The Week Ahead

Carew made fantasy managers so happy last week that they could just... oh, you get the idea.

It isn't too often that you put up something in the neighborhood of 150 points in a week and still consider that week to be a disaster but that's what I'm coming off of. It really came down to two decisions - Friedel over Howard and MGP over Carew.  That's a difference of about 60 points right there.  And that's the worst part about writing this's right there in black and white on last week's TWA.  I knew those guys were both excellent picks, you guys all know that I knew that they were excellent picks, and when it came time to choose my eleven - they didn't make it.  Finally, I had to suffer through the Live Chat where everyone else had done a better job with my advice (and their own insight) than I did with it.  Would I trade that occasional downer for not doing the blog and sucking in anonymity when I have bad weeks? Of course not but it is definitely a downside.

A few other random notes before we get to the meat of the feature here:
  • Well done to Major League Soccer and its Players Union for averting a strike - now about the fact that there isn't a decent MLS Fantasy game to be had - what the hell is up with that?  At the very least, MLS needs to take the "Fantasy" link off their web site;
  • I was very happy to hear that Ful/Wig (which had been schedule for this coming Friday) has been moved to a week from Sunday.  Not so much for the fantasy implications as for the fact that I have tickets for the match and was worried that they'd reschedule for after my trip to London ended (as an FYI, I'll also be at Arsenal/Wolves on Saturday and Palace/PNE on Monday) - if you're going to be at any of them, drop me a note on Facebook and I'll be happy to meet up;
  • Another MLS-related note (I'm sure most of you don't really care but it's my column...) - tonight marks the debut of the Philadelphia Union in MLS.  As I have noted many times in the blog, I grew up in Philadelphia and while I haven't lived there full time in 22 years continue to support my old home teams in every sport where they have a team (Baseball, American Football, Basketball, Hockey, etc).  In the absence of a Philly soccer team, I have been a supporter of DC United in MLS since the inception of the team and league 15 years ago (I have lived in DC for most of my adult life).  Now that there's a team in Philly (whose stadium is mere minutes from my parents' house) who will no doubt attempt to market themselves as a major rival to DC United - I have no idea how my passions will evolve.  Do I stick with DC? Do I adopt Philly? Can I in good conscience support both? Who do I root for when they play each other?  The funny thing is, I'm not sure I can make the decision intellectually.  I think I'm going to have to watch and see how I react to the new team.  The first test will be on Saturday, April 10th when the Union host DC United for their first home match ever.  I'll be there but the question is - who will I find myself supporting?
OK, I'm sure you've all had your fill of MLS.  Back to the Prem and The Week Ahead...

Finally, we're back to everyone having one match and one match only.  Spurs (vs. POR); Citeh (vs. WIG); Everton (@Wolves); Fulham (@Hull); and ManYoo (@Bolton) have the most attractive match-ups with Spurs and Citeh my two favorites from the bunch because they're home matches against bottom-half teams.

  • Pav - because he's absolutely on fire (and should return to the line-up after a mild hamstring issue last weekend)
  • Eidur - two-in-two and he's one of the few cheap ways to get in on Spurs this weekend - he's not guaranteed a starting spot but worth a look if you need a cheap striker;
  • Tevez - he's cooled significantly and it's hard to say what you'll get from Citeh on any given weekend but they've been excellent at home (Everton match excepted)
  • Saha - first a late sub last weekend, then a starter for 60 minutes or so in midweek, sounds like he's on a path to start and play the full match this weekend and he isn't that expensive at just over 10;
  • Drogba - does it matter who the opposition is? 
  • Zamora - nice match-up and his price is low at under 10;
  • Berbs - with Rooney an injury doubt Berbs could be the focal point of the attack for ManYoo;
  • K2 - hard to be too enthusiastic based on recent results but he's back from suspension and theoretically should be looking to make up for lost time;
  • Modric - Seems to be 'arry's favorite when he is choosing between Kranj and Modric for one spot and with Bentley and THud back, that would seem to be the case;
  • Bentley - he's expensive but he's been nearly as hot as Pav so might be worth dropping the cash;
  • Arteta - he's REALLY expensive coming off two goals but seems to be back to his best so definitely worth keeping at a discount and at least worth thinking about for retail in a week when many of the other premium midfielders have more difficult match-ups;
  • Jummy - he's going to break out one of these weeks;
  • Fletcher/Valencia - they seem like the value in ManYoo's midfield and someone will step up in Rooney's absence (assuming he is rested or only comes in as a substitute);
  • AJ/SWP - both good value in Citeh's midfield but check in on Ireland's injury before going final on SWP;
  • Still on Verm/Bale/Hutton despite a mediocre weekend last weekend but here are the options if you're buying new:
  • SeaBass - cheap and should be starting with a great match-up - hard to argue;
  • Zabaleta - see SeaBass above;
  • Garrido - ibid; 
  • Vidic - if you're thinking about spending on a defender, he wouldn't be bad value for the money this weekend at under 9.00;
  • Campbell - Birmingham have been fading but they're at home and Arsenal are without my Premier League Player of the Season (apologies to Rooney and Drogs but Verm has made the biggest impact on the title race by being the rock of an unexpected title contender) - if you think the Campbell/Song pairing can keep Birmingham out, the price isn't bad;
  • Gomes - can you tell I'm loading up on Spurs? (please don't tell the Arsenal supporters groups, I'll be banned for life);
  • Given - his price is down and so is his best central defender so he could be this week's T-Ho or Citeh could let in two bad goals - hard to tell but definitely worth the pick if you don't have the money for Gomes;
  • Jensen/Brown - depends on how you feel about this match-up as to which way you go but if you're going cheap at the back then one of these two is your best bet - my gut tells me Rovers & Brown but there was a lot of support on the Live Chat last weekend for Jensen.  Just one stat to completely bias your thinking...Burnley's last 3 home matches against non-elite opponents the results were L D L.  Jensen wasn't negative in any of those matches (he gets a lot of saves to make up for the goals allowed) but just because a bad team is visiting doesn't mean you should expect the CS.  Just saying...
Good luck picking your squads and we'll be back with injuries and suspensions tomorrow.

