Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Week 7 - Player Picks

Arsenal, Man U, Everton, Spurs, Wolves, Wigan, Burnley...there are so many good options with great fixtures for Week 7 that it's been very tough to narrow down a list. Here are 45 or so picks to get you thinking in what must be one of the most difficult weeks to make your mind up..

Mannone - What a difference he's made to Arsenal...he seems to make so many more saves than Almunia ever did. Obviously he's too expensive at £15m but if you have him pre-update then hang on as the Arse face Blackburn.

Foster - Should've got some confidence back after the shocker he had vs Man City & a home game for the Champions makes him good value as Sunderland don't seem to travel too well.

Jensen - The Beast has a good fixture at home, we know he makes saves & his value has dropped down to a very affordable level. Could be a great pick.

Given - Tough fixture but if you've made him your season keeper than hang on to him as (like Jensen) he'll always makes saves to get you points.

Hennersey - Pompey at home...and he only costs £4m. Wolves will know they need to win these games & the home fans will be right behind them. Pompey are in desperate trouble and I can see a 3-0 Wolves win.

Myhill - Costs 1.00 but he plays for rancid Hull. Purchase at your peril.

Baines - May lose some set pieces to Billy so don't pay full price, but if you have him at around £10m then he'll keep giving you a great points return, home or away.

Vermaelen - Season keeper for anyone who has him for around £6-£7m, & a great fixture

Mears/Carslie - Both around £7m, both returning their value, both with a good home fixture for Burnley, both good choices.

Alexander - See above, but is cheaper & takes penalties.

O'Shea - Home fixture for the Champions, scored last weekend & tends to get a couple in a row on the few occasions he does get a goal.

Distin - Been really impressed with him since he joined Everton, despite his cost he's scoring well & has a decent fixtures at home to a Stoke side who are frankly rubbish away from the Britania.

Roger Johnson - Keeps on racking up points without cleans sheets, still cheap & not the worst fixture.

Heitinga - I actually think he's looked pretty ropey so far but he's going to get games, he's being given a few freekicks & he has a good fixture. If you have him at his old price of £5.5m then he's one of the best defensive picks this weekend.

Bassong - Bolton away has never been a fun place to go for Tottenham but if you're looking for a defender for under £6m, a definite starter with a chance of a win/clean sheet then SeBass is an option.

Mancienne - Cheap with a home game vs Pompey.

Sonko - Cheap with a home game & scoring surprisingly well.

Fabregas - Cesc usually thrives in games like this at home & even though he's a touch pricey, I'm recommending neither Gerrard or Lampard this week, so it's possible you'll have the spare funds. I honestly think Arsenal could hammer 5 past Blackburn so he's a great option.

Giggs - We'll see if he's rested tonight, but if he is then it's likely he'll get a start vs Sunderland. At 36 he's in the form of his life, thrashing out assists all over the place & is on my radar for sure.

Arshavin - He's not scored well so far this season but he was elecric last night in the Champions League & he could break out for the same reason as Fabregas. He's a risk at over £14m but if you fancy his chances then I think it could pay off in Week 7.

Lennon - Didn't get going vs Burnley but I expect him to terrify Bolton with his pace on the counter attack & score well.

Billy - Surely he'll get a start vs Stoke? It's been confirmed that Pienaar's knee injury isn't as bad as first feared but I doubt he'll be risked when you have someone with Bill's ability to replace him. At under £5m he's the bargain of the season so far.

O'Hara - Still taking all set pieces, still scoring well. I'm very glad I grabbed him at under £5m weeks ago as the money I'm able to spend elsewhere is great AND he keeps returning over his value. Still a good buy at just over £6m

Jarvis - The Milijas love-in is well & truely over & Jarvis is now getting all set pieces for Wolves. Great fixture for him & still well priced. Someone I'm seriously considering.

N'Zogbia - Outstanding vs Chelsea (17 points) & now has a chance to continue his form at Hull. At £9m he's a good outside bet that not many others will pick up & the way Hull are playing means he has a chance of another bumper week.

Cahill - Was back to his dangerous best vs Pompey, constantly arriving late in the box & winning everything in the air. With Billy swinging in the crosses he could be good for a goal so £11m seems like value to me.

Petrov - Only if you barndoored him at before his performance vs West Ham...and only if you're sure he'll keep his place. He should.

Kightly - If he starts then he's a decent bet but it's tough to be sure. I may wait a week to see how he performs vs Pompey but he is a player I rate highly so he may sneak in for Week 7.

Hunt - Always worth a look in a home game, but beware Jimmy Bullard's imminent return in future weeks as he's likely to take a lot of his set pieces away.

Rosicky/Walcott - If they play then they represent fantastic picks & value but it's so difficult to be sure that i'll probably stay away. If you take the risk with one of them it could pay off hugely given their fixture.

Van Persie - Could well be in my team. Great fixture & he's starting to find the net on a regular basis. He's burned me so many times but I keep coming back for more.

Rooney - With his value dropping below £18m he's very hard not to pick up vs Sunderland...there just aren't enough spaces in my team!

Torres - Very very tough fixture but he's in world class form so don't let that put you off keeping him. Don't pay his current price though.

Drogba - Again like Torres he has a tough fixture but I don't think many defences can cope with him at the moment. No way should he be leaving anyone's team.

Saha - Scoring goals for fun now & will be missing the Europa Cup game so will be nice & rested for the weekend. SOme people will be holding him for around £9m but even at £12m he's worth a punt.

Rodallega - If he can do what he did to Chelsea last weekend, imagine what could he do to Hull?

Crouch - He'll definitely start vs Bolton as he's such a massive help defensively as well as offensively. He'll have a massive point to prove so he's my pick of the Spurs strikers & costs only £9m.

Doyle - Scoring goals & at home to Portsmouth. Say no more.

Berbatov - If you think United will win well then he's a good outside pick as an alternative to Rooney.

Nugent - Scored twice on his home debut & there's no reason he can't bag a goal vs Birmingham. Another great value pick.

Carlton Cole/Diamanti - West Ham are no where near as bad as their league position suggests & I think they'll beat Fulham this weekend. Hardly anyone will have these 2 players so going with either could prove a masterstroke.

Eduardo - Always good for a goal at the Emirates, whether starting or coming on a sub. Cheap too!

So those are the player I'm considering this weekend & there really are some fantastic options/difficult choices to make...I'm leaning towards value midfield picks and top £££ strikers at the moment but it's still a bit up in the air.

A reminder that The Blog Cup starts this Weekend for all members of the 3 Blog Leagues. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please click here. Remember, The Blog Cup is just a bit of fun so don't sacrifice long term strategy for it (unless you really want to!!).

Also, remember we have the Facebook Group which is continuing to grow in numbers & helpes me put faces to names & have some additional chat.

How's your team looking? Did you miss anyone on the barndoor which really annoyed you? Have I missed anyone in my list above?


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Week 6 - Monday & Injuries

I imagine if you picked up Martin Petrov or Carlos Tevez you'll be feeling pretty pleased with yourself today, with both men outstanding in Man City's comfortable 3-1 victory yesterday night. Given, Bellamy, Cole & Noble also picked up decent points as City continue to impress & West Ham continue to struggle.

I'm furious I missed Petrov on the barndoor & his price has rocketed from £6.5m to over £11m, so that's the end of that one for me. If you grabbed him at 6.50 he's fantastic value in Week 7, even with a tough game at Villa. He used to be a favourite of mine 2 seasons ago & I always wish Spurs had snapped him up. When playing regualrly he's a fantasy manager's dream, corners, crosses, shots, assists, free kicks - the lot.

A lot of people did well last night as I fell exactly 500 places in the overall standings...I'm still annoyed Yahoo credited Bent with 2 goals on Sunday when "his 2nd" was an own goal, but it's probably too late for them to change it now. The Premier League, BBC & every other site/fantasy game has given it as a Mancienne own goal, but Yahoo do stuff like this sometimes.

Moving on to injuries...
The early news from Manchester United is that both Michael Owen and Ji-sung Park missed training ahead of Wednesday night's clash with Wolfsburg - we'll bring you details as soon as we get them. Edwin van der Sar did train but he is still expected to be two weeks from a return after breaking his hand.

Mixed news for Manchester City, who have conceded that Robinho will be out for another three weeks with his ankle injury, but Roque Santa Cruz finally made his debut against West Ham after undergoing kee surgery.

Now for some clarification on Liverpool. Yesterday we reported that Javier Mascherano was out with a virus and Yossi Benayoun was out with a leg injury - because this is what the Press Association reported. Now it seems they - and by extension, us and just about every other media outlet - were wrong.

Rafa Benitez says that Mascherano is ruled out with a hamstring injury, saying: "He was shooting in training and felt something in his hamstring. He went to see the doctor straight away and we found he had a small problem in his hamstring.

"It could be two or three days, but we are not sure."

As for Benayoun - he is in the squad named on the Liverpool website to face Fiorentina. Not in that squad is Daniel Agger, who will play for the Reds' reserves against Manchester City on Tuesday night after missing the start of the season with a back injury.

