It's sort of an odd week here at Blog Headquarters. I have to admit that I'm feeling somewhat detached from the Premier League right about now. Between the long international break that featured very little interesting news outside of the seemingly neverending Liverpool saga and the usual injury news, it's just sort of been "blah". Contrast that with the excitement of the baseball playoffs (my Phillies dispatched the Cincinnati Reds in 3 straight games) and the relentlessness of the NFL schedule (where the Eagles are OK but my 4 fantasy teams are a combined 14-5-1, not so bad for a soccer guy). Honestly, the big Premier League-related highlight for me was getting an article published on USA.Arsenal.com and then having the main Arsenal Twitter feed promote it. The lesson? The world moves fast and two weeks away from something can seem like forever.
So, consider this column my effort to completely re-engage with the Premier League. As always, we'll cover the injuries in-depth on Friday but for today, we'll only cover them to the extent that the knowledge we have for certain impacts our recommended picks.
Like last time out, there isn't a ton to love about htis week's schedule. In general, I'd recommend just about any team hosting West Ham but with Wolves having the honors, it's hard to go crazy over them as a fantasy option at this point. Too many yellow cards and too few goals. Ditto ManYoo hosting West Brom. Ordinarily, this would have been a predicted walk-over but things seem to go from bad to worse at United and West Brom has been pretty strong even in difficult road ties. Am I so bold as to predict a WBA win? I certainly wouldn't put money on it. That said, I'm also not ready to bet on United as a fantasy force under any circumstances. That leaves us with a semi-depleted Arsenal team hosting Birmingham who bring the type of rough defense that tends to frustrate the Gunners. Citeh who have been climbing the table traveling to Blackpool who I'm not sure anyone really believes in yet but don't forget that Blackpool HAVE been that good and Citeh haven't been great on the road - Citeh may win, but it doesn't feel like a demolition. Up and down Newcastle hosting Wigan and not too much more that looks really attractive.
I'd give a little bit of advantage to NUFC players as well as those Arsenal players who are healthy enough to participate and that's about it.
Drogba - Chelsea may be having problems elsewhere but Drogs is still the man. The price is back to being pretty insane but hard NOT to have him at this point.
Odemwingie - He is questionable with a knee injury at this point but I have to say I'm on the bandwagon.
Dembele - Speaking of my bandwagon, Dembele seems likely to be back this weekend and still represents strong value - especially at home.
Tevez - Hard to bet against the man even after my match-up caveat.
Berbs - With all of the Rooney drama, you have to figure he'll be the man in what SHOULD be a United win.
Obinna - The price has risen but the production still represents value and the match-up isn't bad and imagine if he actually scores for once.
Carroll - I'd like to recommend him but I'm still not certain he'll play so hard to know what to do here unless we get some insight tomorrow.
Di Santo - The price is right as Bob Barker used to enjoy saying and the match-up isn't that bad either. You shouldn't have huge expectations but he seems likely to return more than his price.
NOTE: I'm sure some people will ask about why I haven't included Torres here given that he's available again. One: He could well be crocked again before halftime. Two: Local derby match. Three: Liverpool still haven't proven that they're any good. I understand being a fan and WANTING it to be different but looking objectively at the facts, that's too much money to spend on someone who hasn't done much of anything all season.
Walcott - What to do, what to do? Rumor has it he's ready to return and Arsenal certainly need the cutting edge he was providing before his injury. I'll give him a "buy" but not a "strong buy" to use the Wall Street parlance.
Van Der Vaart - If you have him, keep him. If you don't, buy him - his price isn't SO high yet that he's bad value.
Nani - Getting close to the point where he's too expensive but I'd still recommend him pretty strongly.
Malouda - Still the 2nd highest scoring midfielder by total points but he's certainly coming down in production without the corresponding drop in price. Hard to say "strong buy" here either but equally hard NOT to recommend him.
Adam - Still cranking out the points, still priced under 10. Sometimes life isn't very complicated, this is one of those times - buy him.
MPet - Three straight strong weekends with the last two in double digits. Reasonable home match-up with Stoke.
Brunt - Tough match-up but he's quietly been doing what we thought he might at the start of the season. It just took him a little longer than Adam to get started so he sort of got lost between Adam and Odemwingie.
Barton - Looking for a bounce back weekend. We worried about Ben Arfa "vulturing" his fantasy points, guess we don't have to worry about that again for a while, do we Mr. de Jong?
Nolan - Seems like a match where he might at least get a PK in which would justify the 6.77.
Pennant - When he's played this season, he's been very good as a fantasy player. Price still isn't too bad.
Bale - This will be the last week I recommend him if he continues to drop in value as a fantasy player as a direct result of VDV's presence in the line-up.
Salcido - Hasn't been as great as we'd hoped but still solid for the money.
Coleman - I'm still concerned that he'll be benched but he's also solid value at 7.46 and playing in midfield.
Hutton - Have to see the Spurs injury report but he's solid value if he continues to start.
Kompany - Not sexy but he keeps churning out the points despite no attacking activity at all.
Kosciely - Decent match-up might be the tonic for a mediocre fantasy season so far.
Gibbs - If he's healthy and starting, I'm interested because Clichy has been pretty bad but we know historically that spot in Arsenal's line-up does pretty well.
Boateng - The price is definitely right here but sadly that's because he has played two matches without the benefit of accumulating a single fantasy point ot the positive. Be interested but beware.
Steinsson - He hasn't been having a great year but call this one a hunch.
Salgado - Sort of a generally solid option when Rovers are home against mediocre competition. Check, check, and check.
Hart - He just keeps returning his price or more (except that one week that caused me to drop him - idiot, idiot, idiot)
Robbo - I hate recommending him to the point where it makes me a little sick to the stomach thinking about having him in my line-up but that's mostly based on last year. This year, the numbers have been solid and the match-up says "not a bad idea at that price"
Fabianski - See Robbo but the price is lower and the team around him is better.
Krul - If you need to go cheap but want some chance at positive points.
Kirkland - If you need to go cheap and are OK with the guarantee of NOT going negative.