Most Valuable Player



Discuss.

Here's my take on it: Birmingham went down because they couldn't score goals. They prospered last season by winning a lot of 1-0 matches. That was never going to be sustainable, but the blueprint was there. Be a difficult side to breakdown and do enough on the other end to collect the points.

Without McFadden there wasn't that level of guile, of experience, aggression... whatever combination of skills and traits that Faddie brought to the team. No offense to Beausajour, Fahey or Bentley, but they're not Premier League caliber starters yet, never will be, or never will be again.

So Birmingham were relegated with McFadden's absence for the large majority of the season only proving just how valuable he was to the team.

Magpies release Campbell and Kuqi



Magpies release veteran pair - Yahoo! Eurosport
Newcastle have confirmed that Sol Campbell and Shefki Kuqi have left the club.

The 36-year-old former England defender and the 34-year-old one-time Finland striker have not been offered new deals after their respective short spells at St James' Park.

In a stroke, answering the long-burning question, the scourge of pub trivia night players, "What ever happened to Sol Campbell?". It is hard to believe that a year ago he was a factor as Arsenal progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals.

De Gea, plus 10


We're excited too.

And so, just as the curtain falls on one season, we can unveil the first +10 player of the next...

Fergie confirms De Gea deal: Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Manchester United will sign Atletico Madrid goalkee... http://bit.ly/kNtOinless than a minute ago via twitterfeed Favorite Retweet Reply



We've been looking forward to having a new Manchester United keeper for a while now. This is the first time that a top club has had a new number one since... since Reina came to the league? Szczesny (and yes, I spelled that correctly without having to look it up) is a bit of an odd case. He came in cheap, but got injured quickly and had to play behind a less than top-class defence.

But De Gea looks to be the new man for United, and the first one out of Atletico Madrid as they cash in on some assets like he and Aguero.

Final Fantasy Standings

So how did your humble fantasy Premier League bloggers fare this season?


My final week points were 76.5 with Adam, Zenden(!), and Berbatov the bright spots.

Neal was hot on my tail at 3,387.50 points.

All in all, I finished well in our private group, ahead of Neal but WAY behind Nik (Y!AM) and Mo (Egypt) who finished #7 overall. I was very low in the Beat the Blogger groups, which is a testament to how competitive you all are. Great job, everyone!

Congrats to everyone for another great season, and thank you so much for reading and participating in the whole thing with us. But don't go away. On the blog, we've got more detailed analysis coming soon as well as the usual end-of-season wrap-up/award features. And as we head into the summer there will sure to be international competitions to cover, MLS (sorry, but we follow it and we have to write about something), and the hot-stove transfer market.

The Waiting for Fantasy Points

... is the hardest part.



C'mon Yahoo!UK. Get it in gear!

The Final Chat of the Season

Starting Elevens

Most everything as expected so far. Tevez and Berbatov start. Owen on the bench.

Blackpool

Blackpool team: Gilks, Eardley, Evatt, Baptiste, Crainey, Southern, Adam, Vaughan, Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell, Puncheon #BFC #MUFCless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply



Manchester United

Strong Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Park, Anderson, Scholes, Fletcher, Berbatov, Nani. #fbless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply



Chelsea

Chelsea XI to face #Everton: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Essien, Lampard, Torres, Mikel, Malouda, Terry, Alex, Anelka. #efc #coybless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply



Liverpool

Liverpool: Reina, Meireles, Aurelio, Suarez, J Cole, Kuyt, Lucas, Carragher, Spearing, Skrtel, Flanagan. #avfcless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply



Spurs

Here's our starting XI - Cudicini; Kaboul, Dawson, King, Rose; Lennon, Huddlestone, Sandro, Modric; Crouch, Defoe.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply



Everton

#Everton XI to face Chelsea: Howard, Hibbert, Baines, Heitinga, Jagielka, Arteta, Distin, Beckford, Osman, Coleman, Rodwell. #efc #coybless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply



Manchester City

Here's the City XI: Hart, Richards, Boyata, Kompany, Lescott, Barry, de Jong, Yaya, AJ, Silva, Tevezless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply



Bolton

Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Chung-Yong, Elmander, Gardner, Taylor, K Davies, Sturridgeless than a minute ago via √úberSocial Favorite Retweet Reply



Stoke City

Stoke City XI today (4-4-2): Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross (c), Collins, Wilson; Pennant, Whelan, Delap, Etherington; Walters, Jonesless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Final Fantasy Team Sheet


I'm not seeing much team news today that would prompt me to change my line-up. I'm still not convinced by Krul, not expecting Spector to play, and not expecting Olsson to line-up in midfield again. But otherwise the team sheet makes some sort of strange sense. Here's hoping.

Any last minute changes to your last team today?

Premier League Injuries and Suspensions

Berbatov battles Tevez
Berbatov battles Tevez, again.

Premier League team news - ESPN Soccernet

Of course it may all be irrelevant due to the inconvenient timing of "the Rapture" but if we manage to avoid the end of days on Saturday, we will indeed have a final day of the season on Sunday.

Honestly, as I looked at the content behind the link above, I don't think I saw anything that moved me to make a change.  Surely, you have already seen SAF's plans for his starting line-up (Berbs and EvdS being "in" are the big headlines).  The only other item of note is that Kevin Doyle sounds pretty doubtful for Wolves which should solidify the value of Ward as an inexpensive midfielder playing as a withdrawn striker.

The final note is that our makeshift Sunderland forwards all take a step down in value as Gyan has returned to training and at least has a chance to feature on the final day of the season (although why Steve Bruce would put him out there is a mystery to me - let him start his summer early and ensure that he's healthy going into next season after a long year between club and World Cup commitments).

