The Week Ahead

A guest TWA this week from our friend (and yours) the Yahoo! Assistant Manager.


Hi guys,

Firstly, thanks to Jeremy & Neal for giving me the opportunity to write The Week Ahead for Week 14. I've followed their blog for 5 years & they were the inspiration for me to start my Yahoo! Assistant Manager Blog this season, so it's a great honour!

I always begin with a look at the fixtures & the immediate stand-out Week 14 fixtures are Arsenal at home to Stoke & Aston Villa at home to Hull.

Stoke are in good form & will undoubtedly cause Arsenal problems from set pieces, but I feel Arsenal's pace & movement will be too much & can see a 4-1 scoreline as the Gunners bounce back from their Chelsea battering. Hull are also playing well since Jimmy Bullard returned, but Villa have the ability to turn it on at home & are another side who will want to please the fans after a disappointing performance vs Spurs. They performed well in the Carling Cup, so it's a home win for me.

Another good looking fixture is Portsmouth at home to Burnley. It may be a surprise that I'd tip the team rock bottom of the league, but anyone who's seen their recent form (and Burnley's away form) will know that Pompey are due a win. Two away teams in good league form, Man Utd at West Ham & Tottenham at Everton cannot be ignored either.

We then come to a bunch of fixtures which could go either way. Fulham v Sunderland, Blackburn v Liverpool, Wolves v Bolton, Wigan v Birmingham. They all sound like they could be 1-1 draws don't they? They might be, but there are still decent options from these teams that'll I'll go in to more detail about below. Any other season I'd have Liverpool in the 'stand-out fixtures' section, but they're so out-of-sorts at the moment that I can't get excited about them. Mind you, Torres would change everything.

Finally, we have Man City v Chelsea. I think Chelsea will win, but I can see it being a heated game as City will be doing everything to try & prove they can challenge the elite, so I’ll be avoiding the majority of players from this fixture apart from a certain striker.

That's my fixture analysis, now on to my player picks... after the jump.

Almunia - Back down to 5.57 after letting in 3 vs Chelsea. He's a bit like Robinson in the sense that he makes very few saves, but it's difficult to ignore him at that price with his home fixture.
Kirkland - Loads of us grabbed Captain Kirk at 1.64 for Week 13 & he did us proud with a 10 point haul. He's still only 4.20, has another home game to Birmingham & he makes more saves than the Leon lookalike above.
Jaaskelainen - If you're not interested in either of the guys mentioned so far, then maybe Jussi could be for you at 5.33. He's another who makes saves & faces Wolves (no wins & only 2 home goals since September)
Begovic - Bit of a risky one, but under 3.00 & as I've mentioned I think Portsmouth will win. Obviously if David James returns (which is possible) then this recommendation can be ignored & James could be considered (5.78)

That completes the keepers - as you can see, I don't feel there's any reason to be spending more than £6m on one for Week 14 given the match-ups.

Vermaelen - The top scoring defender so far this season, but his recent form has been disappointing, not aided by an own goal vs Chelsea or Arsenal's general inability to keep clean sheets. If you are thinking about dropping him then maybe wait until after this weekend.
Cueller - Superb against Spurs at centre back & is decent value at 7.71
Baird - A revelation since filling in for Danny Murphy in centre midfield & many of us have him at under 5.00. Should keep his place & has a chance of a clean sheet at home to Sunderland so even at 6.59 he's worth a look.
Dunne - Only slightly more expensive than Cueller, so if you're looking to spend around £8m on a defender & you fancy Villa to trouble Hull then he could be the better option.
Traore - Arsenal's injury crisis has left them with 2 options at left-back, Silvestre & Traore. Traore got the nod vs Chelsea & wasn't at fault for any of the goals, so I’d expect him to keep his place. The defensive bargain of the week at 5.48.
Hreidarsson - The big Icelander is back to fitness & is always a threat at set pieces. Home fixture, great value
Brown - I think it's sensible to have a Man Utd defender in the list & Wes is a guaranteed starter at a good price. West Ham will be missing Carlton Cole after his bad knee injury suffered vs Burnley, so a clean sheet is very possible.
Bassong - With King & Woodgate still struggling, I expect to see Dawson & Bassong continue vs Everton. There are better options, but few cheaper at 5.15.
Givet - He's been fantastically consistent for Blackburn so far this year & seems to score well with or without clean sheet points
Alexander - Anyone who reads my blog will know I've had Burnley's penalty-taking midfielder for some time & he's rewarded me with 3 goals (including one 30+ point week). However, his star is dimming & he needs to pull something out of the bag soon
Heitinga - Another playing in midfield, has a home game & is reasonable value. Heit is suspended for this match after picking up his 5th booking.
Samuel - Similar to Bassong...there are better options but he's guaranteed to start for Bolton & he's even cheaper

So those are the defenders. My ideal "money no object" trio would be Vermaelen, Dunne, Traore.

