Fantasy Fail

Fantasy Focus: September Squad of the Month - Fantasy - ESPN Soccernet
Dale Johnson picks out the top fantasy performers from September's Premier League fixtures.
Um, yeah. Ok...

We don't pick on other players in the game. Writing about fantasy sports can be challenging and everyone's got an angle.  And I like the ESPN crew and miss their fantasy podcasts.

But this is ridiculous. Anyone care to read about last month's good picks? If so, we'll just save The Week Ahead and run it in place of the Monday Morning Manager.

Zabaleta blow for City

Zabaleta blow for City - Yahoo! Eurosport
Roberto Mancini has confirmed Pablo Zabaleta will miss Manchester City's Premier League clash with Newcastle on Sunday.
The Argentinean defender suffered a hamstring strain during the 1-1 Europa League draw with Juventus at Eastlands which Mancini believes is serious enough to make sure he is not involved against the Magpies.

So to Neal's point about Kompany in The Week Ahead, I would throw in Boyata and Boateng as good pick ups as well. The one caveat would be Richards' health. If he's back, and he was in the matchday squad for Juventus but didn't make the bench, there are only two spots for three players.

The Week Ahead - Week 7 Edition

Renewing aquiantances.

So, here we go again.  Will rational results return to the world of fantasy (and real world) football? Or will the somewhat chaotic results that have marked the first six weeks of the season continue.  Certainly the English teams got things going in the Champions League with four wins in four matches (granted, they were all quite different matches from Chelsea cruising to Arsenal's wild performance to ManYoo grinding to Spurs' even wilder performance).  The Europa Cup, not so much with Liverpool and Citeh both picking up a single point for their Thursday efforts.  Throw in some uncertainty over Rooney's injury status and we really don't know what kind of week we're in for.

Beat the Bloggers - Week Six

Week six is in the books.  Here are your weekly winners and overall leaders.

This week's big winner, "GB1234", got big points from Foster, Kompany, Nani, Nasri and Obinna. Congratulations on a week well played!

For comparison, your bloggers are at:

There are a dozen spots remaining in "Beat the Bloggers" private group #9.
Group ID = 16593
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Fabregas will miss Chelsea clash

Cesc Fabregas will miss Chelsea clash | Mail Online
Arsene Wenger claimed earlier this week that Fabregas had 'a little hope' of facing the champions.

But the Arsenal boss is unwilling to risk further damage to his prize asset, particularly with an international break on the horizon...

Wenger is already without first-team regulars Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner for the match.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and centre-back Thomas Vermaelen also face fitness tests, while there are worries over young midfielder Jack Wilshere after he was subbed in the 3-1 win at Partizan Belgrade on Tuesday.

Wenger said: 'Jack got a few knocks in the first half and I decided to be cautious with him.'
Plus ca change for the Gunners.

First Impressions and Second Thoughts - Week 6

What a weekend it was.  First Chelsea dropped their first points of the season and then the other top half teams spurned the opportunity to make up significant ground one after the other from Arsenal's embarrassment at home against WBA to Spurs loss at Upton Park followed by Liverpool's draw with Sunderland and finally ManYoo's draw at Bolton.  At the end of the weekend, what we had was a much more interesting table in which Citeh made significant progress while all of the others showed more weakness.  The interesting thing for me coming out of the weekend is that no one really blew me away.  Here are some quick thoughts to close out the week that was in the Premier League.

Wayne Rooney set to miss three weeks

Wayne Rooney set to miss England's Euro qualifier against Montenegro | Football |
Wayne Rooney looks certain to miss England's Euro 2012 qualifier at home to Montenegro next month after Sir Alex Ferguson said the striker would be out for two to three weeks with an ankle injury.

Rooney did not travel today with Manchester United to Valencia for tomorrow's Champions League game because of the problem, which he aggravated at Bolton Wanderers on Sunday. He will also not feature in United's Premier League game at Sunderland this weekend.

Scholes too...
United will also be without Paul Scholes until after the international break. The midfielder also misses tomorrow's game, because of a calf injury, and Ferguson said the former England player would be out for 10 days.

And of course Giggs as well...
Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs faces a spell out of the first team after picking up a hamstring injury.

Giggs had to be taken off in the 53rd minute during the 2-2 draw against Bolton Wanderers. The club will assess Giggs' injury over the next few days but manager Sir Alex Ferguson says it's likely he'll be out for at least two weeks.
SAF's team starts to pick itself, doesn't it? Park. Carrick? Owen or Chicharito?

