Saturday, 31 October 2009

Week 10 - My Team


You can probably tell from the picture above what my team looks like today...I've gone double game crazy after finding myself unable to settle on any of the bigger money single gamers. My team looks like this:-

Friedel

Vermaelen   Dunne   Alexander

Milner   O'Hara   Sidwell   Young

Diamanti   Agbonlahor   Drogba

I make that 7 double gamers.

In goal I opted for Brad Friedel. I didn't want Gordon when I had Diamanti attacking against him, I couldn't get definitive news on Jensen or Penny & Myhill was injured. Friedel averages 9 points a game so with 2 games I decided to spend the money & get him in.

In defence obviously I have Vermaelen & decided on Dunne again due to his 2 games & great average. I think he'll cause both Everton & West Ham defensive problems at set pieces. Finally, Gary Alexander has a chance of a clean sheet at home to Hull & seeing as it's 100th game for Burnley wouldn't it be nice if he popped up with a penalty to celebrate!

In midfield I've gone for Milner & Young. Milner is a no brainer, Young is a risk because of his lack of return so far but it's a hunch that he'll pop up with a goal in one of the games. O'Hara is back in as a cheap set piece taker at home, and finally I had 3.8 units left to spend so Sidwell comes in. He's really just a filler who happens to have 2 games. He'll probably only start 1 of them mind you and I don't expect anything from him.

Finally, I have Drogba (duh), Diamanti as he seems to always rack up points from either corners, free kicks or penalties (and with 2 games), and Agbonlahor who finds himself in form (and with 2 games).

So that's it. It's of course a risk to go with that many 2 gamers, but if they all play it means I have 18 players with a total weekly average of 148 points (if that makes sense?). Not that I expect them all to get their average in all their games, but I think I'm putting myself in a position to almost guarantee a 100 point week which is exactly what I need to get back on track.

The only players I've lost at a big discount are Billy & Fabregas. Billy's injury meant he had to go unfortunately. I think Fabregas could have a 20+ point week but I'll get no joy from him scoring those points vs Spurs. He was the first player I dropped and no matter what he does today I'll have no regrets over this decision. Other single gamers I wanted were Rooney, Nani & O'Shea but I couldn't fit them in my team - I expect them all to do well.

So what did you settle on? Who are you looking at on the barndoor?

Cheers,
AM

Friday, 30 October 2009

Week 10 Injuries


An snapshot of the suspensions, injuries & doubts for this weekend's games, taken from BBCSport.co.uk

ARSENAL v TOTTENHAM
Arsenal
Suspended: None  
Doubtful: None
Injured: Denilson (back), Djourou, Rosicky and Walcott (all knee), Fabianski (thigh), Wilshere (ankle)
Tottenham
Suspended: Defoe (1 game)
Doubtful: Lennon (ankle); Woodgate (concussion)
Injured: Giovani (ankle), Modric (broken leg)

BOLTON v CHELSEA
Bolton
Suspended: None  
Doubtful: None
Injured: Davis (knee), J O'Brien (knee)
Chelsea
Suspended: None
Doubtful: Kalou, Ivanovic
Injured: Hilario (concussion), Mikel (ankle), A Cole, Bosingwa, Zhirkov

BURNLEY v HULL
Burnley
Suspended: None
Doubtful: Jensen (ankle)
Injured: Paterson, McCann & McDonald (all knee), Rodriguez (ankle)
Hull
Suspended: None
Doubtful: Bullard (shin)
Injured: Ashebee & Myhill (both knee)

EVERTON v ASTON VILLA
Everton
Suspended: None
Doubtful: Bilyaletdinov (groin), Pienaar (knee), Saha (calf), Yobo (head)
Injured: Anichebe, Arteta, Jagielka, Neville & Vaughan (all knee), Osman (foot)
Aston Villa
Suspended: None
Doubtful: Warnock (ankle)
Injured: Davies (shoulder), Downing (foot)

FULHAM v LIVERPOOL
Fulham
Suspended: Dikgacoi (one match)  
Doubtful: Davies (foot), Konchesky & Murphy (knee)
Injured: Etuhu (knee), Kallio (Achilles), Stockdale (knee)
Liverpool
Suspended: None  
Doubtful: Torres (groin) 
Injured: Kelly (ankle), Riera (hamstring), Gerrard (groin), Aquilani (virus), Johnson (calf)

MAN UTD v BLACKBURN
Man Utd
Suspended: Gary Neville (three matches)
Doubtful: Ferdinand (calf), Giggs (unspecified), Vidic (calf)
Injured: Fletcher (ankle), Hargreaves (knee), Park (knee), Wellbeck (knee)
Blackburn
Doubtful: Chimbonda (calf), Grella (thigh), Samba (virus)
Unavailable: Roberts (virus)

PORTSMOUTH v WIGAN
Portsmouth
Doubtful: Diop (hamstring), Utaka (groin), Ward (groin)
Injured: Hreidarsson (foot), Primus (ankle)
Wigan
Doubtful: Kirkland (finger), Scharner (hamstring)
Injured: Figueroa (knee)

STOKE v WOLVES
Stoke
Suspended: Huth (two matches)  
Injured: Amdy Faye (back)
Wolves
Suspended: None  
Injured: Foley, Jones, Ward (all knee)

SUNDERLAND v WEST HAM
Sunderland
Suspended: None
Doubtful: Bardsley (shoulder), Bent (knee), Campbell (muscle problem), McCartney (hip)
Injured: Cattermole (knee), Mensah (calf), Zenden (hamstring)
West Ham
Suspended: Parker (one match)
Doubtful: Dyer (hamstring), Gabbidon (calf)
Injured: Ashton (ankle), Boa Morte (knee), Davenport (leg)

BIRMINGHAM v MAN CITY
Birmingham City
Suspended: None
Doubtful: Fahey (ankle)
Injured: Bent (hamstring), Espinoza (ankle), Hart (ineligible), Murphy (knee), Martin Taylor (ankle)
Manchester City
Suspended: None
Doubtful: None
Injured: Onuoha (thigh), Robinho (stress fracture)

You can get this information elsewhere but I felt it might be useful to see it all in one post. I'll update the missing games later.

Cheers,
AM

Week 11 Preview


Firstly a look at Week 10. I think you'll all agree this has been an incredibly difficult week to pick a team for due to the double week dilema combined with the uncertainty over injuries. I still have 4 big decisions to make, but for now I've narrowed down my initial list of 50 down to 20.

GKs
Gordon
Jensen/Penny
With Myhill now out injured I'm probably gonna have to go with Gordon, unless I can get confirmation on which Burnley keeper will play. Unless I take the Myhill 'zero'?

DFs
Verm
Alexander
Dunne
Cueller
R Johnson
Ilunga
Verm is in, then it's a case of picking a double gamer & a single gamer. Dunne might prove a bit too pricey I may go 4 at the back. *Update - O'Shea, Evans & Wes Brown enter my thoughts with the news (kindly provided by mudwalkerz) that Vidic & Ferdinand could both be out.

MFs
Fabregas
Milner
Reid
Young
Giggs/Nani
Billy
Really unsure on my midfield. The only certain player at the moment is Milner. Fab might have to go. No idea what to do about Billy, but it might be time for him to go too.

FWs
Drogba
Rooney
Cole
Agbonlahor
Diamanti
It's going to be Drogba, then at least one double gamer, possibly 2. I really want Rooney in but not sure how I can do it.

So still loads to decide for me & a lot will depend on team news later today. As I briefly mentioned, I may go 4-3-3 as there are some really good value defenders this weekend.

On to the Week 11 Preview, listing players to look out for on the barndoor ready for next week. 

Saturday, 7 November 2009
Aston Villa v Bolton, 15:00
Blackburn v Portsmouth, 15:00
Man City v Burnley, 15:00
Tottenham v Sunderland, 15:00
Wolverhampton v Arsenal, 17:30

Sunday, 8 November 2009
Chelsea v Man Utd, 16:00
Hull v Stoke, 13:30
West Ham v Everton, 15:00
Wigan v Fulham, 15:00

Monday, 9 November 2009

Liverpool v Birmingham, 20:00

Standout fixtures – Aston Villa home to Bolton, Man City home to Burnley, Arsenal at Wolves & Liverpool home to Birmingham. Spurs, Blackburn & Stoke are also worth a look. I’ll probably avoid Chelsea v Man U (apart from Drogba). Wigan v Fulham & West Ham v Everton are both tough fixtures to call

Aston Villa – Agbonlahor, Milner, Young, Dunne, Warnock, Cueller
Man City – Adebayor, Tevez, Bellamy, Petrov, Richards, Given
Arsenal – RvP, Fabregas, Diaby, Verm,
Liverpool – Torres, Gerrard, Benayoun, Aquilani, Glen Johnson
Spurs – Crouch, Defoe, Kranjcar, Hudd, Bassong,
Blackburn – Di Santo, Dunn, Pederson, Givet, Robinson
Stoke - Beattie, Tuncay, Lawrence, Wilkinson

Pick of the Week - Torres to destroy Birmingham

How's your team looking? Who's coming in on the barndoor for next week?

