The Week Ahead

So, I'm going to keep writing about this until it is picked up as a major story.  I've mentioned it a few times already in First Impressions but has anyone noticed the job that Sir Alex is doing at ManYoo this season? Seriously.  Just incredible.  And, yes, I still consider it to be incredible despite the @sskicking that they got from West Ham in the Carling Cup in mid-week.  Why is it incredible?

ManYoo is at the top of the table after 15 matches despite:
  • Having started the really pretty poor Jonny Evans at center back in 6 of those 15 matches;
  • Having a way sub-par Patrice Evra for nearly all of those matches;
  • Having Valencia for only two matches;
  • Having exactly 1 league goal from Rooney all season (and that was a PK vs. WHU);
  • Having goals in only 5 of the 15 matches from his other big name striker (Berbs);
  • Having two of your best three remaining midfielders about ready to enter retirement homes and generally unable to start on a regular basis (Scholes has started 9 of 15 and Giggs 5, two of which he left before the 60th minute);
  • Having no idea who his starting right back is or should be;
  • Having modestly talented central midfielders in Park, Fletcher, Carrick, and Anderson.
Somehow, this ragtag bunch of underachievers, kids, solid-but-not-spectacular players, aging/injured stars, Nani, and Vidic hadn't lost a match in any competition until the mid-week match against West Ham where they trotted out a group that was clearly second choice even by the standards of the list above and in most years would look third choice at ManYoo or any of the other top clubs.

Contrast this with what's going on at Chelsea.  Yes, they're only two points behind ManYoo in the standings but they're there based on the strength of the points accumulated when they were at full health.  Since they were hit by injuries and suspensions to players as critical as those lost by ManYoo, Chelsea have crumbled to the point where they have clearly lost all of the intimidation factor they built up early in the season with their crushing victories and run of not giving up any goals at home. 

Now, I'd imagine that if asked before November what the average fan thought of Anceloti as a manager they would have looked at his record at Milan and Chelsea thus far and said, pretty darn good manager.  The results speak for themselves - lots of titles.  So if we assume that ol' Carlo hasn't forgotten how to manage in the last month, then we have to assume that even a really good manager at a very well-to-do club is prone to a bad month when hit with injuries and suspensions.  Taking that thought forward, it is all the more impressive that after FOUR months of injuries, suspensions, poor play, and lack of funds to buy replacements for Scholes, Giggs, GNev, and Rio that SAF HADN'T LOST A GAME.  Just amazing.  And this from an Arsenal supporter.  I never have been nor will I ever be a SAF apologist but all credit where it is due - in the hands of even a better-than-average manager this would be a mid-table team after 15 matches.

OK, enough gushing over Sir Alex and the job he's doing at ManYoo, on to the week ahead.

I like the way last week's column worked out so I'm sticking with the format.  Here are the matches that APPEAR to create advantage for one team or the other broken down into the matches that ACTUALLY create advantage for fantasy managers and those that will fool you if you just look at the standings:

Real Advantage
  • Arsenal vs. Fulham - Fulham just aren't playing very well right now, they're injured, and they've been a bad road team for quite some time. Throw in a trip to a big team and you've got a recipe for a bunch of goals for Arsenal (but I wouldn't bet too heavily on the clean sheet for the home team)
  • ManYoo @ Blackpool - Blackpool rediscovered some of their magic last weekend although they missed out on collecting all three points, they have tended to wilt when faced with stronger competition and ManYoo are starting to get their pieces back in place.
  • Liverpool vs. Villa - Villa have been a very bad road team and Liverpool have been pretty strong at home - throw in Villa's injuries and Liverpool getting stronger contributions from Lucas and Meireles down the spine and this looks like maybe 3-1 to the home side.
Don't Get Fooled
  • Chelsea vs. Everton - Everton aren't very good right now but neither are Chelsea and given the prices for Chelsea players, you probably want to stay away.  There's a chance of a 4-3 scorefest but in my estimation there's just as good a chance of a 0-0 stinker.
  • Spurs @ Brum - Don't take this as me dissing Spurs but Foster has been coming up big against strong opposition and Brum have taken points from top half teams Chelsea, Citeh, Bolton, Sunderland, and Liverpool. That Spurs will be missing VDV won't help either.
  • Sunderland vs. WHU -  Top half hosting 20th place is usually a guaranteed win but with Sunderland's central defense still hurting and WHU's attack coming around the match-up looks better on paper than it is in reality for SUN.
  • Chamakh - Definitely a keeper if you have him cheap but also worth considering if you need to pay retail.
  • Obinna - He's just on fire and Sunderland will still be without Bramble and Turner (until Feb or so) so I'm bullish on attackers playing second string Sunderland defenders.
  • Balotelli - Great potential value if you're looking for one.
  • Di Santo - Wigan just don't have too many other choices right now and he's cheap.
  • Rooney - You can just feel the outburst coming.
  • Welbeck/DBent - I DO think Sunderland will score some against WHU and I could even see both forwards being well into the points.
  • Berbs - Keep him if you've got him in the low teens, don't buy retail this week.
  • Nani - Really THE premium midfielder to have right now but a bit overpriced if you're buying retail.  Definitely a keeper at 15 and under.
  • MGP - He's been hot but his price is a little higher than I'd like to see, another keeper but at the upper edge of his value at home against Wolves.
  • DDunn - A much more interesting value assuming he doesn't tweak a hammy on his way out of the locker room or something.
  • Nasri - I hope that he scores because I have written extensively at this point about the fact that he isn't too useful when he doesn't score. [Jeremy's note: Nasri a slight doubt, but expect him to play.]
  • Meireles -He's done well in Gerrard's absence and the match-up is solid.
  • Modric - I hate typing this because he's always killed me whenever I've had him but his price is good and Spurs will need someone to slot into VDV's spot as the creator.
  • Pennant - Hasn't REALLY hit on a regular basis but the potential is there if you decide to bail on VDV.
  • Wilshere - Not necessarily a long term solution with Cesc likely back in the next few weeks but if you're looking for an inexpensive one week solution, he's a pretty strong bet against Fulham at home. 
  • Jones - I like the chances of a clean sheet for Rovers with Wolves visiting and the home team likely fuming after the dismantling at the hands of United last weekend.
  • Kyrgiakos - He's scored well when he's started and his price has dropped.  With Carra's injury, his chances should increase greatly.
  • Coleman - I hate the match-up but I am willing to bet on him the weekend after I pick him and he does nothing for me - especially with Arteta out due to suspension.
  • Koscielny - I'm not particularly optimistic about an Arsenal clean sheet but at his price, he's worth a gamble (while you spend the weekend praying that he doesn't get a stupid card of one color or another).
  • Rafael - Not exceptional value but the best way to get in on a strong ManYoo match-up.  Similar price to Rio but the England man has less upside than the Brazilian. 
  • Robbo - Great value with Wolves coming to town and a price under 4.
  • Fab21 - See Koscielny above - same logic, the price is solid and the win is extremely likely.
  • EvdS - Seems pretty likely to get a solid Win, CS, and a save or three but you'll pay for it.
  • Reina - I only hesitate because there's always the chance that Villa will realize that they have Gabby, AY, and Downing all starting for them and score a few goals.


