Valdez Runs Aground at Newcastle

Word on the Twitter machine is that Newcastle United have snapped up Hercules' and Paraguay's Nelson Valdez.  Is he a good replacment for Carroll?

Well, it looks like he'll have to work on the cheeks puffed-out thing, but otherwise a passable alternative.

And obviously it'll be better in vertical stripes. Slimming and all that.

The Week Ahead - Transfer Deadline Edition

The first item of the day is sending our best wishes to regular reader and occasional contributor Mohamed who lives in Egypt.  With all of the insanity going on in his part of the world, we wish him and anyone else who reads our blog in Egypt the best as they try to keep themselves and their loved ones.  We're sending as many good vibes in your direction as we can.  Please check in if/when you can by email or in the comments section when the government turns the Interwebs back on so we know you're OK.  Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog.

I have to admit that I'm having a really hard time concentrating on the immediate issues associated with fantasy team selection with the Torres/Carroll/Suarez/Adam/etc frenzy going on all around me.  Oh yeah, it also doesn't help that I've had a plenty busy day for my real job as well.  It certainly doesn't make for the clearest of thinking as it regards my upcoming fantasy line-up for the mid-week matches but I'm going to start writing and see if that helps clarify things.  Before we get started, a few notes from the weekend's FA Cup action, the transfer market, and injury headlines.
  • Torres to Chelsea - Can't argue with his talent but I've been of the opinion that like ManYoo, Chelsea's biggest problems have been in midfield, not with the amount of attacking talent on hand.  Sure, Drogs is having bad year (for him) but that's still good for one more goal than Nando in the league.  Wouldn't a better holding midfielder than Mikel and a younger version of Lamps have made more sense for the money? 
  • Carroll to Liverpool - Outside of the money (which isn't mine) I like the move.  That said, if it were me and I knew that I wasn't going to challenge for the title or even the Champions League this season, I think I would have handled things a little differently.  Rather than pay over the odds for Carroll, I think I'd have found the "next Carroll" (see Wickham, Connor) and paid about 1/4 the price for him.  Has he proven himself in the Premier League yet? No.  But he's got exactly two fewer successful months at that level than Carroll and is pretty widely tipped to become the next "big" thing.  I'd much rather have Wickham/Ashley Young/Adam/Suarez than Carroll/Carroll's baggage/Adam/Suarez. 
  • Adam to Liverpool - Huh? How many central midfielders can one team have? I like his talent but I don't know how Carroll, Suarez, Gerrard, Kuyt, Meireles, and Adam all play together effectively.  The obvious answer is that they don't and that presumably Kuyt goes to the bench and Poulson joins the other five on the field as starters.  Still, that's a lot of players who like to play more or less centrally with with only one guy (Adam) who is well-known for the sort of exceptional delivery to a target striker that will fully leverage Carroll's skills.  This one hasn't been confirmed yet so I guess we'll see what happens.
  • ManYoo - With the deadline likely to pass without any activity from ManYoo (other than bumping up Adam's price with some well-timed praise from SAF - well played Sir), I'm wondering how United supporters are feeling about their team's chances going forward.  If it were Arsenal, I'd know exactly how the story were going to play out but United has that "it" factor that probably makes them believe that they can win the league despite looking really bad for long stretches against Blackpool and Southampton for long stretches in their last two matches.  Granted they were playing the second team against So'ton but both matches were still ugly.  So, United supporters, how do you feel about your team's chances when you're sitting alone being realistic (as opposed to when you're talking smack to your friends)?   I'm really not sure what to make of things.
  • Arsenal - Ouch, big losses with the injury to Nasri and the straight red from Squillaci.  Looks like Cesc and Theo will be getting more PT and be more critical for the next couple weeks.  Oh yeah, and that Koscielny and Djourou had better stay healthy.
  • Spurs - Feels like the wheels are coming off of this here bus and fast.  It will be interesting to see if 'arry can pull off another last second deadline coup to dramatically turn Spurs' fortunes.  It worked in the summer and appears to be much needed again now.
  • Chelsea - Hard to argue with the moves but they are really being made for next season than this one in my opinion.
  • Biggest Deadline Fantasy Winners - BFAR (that's Andy Reid) who will get a lot of Adam's fantasy points assuming Adam's move to Liverpool comes through; Ireland whose value went from nothing at all rotting on Villa's bench to at least having a chance to play a part in the post-Carroll era at St. James Park; Bentley/Birmingham/the Blog - With Obafemi Martins coming to the second city, there should be more room for Bentley to operate, more attacking sparks from Birmingham, and renewed chances for we here at the blog to say and type "Obafemi!!!!" (which we really like); O'Hara should gain value with his move to Wolves who need that sort of creative spark.
  • Biggest Deadline Fantasy Losers - Chelsea defenders - with Alex/Terry/Luiz/Ivanovic/Bosingwa now competing for 3 spots, we're pretty sure that all will be rotated even more regularly which is probably good in real life but not so much for fantasy; Carroll - if the Adam move doesn't come through, I'm not sure who gets him the ball on a regular basis;  