Cheers - Neal


  1. neal, all i can say is ditto ditto for scoring 150 and still feeling like i screwed the pooch. i didn't give all that much thought to unloading friedel for howard, but ... i had carew for the previous double-game week. and i sold him for benjani. gah.

    are you really going to hold on to verm through his suspension? not too many weeks left in the season. what about heitinga? he's been great, everton have been great, and he's still under 10.

  2. Gavin3:52 PM

    @Joon I did exactly the same thing. Still kicking myself. I could have easily had a 200 point week.

    Verm's only out for one game. At 6, you're not going to do much better for the rest of the season, I don't think.

    I was wondering where Jagielka was. He's also been in great form since coming back.

  3. Anonymous4:15 PM

    bassong left yesterdays FA Cup match on crutches..

  4. Mike D4:17 PM

    Totally agree on Jagielka Gavin. Barn door'd him earlier this week (not that I saved much cash). Also agree on Heitinga Joon. Many of us have him really cheap, but for those who don't, your point is strong.

    I'm still planning to hold THo as well. I love the fact that he has been left off this prestigious thread by one Blogger who has a grudge from last week. I have sent word to THo to drive that stake in deeper. (lol)

    With so many good forward choices, I would like to use my seldom seen 4-2-4 this week......or my even more rarely seen 3-3-4. I usually save that for special occasions.

  5. Hey Neal,

    Commiserations on the poor performance. I did above average but still not quite good enough with 195.5. I was looking for around the 220 mark but got let down but AJ, BBBF, Hutton and Kalinic. Still, not too shabby.

    As for the Philly home opener, how much are tickets? It's at the Linc right? I may have to work that weekend but if I can get out of it I might drive over the Ben Franklin and have a look.

    In regards to your conundrum of which team to support here's an example of what you should do. My dear ol' Father supports both Swindon Town and Southampton. Same story as you..grew up in Swindon, lives in Southampton now (40 years +). He follows both teams avidly, and when it comes to playing each other he supports the team that really needs the win. So this season, Saints v Swindon he supports Swindon as they are close to promotion and Saints have pretty much blown their season. You could do this with Union and DC...simple!

    Anyway, for next week I'm thinking of loading up on Spurs. Bentley looked ace the other night, as did Bale of course. Don't think I can shell out the 10 for Gomes though so it's a given I'll go with Shay!

  6. Hey Neal, wonder if you could put your Gooner hat on for a while and help me out.

    At the moment the only decision i have to make is a straight swap - Stevie G or Bentley. Just not sure that I can hope that Bentley plays well without feeling dirty. It would only be a short step to the ultimate horror of picking Adebaywhore!!

    Or does YFF rank as more important than real-life treachery?

  7. Neal- Major Fantasy League Soccer seems to be the most popular destination for fans looking for an alternative now that the official league is gone. I haven't played their version in forever (It's been around since the beginning), but I've heard decent things. You can find it at

  8. -Gonna keep Verm during his 1 game absence. I'd most likely pick up someone who will probably miss a game as the person wouldn't be a SURE starter as the Verm. I'll take the 1 game hit.
    - Jim, I'm going to send MLS an angry e-mail about no fantasy. I STILL haven't received my official MLS adidas match ball for placing 20th overall last year!!