Eyeing the Schedule

Recommendations on teams (Buy, Hold, or Sell) based on their schedules through the month of October.

Green escapes punishment

And then, all at once, profile photos were changed across the world. Photo courtesy of
Robert Green will be contacted by the Football Association following the West Ham United goalkeeper's abusive gesture towards the press box at the close of his team's 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

There will be no formal action from the governing body but it will remind him of his responsibilities after he reacted to criticism of his recent performances with an "up yours" gesture to the media as he left the pitch.

Green produced a fine display at Upton Park following a clumsy start to the season that drew speculation that his torrid World Cup – he was at fault for the USA equaliser in England's opening group game – was continuing to trouble him.

After a Frédéric Piquionne goal gave Avram Grant's team a first Premier League win of the season, Green walked off the pitch and offered a provocative motion of his arms to the press box that was his apparent response to the criticism.

Hey, Robert... bold gestures are nice, but it's possibly a little late for them. Why don't you put a string of good matches together and then, and only then, maybe we'll agree to stop talking about this:

Lampard still out for Blues

Sky Sports | Football | Premier League | News | Lampard still out for Blues
Chelsea have confirmed midfielder Frank Lampard is still at least a fortnight away from returning to first-team action.

Lampard has been sidelined since undergoing hernia surgery at the end of last month which saw him miss England's opening Euro 2012 qualifiers....
The 32-year-old will now be unavailable for Tuesday's European clash at home to Marseille and Sunday's London derby with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have also revealed that Lampard will not be ready to feature in England's next Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro on 12th October...

It therefore appears likely that Lampard will be in contention for a recall for the 16th October trip to Aston Villa.

The Barn Door Live - Week 6

Welcome to our weekly chat where we discuss the matches as we watch them and discuss who managers should be considering picking up in advance of price changes.

Recap after the jump.

Injuries and Suspensions - Week 6

Premier League team news - Barclays Premier League - ESPN Soccernet

Manchester City v Chelsea
Lampard, Kalou and Benayoun are out for Chelsea. Ferreira likely to be back on the bench. Meanwhile, Manchester City face a defensive crisis.

Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion
Vermaelen and Fabregas are out with Diaby, Rosicky, and Eboue maybes. Song is back from suspension.

For WBA, Thomas and Tamas are doubts

Birmingham City v Wigan Athletic
Carr should be back, and Beausejour is pushing for a place. Wigan is missing Tom Cleverly, but everyone else save for Hendry Thomas is expected to be fit.

Blackpool v Blackburn Rovers
Baptiste is out for months for Blackpool, and Rovers are still missing David Dunn.

Fulham v Everton
Dembele's injury means starts up top for Dempsey and Eddie Johnson or Zoltan Gera. Everton have Hibbert, Saha, Rodwell and Anichebe out. Cahill and Osman are doubts. Does this mean a start for Seamus Coleman?

Liverpool v Sunderland
Liverpool's starters will return though good luck guessing where they will play - Miereles off Torres again? Sunderland will have Bramble, but not KRich, AFerdinand, Turner (doubt) or Mensah. Look for Da Silva or Onuoha to play with Al-Muhammadi to drop into defence. Andy Reid was an unused sub in midweek after coming on late against Arsenal. He will be one to watch, and will certainly devalue Henderson as a fantasy option.

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
Modric and Corluka are back. Hutton becomes a bit of a gamble now though he is "expected to keep his place". There should be spots for both Modric and van der Vaart as Bale might be in defence with Assou-Ekotto doubtful.

More as we get it...

The Week Ahead - Week 6 Edition

Roman, with other shiny things to look at other than the Carling Cup.  Photo courtesy Daily Mail.