Andy Carroll mobbed as he arrives

New Liverpool FC record signing Andy Carroll mobbed as he arrives at Melwood (GALLERY) - News - Liverpool FC - Liverpool Echo

This is such a classic image. The thumbs up to the mob outside the car - and Lord knows Carroll has had trouble with mobs and his cars before. The lawyer/agent/suit with pen out and lower lip being bitten in concentration, editing terms directly on what was surely faxed to him moments ago.

There is so much to pick over.  We'll have instant reactions soon and more to follow.

Carroll No Closer to Return

Andy Carroll heads to the Arctic to see Swedish injury specialist | Football |
The Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll is to fly to Sweden tomorrow to consult a specialist over his troublesome thigh injury.

The 22-year-old, whose 11 goals this season fuelled Newcastle's solid first half of the season, has missed the last five games with a tear in the muscle, but was taken on the club's training break to Portugal.

The Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, had hoped to have him back in action for the Premier League trip to Fulham on 2 February, but the club are now to seek the help of a renowned Swedish specialist in an effort to get to the bottom of the problem.

"We brought him to Portugal to start running and the disappointing news is that he hasn't," said Pardew.

Bad news for one of the bright lights of the first half of the season. In other Magpie news, the article concludes:
There are also concerns over midfielder Dan Gosling, who has suffered a reaction to his return to action from a long-term knee injury as a substitute at Sunderland, amid suggestions he may need exploratory surgery to assess the problem.

Konchesky in talks with Fulham

Paul Konchesky in talks with Fulham over move from Liverpool | Football |
Paul Konchesky is in talks with Fulham about rejoining the club and ending his miserable five-month spell at Liverpool as the signing who came to represent Roy Hodgson's brief and unsuccessful time at Anfield...

[I]f everything goes through, Liverpool will get back in contact with Aston Villa about Stephen Warnock returning to Anfield on a loan deal for the rest of the season.
Nothing new under the Mersey sun. But with both Warnock and Konchesky returning to their former clubs.. .it's enough to make you dizzy. Or give you whiplash.

Still, if they regain their starting roles, they'll be half-decent fantasy options. Both priced just over 7.

From the ManYoo Locker Room

It is unclear at this time but rumors are circulating in the greater-Blackpool metropolitan area that rather than using his time-tested methods for inspiring his team at halftime (see dryer, hair and yelling...lots) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson used yesterday's blog post on this very site to inspire his charges.  With his side looking listless and his Bulgarian hitman particularly ineffective the team went into the dressing room down 2-0 to their 12th place hosts. A Scottish-Ranting-to-English interpreter overheard what happened next:

Today's Berb-o-Meter and Babel

Just a couple of quick notes before today's matches start.  Yesterday in First Impressions and Second Thoughts, we created the idea of the Berb-o-Meter to predict how our favorite Really Up and Really Down striker might do for fantasy managers in any given outing.  Nothing like a little immediate feedback as he and ManYoo travel to Blackpool today to make up a postponed match from earlier in the season.  What sayeth the Berb-o-Meter?

First Impressions and Second Thoughts

With the Bolton/Chelsea match to be played starting in a couple hours and some random mid-week matches as well, the week isn't exactly over but Monday is traditionally the day we look back at the weekend's action and who am I to get in the way of these sorts of traditions? Especially when I had a 144 point weekend from my fantasy team with a bunch of guys (Walker hopefully, Nani, Adam, Meireles, Rooney, and DBent) still to play again in midweek.  Imagine if I'd had THIS idea before the weekend.

What idea am I talking about? We need to create a Berb-o-meter.  With Berbs the leading goal-scorer in the league but hopelessly inconsistent, fantasy managers need a way to determine whether he will score on any given weekend.  Here's a quick formula that starts with a value of zero.  Did Berbs score in the previous match? If so, subtract 5 (he's only scored in consecutive appearances twice this season). Are ManYoo playing at home? If yes, add 5 (he's only score on the road twice all season).  What is the position in the table of ManYoo's opponent? Add one point for every position worse than 10th and subtract one point for every position better than 10th (ex. for Arsenal who are in 2nd position subtract 8 points, for Blackpool who are 12th add 2 points).  We do this because his goals inevitably come against poor opposition.  You could theoretically counter this by saying he scored 5 against Rovers who currently sit 7th but they were bottom half when Berbs did his damage.  His brace against Sunderland on Boxing Day was his only goal-scoring effort against a team that was clearly in the top half at the time of the match.