Across Stanley Park, the news on Steven Pienaar is encouraging. The South African will almost certainly be out of Everton's Europa League clash with BATE Borisov this week, but the club believe he is not due for a long spell on the sidelines.

The midfielder picked up a knee injury in Saturday's victory at Portsmouth, and has been on crutches ever since.

Physio Mick Rathbone said: "There's no timescale at the moment but hopefully it will only be something short-term. Steven took an almighty knock on the inside of the knee, so he is pretty sore. There's a lot of bruising and a lot of swelling around the area, so we've got him on crutches at the moment."

There's also good news for Fulham, who will only lose Damien Duff for two-three weeks with the calf injury that forced him out of Saturday's defeat to Arsenal.

Struggling Portsmouth are hopeful of getting Steve Finnan off their injured list as he plays for the reserves tonight. A hamstring injury has kept him out of action since he signed from Espanyol this summer.

Finally, Hull have pencilled in Jimmy Bullard for a reserve game against Bolton next Tuesday night, but we're not holding our breath.
The news on Pienaar, Duff, Robinho & Bullard is worth noting.

Moving on - a reminder that The Blog Cup starts this Weekend for all members of the 3 Blog Leagues. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please click here. It's going to take a hell of work so the 1st Round results will take a few days for me to sift through once all games are completed (which won't be until Villa v Man City on Monday 5th October)...hopefully by Wednesday 7th.

Also, remember we have the Facebook Group which is continuing to grow in numbers & helpes me put faces to names & have some additional chat.

Week 7 Player Picks will be up tomorrow at some point.


Monday, 28 September 2009

100th Post - The Blog Cup

My 100th post & a nice little surprise for you - The Blog Cup.

At points throughout the season we will have weekends where the Top Weekly Scores go through to the "next round". It's a knockout so once you're out, you're out!

All 300 teams in the Blog Leagues have a place in the Blog Cup...unfortunately I can't run more than 3 leagues so if you didn't get a space then you're going to miss out - sorry :(

I've outlined the The Blog Cup schedule below:-

1st Round - Week 7 - Top 200 teams based on weekly scores in the Blog Leagues go through to 2nd round

2nd Round - Week 12 - Top 100 teams based on weekly scores from the remaining 200 teams go through to 3rd round

3rd Round - Week 16 - Top 60 teams based on weekly scores from the remaining 100 teams go through to 4th round

4th Round - Week 20 - Top 40 weekly scores from the remaining 60 teams go through to 5th round

5th Round - Week 24 - Top 20 teams based on weekly scores from the remaining 40 teams go through to quarter finals

Quarter Finals - Week 28 - Top 10 teams based on weekly scores from the remaining 20 teams go through to semi finals

Semi Finals - Week 32 - Top 2 teams based on weekly scores from the remaining 10 teams go through to the final

Final - Week 34 - Top weekly score from the 2 finalists wins.

Prize - The winner of the cup will win a replica football shirt of their favourite Premier League team. I'll think of a prize for the runner up too.

As people will probably change their team name throughout the season I'll be tracking teams by their Yahoo IDs.

In the event of any of the above weeks/rounds being an international break week (ZERO Premiership games) then the round will be moved to the following weekend.

It is always the Top 200 teams who go through, with one exception. In the event of teams being tied on weekly points at the cut off (e.g. Round 1- if the 200th, 201st & 202nd teams are all tied on the same weekly total) then all 3 teams would go through to the next round.

It's going to be a completely manual process for me to run & it's probably going to take a fair bit of admin effort, but it's something I want to do...I think it makes things interesting as it's nothing to do with Overall Position, it's purely based on your weekly score in the selected week, so it gives players not doing too well the chance to have 1 off weekends where they score big whilst a top player has a bad week...fantasy giant killing! And the prize adds some spice :)

I hope people think it's a good idea... I'll make it clear on the lead up to each round whether it's a Cup Weekend.  

Round 1 is THIS WEEKEND!!! The teams with the top 200 weekly scores in the blog leagues will go through to Round 2. Everyone else will be knocked out.

Please let me have your feedback


Injury Update 28/09/09

From Football365...
Javier Mascherano and Yossi Benayoun are out of Liverpool's Champions League squad to face Fiorentina in the Group E clash in Italy.

Midfielder Mascherano, who only came on as a late substitute for Steven Gerrard in Saturday's 6-1 hammering of Hull, is suffering from sickness, while Benayoun picked up a leg injury in the same match. Neither travelled.

Theo Walcott was declared fit by Arsene Wenger on Friday but still didn't make it onto the bench for the Fulham game, but he can expect to be involved for Arsenal against Olympiakos on Tuesday night, with various newspapers suggesting the England winger has been knocking on the manager's door.

"He has a chance to be in the squad but not to be starting. He has played only 45 minutes since June," said Wenger, who will be without Manuel Almunia and Denilson once again for the Champions League clash against the Greek side at the Emirates.

Nicklas Bendtner has also been ruled out of that game after his minor car crash on Sunday.

Wenger said: "Nicklas did not practice because he had a car accident yesterday. Fortunately there was no real long-term damage, but he was bruised and we thought it better he did not train. He should be back for Sunday's game [against Blackburn]."

More worrying for Arsenal fans is that Denilson has been ruled out for two months with a fracture to his back, just two weeks after Wenger said it was "a question of days" before the Brazilian would be fit.

Over to Chelsea, and the Evening Standard claims today that early scans for Ashley Cole (knee) and John Obi Mikel (ankle) have shown no serious damage, though they could both be rested for Wednesday's clash with Apoel with an eye on Sunday's home game with Liverpool.

Michael Ballack could travel to Cyprus after recovering from a calf strain while Joe Cole will return to the squad after missing out on the trip to Wigan with a cold.

You may have noted that Jermain Defoe left the White Hart Lane pitch early on Saturday with a hand injury but he is expected back on Saturday against Bolton, with Harry Redknapp saying: "He dislocated his finger and they couldn't get it back in. He did it when he went through on goal and fell over. It was painful for him."

Everton are anxiously waiting on news of Steven Pienaar's knee injury after he was stretchered from the field after a challenge from fellow South African Aaron Mokoena on Saturday.

Club physio Mick Rathbone told the club's official website on Sunday evening: "It's still too early to say. We had a look yesterday but we're letting it settle for a day or two. I will assess him again in the morning."

Everton are of course already missing knee injury victims Phil Neville, Phil Jagielka, Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe.

Also waiting on scan results are Fulham, who lost Damien Duff to a calf injury just nine minutes into their defeat to Arsenal on Saturday night. Boss Roy Hodgson described it as a "freak situation".

Still top of the injury table are Birmingham but they are now at least down to just eight absentees after Stephen Carr and Gregory Vignal returned to the fray against Bolton.
It still doesn't sound like Wenger is willing to risk Walcott from the start just yet, so that has sent him tumbling down my 'recommended picks' list for Week 7. I imagine Pienaar will be missing for a week or 2 so that makes Billy an unbelievably pick at home to Stoke for UNDER £5m!

Any inside news regarding injuries at your club?


Sunday, 27 September 2009

Week 6 - Sunday

Firstly, thanks to mehicoradio for his excellent investigation/comments regarding player point returns vs value...if you haven't read them then please head over to the comments section of Week 6 - Saturday - very good stuff :)

Now onto the one game for today...damn you Darren Bent! Have you seen how many times I have recommended the guy? EVERY WEEK! And how many times have I picked him up? Zero. It makes me annoyed, but what can you do? 5-2, what a game at the Stadium of Light, the Premier League is really treating us to some fantastic matches this season. Wolves can feel hard done by for sure, it was never a game worthy of a 3 goal defeat & I'm sure they'll bounce back vs Pompey next week.

I had Reid & Gordon who added 12 points to leave me on 113 for the week, which isn't too bad but I bet others had a far better week. I very nearly went with Sonko & Turner instead of Bassong & Nelsen, & the decision cost me around 15 points which is frustrating, but it's very rare to get it 100% right. I'm up to 2,200th but will drop down a few hundred places after the City game tomorrow seeing as I have no more players...I'm hoping for a 1-1 with 2 own goals :)

Now my barndoor team looks like this...


Verm  Heitinga  Hunch

Billy  O'Hara  Kightly  Hunch

Torres  Drogba  Hunch

I'm very happy with how it's looking & there's a very good chance that NOTHING changes (provided there are no injuries in the Champions League). My hunches are all from Man Utd, Arsenal &/or Spurs so if you fancy a guess at who they are then please comment below & if you get it right I might tell you :) I will say (again) that it's all about Man U, Arsenal, Wolves, Everton & Spurs players in Week 7.

How did you end up doing? Who have you got in the Man City game? Week 7 teams?


Week 6 - Saturday

Yesterday started badly. I dropped Heitinga & Saha, only for the former to get a clean sheet & assist, & the latter to get a match winning goal. However, my day was to get better...