Cheers,
AM

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Injury Update 29/10/09



Firstly, Blog League 6 is filling up quickly so if you don't have a space in one of the leagues yet then be quick as this is definitely the final one. Details below:

Group ID: 23246
Password: yahoo
 


Now, update from football365.com
The club with the biggest injury list in the Premier League (Everton, by a mile) have been given a boost with an update from head physio Mick Rathbone which indicates that several of the ten players who missed the midweek clash with Tottenham will be fit for this weekend and many more are just weeks away from a return.

"Although we have lots of injuries at the moment all those players who are out are making good progress," said Rathbone. "I expect the vast majority of the injured lads to be back in the next few weeks.

"We are hoping to have one or two available for this weekend's match with Aston Villa at Goodison and we then hope to have some more fit for next weekend's trip to West Ham."

Although Rathbone did not mention any names, Steven Pienaar, Joseph Yobo, Leighton Baines and Leon Osman are thought to be the closest to a return.


Everton face Aston Villa, who reported no new injury concerns after their midweek win on penalties over Sunderland.

The big game of this weekend is the north London derby, and Tottenham have a doubt about Jonathan Woodgate, who suffered a blow to the head during the defeat to Stoke.

Scans have confirmed that Woodgate has not fractured his cheekbone but he is still major doubt for a game that Aaron Lennon will definitely miss with the ankle injury that saw him limp off last week.

Arsenal could have Samir Nasri on the bench after he came through 90 minutes of football in the Carling Cup after missing the start of the season while he recovered from a broken leg.

The news from Burnley is that, according to the Lancashire Telegraph, Brian Jensen is 'showing signs of improvement in his race to maintain his 100 per cent Premier League appearance record' at home to Hull this weekend, while Stephen Jordan is expecting to play despite missing training all week.

West Ham have been handed a boost with the news that serial injuree Kieron Dyer is back in training after missing over a month's football with a hamstring injury and could face Sunderland this weekend.

He could face Darren Bent, who returned to Sunderland training on Thursday after sustaining a knee injury in last weekend's defeat at Birmingham.

So interesting news on Everton, especially the worrying lack of information regarding Billy's injury. I'm still hanging on to him but if he's to miss another game this weekend then it could be time to jump ship. I found this additional piece of news from one of the merseyside papers, who tend to be a bit more up to speed on news from Liverpool & Everton
Joseph Yobo (head), Steven Pienaar (knee), Leighton Baines (calf) and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (thigh) are all being given every chance ahead of Saturday’s game, with Everton looking to halt a run of three successive defeats and score a first win in six.
So he has "a chance", but that's it. Not really that helpful. It does mention Saha is also struggling.

Also interesting update regarding Kieron Dyer, who of course plays for West Ham, who have a double game. Extremely unlikely he'd play in both matches after such a long spell out, but could mean another player (Diamanti? Noble?) drops to the bench in one of the games.

Finally, the news on Jensen is a concern for me as I had been trying to decide whether to go with Penny in goal for Burnely this weekend. If it's not confirmed whether it'll be Penny or Jensen then i'll have to look elsewhere.

So basically, all this injury news has done is confuse me further. Great!

Cheers,
AM

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Week 10 - Player Picks



Yahoo have finally confirmed the double week for West Ham & Villa, so to begin with i'll go back to what I wrote in my Week 10 Preview...

Now this is the first time this season with this scenario. Not the scenario of a double week (we had that in Week 1) but a situation where only 2 teams play twice. West Ham face Sunderland away & Villa at home, while Villa travel to Everton & West Ham (obviously).

Weeks like this are a real conundrum. Do you load up on West Ham & Villa players, sacrificing some discounts & some stronger players with single games? Or do you ignore the temptation as best you can, go with proven single game performers & just pick up 1or 2 double gamers? It's very confusing.

To add the confusion there plenty of other of good fixtures to consider...Man Utd home to Blackburn, Chelsea at Bolton, Sunderland home to West Ham, Man City at Birmingham, Burnley at home to Hull, Stoke at home to Wolves, Wigan at Portsmouth & there are always goals in Arsenal v Spurs.

I'm not going to tell you what you should or shouldn't do in Week 10. It's normally best to strike a balance, but that can be very difficult when there are so many good single gamers - it's really down to your gut feeling.

The strategy taken really is down to the individual. I'm probably going to load up my team with quite a few Villa & West Ham players, but that doesn't mean you have to. If you feel confident that single gamers will outscore double gamers then go for it.

I haven't had time to write my usual 2000 words on player picks. I believe people are now well aware of the pros & cons of individuals and that is why we are starting to see a big difference between each manager's selection as they begin to back their own hunches. However, I have listed the 50 odd player's i'll be considering this week with very brief notes on each.

GKs
Gordon - Cheap, clean sheet chance home to West Ham
Myhill - Cheap, away to Burnley, but is making saves
Penny/Jensen - Depending which is fit for Burnley, both are good value
2GAMERS
Friedel - 2 games but both are away & he's pricey
Green - 2 games, but in a struggling team, chance of minus points

DFs
In my opinion, if you're spending more than £7m on a defender then you should be looking to pay that bit extra for a double gamer.
Vermaelen - Duh
O'Shea - Under £7m & will certainly start in a home game to Blackburn
Brown - VERY cheap & could play with Ferdinand out of form & Neville suspended
Heitinga - But I'm off the bandwagon
Wilkinson - Huth is still suspended & home to Wolves is a nice game for Stoke
R Johnson - Value has plummeted after yellow card last week
Alexander - Home fixure & penalty taker
2GAMERS
Dunne - Pricey but great average
Collins - Ditto
Upson - Dangerous at set pieces
Warnock - Pricey but will get forward
Illunga - Good value, will start both games
Cueller - Good value BUT his place in both games could be at risk from Luke Young's return
Spector - Bargain if he plays both but tough to call

MFs
Lampard - Only if you have him at £18m. Still alot to spend on a single gamer in a double week. Away at Bolton isn't easy.
Fabregas - Off the boil since his Blackburn heroics but likely to perform vs Spurs
Giggs - Good value at home to Birmingham
Nani - Ditto
Arshavin - Probably too expensive, but I have feeling he could cause Spurs problems
Boateng - Loves to shoot at home
Reid - Dissapointing last week but good fixture
N'Zogbia - Improving every week & playing Pompey< O'Hara - Cheap set piece taker at home
Billy - May be back from injury
Bentley - Yes, DAVID BENTLEY. Huge outside hunch pick, but will play with Lennon out, against his old club & was outstanding vs Everton last night. 
2GAMERS
Milner - Should be in everyone's team in Week 10
Noble - Good average, though Diamanti has stolen some set pieces & penalties
Young - Tough to justify his price considering his average, but you never know
Petrov - Should return his value+ over 2 games
Behrami - Ditto
Sidwell - Bargain at under £4m

FWs
Drogba - Duh
Rooney - On a bad run, but no better way to end that than home to Blackburn
Rodallega - On form, at Pompey, uh-oh
RvP - Is on fire now i've dropped him, and home to Spurs
Bent - Turned rubbish when I picked him last week, but home to West Ham
Benitez - Bit of a hunch, but played far better than his points return suggested  last week (just ask Fidan), so could be a bargain at under £6m
Piquionne - Scored twice in the Carling Cup so should get a start at home & also under £6m
2GAMERS
Agbonlahor - Doesn't always return a huge amount of points, even when he scores, but he is in form so with 2 games he should be considered
Cole -The focal point of everything good West Ham do
Diamanti - Set pieces & penalties, changed the game from the bench vs Arsenal, very good pick.

Those are all the players in my consideration (until we hear of any injury news) & that's all I have time to type this week!

Blog League 6 is filling up quickly so if you don't have a space in one of the leagues yet then be quick as this is definitely the final one. Details below:

Group ID: 23246
Password: yahoo


Have I missed anyone? Who's in your team at the moment? What's your strategy in a double week like this?

Cheers,
AM

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Injury Update 27/10/09



 From football365.com:-

We do seem to be mentioning Alberto Aquilani rather a lot in our injury updates - and it's not only because it gives us a chance to muse on his missus. But those times are coming to an end as the Italian looks set to come off the bench for Liverpool against Arsenal on Wednesday night.

"He will be with us. He is improving his fitness, so he's in the squad." said Benitez. "He cannot start at this moment but he will be there and maybe we can give him some minutes. If it's possible we will try to use him."

Steven Gerrard should be back for Saturday's trip to Fulham. Benitez told Liverpoolfc.tv: "Gerrard will not be available for this game but he is improving, so hopefully he can be ready for Saturday."

