Monday Morning Manager

This is going to come in pieces and I apologize for the delay.  The Arsenal/Chelsea wrap-up alone has taken me more than an hour to write.  I hope the time translates to quality, though I'm afraid it doesn't.

Regardless, our look back at the week that was - and who did and did not make the Manager's fantasy team - and our attempt to use that to inform future choices... after the jump.

Arsenal 0 - 3 Chelsea
I'll be disappointed by anything less than another 20pts from the Ivorian.
And I was not disappointed.  Save for an early booking - and the infuriating habit of going down as if shot at the slightest bit of contact - Drogba was back to his best this week.  As a fantasy manager, it was great to see him back and to justify the faith in him after all of the news, innuendo and rumour around his rib injury.  And for the 6% of fantasy managers who sold him over the last two weeks... consider this an open thread for venting.

While Drogs was back sooner than expected, it looks like Robin van Persie will be out for months rather than weeks as was originally reported.  It is hard to judge how the Gunners are coping with the loss.  Chelsea are such a better defence than Sunderland that it's hard to see progress.  Home to Stoke will be the real test.  It's a must-win game.  Eduardo simply has to convert his chances into goals and the likes of Arshavin and Fabregas will have to be the creators of said opportunities. 

They'll have to convert because the can't trust their defence any longer.  Since he came back for the Spurs match, Almunia has made six saves and allowed five goals.  The problem is that other than the Spurs the match (4 saves, 0 allowed) he has let in a goal more than the saves he's made (1, 1, and 3) since and has been deep in the red for the last two weeks.  As a consequence he's a cheap option now, but is he any more attractive than PRobbo at this point?  Well, maybe by virtue of the opposition but it will take a brave fantasy manager to back him against Stoke who are masters of the 1 shot, 1 goal win or tie.

Due to this defensive fragility, there has been a lot of talk - and 3% of fantasy managers taking action - about selling Vermaelan.  I wouldn't recommend it if you have him at 6. Who can you get for that price with half or even one-third of his points?  I would hope that this match was a nadir for Verm but considering the limited value of defenders this season - and their relatively dear price tags - it's a spot just left alone. 
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.
Yes, and now it will just take a bit of faith and bravery to get in on Arsenal players.

But back to Chelsea before we move on... they are sure point getters (Drogs and Lamps in attack; Cech and any of the defenders) but there is no value there.  Joe Cole is the cheapest player that would be likely for minutes and fantasy points, but he's so hit or miss with a relatively low ceiling (2 pts or 12) that it hardly seems a bargain.  Chelsea will be worth looking at when they have an easy January schedule and replacement players playing major minutes.

Everton 0 - 2 Liverpool
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
That's good stuff.  I wish I'd written it on Friday. 

This latest edition of the Merseyside derby matched two teams alike in disarray.  But perhaps lumping their troubles together is unfair.  Yes, they are both on bad runs of form and both are missing key players.  But save for Torres, Babel, and to some degree Aquilani, Liverpool are almost back to full strength.   And while they've dropped out of the Champions League, they are in the Europa League and just two points off 4th place and it's qualification for next year's CL.  Meanwhile Everton are themselves still in the Europa League but domestically they are two places, and just three points, above the relegation zone.  And their injury list still reads Jagielka, Arteta, Osman, Neville, Anichebe, Vaughan and now Yobo.  And while Liverpool were perhaps lucky to win the game 2-0, they will have gained some self-belief whereas Everton continue to look for answers.

For fantasy purposes, Liverpool interest me more than Everton going forward.  They've both been terrible, yes.  But Liverpool have played a tougher schedule over October/November and Everton's December includes two Europa League ties, so they only have 5 matches to Liverpool's 6.  And those five include Spurs, @Chelsea, Birmingham City, @Sunderland and home to Burnley.  Liverpool have a meaningless (for them) match against Fiorentina, then play @Blackburn, Arsenal, Wigan, @Portsmouth, Wolves, and @Villa.  I don't know that I'd trade matchups in any of those weeks save for the final one.  

As for individual players, I was able to get Reina into my team before his price went up.  8.27 isn't cheap for a keeper this season, but I'm hopeful that Liverpool can go on a run now.  Pending Torres' health, N'Gog is still a decent bet at 7.05 and Aquilani is still out there at 5.31 having just made the one sub appearance against Birmingham.

For Everton, everyone's favorite unpronounceable Russian winger is back and he could have scored against Liverpool.  If you held on to him you're a happy fantasy manager now that he's back.  If you are looking to him now, he's no longer a cheap option at 9.12 but you could do worse with the money.  It was a surprise to see Jo in the lineup, but if that becomes a trend he's available at 7.08.  However, there are three strikers now - Jo, Saha and Yakubu - fighting for one spot.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 - 1 Birmingham City
Another match-winning goal from Lee Bowyer.  Another clean sheet for the City defence.  Another disappointing outing for Wolves.