Fabregas - He's expensive, he's not been in great form in the past few weeks & there are plenty of other good cheaper options about. I remember thinking the exact same thing when Arsenal played Blackburn, so I went with Arshavin instead - Fabregas scored 38.5 points that day. I feel we'll get a reaction from the top scoring midfielder this week & he's very likely to be in my side.
Taylor - Ask any Bolton fan & they'll tell you MTay hasn't been playing well this season, yet he constantly produces the points for fantasy managers. It doesn't get much easier than Wolves at the moment. His 2 home games for the upcoming double week are worth noting.
Duff - I haven't seen him in this sort of form since his first 2 years at Chelsea. Tricky, creating chances, getting chances of his own (and taking them), he's someone I’ll be keeping him at home to a Sunderland side who don't travel well
Dempsey - If you're still holding from his explosive double week then he'll continue to perform, but I prefer Duff.
Milner - Mr Consistent for Villa, I still like him at home to Hull as he'll get set pieces, but with Young AND Downing about you get the feeling the points are going to start spreading about a bit.
Downing - If I was sure he'd start I'd pick him at the bargain price of 8.64, but he could get a rest after 90 minutes in the Carling Cup. Watch out for team news nearer the weekend.
Arshavin - Hasn't quite fired this season & some have suggested he's been sulking since Russia were knocked out of the World Cup. I still love watching him play & he's due a big performance. I wouldn't pick him AND Fabregas but I'd certainly pick one of them for the Stoke game.
Walcott/Nasri/Rosicky - I can't be more specific as I don't know who'll play vs Man City tonight, but out of the 3 I'd be looking at Walcott as a possibility, especially if there's a chance he could be given a run upfront.
Boateng - KPB couldn't do anything right at Spurs but he's really impressed me at Pompey. Penalty taker & loves to shoot in general, so a great option vs Burnley
O'Hara - Slightly cheaper than the man above & taking the majority of set pieces
Giggs - Never seems to age & will be back in the starting line-up at Upton park. Expensive now, but you're almost guaranteed points.
Jarvis - Another affordable set piece taker
Bilyaletdinov - Everyone loves Bily. His 8 points vs Liverpool could've been 18 if he's put away the simplest of chances in the first half. Remains a superb option for home games.
Cohen - His goalscoring run seems to have come to an end but he'll continue to play the "Cahill Role" for Bolton & he'll get chances at Wolves.
Kranjcar - His price is up there at 13+ now but that's because he's in outstanding form. You'd need to be confident to spend the money, but Everton are struggling defensively.
J Cole - Tricky game at Man City but I know a lot of people have him at a cheap price (6ish) so he could be worth holding on to with Chelsea having a great double fixture in Week 15.

My dream midfield for Week 14 would be Fabregas, Giggs, Taylor, Duff. Finally, the strikers...

Drogba - No real need to explain. He's too expensive at full price, which is why I'm relieved I hung on to him through his 1 week injury, & he'll give Lescott & Toure nightmares.
Rooney - The streakiest striker of them all. Once he starts scoring he tends not to stop for 5 or 6 games, so a hattrick last weekend (albeit slightly lucky with 2 pens) should be the catalyst for another burst. West Ham will be without Upson again, so I see a high scoring United win.
Rodallega - Second only to Drogba in the Shots On Target stakes, there's no reason to think Hugo won't score again & return his value at home to Birmingham.
Defoe - No goals in two after five goal in one, but as I've already mentioned I don't think Everton are in the best shape defensively so Defoe will be looking to get back on the goal trail....but again, not at full price.
Eduardo - Hugely disappointing against Chelsea but hardly had the service he thrives on. Wenger will give him another chance vs Stoke & I expect him to bag a goal. Striker bargain alert, only 7.12
Agbonlahor - In the best scoring season of his short career, but not really scoring many fantasy points in the process. He'll probably do well, but if you must have a Villa striker...
Carew - ...then I'd be looking at John Carew. The service he'll receive from Young/Milner/Downing should provide plenty of headed chances
Dindane - He's missed 4 open goals, but also has a hattrick since joining Portsmouth & he'll face Burnley's leaky defence. I'd prefer Eduardo or Carew over him, but if you're in a gambling mood then why not take a punt!
Doyle - The only Wolves player salvaging any pride from the season so far. Always difficult to defend against & Bolton aren't exactly solid. Still difficult to recommended over Eduardo.
Benitez - If Defoe can score 5 vs Wigan, surely Benitez could get 1 to return more than his value?

