The Week Ahead - Christmas Edition

It's been a frustrating week all the way around for fans of the Premier League (unless you pull for Everton or Sunderland).  Between the postponements and the poor quality of the matches that were played last weekend it felt like we had an international weekend on our hands.  It meant we got to read more about the ever-tedious Tevez drama that appears to be much sound and fury signifying nothing.  The global financial crisis has robbed us of the usual insanity related to transfer rumors.  Usually we can count on at least one or two mid-table clubs with excessive money to spend and a wishlist of players who have no interest in playing for them.  In years past we could also generally count on ManYoo and Liverpool along with Chelsea and Spurs to have shopping lists that would keep us knee-deep in interesting rumors on days without matches.  This year, ManYoo and Liverpool seem to have next to no money to spend while Chelsea seem to have scaled way back on the crazy spending and Spurs seem to have one or two modest targets but not too much to write home about.  Heck, there aren't even international matches to keep us vaguely interested while we're waiting.  After all that, we STILL have to wait until Sunday for the matches.  It's been tough but we're close to making it through.  It will be a merry day-after-Christmas once the matches start up again on Boxing Day.

Where we make the distinction between the matches that will yield real value for fantasy managers and the ones that just LOOK like they'll yield value.

Real Value
  • Fulham vs. WHU - Fulham aren't that great but West Ham are just dire, especially on the road. 
  • Wolves vs. Wigan - See above
Don't Be Fooled
  • ManYoo vs. Sunderland - I'm not saying that ManYoo will lose but what I do know is that Sunderland play up to the level of their competition.
  • Citeh @ NUFC - Because you just can't predict what Newcastle will do from week-to-week with enough fidelity to go too heavily against them at home.
  • Doyle/SEB - Ebanks-Blake is in better form but Doyle is the better player.  I certainly wouldn't go with two Wolves forwards but one isn't a bad low-cost part of your fantasy portfolio this weekend.
  • Agbonlahor - I'm a much bigger fans of midfielders this weekend so he's another excellent low-cost, high upside option.
  • Rooney - Pretty crazy that you can even get him for less than Odemwingie this weekend.  In a week that doesn't offer much of interest in terms of forwards, I'd put him highest on the list of expensive options.
  • Milijas - I know our regular readers who are Wolves fans aren't nearly as excited about Milijas as we are - textbook fantasy player.  That said, he's at home with a good match-up so this is a solid time to pick him up. 
  • Rodwell - Another cheap option that will help you get to more premium players in your line-up.
  • Nani - He's been exceptional since the third weekend of the season and I'd look for it to continue - even at his current price.
  • Dempsey - Deuce is expensive, especially given his production this season, but he'll be playing at home, as a forward, against the bottom team in the league.  If you're ever going to splurge on him, this is the weekend to do it.
  • Cahill - I really don't like recommending Cahill because his value is so tied up in him scoring but with the match-up being solid and him playing at home, I like him more this weekend than most.
  • Salcido - He hasn't been everything we'd hoped he'd be (we were hoping for Bale-light) but he's been among the best scoring defenders this season and his price is reasonable and his match-up is great.
  • Elokobi - Again, this is a potential value pick.  He's not going to put up Bale numbers but he might get you 7 or 8 points for a cost of 5.  Not bad. 
  • Salgado -Rovers have been playing tight defense (a disappointing equalizer last weekend aside) and Salgado is the cheapest way in.
  • Coleman - His value is generally coming from his attacking statistics but he has a reasonable chance at points from both attacking and defending this weekend.
  • Kompany - His price has dipped and he represents solid value even though I don't love him or Citeh this weekend.
  • Hennessey - Another really interesting value play from Wolves.  One word of caution, they're still the 19th team in the table so I'd refrain from going overboard.
  • Hart - His price may have fallen on the heels of the loss to Everton, if so, he's nice value for the upcoming weekend where the match-up is OK.  
  • Howard - Yeah, I know I've been killing him both in my posts and on chats but both he and Everton have done what I asked and played well for a couple of weeks in a row including a big match against Citeh.  Hard not to like the idea of getting on board with a home match against a poor road team. 
I have to say, I'm not particularly thrilled about the match-ups this weekend.  When you're making predictions there are some weekends you feel great about the team and/or recommendations you come up with and there are weekends that you don't get too many strong feelings at all.  This is the latter.  That said, we all still have to come up with the best selections we can and that's what I've tried to bring you.  So, I wish all of our readers a fantastic Christmas (or, if you don't celebrate it, I hope you have a great weekend) and the gift of strong convictions in your picks this weekend.  Oh yeah, please wish me a great Monday with Arsenal playing Chelsea.


