The Week Ahead - Week 8

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 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.


  1. Don't trust United defence at home eh? I'd say that's where they're strongest, and specially with Rio back commanding the backline...CS a certain.

  2. Anonymous1:39 PM

    o'shea / ferdinand should be on there if you ask me

  3. Birty2:13 PM

    I've had Robbo in and out of my team for the past 10 days. Something just doesn't feel right about picking him - maybe its the thought that Bent and Gyan may get their first game together, maybe its because I'll have to wait till Monday for the points.

    I've got 4 spots still to decide on, normally I have the entire team sorted by the time the barn door's closed.

  4. Anonymous5:11 PM

    Do you think Bosingwa will be featured? Cheap option in D if he plays...maybe better on the barn door.

  5. cesc and chamakh seem to be great picks too.

  6. Anonymous6:58 PM

    Apparently according to Gooners website, Cesc MIGHT not be fit to play, with a CHANCE of playing on Tues.
    It's like predicting the flaming weather!!
    -Owen (Too lazy to log back in)

  7. Anonymous7:01 PM

    So I'm not telling porkies

  8. Yeap, looks like Fabregas is out...,19528,11661_6444749,00.html

    Can you guys help me, I'm torn between the following...


    Thanks all!

  9. Anonymous8:05 PM

    Great article Neal!

  10. saul what about arshavin, if you were lamenting cesc not being there. anytime you can get tevez in a good matchup you go for it, and i think, without cesc, it will be 1-0, so that arsenal will finally get a clean sheet. birmingham are not likely to score.

  11. @greginho - I got Nasri in Arshavin's place, my team atm(not saved) is...


    considering P.Jones/A.Johnson/Berbatov instead of Koscielny/Scholes/Tevez as you noticed above.

    What do you think?

  12. kirk + malouda or krul + nasri ?

    have malouda at 13.6, been thinking about dropping malouda....but chelsea got it easy the week after compared to arsenal....

    any suggestions?

  13. ug - if you're thinking ahead, kirk/malouda is the way to go...even if Malouda lets you down now, he's sure to make it up to you when Chelsea play home to Wolves. But I'd recommend finding a way to get in on Krul, he's cheap and will be a good keeper for the next 3 games.

  14. Anonymous12:58 AM

    @Saul: A.J is a big question for the start. I picked him up but drop now because is is a risk pick. After this week, if Mancini let him start, he will be in my team for the next one.


    petrov/berb/elmander (3-5-2)

    I have 11.46 left for a midfilder? Who can be? Or should I make a 3-4-3 for a foward? And who can be?

    barton/tevez/berb (1.46 left)

    Wonder between Barton and Pennant. Who is better?

    Could you guys help me?

  15. thanks for the feedback saul, i would LOVe to get malouda, nani AND nasri in...but i guess we just can't be too greedy =P
    currently have chamWoW in and want to get in more on the Ars action but just don't have enough $$!!
    i think i will stick with malouda...!! thx for the tip!!

  16. Anonymous2:47 AM

    what about Gyan away to Blackburn, being that Bent is out