With that said, we conclude the final Injuries and Suspensions post of the 2010-11 season.  It has, as always, been a blast doing this.  We thank everyone who reads and comments - even the ones (maybe even especially the ones) who disagree with us.  The fact that it is generally done respectfully and in the interest of improving the dialog makes this something we are very proud to write and moderate. 

Join in Sunday for the final live chat of the season and we'll look forward to seeing you all over the summer as transfers happen and we start getting ready for next season.

Cheers - Neal

Manchester United Sets Line-Up for Blackpool

English roundup-Ferguson set to ring the changes - Yahoo! Eurosport

"There are players who need a game anyway. Darren Fletcher, Paul Scholes and Anderson will all play. So will (Dimitar) Berbatov, (Patrice) Evra and (Edwin) Van der Sar."


Other news at the link. And do yourself a favor and read, and follow, Fantasy Football Scout on Twitter. They're killing it today!

The Week Ahead - Final Week


Neal and Jeremy discussing the season.

Jeremy and I were chatting on AIM as Manchester City wrapped up their second win over Stoke City in three days yesterday. As Citeh eclipsed Arsenal in the standings he asked me how I felt about it as an Arsenal fan. This is a question I've been thinking about quite a bit recently, especially since my recent vacation took me to Eastlands for a match between Citeh and Spurs. As it turns out, the answer is a complex one. It is complex mostly because my relationships with football, the Premier League, and Arsenal are fairly complex ones.

As An Arsenal Supporter
The obvious answer would be that I want Arsenal to finish third and avoid the possibility of a Champions League play-in scenario.  The reality is that, like a potential Carling Cup win earlier in the year, I think that finishing second or third would have allowed the Arsenal leadership to paper over the cracks and continue to turn a blind eye to a squad that has some serious flaws.  Is it a certainty that a fourth place finish will change this thinking? No, but the ignominious end to the season combined with a new, single driving force behind the ownership structure will dramatically increase [ed note: do you mean decrease?] the chances of this off-season being another "minor modification" to the squad.

As A Fantasy Player
My immediate reaction was that I was disappointed that any new Arsenal acquisition would likely be less valuable at the beginning of next season as they missed one or more match weeks for Champions League qualification.  The quick follow-up reaction was that I'd MUCH rather Citeh's new bazillionaire players avoid the same early-season fate.  In the Yahoo game identifying inexpensive Premier League newbies (e.g., Adam,  Brunt, Odemwingie, Holden, Kolarov, VDV) at the beginning of the season helps you afford the established veterans who you know will produce (e.g., Drogba, Rooney, RvP, Bale, EvdS).  It usually isn't a mystery as to who the high-potential players are going to be early - United's new keeper, Citeh's new stars, Liverpool's new CB and/or winger, Spurs new striker, Eden Hazzard, Adel Taarabt, etc. - but it becomes harder to buy these players early at what you assume will be their lowest price of the season when you know they'll be missing matches early for Champions League qualification. 

As A Writer
As sad as I am to say it, Arsenal are incredibly polarizing as long as Wenger sticks to his way of doing things.  While this may be frustrating to the part of me that supports the club, it means that writing about Arsenal tends to draw more opinions, create more conversation, and generally increase the extent to which people read and participate.  As you might imagine, this is good for someone who measures writing success - at least to some extent - by the popularity of the posts and the level of intelligent debate that they create in the comments section or on the Facebook site.

So, at the end of the day, each of the factors above was telling me that Citeh beating Stoke and presumably going on to beat out Arsenal for third place and a guaranteed spot in the group stages of the Champions League next season is a good thing for the long term health of the club, my fantasy team, and the popularity of the blog. 

Either that or I just spent 700 or so words convincing myself to avoid crawling into a corner and sobbing uncontrollably over the depressing state of affairs at the Emirates.  I'm not sure which, but I'm going to go with the logical stuff rather that the depressing stuff... for now.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled fantasy analysis column back from ironic hiatus much closer to the actual matches being played.

Midweek Barn Door Team


One Carlos Tevez (and two goals) forced a barn door re-think on my part. That's not entirely true. Your comments and a viewing of the Premier League Review Show also "helped".

I had to grab Carlito. I'm not convinced he'll play at Bolton, but I wanted the option. So out went Ba and Hennessey with Carson coming in as an enabling keeper. Krul and Mignolet are also (bad) options at the price.

In the defence, a lot of questions were being asked about Onuoha. And rightly so. The better pick there would be Bardsley, who has been surprising good this season. But the real pick for me is Blackburn's Martin Olsson. He's been great in a midfield role for Rovers over the last month and I expect he'll be value for money at 10. Gibbs is a relatively cheap ticket into Arsenal, who must win on Sunday. I'm not sure his status or Clichy's health. If it doesn't look like he'll play, or if I want money to upgrade the keeper position Gibbs is likely to be gutted.

How is your final XI shaping up?

Manchester City Team News



UPDATE: Never mind. Full strength ahead for City, and that doesn't include Kolarov or Dzeko.

Team: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Zaba, de Jong, Toure, Milner, A Johnson, D Silva, Tevezless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply





Word is breaking on the Twitter machine.

#mcfc team news for tomorrow. balotelli out with knee, tevez bench. Silva big doubt, knee.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad Favorite Retweet Reply



So seemingly we'll get a start for Dzeko with AJohnson and possibly Kolarov in support. What's interesting for "next" week is the further suggestion that Tevez is being rested for the trip to Bolton.

@gideonmradivan yes. Saved for bolton after his shift at wembley.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad Favorite Retweet Reply



Bolton... the club that has shipped four to Blackpool, two to Sunderland (of no strikers fame), one to Rovers (might as well not have any strikers), and three to Fulham in their last four matches. Tevez still commands top-tier money north of 17, but maybe it's worth an investment. He'd certainly be a differential if you're looking to stand-out from the crowd.