Beckford seals Goodison move

Beckford seals Goodison move
Jermaine Beckford has now completed his move to Everton and penned a four-year deal at Goodison Park.

The 26-year-old has enjoyed an excellent couple of seasons at Leeds and has now been rewarded with a switch to the Premiership, after netting 31 goals for the Elland Road club last term.
The squad-building continues.

One to Watch

Adam eager for top-flight test

Yes, Blackpool are going to be terrible next season. But there's been fantasy profit from terrible teams before. Usually you need to find the midfielder who takes the kicks and pulls the strings (to whatever limited effect). For Blackpool, that guy is Charlie Adam. 17 goals last season in the league, including penalty kicks, and scored a free kick in the playoff final.

I'm not saying he's +10, but he might be worth a look as a cheap, enabling midfielder next season.

Of course, I've been wrong before.

Fletcher set for Wolves move

Fletcher set for Wolves move

At least Wolves will have cover for Doyle. This doesn't bring them anything they don't have on the pitch already though. Maybe next season Milijas gets going and brings them the creativity they lacked in the first half of the season, and didn't even try for in the latter half. 7.5 million pounds though? It seems to me that they're paying almost as much for Doyle's understudy as they did for Doyle himself.

Steven Reid Moves to West Brom

Steven Reid set to finish with Albion

Might be worth a punt if he's listed as a defender next season, but it's more likely he'll be listed as a midfielder despite playing right back.

Billions and Billions

You're probably all too young to get the joke, but in the '80s Carl Sagan was a household name - not bad for an astronomer - thanks to his television series "Cosmos".  He would talk about the "billions and billions" of stars, etc.

Anyway... with that as prologue, I got a kick out of this misspelling in the AFP's photo:

Lakeside jog : French national football team's defender Bakary Sagan runs during a training session around a lake near Tignes in the French Alps, as part of the preparation for the upcoming World Cup 2010. (AFP/Franck Fife)

No Tall Tale: Zigic to Birmingham

A report claims that Birmingham have agreed a £6m fee with Valencia for 6'8" striker Nikola Zigic.
He never made the cut at Valencia, but on loan to Racing Santander last season he scored 13 goals in 19 matches. If he can be the proper foil for Cameron Jerome (or another striker to be named later) it will go a long way towards solidifying Birmingham's place in the Premier League's mid- to lower-tier.

End of the World for Bent?

The closest he'll come to an England shirt this summer?

End of the World for Bent?
Darren Bent's World Cup dreams could be in tatters after a hamstring injury ruled him out of tonight's penultimate warm-up game against Mexico at Wembley.

The Sunderland striker has been unable to train fully with England in Austria and now faces a race against time to convince Fabio Capello he can be fit for the finals in South Africa.
Shame. It would have been interesting to see if Bent could make "the leap" this summer.

Carlton Cole, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.

Gunners clinch Chamakh deal

Gunners clinch Chamakh deal
Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Morocco international striker Marouane Chamakh on a long-term contract from Bordeaux.

Chamakh has long been expected to join the Gunners and will arrive at Emirates Stadium on a free transfer at the end of his Bordeaux deal.

The 26-year-old has been a consistent scorer for the 2009 French champions and will bolster Arsene Wenger's attacking options for next season.

Transfer Roundup

Foster joins Blues
Birmingham have completed the signing of Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster.

The England international has agreed a three-year contract and although Blues have not disclosed fee, it is reported to be around £6million.

West Bromwich Albion clinch Gabriel Tamas transfer
West Brom have signed Auxerre defender Gabriel Tamas on a permanent deal following his successful loan spell.

The Romania centre-back, 26, arrived at The Hawthorns back in January and played 26 games, scoring twice.

And while not directly impacting the Premier League, today's big news and possible domino signing (the transfer that gets other things moving, say Cesc, etc):

Barcelona sign striker Villa for $49M
(CNN) -- Barcelona have signed Spain striker David Villa from league rivals Valencia for $49 million, further boosting an already potent forward line.
The 28-year-old goalscorer will be in Barcelona on Thursday evening and will undergo a medical test on Friday morning, the Spanish champions said on their official Web site.
And speaking of Fabregas, the article continues:
Meanwhile, club president Joan Laporta has commented on rumors that Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is to make a return to the club he played for as a youth team player.

