The Week Ahead - Thanksgiving Edition

Well, I've already used up the "things to give thanks for" gimmick and was even forced to throw out a "things not to be thankful for" addendum yesterday in the wake of Arsenal's toothless loss to Braga.  Here are a few additional thoughts after I've had a night to sleep on that outcome and read the comments:
  • Vela was fouled in the box and it wasn't really close - I'm not sure why the referee didn't award a penalty but the expression on his face certainly gave me the impression he wasn't going to allow the match to be decided by a penalty. 
  • There's no reason that it SHOULD have had to be decided by a penalty.  As one of our readers pointed pointed out in the comments, Arsenal enjoyed a lot of possession but it really wasn't dangerous possession.  Arsenal play plenty of matches where they are attacking constantly and they've earned the "profligate" moniker by not scoring from a number of good chances but yesterday wasn't one of them.  It wasn't that they didn't cash in on great chances, the problem was that all of their possession didn't lead to great chances this time around.  That is a much bigger problem in my mind than having long stretches of ineffectiveness around the goal and it has marked Arsenal's poor showings this season, not just this match. 
  • I haven't seen this written anywhere else yet but you have to wonder if - due to his proclivity to be injured fairly regularly - this summer will be the time to cash in on Fab4.  If he comes back from his hamstring worry healthy and plays the rest of the season without incident then you can forget I wrote this but it seems like it will be hard to build a title-winning side around a lynch-pin that is only available and playing at his best about 2/3rds of the time.  
  • Finally, moving on to Chelsea - it was an impressive effort for a very young side to come back from a goal down and win in Europe.  I'm still not particularly impressed by Chelsea's young players but this is the sort of experience that will start to give them the confidence they need to assert themselves more when they get their chances in matches that matter more.
With that, we return to our weekly analysis of the fantasy slate.

The schedule this week presents a couple matches that really should be interesting to fantasy managers and a few that you shouldn't be fooled by:

