The Week Ahead

With so much fixture congestion, there's a lot to get to this week and precious little time in which to do it.  In an effort to make things a little more compact, here are a few thoughts from mid-week before we dive into the analysis for this week.

  • Chelsea - Don't let the 1-0 scoreline fool you, it could have been a lot more but for some bad luck and Kalou just not being very good in front of net. #Workmanlike
  • ManYoo - In previous years, SAF would have found a way to win the derby despite being something short of full strength  #StillScrappy
  • Arsenal - A solid away win to at least stop the momentum going in the wrong direction. Remains to be seen  #Rebound
  • Citeh - I disagree with the majority when I say that I saw yesterday as a positive for Citeh, they lost two heartbreakers to United last year. #Progress
  • Bolton and Sunderland - Outside of the top 4, they are the only two clubs who have won more than they've lost. #Winners
  • Spurs - Tied with 5 other clubs on 16 points and the balance of the first half doesn't look good with only 3 bottom half teams left to play and two of those on the road. #MediocreFirstHalf
  • Draws - Over a third of all Premier League matches (41 of 120) have ended in a draw thus far this season up markedly from a rate of less than 25% over the last two seasons. #KissingYourSister
  • Drogs/FloMal/Bale - The core of a fantastic fantasy team for the first six weeks or so, high-priced anchors since. #Slumping
  • Barton - The only solace for fantasy managers is that he didn't get caught and red carded during the match. #Goon.
  • Everton Players - Coleman and Yak disappointed as they were rotated (after reports were that they'd be making no changes). #Liars
  • Fab21 - I've been stuck between giving players the hook too early (Zhirkov, Fab21, and Brunt) and too late (Drogs, FloMal, Bale) this season. #Frustrating.
  • Chamakh - Great day for him with the rare brace 90 minutes apart but I'm still not sold on him as a consistent fantasy option. #AllHeDoesIsScoreGoals
  • Torres - Glad I kept him but it may be too much to ask for goals in consecutive away matches. #Homer
ScheduleOne of the by-products of the proliferation of draws in the Premier League as well as the general bunching in the standings means that it's hard to really call much of an advantage between teams at this point in the season.  Take, for instance, a potential match-up between the current 5th place team (Newcastle) and the current 14th place team (Blackpool).  Most seasons, there would be enough separation to at least get some sense that the team in 5th is markedly superior to the one in 14th.  This season, after 12 matches, the difference is one win...3 points...a shot deflecting off of a beach ball.

Why am I mentioning this? Because this means that a match that LOOKS like there should be an advantage like Spurs (7th) hosting Rovers (13th) is much closer than it would appear as the two teams are separated by 1 point in the standings.  Not exactly indicative of an advantage that you'd want to overload your fantasy roster over.

Where does this leave us? For me, it leaves me thinking that Citeh over Birmingham is the only real match that you should be thinking about doubling down on.  If you need another one then maybe Chelsea hosting Sunderland because despite Chelsea's modest recent form they're still undefeated and un-scored upon at Stamford Bridge.  The rest are pretty much even match-ups with slightly better teams generally playing on the road against slightly weaker teams - hard to say whether talent or home field will win out in that sort of match-up. 