Martin Kelly (ankle) and Albert Riera (hamstring) are also out, but there is better news for Benitez in that both Andrea Dossena and Sotirios Kyrgiakos could feature.

Benitez added: "Dossena has been training and will be in the squad. It was one or two small things with him.

"Kyrgiakos has been training. We had bad news when everyone was talking about him being out for six months after the internationals. It wasn't that bad because now he's training and he's available too."

Lining up on the opposite side to Aquilani will be Samir Nasri, who is yet to make a first-team appearance for Arsenal this season after breaking his leg in July. He will be joined by Lukasz Fabianski, who has missed the start of the season - and the chance to deputise for Manuel Almunia - with a knee injury.

But before Arsenal and Liverpool meet at the Emirates on Wednesday night, Manchester United travel to Barnsley. Darren Fletcher could feature for United after recovering from an ankle injury, while Gabriel Obertan will finally make his United debut after joining in the summer with a back problem.

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes will be without a number of key players for the Carling Cup match against Scunthorpe on Wednesday night.

Kolo Toure (heel), Martin Petrov and Wayne Bridge (both knee) have failed to recover from injury while Roque Santa Cruz remains doubtful with tonsilitis.

Tottenham have their own problems too, with Jonathan Woodgate and Aaron Lennon joining Ledley King, Luka Modric and Giovani Dos Santos on the sidelines.

"Jonathan took a bad blow to the head and he's gone for a scan today to make sure he hasn't fractured his cheekbone. His face is very swollen and we have to make sure he's okay. Obviously he's not available," said Harry Redknapp.

"Aaron has also gone for a scan to see what damage he's done to his ankle, hopefully it's not to bad and he'll recover."

"We've one or two more out as well - Ledley's still not fit, Luka and Gio - and Jermain is suspended."

Redknapp did add that King is hopeful of being fit in time for the weekend's clash with Arsenal.

There's some rare good news for Everton, who have included Yakubu in their squad to face Spurs in the Carling Cup after he recovered from a bruised heel.

Johnny Heitinga and Tim Cahill also travelled despite picking up knocks at the weekend so Everton's injured list has been reduced to just ten names.

Bolton striker Johan Elmander is set to return for Bolton in their Carling Cup fourth-round tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. The Swede has been missing with a hamstring injury, but he is now back in full training and should be available for the match at Stamford Bridge.

The good news for Sunderland fans is that Darren Bent's injury is not as bad as first feared. He will miss the Carling Cup clash with Aston Villa but should be fit for the weekend.

"We hope Darren will be okay for Saturday, but he had a bad knock," Bruce was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "He twisted and wobbled everything. It was close to being serious, but we don't think it is, thankfully."

So a mixture of news & I'm sure there'll be much more to consider after the Carling Cup games this week.

I'm still trying to decide whether to stick with mostly double gamers for Week 10, or back single gamers to perform. My experience tells me to pick double gamers, but until Yahoo 100% confirm a double week either by updating the fixtures or via the Offical Blog it makes me feel a tiny bit uneasy, even though I'm 99.99% sure it WILL be a double week.

I've been  re-reading the latest set of rules on Yahoo & they repeatedly state that a "game week" runs from the deadline on a Saturday to the following Saturday, so we can be pretty confident that the "missing" West Ham v Aston Villa fixture is mearly an oversight which they'll correct in the next day or 2.

If I do go with single gamers then Blackburn's squad are falling apart with Swine Flu, so having a bunch of United players could be the way the to go instead. Rooney, Nani & Giggs are all on my radar.

Blog League 6 is filling up quickly so if you don't have a space in one of the leagues yet then be quick as this is definitely the final one. Details below:

Group ID: 23246
Password: yahoo


Week 10 Player Picks will be up tomorrow.

Cheers,
AM

Monday, 26 October 2009

Blog League 6 (The Final One)


APOLOGIES - WRONG GROUP NUMBER WAS LISTED (NOW CORRECTED - 23246)

Just 73 spots left in the final blog league, which once full will leave us with 600 teams ready to take part in the 2nd Cup, The AM Challenge which will alongside the main Blog Cup. This competition will start in the next few weeks (possibly now Week 14).

If you have no idea what The Blog Cup is, click here (it's now FULL).  It was for the first 3 Blog Leagues. I'll keep The Blog Cup as it is with Round 2 in Week 12, Round 3 in Week 16 etc & the final in Week 34...it'll be the main cup competition for the Blog & will have the Premiership shirt as the prize for the winner at the end of the season. The AM Challenge is a completely separate competition.

**League 6 is for people who missed out on the first 5 so they can take part in the new cup, so please only join if you are not in League 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. I have a list of all the team names in the existing leagues so if I see any of the same teams in League 5 they will be removed - I have to be strict about these things :)**

Group ID: 23246
Password: yahoo


Be quick!

Cheers,
AM 

Injury Update 26/10/09


From the ever excellent football365.com

Any Manchester United fans who saw Michael Carrick's non-performance against Liverpool will be very pleased to read that Owen Hargreaves is being pencilled in for a return in early December.

United play Wolfsburg in the Champions League in a game likely to be a dead rubber with Sir Alex Ferguson saying: "He's coming along fine and he's pleased with his own progress, which is a good indication. The Wolfsburg game would be a nice time to bring him back.

"It would be good to have him come in on a European night, but it may depend on whether we need anything from the game."

Coming back somewhat earlier will be Darren Fletcher, who is expected to return against Blackburn on Saturday if he recovers from the groin injury that kept him out of the Liverpool game.

The team with the biggest injury list is undoubtedly Everton, who added Johnny Heitinga and Tim Cahill to a list that also features Bilyaletdinov, Baines, Vaughan, Osman, Yobo, Pienaar, Neville, Anichebe, Jagielka, Arteta and Yakubu.

Tottenham are in some trouble though as they could be without five key players for Saturday's derby clash with Arsenal.

Aaron Lennon is struggling with a left ankle problem which forced him off the pitch against Stoke and saw him leave White Hart Lane wearing a protective boot while Jonathan Woodgate managed only 14 minutes before being forced off with concussion, which usually means a mandatory two weeks on the sidelines.

Ledley King missed the Stoke game with a virus while Luka Modric is still crocked and Jermain Defoe will still be serving his suspension for the ridiculous stamp on Potrsmouth's Aaron Mokoena.

Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa is facing several weeks on the sidelines after damaging knee ligaments during the 3-1 win at Burnley on Saturday.

Figueroa had to leave the field after only 28 minutes at Turf Moor having sustained the injury, while team-mate Paul Scharner required 10 stitches stitches in a facial wound he picked up creating the Latics' third goal for Emmerson Boyce.

The damage to Scharner is only superficial, but Figueroa's condition is more concerning for manager Roberto Martinez.

"Maynor has a grade two medial ligament problem in his left knee," Martinez told the Wigan Evening Post.

"We will assess it further to see how bad he is, but it doesn't look too good.

"Normally with this sort of injury, you are talking about weeks rather than months - but the signs are not nice."

Burnley have revealed goalkeeper Brian Jensen sustained an ankle ligament injury during the home defeat by Wigan on Saturday.

The damage was described today by the club as only "slight" and the 34-year-old may have a chance of recovering to play against Hull at the weekend.

Manchester City winger Martin Petrov could miss the Carling Cup tie against Scunthorpe with a knee injury.

The 30-year-old Bulgarian limped out of the 2-2 draw against Fulham at the weekend and looks set to miss the clash with the Iron on Wednesday.

City boss Mark Hughes hopes the injury is not a serious one, after Petrov repaid the faith shown in him by his manager by scoring the Blues' second goal against the Cottagers at Eastlands on Sunday.

"I felt it was important for Martin to play," Hughes told the club's official website.

"He's been doing well and I didn't want to disappoint him. He was keen to get the ball and scored what should have been the winner.

"But he got a bang on the knee and was unable to finish. It's been sore for a while now. Hopefully it won't be too serious, a bang and not a twist."

City captain Kolo Toure is also a doubt for the game at the City of Manchester Stadium with a heel injury, while striker Roque Santa Cruz is suffering from tonsillitis.

Stoke striker Mamady Sidibe, who played an hour of a reserve match last week, is set to make his first senior appearance since undergoing surgery on a damaged cruciate ligament seven months ago in the Carling Cup clash with Portsmouth.


Cheers,
AM

Week 9 Round Up


The points are finally in after a ridiculous delay and it does not make pretty reading for me. 66 points. Rubbish, and I've dropped significantly in the rankings.

Billy didn't play so that was an expected zero, but there were also -0.5 for Bent, 0.5 for Heitinga & Cole, 1 for Given & 3.5 for Fabregas... all big disappointments. Thank God for Drogba, Kranjcar & Crouch who provided almost 50 points of my total. Dropping Van Persie, Petrov & not picking up Lampard were all killers.