  1. Anonymous5:41 PM

    Have a great Monday, Neal.

  2. Anonymous8:22 PM

    so how's the weather there?

  3. gunnermetal12:07 AM

    thanks merry christmas and a happy monday

  4. Anonymous3:18 AM

    thanks for the excellent recommendations :)

  5. Anonymous4:33 AM

    MPet and Elmander or (Christmas)Carrol and Rooney???

  6. Anonymous4:44 AM

    Carroll and Rooney is the smarter choice, I'm gambling on Elmander I say a gamble because his form hasn't been great off late :( I'm also giving Balotelli one last chance

  7. Anonymous5:53 AM

    Balotelli will start on the bench Mancini has said

  8. Sincerely, Mancini never said Balotelli will start on the bench...
    He ONLY said Balo should work harder and be more positive in order to become the top player he sees in him.
    I'm often amazed at people's interpretations of quotes...
    Note that Mancini is not just a coach to Balotelli, he's also a fan.

  9. Anonymous9:41 AM

    It's better for him to start from bench, he will be poor fanatsy player anyway, but with more minutes on pitch there is bigger chance for him to get sent off. He is out of my team.

  10. Anonymous10:08 AM

    I was a big fan of Balotelli until watching him play the past two weeks. He's probably good for another 30 point week eventually (I mean, Silva and Tevez play him in all alone a couple of times a game), but in between he's going to kill you (and Citeh). The guy's a like the void - stuff goes in to him but never comes out again. I figured he's the reason Tevez is so homesick. Makes you wonder how bad Ade must be in training . . .

  11. Anonymous11:19 AM

    Keep your opinions to yourselves, we all have eyes and brains, Balotelli is starting surely and at 5.7 he's in my team.

  12. Doctor Teeth12:26 PM

    Happy holidays...thanks for your time and efforts on this blog!

    A few comments on your picks for this week:

    (1) Rodwell will likely be back on the bench with the return of Arteta (and with Coleman taking up a MF spot).

    (2) I think Dempsey is arguably THE pick for this weekend...and I'm not sure I follow your derisive comment re: his production this season. All the guy has done from Week 5 onward is average 10.26 points/game, going for double digits in 8 out of those 13 weeks. Only two guys named Drogba and Tevez have more SOTs than Clint this season.

    (3) Carlos Salcido "among the best scoring defenders this season?" Really? In 8/10 games played he has returned 6 points or less. I suppose there is always the potential for him to blow up in a match - and at home against the Hammers, why not? - but I would hardly call him a consistent points producer.

  13. not betting on or against Bolton then? Ive decided to really go against the rules...

  14. Anonymous4:18 PM

    Sorry Neal Jeremy but your quality of picks / Research has fallen considerably

    1- Doyle is injured and unlikely to play
    2- Rodwell may well NOT play as Arteta comes back and Coleman is unlikely to drop to the bench having impressed moyes (unless he decides to move Arteta to RM which is silly as he is a playmaker who needs to be CM)

    I can think of very good recommendations omitted as well.

    No offence meant in any way but the AM blog is a far better resource at the moment.

  15. "No offence meant in any way but the AM blog is a far better resource at the moment."

    This is a personal blog. If you don't like the picks, you are free to propose and decide on "better" picks yourself. Or stay away. Any comparison with other blogs is just not appropriate.

  16. Anonymous8:14 AM

    Thank you for recommend DEMPSEY !!!!
    that was GREATTTT...........

  17. Anonymous1:03 AM

    u are unlucky this week man. ur "real values" and "don't be fools" became a trap.

    nani didn't play and none of the players u mentioned really perform that well this week.

    not blaming on u. we are all blaming on our luck!!

  18. Anonymous10:06 AM

    Great predicitions on real value vs dont be fooled.

  19. the week ahead.. I don't want to even think of it...
    Have a good day!!!

  20. i hope the week ahead would be great....
    Have a good day!!