Monday, 28 February 2011

Monday Musings

What a nice change to see a genuinely entertaining domestic Cup final. Birmingham City's surprise 2-1 victory over odds-on favourites Arsenal was full of drama from the first minute to the last; great for the neutral, unforgettable for Blues fans, but a disaster for the Gunners who were ready to end their 6 year trophy drought.

Yes, Arsenal had more chances, but I can't help feeling Birmingham just about deserved the victory after they were incorrectly denied a 2nd minute penalty which should've seen Szczesny red-carded. 11 men v 10 men for 88 minutes on the huge Wembley pitch would've swung the whole thing in Birmingham's favour, but at least the linesman's error allowed for an end-to-end match packed full of chances, saves, and a farcical finish.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Week 28 - My Team

Van Der Sar

Kolarov   Vidic   Smalling   Evra

 Nani   Scholes   Fletcher

 Carew   Rooney   Dzeko

Mental. Could pay off, could backfire, but it's by far the riskiest team I've picked this season. Dropping Van Persie was something I'd considered all week, but choosing 8 Manchester United players wasn't really in my plans until last night. It means my hunch Hitzlsperger misses out, Suarez was downgraded to Dzeko & I couldn't fit Giggs & Vidic in, so I chose Vidic. Lets see how it goes!

On the barndoor you'll be wanting to pick up Everton & Birmingham players as they have a double scheduled next week, but like last week it could be affected by a potential FA Cup replay, so that's something we need to keep an eye on.

Please let me know what you settled on; and good luck, especially if you're in the Blog Cup semi finals!


Friday, 25 February 2011

Week 28 - Update

Before starting on the Premier League team & injury news, I realised I'd failed to mention anything about the Carling Cup final in my player picks post this week, so I'll do so now. Arsenal face Birmingham at Wembley on Sunday, where the first silverware of the season will be won and lost. The Carling Cup is often ridiculed, but with only 3 domestic trophies available each season it's a fantastic opportunity for the players to seal some genuine glory for their club and their fans. Being at Wembley for Spurs' victory over Chelsea in 2008 is in my top 3 football experiences ever, so it is not to be sniffed at in my opinion.

Team news for the occasion? Well, Arsenal are without Theo Walcott after it was confirmed his ankle sprain will keep him out for "2-3 weeks", and it appears their captain Cesc Fabregas will also miss out, although it's not straightforward. Wenger says the hamstring injury will keep him out for 1 or 2 games, but Cesc (and his fitness trainer in particualr) still think he has a chance. I doubt it, but it'll be interesting to see how that one plays out over the next 48 hours. Birmingham have slight doubts over Jerome, Jiranek, Ridgewell & Hleb, but are confident they'll all be available. 

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Week 28 - Player Picks

Week 28 is a double week for one team. Manchester United play twice: @Wigan, @Chelsea.

It's a pain when this happens, but you have to look at things logically. Wigan should be a simple win with plenty of good points for United players, so anything picked up at Chelsea is then a bonus. As we've seen with double weeks recently, this bonus can be very rewarding indeed, so it's definitely worth sticking a few two-game players in.

But who plays? Well, I'm predicting the following starting line-ups for United, although these are purely based on my own thought process. As you may have noticed, I'm not Sir Alex Ferguson, so don't take them as gospel...

Stupid Football

And yet Tottenham lost 3-1. A week after beating Milan in the San Siro. Bollocks.

Fair play to Blackpool, a massive 3 points for them, but it's a result that puts a huge dent in our hopes of another Champions League spot. If Spurs had a striker who could score goals in the league then we would've won this one by 4 or 5, but we don't, so we didn't. In case you weren't already aware, Charlie Adam picked up his 10th booking of the season in the 93rd minute, so he is now suspended for 2 games. I've already dropped him @ 8.6.

The last thing I want to do right now is spend 3 hours writing about fantasy football, but I know I have to do this week's player picks at some point today, so they should be up tonight once I've calmed down.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Manchester United Injury Update

Ferdinand & Giggs Miss Out For United - Football365

Manchester United were without several senior players including Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs as they flew out to Marseille for Wednesday night's Champions League match.

Ferdinand has not played since injuring a calf before United's Premier League defeat at Wolves on February 5, and his fellow central defender Jonny Evans also misses the trip, having been battling an ankle problem.

That meant Chris Smalling was in line to start alongside Nemanja Vidic in the heart of the United back four against the French giants.

Veteran midfielder Giggs was another absentee from the United party, which was also missing Michael Owen, who has a groin injury.

United midfielder Anderson was a non-traveller and could be facing a lengthy absence from the side after being substituted at half-time in Saturday's FA Cup fifth-round win over Crawley.

He reportedly suffered a knee injury which will need further examination before United can be sure how long he will be absent for.

However United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was able to include Brazilian twins Rafael and Fabio, despite the pair both coming off with injuries during the Crawley match, while youngsters Joshua King and Ryan Tunnicliffe were also selected, along with Gabriel Obertan and Bebe.