But I need to leave that all behind me now, as we approach a double week where there's always a chance of getting right back on track. I know Yahoo haven't confirmed it's a double week but I'm sure it will be. I've done some barndoor work which has left me with 6 double gamers and I may even try to get another in.

The only players staying for certain are Vermaelen, Fabregas, Billy & Drogba so that leaves me 7 open spots. Agbonlahor, Diamanti, Cole, Milner, Young, Noble, Sidwell, Petrov, Illunga, Cueller, Dunne, Green & Friedel are all players I'm looking at, as well as Man Utd players...if I can find a way to get Rooney in I will.

I'll be back later in the week with Player Picks (hopefully we'll have the double week confirmed by then), but until then please let me know how you did in Week 9 & who you've picked up on the barndoor? I'll also be able to confirm whether the new cup competition will take place in Week 10. If you're not in a blog league yet, please join number 6 with the details below:-

Group ID: 23246
Password: yahoo


Cheers,
AM

Week 9 Update


I wrote on here last week...
"...despite all this, I have a funny feeling that Benitez could find something to cause a bit of an upset on Sunday, especially if he can get Torres back & the crowd behind them. Whatever happens, it's sure to be an absolute cracker...I can't wait!
Turns out this was the only prediction I got right in Week 9.

Apologies for the lack of posts over the past 2 days. I always wait for the points to come in on a Saturday/ Sunday before I can really analyse the day, so with Yahoo failing to update for any games yet there's not a lot I can say. I was also very hungover yesterday...

I do know I had a very bad week. 1 goal (Drogs) & no clean sheets means I'm set for a 60 point week at best. I'm obviously annoyed I didn't move for Lampard this week after tipping him twice, furious I dropped Petrov & RvP, angry I spent money on Given when Myhill would've been the better option for half the price, really annoyed that Darren Bent failed to score the week I pick him after scoring 9 in 9 previously & just plain pissed off that Spurs fell to a late defeat to Stoke after hammering them for the previous 87 minutes. Not a good weekend too celebrate my birthday!

As I've said I'll write a proper post once the points are in, but the one positive is the barndoor has now been open for an extended period meaning we all have more time to decide what to do. I'm positive West Ham v Aston Villa will count as an extra game in Week 10 so I'm getting in a couple of Hammers & a couple of Villains. I'd love to get Lampard in, but spending £19m on a player away from home in a double week is not sensible.

In goal I'm probably going to go back to spending the bare minimum on a keeper as I've recently been burnt by Foster/Given when Myhill would've been the far better choice. I may also stick a United player in my team, though there's no rush to do this as none of their player's value will be going up. I'm also wondering if it's time to jump off the Fabregas bandwagon? I'll probably keep him for the Spurs game as he tends to play very well against us and unfortunately I could see it being a long afternoon for my boys.

So that's it for now - hopefully Yahoo will get the points up today & I can write a proper post & reveal my current barndoor team, so keep checking back later today. I'll get injury news up too.

Remember if you haven't had the chance to join a Blog League yet the final 6th league is open, 80 spaces left. I will not be starting the new AM Challenge Cup competition until the group is full, so it may be a couple of weeks yet.

Group ID: 23246
Password: yahoo


Finally, thanks for the great comments/posts/quick chat in my absence the last few days, it really makes the blog unique as people can still stop by & ask for advice 24-7. We broke all records for blog hits on Saturday - over 3000 visitors...not a bad birthday present for me - I'm very proud it's become so popular so quickly, it makes it all worth it!

Cheers,
AM 

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Week 9 - My Team


Given

Vermaelen  Heitinga  Richards

Billy  Fabregas  Kranjcar  Joe Cole

Drogba  Crouch  Bent

This was another really tough week to settle on a final 11, and I only made my final decision at 10am, which is very late for me.

In goal I've gone with Shay Given, with the only other option being Myhill. Fulham don't travel that well so I'm hoping I'll get a decent return with a Man City clean sheet & Given can usually be relied on to make saves if required.

In defence I don't need to explain the Vermaelen & Heitinga picks other to say I hold both at big discounts & they'll be staying for the foreseeable future. My 3rd defender is Michah Richards, who like Given I'm hoping will give me a clean sheet.

In midfield I'm hanging on to Billy. His thigh strain is likely to keep him out for a few days so he'll miss Sunday's game, but I'm holding a player of great points potential for just £4m so I'd be crazy to drop him because he'll miss one game - the player I replace him with could score maybe 4 or 5 points & it would be a complete waste. Fabregas will be in most manager's teams & I expect he'll control the game at Upton Park. Kranjcar is in there for his superb set piece delivery & even though he's quite costly I think he could have a good week as Stoke will try to rough Spurs up, which means loads of free kicks for Niko.

My final midfield pick is a huge hunch & a huge risk. Joe Cole, one of my favourite players but yet to start a Premier League game this season. The reason? I'm not doing that well this year & I'm sure one of the reasons is because I've stopped going with outside hunches which have been so successful for me in previous seasons. They don't get much bigger than a player who might not even start, but I've just got a feeling he could do something vs Blackburn, even off the bench. If it goes wrong & I get a zero I'll have to live with it.

Upfront obviously I have Drogba who could destroy Blackburn's defence, and I've FINALLY gone with Darren Bent after 8 weeks of recommending him & not picking him! I feel Sunderland will be on a high after the Liverpool result & Birmingham are struggling badly having recently lost to Bolton at home. Bent should cause problems but it would be typical if he didn't score the week I grab him! My final striker pick is Peter Crouch, who'll get the start vs Stoke & needs just 3 shots on target to return his value, which he should get.

You're probably wondering where my Man City striker is? Well, I was initially going with Adebayor until his shocking performance last weekend, then I switched him to Tevez, but the news that both these men only started training yesterday, along with a full fit Santa Cruz, a returning Craig Bellamy, a flying Martin Petrov, SWP...I just couldn't be sure who would start in City's attacking front 4 & with Billy going to get me a zero (and possibly Cole!) it wasn't something I could risk. So I went with Bent & Crouch who I'm 100% sure will start. If you went with a Man City striker, don't be surprised if they score - it would be just my luck :)

That's my team & my explanation...who have you gone for in Week 9? Any plans for the barndoor?

Cheers,
AM

Friday, 23 October 2009

Week 9 - 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, I am not the manager of any of these team, and if the press don't know there's no way I can be certain, so PLEASE only use these as a guide.

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

Birmingham: Hart, Carr, Ridgwell, R Johnson, Quedrue, Ferguson, Carsley, Larsson, Bowyer, McFadden, O'Connor
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Turner, Richardson, Malbranque, Henderson, Cana, Reid, Jones, Bent

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Alexander, Bikey, Elliott, Blake, Nugent, Fletcher
Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Figueroa, Thomas, Diame, Koumas, N’Zogbia, Scotland, Rodallega

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Carvalho, Terry, A Cole, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Deco, Anelka, Drogba
Blackburn: Robinson, Jacobsen, Samba, Nelsen, Givet, Nzonzi,  Andrews, Diouf, Gamst-Pedersen, Dunn, Roberts

Hull: Myhill, McShane, Kilbane, Sonko, Dawson, Zayatte, Barmby, Hunt, Bullard, Geovanni, Vennegoor of Hesselink
Portsmouth: James, Finnan, Kaboul, Wilson, Ben Haim, Mokoena, Yebda, O’Hara, Boateng, Smith, Dindane

Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, King, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Palacios, Jenas, Kranjcar, Lennon, Keane, Crouch
Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Ab Faye, Collins Delap, Diao, Whitehead, Etherington Beattie, Fuller

Wolves: Hennessey, Zubar, Berra, Craddock, Elokobi, Edwards, Henry, Kightly, Halford, Doyle, Ebanks-Blake
Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Petrov, Sidwell, Milner, A Young, Agbonlahor, Carew

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Knight, Cahill, Samuel, Muamba, Gardner, Cohen, Taylor, Chung-Yong Lee, K Davies
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Distin, Neill, Rodwell, Cahill, Gosling, Billy (PLEASE!), Fellaini, Saha

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Insua, Mascherano, Lucas, Aurellio, Benayoun, Kuyt, Torres
Man Utd: Van der Saar, O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Valencia Berbatov, Owen

Man City: Given, Richards, Toure, Lescott, Bridge, Barry, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Bellamy, Tevez, Adebayor
Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky Baird, Dempsey, Greening, Duff, Kamara, Zamora

West Ham: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Illunga, Parker, Behrami, Collison, Noble, Diamanti, Cole
Arsenal: Mannone, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Diaby, Eboue, Fabregas, Arshavin, Van Persie

You should now have all the information you need to pick your Week 9 team. As always, best of luck, and i'll be back in the morning with My Week 9 Team.