Bowyer is flourishing in an attacking role behind Birmingham's two strikers.  All the credit in the world has to go to McLeish for first putting together a solid defence, and then allowing his team to play a little bit of football on top of that solid foundation.  Unfortunately for fantasy managers, Birmingham player's values have risen with their performances.  You won't get a defender for less than 7.77 (Carr) and Bowyer himself is now over 11.  The value could be at forward with CJerome (7.35) and CBenitez (6.65) but they haven't done anything of note yet.  However, with a December run of @Wigan, West Ham United, Blackburn Rovers, @Everton, Chelsea and @Stoke they might be worth a gamble for a few weeks... say if you've sold Drogba at 10 and change and are looking for options.

The wheels are starting to come off for Wolves and this weekend's match at home to Bolton looks a six-pointer.  They needed to get points on the board before now because after Bolton they play @Spurs, @Manchester United, Burnley, @Liverpool and Manchester City to finish off the year.  Not that we bet on or against Bolton (unless we do) but Doyle, Jarvis and Stearman might be good bets this weekend.  Just be sure you get shot of them quickly.

Aston Villa 1 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur
Of course, Wolves players look a lot less attractive when you realize that you could have Villa players this week as they host Hull.  More on Hull in a moment.

This is taking days too long.  Time to crank it out... bullet-point style!
  • Villa face Hull before then playing most of the top teams.  Get in on them now, but get shot quickly. 
  • Downing back and doing the business
  • Milner, Carew and Young Luke are affordable options.  Can't argue with Gabby (if you can't afford Rooney, say), or Ashley Young.  Friedel is a bit of a gamble as Hull have been doing better and Villa can be brittle.
Wigan Athletic 1 - 0 Sunderland
  • Sunderland continue to suck on the road while Wigan are reasonable bets at home.  And Sunderland are @Fulham this week.  Wigan host Birmingham.
  • Rodallega continues his fine season even as a nominal left-sided attacker.  He's taking kicks (albeit pretty poorly) and getting goals.  At least at home.
  • Is there a more anonymous striker in the league than Jason Scotland?  Of the eight strikers in the game who have played 14 matches, Scotland is the only one without a goal and ties with Robbie Blake, who is really a midfielder) for a low of six shots on target.
  • Speaking of anonymous... N'Zogbia?  Gomez?  It's so bad that Scharner is now an attacking middie.  At least he's getting the goals!
West Ham United 5 - 3 Burnley
  • "[T]his is the other match in which I'm looking for goals."  And I wasn't dissappointed.  Points from CCole and Collison.  Big day for Stanislas who is taking kicks.  Wither Mark Noble?
  • Alexander was MIA and was taken off as he got increasingly close to a yellow card.
  • Eagles is getting a run in the team and is looking dangerous.  Burnley are at Pompey next and there could again be goals from both sides.
  • West Ham host ManU this week (so look to pick up your Red Devils) but then are @Birmingham, @Bolton, Chelsea, Portsmouth, @Spurs.  I may keep Collison, but I'm starting to lean towards selling him.  Maybe for O'Hara...
Portsmouth 1 - 4 Manchester United
  • ... who was taking kicks again for Pompey.  KPB gets the PK, but how many games in a row can that continue?  He did take some late, long-range shots as well.  He's probably a good bet this week against Burnley but so will be O'Hara.
  • I had more faith in Pompey than this and so didn't pick Giggs.   Rooney was always too rich for me.  But facing WHU next you better believe that I've got them on my team for this week.
Manchester City 1 - 1 Hull City
  • Another dissappointment for Citeh and another precious point for Hull.  Bullard gets an "Alexander" - what I'm calling a player who gets PKs in consecutive matches - but he's not cleaning up the points otherwise.  His return seems to have reinvigorated Hunt, however. 
  • Citeh start Robinho over Bellamy, which kills my fantasy team.  However Robinho didn't do jack s#*t between October and March last year and that trend continues.
  • Citeh defence too fragile for Given to be a good play.  Shame as they started so well, but I guess his PK save against Birmingham was a warning.  A high point, rather than the start of a trend.
  • Hull's schedule gets tougher now - @Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers (ok, so that's not tough), @Arsenal, Manchester United, @Bolton, Chelsea, @Spurs, @Manchester United.  You may feel free to bet against them again now.
Fulham 1 - 1 Bolton Wanderers
  • Duff does the business where Dempsey (the more popular pick, and on my team) doesn't.
  • Bolton have a nice run of games coming up - @Wolves, Manchester City, West Ham, @Wigan, @Burnley, Hull - and they'll need to take points from these games to save their season and Megson's job.  MTay anyone?
  • AJ may be out for Fulham for a while.  And where is Murphy?  Baird continues to be a nice pick in his absence, but he's got to be getting close to a return.
Blackburn Rovers 0 - 0 Stoke City
  • Dunn limps out of this one with a calf injury, thus ending my interest in the match (not really).  He's a doubt for this weekend.  Shame to lose a player in that kind of form - for Rovers and for fantasy managers - but there are close options at his price for us at least.
  • PRobbo keeps a clean sheet and makes me very, very happy.  In fairness to him, he hasn't had a negative week all season.  Which this year is really a positive for a keeper.  But Rovers host Liverpool this week and you just know PRobbo will burn you at some point.  Right?  He always does, doesn't he? But damn, he's an attractive option at 4.70.
  • Stoke travel to Arsenal next.  They can hope to get a point by shutting down the Gunners but they need to be more dangerous themselves before anyone but Sorenson is relevant in fantasy.