Squad: Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Lindegaard; Vidic, O'Shea, Brown, Rafael, Fabio, Evra, Smalling, Scholes, Gibson, Nani, Carrick, Fletcher, Bebe, Obertan, Tunnicliffe, Rooney, Berbatov, Hernandez, King.

So with no injury specified, is Giggs just getting a rest before the Premier League double header? Is Ferdinand missing out as a precaution or is his calf problem worse than first thought? Who's Fergie's first choice right-back, O'Shea of Rafael? Does Anderson's injury mean two starts for Scholes, Fletcher or Carrick? How the hell is Bebe considered a professional footballer?

Monday, 21 February 2011

Van Der Vaart To Miss Blackpool Trip

Rafael van der Vaart suffers setback and will miss Blackpool trip - The Telegraph

Rafael van der Vaart has suffered a setback with his calf injury and will miss Tottenham’s trip to Blackpool on Tuesday night.

The Dutch midfielder returned after a short absence to help Tottenham win 1-0 at San Siro against AC Milan last week.

However, he failed to finish the game and suffered a recurrence of the injury in training yesterday.

"Rafa did his calf again yesterday in training so he’s struggling," said Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. "He missed a couple of games, played in Milan, got through 70 minutes and then yesterday morning didn’t feel good."

"It’s a blow; he a fantastic player and we need him, but we can’t get that run out of him."

It is indeed a big blow for Spurs & fantasy managers who held on to him - no game time across the double-week for VDV and of course Tottenham don't play in Week 28, so it's a frustrating triple zero for the Dutch star. My decision to drop him appears to have worked out ok for now, but it is a real shame that these injury problems continue to hamper him as they have done throughout his career.

Friday, 18 February 2011

All Eyes On Stamford Bridge

As we know, tomorrow's FA Cup 4th round replay between Chelsea and Everton has big fantasy football implications, namely it's effect on the Manchester United double in Week 28. If you've been hiding under a rock for the past 10 days, let me clarify the situation.

At the moment, Manchester United are the only team scheduled to have two games in Week 28. Arsenal, Tottenham & Birmingham do no play at all. If Chelsea beat Everton tomorrow then their 5th round tie against Reading would take place on 1st or 2nd March, meaning Chelsea v Manchester United would be postponed. This would leave United with a single week & Chelsea would be added to the list of teams that do not play.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Arsenal 2 - 1 Barcelona


If for any reason you missed Arsenal v Barcelona, here are 20 minutes of highlights from one of the best matches I've seen in recent times. Unfortunately the host site has now removed the video, apologies.

Try here instead:

I still have the full game on Sky+ so I'll be watching it all over again tonight, it really was that good. Congratulations to the Gunners - I'm looking forward to the 2nd leg already!


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

AC Milan 0 - 1 Tottenham

AC Milan 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1: Match Report by Henry Winter, The Telegraph

"This was a magical night, a wonderful evening in keeping with the great “glory, glory” traditions of Tottenham Hotspur. Defending with determination and intelligence, pressing relentlessly in midfield and attacking with pace and precision to score through Peter Crouch, Spurs conjured up one of their finest European displays."

I couldn't have put it better myself Henry!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Week 27 - So Far

Fulham v Chelsea completed the first round of Week 27 fixtures last night, so we're now left with the double game teams to play their 2nd match. Until Arsenal, Birmingham, West Brom, Spurs, Blackpool, Stoke, Newcastle & Wolves complete the week we can't tell exactly how's it's gone, but we can analyse what's happened so far.

Manchester United v Manchester City and "that" goal seem ages ago already, but the most important thing from a fantasy stand-point was Nani's performance. I'll admit that having dropped him @17.84 my heart sunk as I saw a goal & assist bring him another 20 points, forcing me to grab him back on the barndoor for 21.10 (and Rooney @16) in preparation for the possible double in Week 28. United's win keeps them in pole position for the title and City are probably out of it, but they are improving & I'm sure they'll be back with a full-on challenge next season.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Week 27 - My Team


Kolarov   R.Johnson   Olsson

Bentley   Adam   Fabregas   Brunt

Carew   Van Persie  Odemwingie

I've really gone for it this week by dropping all my discount with the exception of Kolarov, leaving me with 10 potential double gamers for Week 27. Dropping VDV was the most difficult decision I've made this season, but I've clicked save now - there's no turning back!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Week 27 - Update

Loads to get through - and lots of if has a big impact on the upcoming double week - so lets get right into the details.

- Tottenham will definitely be without Bale, Modric & Van Der Vaart for their trip to Sunderland. Not only is this bad news for Spurs as they have a really tough game, but it's bad news for VDV discount owners. There's no guarantee he'll be fit for the 2nd double game either & Spurs don't have a game in Week 28, so at least 2 (possible 3) zeros are on the horizon... I'm afraid the time may have come to let him go. It hurts.