Funny thing, sometimes I really have to think a little bit about what I want to write at the beginning of what usually turns into a really long column and sometimes the events of the week just sort of speak to me.  With the remarkable events of the last two days in the Carling Cup, this one just sort of wrote itself as I watched yesterday's events unfold via textcast (here in the States we're generally at work when mid-week matches are happening unless it's a really big one and we can find a way to take an "extended lunch meeting" at a strategic time).  Here are my observations about what the Carling Cup results this week showed us as part of overall trends (I trust you can find the specifics of what went on during the actual matches in a lot of other places) and somewhere in here you'll find a valuable lesson about having the proper respect for the concept of Momentum:
  • Don't Talk Smack Above Your Weight - Harry Redknapp spent some time criticizing Wenger and Arsenal for playing their young players in the Carling Cup despite not having won anything in the last several years.  Then 'arry shows up with a less experienced line-up than Wenger and while he should have only lost 1-0 in regulation (Keane was pretty obviously offside on Spurs lone goal) he ended up being embarrassed as his young players wilted and made stupid plays where Arsenal's have matured into a group capable of being a credible second team rather than merely a youth team.  That's what happens after a few years of being blooded in the Carling Cup at a young age, you're ready.  If Harry was going to talk smack like that, he probably should have started a line-up that had a better chance of winning.
  • What, Me Worry? - At Chelsea, there might be minor worries as a more experienced second team got taken down at home by a NUFC reserve squad but honestly, I don't think anyone at Chelsea really cares even a little bit about the Carling Cup at this point - it's Champions League/Premier League Double or bust at Stamford Bridge.  If they can win the FA Cup and/or Carling Cup along the way without hindering the primary goals, then that would be great too but if not, I'm sure Roman barely even looked up from whatever models he was, ahem, engaged with as NUFC was building their lead.
  • In Stark Contrast - Manchester City is far behind Chelsea in the nouveau riche game and let's face it, right now it just isn't looking very good - think the Chelski Era before Mourinho with David Silva starring as Arjen Robben and a similar array of over-rated and way overpriced English players dominating the roster.  The goal SHOULD be to win something to show progress and start building momentum but in fielding a roster of guys no one but their families have ever heard of Citeh makes us wonder where all the money has gone.  Sure, Chelsea is coming town this weekend and it is admirable that they want to put their best foot forward but if I'm thinking about this strategically, they'd probably have been better served putting a strong Carling Cup line-up out there and a few kids out against Chelsea.  Chelsea is going to beat them regardless and at least they could play the injury card then.  As it stands, they've now lost a cup match against a much less talented opponent and they'll follow that up by losing against Chelsea at the weekend.  That seat getting a bit warm Mr. Mancini?
  • Oh, Liverpool - Jeremy and I really enjoyed the introduction of Jonjo Shelvey (who looks like he has potential to be an excellent fantasy player down the line - attacking midfielder who takes kicks and is a strong passer) but when you pull off Ryan Babel who you paid I-don't-remember-how-much-but-it-was-a-lot for and you're hoping that's what saves the day, you a) haven't managed well; b) haven't acquired players well; or c) both.  As you'll recall, Arsenal started a weaker line-up against Spurs but they brought on Arsh and ChamWow when they wanted to push for the win.  Liverpool brought on an 18 year old who played in League One last season.  Like Citeh, Liverpool lacked respect for the concept of Momentum.  Chelsea have enough outside of the Carling Cup that they can thumb their nose at such a minor setback.  Citeh and Liverpool (and to a lesser extent Spurs) need all the success experiences they can get at this point after starting the season off in disastrous form compared to the expectations of them.  
  • Yet More Contrast - West Brom have Big Mo' on their side right about now.  After getting their @ss-whipping at Stamford Bridge out of the way the first week it's been just about nothing but upside for the Baggies.  Odemwingie comes into the roster.  Win vs. Sunderland. Win vs. Leyton Orient in the Carling Cup.  Respectable 1-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield. Draw vs. Spurs. Win over Birmingham.  Win over Citeh.  With the common wisdom being that they'd be relegated straight away this season, they're playing with house money at this point.  The lesson? When you have things going your way - just keep doing what you're doing.
In any event, you have to figure it's now down to Arsenal vs. ManYoo for the Carling Cup unless one or both are eventually tripped up by someone else with Momentum on their side that wasn't given the proper respect.

Fabregas and Vermaelen not Back Until Chelsea Match

Diaby on course for West Brom comeback | News Archive | News |
Abou Diaby is hoping to return for the home game with West Brom on Saturday.

The midfielder has been out since injuring his ankle against Bolton a fortnight ago and will have a fitness test on Friday.

Tomas Rosicky (ankle) and Emmanuel Eboue (knee) also face examinations. Meanwhile Alex Song is back from suspension and Sebastien Squillaci (muscle) should return after being rested in midweek.

Apart from that Arsenal’s injury list is well known however, speaking on Thursday, Arsène Wenger did have greater clarity on the timescales involved. Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) is out for the next two games but has a chance of returning for the encounter at Stamford Bridge next Sunday. Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) is on a similar schedule.

Kieran Gibbs (foot) is almost certainly out this Saturday but any absence will be thankfully short. After limping out of the midweek victory at Tottenham, there were fears he had broken a metatarsal.

“The only player who could come back is Diaby,” said Wenger. “He will have a test on Friday morning and we will see from there.