Real Value
  • ManYoo vs. Rovers - They just keep grinding out wins and points.  It ain't pretty but it is effective.
  • Chelsea @ Newcastle - They didn't put the ball in against Birmingham but their attack seemed back in form and with Krul not exactly being Foster, I'd expect a bit more effectiveness this weekend from the Champions.
  • Bolton vs. Blackpool - Bolton are hot, playing at home, and facing opposition that is dwindling.
Don't be Fooled
  • Sunderland @ Wolves - A large distance in the standings but Sunderland have some injuries and a strong tendency to play to the quality of their opposition.  I'm not saying Wolves will win but it won't be a match-up you should double down on in fantasy.
  • Everton vs. West Brom - The popular perception of Everton is that they are consistently a top half team that should win fairly handily against newly promoted opponents at Goodison.  This year's Everton squad haven't lived up to that billing and have been leaky at the back in the most important moments.  Not a "stay away" match but, again, not one I'd load up on.
  • Elmander - It's hard to imagine a Bolton forward topping the list of fantasy options but it's also hard to deny that it's the right thing to do given his form, the match-up, and the home game.
  • Rooney - He only played for part of the second half last weekend but he was certainly in dangerous positions and managed 7 fantasy points in a short stint.  As always with a player coming back from injury, check the reports Friday but I feel good about recommending Rooney for the first time in 8 months or so.
  • DBent - The price has gone down to a pretty reasonable number and while I don't LOVE the match-up, I like his consistency when he's leading the line for Sunderland.  Just don't expect too many phantom points with the goal.
  • Odemwingie - @EVE doesn't seem like a great match-up but they've been letting in goals and Odem proved last weekend that he can put up solid numbers even without a goal.
  • Defoe/RvP - Both strikers returned briefly (and ineffectively) last weekend and both are priced below their traditional cost.  As always, watch the Friday team reports but both players represent solid value - if you're picking for this week only I'd go with Defoe (at home, team momentum, etc.) but if you're picking with a longer time horizon, I'd go with RvP because he's proven to be a better fantasy producer when he's healthy.
  • Obinna/Piquionne - At home against Wigan seems as good a time as any to pick a WHU attacker.  Honestly, Piquionne has looked the better in recent weeks and he's cheaper - if I didn't just like the idea of a no-conscience gunner like Obinna, this recommendation would just be Piquionne.
  • Gabby - Did you see that Matheus guy run at Arsenal's CBs from half field? Think a returning-to-form Gabby might have more speed than that guy did? Did you notice that he's priced at 7.5 despite usually costing well over 10 when healthy and playing regularly? Have I asked enough questions for you to get the idea that there's some value here both immediately and in the long run?
  • Tevez - On the road against decent opposition isn't exactly what I look for in an expensive striker but he's certainly a keeper if you had him last week and still worth a thought if you don't want to risk Rooney coming back from injury/drama/whatever. 
  • Di Santo - Yayga is out suspended leaving the Argentine as a solid value play against WHUs pretty poor defence.
  • Meireles - He was excellent in the absence of Gerrard last weekend and his price is still pretty reasonable.  The match-up is much tougher but Spurs aren't exactly water-tight at the back so even if Spurs win, there's a good chance that there will be points there.
  • Nani - It didn't even look like he did much last weekend but he put up 21 points - imagine if he makes a tangible contribution like a goal or an assist. 
  • VDV - Even if he lost his streak of scoring at home, he's still been amazing at the Lane which, as it turns out, is where he'll be playing this weekend.  Definitely a keeper and still probably worth it this weekend.
  • Nasri - If you want an Arsenal midfielder, he's the one worth paying for.  Wilshere isn't a bad bet to finally come good with a goal while (not so)Fab4(recently) is on the shelf.
  • N'Zog - He is Wigan's best attacking option against WHU which seems like a good thing to be.
  • Holden - Lee got the points (as predicted) last weekend but Holden should be the guy in Bolton's midfield again this weekend.
  • Jarvis - Not the biggest name going but definitely not bad and playing at home.
  • Coleman - He hasn't been exceptional but he's been pretty solid and he's playing at home which is a good thing.
  • Hutton -One of the few defenders who is reasonably priced, playing for a top side, and at home.  The only concern is Spurs lack of clean sheets. 
  • Kolarov - Again, this is more of a hold on a weekend when there aren't many inexpensive defenders who look like strong value. 
  • Rafael - This is more of a hope that you got him on the BD than a suggestion to buy him retail.
  • Vidic - Hard to see ManYoo giving up a goal to Rovers which makes Vidic the pick of the premium defenders at current prices
  • Bale - Hold him if you've got him at a discount but too rich for my blood this week.
  • Jussi - Best combination of price, match-up and team form
  • Green - The price is right and the match-up is good by WHU standards - the only question is whether you can survive the weekend worrying about the possibility that the bottom could always fall out for the Hammers
  • Fabianski - With Cech/Hart/EvdS too expensive for me this weekend and Gomes having kept all of one clean sheet, Fabianski is an interesting play at about 7.5 and playing on the road where Arsenal have been very good this season in the league.  Not a pick that fills me with confidence but the numbers certainly push you in that direction.
With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, I'm writing this before Wednesday's Champions League and Thursday's Europa Cup matches so please stay tuned for updates on Friday that may reflect injuries or new information.

Have a great Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it and for those who don't, take a moment to be thankful for the fact that your life is good enough that you can spend time reading about something as relatively unimportant as fantasy soccer.  At the same time, we here at the blog are thankful that you have that time and choose to spend it with us - even when you think I'm hopelessly biased toward Arsenal/against Spurs/ManYoo/everyone else.


  1. chelsea fan11:37 AM

    good write up as usual. but i noticed that although you highlight chelsea away at newcastle as a favorable match up, you do not recommend any chelsea players. personally, i think this could be drogba's week to do the business ...

  2. Anonymous11:47 AM

    I don't have a team ready, usually when i don't have a team ready by wednesday, i score poorly.

  3. no howard, k davies and balotelli... why?