Firstly, I was at the Spurs game yesterday, where I witnessed Spurs destroy Burnley. I must admit, when the team was announced a lot of people around me were furious that Keane was starting ahead of Crouch. Maybe that's why we're fans & Harry's the manager! Keane was majestic in every department & could've had 6...Defoe should've had a hattrick but unfortunately (for him & my team) he got none & went off injured.  Still, fantastic result - I just hope nobody had Jensen & I also hope nobody has the hangover I'm currently experiencing ...:o)

Secondly, I've moved up almost 2000 places into the Top 2500, 101 points with Gordon & Reid still to play. Again, things didn't go perfectly but they went well enough, slowly but surely I'm gaining ground on those above me...& I'm tied with ToffeeDave on 671.50 points.

Seeing as Reid was my real hunch pick for a bumper weekend I'm pretty pleased that I've passed 100 with his points still to come. Torres was obviously a massive reason for this, but my decision to drop Gerrard to balance my team out proved the correct one (just). He scored 15 points but the players I brought in with his money (Lennon & Benayoun) scored 21 & I had lots of players bringing in decent points (Verm, Bassong, Nelsen, Defoe, Drogba, O'Hara etc).

So what did I do on the barndoor? Lots! In come Foster, O'Shea, Billy (good chance of starting with Pienaar's injury), Heitinga & Robbie Keane. Staying are Torres, Drogba, O'Hara, Verm...and I'm undecided on 2 midfield positions - Arshavin, Walcott & Giggs are all possible options. You have to fancy Everton, Arsenal, Man U & Spurs next weekend & I may also look at Wigan @ Hull & Wolves at home to Pompey.

I'm very pleased about how things are progressing, the more the season goes on the more I feel like I'm getting back in the groove & with 2 players still to play it could be a 115-120 point week.. Looking at the leagues it seems a lot of people are doing very well & as always I'm hoping the blog is helping.

So how did you do, who have you still got to play & who are you holding on the barndoor?


Saturday, 26 September 2009

Week 6 - My Team


Vermaelen  Bassong  Nelsen

Lennon  Benayoun  O'Hara  Reid

Drogba  Torres  Defoe

So the big news is I dropped Gerrard...& with the money I was able upgrade other players to Lennon, Benayoun & Defoe. It's a move I thought long & hard about as I really think Gerrard will do well today, but the balance I was able to strike by dropping him was too good to turn down.

I have a premium strikeforce that I'm sure a lot of people will have, which meant Saha was dropped. It could be a mistake, but at the end of the day I'm a Spurs fan so went with my loyalty & you don't get many better line-ups than Torres, Defoe, Drogba! I'm annoyed I haven't got any Everton players, but with the slight doubt over Pienaar (even though it's now been confirmed he starts) I decided to replace him with Yossi. Of course I reckon Lennon & Reid could both be in for good weeks.

Ryan Nelsen is there because I had 5.20 to spend & he was the only certain starter (with a home game) that I could afford. I couldn't quite stretch to Heitinga, with Sonko & Wilkinson the other options, but I've gone with the Blackburn skipper. Bassong should start & Gordon is a bargain that needs no explanation.

So that's it for Week 6...what team did you settle on?


Friday, 25 September 2009

Week 6 Match Previews

As always I've scoured various websites & pieces of team news to come up with these predicted starting XI's. Please remember that nothing is certain, so only use these as a guide.

If you have any team news you have may contridict these starting XIs then please post them up in the comments section below:-

Week 6 Predicted Line-Ups

Birmingham: Hart, Carr, R Johnson, Dann, Vignal, Tainio, Fahey, Ferguson, Bowyer, Larsson, Benitez
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Knight, Cahill, Samuel, Gardner, McCann, Muamba, Taylor, Klasnic, K Davies

Blackburn: Robinson, Jacobson, Samba, Nelsen, Chimbonda, Andrews, Grella, Diouf, Dunn, McCarthy, Roberts
Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Delph, Petrov, Milner, Young, Agbonlahor, Carew

Fulham: Schwarzer, Paintsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Etuhu, Murphy, Johnson, Duff, Dempsey,  Zamora
Arsenal: Mannone, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Diaby, Eboue, Fabregas, Arshavin, Van Persie

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Insua, Mascherano, Lucas, Gerrard, Kuyt, Benayoun, Torres
Hull: Myhill, McShane, Zayatte, Sonko, Dawson, Olofinjana, Kilbane, Marney, Hunt, Geovanni, Altidore

Portsmouth: James, Vanden Borre, Kaboul, Ben Haim, Belhadj, Mokoena, Brown, O’Hara, Boateng, Smith, Piquionne
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Osman, Rodwell, Cahill, Fellaini, Pienaar, Saha

Stoke: Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Ab Faye, Collins, Delap, Whelan, Whitehead, Lawrence, Tuncay, Kitson
Man Utd: Foster, O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Anderson, Fletcher, Nani, Giggs, Berbatov, Rooney

Tottenham: Cudicini, Hutton, Bassong, Corluka, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Hudd, Kranjcar, Crouch, Defoe.
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, Gudjonsson, Blake, Fletcher, Nugent,

Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Figueroa, Thomas, Diame, Gomez, Scharner, N’Zogbia, Rodallega.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, A Cole, Essien, Ballack, Malouda, Lampard, Anelka, Drogba

Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Turner, Richardson, Malbranque, Henderson, Cana, Reid, Campbell, Bent
Wolves: Hennessey, Halford, Berra, Mancienne, Elokobi, Edwards, Henry, Castillo, Jarvis, Keogh, Doyle.

Man City: Given, Richards, Toure, Lescott, Bridge, De Jong, Barry, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Bellamy.
West Ham: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Illunga, Parker, Noble, Behrami, Diamanti, Hines, Cole

There are of course doubts. We don't know for sure on Pienaar, Billy, Distin or even Lucas Neill, if Bassong will definitely be back, or if Crouch & Gomes will get the nod ahead of Keane & Cudicini. Anton Ferdinand could be dropped etc etc etc

These predicted line-ups are only for a guide & remember...if in doubt, go with the safer option & pick someone you know will play.

Good luck - any last minute team news will be posted, otherwise i'll be be back to post my team up at 12:01 tomorrow lunchtime.

UPDATE: Fantastically useful overview on
Birmingham (11) v Bolton (17)
Sebastian Larsson, Stephen Carr, Gregory Vignal and Lee Carsley are all available after injury, while Teemu Tainio could return after being ineligible for the midweek Carling Cup clash with Sunderland. Blues boss Alex McLeish has to decide whether to pair Christian Benitez and Garry O'Connor up front.

Bolton midfielder Sean Davis could miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery. Manager Gary Megson has no other fresh concerns.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Birmingham W D L L W; Bolton L L L W D

Top scorers (all competitions): Lee Bowyer (Birmingham) 2; Ivan Klasnic (Bolton) 4

Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)

Blackburn (18) v Aston Villa (5)
Boss Sam Allardyce made 10 changes for Rovers' Carling Cup win at Nottingham Forest and, with all those players coming through unscathed, several could come into consideration. Lars Jacobsen is in contention after his wife gave birth, while El-Hadji Diouf will be considered despite an ongoing police investigation into allegations he racially abused a ball-boy at Everton. Gael Givet is a doubt with a knee injury.

Nigel Reo-Coker returns to the Aston Villa squad after a two-game absence following a training ground bust-up with manager Martin O'Neill. Midfielder Steve Sidwell is again ruled out with a thigh strain but winger Ashley Young (calf) and striker Emile Heskey (ankle) are expected to be fit to play.

Last season: Blackburn 0 Aston Villa 2, Aston Villa 3 Blackburn 2

Last five league matches: Blackburn L L D W L; Aston Villa L W W W W

Top scorers (all competitions): David Dunn (Blackburn) 2; Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa) 4

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Fulham (14) v Arsenal (7)
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is likely to make several changes after the Carling Cup loss at Manchester City. Zoltan Gera may retain his place in the starting line-up after scoring the goal which put the Cottagers ahead at Eastlands but Simon Davies suffered a setback from his foot injury in the game and will be unavailable while Erik Nevland, Andrew Johnson (shoulder) and Toni Kallio (Achilles) also miss out.

Arsenal playmaker Andrey Arshavin returns from a groin injury and England winger Theo Walcott has recovered from a side strain - but goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is still troubled by a chest infection so Vito Mannone could continue his place. Denilson (back), Samir Nasri (leg), Lukasz Fabianski (knee) and Johan Djourou (knee) remain sidelined.

Last season: Arsenal 0 Fulham 0, Fulham 1 Arsenal 0

Last five league matches: Fulham W L L W L; Arsenal W W L L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Andrew Johnson & Bobby Zamora (Fulham) 3; Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal) 4

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Liverpool (3) v Hull (19)
Defender Andrea Dossena (groin) and midfielder Alberto Aquilani (ankle) are Liverpool's only two absentees, although Aquilani has stepped up his rehabilitation and has started running again. Boss Rafael Benitez reverts to his strongest line-up, having fielded a second-string side in the Carling Cup at Leeds.