Fabregas has once again been strongly linked with leaving Arsenal amid media speculation that he wants to play once again for his home town club and Laporta said: "It's remarkable that a player should commit himself in this way (if the reports are true)

"If the club technical staff believe we need to make the extra effort and sign him, we'll speak to Arsenal," Laporta added.

Cesc wants out of Arsenal

Cesc Fabregas is understood to have told Arsene Wenger he wants to leave Arsenal in order to rejoin Barcelona as president Joan Laporta hints at making a bid...

It now appears that the midfielder is ready to ask for permission to join the newly-crowned Primera Liga champions next season and a fee is likely to be in the region of £30-35million...

Laporta also confirmed transfer talks were well underway with Valencia over a deal to bring striker David Villa to Camp Nou.

"We are in the negotiating process and everything is going in the right direction," Laporta added.
I can't wait to get Neal's thoughts on this, though I'm afraid they won't be worthy of publication on a family-friendly website.

For my money, this is a year too early.  Xavi isn't going anywhere just yet.  And while Cesc is the natural heir to that role on that team, he won't want to go to sit behind anyone.  But if I'm Wenger, I forgoe the cash and get Yaya Toure and Zlatan Ibrahimavic in return.  Or Gabriel Milito.  All three?  Losing Cesc would be a huge blow to Arsenal's ambitions, but if he doesn't want to be there he will entually begin hurting the team.  And while Arsenal miss him on the field, they missed Song and Vermaelen more when they were out injured. With Robin van Persie able to be the team's creative hub (or Nasri), and with another capable center forward in Ibra, I think Arsenal would be well served making the swap(s).

But I'll defer to our resident Gooner.  Over to you, Mr. Thurman.

Grosso left at home by Lippi

Fabio Grosso left at home as Marcello Lippi reduces squad
Juventus defender Fabio Grosso and Udinese midfielder Antonio Candreva have been cut from the Italy squad for the World Cup as coach Marcello Lippi reduced his 30-man provisional group to 28.

Grosso was a pivotal player for Italy four years ago, scoring the decisive first goal against Germany in the semi-final and then the winning spot-kick in the penalty shootout against France in the final.
I have to admit, I was counting on Grosso as one of my defenders for my World Cup 2010 fantasy team. I guess both Lippi and I will be looking for new options. But it gives me an early chance to rerun this video my friend (a player on the Professional Arena Soccer League North American Champions, San Diego Sockers) shot four years ago when Grosso sealed the Cup final for Italy.

World Cup 2010 - Injured Ballack out of World Cup

Today *today* *today*... I consider myself *myself* *myself*...
Germany captain Michal Ballack has been ruled out of the World Cup after injuring his ankle in Chelsea's FA Cup final win over Portsmouth.

The German Football Federation (DFB) said Ballack underwent a scan on Monday which showed that he had partially torn a ligament in his right leg.

They said his right ankle would be placed in a cast and he would have to wear a special shoe for two weeks once the cast had been removed.

The DFB said it would be eight weeks before he could resume training. The World Cup starts in South Africa on June 11.
This is a blow to Germany as Ballack is their captain, and could have started for them in the holding midfielder position that he's played for Chelsea since Mikel's knee injury.

But let's not get carried away. It's a personal tragedy for Ballack who misses out. But he was only starting for Chelsea because of Mikel's injury. And if Germany want an aging warrior in that role they probably should have called up Torsten Frings, who just had a great season at Werder Bremen. Instead, we're likely to see Schweinsteiger as the deep-lying middie. It's a role he's taken to quite well at Bayern this season, and that will likely give the Germans a little more dynamism in their attack.

Just be sure to note Schweinsteiger's shift for fantasy World Cup 2010 play. He'll be devalued compared to previous seasons.

And speaking of fantasy World Cup 2010 and successful Bremen midfielders... what this really does is open the door (even further) for Mesut Özil to come in and place his mark on this team and this tournament. He's going to be Germany's attacking hub, and I look to him to be one of this summer's emerging stars.