Roberto Mancini admits defensive crisis

Roberto Mancini admits defensive crisis at Manchester City | Mail Online
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini claims he is desperately short of defensive options for Saturday's Barclays Premier League visit of Chelsea with Micah Richards a major doubt.
After last night's 2-1 Carling Cup defeat at West Bromwich Albion, City could have just three fit defenders for the clash at Eastlands.

Mancini will have only Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure available to face the only Premier League side left with a 100 per cent record unless Micah Richards recovers from a hamstring injury that kept him out at The Hawthorns.

Aleksandar Kolarov, Jerome Boateng and and Wayne Bridge are all currently sidelined.

'We have big problems,' he said. 'I hope that Micah Richards can recover. If not I don't know who can play left-back.'

If Richards misses out, it appears likely that Zabaleta will play on the right side and City would look for an alternative on the left flank. That could either involve Adam Johnson being pressed into emergency service, or more likely a midfielder such as James Milner or Gareth Barry.
Keep an eye out for your Citeh midfielders then. And perhaps it's a week to shy away from Joe Hart - as if with Chelsea visiting he wasn't already a stay-away. There will be better match-ups to come as Citeh next face Newcastle, @Blackpool, Arsenal and Wolves.

A Long Article on the Grim Financial State of Football

Soccer: Is European football eating itself - ESPN
UEFA, European soccer's governing body, will implement its Financial Fair Play scheme by the 2012-13 season. It will ban teams that spend more than they earn from continental competitions. Clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City would be in danger of missing out on the tournament, the Champions League, that they spend so heavily to gain access to.
For anyone interested in a solid review of the economics of the biggest clubs in the football world, click on the link above and give yourself some time to read.  For those not interested in the entire thing, I've extracted one paragraph related to UEFA's attempt to legislate some fiscal responsibility.  Assuming that Chelsea and Citeh are employing some of the highest profile players in the world and that they may well not meet UEFA's requirements, would you feel that the Champions League was significantly devalued by their absence?  Would you still watch knowing that there was an "uncrowned" potential champion sitting at home forced to watch from afar?

I'm curious to know if fans worldwide are willing to support UEFA if they try to create some financial sanity or if audiences will vote "no" to the changes by paying less attention and thus costing UEFA money in the form of reduced audiences in person and on television.

Fulham striker Moussa Dembele out for two weeks

Fulham striker Moussa Dembele out for two weeks following challenge from Stoke City's Andy Wilkinson - report -
Fulham manager Mark Hughes has received some good news as striker Moussa Dembele is only set to be out of action for two weeks following a horror challenge by Stoke City's Andy Wilkinson in the League Cup tie on Tuesday night, according to the Daily Mail.

The Cottagers had already seen striker Bobby Zamora ruled out for a considerable length of time with a leg-break and Hughes will be relieved to know that his forward line is not as depleted as first thought.

There were initial fears Dembele could be facing a lengthy spell out of action, but the £5 million summer signing from Dutch club AZ Alkmaar is set to return to the fold within two weeks
Hosting a desperate Everton side this weekend, do we see an all-USA frontline of Dempsey and Eddie Johnson? Or does Zoltan Gera move into the hole where he's always promised so much but delivered so little?

Asamoah Gyan Doubtful For Liverpool Clash

Back to the drawing board.

Asamoah Gyan Doubtful For Liverpool Clash | Football/Soccer |
Asamoah Gyan is a doubt for their English Premier League trip to Liverpool this Saturday.

Gyan scored on Tuesday night in the Black Cats 1-2 home defeat to West Ham to crash out of the Carling Cup but limped out on the hour mark...

“The most upsetting thing of the evening is that we have two or three players with soft tissue injuries and they’re struggling for Saturday,” Sunderland manager Bruce said.

“Kieran’s done his hamstring and we’ll see how bad it is. Ferdinand has a hamstring too. Gyan got a knock to his ribs and has hurt his hamstring. It’s very disappointing.”

It will be interesting to see if Bruce rushes Andy Reid back to the starting line-up after his cameo at the end of the Arsenal match. Also, does this derail McCartney's loan to Leeds? Or do we see Angeleri in the Premier League for the first time?

Beat the Bloggers - Week 5

Week five is in the books, and here are your weekly winners and overall leaders.

This week's big winner, "hottie", was in on Berbatov's hat trick but also got double digit returns from Bale, Ferriera, Malouda, Gardner, Barton and KJones.  The good ones make it seem easy.  Congratulations!