Hull defender Anthony Gardner could be back in contention after a knee injury, while Ibrahima Sonko is also available after being cup-tied for the midweek Carling Cup loss to Everton, Jimmy Bullard (knee) is making encouraging progress but is not yet ready to feature while Steven Mouyokolo (hamstring) is still sidelined. Youngsters Tom Cairney and Liam Cooper could play a part after impressing against Everton.

Last season: Hull 1 Liverpool 3, Liverpool 2 Hull 2

Last five league matches: Liverpool W L W W W; Hull L W D L L

Top scorers (all competitions): Fernando Torres (Liverpool) 5; Geovanni & Stephen Hunt (Hull) 2

Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

Portsmouth (20) v Everton (13)
Pompey boss Paul Hart could hand a long-awaited debut to defender Steve Finnan, who has been struggling with a hamstring injury since his move from Espanyol. Hart is still waiting for Papa Bouba Diop and Hermann Hreidarsson to recover from hamstring and foot injuries respectively, while Carling Cup hero Aruna Dindane may not start as he continues his fight for fitness.

Everton boss David Moyes will assess the fitness of striker Ayegbeni Yakubu before making a decision on whether to include him in the squad. The striker, who missed most of last season with a ruptured Achilles, scored in the midweek Carling Cup victory at Hull but came off with a groin problem. Midfielder Steven Pienaar (foot) and defender Joseph Yobo (hamstring) will also have late fitness tests.

Last season: Portsmouth 2 Everton 1, Everton 0 Portsmouth 3

Last five league matches: Portsmouth L L L L L; Everton L L W L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Younes Kaboul, Tommy Smith & Mike Williamson (Portsmouth) 2; Louis Saha (Everton) 6

Referee: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)

Stoke (10) v Man Utd (2)
Stoke strikers Ricardo Fuller and James Beattie are both doubtful. Fuller suffered a groin problem in the Carling Cup victory over Blackpool while Beattie is struggling with a recurrence of an ankle injury. Manager Tony Pulis could recall Richard Cresswell to the attack to partner Dave Kitson.

Tomasz Kuszczak had been hoping to get the nod after keeping a clean sheet against Wolves in the Carling Cup but Ben Foster will return as deputy for Edwin van der Sar, who is out for another three weeks with broken fingers. Plenty of changes are anticipated from midweek, with Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra among those certain to be recalled.

Last season: Stoke 0 Man Utd 1, Man Utd 5 Stoke 0

Last five league matches: Stoke L D W L D; Man Utd L W W W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Dave Kitson (Stoke) 3; Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 7

Referee: Howard Webb

Tottenham (6) v Burnley (9)
Tottenham centre-back Sebastien Bassong will have a late fitness test following head and knee injuries. Fellow defenders Ledley King (hamstring) and Jonathan Woodgate (groin) are sidelined but Michael Dawson (Achilles) is available after playing at Preston in midweek. Giovani dos Santos (ankle) joins Luka Modric (fractured fibula) and Roman Pavlyuchenko (Achilles) in the treatment room.

Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen should recover from a dead leg in time to reclaim the starting spot from Diego Penny. Striker David Nugent is back in the squad having been cup-tied for the game at Barnsley but club captain Steven Caldwell is not ready to return despite training again after groin trouble and Martin Paterson and Chris McCann are out for three months after sustaining knee injuries this week.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Tottenham W W W L L; Burnley W W L L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 6; Steven Fletcher (Burnley) 3

Referee: Mike Dean (England)

Wigan (15) v Chelsea (1)
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has hinted he may make changes. Last weekend's 4-0 defeat at Arsenal was the worst performance of the Spaniard's short reign and, with a fully-fit squad at his disposal, a few players could be left out. On-loan Chelsea winger Scott Sinclair is ineligible against his parent club.

Joe Cole and Yury Zhirkov are in Chelsea's squad after overcoming long-term knee injuries. Striker Didier Drogba is fit after a bout of cramp but midfielder Deco (calf) and defender Alex (groin) will miss out.

Last season: Chelsea 2 Wigan 1, Wigan 0 Chelsea 1

Last five league matches: Wigan L L L W L; Chelsea W W W W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Hugo Rodallega (Wigan) 2; Didier Drogba (Chelsea) 5

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Sunderland (8) v Wolves (12)
Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole could return after missing the last two games with a heel problem. Full-back George McCartney also has a chance of playing after shaking off a hamstring strain, while goalkeeper Marton Fulop could make the squad after five games on the sidelines with his own heel injury.

On-loan defender Michael Mancienne, ineligible to play in the Carling Cup, will return while strikers Kevin Doyle and Andy Keogh are set to start at the expense of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Stefan Maierhofer. Wayne Hennessey replaces Marcus Hahnemann in goal with Greg Halford taking over from Kevin Foley at right-back. Dave Edwards may replace Michael Kightly.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Sunderland L W L W L; Wolves W L D L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Darren Bent (Sunderland) 5; Stefan Maierhofer (Wolves) 2

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

p.s. As you can see, I've added a Quick Chat box on the top right of the blog for people to chat about little issues like "Player A or Player B?" should help keep the excellent comments sections clear from too many of these questions.


Everton Injury News
David Moyes is waiting to see if the Yak can travel to Portsmouth tomorrow as he faces a late fitness test on a thigh strain.

The Nigerian striker scored on his return to the starting line-up against Hull on Wednesday, but was withdrawn to protect the thigh injury which he picked up last week.

"We're waiting on Yak to see if he can travel with us," said the Blues boss. "Apart from that I'm hoping that everybody else will be ok.

"Steven Pienaar and Joseph Yobo will have fitness tests, so I won't be able to make a decision on those two until probably the last minute."
Don't you just hate it when this happens? Pienaar was all set for a place in my side, but I don't think I can risk spending £11m on him it if it's going to be a last minute decision from Moyes.

Well & truely back to the drawing board for me...


Week 7 Preview

Firstly, the 3rd Blog League. We already have 84 people signed up in well under 24 hours, which is phenomenal. If you still haven't grabbed a place then be quick - you can find the full details in my previous post.

Now, Week 6. I'll get the final injury news/predicted line-ups posted much later this afternoon. I will say that I am thinking of making sweeping changes that will involve me dropping some of my big names to balance out my defence, midfield, & perhaps a surprise pick in my 3rd striker slot.  It's a move that could backfire or could propel me up the table...I'm thinking of taking the risk this week, if it doesn't pay off it's still early days & I can do some good barndoor work to get ready for Week 7. I have all the changes sitting in place on my Team Page, I just need to get the guts up to click "Save"...Remember you can find my Week 6 Player Picks Here.

Anyway, the Week 7 preview is short & sweet today as I've been very busy with work. The fixtures:

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Bolton v Tottenham, 15:00
Burnley v Birmingham, 15:00
Hull v Wigan, 15:00
Man Utd v Sunderland, 17:30
Wolverhampton v Portsmouth, 15:00

Sunday, 4 October 2009
Arsenal v Blackburn, 13:30
Chelsea v Liverpool, 16:00
Everton v Stoke, 15:00
West Ham v Fulham, 15:00

Monday, 5 October 2009

Aston Villa v Man City, 20:00

Firstly, the stand out fixtures: Arsenal home to Blackburn, Tottenham at Bolton, Man Utd home to Sunderland, Everton at home to Stoke (who never travel well) & Wolves at home to Portsmouth.

There are a lot of tricky fixtures which are very tough to call in Week 7 - Hull v Wigan, Burnley v Birmingham, West Ham v Fulham, Chelsea v Liverpool & Villa v Man City.

I really feel like loading up big time on Arsenal & Spurs with plenty of Everton sprinkled  in. I may also have a serious look at Wolves.

Players to watch on the barndoor...

Arsenal: Van Persie, Fabregas, Arshavin, Walcott, Rosicky, Vermaelen

Tottenham: Defoe, Crouch, Lennon, Hudd, Bassong

Man U: Rooney, Berbatov/Owen, Giggs, Nani, O'Shea/Brown, Foster

Everton: Saha, Yak, Billy, Pienaar, Cahill, Osman, Heitinga, Baines, Howard

Wolves: Doyle, Kightly, Doyle, Milijas, Jarvis, Mancienne, Hennessey

Others: Drogba, Lampard, Torres, Gerrard, Hunt, Myhill, Rodallega, Gomez, Nugent, Alexander, Jensen, Carlton Cole, Diamanti, Noble, Agbonlahor, Milner, Tevez, Bellamy, SWP, O'Hara.

Top Pick - Bit of a hunch, but Theo Walcott is back, reasonably priced & could destroy Blackburn with his pace. Saha, Billy, Defoe, Lennon, Rooney, Gomez, Kightly, Arshavin & Van Persie are all strong contenders.