Koren surprised by exit

Robert Koren has admitted he was surprised that West Brom decided not to keep him at The Hawthorns.

The Baggies confirmed earlier on Monday they were releasing Koren after opting against taking up the further year's option on his contract.

It was expected West Brom would keep hold of the attacking midfielder as they prepare for life back in the Premier League, but Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo has decided to let him move on.
I'm thinking this is the club rallying around Dorrans, who has already been subject to a transfer offer from West Ham. Though there is also bad blood between he and Di Matteo.  Strops after being substituted, complaints about where he was being played on the pitch, etc.

Koren is a bit old in the tooth at 29, but if he has a good World Cup for Slovenia I could see him being snapped up by a Premier League club. Perhaps Newcastle or Villa will look to him as cover for Nolan or Milner, respectively.

Middlesbrough in disguise

Good points from the Early Doors crew:

They are Middlesbrough in disguise
Seriously. What exactly is the difference between Fulham and Middlesbrough, whose run to the 2006 UEFA Cup final inspired little but indifference? Boro's voyage through the knock-out stages was no less remarkable than Fulham's, as they beat Stuttgart and Roma before securing not one but two miracle comebacks - coming from 3-0 down to beat Basel 4-3 and, er, coming from 3-0 down to beat Steaua Bucharest 4-3. Both teams were managed by an Englishman, both teams had a core of British players and both had Mark Schwarzer in goal. Both teams even play by a river, although Boro's Teesside location wedged between industrial estates is arguably less salubrious.
And who can forget Massimo Maccarone's heroics in turning those games?
Hats off to Atletico Madrid, by the way. Like a pre-wonga Manchester City, they have had to exist in the shadow of their city rivals, given little choice but to revel in their reputation for chaos and heroic failure. They deserve a chance to lord it over Real just this once.

And ED can't help but wonder what hometown hero Fernando Torres, who left the Calderon for a chance to win trophies with Liverpool, made of last night's goings-on.
Ouch, baby. Very ouch.

Benitez rejected by Blues

Birmingham fans finally see the back of him.

Benitez rejected by Blues
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish will be in the market for a new striker this summer after sending Christian ‘Chucho’ Benitez back to Mexican side Santos Laguna.

The Ecuador international arrived on loan at St Andrew’s last summer and Blues had the option of making the move permanent for around £6m.

But McLeish looks to have baulked at the valuation in light of Benitez’s return of just four goals in his 36 appearances for the Midlands outfit.
Chucho was a good enabling striker mid-year when Birmingham had a good matchup or two-games. But he completely fell off the radar only reappearing at the end of the season in a cameo role.

If I had to guess though, I would say he'll reappear in England. Perhaps a promoted club in need of a striker *cough*WestBrom*cough*, or a Championship team looking to get over the hump and into the Premier League, or one who loses a striker to a bigger club *cough*Leeds*cough*.

Coleman Impresses Moyes

Coleman Impresses Moyes
David Moyes says he's enjoying watching the progression of Seamus Coleman.  The young Everton defender, currently on-loan at Blackpool, is heading for Wembley after the Seasiders beat Nottingham Forest in their Championship play-off semi-final...

Coleman made seven appearances for the Blues before his loan move to Blackpool.  The 21-year-old attracted attention for his performance during his home debut against Tottenham at Goodison Park in December – coming off the substitute’s bench to play a key role in a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down...
"He had a terrible injury in pre-season which kept him out and, if hadn't been for that, he might have had more games and he might have even been further along," said Moyes.
Certainly someone to watch for next season. Right-back has been a trouble spot for Everton recently with Phil Neville, Tony Hibbert, Joseph Yobo, and even Coleman getting games there. It isn't inconcievable that Coleman is in Everton's starting back four next August.

Beat the Bloggers - Winners' Circle

If you can't join 'em... beat 'em! And these seven teams - and many, many more of you - did just that.

Congratulations to the 2009-2010 Beat the Bloggers Group winners.