For comparison, your bloggers are at:

Finally, there is still room in "Beat the Bloggers" private group #9.
Group ID = 16593
Password = bloggers

Fabregas ruled out for two to three weeks

Right club, wrong incident. But you get the idea.

Fabregas ruled out for two to three weeks | News Archive | News |
Arsenal Football Club have confirmed that Cesc Fabregas will be out for two to three weeks.

The Spanish midfielder gave the visitors an early lead at Sunderland on Saturday but then picked up a hamstring injury. He was substituted just before the half-hour. The extent of the injury was discovered after a scan on Monday afternoon.
Fabregas didn't even give us enough time to get used to his being back before getting injured again. Thankfully for Arsenal, they've got Nasri back, though that didn't work out TOO well earlier in the season. My $0.02 is that with ChamWow the focus of the attack, Arsenal have to work on playing the ball in from wide areas. That mean Clichy and Sagna have to play much better than they have so far this season. That means Eboue, if picked, needs to not drift infield and Arshavin, playing off ChamWow, needs to look to drop deep, get the ball centrally and move it wide. Look how effective Scholes has been for Manchester United simply by hitting accurate passes out to Nani on the wing. It's simple and effective, if difficult, and it will get behind any defence - something Arsenal haven't been able to do regularly since Henry lost a bit of pace.

First Impressions and Second Thoughts - Week 5

Sometimes, and especially when you write a blog analyzing such things, you get WAY too clever for your own good in fantasy sports. This is even more true coming off a week in which just about everything I touched turned to gold (at least in Premier League fantasy terms). Now, on the plus side, even with some stupid moves, I still didn't have a terrible weak (50 points from Drogs and Malouda will do that for you) but how easy would it have been to just focus on my day job and keep the faith with Joe Hart and Paulo Ferreira and just hope for the best with van der Vaart's injury? Instead, I find myself wishing that Yahoo! had the same rule as the Premier League does and limited owners to one move per week. They don't and I'm left here wondering what happened while counting the small blessing that Eth go 9 completely undeserved fantasy points (I watched the entire match and he didn't do a d@mn thing).

With that, on to what we learned in Week 5 about the teams and the players in the Premier League and our own little fantasy world.

The Barn Door Live - Week 5

OK, here we go again.  We'll be here for the first two matches.  Here's my line-up:
Foster, Bale, Koscielny, Wilson, FloMal, Eth, Barton, Adam, Drogs, Carroll, and Dembele.

Based on the schedule for next week, here are the teams we'll be tracking especially closely:
Spurs (@WHU), Birmingham (vs. Wigan), and Arsenal (vs. WBA).  We'll be looking especially carefully at who Spurs and Arsenal start with all of their early injuries and how Brum align with their newcomers in light of the injury to James McFadden.

Recap after the jump.

Injuries and Suspensions - Week 5

Premier League team news - Barclays Premier League - ESPN Soccernet

Not much of consequence from either Liverpool or Citeh's matches in Europa Cup on Thursday as far as injuries go.  Here are the bits of news that you should be focused on as you make the final adjustments to your rosters for the weekend:

The Week Ahead - Week 5 Edition

Just a bit too easy.
Talk about a night and day difference in the experiences of the English teams in their Champions League exploits between Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Tuesday the going was tough for different reasons. ManYoo was arrogant/overconfident in selecting what looked to be a Carling Cup roster and they paid for it with an ugly nil-nil draw.  Spurs, on the other hand, were on the road facing solid competition and at the end of the day a road point in the Champions League isn't so bad.  In isolation, neither of these outcomes should be considered tragic.  The disturbing fact for both teams is that if you choose to look at these outcomes in light of other outcomes early on in the season, you might start to get worried.

I see the Spurs draw as similar to ManYoo@EVE over the weekend.  It wasn't the draw but rather it was the WAY that they got to the single point that felt deflating.  Spurs looked strong in going up two goals and must have had their own supporters and Premier League boosters in general thrilled in the early going.  That said, to give back the advantage and only come away with a point when more were well within their grasp smacked of yet another disappointment in an early season characterized by them.  Loss to a vastly inferior Young Boys on the road. Draw @WBA. Loss at home to Wigan. A draw after dominating the play @Citeh in the opener. Finally, a come-from-ahead draw in Germany.  That isn't exactly the sort of trend that says "we've arrived as a serious contender for honors" to me.