Who will you be looking at on the barndoor for Week 7? Have you even decide who'll you're settling on for Week 6?


p.s. Please click here to join the Blog Facebook Group if you haven't already :o)

Thursday, 24 September 2009

New Blog League

Firstly, our regular injury update from Football365 today:-
Lordy, there's an awful lot of injury news flying around today - even beyond the fears that Rio Ferdinand will never be able to put more than two games together again.

The good news for Chelsea is that Joe Cole came through 90 minutes of football for Chelsea last night after eight months in the treatment room following a serious knee injury.

"It was an emotional night for me. I can't thank the fans enough. There was a little lump in my throat just warming up against Porto the other night," said Cole, who was joined in the Blues' line-up by Paulo Ferreira and Yuri Zhirkov.

Michael Dawson also came through 80 minutes for Tottenham, while Gareth Bale and Heurelho Gomes both returned from injury in their win over Preston. Giovani Dos Santos picked up an ankle injury in that game but he is far from being part of Harry Redknapp's Premier League plans anyway.

There was also relief for Manchester City, who sent Stephen Ireland for tests after complaining of dizziness and feeling unwell during their win over Fulham.

However, the club on Thursday morning have confirmed that nothing was found wrong with the 23-year-old, who will now take some time to rest before resuming training, but is expected to be available for Monday's visit of West Ham.

Roque Santa Cruz was not risked for that Carling Cup game but should be fit to take his place on the bench on Monday after recovering from the knee surgery he underwent this summer.

Bolton midfielder Sean Davis could miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a serious knee injury.

The 30-year-old former Portsmouth midfielder needed the operation after sustaining an articular cartilage injury to his right knee during the 3-2 home defeat against Liverpool on August 29.

Trotters boss Gary Megson said: "We don't want to put an exact timescale on how long Sean will be out of action for because he will be given as long as it takes to regain his full fitness. It is a disappointment for Sean and ourselves but injuries happen and we have got to deal with it."

There's equally-bad news for Burnley fans with Martin Paterson ruled out for the next three months after knee surgery, though Brian Jensen's availability for the weekend's clash with Spurs is a thin silver lining to that particular cloud.

Over at Aston Villa, Steven Sidwell is a doubt for Saturday's visit to Blackburn because he picked up a thigh strain while warming up for the Carling Cup clash with Cardiff. But boss Martin O'Neill is pretty sure that Ashley Young (calf) and Emile Heskey (ankle) will be fine for that game.

Stoke strikers Ricardo Fuller and James Beattie are both doubtful for the Premier League match against Manchester United at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

Fuller suffered a groin strain during the Carling Cup victory over Blackpool on Tuesday while Beattie suffered a recurrence of an ankle injury.

Manager Tony Pulis said: "Fuller is touch and go and that is our big concern at the moment. Beattie has had an ankle injury but we thought he would get through the game. However, the problem has flared up again."

Yakubu made his first Everton start in ten months against Hull and showed no ill-effects in his problem Achilles...but then limped off at half-time with a thigh strain.
After a fair bit of interest, I've now created a 3rd blog league. This is for people who missed out on the first 2, so please only join if you are not in League 1 or 2. I have a list of all the team names in the existing leagues so if i see any of the same teams in League 3 they will be removed - I have to be strict about these things :)

Group ID:  21576
Password:  yahoo



Blog League Update

Firstly, RS requested an update on how the other blog league was doing so I've taken a snapshot of the top third of the tables as they currently stand (League 1 on the left, League 2 on the right). You probably won't be able to see much unless you click on the picture to view full size.

As we know, SteveBob FC leads League 2 AND the overall standings (congrats again Andy) whilst League 1 is led by Remedial Spastics. Special mention to ToffeeDave who's somehow managed to sneak in to both leagues...if there are any blog readers who were unable to grab a space in either league then I'm sure if you ask ToffeeDave nicely he'll drop out of one of the leagues to allow you in...? :o)

Moving on - the fall out from the Carling Cup has probably left us with more questions than answers. Will Billy play after another assist in Everton's 0-4 thrashing of Hull? How about the Yak & Jo - could they displace Saha? Is Crouch worth a punt after his hattrick vs Preston? Could Michel Owen be set to start vs Stoke after a goal & assist in his last 2 games? Will Tuncay play after his impressive full debut?

It's tough to know what Moyes will do, but it might be difficult for him to leave Billy out now & I'm sure Saha will be be back. I'm certain Crouch will play & he now represents a genuine alternative for any manager who wants to jump on Spurs but can't afford Defoe. My gut feeling is Owen will play from the bench again but I reckon Tuncay has a chance of a start with Beattie & Fuller both struggling fof fitness.

We'll await team news tomorrow...did the Carling Cup help you make decisions, or simply add to the confusion? I'm certainly more confused.


p.s. Are there any regular readers who failed to get a space in either Blog League? Please comment below & if there's enough interest then I'll consider creating a 3rd league.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Week 6 - Player Picks

With just 3 days to go until the deadline I still have loads of decisions to make, but here are the players I feel should be in consideration for Week 6:

Gordon - The value pick for the week at under £3m. I actually think Sunderland are a very decent side despite their defeat to Burnley. They face a Wolves side who are struggling to score goals away from home so I think think Gordon has a good chance of a clean sheet here.

Given - He was outstanding vs Man Utd, yet conceded 4 goals, a blessing for Given-less managers as his value has now dropped below £6.5m. If you can afford to get him in then you should & I imagine you'll be keeping him for some time to come.

These are the only 2 keepers I'm looking at this week. Friedel, Reina, Hart & Howard are also good choice if you're holding them at decent discounts, but none are advised at their current price when you have the 2 choices above. I've left out Foster due to the rumours that Kuszczak could replace him vs Stoke. 

Vermaelen - Will not be leaving my team this season & I don't need to explain why.

G Johnson - I spent the big bucks on Glen Johnson in Week 4 when Liverpool hosted Burnely & it did not pay off, as he returned only 7 points. I blame Benitez for substituting him before 75 minutes, but this experience would not put me off having Johnson in again at home to Hull if I had the cash. He'll pick up a load of attacking points & has a great chance of a clean sheet. 

McCartney - He's been returning good points this season & has a decent fixture at home to Wolves. I think he represents value at just over £6m.

Bridge - Under £8m & will get forward to join attacks as I expect Man City to bounce back at home to a struggling West Ham. Not a bad option but...  

Richards - ...if I was going to pick a Man City defender this weekend it would be Micah Richards. He's cheaper, looks dangerous from set pieces & has the same clean sheet chance as Bridge.

R Johnson - Continues to give managers an excellent points return, still under £8m & a nice fixture at home to Bolton.

Bassong - If he's recovered from his head injury then his home fixture vs Burnley makes him very nearly a no brainer.

Hutton - If Bassong doesnt recover then Hutton should start at right back, & that would make him a very good outside bet to score well that not many others would pick up. Keep an eye on this one.

Heitinga - Good fixture & cheap so if he's likely to start he's a solid pick...however, whilst I think Everton will win I also think Portsmouth will score so maybe no clean sheet.

Skrtel - Good value, good fixture, good option. 

Wilkinson - Should be back from illness & even in a tough fixture he has a good chance of returning his £5m value for Stoke vs Man U.

Sonko - Very handy filler who will cause Liverpool problems from set pieces & also to allows you the cash to spend elsewhere.

Gerrard - There's been some heated discussion on the blog regarding how to construct your midfield. Do you go for the big name £20m man & use cheaper guys to fill the remaining spots, or do you spread it across more balanced £8m-£12m players? It's something i'll be taking in to consideration for future weeks, but this week I have to recommend Gerrard at home to Hull despite his price. He only returned 5 points at West Ham so I expect to see him on the scoresheet this time around.

Reid - Look in fantastic form since losing 9kgs over the summer, his left foot is as good as anyone in the league & he's been handed all set piece duties so far this season. All this combined with a pretty handy fixture means he's somebody I'm seriously considering this week.

Lennon - Started the season really well but has been quiet in the past 2 games (albeit vs Man U & Chelsea). He'll be wanting to get bang into form vs Burnley at with his value below £12m you could do a lot worse.

O'Hara - I recommended him to the blog 2 weeks ago & he's since returned over 20 points in 2 games at a cost of £4m for a Pompey side in utter turmoil. Even at his current price he's good value as he's taking set pieces & shooting on a regular basis.

Benayoun - Only recommended if you picked him up at discount before his hattrick. If you did you should be keeping him.

Pienaar - In fantastic form for the Toffees & has the dream fixture of Portsmouth. He's creating & looks like he'll score plenty this year, so he's right up there with Lennon & Reid as the best midrange Midfielder for Week 6.

Billy - He'll probably get a game in the Carling Cup tonight & that means his groin injury has healed. Whether he'd be handed a start at Portsmouth after the way Everton played vs Blackburn is questionable, but if there's a chance then he has to be considered at his bargain price.

Wright-Phillips - Probably a touch expensive but he could do very well at home to West Ham as he continues as a very attacking right winger in the absense of Adebayor & Robinho. COuld be a good option if you're looking to do something different.

