The Week Ahead - Finally We're Back Edition

As Jeremy mentioned, this month has been a bit of a challenge when it comes to getting our heads back into the Premier League. I appreciate the fact that internationals need to happen and cup competitions need to be wrapped up (although as an Arsenal fan, I could have done without those this season - yup, still bitter). Still, do they need to disrupt the Premier League season at such a critical time in the calendar?

Why not now? Spring is springing and there are at least some times when we might want to be outdoors. In the States, Major League Baseball is starting (today in fact), college basketball is all-encompassing for a few weeks, and for those of us inclined toward soccer MLS is starting up. Elsewhere in the world the Cricket World Cup is also going on which certainly has potential Premier League fans in places like India, South Africa, and Australia pretty engrossed (good luck to India in the finals on Saturday).

The bottom line is that there is so much going on that distracts us from the season. I have to admit that if you'd asked me yesterday I couldn't have told you with any fidelity who I had on my roster for either the Yahoo! or Premier League games. With a season so long I have to think that letting the audience, especially those outside the UK, turn their focus elsewhere for almost an entire month has to be a bad idea. Especially if the month is March. The Premier League would do well to lobby to have the same sort of break happen in February instead because there's nothing else going on then to distract the audience. Just a thought before diving into the recommendations.

Where we separate the match-ups that provide managers with real value from those that just look like they might provide value and those that don’t even promise that much.

Real Value
  • Arsenal vs. Rovers – Arsenal have tended to use International breaks to regroup after a series of poor results. Perhaps getting away from the bad mojo helps. I expect this to be no different especially with key players returning and Rovers struggling mightily down the stretch.
  • Spurs @ Wigan – Spurs need to bounce back as well and the fact that Wigan is the opposition should help a lot. I should throw out the caution not to get TOO excited since Spurs have tended to underperform in these situations this season.
  • Chelsea @ Stoke – Chelsea seem to be playing significantly better and while Stoke are tough, I don’t see them putting one over on the Blues. I believe in Chelsea’s momentum more than I believe in the home field advantage.

False Hope
  • Man United @ WHU – I’m not saying that the Hammers will win but between United’s road struggles, West Ham’s recent form and their desperation to avoid the drop I see this as being less than a bonanza for fantasy managers.
  • Man City vs. Sunderland – City SHOULD be in the first category but it feels like they’re coming apart down the stretch between injuries, general unrest, and the sense that it was always a poorly constructed “team.” I’m guessing that Sunderland – the definition of an average team – will make this very competitive.

  • Suarez – For an Arsenal supporter, I have really fallen hard for this guy and he’s rewarded me for doing so. If you’re already on the bandwagon then stick with it, if not, you’re late and you’d best get a seat before they all fill up.
  • SEB – I have a feeling and I’m a bit taken with Wolves’ late season run to stay up. With Doyle injured on international duty Ebanks-Blake should get the start and I like his chances.
  • Gyan – Hard not to be swayed by his performance against England in mid-week and his price isn’t that bad either at 8.55.
  • Berbatov – Going out on a bit of a limb but with Chicharito having started in midweek in Mexico City you have to guess that he’ll be on the bench for a modest opponent. I’m not predicting a multi-goal match for Berbs but he does tend to pick on bottom-of-the-table opponents.
  • Zamora – I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the returning striker who is playing at home against the most generous defense in the league. Zamora will be even more important with Dempsey likely tired from playing in mid-week and then doing the trans-Atlantic commute.

  • Nani – More a "hold" than a "buy" because he's really expensive - if you're looking to buy in the United midfield then I'd go Valencia who should continue to improve as he comes back to full health and conditioning.
  • Modric – VDV is really the guy to have but again, he's a "hold" and likely too expensive to buy so if you're buying at retail then I'd say Modric is your guy with Bale unlikely to feature. 
  • Hitzlsperger – I like him against the United central midfield if you’re going to take a risk on a player going up against a good team.
  • Brunt – He's at home and Liverpool aren't exactly air-tight and at the end of the day WBA score a lot (not as many as they give up but still).  He isn't cheap but he isn't too expensive either.
  • Hoilett – Arsenal are likely to win and maybe even win big but they aren't going to keep a clean sheet so who not go with the in-form player who isn't too expensive.