Those are the criteria for our Berb-o-meter.  For values over 0, you should consider him and as the value approaches 20 (a home match with the bottom team when he didn't score the match previous) you should consider him TH14-like in his potential.  If the Berb-o-meter reads negative (away matches against good teams) then you should stay far, far away.  Just a few thoughts after having had the money to buy him and trying to figure out why I didn't do it when all the signs clearly pointed to him scoring at least a brace this past weekend.  And yes, these are the sorts of things that I spend time thinking about.  Good thing I'm married or making this public might guarantee I never went on another date again.

Lampard to Miss Trotters Clash

Football365 | All The News | Football News | LAMPARD TO MISS TROTTERS CLASH
Frank Lampard did not travel with the rest of the Chelsea squad for tonight's Barclays Premier League clash at Bolton...

The 32-year-old picked up a calf injury during training earlier this week, but had still been expected to feature tonight as Carlo Ancelotti's men aim to reduce the 10-point gap on leaders Manchester United.

However, given Chelsea face Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime and then Sunderland in the Premier League just three days later, it is understood the decision was taken to give Lampard some extra rest and recovery time.

Bad news for those of you who held on to him for the week.

In other Chelsea news, the article continues...
The Premier League champions, meanwhile, look to be close to finalising a deal to bring Brazil centre-half David Luiz, 23, to Stamford Bridge.

Luiz, who would be cup-tied for the Champions League, did not feature in the Benfica squad for the 4-2 victory over Nacional on Saturday ahead of his anticipated switch to west London.

Starting defender for Chelsea... cup-tied outside of the Premier League? Be still my beating heart!

The Barn Door Live

Injuries and Suspensions

Premier League team news - ESPN Soccernet

As it turns out there isn't a lot of really meaningful news to be had:

  • Gerrard is suspended for the first of Liverpool's two matches this week but you knew that.
  • Wes Brown, John O'Shea, and Fabio are all potential replacements for Rafael who will only miss one of the two matches for ManYoo after being slapped on the wrist as a result of his FA charge rather than having an additional match added to the suspension.  No real reason to go in on any of those options since we really have NO idea which it might be AND if you're right it will only help you for one match.
  • RSC and Dzeko both look likely to start their matches this week - BD alert only unless you need a cheap option at forward.
  • Lamps seems like a pretty major injury doubt with a calf issue he picked up in training.
By the way, I clarified my stance on Nani for this week in the comments associated with TWA but probably worth adding them here since I know not everyone reads all the comments.  First off, Nani has been in my line-up (and I hope most of yours) for quite a while as he has continued to perform pretty regularly and as his price has risen steadily.  For everyone who has him at a discount, I fully expect that you will retain him.  For those who are thinking about buying THIS weekend, I'd be a little cautious.  His price is pretty high so you'd be taking on a lot of potential rotation risk.  I don't recommend him as highly as the others I listed in TWA but I can certainly see the logic both from a pure points acquisition standpoint and from a defensive standpoint (if others in my private league have him at a discount I'd better have him for his two-match week where two productive matches could set me back significantly).  I should have made this point in TWA and didn't - my apologies.  Maybe someone should pay me to do this fulltime so I could dedicate more of my time and mental energies to the cause rather than having to think about things like writing proposals and having conference calls related to my day job getting in the way :-)

Enjoy the matches this weekend, and please join us for the Live Chat which will be back and running after a brief hiatus.

Cheers - Neal

The Week Ahead

So, we're a little more than halfway through the January Transfer Window and so far it has been an interesting one.  Due to a combination of holidays, travel, and the flu I haven't been up to my usual standards for what I consider to be the most fun time of any season.  That time when we get to analyze and speculate about the wisdom of moves made and not made.  About the amounts spent and the odd-seeming fits that are inevitable at this time of year.  To make up for the absence of commentary thus far, here are some thoughts on the important moves that have happened.  What will they mean in the real world as well as for fantasy managers?  Inquiring minds want to know:

  • Dzeko to Citeh - Not much downside to this one.  With K2, RSC, and Jo all showing that they aren't the answer as Tevez's partner and Balotelli looking for all the world like a wildcard bringing in a solid target striker gives Citeh a great three man forward rotation.  The only question for fantasy managers is related to squad rotation between Balotelli and Dzeko and the specter of Mancini's 4-5-1 formation.  Dzeko will probably start regularly until Balotelli is healthy but after that, fantasy managers should be on high alert for rotation.
  • DBent to Villa - In my mind, this is great business for Sunderland.  We all wondered at the beginning of the season how it would work with DBent and Gyan as teammates because they're really the same player.  Now Sunderland have found a way to get what seems to be an overly-inflated price from desperate Villa for a surplus player who hadn't done much this season.  There might be a temporary dip as Welbeck is injured and Sunderland look for a replacement.  On the Villa side, DBent is an improvement on this season's version of Gabby but essentially creates the same problem of redundant pieces.  If I were a goal-shy team in the bottom half of the table (Rovers? Birmingham? Fulham?), I'd think about tabling a bid for Gabby while his value is low.  From a fantasy standpoint, the value of both DBent and Gyan both go up big.  Gabby's value tanks.
  • FBFDB to Brum - Here's hoping for a great return to form.  Bentley has always looked to be a very good player on a mediocre team as opposed to a contributor to a good team.  Having re-found his depth, I'd expect he'll start throwing up 10 point efforts on a regular basis again and more importantly, get the regular work needed to be a worthwhile fantasy investment.  From a playing standpoint, this feels like a good move for Birmingham - they needed a spark and Bentley can definitely provide that.  He may also increase Zigic's value due to the increase in quality crosses.
  • Pienaar to Spurs - Color me a bit confused.  For a team that probably needs at least one more quality center back, a holding midfielder, and a forward who legitimately strikes fear in the hearts of opponents why would your first big move of the window be picking up yet another attacking midfielder who does his best work from a wide area? Is he solid depth? Definitely and from that standpoint it's a good move given the price.  On the other hand, Spurs have Bale, Kranjcar, and O'Hara who can play in that same spot and Lennon and Jenas who can do the same thing on the other side of the pitch PLUS they just ditched Bentley for being similarly surplus.  With VDV and Modric also around to play in attacking midfield roles, I really don't know when Pienaar might see the field. Obviously fantasy managers should be very wary of rotation and/or substantial time on the bench for Pienaar.
  • RSC to Rovers - This is a fantastic move for goal-shy Rovers if RSC can stay healthy.  He immediately becomes far and away their best forward.  They could still use a "small" to go with him but maybe the attention he attracts from defenses will help their existing crop of forwards produce more.  That said, Gabby or Keane would look really good next to RSC.  As a fantasy player, RSC is great value at his current price. 
  • Walker to Villa - Nice move for a young player with some potential to shore up a spot that has been troublesome for Villa since, well, since I can remember.  Could have some solid fantasy upside as well since he is inexpensive and should get at least modest points from attacking statistics as a wing back.
  • Wheater to Bolton - For the price, he's a great depth signing and better-than-average insurance should Chelsea or Arsenal finally come up with an offer for Gary Cahill that meets Bolton's valuation.  Always smart to buy a replacement player before you lose someone - it makes you less desperate in the marketplace and it gives that player some time to adapt before he is forced to replace on of the club's best players.  Is Wheater as good as Cahill? By no means.  However, he's a solid buy for a team that isn't generally going to be challenging Chelsea for the David Luiz's of the world. 
  • Pennant to Stoke (permanent) - Just an excuse to share this link.  Awesome story.  We should all have that sort of problems.
That's about it for the moves that have been completed.  We can certainly hope/expect that there will be more in the form of CBs for Arsenal and Chelsea, a forward for Liverpool and maybe Spurs, and some further shuffling of the decks at surprising strugglers like Villa (Adam?), Birmingham (a forward, any forward), and Everton (a difference-maker just about anywhere to spark the team). 

Dann out for rest of season

photo courtesy SportyDesktops

Premier League - Dann out for rest of season - Yahoo! Eurosport
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish confirmed central defender Scott Dann is likely to be out of action for the remainder of the season with his severe hamstring problem.

But he is not looking to bring in a new centre-back and has faith in Czech international Martin Jiranek to provide back-up for Roger Johnson and Liam Ridgewell.
Forget about Jiranek, the real value here is in David Murphy who will start at left back and is only 4.02. That's great value on what is historically a very stingy defence. However...

The caveat is that 1) Birmingham haven't kept a clean sheet since shutting out Manchester City on November 13, and 2) their next two Premier League matches are at Manchester United and home to Manchester City. So I would suggest a wait-and-see attitude. However...

In February, Birmingham have a massive six matches, with the most daunting opponent being at Chelsea at the end of the month. So assuming Murphy is still affordable - and by dint of the schedule you have to think he will be barring a fluke goal or some such - that's when you'll want to buy.

Danny Guthrie gets chance against Spurs

Danny Guthrie gets chance against Tottenham - NUFC Latest News - Newcastle United - ChronicleLive
ALAN PARDEW will hand Danny Guthrie the chance to revive his season against Spurs at St James’ Park on Saturday.

However, Andy Carroll and Steven Taylor are rated "extremely doubtful" with thigh and hamstring problems.