  9. Mike D9:03 PM

    No worries Owen, I think I saw it the other day at Wal-Mart.


  10. Hi Neal
    I'm just a bit surprised that you don't have Torres in your picks

  11. Anonymous10:13 PM

    The only thing stopping me from dropping Verm is I'm an Arsenal fan

  12. Yeah Torres is a must have home to Sunderland.
    My team as of now, pending injuries, is...

    Bullard/Bendtley/Modric/Bowyer(or THudd)

    I'm really bummed because I can't upgrade Bendtner to Tevez, wish I hadn't lost the discount for Pavlyuchenko. Bendtner's the only one I'm unhappy with since I've been reading he might miss the game but I'll decide tomorrow. Suggestions are greatly welcomed. Thanks

  13. Anonymous3:17 AM

    Saul ...
    I'll stick with Neal on this one....

    Bendtner(10.99) for Saha(10.55) or Zamora(9.69)
    If you're out of money and believe in Tott then you got Crouch(8.97) or Eidur (7.19)
    If you think Bolton can pull an upset then Krasnic(8.15) will do good
    Since you wanted Tevez, you probably think City will do okay, and this week I would go for S.Cruz(6.92) since when he started against Fulham he scored and they won, but when he didn't start against Everton they lost.

    I got Drog-Saha-Pav (dropped Bendtner for Pav and Rolladega for Saha, Drog I picked under 12)

  14. Neal - Couldn't agree more about your comments in the opening paragraph. Countless times this season I've seen my blog readers surpass my weekly scores by taking the advice I've offered, while I've failed to follow it myself. It is probably the only downside & can be frustrating, but also agree it would never trade the position!

    Great post - I agree with every one of your picks, all should have strong weeks.


  15. I'd consider Bill Simmons' article, "Rules for being a true fan" which outlines the conditions under which it is acceptable to switch allegiances, to be the authoritative guidance here.

    Your situation seems to fall under rule 19.2 and is acceptable grounds for dropping DC United as your club. However, holding all your sports eggs in the Philly basket may not be so prudent. I suggest a bit of diversification in your fan portfolio since you have this out.

    However, as the Sports Guy points out, "you shouldn't practice "Sports Bigamy" in general. Sports teams are just like wives ... you can only have one wife, you can only have one sports team, and for the love of God, I will not argue about this." So, with all due respect to Ketz, his dad is a football philanderer. Not acceptable.

  16. hey neal,
    the is not a great game, it really labors to keep up scores and makes mistakes. the soccernet fantasy mls site is up and running. it is the better of the two. it always starts right after the first game, like somebody at soccernet sees the game and runs to work to set it up, after having forgot about it. i set up a league, if any interested
    strike it up
    password crew
    if any regular readers want to join feel free. this will be my first full year playing from brazl. i usually do well, so my league mates will be ready to dominate me. the link is

    good luck all

  17. premier league question.
    is david dunn going to start. i dropped modric for him to barndoor wednesday. modric has a great matchup, but may get rotated. he is not as high of a fantasy producer as dunn is. the issue for me, is that i want a lot of tottenham players, but pav and bale are the only two choices that are 100%.

  18. I'm contemplating dropping drogba at 22.16 in a swap for fabregas

    villa utd and spurs in next 4 of remaining 7 games..

  19. @ Brad, what if I told you my Dad had seen Swindon no less than 16 times this season and Saints 14 times...if that's not a fan of both teams then I don't know what is!!! You CAN be both you know!

    And also, with all due respect to Bill SImmons, since when did American's become great at being fans? They are good I know. But there's not enough passion in the US. It's just not tribal enough over here. I live in Philly, by all accounts, one of the most passionate sports fans in the whole of the US..they love their Flyers, Phillies and Eagles..but there's just something missing that you don't get here that you get in England/Europe/S.America. It's the one thing I really miss about home (other than family, friends, English Bacon etc,etc) I just can't take advice on being a fan from a bloke like Bill Simmons..not only is he a fair-weather fan (loves the Bruins but stopped following them for a while because he didn't like their management), he completely contradicts himself as he roots for the LA Clippers and he's from Greenwich, CT - where he claims he's a Celtics fan also!! Terrible.

  20. Anonymous10:12 AM

    Pav doubt for sat match??

  21. Anonymous12:31 PM

    I scored 206.5 !! Thanks to arteta malouda drogs howard and tevez