  • Luiz – He’s been great and the price isn’t too crazy - not much more too it than that.
  • Heitinga – If you're buying at retail he's a solid enabler who may get a start despite his mid-week outburst about playing time and positioning - the match-up is only OK but you're not going to do much better as far as potential value for the money.
  • Smalling – I’m not thrilled about the prospect of United getting a clean sheet but for the price Smalling is the right pick.
  • Enrique – Call this SEB insurance (see above) in case it turns out that a match full of back-up forwards ends up in an ugly nil-nil draw. Enrique represents a reasonable price to get in on potential clean sheet points.
  • Schwarzer – Fulham are tough defensively and even more so at Craven Cottage so I like the value of him at home for under 8 if you’re looking for a value pick.
  • T-Ho – Solid Everton match-up and Howard's price is right.  He isn't guaranteed points but certainly not a bad bet.
  • Friedel – Really cheap and at least an OK match-up but I can't say I love Villa on the road under any circumstances.
  • Cech - If you're spending the money, he's the best bet.


  1. Welcome back! Good luck to your teams.

  2. Anonymous10:50 PM

    I realise you did not mention any arsenal players?

  3. I'm with you on The Hammers potential to hold United but I also expect Spurs to lose to be better prepare for Madrid but even though they have a bare defense, they have a lot of midfield options to turn out for. Its anybody game at this stage.

    The performing players from the
    relegation hopefuls may prove a significant difference in the selection to be honest. Other than Hoilett, Hitzs, I find that Larsson, Demba ba, Odemwingie, O'Hara are the possible picks

  4. ba and hitzsperger are in my team

  5. Anonymous5:03 AM

    so do i greg..

  6. Anonymous5:14 AM

    enrique is fit to play? i think he still more of a doubt..

  7. Anonymous6:56 AM


  8. Ohara for sure. What about Dzeko? With Tevez likely out (barring the dreaded late fitness test) Dzeko is cheap and can certainly return his value.

    I'm worried about Arsenal middies...Nasri screwed me last week but I'm a sucker for punishment and might go with him again as I dont see Fabs or walcott scoring big after coming off injuries. Who knows though.

    With Stevie G out Meireles is certain to take most if not all SPs for L'pool. Against a leaky WBA that might be a good pick.

  9. meireles is a great pick and i think duff will be the safer pick of fulham midfielders, as exhaustion and rotation issues surrounding dempseys long flight. puncheon is another one flying under the radar but he is producing for blackpool, even with adam back.

  10. Anonymous10:41 AM

    What's the verdict on RVP anyone?

  11. Anonymous11:19 AM

    And Tevez? Some saying he's ready to go others not so much.

  12. Kurniawan1:05 PM

    which one better....zamora or kolarov...
    thanks for any opinion

  13. @Anonymous 10:41 and 11:19 -

    RVP looks like a go:

    Tévez - I couldn't find anything on either the Man City site or the official Premier League site suggesting he wouldn't play. (He's listed in the squad at the EPL site.)

  14. Kellz2:56 PM

    @b.a.c: Meireles will be on corners, but Suarez who is fit again will certainly take all Direct FK's and Kuyt is still on PK's. Just something to keep in mind.

  15. Anonymous4:02 PM

  16. The tevez injury status is such a mystery but i think wenger will not let vpersie taking a lot of kicks to protect his ankle same like fab few games ago thus reduce his points though

  17. Anonymous11:05 PM

    Hey host...i figured out that there is someone plagiriazed/copy your 'this week ahead' and published at a different blog...

    here is the link

    you should go check out.... its really the same..only some minor changes on the price (because that blog is for Premier League FPL!

  18. Anonymous5:33 AM

    Thanks for the wishes to the Indian team!!!

  19. Anonymous6:15 AM

    @Anonymous 11:05 PM

    I think this is also written by Neal!