I'm really not a big fan of international friendlies - either as something to watch or as a distraction from/possible source of injuries related to the Fantasy Premier League season. I guess there is more utility in them now as teams start preparing for the World Cup but still more negative than positive in my view. What do I mean?
Here's a strong example...US and Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden - who many fantasy managers had high hopes for after a strong first Premier League start last weekend - was knocked out for around 6 weeks with a broken leg during the US match with Holland in Amsterdam yesterday. Seems like the US is worse off today than they were yesterday for the jamming of a friendly into an already crowded fixture schedule. This is to say nothing of the players who will either miss their club's matches or get injured because they have traveled long distances and try to play at something below optimal fitness and preparation levels.
OK, I guess that wasn't really much of a rant by TWA standards but it's been sort of a busy week at work and a fairly un-interesting one for Premier League news. I guess I'm sort of interested in the Red Knights thing and the Glazers turning down a reported Billion Pound Plus offer for ManYoo but there really isn't much to write about other than just mentioning the two incidents. I usually have some sympathy for the supporters in these cases but given that ManYoo are two-time defending league champions, have been in the mix for or won the Champions League title each year, and while showing some cracks aren't out of the running for anything except the FA Cup leads me to wonder what exactly the supporters want from new owners. The finances are the business of the owners, if they're still delivering the results on the field (and they are) what do the supporters care? If the supporters groups will take the time to cast their eyes toward Spain, they'll see that Real Madrid (with Ronaldo) are one point farther out of the title race than ManYoo (without Ronaldo) are. Throw in the fact that moneybags Chelsea haven't found anyone to spend their copious cash on either and you have to think that maybe ManYoo are biding their time until an opportunity to improve significantly comes along. Not like the deals they haven't done in recent years - Benzema and Huntelaar - have turned out to be big misses for United.
OK, that's more like the amount of rant you expect, now on to the forecast for this week in fantasy EPL...
The first thing you need to know is that a number of teams aren't playing at all and a couple of bad ones - Bolton and Burnley - are playing twice. The teams not playing are:
- Rooney - going to be hard to fit him in but he's on fire this year and hard to deny - for me, the only question is whether to sub him in for Drogs and take the hit on Drogs price and then decide what to do between the two for next week;
- Nando - back with a match-winning goal last week so his price went up but still a cost-effective alternative to Rooney with the great match-up;
- Bendtner - his price has gone up after 2 goals in 2 matches but seems likely to continue on starting and with the match-up he's likely to keep producing;
- Saha - Everton are home to Hull so Saha is an inviting - if risky, due to injury - option. With Donovan coming off the bench last weekend, it is hard to say where he is in Moyes' plans right now - I'd love to recommend him but sort of hard right now;
- Klasnic - likely back after returning as a sub last weekend - not a huge endorsement but definitely an option on the theory that he'll have 2 chances to make up his cost;
- Paterson/Fletcher - Paterson drove up his price last week so unless you got him on the BD, I'd stay away from both but if you have to choose one, Fletcher is probably your best bet as he's likely to be fit to play even after breaking a bone in his hand on Monday.
- Cesc - great player, in strong form, at home, against Burnley - not sure what else you need to know;
- Gerrard - great player, mediocre form, on the road, against Wolves - still not a bad argument;
- Valencia - but only for those of you who kept him through the off week;
- Arteta - great price, strong match-up, and we know he has the talent - only reservation is the role he's been playing (holding midfielder) and the fact that EVE have 4 or 5 guys who have been splitting up the kicks;
- Jummy - not a great match-up but he's likely to be back and the opposition usually doesn't matter to one of our favorite fantasy players;
- Maxi - not likely to far exceed his price but the price and match-up are right in a week when there are a lot of expensive options that you likely want to consider;
- Lee - he seems to be immune from the rotation at Bolton so he might have the most value across two matches;
- Wilshere - hasn't really made a huge fantasy impact yet but with Holden injured he is more likely to get two matches in an attacking midfield role;
- Weiss - not sure where he fits for Bolton but I'd watch the team news for any indication that he might play;
- KRich - isn't this always the situation with him? price is right... nice match-up... but there's a reason that the price stays right, he doesn't deliver that often. At 5.13 he's worth taking a chance on if you're trying to get to some more expensive parts with your budget;
- Bale - see Jeremy's post on his likely positioning;
- Campbell - might be some cheap clean sheet points against Burnley if Gallas remains out - he wasn't nearly as bad vs. Stoke last weekend;
- Agger - decent price with a good match-up but currently an injury doubt;
- Degen - with injuries across the back line, he may get a start against Wolves at a good price (5.35);
- Fox - nice job last week with 12 points and should get two more cracks at it for 7.17 - not a bad deal;
- Hutton - more expensive after a big weekend last weekend but with Bolton coming to visit still likely worth the new 5.71 price
- Almunia - decent value for 10.64 with a great home match-up;
- T-Ho - excellent home match-up and his price has taken a hit over the last month or so - best value of the week for my money;
- Reina - but probably a little over-priced with an injury-riddled defence in front of him;
- Gordon - Sunderland have a nice match-up at home with Bolton in mid-week that I'm guessing won't have a lot of attacking in it but could yield some cheap CS points for Gordon who is cheap at 5.96.