Hard-working midfielder Guthrie caught the eye in the Wear-Tyne derby and, with Alan Smith ruled out of the encounter with Harry Redknapp’s side and Cheik Tiote still banned, the Shropshire- born player has done enough to impress his manager in just under an hour against the Black Cats.

Pardew – who also has Dan Gosling fit and available – told the Chronicle: "Danny Guthrie will play.

"He was excellent in the second half at Sunderland.

"And I hope he will take it into Saturday."
For what it's worth, there's your Newcastle update. Guthrie is 5 in the fantasy game and if I were looking for a midfielder at that enabling price I would take David Hoilett, who has been putting up good points for his price and whose Blackburn host West Brom this weekend.

Bent the Villan

Photo courtesy

Villa seal deal for record signing Bent
Aston Villa are delighted to confirm that Darren Bent will be unveiled today as the club's record signing, having agreed a four-and-a-half year deal to June 2015.

The 26-year-old England striker completed a medical before the formalities of the signing today and will be available for the Barclays Premier League game against Manchester City on Saturday, January 22 at Villa Park.


I think we'll see the best of DBent again. I'm assuming that we're going to see a 4-2-3-1 from Villa as such:


Walker Collins Dunne/Cuellar Clark/new left-back

Petrov Makoun

Downing Young Albrighton


That attacking three midfield can all cross the ball and swap positions. And all of them can feed DBent, who has always been most dangerous as a lone striker. All he needs to do is play off the center back and look to get in behind and take the chances that will surely come.

Neither Carew nor Heskey were mobile enough to play this role. Agbonlahor is fast, but he isn't big enough. In DBent, I think Villa have the right player for the position. And with a double match week (albeit with one match against Manchester City), this is looking like a great move for Villa, Bent, and fantasy football managers.

In Related News

Sky Sports | Football | Premier League | News | Sunderland send Welbeck for op understands that Danny Welbeck is set to have an exploratory operation on his troublesome knee injury on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury which kept him out of Sunday's Wear-Tyne derby.

However, he has been troubled by a knee complaint for some time and the club have decided to act now to get to the root of the problem.
So for the immediate future, we're likely to see Gyan as a lone striker. But that opens a midfield spot for someone. Steed Malbranque has already claimed a spot and Zenden seems to be in Bruce's good graces.

But might we see a return of Big Fat (and blog favorite) Andy Reid? He has been recalled from loan at Sheffield United, played in the FA Cup loss to Notts County and was on the bench at the weekend. Surely a midfield five of Reid, Richardson, Henderson, Cattermole, and Malbranque (with Zenden the first player off the bench) offers plenty of options for Sunderland.

If Reid does return, and with David Bentley starting again at Birmingham, our midfields might have a distinctly retro vibe to them soon.

UPDATE: Wellbeck out for Six to Eight Weeks
[Steve] Bruce said: "Danny was operated on yesterday and it was confirmed he had a torn cartilage and he will be [out for] six to eight weeks."

Pienaar to Spurs

To end speculation I am going to Spurs. I've had brilliant years at Everton and it will always be a special place in my heart.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone



Bent asks to quit Black Cats

I'll be leaving out that door.

Sky Sports | Football | Transfer Centre | Speculation | Bent asks to quit Black Cats
Sunderland striker Darren Bent has handed in a transfer request after Aston Villa made an £18million move for the England international.

Bent has been a regular scorer for the Black Cats since joining from Tottenham 18 months ago, but he has now asked to quit the North East.

He has scored 36 goals in 63 appearances during his time on Wearside following his £10million switch from Tottenham.

If the football gods are kind, Bent will be lining up for both of Villa's matches in this upcoming fantasy gameweek.

This is a bit of a shock for the Black Cats, who could now be facing the loss of both of their starting forwards from last season, with Kenwyne Jones having already moved to Stoke. Surely this make Gyan THE MAN and his fantasy value will have to be adjusted accordingly. It also puts more of a burden on Danny Welbeck, and possibly Steed Malbranque, who might be given an advanced role behind the strikers by Steve Bruce.

Szczesny to continue

Szczesny to continue after Fabianski setback | News Archive | News |
Wojciech Szczesny will continue in goal on Wednesday night after Lukasz Fabianski suffered a minor setback in his recovery from a shoulder injury.

The younger Pole will make his fourth consecutive first-team appearance in the FA Cup replay at Leeds and looks set to keep goal for the home games against Wigan and Ipswich too.

Arsène Wenger expects Fabianski and Abou Diaby (calf) to be fit after that but Sebastien Squillaci (hamstring) could take a little longer to return.

I hope you didn't sell him to get... say Reina on the barn door. Like I did.  Oy!