Beat the Bloggers 1
INDIA [©] [AM.Blog]

Beat the Bloggers 2
On with the motley Crewe

Beat the Bloggers 3

Beat the Bloggers 4
TuHaU FC [AM.Blog]

Beat the Bloggers 5

Beat the Bloggers 6
Sven's Super Squad

Beat the Bloggers 7
King S**t of F**k Mountain

For a bit of context, TuHaU FC [AM.Blog] finished the season as the overall 9th place!  INDIA [©] [AM.Blog] was 26th overall, Sven's Super Squad was tied for 35th.  A hearty "mazel tov" to you three on placing "in the money".

    World Cup Squads In Full

    No and nope. But why?

    Those Other World Cup Squads In Full

    A good wrap up of the 31 squads, aside from England which they cover extensively elsewhere, with a nice summary of the surprises in each one.

    Right off the bat, it's Maradona who makes the news not including Cambiasso, Zanetti or Lisandro Lopez. Really? Going deep, or perhaps winning the Champions League doesn't speak well of these players ability? Yet Veron and Palermo are wheeled out yet again for the Blancoceleste? I don't get it.

    As for England, here's their provisional squad:

    Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, David James, Robert Green.

    Defenders: Leighton Baines, Jamie Carragher, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Ledley King, John Terry, Matthew Upson, Stephen Warnock.

    Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Tom Huddlestone, Adam Johnson, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Scott Parker, Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips.

    Forwards: Darren Bent, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney.

    Black Cats land Riveros

    I bet Bruce would rather have signed the other guy in the picture

    Black Cats land Riveros
    Sunderland have agreed a deal to bring midfielder Cristian Riveros to the Stadium of Light.

    Steve Bruce has made his first summer signing soon after the end of the Premier League season by bringing the Paraguay international to Wearside...

    'He is a very creative midfielder and a player that will enhance our attacking options from wide positions for next season.'
    Riveros scored three times for Paraguay in qualifying (twice in a 5-1 rout of Ecuador) and has been named to their provisional World Cup squad. So hopefully we'll get a good look at him in South Africa. Regardless, his fantasy value is going to depend on Andy Reid's recovery from surgery and/or a possible move infield for Reid.

     I'm not going to say that Riveros is near a +10 player, but he may be a viable option next season.

    Birmingham City poised to sign Ben Foster

    Birmingham City poised to sign Ben Foster from Man Utd
    Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster is set to move to Birmingham City for £4m, BBC Sport understands.

    Foster, 27, has only played one Premier League game since October after falling behind Edwin van der Sar and Tomasz Kuzczak in the United pecking order...

    He started the season as United's number one but high-profile errors against Chelsea in the Community Shield, against Manchester City in the derby and Sunderland led to reports of a fallout with manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
    This is probably a good move for all parties. Birmingham need a number one as Joe Hart returns to Manchester City. Ben Foster needs a new start after failing under the pressure of the ManU number one jersey. That's not as damning as it sounds. Look at Tim Howard. He's established himself as a top-class keeper after being judged not good enough for the Red Devils. Birmingham will be hoping that Foster can repeat Howard's arc.

    And behind Dann and Johnson in a defence that I believe was the stingiest outside of the top teams, especially if they can recruit some new full-backs in the off-season, Foster may represent great value for fantasy managers come the 2010-2011 season.

    Where did you finish?

    Properly Nutbag (Jeremy)
    Latest points: 154.50
    Total points: 3,672.50
    Overall rank: 2,303

    Fourth in our private group.

    32/100 in Beat the Bloggers 3.

    29/99 in Beat the Bloggers 4.

    35/97 in Beat the Bloggers 6.

    15/44 in Beat the Bloggers 7.

    Middle of the road. I blame Dave.

    Better luck (to me) next season.


    Barn Door is Shut

    Opening again mid-August 2010.

    But so much to say and do before then... (What, you thought we'd just pack it in on holiday?)

    Good luck today. Lots of places to be decided yet. We'll want to hear all about who you picked and where you ended up.

    Then, of course, there will be the cliched 'end-of-season' awards. Best Fantasy Two-Gamer. Bargain of the Year. Fantasy Player of the Seaon. etc. Nominations are being accepted in comments.