Huddlestone - Represents good value due to his fixture & as always will shoot on sight with some set pieces thrown in.

Palacios - Always a yellow card risk but has been getting forward a lot more than he did at Wigan & could be worth a punt.

Rodwell - Value pick with a great fixture - he's my alternative if Billy is unlikely to start.

Torres - I pick him in Week 4 & he gets 2 points in a home game vs Burnley. So I drop him in the tougher away game at West Ham & of course it's 2 goals & 25 points. He's back now & he better repay me vs Hull...looking at the way Hull are playing he could be in for a hattrick and I expect 95% of blog readers to have Torres in this week.

Drogba - In unbelievable form & it looks likely he'll be back to face Wigan. Even if he isn't ready I'll be keeping him at a £6m discount & I suggest everyone does the same.

Defoe - My inital Top Pick for Week 6 but I'm finding it difficult to squeeze him in. I'm sure he'll fire at home to Burnley so I'll probably have to try, but I'll have to make some major sacrifices in other areas to manage it.

Saha - My fall back option if I can't find a way of getting Defoe in & not a bad one at that. He has the fixture, he's in goalscoring form & I have him at £8m - the only worry is him pulling up in the warm-up again! Yak & Jo were also in great form tonight, but I still expect Saha to start.

Bent - Another strike last weekend & he has a nice fixture. If Andy Reid continues supplying the same quality crosses & through-balls then Bent will continue to score goals for Sunderland. He's a really good pick this weekend.

Bellamy - Similar to Wright Phillips...he's a touch expensive, but a good option that could seperate you from a lot of other managers if he does well. Likes scoring against his old clubs too.

Benitez - Just starting to find his feet in the Premiership & should start again this weekend. Still very cheap & you don't get many easier games nowadays than Bolton at home.

Crouch - Added after his hattrick...he'll surely start vs Burnley & represents very good value if you can't afford Defoe/Saha etc.

Obviously things could change if there are injuries tonight, but I feel I have most bases covered.

Anyone you think I've missed this week?


Injury Update 23/09/09

As always, an update from Football365....
It's hardly been reported anywhere, but the Daily Telegraph online claims that Owen Hargreaves returned to Carrington today to step up his recovery from double knee surgery. The midfielder is earmarked for a Manchester United return in early November, and we're sure that Fabio Capello will be monitoring his progress very closely indeed.

If ever a team didn't want to lose two players in one night it was Burnley, who could travel to Tottenham this weekend without The Beast Brian Jensen and striker Martin Paterson, who both made early exits from the Clarets' defeat to Barnsley on Tuesday night.

"We will look to get that [Paterson's knee] scanned as soon as possible to ascertain if there is any lasting damage," said boss Owen Coyle after the game. "Your initial thoughts are he hurt himself, but we won't know until we get it scanned.

"Brian seems to have got a dead leg and hopefully both will be all right, but we won't really know that situation until tomorrow (Wed)."

Burnley have already lost Chris McCann to long-term injury this season.

So Arsenal have taken one name off their injured list with Carlos Vela's return from an ankle injury in Tuesday night's win over West Brom, and Andrey Arshavin is pencilled in to return against Fulham this Saturday evening.

Birmingham were boosted by the 90 minutes completed by Liam Ridgwell just five months after suffering a double leg break but, as we're getting used to saying on this page, the bad news for Blues is that Stuart Parnaby picked up a dead leg in that defeat to Sunderland.

But Alex McLeish seems certain that he will have Stephen Carr and Seb Larsson back in action for this weekend's clash with Bolton and there's an 'outside chance' that Gregory Vignal will also return.

Portsmouth have also been boosted by striker Aruna Dindane completing almost 70 minutes in his first game since being put on a strict fitness regime to get him back into shape following a knee injury.

West Ham had no such luck as they went down 3-1 to Bolton but they had an injury list of Matthew Upson, Valon Behrami, Danny Gabiddon, Luis Jiminez, Junior Stanislas and Guillermo Franco, who could all make a return on Monday against Manchester City.

We end with good news for Blackburn - Gael Givet's knee is not as badly injured as previously thought and he should only miss this weekend's game with Aston Villa to allow the swelling to subside

I'm fairly sure a dead leg won't keep The Beast out of this Saturday's game, but if it does restrict his movement in anyway then it could be party time for Defoe & Co. Another bunch of Carling Cup games tonight & then we should have a better idea regarding injury news for the weekend.

Sorry for the short post but I'm busy today...I'll try & add my Week 6 Player Picks post up tonight or tomorrow morning.


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Drogba Update

Thanks to Fidan for posting up the article about Drogba in The Times:
Didier Drogba is facing a spell on the sidelines regardless of the results of a scan on the Chelsea striker’s right calf last night.

Carlo Ancelotti hopes that Drogba is merely suffering from severe cramp after being carried off on a stretcher during the second half of Sunday’s 3-0 win at home to Tottenham Hotspur, but the manager was planning on resting him for the next three matches in any case.

The Ivory Coast forward will take no part in tomorrow’s Carling Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers, is unlikely to be involved in Saturday’s Barclays Premier League match away to Wigan Athletic and is suspended from next week’s Champions League game against Apoel Nicosia. Ancelotti is focusing on getting him fit for Liverpool’s visit to Stamford Bridge in a fortnight instead, although Chelsea insist the scan was precautionary.
Interesting news indeed & it will present a huge dilema to all of us holding Drogba at discounts of around £6m. If he's only going to miss 1 game then I'll probably keep him, but I'm still not 100% certain he'll be rested for Wigan.

I think we all agree that once a stiker gets into the sort of form that Drogba is in then the last thing he needs is to miss 2 weeks of football before a huge game vs Liverpool. There is no doubt he'll miss the QPR game & of course he'll be suspended next week for the Champions League, but I feel there is a possibilty that if it is only cramp that he'll play vs Wigan. He'll still have 7 days of rest before the Liverpool game on Sunday 4th October & Anchelotti could always give him 60 minutes to get Chelsea in the driving seat at the JJB & then bring him off.

We'll have to wait for more news closer to the weekend, but whatever happens I expect Drogba to be in my team for Week 6.

What would you do if it's confirmed he'll miss Wigan? Would you consider dropping him?

UPDATE 3:30PM...looks like I was right with my hunch above & so was Mike B, who's comment I missed yesterday (sorry mate!)...
Didier Drogba has been given the all-clear to resume training on Thursday after being carried off against Tottenham on Sunday with a calf injury.

The Ivory Coast international is set to figure in the squad for the trip to Wigan on Saturday after a scan revealed there was no serious damage to his calf.

However, he will not be included for Wednesday night's game against Queens Park Rangers in the Carling Cup as Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti looks to blood some fringe and academy players.

"Didier had a scan and there's no problem with his calf," confirmed Chelsea's assistant boss Ray Wilkins. "It was just the most horrendous bout of cramp.

"We thought he couldn't release the muscle and it might be something more nasty but he'll be able to take part on Saturday. It is very good news for us."
 I hope nobody dropped him!


Monday, 21 September 2009

Tuncay & Injury Update

Firstly, I've seen alot of chatter about the Tuncay situation since I announced my decision to drop him...I must admit I woke up this morning & thought "maybe I should've kept him?" but as the day has worn on & I've started looking at who I can now get in up front I'm actually still pleased that I made the decision.

Please note that this is only my personal opinion/decision...I certainly don't think anyone deciding to stay on the Tuncay bandwagon is making a mistake, it could well pay off in the longer term, but I think it's clear that the decision could have a huge bearing on the outcome of the season for your team, so do not jump in to any decision you make & please make sure it is YOUR decision - it could come back to bite me in a big way but it's a risk I was prepared to take.

Moving on, the points still arent in for Chelsea, Spurs & three quarters of Everton & Blackburn. I've given up checking now as it's simply frustrating, so i'll probably have a look tomorrow morning as sometimes Yahoo have a glitch in the matrix & it can take 2 or 3 days for them to sort it. I'm happy with my barndoor work for now anyway, but there are bound to be some changes later in the week due to injuries & Carling Cup performances.

Anyway, players I'm currently considering are:

GKs: Gordon, Given, Howard, Foster

DFs: Vermaelen, McCartney, Richards, R Johnson, Bassong, Hutton, Skrtel,

MFs: Gerrard, Reid, Lennon, O'Hara, Pienaar, Billy, Ballack, Wright-Phillips, Huddlestone, Palacios

FWs: Torres, Drogba, Saha, Defoe, Bent, Bellamy, Benitez

On to injuries:-
There's no other place to start than with Tottenham, who lost two centre-halves on Sunday afternoon and finished the day with Vedran Corluka and Tom Huddlestone as their last line of defence.

"I've suddenly lost three of my best centre-halves," bemoaned 'Arry, who must be only minutes way from his first 'bare bones' comment of the season.

"Ledley has done his hamstring. He's the most fantastic person and player, and he's so important for us, but if you don't train you can't just go out and play without doing hamstrings, groins or calves.