- Djourou and Song should be back for the Gunners, while Van Persie & Fabregas have made miraculous recoveries from their midweek illnesses, but Rosicky & Nasri are out. Arsenal NEED 6 points from these next 2 leagues game, and Wenger knows it. "Cesc and Van Persie will both be playing" he said on the club's official website. Game-on.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Week 27 - Player Picks

Week 27 is a big week...literally!

It spans 2 actual weeks (12 Feb to Feb 25), contains 14 fixtures and is a double-week for eight teams: Arsenal, West Brom, Birmingham, Blackpool, Newcastle, Tottenham, Stoke & Wolves.

As you all know by now, I will implore you to fill your team with as many double-gamers (DGers) as you physically can. Remember that even the worst DGer can still pull out one surprise score across two games (Gary Taylor-Fletcher's 22 points last month being a prime example). We've had a few people doubting this philosophy in the past but it really is the way to go, as we saw in Week 24 when plenty of managers broke the 200 point barrier.

If you are still a doubter it's an even easier argument for me to make to you on this occasion as there's a nice variety of teams playing twice, while the only decent fixture for the single-gamers is Liverpool v Wigan...come on, join us!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Week 26 - Quick Round-Up

After a 24 hour delay the points from Sunday's match-ups are in so I thought I'd write a quick summary about a quite thrilling weekend of Premier League football. 43 goals in 10 matches, 41 of those goals on Saturday.

Top of the table Manchester United lost their unbeaten record to bottom of the table Wolves, Arsenal lost a 4 goal half-time lead to Newcastle after a moment of stupidity by Diaby, City & Tevez kept their title hopes alive with a 3-0 win over (now managerless) West Brom, Everton & Blackpool played out an eight goal cracker, Wigan & Blackburn shared seven goals, Niko Kranjcar scored a 92nd minute winner as Spurs stole the points from Bolton & Stoke came from behind twice to beat Sunderland 3-2.

Sunday contained the remaining two fixtures of the weekend and although there were only two goals they were both big results. Birmingham pulled themselves away from danger with a vital 1-0 win at Upton Park, a scoreline that left West Ham back on the bottom of the Premier League. In the final game of Week 26, Torres experienced a nightmare debut as Liverpool snatched a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to continue their astonishing revival under Kenny Dalglish. It really was an incredible weekend.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Week 26 - My Team


Walker   Kolarov   Bridge

Nani   Adam   VDV   Bentley

Dzeko   RvP   Rooney

What do Jeremy, Neal & myself always tell you? NO LAST MINUTE CHANGES. And what did I do at 11:55am this morning? Made four changes of course.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Week 26 - Update

Less than 24 hours to go until deadline and news is starting to filter through from manager's press conferences around the country. The chances are you're waiting on that all important piece of information to help you make your final decisions, so lets get straight in to it...

- Slightly worrying news to start with seeing as many of us are holding him at a big discount - Charlie Adam is a doubt and faces a late fitness test before Blackpool's trip to Everton. With the team in a slump (6 defeats in 7 games) they really need their captain, so I think he'll play, but it is a concern. David Vaughan is also a doubt and Stephen Crainey is definitely out.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Week 26 - Player Picks

The player picks are slimmed down this week as the hectic scheduling of the Premier League is really starting to affect how quickly I need to put my blog posts together. Week 25 was only concluded last night, but we have Week 26 to think about already - the deadline is less than 48 hours away!

A quick word on the gameweek just passed - it was another really positive one for my fantasy team. 137 points has moved me up to a season high of 104th position overall, but it could've been even better. I traded out the benched Arshavin to Brunt minutes before deadline and I was about to pull the trigger on Dzeko > Bentley before deciding against it. That would've provided an additional 16 points, but I'm sure we all have plenty of those "if only" moments every weekend, so I should stop moaning! :)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Blog Cup - Quarter Final Results

The Blog Cup is hotting up! Week 24 was the Quarter Finals, and we were set to reduce the remaining 101 teams down to 50 in preparation for the semi-final in Week 28.

I've finished calculating the results, and the cut-off was...

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Week 25 - My Team

It's goodbye to Bale, plus a last ditch change of Arshavin to Brunt as news filtered through twitter with minutes to go that Rosicky replaced Nasri:

Reina, Spector, Kelly, Kolarov, Adam, Van Der Vaart, Brunt, Nani, Dzeko, Rooney, Van Persie

Good luck to all!

UPDATE @ 10PM: Brunt does nothing except get booked while Arshavin comes off the bench to score, typical! Still, can't complain as Rooney chips in with 2 goals + assist :)


Week 25 Update

I'd love to talk in depth about the absolutely mental final day of the January transfer window, but seeing as we have less than 4 hours until the Week 25 deadline it's probably better that I jump straight in to the team and injury news you need to know...