Reminder of only a few spaces in Blog League 5:
Group ID: 23245
Password: yahoo


And if you find that's full then Blog League 6 opens:
Group ID: 23246
Password: yahoo


And finally, if you're on facebook we have the Blog Facebook Group which is continuing to grow in numbers & helps me put faces to names...

Cheers,
AM

Injury Update 23/10/09


Injury news from football365.com (will be updated as it appears)...
Let's begin with the news from Old Trafford.

Although Patrice Evra is fit for Manchester United's game at Anfield, 'worryingly there are still doubts over Wayne Rooney and Darren Fletcher's fitness.'

"I can't really give you a clear picture," said Sir Alex Ferguson. "We still have doubts about Rooney and Fletcher.

"Patrice Evra and Ryan Giggs will be fit, but we'll have to see how Rooney and Fletcher progress over the next day or two.

"Wayne is always deserpate to play, that's the nature of the boy. But you can't allow that to cloud the realistic part of the situation, which is 'how fit is he?'. How Wayne does in training on Saturday will be very important in determining whether or not he's fit."

The news could present Michael Owen with the chance to start against his former club while Ferguson may opt to deploy Dimitar Berbatov as a lone striker should Rooney miss out.

As for Liverpool, the word in The Times is that 'Fernando Torres has recovered sufficiently from a groin strain to be almost certain to take his place in Rafael Benítez's starting line-up' but that 'the chances of Steven Gerrard being fit for action only five days after he trudged off the Anfield turf with a recurrence of his abdominal problem are considered remote.'

Glen Johnson should also be passed fit to start.

Arsene Wenger is expecting Eduardo to return for Arsenal's trip to West Ham on Sunday but Tomas Rosicky and Nicklas Bendtner are rated as 50-50.

"Rosicky and Bendtner are 50-50 but Eduardo should be back," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online. "I would say only Walcott is definitely out."

Wenger also suggested that Samir Nasri would continue his comeback in the Carling Cup next week rather than against the Hammers, and reported that "Denilson should be available in four weeks and Johan Djourou will be March."

For Chelsea, Jose Bosingwa (knee) is out while midfielder John Obi Mikel and defender Alex are not deemed match fit after recovering from injury.

Yury Zhirkov (knee) is on standby to replace Ashley Cole, though the full-back is expected to shrug off a knock.

Man City manager Mark Hughes had bad news on Thursday about Robinho, who will be out of action for at least another couple of weeks, but there's more hopeful updates on Kolo Toure and Craig Bellamy with Hughes saying it is possible both of them will return for Sunday's game with Fulham. Emmanuel Adebayor faces the dreaded late fitness test after his ankle injury vs Wigan.

Everton's problems are on the increase with Diniyar Bilyaletdinov the latest casualty with a thigh problem. Joseph Yobo (head), Leon Osman (ankle) and Leighton Baines (calf) remain doubtful after sitting out the game after being injured following the draw against Wolves at the weekend

Elsewhere, Birmingham's defensive duo of Franck Queudrue and Stuart Parnaby are fit for the clash with Sunderland, but Wigan may be without Chris Kirkland and Paul Scharner for their trip to Burnley. Scharner has a thigh problem while

Kirkland dislocated a finger against City last weekend and has yet to train this week.

For Sunderland, Lee Cattermole is out with a knee ligament injury and John Mensah (calf) is also out, but Kenwyne Jones, who was carried off with a twisted ankle on Saturday, trained on Friday and is expected to be fit, as are Bolo Zenden (hip) and Andy Reid (calf).

Hull's record signing Jimmy Bullard could make his first Hull start in Saturday's Premier League clash against Portsmouth at the KC Stadium.

Defender Anthony Gardner is also back in contention after two months on the sidelines with a knee injury while captain Nick Barmby has overcome a calf problem.

With Richard Garcia nearing fitness after a knee injury, Ian Ashbee (knee) is Hull's only major casualty.

For opponents Portsmouth, Papa Bouba Diop and Richard Hughes remain absent with hamstring and hip problems respectively, despite turning out for the reserves in midweek.
The Adebyaor news really test my faith. If Bellamy, Santa Cruz & Tevez are fit then there's no reason for Hughes to risk him, surely?

Cheers,
AM

Week 10 Preview


Before I begin, let me quickly round up Week 9 (full list of player picks here). The Billy injury has me truely stumped over what to do about my team this week & I'm also still stuck over 2 midfield spots & 2 striker spots.

However, I have cut my selection pool down from 50 to 20 players...

Given
Myhill

Vermaelen
Heitinga
Bassong
Alexander
Richards

Fabregas
Lampard
Bullard
Kranjcar
Petrov
Boateng

Drogba
Bent
Crouch
Tevez
Adebayor
Keane


Alongside Droga I'm going with either Bent & a City striker or a City Striker & a Tottenham Striker. It's either going to be Bent & Tevez, Adebayor & Crouch or Tevez & Keane. In midfield I honestly don't know, & my final defensive choice is likely to be Bassong, Richards or Sonko (depending on available funds after my strikers & midfielders are finalised).

I'll await injury news & team news (which I'll post up later today) before making any final decisions.

Now on to Week 10, which is likely to be the 1st Round of The AM Challenge (more on that later in the week)...& it's also a double week for 2 teams.

Firstly the fixtures:

Saturday, 31 October 2009
Arsenal v Tottenham, 12:45
Bolton v Chelsea, 15:00
Burnley v Hull, 15:00
Everton v Aston Villa, 15:00
Fulham v Liverpool, 15:00
Man Utd v Blackburn, 17:30
Portsmouth v Wigan, 15:00
Stoke v Wolverhampton, 15:00
Sunderland v West Ham, 15:00

Sunday, 1 November 2009
Birmingham v Man City, 16:00

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

West Ham v Aston Villa, 19:45

Now this is the first time this season with this scenario. Not the scenario of a double week (we had that in Week 1) but a situation where only 2 teams play twice. West Ham face Sunderland away & Villa at home, while Villa travel to Everton & West Ham (obviously).

Weeks like this are a real conundrum. Do you load up on West Ham & Villa players, sacrificing some discounts & some stronger players with single games? Or do you ignore the temptation as best you can, go with proven single game performers & just pick up 1or 2 double gamers? It's very confusing.

To add the confusion there plenty of other of good fixtures to consider...Man Utd home to Blackburn, Chelsea at Bolton, Sunderland home to West Ham, Man City at Birmingham, Burnley at home to Hull, Stoke at home to Wolves, Wigan at Portsmouth & there are always goals in Arsenal v Spurs.

I'm not going to tell you what you should or shouldn't do in Week 10. It's normally best to strike a balance, but that can be very difficult when there are so many good single gamers - it's really down to your gut feeling. What I will do is give you a list of players I think you should be considering.

Double gamers - Friedel, Dunne, Warnock, Cueller, Milner, Agbonlahor, Green, Upson, Illunga, Noble, Diamanti, Cole (I really like the Diamanti & Milner picks)

Man Utd - Rooney, Berbatov, Giggs, Nani, O'Shea
Chelsea - Drogba, Anelka (old club), Lampard, Deco, Ballack, Malouda
Sunderland - Bent, Reid, Malbranque, Ferdinand, Turner, Gordon
City - Adebayor, Tevez, Bellamy, SWP, Petrov, Richard, Bridge, Given
Burnley - Nugent, Carslisle, Alexander, Mears, Jensen
Stoke - Beattie, Fuller, Lawrence, Etherington, Shawcross
Wigan - Rodallega, N'Zogbia, Bramble, Scharner, Figuerroa, Melchiot
Arsenal - RvP. Fabregas, Arshavin, Rosicky, Vermaelen
Tottenham - Crouch, Keane, Lennon, Kranjcar, Bassong

Others - O'Hara, Boateng, Dunn, MTay, Billy, Saha, Torres, Gerrard

That's it for now...loads to think about. As I mentioned I'll get Week 9 injury news & any significant team news up later today & i'll do my best to put some Predicted Starting XIs up too.

What are you still trying to decide on for Week 9? What are your thoughts on tactics for a "two team double week"?

Cheers,
AM

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Billy Injured


Bad news for Everton fans and Billy holders as Everton were handed a 5-0 thrashing in Benfica, with Billy off injured after 60 minutes.

This taken from Sporting Life
To add to Moyes' injury woes, Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov ended the match with a strapping to his thigh and is doubtful for the Barclays Premier League match at Bolton on Sunday.

Moyes added: "We will need to assess him when we get back as well. I am not sure either yet who might be fit for the weekend."
Tough decisions to take now...if he does miss out it's probably a 1 game hit for managers, and if you have him at £4m then it would take some real guts to drop him.

My own gut feeling is to keep him even if it's confirmed he misses out this weekend, provided it's only for 1 game...but i'll make my final decision based on the news we get tomorrow.