"Bassong doesn't look too good, either. He got a bang on the head and his eye's all swollen up. It doesn't look too clever at all. I think the doctor has taken him to hospital with concussion.

"Woodgate's nowhere near playing again. He went to see a specialist again yesterday and he just can't train.

"We haven't got to the bottom of the injury at all, what's causing him discomfort. Dawson has a chance, he's the one."

So Dawson could recover from an Achilles problem in time to face Burnley on Saturday but Woodgate (groin), King (hamstring) and Bassong (concussion) are all definitely out.

Sunday's opposition Chelsea are waiting on news of Didier Drogba, who was carried off with a calf injury.

"We hope tomorrow we will have a precise diagnosis of the situation," said the Italian. "It is a calf injury but he felt that he had cramp. If it is cramp, it is good for us."

The good news for Chelsea is that Joe Cole, Yuri Zhirkov and Paulo Ferreira (who have all suffered from varying knee injuries) are all fit to face QPR in the Carling Cup on Wednesday.

Perennial injury victim and Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey lasted just 14 minutes on the pitch against Portsmouth on Saturday, limping off with an ankle injury.

"Emile has rocked his ankle," said boss Martin O'Neill. "I asked Roddy MacDonald, my doctor, how it was after the game and he said it was sore."

In other 'new injury' news, Blackburn defender Gael Givet has picked up a knee injury, Burnley's Chris McCann will be out for up to three months with a knee injury and Bolton's Sean Davis could need a knee operation, with Gary Megson saying: "We have an issue regarding Sean Davis about whether he needs an operation on his knee. We will speak to the doctors and the physio and decide what is best for Sean."

We can't do an injury update without mentioning Birmingham City, currently missing an entire XI through injury, with midfielders Lee Carsley, Damien Johnson and Seb Larsson all added to the list ahead of Saturday's win at Hull. They named just six substitutes, including one youngster who had only been issued with a squad number the day before.

They should make Arsenal feel lucky to only have eight on the injured list, though Manuel Almunia is back in training and should be back to face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

I imagine Spurs could line-up with Hutton, Dawson, Corluka, Assou-Ekotto vs Burnely, although Huddlestone could be dropped back & there's always a chance Kyle Naughton could be involved. We'll keep an eye on Drogba but if it's only cramp then a week should be enough for recovery. Givet's injury could be a worry for some managers still holding him.

My question for you all today - is anyone else losing faith in Frank Lampard as a premium pick?


Sunday, 20 September 2009

Week 5 - Sunday

Why a photo of Howard Webb? Well I've just finished watching Chelsea v Spurs, where we lost 3-0. There are no excuses for the way Spurs capitulated after King went off, we have to do better than that. However, there are also no excuses for the decision made by Webb at 1-0 Chelsea in the 60th minute when Robbie Keane ran through on goal & was taken out by Ricardo Carvalho.

It was a penalty, no doubt, & should've been a red card to Carvalho. Webb gave nothing (including oddly no yellow card to Keane for diving) & 2 minutes later it's over. He did a similar thing at Old Trafford last year - Spurs 2-0 up & Webb gives a terrible penalty decision, we capitulate & lose 5-2.

Anyway, goals from Ashley Cole, Ballack & Drogba taught Spurs a tough lesson in clincal finishing & there were injuries to King, Bassong & Drogba. More on that later.

Moving on...the first game of the afternoon saw Wolves grab a vital win, 2-1, to move above Fulham. Milijas started on the bench, the goals came from Doyle, Edwards & a Murphy penalty in reply. Other than not a great deal to mention.

Then, what a game at Old Trafford. Calamitous defending from both sides - the game ending 4-3 with a Michael Owen winner in the 96th minute, negative points for both keepers, another goal for Rooney, a masterclass from Ryan Giggs, 2 fantastic goals from Bellamy...a true thriller which probably should've ended 3-3 if it wasn't for the magical Old Trafford injury time, although to be fair United deserved it over the 90 minutes. Special mention to Rio Ferdinand for his attempted "scoop-pass" in the 90th minute which very nearly cost United 3 pts - I bet he's feeling like a very lucky man tonight.

Finally, Everton destroyed a poor Blackburn side 3-0 with 2 goals & an assist from Louis Saha. Didn't get the chance to see the game but from the reports I've read it seems Everton are back & with a game vs Pompey next weekend I think i'll be picking up a few of their players.

Personally (ignoring the Spurs result) I had a good day. I had Heitinga (clean sheet but booking) & Drogba (goal & assist) so should end with a 110 point week, which is more than respectable & should keep me between the top 4000-5000 (up from 7000th last weekend). It could've been better, but also could've been a lot worse.

Now, the big news to reveal is that I have dropped Tuncay for Week 6. I made the decision about 10 minutes ago & I actually feel relieved. Although he was saving me some very serious cash, he was taking a considerable amount of flexibility out of the game because I could only pick 2 strikers. This week I wanted Agbonlahor but couldn't because of Tuncay...he scored. Last week I wanted Bent but couldn't because of Tuncay...he scored twice. It's going to cost me some cash but it's going to put some fun back into picking my team & at the end of the day, that's what the game's about.

Back to injuries - Bassong's head/neck injury could see him out for some time so I'll probably need to look elsewhere in defence. The big news is Drogba, who seemed to badly injure himself when hitting poor shot near the end of the game. Seeing as it's Drogba we'll need to wait & see how bad it really is, but if it's a bad one then it's going to bring up a lot of questions. I'd been finding it difficult to fit Defoe into my team so the gap left by Drogba could be easily filled, but would I want to lose the discount I have on Drogba if he's only going to miss 1 game? Tough one.

Anyway, my current Week 6 team is...


Vermaelen  Bassong  McCartney

Gerrard  O'Hara  Reid  Billy

Torres  Drogba  Saha

Question marks over Reid, Bassong, Billy & Drogba at the moment but I'm okay with it currently. Possible changes are Reid to Lennon, Bassong to Sonko & Drogba to Defoe if the injuries mentioned above are both as bad as they looked. As always, i'll keep an eye on the situation & keep you updated.

How did you do? What's your early Week 6 team looking like?


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Week 5 - Saturday

At 5pm today I was feeling pretty depressed. Out of the tough choice of Fab, Young & MTay I'd picked the one who hadn't scored. To rub it in, Villa got a penalty but Young, their usual penalty taker (scored against Liverpool), was taken off duty & Milner (someone I'd seriously considered) took it & of course scored.

Plus, Van Persie didn't scored despite having a hattrick of great chances, Rosicky was on the bench getting only 10 minutes & Tuncay didn't even get off the bench. The only (very) bright spot was Thomas Vermaelen, but I didn't expect to break 50 points.
Then, the points came in & somehow I'd amassed 90 points - I'm was very pleased with that considering the day I thought I'd had but then disappointed again with Gerrard 5.5 points. Lets not mention the fact I'd dropped Torres for Van Persie. But thanks to O'Hara (what great value he's proving to be), phantom points for Young & Van Persie, a huge 33 points for The Verm (new nickname?) & some decent supporting roles from Myhill & Warnock I've had an above average week.

I'm into the top 3000 with 95.5 points with Drogba & Heitinga still to play so it SHOULD be a 100 point week. I'm happy with that seeing as I made some major selection mistakes & I've grabbed Torres back on the barndoor. I'll reveal my full barndoor/early week 6 team tomorrow.

Changing subject, I'd just like to say a HUGE thank you to EVERYONE who is contributing to the blog via the comments section. I'm sure you'll all agree that the community we've built up in such a short space of time is really quite something & I've been overwhelmed by the response (127 comments on one post in less than 12 hours!!!!). We have so many people offering great advice to each other & I'm certain this advice is helping just as much (if not more) than my own posts. We have some great characters already & I'm hoping it'll continue for the rest of the season - there's no reason why it shouldn't & I reckon we're all doing pretty well as a result.

Finally, CONGRATULATIONS to Andy aka SteveBobFC for being TOP OF THE OVERALL STANDINGS tonight...1ST PLACE. Fantastic work mate, I'm very proud if the blog has helped in anyway - thanks for the kind words. After Chris M (VelvetUndergroundAllstars) you're now the 2nd blog regular to reach the summits of the overall standings & I'm really pleased so many people are doing so well.

That's it for tonight, I'm off to have a beer...4 more games tomorrow with plenty of points to be had & I'm obviously excited/nervous about Chelsea v Spurs.

Torres, Gerrard, Lennon, Reid, O'Hara & Gordon are all likely to be in my Week 6 team...but one final final it time to drop Tuncay? And how the bloody hell am I gonna fit Defoe in?

(That's 2 questions)


p.s. Please click here to join the Blog Facebook Group if you haven't already :o)

Week 5 - My Team


 Heitinga   Vermaelen   Warnock

 Young   O'Hara   Gerrard   Rosicky

    Drogba   Tuncay   Van Persie

As some of you may notice, my team is EXACTLY the same as it was when I posted it up after the barndoor closed last Sunday. It's the first time ever that I have not changed my team once in an entire week...I simply couldn't decide who to drop to get players like Hunt, Agbonlahor & Fabregas in, so in the end I have settled on this team.