  1. Syafiq4:02 AM

    Yeah without RVP, clichy and bendter is seems like arsenal hardly to perform well. I love to see arshavin play as a striker.

  2. Anonymous5:58 AM

    damn..why injuries always haunting Arsenal..
    we are in good shape, in the right track before this..we need you RvP..
    i hope wenger will buy 1 more quality striker..
    i like to see Aguero or D.Villa to play at Arsenal..but, i know that wenger will not spend much money to buy players..
    so, ill keep dreaming..haha

  3. Anonymous10:03 AM

    David Villa will be better in Man U. :)

  4. Would you be happy with Chamakh? But at this point who is going to sell Arsenal a striker on the cheap? And you know Wenger won't pay a penny over the odds for a player.

  5. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Hey Jeremy I'm trying to build my team for the next game. I have Fab/KPB but want to switch to A.Yound/Milner...don't know about Milner though cause O'neill may opt to go for Downing now that he's healthy. What do you think, keep Fab/KPB?

  6. Anonymous12:02 PM

    hmm..actually i dont know how is the chamakh performance?is he good jeremy?

    I know..thats wenger's style..he develop players..and then the others buy..huh
    sometimes im jealous with other clubs, buying quality players..

  7. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Chamakh? i dont really know about him?
    is he good Jeremy?

  8. i am hoping arsenal go for pazzini from sampadoria. he is a really interesting specimen. he has 8 goals and 1 assist. his link up play with cassano has been quite entertaining. he is agile and has a tremendous shot like eduardo. he is 25 years old and 1.81m. he is a match winner like ibrahimovic. he is my favorite for arsenal. aquero is not the right player for arsenal. luis fabiano would be. villa is out of the price range. dzeko from wolfsburg would be a good choice, but he wants italy

  9. Anonymous1:55 PM

    I don't care much about Arsenal as I am a United fan but I do like to watch them play and wish them a good season. In my opinion the right forward for them would be Alexandre Pato from AC Milan...he's quick, strong, skillful, and young(19 or 20 years old)...reminds me of Torres when he was with Athletic Madrid. I don't think Milan would let him go though.

  10. Typical stingy voyeur
    -The Special One

    Although I like Chamakh's aerial skills and ability to hold the ball up, he's no different than a cross between Benchdner/Crouchy

    IMO, Speaking of the tall Dane with the pink boots, he can't come back soon enough for the Arse (or stay out long enough if you're a jubilant spurs fan like me!!)

    I'm loving BFAY this week... after having to mark Lennon all match (he and luke young essentially shadowed azza for the entire 90), he should have free reign to attack vs Hull

  11. Anonymous2:56 PM

    Yeah baby Ferguson is playing Neville for the second game in one week(Carling Cup), I don't think those old injured legs can hold out for 3 games in a row, or could they? He's also resting Rafael DaSilva and playing R. Delaet instead...could mean Ferguson's saving Rafael for the weekend game against West Ham?

  12. Anonymous3:09 PM

    Chamakh is not the player for Arsenal in the long term, though Arsenal need anyone now. He's not fast, nor smart for that matter, and he'll not fit into the Arsenal tactics. He'll slow down all of the counter attacks.
    Dzeko could be a good option, but I don't know if Arsenal have the willingness to pay the amounts of money needed to get him. I liked the prospect of Jan-Klaas a year ago, but now it doesn't look that promising. Maybe a loan.

    In Arsene We Trust!

  13. Love the idea of Dzeko or Fabiano at Arsenal, but don't think it's even in the realm of possibility.

    Any anonymous young strikers toiling away with some success in the lower reaches of Ligue 1?