  4. Anonymous11:56 AM

    No love for Gordon in goal for Sund? He's played 3 games and averaged great over the span, managing to stay in the black in each despite letting in 2 last weekend. Sund may not be a guaranteed win against Wolves, but their defense has a decent chance of holding.


  5. Anonymous11:59 AM

    surely tim howard deserves a mention?

  6. Evatt plays for BPool, probably not the best match up away to pick him.

    Just a heads up :D

  7. I agree that I was negligent in omitting Drogba - if you have the money, he should be a great start against NUFC and Krul (minus Williamson/Collocini).

    On Howard...quick review - number of matches where he's gone into double digit points...4; number of matches where he's been under 5...10. Hard for me to get excited about him even at home against WBA.

    On Gordon, he's played three matches and had two double digit performances but I'm not convinced by Sunderland on the road. Not a BAD choice and not a bad idea to keep him if you have him cheap but Jussi is a much better choice at home in my opinion and the prices are about equal.

  8. Anonymous12:55 PM

    which one is better? rooney/yaya toure to bent/jarvs or meireles/defoe

  9. Thank you Neal and Jeremy, many thanks. Happy Thanksgiving!

    As much as Blackpool have had a run of poor form and Bolton are red hot, I have this sneaking suspicion that this is one of those weeks where they surprise everyone. I've sitll managed to surpress that suspicion and keep Davies, Lee and Jussi in my squad, but there's something in my gut that says be wary. Never bet on or against Bolton still apply?

    I'm thinking of putting in Crouchy against his old club...

  10. Anonymous5:21 PM

    what about aston villa vs arsenal? how will they go? will; downing do well?

  11. Jambulani10:13 PM

    is brunt going to play? is gyan still injured?

  12. -I dumped Gyan personally, DBent is back and Welbeck had a brace.
    -I'm a big anit-Ar5ena1 fan, but wow. saw higlights of that 'dive'. Shameful ref. no where NEAR a dive. what was the ref thinking?!
    -Spurs have only 2 CS in all competition so far. I'm not liking a CS for Hutton.
    - Goood advice as always for the readers....

  13. Anonymous1:35 AM

    Spurs will not keep a CS

  14. Anonymous7:16 AM

    Happy Thanksgiving Neal and Jeremy!

    It's only apt that I take this opportunity to thank u guys for your dedication to this blog and the game. Without u guys, fantasy football would be akin to epl without wenger and fergie (of course to some gooners that might sound not too bad an idea :P)

  15. Anonymous8:30 AM

    Yeah, thanks for the blog guys, I love it.

    DiSanto / Coleman
    Piquionne / Koscielny

    What do you guys think ...? I prefer the first but have this gut feeling that Pico is due for some goals at home.

  16. richard_pitts_200012:44 PM

    Do you think the weather is likely to be a factor? It's snowing in the North East right now. Makes me kind of edgy about Chelski players

  17. gunnermetal5:24 PM

    happy thx giving.. u guys r awesome..
    wenger envies you

  18. as you know i am a big supporter of your blog, but i want to point out a little tiny mistake. elmander at home is not a good thing. it has been over 2 years since he scored a goal at home. but i noticed something, that he is gettings assists at home lately. i picked him, but am not expecting a goal.

  19. Elmander scored twice last week - at home. I picked him up too, hoping for a repeat.

  20. Elmander got two goals and an assist same like KDavies last time out against yoyo Newcastle . He just starting to score at home and the form should continue. I'm also wary of Newcastle Chelsea match - weather alert

  21. One big THANK YOU and Happy Turkey Day, Jeremy and Neal!

    BTW I just want to say ditto to RVP. He was amazing last season when he was actually playing. He easily managed 10-12 pts per game without an assist or goal.

  22. Anonymous4:11 AM

    how about berbatov?
    he will play?
    someone help me!!!!

  23. sorry all i thought that was an away game. i stand corrected and am even happier that i picked up elmander now.

  24. Anonymous4:09 AM

    Just put a sock in it greginho.