I still have so much to decide on for this week & this has not helped - is anyone else in the same situation?

Cheers,
AM

Injury Update 22/10/09


Not much time to post today, so just a quick injury update from football365.com...
Liverpool fans know this already - but new signing Alberto Aquilani made his long-overdue debut for the reserves on Wednesday night and completed 15 minutes in which he apparently looked pretty handy.

He was chuffed with himself, saying: "I am happy to have made my debut. It's been a very long time since I last played.

"Although I only played for 15 minutes tonight, it is good for me and my fitness. I know I am not fully fit yet, but I hope to be soon."

Sunday's clash with Manchester United will come too soon for Aquilani, but next Wednesday's Carling Cup meeting with Arsenal looks tailor-made for a first-team debut.

Meanwhile, Glen Johnson seems to think he will be fit for Sunday and offers an update on the fitness of Nando Torres (thumbs up) and Steven Gerrard (not to much), saying: "I think I will be all right for Sunday. We haven't tested it today, just soft tissue work and massage, but it seems a lot freer than it did.

"I think Nando [Torres] might be all right for Sunday but I am not too sure about Stevie."

Albert Riera is expected to miss out once again with a hanstring injury.

Manchester United have their own problems with The Independent reporting that 'Wayne Rooney faces an uphill battle to be fit for Manchester United's vital encounter with Liverpool'.

He is still struggling with the calf injury he picked up on England duty, while Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs are still struggling to make that game. Patrice Evra (heel) is the one player who could return.

Injury kings Birmingham should have some problems cleared up in time for this weekend's game with Sunderland after missing a grand total of nine players last weekend.

"Gregory Vignal is at a good level could be back," said boss McLeish. "He might join us this week which would indicate that he could be available for the weekend.

"Franck (Queudrue) is back in training and so is Stuart Parnaby. It's good that Stuart is back because the full back situation has been horrendous."

Keith Fahey (ankle) is still a doubt, while David Murphy (knee), Giovanny Espinoza (ankle) and Martin Taylor (ankle) are all still out.

Everton will be without Joseph Yobo, Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman for their Europa League match against Benfica tonight. Yobo suffered a head injury during the draw with Wolves while Pienaar is recovering from a knee problem that has caused him to miss the last three games. Osman did not travel because of an ankle injury.

Fulham skipper Danny Murphy has a knee injury and will miss Thursday's Europa League clash against Roma at Craven Cottage.
A side note - it'll be interesting to see whether Anchelotti gives players like Deco a rest after he started 3 games in a row & maybe includes Joe Cole for this weekend. I'd love Cole to get some game time but it may be too much of a risk to put him in your team.

A reminder that Blog League 5 is open for people who didn't get a place in the first 4. Only 30 spaces left...

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Cheers,
AM

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Week 9 - Player Picks


Before we start, a quick note on Liverpool.

After last night's defeat there's no denying they're in serious, serious trouble. The squad simply isn't strong enough, injuries are mounting, they could be going out of the Champions League &they have Manchester United this weekend, with their title challenge on the verge of being over in October.

But despite all this, I have a funny feeling that Benitez could find something to cause a bit of an upset on Sunday, especially if he can get Torres back & the crowd behind them. Whatever happens, it's sure to be an absolute cracker...I can't wait!

Now on to my player picks for Week 9, and as always there are plenty of options:-

KEEPERS
Given - I picked Shay up on the barndoor but still haven't decided whether to keep him. He'll make saves as always & has a nice home fixture but at almost 8 I'm wondering whether to go with a slightly cheaper option.
Jensen - Had a shocker vs Blackburn, looking uncertain for crosses and making some rash decisions, but this has led to his value dropping & we know Burnley are a different proposition at home. Wigan don't travel well so if you fancy the Beast to keep a clean sheet then he could be great choice for Week 9.
Gordon - My initial barndoor keeper pick, but I've now let him go for Given. I'm not that sure it was the right choice...Gordon is a really nice pick away to a struggling team, with Sunderland hitting form & Birmingham finding it really tough to score goals.
Myhill - Home to Pompey & only £3m. These are the games Hull MUST win & I have a feeling they will, so Myhill could be a bargain. Unlike Robinson he actually makes saves (hence the 4 points in a 2-0 defeat to Fulham), but it's always a risk.
Cech - If you have some cash lying around then Cech at £10m at home to Blackburn is probably the closest you'll get to a guaranteed clean sheet (no guarantee ;)

DEFENDERS
Vermaelen - Duh
Heitinga - Still not good enough for Everton IMO, but he keeps returning points (and get a few free kicks) so I'll probably hang on to him.
Carlisle - Affordable, scores good points & has a decent home fixture vs Wigan.
Mears - See Carlisle
Alexander - Averages less points than both of the above Burnley defenders, but also costs less & there is always a chance that Burnley get a penalty, which he would take, and he nearly always scores.
Bassong - Home fixture & cheap price, although I'm wondering what happens to him when King & Woodgate are both fit to play?
R. Johnson - Whether Birmingham lose by 1 or 3 goals, this man keeps returning excellent points. Sunderland at home isn't the worst fixture & he's still affordable...imagine what he could achieve with a clean sheet!
Sonko - Bargain filler with a home fixture to Pompey
Ivanovic - Bit of an outside bet, but there are rumours that Bosingwa could be out for a week or 2. If that's the case then don't sniff at the chance to have a Chelsea defender at home for Blackburn for under £8m
Richards - Guaranteed to start with Zabeletta suspended and is now under £6m...fantastic value with a home game for City vs Fulham
Bridge - Still under £8m and has the same good fixture as Richards
Finnan - Always a chance of some great attacking points for Steve Finnan. Pompey have been improving & may fancy something at Hull, so Finnan could offer an alternative that few others will pick up on.

MIDFIELDERS
Fabregas - I'm going to hang on to Fabregas for the foreseeable future, as he becomes 1 of my 4 undroppables (along with Verm, Billy & Drogs). He faces a West Ham team who are nowhere near as bad as their league position, but if they decide to take the game to the Gunners (which Zola may well do) then they could be torn apart, with Cesc at the heart of everything.
Arshavin - With Walcott out & Rosicky suffering another knee injury, there is no risk of Arshavin being on the bench this week. He scored off the bench anyway.
Lampard - This is the first time I've recommended Lampard for a long while. He's playing deeper, hardly shooting, getting less corners & free kicks, but I've got a feeling he could break out of his slump vs a Blackburn team with zero away points this season. Wouldn’t be surprised if it was a penalty that does it.
Billy - I have him at £4m. He takes corners. He takes freekicks. He shoots. He stays.
Kranjcar - Now he's taking all corners & freekicks he represents one of the better midfield picks available. Home to Stoke is a game that Spurs should win, so even though he's costing close to £12m I feel he should return his value & possibly more.
Deco - Has stolen Lampard's corners & is playing just behind the strikers, so if he's rested tonight then he'll probably play on Saturday & he could be a great option at under £9m
Bullard - Hull need to start winning, they need some inspiration...step forward Jimmy. He's one of the great fantasy football point scorers & if it's confirmed he's ready to start vs Portsmouth then it's a tempting move.
Geovanni - If Bullard isn't ready then Geo is also in with a chance of a good week
Hunt - And if you can't afford those 2 then Hunt is a possibility, but has been scoring poorly in recent weeks.
Milner - Is in fantastic form & Villa will be on a high after the Chelsea victory. Wolves are struggling at home & I fancy a Villa win so Milner is someone I’ll be considering.
Martin Petrov - He's played 2 of the last 3 games, scoring 2 goals and getting 2 assists. I barndoored him but if Bellamy/Robinho return then I wouldn't be surprised if he lost his place. Would be harsh, but that doubt means I'll probably be getting rid.
Boateng - KPB was bound to score vs Spurs and really does seem to be the heartbeat for Pompey at the moment. He's a bit expensive now but if you have him at £7m it's difficult to drop him for the Hull game.
O'Hara - Will return after missing the Spurs game but may find himself playing deeper with Michael Brown out. Still, he'll take all set pieces so under £6m is a massive bargain.
Reid - His value is back below £10m and he has a decent fixture at Birmingham. Another set pieces taker who I’ll be considering for Petrov's place.
Ballack - Should be back from an ankle injury & always seems to grab goals in Chelsea's home games against lesser opponents.
N'Zogbia - Outstanding vs Man City & should cause Burnley some problems playing in a very attacking right wing role.
Cole/Zhirkov - Maybe a chance for one of them this weekend? Wait for team news before even thinking of getting them in.