So those are my strikers (Bent & Klasnic get honourable mentions). Drogba, Rooney, Defoe are probably my dream line-up, although Rodallega comes close to displacing Defoe.

That concludes The Week Ahead. I hope you've enjoyed reading & found it helpful. Thanks to Jeremy & Neal for giving me the opportunity - please stop by to check out my blog if you get a chance!



  1. Anonymous1:28 PM

    thanks AM. excellent write up. just one possible correction: i think heitinga is out with a suspension from accumulated yellow cards.

  2. Hey Anon - sorry, as team news isn't available yet I hadn't realised, but thanks very much for pointing it out! I'll ask Jeremy to remove Heiti from the list :)


  3. Anonymous2:27 PM

    @AM - Why no mention of Bent? Is he not playing. Current team:

    I have $1 left so was thinking of upgrading Figueroa to Vidic. I'm not sure though, Vidic has gotten more yellows and reds than any united player.

  4. Anonymous2:28 PM

    Can anyone suggest me a midfield below 4.00 ?
    Currently i have sidwell in my line up but zZzzz

  5. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Rodallega or Agbonlahor?

  6. micheal brown is just under 3 points

  7. "Bent & Klasnic get honourable mentions"

  8. Nice and thorough write up AM, nice one indeed. I try and get over to your blog every friday to have a gander on your points of view (which are always helpful), so it was a nice change to have you writing on this blog. Keep up the good work! I will say one thing for this weeks players..there are a shit load of keepers to choose from at very affordable prices..I have capt Kirk at the mo but considering Almunia just because he surely can't get much lower can he???

  9. Anonymous6:28 PM

    Thank you for the write up AM. Brilliant idea doing it at a sensible time of the week. Nice to see a bit of professionalism for a change.

  10. Anonymous6:58 PM

    No Honorable mention for Fletch? Portsmouth is a little front loaded talent wise--don't see a shut out there.

  11. Anonymous7:20 PM

    Nice write up AM..i like the details u go through..keep up the good work!!

  12. You do not think Reid, Bullard and Gerrard will perform this week?

    For me they are quite a match-up proof. They are piling up points whoever their match-ups are.

  13. - Decent post by AM. Good insight.
    - I read choose em lose em with a grain of salt. doesn't seem like much thought goes into it, genrally.
    - I find it hard trusting an anonymous person. It could be Honduran-Saul for all we KNOW! jk. Saul posts solid comment!

  14. Anonymous7:46 PM

    my team:

  15. Anonymous7:48 PM

    When do Bolton and Chelsea have double weeks?

  16. Anonymous8:30 PM

    bassong Hreidarsson neville
    boateng duff fab kranjar
    drogba yagya rooney

  17. Anonymous8:37 PM

    My team

    Verm, Dunne, Givet
    Hunt, Dunn, Bowyer, Fab, Cohen
    Bent, Blake

  18. Anonymous9:01 PM

    M. Taylor/Eduardo vs. Milner/agbonlahor???????

  19. Gavin9:36 PM

    I'd go with MTay/Eduardo.

    Carew is supposedly a doubt with a calf strain.

    Also, this weekend's match will be Stevie G's 500th for the Reds. I'm hoping for big things.

  20. "O'Neill confirmed that John Carew was left out of last night's match-day squad with a tight hamstring"

    Back to the drawing board.

  21. Anonymous11:25 PM

    anyone think torres will play?

  22. Anonymous1:09 AM

    Even though I have Jimmy in my squad right now I doubt he will have big week soon. He has done not much other than 2 pkgs. I may drop him and get arshavin or mtaylor this week. I have a good feeling about didane. Maybe he can get a brace.