There are risks, namely Rosicky, Van Persie & Heitinga's starting status, but I feel confident that all 3 will play a large part in this weekend's proceedings (and hopefully a large part in the point scoring). I think Young, O'hara & Gerrard could all return their value & I'm really pleased with my defence. I'd almost forgotten that Tuncay was even in my team, but he has a chance of getting some game time vs a poor Bolton side & any points he picks up really are a bonus.

So that's it...please post your team up and get the discussions going on who you'll be grabbing on the barndoor. And of course, good luck to everyone!


Friday, 18 September 2009

Week 5 Match Previews

As always I've scoured various websites & pieces of team news to come up with these predicted starting XI's. Please remember that nothing is certain, so only use these as a guide.

If you have any team news you have may contridict these starting XIs then please post them up in the comments section below:-

Week 5 Predicted Line-Ups

Arsenal: Mannone, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Rosicky, Fabregas, Diaby, Bendtner, Eduardo, Van Persie
Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Figueroa, Diame, Thomas, Gomez, Koumas, N’Zogbia, Rodallega

Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Milner, Petrov, Sidwell, Young, Agbonlahor, Carew
Portsmouth: James, Vanden Borre, Kaboul, Ben Haim, Belhadj, Mokoena, Brown, O’Hara, Boateng, Smith, Piquionne.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Knight, Cahill, Samuel, M Davies, Muamba, Steinsson, Gardner, Taylor, K Davies.
Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Faye, Huth, Collins, Delap, Whelan, Whitehead, Fuller, Kitson.

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Blake, Elliott, McCann, Paterson, Fletcher.
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Turner, Richardson, Malbranque, Henderson, Cana, Reid, Jones, Bent.

Hull: Myhill, McShane, Zayatte, Sonko, Dawson, Olofinjana, Kilbane, Ghilas, Hunt, Geovanni, Vennegoor of Hesselink.
Birmingham: Hart, Carr, R Johnson, Espinoza, Parnaby, Ferguson, Bowyer, Tainio, Fahey, Larsson, O’Connor.

West Ham: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Gabbidon, Parker, Noble, Kovac, Jimenez, Hines, Cole.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Insua, Mascherano, Lucas, Kuyt, Benayoun, Gerrard, Torres.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, A Cole, Essien, Deco, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka, Drogba.
Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, Bassong, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Jenas, Kranjcar, Crouch, Defoe.

Everton: Howard, Heitinga, Yobo, Distin, Baines, Rodwell, Fellaini, Pienaar, Osman, Cahill, Saha.
Blackburn: Robinson, Jacobsen, Samba, Nelsen, Givet, Grella, Andrews, Pedersen, Diouf, Dunn, Roberts.

Man Utd: Foster, O’Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Carrick, Fletcher, Giggs, Park, Berbatov, Rooney.
Man City: Given, Richards, Toure, Lescott, Bridge, Barry, De Jong, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Petrov, Bellamy.

Wolves: Hennessey, Stearman, Bera, Mancienne, Elokobi, Henry, Milijas, Jarvis, Keogh, Maierhofer, Doyle
Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Etuhu, Murphy, Duff, Dempsey, Johnson, Zamora.

I'm not sure about Everton (Heitinga) & Arsenal (Rosicky) as I've found 4 or 5 different reports with conflicting news, so take these line-ups with a pinch of salt.

Obviously I'm sure some of you will have heard some team news that may affect other players...if so then please post in the comments section. I'll continue keeping an eye on injury news this afternoon/tomorrow morning and post up any last minute information I find.

Remember, click here for my final Week 5 Analysis & Week 6 Preview and click here to join the Blog Facebook Group if you haven't already...

Good luck!


Week 6 Preview

Firstly, lets summarise Week 5. As you know I wrote an Early Player Picks post on Tuesday detailing over 50 players. I have since had some time to think about it, catch up with injury news & have come up with my top picks for each position.

GK: Myhill, Gordon, Mannone – I feel the value for money offered by Myhill this week is very difficult to ignore. £1.5m at home to a Birmingham side who are struggling to score goals means he’s been in my team since last Saturday & he’s staying. If you don’t trust him then Craig Gordon should do well against a Burnley side who’s bubble has really burst following a promising start. If you’re feeling risky, Mannone of Arsenal looks set to keep his place due to the continued absence of Almunia & Fabianski at a cost of just over £6m. I feel other keepers are too expensive this week, especially when there are so many outfield options to splash the cash on.

DFs: Vermaelen, Warnock, Dunne, Cueller, Distin, Heitinga, Sonko - I'm finding it difficult to look beyond Arsenal, Villa & Everton defenders this week, with Vermaelen & Warnock the stand-out options. I’m really hoping Heitinga gets a game although it’s not certain after Everton performed very well without him on Thursday. Sonko is in there as a real option due to his near certain starting status & bargain price which, like Myhill, will free up the money to spend on the wonderful choice of midfield & striking options we have this week.

MFs: Young, Gerrard, Fabregas, Lampard, Taylor, Hunt, Milner, Pienaar – You’ll notice that Rosicky isn’t on my list, even though it’s very possible that I'll have him in my team. I can’t recommend him to others when it’s not certain he’ll start, even if it’s a risk I’m willing to take myself. The 8 players I have recommended are the ones I wish I could fit in if I had unlimited cash and unlimited spaces in my midfield, with Ashley Young my real hunch pick despite performing disappointingly so far. Billy would be on there if it wasn’t for the doubt about his injury.

FWs: Van Persie, Drogba, Agbonlahor, Torres, Rooney, Eduardo, Carew, Yakubu/Jo/Saha – No shocks here, I expect the big names to fire this weekend. As you all know Van Persie is my major hunch pick despite the midweek concern over his knee injury & he’ll be in my team for Week 5. After that I wish I could fit Agbonlahor in alongside Drogba in my front 3 but because of my spending on my midfield (and my decision to continue with Tuncay) it isn’t an option. Eduardo, Carew & the Everton forwards could all do very well IF you can decide which will get game time. Finally, you can rarely go wrong with Rooney & Torres although given their match-ups I wouldn’t be brining them in at their current price.

My starting 11 will be coming from these 25 players

So, on to Week 6…firstly, the fixtures:

Saturday, 26 September 2009
Birmingham v Bolton, 15:00
Blackburn v Aston Villa, 15:00
Fulham v Arsenal, 17:30
Liverpool v Hull, 15:00
Portsmouth v Everton, 12:45
Stoke v Man Utd, 15:00
Tottenham v Burnley, 15:00
Wigan v Chelsea, 15:00

Sunday, 27 September 2009
Sunderland v Wolverhampton, 16:00

Monday, 28 September 2009
Man City v West Ham, 20:00

As always, lets look at the stand-out fixtures, & there are plenty to choose from!

Liverpool at home to Hull, Tottenham at home to Burnley, Everton away at Portsmouth & Man City at home to West Ham…closely followed by Sunderland at home to Wolves & Chelsea at Wigan ….then some trickier fixtures with Man Utd at Stoke & Arsenal at Fulham. With such a bunch of great fixtures I’ll probably be leaving out Birmingham v Bolton & Blackburn v Villa.

So, who to look at on the barn door?…plenty of options again:

Liverpool – Torres, Gerrard, Benayoun, Kuyt, Glen Johnson, Skrtel, Insua

Spurs – Defoe, Crouch, Lennon, Kranjcar, Bassong

Everton – Yak, Jo, Saha, Pienaar, Billy, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Howard

Man City – Tevez (against his old club), Bellamy, Ireland, Wright Phillips, Richards, Bridge, Given (remember no Adebayor or Robinho due to suspension & injury)

Sunderland – Bent, Jones, Reid, Richardson, Ferdinand, Turner, Gordon

Chelsea – Drogba, Anelka, Lampard, Deco, Malouda, Joe Cole, Bosingwa

Man Utd – Rooney, Berbatov, Nani, Scholes, Giggs, Valencia

Arsenal – Van Persie, Walcott, Rosicky, Fabregas, Arshavin, Vermaelen

Others – Benitez, M Taylor, Givet, Young, Milner, Agbonlahor, O’Hara, Gomez, Duff

I’ll probably be loading up on Liverpool, Spurs, Everton, Man City & Sunderland this week.

Early Possible Picks
GK: Gordon, Given, Howard
DF: G Johnson, Bassong, Richards, Turner, Heitinga
MF: Gerrard, Lennon, Reid, Billy, Lampard, Wright Phillips
FW: Defoe, Torres, Tevez, Bent, Drogba, Yak

TOP PICK: Defoe – You can’t ignore the Premier League’s joint top scorer when he has a home fixture vs Burnley. Gerrard & Torres also come very close.

Last minute injury news & Predicted Line-ups for Week 5 will be up much later (probably tonight) as I'm not around this afternoon.

How’s your team looking? Who will you be looking to get in on the barndoor for Week 6?