Injuries and Suspensions

Premier League team news - ESPN Soccernet

In an effort to make something positive out of a negative, I'm going to list myself as the first person on this list today.  In doing so, I at least get an opening paragraph for a column out of the fact that I came down with some sort of cold/flu on my birthday yesterday.  Happy birthday to me!  I fully expect to use this illness as an excuse if my picks for this weekend suck too but hopefully, there will be no need.

The link above will provide all the details but the major stories found inside are as follows:
  1. Dzeko uncertain - He's definitely in the squad but the speculation here is that he may not start.  Since the words don't come from the manager, I don't know how much credence to give them but it might make more sense to wait this one out on the BD.
  2. RSC deal complete - Not exactly injury or suspension news but important none-the-less especially given how poorly Chelsea have been playing.  I think I'll have him ready on the BD as well but I'm certainly thinking seriously about drafting him in straight away.
  3. Fabianski out - Szczesny is inexpensive and could represent value against bottom of the table WHU.  Obviously take the caveat that Arsenal's defense is a bit shorthanded and has been routinely making at least one major mistake per match that has resulted in a goal.  I expect a win and for Szczesny to return his value but probably not much more than that. (and yes, I had to look up the spelling - some Gooner I am)
  4. Rooney back - I think we all knew this was coming but worth mentioning anyway.
  5. Drogba uncertain - Yesterday saw headlines about Sturridge replacing Drogs in the starting line-up this weekend but the team news seemed to downplay/ignore those rumors.  With other cheap striker options (see RSC), I'd stay away from Sturridge due to the uncertainty. 
  6. Carroll still out - That's quite a thigh problem. 
  7. Heskey/AY suspended - Presumably what attacking Villa does will come from Albrighton, Downing, and Gabby.  Can Charlie Adam arrive soon enough? 
Those are the major stories likely to impact your fantasy line-up.  Enjoy the weekend and hopefully we'll resume Live Chats next weekend.

Injury worry for Pool ahead of West Brom clash

Injury worry for Pool ahead of West Brom clash - Blackpool FC - Blackpool Gazette
ELLIOT Grandin is unlikely to make the starting 11 at West Brom on Saturday, to ensure his hamstring injury doesn’t flare up again.

The Frenchman made a successful return against Liverpool, helping the Seasiders bounce back from three defeats.

But he felt some tightness in the hamstring that had caused him to miss those three games and is unlikely to be risked from the kick- off at The Hawthorns.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher could drop back into midfield, with Matty Phillips poised to come in on the right flank.

How crazy is it that the 'Pool we're interested in isn't on Merseyside? Anyway, this is just a note for those of you with GT-F or Phillips in your lineups after their successful double-match week. Downgrade the former (I'm selling him for Dzeko anyway) and upgrade the latter as it seems Phillips is in line for a start.

Mancini Hedges Against Playing Dzeko

Mancini wary of Wolves pack - Soccerway
New 27 million-pound signing Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg could be thrown into the fold for the Wolves meeting, but Mancini has doubts over the Bosnian's fitness after just coming back from the German winter break.

"He's a good player, he has a good head and he's worked very well so far," he said.

"I don't know if it's possible he will play against Wolves as he came from a break in Germany. I think that he's in good shape but he needs to work. We must wait today and tomorrow then we'll decide."

Micah Richards joins Balotelli in missing the visit of Wolves, but David Silva returns to the squad after recovering from a knee injury.
However, the next article on this site has him,
...certain to debut for Manchester City when they host Wolverhampton on Saturday in the English Premier League.

The Bosnian striker will likely line up alongside City captain Carlos Tevez as the team look to consolidate their spot in the league's top two with a win over the struggling Wolves.
I'm likely to gamble on his playing, but I won't sleep well with the doubt hanging over it.

The Week Ahead - Birthday Edition

It feels like a while since we did one of these.  Between the FA Cup action over the weekend and our inaugural two-gamer of the season there hasn't been a call for a full weekly preview in a while.  Probably a good thing since I'm sure you needed a break from reading long posts after the holiday fixture congestion and I know I needed a break from writing them.

First things first, welcome Edin Dzeko to the Yahoo fantasy game ranks.  When points were tallied yesterday, his name appeared as an option for fantasy managers.  Nice to have that option with Wolves the opponent and Balotelli out for a month or so.  No guarantee that he'll play at this point but given the expenditure, you'd have to think they'll see what they have against modest opposition.

Elsewhere in fantasy news, Jeremy has officially declared that Liverpool are dead to him.  My sense is that this is mostly due to the fact that he chose Pepe Reina despite the warning that Liverpool have been TERRIBLE on the road and they were playing two road matches.  Hard not to see that one coming.  I was pretty upset with the results of my Scott Carson pick in net until Reina made me feel better by being just as bad despite costing more money and squandering two matches of opportunity instead of one.  Oh, and as always Jeremy reserves the right to reverse course on declaring Liverpool dead to him.  In essence making them the new Bolton - never bet on or against them...unless you do.  More importantly, don't spend time watching them on TV, it's hard stuff to watch. 