  14. I still think what Arsenal need the most is steel up the middle. They can run circles around almost anyone in the world except teams like Chelsea and Inter who can just manhandle them in the MF and shut down Cesc. The rumor about De Rossi last fall made perfect sense to me. He's both skilled and tough and would fit perfectly for them, doing exactly what Essien does for Chelsea and freeing up Cesc to play higher up the pitch. They also need some kind of hulking CB with at least decent enough ball skills to fit into their team. They can get away with Gallas/Verm most of the time, but against physical opponents they need another option. I don't see why they didn't try to snap up Huth or Turner or someone like that, as cheaply as they were available in the fall. Ideally they'd do better than that, but there aren't many available players like that at the position right now, and doing that would have at least given them better quality depth than Senderos/Silvestre provide.

    Other than total financial paralysis, I have no idea why both Arsenal and Liverpool failed to act this fall. Liverpool obviously needed attacking depth, and proven players like Krancjar, Bentley, Van der Vaart, and MPet were all available for probably less than 10m, and here they are losing way more than that because they let themselves go into the season as a 2-man team. Arsenal aren't as bad off as that, but they've blown what could have been a good chance at silverware by not buying depth at those two positions and striker as well. I just don't get it.

  15. Anonymous5:16 PM

    is there any site that can predict changes in players prices..if anybody knows plz tell me :)

  16. Anonymous5:16 PM

    @J. Dunn- Are you talking about a player like Wilson Palacios? He's great defending midfield and would allow Fab to go forward. Liverpool and Arsenal seem to be needing a player like him...they do as well need another strong striker...Arsenal need a finishing touch. How many times did they just sit there passing the ball around right outside the chelsea box? Way too many. Eduardo is not physical enough to pose a problem against a mean defense

  17. Kellz5:43 PM

    Funny last time I checked Liverpool have one of the best Defensive Midfielders in the league with Javier Mascherano, why would we need Palacios? Liverpool are in need of a creative force in the center and thus far Aquilani hasn't started so we don;t know if that is him, but we need a forward to back up Torres more than anything.

  18. Anonymous6:27 PM

    @Kellz - what Liverpool need is Andres Iniesta from Barcelona...and another striker to partner Torres, like you stated. Bring on David Villa, that's what they nee...Villa and Iniesta...but isn't there a limitted foreign transfers for each team? Liverpool already have so many Spanish players.

  19. Palacios might have worked too(or Cattermole, or Cana), though I don't know if his passing and ball skills are really up to snuff to fit into Arsenal's team. But just in general, Spurs have bought fairly wisely in the past few windows, and now find themselves with better strength in depth than either Arsenal or Liverpool. They just lost their creative fulcrum in Modric and haven't really missed a beat, and they could afford to lose Defoe or Lennon or pretty much anyone for a time. Defoe goes down, they still have Keane, Crouch, and Pavly. Lennon can be spelled by Bentley or Bale or Krancjar or even Gio if he gets healthy. Jenas is around to cover in the center of the park. Bassong(another guy Arsenal could have bought cheap) covers King and Woodgate at CB. Bale, Hutton, and Naughton are around at fullback. O'Hara is pretty decent in a pinch, and they felt safe sending him out on loan. They are fairly bulletproof, and will probably be in the running all year thanks to that. I don't understand how top-4 clubs let themselves get into a position where Spurs are better appointed than they are like this. Arguably Villa are too, though they're definitely thinner than Spurs. But their bench is probably better than Liverpool's at this point, and they can probably endure the loss of a key player better than Arsenal too.

  20. Well in the cases of the top four (minus Chelsea) aren't we talking about debts from stadium building (Arsenal) or takeovers (ManU/Liv) restricting their options? I'm not saying that it excuses their not spending enough or spending wisely - Bassong to Arsenal made so much sense! - but it is certainly a factor.

    Man, I wish Neal were here. This is by far, his favorite topic in the world!

  21. So who do we all fancy to do the biz this weekend player wise then?

    I smell an Arsenal backlash after their sub-par performance against Chelski. Trouble is, they have so much depth in attacking prowess that you never know who Arsene will go with. Personally, I'm a huge fan of 'Sicky behind the striker(s) but he rarely gets to play there for Arse which is a real shame. I'm deliberating whether to go with Eds or not. Any advice, not just on Arsenal players but in general would be good..I had an absoloute shocker last weekend and need a pick me up!!

  22. wow. So much Gooners talk.
    - The same names get thrown out for transfer rumours and generally nothing happens. However, Winter transfer are generally more desperation pick ups than anything so you'll see over-inflated prices (More so than usual)
    - I think Cana was a steal at about 5 mil Black Cats bought for him.
    - Amazing how these 'defensive-middies' are becoming a prime position of value. BUT it's all about knowing your role.
    - I think Spurs have amazing depth at the moment. They all seem to be on board (except Pavy) that it's a team game and all it takes is 1 injury for a spot to be open. (it seems footy players ALWAYS seem to pick up some sort of 'knock'

  23. Anonymous11:45 PM

    I like that City are rumored to be making a play for Aguero; if you own all of the strikers in the world then clearly no one will be able to score on you.