    - Brian

  23. Anonymous1:21 AM

    I have 7.22, maybe o'shea ? alexander or baird ? i already have dunne and vermalean. Any idea ??

  24. Anonymous1:32 AM

    O'hara, Dempsey, KPB, Arshavin should be nice :-D

  25. Anonymous6:03 AM

    Anyone know if Dunn is fit?

  26. @anon 1.21am

    get Traore so you can match AM's ideal trio :D

  27. Anonymous8:59 AM

    Can we keep AM please? Good to have someone not using those dreaded acronyms and nicknames for the players!

  28. Anonymous8:59 AM

    Could use some suggestions. I have 12.58 to spend on a Def & Mid combo. Already have Terry,Hreidar,KPB,Lamps,Collison. The current combo is Krich and Bassong, but is there a better combo ???...and is Krich guaranteed to start (no suspensions/injuries?)

  29. Anonymous9:44 AM

    @ anon 8.59... AM has his own very good blog, feel free to take your whining there, or preferably just - joshtottenham

  30. Great to see Neal & Jeremy and AM work together. You guys have really helped my team alot. Keep up the good work for eternity.

  31. To the poster with 7.22 to spend on a defender, why not Wes Brown?

    And to the poster with KRich/Bassong, Traore is a better bet than Bassong and there is surely a better midfielder out there than a Sunderland player who is away this weekend.

  32. Anonymous11:52 AM

    @AM & Jeremy - YFF reported that Maynor Figueroa will be out with a "knee" injury for this weekends game. Is that true? I currently have him in my team. Thanks all and AM great job.

  33. I don't see anything about a new injury to Figueroa, but will keep an eye out.

  34. Alumnia
    Verm/W. Brown,SeaBass
    O'Hara/Collison/Giggs/Dempsey/KPB (or Bily?)

    OR I could go nuts and, with some finagling
    Verm/W.Brown/SeaBass (still not sure if I like him here, I would rather have Ivanovich at 10, but finances)
    O'Hara/Collison/Giggs/M. Brown

    I will have one slot open with 7.25 left over. Eds? Givet@Liverpool? Someone else (doesn't matter, just need an 11th). Not sure what to do. Really ambitious and could be very rewarding if Torres does get the start.

  35. Anonymous1:06 PM

    Thanks Jeremy...the "Injury Report: Gameweek 14" states that Figueroa's out but I'll wait 'till tomorrow.

  36. Anonymous1:19 PM

    @Lucidswirl - Torres does seem tempting but I've learned over a period of time not to take chances and instead opt for a sure starter. How about Rooney, don't fancy him?

  37. Just don't fancy Rooney at the price (and can't afford him now either). To me he seem's a little overpriced for his points. Drogs 10-15 was def. worth it, especially when he bagged 20+ points 90% of the time. Torres was/is the same. He was putting up more points consistently in my mind than Rooney, until his injury that is.

  38. Thanks for all the feedback guys.

    Bit of injury news - Walcott is out with a hamstring injury & Rosicky played 90 mins last night, so Nasri now becomes an excellent pick at just 8.50.


  39. Anonymous2:36 PM

    This is the squad of death...Rooney,Yayga,Drogs../ Deuce,Bily,Arshavin,Boateng../ (nasri on standbye)

    144 th overall...hoping to push into top 125 after the weekend!

  40. Anonymous7:04 PM

    oh noo...why walcott...
    we need strikers at this moment..=(


  41. Anonymous7:34 PM

    here's a question for you, one spot left on my team, does it go to - Lennon/Eduardo/nasri/milner
    wish I could keep them all...(lennon is only in there because a) I have him cheap and b) all of everton are injured, otherwise he'd be right out)


  42. Anonymous8:00 PM

    josh..i think milner is the best among them..and then nasri..

  43. Anonymous8:10 PM

    somebody pls comment my player..
    vamalen g.neville traore
    fab milner cohen jarvis
    rooney drogba eduardo...

    i'm sure 150point this week!!

  44. Anonymous9:35 PM

    Gerrard/Eduardo - Dunn/Defoe(discounted) ??

  45. Anonymous9:38 PM

    is Baird sure starter?Danny is back and played in Europa league last night...baird played 90 minutes...duff and dempsey are rested...gera played and scored...