Finally, if you're wondering about the title of the post.  Today is the 41st anniversary of my arrival into the world.  The first 40 years have been fantastic and I'm looking forward to what the 41st has to offer.  For those who have offered birthday wishes on Facebook and in the comments section, thank you very much.  I'm sure many of you disagree with my opinions from time to time (and some more often than that) but I'm eternally grateful that you continue to read, comment, "Like" and forward along our posts. 

Enough of the sentimentality, and on to your regularly scheduled column

Carson Dropped

Scott Carson has been dropped for Saturday’s clash with Blackpool than a minute ago via MobileRSS

Does this make you feel better or worse about spending 1.17 on him?

Fab21 only 50/50

Lukasz Fabianski is rated as “50:50” for the trip to West Ham on Saturday than a minute ago via web

Szczesny would be a great deal at 5.84, even with Arsenal's frequent defensive frailties. However, I doubt Wenger will come out with a definitive announcement before we have to set our teams. So it's Carson for a buck, Friedel around 5, or Stockdale at 8 for me. Your mileage may vary.

Bentley to Blues - Official

David Bentley has joined Birmingham City on loan for the rest of the season. than a minute ago via BluhaloSpursApp

Baggies sweat on Odemwingie

When last we met...

The Press Association: Baggies sweat on Odemwingie
West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie is continuing to battle an ankle injury ahead of the crunch Barclays Premier League clash with Blackpool on Saturday.

The Baggies will attempt to end a six-match losing streak at The Hawthorns this weekend but they may have to do so without their leading scorer. Odemwingie needed an injection ahead of West Brom's last league game against Fulham eight days ago and missed the 1-0 FA Cup defeat by Reading last weekend, and he has not trained this week.

Boss Roberto Di Matteo told "Peter twisted his ankle so he is not training and we will have to see how he develops this week. He played with an injection in the Fulham game, with credit to him."

...West Brom could also be without Ishmael Miller and Pablo Ibanez, who both have hamstring problems, while Jonas Olsson will serve a one-match ban.

This game seems like a high-scoring one, and without Odemwingie the Baggies may turn to Tchoyi (listed as a midfielder) to play center forward.

Aston Villa table increased Adam bid

When last we met...

Aston Villa table increased Adam bid - Fansfc
Aston Villa Football Club have tabled an improved offer for Charlie Adam.

The 25-year-old has made a big impact in the Premier League for Blackpool this season, and Ian Holloway accepts he has a fight to hold on to the Scottish ace.

An offer of £2.5million from Villa was rejected earlier this week, but understands Gerard Houllier has now returned with a bid in the region of £3.5million.

Reports also have Birmingham sniffing around.

It would be foolish for Holloway to play Adam against Liverpool with this level of uncertainty surrounding his future. Certainly his head isn't right for the match. Also, he's an asset now and you couldn't risk devaluing that asset to an injury this midweek. Right?


And certainly I'm not just trying to work the jinx because I don't have Adam in my fantasy team this week. Certainly not!

Balotelli faces another month out

Balotelli out for at least 3-4 weeks with recurrence of knee injury than a minute ago via web

Can we get Dzeko listed in the fantasy game please?

Sunderland Injury Worries Ease

Updating a previous post.

Injury news: Nedum Onuoha, Lee Cattermole and Danny Welbeck could all return for Sunday's derby. Gaffer quotes on shortly.less than a minute ago via web

Of course this weekend is the Tyne-Wear derby, so the general fantasy rule is "stay away". But Welbeck has been hot, and Sunderland are good at home. Though their home record is predicated on their defence (7 goals allowed - joint best with the Manchester teams and Chelsea), rather than their offense (14 for, with puts them in with ManCity, West Ham, Stoke, and Fulham).

Gerrard will miss Pool trip

Gerrard will miss Pool trip - Blackpool Today
LIVERPOOL skipper Steven Gerrard will miss Wednesday's visit to Blackpool after being sent off in the FA Cup defeat at Manchester United.

The England midfielder has been hit with a three-match suspension after receiving a straight red card for an ugly two-footed challenge on Michael Carrick early in the tie, which United won courtesy of Ryan Giggs' controversial first-minute penalty.

Ah, the joys of two-gamers.

Edin Dzeko Joins Manchester City

Edin Dzeko eyes winning title with Manchester City after £27m move | Football | The Guardian
Dzeko has agreed a 4½-year deal, though the 24-year-old has not signed in time to make his debut in Sunday's FA Cup third-round tie at Leicester City. Instead his first appearance will come next weekend in the Premier League fixture at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers
This is great news for fantasy managers as Dzeko is a world class player that we can grab for incoming transfer money, hopefully 6-something.