    And it's going to be a big summer. There's the World Cup 2010 which we'll be watching and covering from a fantasy perspective. And surely we're in for a doozy of a transfer window. In fact, the ins and outs at just Manchester City may demand of blog of their own!

    As Neal mentioned the other day, it's Mother's Day so we're going to be 'off the grid' for the games. Therefore, I'll say it again now, GOOD LUCK. It's been one hell of a season and we look forward to looking back, and then looking foward again, with all of you!

    Premier League Team news

    Premier League - Team news: Chelsea unchanged - Yahoo! Eurosport:
    "captain Phil Neville will miss the game after undergoing minor surgery on his left knee."
    So get in Rodwell if you're looking for an enabler as Heitinga remains a doubt.

    Otherwise, Chelsea will be unchanged; Bassong likely to come in for King though Gomes may be rested; Arshavin likely to start; Hutton returns; as does Jarvis.

    My XI going into tomorrow's games is still: Fulop Bale Mancienne Hutton AJ Babel Cahill Nani RvP Anichebe Kalou.

    Wednesday was about baggage.

    Just sign it, "COYS! The Sports Guy"

    Bill Simmons: Phoenix Suns trying to erase 40 years of stomach punches
    It started with the Manchester City-Tottenham Hotspur game, which I watched with long-suffering City fan Marc Stein in a Phoenix hotel room.
    I wanted to post this yesterday as it was Simmons' big intro to his latest column. Here are two of the World Leader's biggest names (online, at least) talking about, and really being engaged with, the Premier League. It bodes well for the future of the sport here in the States, even if it doesn't bode well for MLS who just can't capture the country's imagination in the same way as these teams from across the pond.

    I wanted to post this yesterday, but didn't think I had a good hook for doing so. This morning, Neal pointed out that it being discussed was hook enough. As Neal wrote, "[T]his is pretty representative of how far the game has come when high profile ESPN personalities are watching Prem games and writing about them and following teams and the like. To describe any American fan of the Prem as 'long suffering' is a pretty powerful statement in and of itself."

    Injuries and Suspensions

    Premier League team news - Barclays Premier League - ESPN Soccernet

    Last I&S of the season and wouldn't you know it, there are a lot of injuries that are being reported that sound suspiciously like things that the players and management would be ignoring if there were still something left to play for...

    Among the teams you're most likely to be focused on...
    • Valencia is out for ManYoo;
    • Only the long term absentees (Essien, Bosingwa, Carvalho) plus Mikel are out for CHE;
    • Clichy is questionable for Arsenal with Sicky, Song, Bendtner, Cesc, Gallas, Vermaelen, Denilson, Ramsey, and Almunia all out (not a bad 10 player line-up really);
    • On the plus side, it does indicate that RvP and Arsh will likely start as Arsenal look to secure 3rd;
    • The news from Spurs seems to indicate that they're pretty happy to stick with 4th place with King and Gomes possibly missing out despite (or maybe because of) playing in mid-week;
    • The possibly interesting turn of events there will be Bassong as a reasonably inexpensive choice in defence;
    • Villa field a full squad in their attempt to stay in sixth (and avoid Europa League play-in matches);
    • Fulham will be without Zamora and Duff for sure and likely a bunch of others as they prepare for their Europa Cup Final on Wednesday in Germany;
    • Rovers are likely to give a start to Amine Linganzi who will be motivated by creating an impression headed into next season and could be worth a punt;
    • Stuart Holden is similarly hoping for a call-up coming back from injury for Bolton at home but he doesn't sound like a "no-doubt-about-it" starter so might be too much risk there;
    • Kirkland, Moreno, and Bramble out for Wigan but N'Zogbia returns;
    • Heitinga could return for EVE which could impact Yobo's place in the starting line-up - hard to know how EVE will configure themselves at the back for this one;
    • O'Hara could come back for Pompey at least for a while to get back some match fitness before the FA Cup Final;
    • Bullard and Folan out for Hull;
    • Maxi and Glen Johnson out for LIV increasing the chances that Babel will get a start on the left of the attack;
    • At Wolves Geoffrey Bia likely to be replaced in the starting line-up by the returning Matt Jarvis;
    Not a ton of important news there but just some final thoughts to keep you going headed into the weekend.  Unfortunately, the scheduling of the final matches of the season at the same time as brunch on Mother's Day means that we won't have a final live chat of the season.  Look for some season wrap up stuff early next week though.