  46. Anonymous9:43 PM

    I think you can do a lot better than Baird regardless to be honest. Not worth the risk of him not playing (90 minutes). Samuel? (Bolton)

  47. Anonymous10:00 PM

    but are you sure gary neville will start? :/

  48. Anonymous10:28 PM

    "J Cole - ... he could be worth holding on to with Chelsea having a great double fixture in Week 15."

    "Taylor - His 2 home games for the upcoming double week are worth noting."

    So...can anybody confirm these double fixtures?

  49. KPB/Eagles? Portsmouth are the obvious ones to bet on but Eagles are on form and Burnley aren't so bad at attacking.

  50. Tweaked the crap out of my roster now and final decision is between Dempsey or Collison. Hmm. Thinking Collison, even against Man U.

  51. @ anon (10:28pm)

    Week 15
    Saturday, 12 December 2009
    Birmingham v West Ham, 15:00
    Bolton v Man City, 15:00
    Burnley v Fulham, 15:00
    Chelsea v Everton, 15:00
    Hull v Blackburn, 15:00
    Man Utd v Aston Villa, 17:30
    Stoke v Wigan, 12:45
    Sunderland v Portsmouth, 15:00
    Tottenham v Wolverhampton, 15:00

    Sunday, 13 December 2009
    Liverpool v Arsenal, 16:00

    Tuesday, 15 December 2009
    Birmingham v Blackburn, 20:00
    Bolton v West Ham, 20:00
    Man Utd v Wolverhampton, 20:00
    Sunderland v Aston Villa, 19:45

    Wednesday, 16 December 2009
    Burnley v Arsenal, 19:45
    Chelsea v Portsmouth, 19:45
    Liverpool v Wigan, 20:00
    Tottenham v Man City, 20:00


  52. Anonymous4:04 AM

    i have 8.95 in my bank and no idea whu to choose???
    any idea??
    will nasri be a good choice???

  53. Anonymous4:20 AM

    going on a limb and picking Lampard . . . have not heard a thing about him. Thoughts>>>>

  54. I fancy Villa to have another good game, so I might be going with Dunne, Cuellar and Gabby along with Rooney and EdS. Villa is on a good run at the moment.

    I'd get Young and Downing but I have discounts on Dempsey and Bullard.

  55. Anonymous10:21 AM

    young or fabregas, anybıdy know that is downing going to play...???

  56. Anonymous10:26 AM

    No mention on Agbonlahor and Sidwell.
    Is Sidwell even playing????

  57. Doubt Sidwell will play with Downing, Milner and Young all fit. Either Sidwell or Petrov will start.

  58. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Crystal Ball would be handy at times...who's gonna get most fantasy points this week...Fabregas or Giggs?

  59. Anonymous11:23 AM

    I've heard no mention of Ngog from a single person, he's sure to start with torres out. what do you think, Ngog instead of Dindane? Also who's the better option, Rooney(at discount) or MTay...I'd have to switch my lineup of course.

  60. Anonymous11:44 AM

    R. Dunne ..... Traore .... Hreidarsson

    Any MF recommendation at 5.73?

  61. Anonymous12:20 PM

    Gardner (Bolton) 5.71
    Aquilani (Liverpool) 5.71 (if he plays)
    Rodwell (Everton) 5.03 (check if injured)
    Mikel (Chelsea) 3.64 (not point friendly but u never know)
    Brown (Portsmouth) 2.46 (is it their day yet?)

  62. Anonymous5:49 PM

    I have 11.22 to spend and my current line up is:
    Givet Dunne Traore
    Duff MTay Boateng Bily
    EdS Rodallega

    Who should I pick up?

  63. Anonymous7:35 PM

    gibson or anderson, who is more likely to play?

  64. Anonymous7:52 PM

    Mtay or giggs? :/

  65. FlyingHamster8:49 PM

    Alexander Dunne W. Brown
    Downing, Reid, Giggs, Jarvis
    Rooney, Blake, Rodallega

    Maybe I am overly confident in Burnley's unproven away form, but you can't lose against an unpaid Portsmouth side, right? The bet on Downing could go either way, Milner is probably better, but fianance force me to choose the cheaper option. Reid is there just because I got him cheap and he has been returning at least his worth most days.

  66. Anonymous4:22 AM

    gerrard/ngog or fab/eds??