The song is similar at ManYoo and made all the worse by the fact that United are held to a much higher standard than Spurs based on history, glamour, and past results.  Regardless of the glory that is United's history, the early trend is troubling.  Late equalizer conceded at Fulham for a draw.  TWO late equalizers conceded at Everton for a draw.  A scoreless draw against what should have been a hopelessly out-manned Rangers side.  Rooney struggling.  Valencia out for a significant period of time.  Rio, Scholes, Giggs, and Neville still being counted on heavily despite age and fragility which hasn't really been an issue outside of Ferdinand yet.  Is United's season over? Not by a long shot.  Is it possible that Rooney finds his form this weekend and ManYoo rattle off 5 or 6 consecutive wins as Chelsea drop a few points against Citeh and/or Arsenal?  Definitely.  That said, the early indicators aren't positive and Tuesday was just another example of that, not a lone anomaly.

van der Vaart Injury Status

Football365 | All The News | Football News | REDKNAPP DENIES SPURS WERE NAIVE
Spurs' decision to field a 4-5-1 formation paid dividends early on but the formation relied heavily on Rafael van der Vaart, who began to struggle with an injury and was withdrawn shortly after half-time.

Redknapp revealed the Holland midfielder had injured his calf and will be monitored ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League game at Wolves.

Who has two thumbs and strained his calf in Champions League action yesterday?

For those of you monitoring van der Vaart's status because you either picked him up on the Barn Door or because you are thinking about him as an inexpensive option in midfield with a good match-up this weekend, it looks like hope is not yet lost. We'll continue to monitor the situation for you up until Friday when team news comes out.

Antonio Valencia suffers suspected broken ankle

BBC Sport - Football - Antonio Valencia suffers suspected broken ankle
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson fears Antonio Valencia suffered a broken ankle in his side's 0-0 Champions League draw with Rangers.

The Ecuadorian was stretchered off after going down under an innocuous-looking tackle from Gers' defender Kirk Broadfoot in the 62nd minute.

Winger Valencia, 25, was taken straight to hospital after the game.

"It looks like a dislocation and a fracture and will keep him out for a long time," said Ferguson.

First Impressions and Second Thoughts - Week 4

Dembele, Dembele, Dembele!

Sometimes you just get a feeling and have to go with it.  As readers of The Week Ahead will recall, I was agonizing over the choice between ChamWow and Dembele and ended up keeping Dembele as much to be different from everyone else as because I was convinced that he'd be better.  The good news is that there were no losers in that decision since ChamWow had his second strong week in 4 tries.  The better news is that Dembele was better still and justified my choice.  Who knows if Dembele can keep this form or not but with Zamora out, I know I'll be sticking with him for a while longer to see how it goes. 

The big question I'll be contemplating this week is whether to move from Carroll (at 5 and change) to ChamWow for the balance of Arsenal's easy early schedule.  I like having Carroll at such a cheap price but Drogs/ChamWow/Dembele looks like it could be a pretty strong combination.

On to what we learned this weekend:

Bobby Zamora suffers broken leg

Premier League - Zamora suffers broken leg - Yahoo! Eurosport
Fulham striker Bobby Zamora suffered a broken leg in Saturday's 2-1 Premier League victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers, manager Mark Hughes confirmed.

The forward suffered the injury in a challenge with Wolves midfielder Karl Henry after 27 minutes and left the pitch on a stretcher after receiving oxygen.

"He has broken his leg just above the ankle," Hughes told the BBC.

"He will have an operation tomorrow. He's out for a minimum of four months but if it's worse it could be longer. It's a big loss."

Zamora is the fulcrum of what Fulham do, so this is a big loss. But perhaps it's tempered by the arrival of Neal's latest soccer crush, Mousa Dembele. Dembele has hit two goals and two assists in his first two Premier League games and seems the real deal. It will also provide a chance for Zoltan Gera or Clint Dempsey to claim a place as second striker. Gera has always looked better on paper than he does on the field, and Dempsey is still relatively expensive. So at the moment, Dembele is probably the way to go.

Just ask Neal.

We can't replace Modric - Redknapp

We can't replace Modric - Redknapp - Yahoo! Eurosport
Harry Redknapp admits that Tottenham play-maker Luka Modric is irreplacable amid fears he may face another lengthy spell out injured.

Redknapp is anxiously awaiting the results of a scan after Modric suffered a leg injury in a challenge with West Brom defender Gonzalo Jara during Saturday's 1-1 draw.

The Croatian, who had opened the scoring, left the ground on crutches. The blow to his leg was in the same spot as the one he broke against Birmingham last season and ruled him out for several months.

Van der Vaart. Kranjcar. Gio dos Santos. Not to mention Lennon, Bentley, Bale and Robbie Keane. No offense to Modric, but 'arry has been working long and hard on making him replaceable. And for good reason. He played a good thirty minutes, which is pretty much quota for him until Christmas.