  • Tevez - Like the match-up and I can't justify buying Drogs with the malaria and all
  • Torres - In form and not facing an impossible task on the road vs. Stoke
  • Odemwingie - He's back and he marked his return with a goal and a 18.5 point week.  He's a bit expensive as a result but still a solid buy.
  • CCole - He didn't get the points in mid-week but West Ham have been scoring and a home match against a Blackpool team that definitely allows goals could mean a breakthrough.  Honestly, I wouldn't advise against any of CCole, Obinna, or Piquionne
  • Gyan - The price is going up but he's been worth it.  Can he be the first away player to get a goal at the Bridge?
  • Davies - I think it's his turn to get the points over Elmander.
  • Cleverley - Sort of an odd choice I know but I've been waiting for him to break out and home vs. WBA seems like a good idea.
  • Adam - Rested at mid-week unexpectedly but should be back to his normal production
  • Silva - Like the match-up but there's always the chance he'll be rotated for AJ so take this one with the grain of salt.  He could really use a break-out match.
  • Milijas - He's been nothing but solid since he joined the starting line-up.
  • Holden - The price is inching up but the production remains consistent if not spectacular
  • Gerrard - Still waiting for the breakout match to put an exclamation point on Liverpool's return to solidity.
  • Bilyaletdinov - If he starts again, I like the value here even against the third place team - the wings are a solid place to attack Arsenal.
  • Albrighton - Clearly the third place option in Villa's midfield in midweek but even when he's third he got 7.5 points for not much more than that.
  • Guthrie - If he's the Barton replacement then there's some upside possible - especially if he's taking kicks.
  • Kolarov - Here's hoping he finally comes good on the promise from the beginning of the season
  • Anyone from Chelsea -With a clean sheet virtually guaranteed you can't go too far wrong making the investment
  • Boateng/Kompany -Not as cheap as Kolarov but more likely to start and play enough for the very likely clean sheet
  • Stam - Hard to get too excited about a lot of the defending options with so few clean sheets this season - Stam is cheap, so he's got that going for him.
  • Hutton - I'm still holding out hope that Spurs get a clean sheet one of these matches, not holding my breath but holding out hope.
  • Squillaci - Not sure if you should expect two road clean sheets in a row but the price isn't a bad one to pay for the possibility against Everton.
  • Hart - Better value than Cech who is also a pretty solid bet even at his elevated price
  • Gomes - See Hutton - not bad value
  • Krul - Not really excited about this choice but better than Carson on the road if you're looking cheap


    1. Anonymous10:51 PM

      first!!! huhuhu..

    2. Obinna/Malouda/Gerrard or Drogba/Holden/Adam?

    3. Changed my mind slightly, actually...Drogba/Adam or Malouda/Gerrard?

      Thanks everybody.

    4. Anonymous11:33 PM

      Malouda/Gerrard. Can't justify drogba just now.

    5. Anonymous12:14 AM

      what about kelly from liverpool as a defensive option?

    6. Anonymous12:33 AM

      cleverly confirm start?sometimes he is on bench

    7. Anonymous1:07 AM

      "ManYoo - In previous years, SAF would have found a way to win the derby despite being something short of full strength #StillScrappy"

      I don't quite understand what you're trying to say. First of all, Roberto Mancini has a stronger squad than a year ago, and more composed defensively. Do you not remember that Chelsea lost and were shut out by Manchester city this year at the same stadium?

      I'm sorry, I have to disagree with you. I believe Manchester United played a really good game considering their key injuries in Rooney, Valencia and Giggs. Congrats to City for defending with all their might, but I applaud Manchester United for a good game and going there to win it. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, but progress I definitely saw...the hunger that they've been missing on away matches all season seems to be back.

    8. No mention of Van Der Vaart? Any reason I dont know about??

    9. Anonymous2:48 AM

      is Lee of Bolton worth considering, as he been playing well lately?

    10. Anonymous5:35 AM

      Wouldn't slate is beloved Arsenal same way

    11. Anonymous7:09 AM

      Is FBFDB back on the radar? (thats former blog favorite david bently for those who dont know)

    12. alex d.9:31 AM

      @ anon, 7:09AM re: FBFDB

      "Spurs have injury problems: Defoe, Dawson, King, Keane, Lennon are still out, while Pavluchenko, Huddlestone & Bentley are all doubtful. Van Der Vaart's hamstring is ok so he'll continue."
      from the Assistant Manager blog:

    13. Neal: But you and Jeremy LOVE YOU some Nani. Why no mention. Played 90 mid-week - is he ship shape for another full run?

    14. Anonymous9:54 PM

      Hey Neal,

      Great work, as always. The example, however, of the hypothetical match-up between Newcastle and Blackpool got bells ringing for me, and I had to check the schedule to make sure and discover the match-up this week is actually newcastle/fulham and westham/blackpool.

      Just mentioning it if ever others have the confusion :)

      Also, no mention of Holden (Mr Consistent)?

      Good luck to all!