    Cheers - Neal

    Summer Plans

    Manchester United will play MLS stars at Reliant
    The Red Devils will arrive in Chicago, home of new shirt sponsor Aon Corp., on July 12 for training and then meet Glasgow Celtic on July 16 at Toronto’s Rogers Center, the club said Thursday. The 18-time English champions play the Philadelphia Union five days later at Lincoln Financial Field and meet the Kansas City Wizards on July 25 at Arrowhead Stadium.

    Manchester United will compete in the MLS All-Star game against the league’s top players on July 28 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.
    Which prompted this quick discussion:

    JSpitzberg: The 18-time English champions play the Philadelphia Union five days later at Lincoln Financial Field
    NealThurman: might have to journey up for that one :-)
    JSpitzberg: july 17, i think
    NealThurman: hmm, so no WC players, maybe not
    NealThurman: Giggs for 30 minutes, Scholes for 30 minutes and then the kids?
    JSpitzberg: macheda! diouf!
    JSpitzberg: what's not to love
    NealThurman: maybe I'll save the milage/gas/tolls/$75 tickets

    The Week Ahead - Season Finale Edition

    So as a Gooner, it is hard for me to say this but Congratulations to Spurs on the confirmation of fourth place and a Champions League spot.  It was well-won in direct competition against their rival for the spot on that opponent's home turf.  Can't argue with them winning if they did it head-to-head as well as coming through  down the stretch against some of the best teams in the league.  The fact that they still have a chance at 3rd brings us to our most critical theme of the week - who still has something to play for and who is the most likely to throw out the B team because the match doesn't matter for them (or because of other priorities).

    Before we get to that, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for making this a great Premier League Fantasy Season back at the old blog.  We've enjoyed testing new functionality like Live Chat and welcoming new bloggers to Yahoo! Fantasy family (YFF Assistant Manager and YFF Scout).  We've been published in print for the first time ever (thanks again to our loyal readers at Time, Inc who made the connection for us and got us the gig). We've got our thinking caps on to start figuring out what we're going to do:

    Everybody Blames Dave

    So long, and thanks for all the fish.

    Stoke boss Tony Pulis has hit back at Dave Kitson's 'scapegoat' allegations and insists the club have got a great dressing-room spirit.

    A disgruntled Kitson claimed at the weekend that he had become a scapegoat after the striker had previously been criticised by Pulis for his reaction to being substituted during the 7-0 thrashing at Chelsea.

    But Pulis used a heavy sense of irony in givin little credence to these allegations.

    He told The Sentinel: "Dave Kitson was spot on with his comment that everybody blames him for everything that happens at the football club.

    "That's right - everybody blames Dave."

    Copyright FA Premier League

    New FA mascots taking the pitch

    from Fantasy Ethos:
    With huge fantasy ramification overseas and potentially even in the United States, Britain's High Court ruled that the schedules of the English Premier League are copyrighted materials and should be protected as such. The court ruled that since making the schedules was a very complicated activity that schedule makers should have the results of their laboring protected under British copyright law. The lawsuit was brought by the EPL against a subsidiary of Yahoo!, which printed the schedules without licensing the information from the EPL.

    Fantasy English Premier League is one of the largest fantasy markets outside of the United States and is the most popular in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom. While it remains to be seen how this will be enforced in Britain, and if possible, in the United States, this should definitely be something of which anyone operating or playing in an EPL game should take note.
    The judge said the work in compiling the fixture lists in England and Scotland involved "very significant labour and skill".

    After trawling through national and European law, he concluded that the lists were the subject of database copyright.

    Our friends at Y!UK were party to this suit. Hopefully our fantasy game won't be impacted by this ruling.