Manchester City turn to Jo

Remember that name.

Manchester City turn to Jô as striker crisis takes grip | Football | The Guardian
I have only Jô available – if not, I will have to play myself,' Mancini said. 'We have been very unlucky. Adebayor got a knock last Saturday in training, Carlos also has an injury and Balotelli has had a very difficult start to life in England.'

No Live Chat Today

Unfortunately I am out of town visiting the in-laws so I will be unable to host a Live Chat this weekend. Normal Live Chat service will resume next weekend. Enjoy the matches and good luck with your choices.

Cheers - Neal

Injuries and Suspensions - Week 4

Premier League team news - Barclays Premier League - ESPN Soccernet

First, the good news - Yahoo! has added the new players (Squillaci, Van Der Vaart, et al) who came in at the end of the transfer window so as you make your final adjustments, you will have them as options. 

Here's a quick list of some of the potentially interesting newbies:
Squillaci (D, Arsenal), Gyan (F, Sunderland), Pletikosa (G, Tottenham), Gallas (D, Tottenham), van der Vaart (M, Tottenham), Boateng (D, Citeh - back from injury), Ramires (M, Chelsea - Lamps hurt), Cleverley (M, Wigan), Ben Arfa (M, Newcastle), Benjani (F, Rovers).

This isn't to say I recommend any of the above highly - Gyan and Boateng are the only two who I'd really consider too strongly with Pletikosa added to the mix if Gomes is definitely out.  If I was sure Ramires would start, I'd be interested there too but the rest are more "wait and see" and be poised to pounce before the Barn Door closes if one or more looks good.

Theo Walcott Out for Four to Six Weeks

Photo courtesy SkySports

Walcott sidelined for ‘four to six weeks’ | News Archive | News |
Theo Walcott is likely to be out for “four to six weeks”, according to Arsène Wenger.

Speaking to TV Online on Thursday, the Arsenal manager confirmed the extent of the ankle injury picked up by the 21-year-old playing for England on Tuesday night.

It was announced earlier this week that Wenger will be without Robin van Persie for a similar length of time but, on the upside, Samir Nasri has recovered quicker than expected after knee surgery and could even be involved this weekend against Bolton. He’ll definitely be back for SC Braga on Wednesday.

In addition, Johan Djourou and Denilson are available after injury while Sebastien Squillaci could be involved for the first time after his move from Sevilla. All three came through a Reserve team run-out in midweek.

As I wrote on Twitter when his two-week injury was being evaluated by the club,
Is there a scarier phrase in football than "Arsenal's medical team will assess"?

The Week Ahead - Week 4 Edition

Walcott & ChamakhI was preparing myself to fill the space generally reserved for ranting about whatever is on my mind with news about the various injuries sustained by key players - Defoe, Dawson, Walcott, et al - over the international break but since Jeremy already covered that here and here there isn't much sense in being repetitive.  Just click and see his fine work.

Honestly, with 4 fantasy (gridiron) football teams getting ready to kickoff the new NFL season this evening and two weeks where there was very little news other than injuries, I have to say that I'm a little bit at a loss as to what to write about leading up to my weekly analysis.  I will go on record with a few NFL predictions that probably none of you outside of the US care about but I'd like to get them on record somewhere so I can take credit for them later in the year.  Plus, we're all about fantasy sports here so there is at least some relevance.
  • Kevin Kolb may or may not get the Eagles to the playoffs but he's going to be an excellent fantasy quarterback.  Under Andy Reid (the exceedingly plump coach, not the slightly overweight Sunderland midfielder) the Eagles have always thrown for a lot of yards no matter who the QB has been.
  • The New England Patriots aren't going to be very good this year.  Randy Moss bitching about his contract, best O-lineman holding out, best D-lineman out for the year, best CB out for the year, no quality running backs.  I am all for giving Brady/Belicheck their due but at some point there has to be some talent and I just don't see it.  No playoffs in New England.
  • Arian Foster will be a top 10 fantasy running back.  Great offense and he fits their style to a T.
  • Malcolm Floyd will be the Arian Foster of wide receivers.
  • San Francisco will look great until the playoffs when they have to start playing much better teams.  SF players will be great for fantasy but will not deliver in the end when it matters - but maybe next year.
  • Dallas will be a playoff team but not the best team in the NFC.
  • Kansas City and Oakland will battle down to the wire for a playoff spot and both will be much better than expected on offense - I think Oakland will win out because they were already pretty solid on D.
  • Green Bay and Baltimore (who should get healthier on defense as the year goes on) will play in the Super Bowl.
  • Green Bay will win it all.
OK, I feel better having that out of the way.  For those of you who don't care, I apologize, back to the Premier League and EPL fantasy now.