  1. Good post, Neal. Even as a Liverpool supporter, it's hard to say a poor word about SAF this season. When he goes, United is going to have a hell of a time finding a suitable replacement. I can't wait for that day to come.

    Also, AY is suspended against Liverpool after a YC in the Carling Cup match, no?

  2. I've read somewhere that Balotelli might be injured from the Europa League game

  3. the link from yahoo

  4. Anonymous2:23 AM

    @Balotelli, we'll await further news but he was holding his side, doesn't look serious to me.

  5. Anonymous3:36 AM

    hey neal,

    Can we see another view from the Egypt man, Mohammed Killeney? just a thought anyway..

  6. Bojan3:59 AM



    * Intertoto Cup: 1



    * Coppa Italia: 1


    * Serie A: 1


    * Supercoppa Italiana: 1


    * UEFA Champions League: 2

    2003, 2007

    * UEFA Super Cup: 2

    2003, 2007

    * FIFA Club World Cup: 1


    Carlo won 1 league tittle in Serie A in 10 years as coach of then mighty Juve(with Zidane) and even stronger Milan... And even Rafa won Champions league...

  7. Bojan4:03 AM

    Porto (2002–2004)

    * 2003 Portuguese Liga
    * 2003 Portuguese Cup
    * 2003 UEFA Cup
    * 2003 Portuguese Super Cup
    * 2004 Portugese Liga
    * 2004 UEFA Champions League

    England Chelsea (2004–2007)

    * 2005 FA Premier League
    * 2005 League Cup
    * 2005 FA Community Shield
    * 2006 FA Premier League
    * 2007 League Cup
    * 2007 FA Cup

    Italy Internazionale (2008–2010)

    * 2008 Supercoppa Italiana
    * 2009 Serie A
    * 2010 Serie A
    * 2010 Coppa Italia
    * 2010 UEFA Champions League

  8. 5-0.......

  9. blogReader10:13 AM

    Neal, do you know the number which I can call to complain Yahoo?

    For Didier Drogba, from week8 to last week8, I don't what reason could keep his price over 20.

    It's ridiculous, I can't believe this.

    I want to complain so that Didier Drogba's price would drop.

    BTW: I like your blog so much I read it every week. Great job!

  10. Too Tall10:34 AM

    A few things (I'm not going to lie, I need help here, haha)...

    1 - I don't know much about EPL, but I play Y! FF for 1 reason only and that is to beat my husband and all his friends so I can brag about it. :)

    2 - Does anyone know if Boateng is playing? Apparently, I have had him for weeks and weeks and no one told me he's been hurt. FML! :)

    3 - Balotelli? Should I pick him up this week? This is who I currently have....

    A. Begovic at 5.75
    (market price 11.27)

    J. Boateng at 4.53
    (market price 7.00)

    G. Jara at 4.69
    (market price 5.33)

    S. Kyrgiakos at 8.84
    (market price 8.84)

    Nani at 15.21
    (market price 18.74)

    J. Wilshere at 5.73
    (market price 7.61)

    R. Meireles at 8.84
    (market price 8.84)

    L. Modric at 8.87
    (market price 8.87)

    A. Carroll at 7.04
    (market price 10.54)

    W. Rooney at 16.36
    (market price 16.36)

    D. Bent at 13.81
    (market price 13.81)

    Thanks to whoever can offer a helping hand! I truly appreciate it!!

  11. Anonymous9:28 PM

    no one likes etherington? elmander and 10 or balotelli at 5?

  12. No love for Torres, considering the "real advantage" of playing AY-less team at home? And he's only 14+...

  13. Bit nervy as I'm about to double up on United strikers for this weekend and bring in Obinna as the last member of my three-pronged attack...

  14. I hate Chelsea....but come on.

    Fat Frank has played only 3 games(less than shrek)
    Yousi has missed the whole season (almost)
    Bosingwa just came back
    Zhirkov has been out quite a bit

    Red nose has done a fantastic job, but they are not 2 pts ahead of a full strength Chelski. Drogs getting Malaria made them rely to much on le sulk and malouda for goals.