    It's hard to see how this decision holds up. If the difficulty in producing the schedule was the determining factor, how to you set a threshold? What is the amount of work - 1 hour, 3 days, 6 months - that triggers copyright protection? Is the FA willing to forgo the huge amount of interest, publicity and good-will that coverage of their league - not to mention fantasy premier league games - generates in return for a few quid in licensing fees? It hardly seems likely.

    Unactionable Team News

    King, Gomes doubtful
    Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is sweating on the fitness of centre-half Ledley King and goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes ahead of their crucial Barclays Premier League clash against Manchester City at Eastlands.

    King's long-standing knee problem means he remains a doubt while Gomes has a muscle injury sustained in the win over Bolton at White Hart Lane last weekend... Young goalkeeper Ben Alnwick stands by to replace Gomes.

    Barry back for City
    Gareth Barry is set to return for Manchester City as the Blues look to put themselves in line for Champions League qualification by beating Tottenham at Eastlands...

    Joleon Lescott (hamstring) has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign and Stephen Ireland (ankle) will also miss out.

    Fulham & SunderlandStoke City news to come.

    UPDATE: Here we go.
    Fulham striker Bobby Zamora is unlikely to play any part in the Barclays Premier League clash with Stoke...

    Clint Dempsey will continue to deputise in attack for Fulham's last home match of the season.
    Stoke captain Abdoulaye Faye remains an injury doubt ahead of the trip to Fulham in the Barclays Premier League...

    Asmir Begovic will continue to deputise in goal for Thomas Sorensen, who is recovering from a dislocated elbow.

    Big Time

    We're all about Time Inc these days after they published our fantasy preview in their Unofficial World Cup 2010 Guide, so here's a shout out to them for naming Didier Drogba one of their 100 most influential people in the world.
    Imagine the body of an NBA star with feet as nimble as a prima ballerina's. When the World Cup kicks off in South Africa in June, he will carry the hopes of a continent as Africa's best-known soccer star. (West African fans will toast him with a beer glass called the Drogba. It's nearly twice the size of a normal mug.)

    No one knows the rickety and high-spirited but often heartbreaking touring bus that is African soccer better than Drogba. At the 2006 World Cup, his homeland ravaged by civil war, he organized a statement from the Elephants, as the Ivorian national team is referred to, calling for peace. Many credit the ensuing calm for allowing reconciliation to begin. At a match last March, 22 Ivorians were killed in the crush to see their beloved heroes play. After the game, Drogba resolved to donate every dollar he earns from endorsements to a charity he set up to build new hospitals in the country.
    He's certainly on our short-list of fantasy players of the year (other suggestions are welcome in the comments) and this is another nice feather in his cap.  To which, he'll likely be adding another Premier League winners medal this weekend.  And good luck to him in his pursuit of Jules Rimet.

    UPDATE:  It's a two-fer as Drogs also graces the cover of Vanity Fair in his skivvies.

    Spurs keeper Gomes set for scan

    BBC Sport - Football - Spurs keeper Gomes set for scan
    Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes is to undergo a scan on a groin injury after he fell awkwardly during his team's 1-0 win over Bolton on Saturday.

    Spurs play Manchester City on Wednesday as both teams battle to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League.

    'Gomes's groin is sore,' said Spurs manager Harry Redknapp. 'He'll have a scan and see what the damage is. Hopefully he is OK.'

    Redknapp will bring in Ben Alnwick for the City game if Gomes is unavailable.

    The Barn Door Live - Last BD of the Season

    I'm not sure if I've talked to anyone who completely loves their line-up for this weekend but here's mine...

    Gomes, Bale, Jagielka, Smalling, AJ, Eth, Lawrence, Modric, Fuller, Tevez, Defoe

    Worried about the number of people who have PVC and I think we're all worried about our keepers...

    For next weekend, I'm looking ahead to Citeh (@WHU), Spurs (@Burnley), Chelsea (WIG), and ManYoo (STO) assuming all of those teams are still in the mix for whatever they're chasing (Title or Champions League). Same goes for LIV (@HULL) if they're still in the mix for 4th which seems unlikely.