

  40. Anonymous10:04 AM

    is it true that Damien Duff is reportedly suffering from shell-shock after that Ireland game?
    i have him in my team rite now..=(


  41. Anonymous10:06 AM reported yesterday Nando is back in training and may make Citeh clash...I have him on a steep discount...hold or sell?

  42. Anonymous10:35 AM

    Is Saha going to play in both games? I read he has a calf injury.

  43. Anonymous2:22 PM

    I'm hooked this week. 2 games....
    bur one is against ManU. Heitinga's not scoring well, let alone CS points. Two assists, no SOT, only twice has he surpassed his value. Maybe this week wtih two games he can, but aren't there enough other 2 gamers to choose from?

  44. Ngog is too much of a bet at 9 bucks. I had JRob on the BD and I think I'm dropping him for Kalou. Big Sam seems to like DiSanto and BenniMac more than JRob.

  45. Anonymous6:05 AM

    da Beast(jensen)
    Paintsil, Iva, R.Johnson
    Geo, Dunn, J.Cole, O'Hara, Demp
    Zamora, Diamanti

    HAHAHA..may luck be with me!