STRIKERS
Drogba - Same every week no matter the fixture - unplayable, undroppable. And this week he faces Blackburn.
Van Persie - Pricey due to consistency, but he never seems to really "nail it" with a 25 point week. Capable of doing just that at Upton Park, but I'm probably going to drop him to strengthen elsewhere.
Adebayor - Capable of the sublime as he showed vs. Arsenal but also capable of total rubbish as we saw at Wigan before he decided he was injured & forced Hughes to sub him. No coincidence the first performance was at home & the recent one away, so as City face Fulham he has to be in your thoughts, especially now his price is below £14m.
Crouch - With Defoe suspended for 3 games expect, expect him to really try and grab his opportunity, starting with a goal or 2 vs Stoke. Fantastic value at just £9m.
Tevez - Hasn't completely taken off yet, but he'll want to impress in front of the home fans. He'll run Fulham ragged & could offer a good alternative to Adebayor.
Bent - I keep on not picking him & he keeps on scoring. You can't deny he's been impressive so far with goals vs Liverpool & Man Utd, so with a game at Birmingham there's no reason for him not to continue his goal per game ratio.
Keane - Hasn't been particularly impressive but his 4 goals vs Burnley masked this. However he's guaranteed to start up front and his trickery on the floor may cause Stoke's giant defenders more problems than Crouch's height. Plus he'll take penalties.
Yakubu - I'm wondering whether Moyes might think about starting The Yak at Bolton after a couple of disappointing draws. If so he's a steal at just £7m, but wait for team news.
Saha - If not, Saha isn't a bad bet.
Bellamy - Missed last week's game with another injury but could be back & is in great form.
Agbonlahor - Scary pace will cause Wolves plenty of problems
Diamanti - Doesn't matter how he plays, he'll keep picking up points with his set pieces & "shoot on sight" mentality. Takes penalties too.
Rodallega - Has been shifted out to the left wing to accommodate the surprisingly impressive Jason Scotland, but that hasn't stopped him impressing & will cause Burnley problems along with N'Zogbia.
Rooney - What could he do to a fragile Liverpool this weekend? He'll probably score...but he could just as easily get sent off.

So those are the FIFTY players in consideration this week, but remember this is written well in advance of any team/injury news so don't click "Save Changes" just yet. Anyone you feel I've missed out in my list above?

A reminder to anyone who missed out on the first 4 Blog Leagues that Blog League 5 is now open in preparation for the new Cup competition due to start in the next 2 weeks...click here for details.

Cheers,
AM

ToffeeDave's Podcast - #2


Again thanks to ToffeeDave who has recorded his 2nd Podcast for the blog.

It's nice to see (or hear) we are both recommending similar players, as with last week when we both recommended Dunn & KPB in our player picks. Stick with us & you should do well :)

Have a listen: http://www.zshare.net/audio/67291539781690f5/

Cheers,
AM

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Blog League 5 Now Open!


Hi guys - I've decided that I'm going to start a new Cup Competition in the next couple of weeks called "The AM Challenge"...it won't have prizes (unless I get some donations) but will be for the glory!

It will run on alternative weeks to The Blog Cup, possibly starting in Week 10, and will include all 400 teams in the 4 blog leagues...I am also opening up 1 or 2 additional blog leagues (using an additional yahoo ID) which if we fill them would bring it up to 500-600 teams.

If you have no idea what The Blog Cup is, click here (it's now FULL).  It was for the first 3 Blog Leagues. I'll keep The Blog Cup as it is with Round 2 in Week 12, Round 3 in Week 16 etc & the final in Week 34...it'll be the main cup competition for the Blog & will have the Premiership shirt as the prize for the winner at the end of the season. The AM Challenge is a completely separate competition.

To start with I've created a 5th Blog League, with a 6th to follow if we fill it! We have over 1500 visitors per day now so we could do it....

**League 5 is for people who missed out on the first 4 so they can take part in the new cup, so please only join if you are not in League 1,2, 3 or 4. I have a list of all the team names in the existing leagues so if I see any of the same teams in League 5 they will be removed - I have to be strict about these things :)**

Group ID: 23245
Password: yahoo

I'm still toying with the format of the AM Challenge at the moment...I may keep it the same format, or I may make Round 1 the Top 60 weekly scores in each of the 6 leagues rather than the top 400 weekly scores overall...I'll decide over the next week or so but would appreciate any feedback.

Week 9 Player Picks will be posted up tomorrow.

Cheers,
AM

Blog Cup & Injury Update


Firstly, the injury news from football365.com
Amongst the terrible news emanating from Anfield this week is a scrap of the good stuff - according to the Liverpool Post, Alberto Aquilani 'is being tentatively slated for a return to action in tomorrow's reserve game against Sunderland'.

Boss Rafa Benitez told reporters on Monday that Aquilani was looking good on the the training ground, saying: "Today I was really happy watching Aquilani on the pitch, talking about how good he was with the ball and maybe in two or three weeks he will be ready and make the difference."

Lost in the Torres/Gerrard news on Monday was the revelation that winger Albert Riera will miss the games against Lyon and Manchester United with a hamstring injury he picked up in training over the weekend.

Also lost among the headline news of Theo Walcott's three-four week absence was the news from Arsenal that Tomas Rosicky has a knee problem that will keep him out of the game with AZ Alkmaar. But Gunners should worry that the last time the Czech midfielder was ruled out for "days not weeks", he spent the next 18 months on the sidelines.

Elsewhere, the big injury news is concerning Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole, who has been ruled out for three months with medial ligament damage.

Steve Bruce told the Sunderland Echo: "We think it will be at least 12 weeks for Catts. He's done his medial ligament. It's not good news, but it's the best we could have hoped.

"We were all praying he had not done his cruciate and damaged cartilage, which thankfully he hasn't - but he's still out for the best part of three months."

The scrap of good news for Sunderland fans is that Kenwyne Jones - who was also stretchered out of the Liverpool game - has suffered no significant damage to his ankle and should be fit to face Birmingham this weekend.

Chelsea will have been pleased to see Alex come through 45 minutes of reserve-team football on Monday night (scoring the opener in a 4-1 win) while Michael Ballack and Jon Obi Mikel are both back in training after ankle injuries, though Jose Bosingwa is a doubt for Wednesday's game against Atletico Madrid after suffering a knee injury against Aston Villa.

Also in reserve action was Stoke striker Mamady Sidibe, who played for an hour against Aston Villa after seven months on the sidelines with cruciate ligament damage. He eventually left the pitch wit a dead leg.

Sidibe told the Stoke Sentinel: "My knee felt good here and I will carry on training, and then we will see with the manager.

"Just playing was the most important thing here. In the first half, I was a little bit tired, but in the second half, I felt better before I got the dead leg.

"When you have been out for so long, especially with a cruciate ligament injury, you never know how it is going to react. I was a little bit worried before playing, but when the game starts, you stop thinking about that."

Meanwhile, Wigan have injury worries over two key players ahead of Saturday's trip to Burnley.

Goalkeeper Chris Kirkland dislocated a finger during last weekend's 1-1 draw with Manchester City but played on for the full 90 minutes after attempting to put the digit back in place, while midfielder Paul Scharner has a hip problem.

"We'll be having all the scans and all the tests possible to find out the extent of the injury," said Wigan manager Roberto Martinez about Kirkland.

"At the moment we feel it might only be a dislocated finger but we need to see exactly what the situation is and we'll find out more over the next 24 hours."

However, both Martinez and Scharner are more hopeful over the Austria international's problem.

"I picked up the injury the day before the game but it felt comfortable during the warm-up," said the 29-year-old Scharner.

"During the game it tightened up again and in the end I couldn't continue.

"We'll assess the injury, but hopefully I'll be okay for Saturday. I think I will be fine."
So lots to take in & I'm sure they'll be even more injuries after the Champions League games.

Now, a quick bit on the Blog Cup. A few people have been asking where the Round 2 results, and the answer is: Round 2 is not due to take place until Week 12. I spaced the Blog Cup out to every 4 weeks so it would last the whole season.

But I now face a tricky decision...

I want to start a 2nd Cup which will also include all the teams in Blog League 4. I was therefore thinking of moving all the Blog Cup Rounds closer together (to finish it quicker) so I can start a new competition in January.

However, Blog regular Ian Sanderson came up with an excellent idea - I run the 2 Cups side by side, on alternative weeks, a bit like the FA & League Cup. My only concern is running 2 Cups at the same time will become a bit of a nightmare on the admin front, but if I can think of a way of doing it without it taking over my life then I will consider it, as people won't have to wait 4 months to get involved.

I'd like you opinions - what do you think?

Option 1. Finish the current Blog Cup sooner by moving all the rounds closer together, then start the 2nd Cup on it's conclusion around January
 e.g
Round 2 in Week 10
Round 3 in Week 12
Round 4 in Week 14
Round 5 in Week 16
Qtr Final in Week 18
Semi Final in Week 19
Final in Week 20
New Cup starts in Week 22

Option 2. Keep the current Blog Cup rounds as they are but run a 2nd Cup alongside it
e.g
Blog Cup Round 2 in Week 12
New Cup Round 1 in Week 14,
Blog Cup Round 3 in Week 16
New Cup Round 2 in Week 18
etc, etc...