It will be fascinating to see how this affects City - and I almost want to convene another blog roundtable. But here are my initial thoughts:

Mancini has been playing possum for the first half of the season just waiting for this. He knew he would get Dzeko in January and has been putting out his teams to get through the first part of the year with the intention of staying in touch with the leaders. Leading the league was probably never in his thoughts, and the fact that they're so close to the top is probably only gravy for him.

Bentley to Blues

Bentley loaned to Blues: Birmingham City have confirmed that Tottenham Hotspur winger David Bentley is to join t... than a minute ago via twitterfeed

It seems like our earlier post about Robbie Keane to Birmingham was wrong, though rumour now has Rangers' Kenny Miller joining his former manager. And while this deal is still awaiting a medical, it seems close to done.

For fantasy I think this returns Former BFDB to relevance. He's well-priced at 7.73 and will likely slot right into the team (on the right), ending Beausejour's and Hleb's relevance -- or what there was of it -- while likely vulturing kicks and points away from Larsson.

Ebanks-Blake Out

And the injuries keep piling up. Too many games in too few days? Does the Premier League need a winter break? Or is the the FA Cup equivalent of Giggs' getting "hurt" before the international break?

Ebanks-Blake out of action for three weeks. Zubar and Foley out of the Doncaster FA Cup tie with minor ankle injuries. than a minute ago via web

He'll seemingly miss three of the league's big guns in @Manchester City, Liverpool, @Bolton, and Manchester United. And yes, I'm counting correctly.

Welbeck Out for Three Weeks

BBC Sport - Football - Sunderland hit by Danny Welbeck hamstring injury
Sunderland striker Danny Welbeck is likely to be out of action for three weeks with a hamstring tear.

The 20-year-old forward, on loan from league leaders Manchester United, suffered the injury during the midweek match against Aston Villa.

Welbeck, who has scored six goals this season, could now miss four or five games, according to Sunderland.
Welbeck has been a popular fantasy pick recently as he's scoring for fun. But now he'll miss league games against Newcastle, @Blackpool, Chelsea and possibly @Stoke (5/2/2011).

Alex Out Another Month

Alex to remain sidelined for three to four more weeks. than a minute ago via web

Just a timely reminder that Chelsea's defence remains thin, as well as fragile.

Keane to Birmingham

Blues confirm Keane talks: Birmingham have confirmed they are in talks with Tottenham about signing striker Robb... than a minute ago via twitterfeed

I think I approve of this move. McLeish has one striker in Phillips whom he seems to trust, however he doesn't seem to have any faith in Phillip's ability to play for more than 10-15 minutes in a match. If Keane can dove-tail with Jerome, Hleb, et al, and they can find him in dangerous positions, Birmingham might stay up after all.  Remember Christophe Dugarry?  Or Mauro Zarate?

(And yes, this post was mostly an excuse to try out Twitter's new "Blackbird" feature.  Sue me, I'm a geek.)

Barn Door (Almost) Live

How can I afford myself in fantasy? How can I afford not to?

Jeremy Spitzberg: what have I missed?
Neal Thurman: no Rooney :-( but Nani in and with an assist
Neal Thurman: Chicharito goal
Neal Thurman: Brum goal from Hleb
Neal Thurman: WBA lost another defender to injury (Cech)
Jeremy Spitzberg: and thus the barn door conundrums begin

Rooney misses Stoke match?

Not sure how large a grain of salt to take with this, but... - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | Sport | Football
Sir Alex Ferguson said he feared a two-week lay-off for his striker but Rooney, who limped back on to the pitch to help United see out the game after all three substitutes had been used, has told friends he expects to miss only one match.

Helpful Hints

Premier League chalkboard analysis | Michael Cox | Football |

A quick note to Liverpool's new manager - or it's current one if need be: Get, and keep, Torres closer to the opposition's goal!

 by Guardian Chalkboards

Fantasy football managers and Liverpool fans alike will thank you.

The (Mid) Week Ahead

So, this week is all about the quick turnaround and I'm sure we'll all continue to experience some frustrations as players are unexpectedly rotated without much warning from their managers. As an added bonus we have the first "double" week of the season featuring the re-scheduled Blackpool vs. Liverpool match from late in 2010. As if that weren't enough, Liverpool teased us into diving in with a quality win against Bolton that saw Gerrard and Torres return to competency if not stardom. The confounding factor in all of this for fantasy managers is that a number of other high quality/low-priced players also returned to form over the weekend. Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, and Robin van Persie all awoke from long dormant spells with goals (and the corresponding increased fantasy prices). So, what to make of it all?

Here we go with an abbreviated preview...

The Barn Door Live - New Years Edition