Jermain Defoe KO for Six Weeks

Harry Redknapp confirms Jermain Defoe KO | The Sun | Sport | Football
TOTTENHAM boss Harry Redknapp has confirmed the news that Jermain Defoe has been ruled out for six weeks with an ankle injury.

Defoe was taken off on a stretcher during England's 3-1 victory in Switzerland but had hoped to be fit to face West Brom this weekend.

But the Spurs striker was on crutches and wearing a protective boot on his right foot at Spurs' training ground today

Boss Redknapp said: "Even if it's a bad sprain, you're still talking about six weeks or so, because it's a nasty one."

But Theo hopes to be back midweek.

Premier League Roundup

Maybe Kuyt should just leave this kind of thing to the experts.

International break always brings with it injuries, real or imagined, that fantasy managers have to take into consideration for the next game week.  Some are big news, others are a bit more obscure.  This time, there is the added fun of the transfer window having just closed so there's also news about new players and their potential to start (and shine) for their new teams.  Here's what I've been tracking over the last few days:

Rafael van der Vaart Vaart is Upset

Like her husband, Sylvie seems very comfortable on the bench.

Rafael van der Vaart Vaart is upset at his treatment by Holland coach Bert van Marwijk | The Sun |Sport|Football

"I gave everything. Also I was playing in a position which is not comfortable for me, I'm not a left winger."

Good news for fantasy managers with Gareth Bale in their side.

... and at this point, isn't that the large marjority of us?

Walcott Out for Two Weeks

Photo courtesy SkySports

Premier League - Walcott set for spell on sidelines - Yahoo! Eurosport

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott's ankle injury sustained during England's 3-1 win over Switzerland in Basel is not as bad as first feared, but he still faces up to two weeks on the sidelines...

After finding Glen Johnson out wide, Walcott continued his run into the Swiss box, only to trip over Steve von Bergen's outstretched leg just before Wayne Rooney tapped home Johnson's cross from close range.

The 21-year-old was taken to hospital for a precautionary X-ray on his ankle, but the scan revealed he had merely sprained rather than broken it.

England manager Fabio Capello said after the match: "It's a little problem, but not a big problem. We will have to wait to see how it is.

"I spoke with Theo and he told me it is not a big problem. I said 'two weeks?'. He said less."

I'm tipping Eboue to take the right-side of the front three spot, and for 5.55 looks a good bet at home against an admittedly tough-looking Bolton.

Injury Updates: Can't Say We're Surprised...

Mixed injury news ahead of Bolton game | News Archive | News |

News from the Arsenal camp is that Nasri will be back to training later this week (I wouldn't count on him to feature this weekend though) and that RvP will be on the bench until mid-October.  With RvP's injury history you can't think this comes as a big surprise.  Fantasy managers will be happy because this likely cements Arshavin, Chamakh, and Walcott as the three attackers.  The jury is still out on Chamakh who has yet to really find his footing but for Arshavin and Walcott (whom many may have at a significant discount) the news is good.

Cheers - Neal

Stats That May Surprise You

F365's Ten Favourite Geeky Stats...

Football365 starts Tuesday with some insight that may help fantasy managers with their evaluation of "phantom points" and who is and isn't likely to be getting them.  I'll let you read the entire article because it's a good read but it is remarkable how efficient Chelsea - mostly Drogs and FloMal (1 missed SOT between them) have been thus far.  Also amazing how incompetent ManCiteh has been going forward.  Tell us again what a great idea it is having a well-known Italian manager.  I guess we should be asking "well-known for what?"

Anyway, with another 5 days until the matches start again, I figured I'd start knocking the rust off after a few days of not writing during the international break.

Hope everyone enjoyed what was an amazingly beautiful weekend here on the East Coast of the US.

Cheers - Neal

Belated Injury News

Sunderland striker Fraizer ruled out for season | Mail Online

I generally don't have many positive things to say about Yahoo's attempted forays into social media (mostly via the Yahoo Mail platform) but today we see one of the few benefits of it.  Jeremy and I are connected via that platform and I saw that he had "bookmarked" this article about Frazier Campbell's injury (he's out for the season with a ligament tear) but due to a vacation with his family he didn't have any time for a blog post.  So, I'm here to help fill in the blanks and do a little analysis on this injury.