Please comment below to let me know what you'd prefer & feel free to add any ideas of your own!

Cheers,
AM

Monday, 19 October 2009

Injury Update 19/10/09


From football365.com
Very mixed news for Liverpool fans as Steven Gerrard trained ahead of their Champions League clash with Lyon after missing the Sunderland game with a groin strain, but Fernando Torres was nowhere to be seen.

Torres is still suffering from a groin injury so it seems that just one of the two-man team could be available to face the French side.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have been hit with injury to Theo Walcott, who reoprtedly suffered medial damage to his knee in the Gunners win over Birmingham and will be sidelined for three weeks.

The Gunners are already missing Nicklas Bendtner, Eduardo, Gael Clichy, Denilson and Samir Nasri from their first-team ranks.

One former Arsenal player who took a knock at the weekend was Manchester City's Emmanuel Adebayor, who left the Wigan match early with an ankle/foot injury. But the good news is that Kolo Toure and Craig Bellamy are scheduled to return next week.

Chelsea fans who saw them concede two goals from set-pieces this weekend will be pleased to see that Alex is pencilled in to play for the Blues' reserves tonight after a lay-off with a groin strain.

Manchester United are set to be without influential midfielder Ryan Giggs for Wednesday's Champions League trip to CSKA Moscow.

Giggs suffered a knock towards the end of Saturday's 2-1 win over Bolton and is unlikely to travel to the Luzhniki Stadium.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson also has doubts over several other key players and told the club website: "Ryan Giggs has got a knock and is a doubt for Wednesday.

"Patrice Evra we'll have to look at on Tuesday, he may be a doubt.

"(Dimitar) Berbatov, I think, will be all right. Wayne Rooney, we've got to try to get ready for Wednesday.

"I'm hopeful (Nemanja) Vidic will be all right, but he'll certainly be ready for the Liverpool game."

Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole is undergoing a scan on his twisted knee today but there is a fear that he will be ruled out for months.

But there is good news about Kenwyne Jones, who twisted his ankle against Liverpool but should be okay to play next week.

So bad news for the increasingly injury prone Theo Walcott & potentially terrible news for Sunderland, as Cattermole has been a huge factor in their great start.

Liverpool will be desperate to get both Torres & Gerrard back for the United game, and it sounds like Rooney will be ready.

Cheers,
AM

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Week 8 - Sunday


Two more excellent Premiership games today, with Blackburn defeating Burnely 3-2 & 10 man Man City holding on to a 1-1 at Wigan, both pulsating, end to end matches. The Premiership really has been outstanding entertainment so far this season - long may it continue!

In fantasy terms, anyone who had David Dunn should be very happy, as he gave a superb individual performance, racking up a very handy 19 points. Robinson did his classic of letting in as many goals as he made saves, so a measly 2 points for him. Givet randomly found himself on the bench, which probably annoyed a fair few of you in the same way O'Shea annoyed me yesterday. Not a lot else in the game unless you took the risk on Di Santo, although I'll mention that Jensen looked completely out of sorts for some reason & made several errors. His value has now dropped significantly so if you want to take the gamble on him getting back to form against Wigan then he's an option for Week 9.

Speaking of Wigan, they again gave a bigger rival a tough time & Martinez appears to have found a system that really works. N'Zogbia & Jason Scotland were both excellent & a special mention to Titus Bramble who made 2 world class tackles to prevent certain goals. City were poor, although funnily enough got better after Zabeletta was sent off - unless you had Given or Petrov there weren't many fantasy points around. Adebayor was a huge disappointment with an abject performance before complaining to the bench about an injury & being replaced with only 0.5 points to show for it. This may well remind Arsenal fans of some of his away performances towards the end of his time in North London.

Anyway, I did a bit of barndoor work, with Given & Petrov coming in, although it's unlikely I'll keep Petrov unless I'm 100% certain he'll start. Tevez, Crouch, Keane, Van Persie, Bent & Adebayor will all be competiting for the 2 spots alongside Drogba in my Week 9 team. I had been set on Adebayor coming in but I'll have to rethink that after today - even if he recovers from his injury.

I currently sit in 1,899th position, up almost two thousand places with only 1 game to go tomorrow. I'm hoping to hang on to my place in the top 2000, but even if I don't it's been another positive week overall.

How have you all done? How many places have you moved up? Anymore barndoor work today? Did anyone have the beachball in their team? ;o)

Cheers,
AM

Barndoor Update

I realised I forgot to post up my current barndoor team last night. It is as follows...



Now this is by no means close to my final team, it was just a bunch of "quick grab him before his price rises" picks. Drogba, Billy, Verm, Fabregas, Heitinga will almost certainly stay, Bent might keep his place, as might Gordon, but KPB will probably go, Dunn definitely will & I'm unsure on Van Persie. I'll also try to afford better than Sonko despite a home fixture.

I really want some Man City & Spurs players in, meaning people like Given, Tevez, Bellamy, Adebayor, Kranjcar, Bassong Lennon, Keane & Crouch will all come in to consideration. I may also think about some Chelsea players...Anchelotti is sure to change things after yesterday's defeat & I reckon Blackburn could feel the backlash, so Joe Cole & Zhirkov are players I'll be keeping a close eye on.

Not long now, about 3 hours till Blackburn & Burnely kick off, so I'm looking forward to seeing how Robbo & Dunn get on. With my luck they'll probably both get sent off.

Who are you currently holding on to for Week 9.

Cheers,
AM

Week 8 - Saturday


Mental day with ups & downs. 77 points may not sound like much so far, but overall I'm pretty happy. I'm up 1000 places with Dunn & Robbo still to play.

I didn't have any massive over-achievers, just a nice consistent day with 4 players scoring over 10 points & another 4 scoring over 5 points.

Despite some criticism in the comments (:op), if Arsenal keep it to zero it's another story with Gibbs scoring 5 points (2 more than Walcott) without a clean sheet & if I'd gone with one of my early recommendations, KPB, it could've been so much better...never mind O'Shea, who after a goal & assist in his last 2 games was randomly dropped. Obviously I have Billy to thank for alot of things, & he''ll now be a long term pick & I'm holding him at a gorgeous £4m.

So now we move on to Sunday & I really need David Dunn to score some points, along with a Robbo clean sheet to get me towards 90-100 points. Whether that happens, we'll have to see.

Hope everyone's had a good day & can have another good one tomorrow. Barndoor?

Cheers,
AM

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Week 8 - My Team


Robinson

Vermaelen   Heitinga   O'Shea   Gibbs

Billly   Fabregas   Dunn

Drogba    Saha   Van Persie

So this is the team I settled on in the end. The doubts over Walcott, Owen, Giggs & Berbatov were just too tough to call, and after dropping Torres & Rooney at discount I wasn't prepared to have 1, maybe 2 player who didn't start. I feel this was the sensible choice - whether it's a successful choice we'll have to wait & see.

I very rarely go 4-3-3 but it was the only was I could complete a team with 11 players who would start for teams who should win. It's also something I don't many other people will do so it may separate me slightly from the pack.

Despite my doubts about Robbo I still feel Blackburn should win & for £3million he's good value.

My defence typically contains Vermaelen & Heitinga...I also decided to stick with O'Shea who's been serving me well & has a good chance of a clean sheet. My final decision was how to use £6m and I went for Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs. He'll replace Clichy, attack down the left flank & wanting to impress Wenger & he also has a chance of a clean sheet. My other option was to downgrade O'Shea to Sonko and switch Gibbs to a midfielder around £8.5m but I couldn't settle on anyone.

Midfield-wise I have Billy, Fabregas & Dunn. I think Billy should start, I fancy Fabs to perform well again (though it's unlikely he'll get close to Week 7) &  Dunn's recent performances have been excellent playing just behind the striker, although there is a big yellow card risk being a fiery derby.

All change upfront with the Torres & Rooney news, so it's RvP & Louis Saha. I toyed with the idea of Owen instead of Saha but in the end I picked the inform striker playing at home to Wolves.

So that's it. 4 Arsenal, 3 Everton, 2 Blackburn, 1 Chelsea, 1 Man Utd - too many eggs in five baskets?!

It's been another difficult week and I can't help but feel some of the people I avoided (Walcott in particular) could come back to haunt me. But I've gone with my gut & gone with players I'm sure will play to avoid any zeros.

I'd just like to mention I very nearly picked Ryan Babel instead of Gibbs but I would've had to downgrade O'Shea to Bassong & I wasn't as confident of a Spurs clean sheet. Babel is also capable of disappointing, but he may have a point to prove, so if he scores I'll be very annoyed!

What do you think? What's your team? Do you feel happy with your final XI? Who's on your barndoor radar?

Good luck!

Cheers,
AM