You just can't afford NOT to have him (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
In my little world, a week usually reserved for relaxing times with family turned into a lot of work as well as a lot of driving to get to family and turkey in Tampa, Florida. This has once again cut into the time I have to write extensive intros to both the Schedule and Player Picks sections of The Week Ahead which have become customary. I'm sure there are some of you out there giving thanks that I'll have to be more brief this time around. Hopefully those of you who enjoy the extended format will understand that there are only so many hours in the day and lots of competing obligations.
I am aware that lots of columnists take the occasion of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US to write a lengthy column using the Thanksgiving gimmick and either talking about things they are thankful for or things related to the sport they cover that different people or groups of fans can be thankful for. I may even have written a few such columns in years past. Nothing against them but for whatever reason I'm just not feeling that particular gimmick this year. I have plenty to be thankful for but most of those are things that the readers of this blog don't really care much about. I'll leave it at the fact that Jeremy, Nik, and I are all thankful that you guys continue to read the blog, make comments, and come up with great ideas and thoughts in the comments and FanPosts sections. Most importantly, we're thankful that the environment in the comments and FanPosts sections are almost without fail respectful of us as writers and fellow comment writers as well. Keep it up and we'll do our best to keep up our end of the bargain as well.
The Schedule - Here's where you may find some advantage in the form of match-up advantages.
- Chelsea vs. Wolves - Chelsea may be playing as poorly as at any time since the Ranieri era at Stamford Bridge but Wolves are less talented and playing just as poorly which should lead to a big win for Chelsea at home. No, I still don't trust that high line defense though. Verdict - Advantage Chelsea Attackers.
- Arsenal vs. Fulham - I'm sure people are having trouble getting Arsenal's start to the season out of their heads but they've been playing very efficiently and getting the job done in the matches they should win and this is such a case. Like Chelsea, I still don't completely trust the defense but I see goals. Verdict - Advantage Arsenal Attackers.
- Spurs @ West Brom - As much as I hate having to continually pimp Spurs advantages in their match-ups it's hard to deny that they're beating up on just about everyone this season. Going on the road doesn't worry me at all. The only worry is trying to figure out where the points will come from in this attack. Verdict - Advantage Spurs (Both Sides).
- Manchester City @ Liverpool - Sorry, I just don't believe in Liverpool. We know that a win at Stamford Bridge just isn't what it used to be and I'm just not convinced that Liverpool can slow down the City attack. Verdict - Advantage City Attackers.
- Sunderland vs. Wigan - If not now, when? Hard to see Sunderland scoring a ton but not hard at all to see them getting a clean sheet at home against miserable Wigan. Verdict - Advantage Sunderland Defenders.
- RvP - Not since the glory days of TH14 has an Arsenal forward been this transcendent - hard NOT having him in your line-up.
- Gervinho - He could certainly improve the end product but he's getting lots of phantom points even when he's not producing goals and assists in real life.
- Sturridge - I'm trying to get excited about Chelsea's forwards but they are making it really tough between Drogba who seems past it, Mata who is a talent that doesn't show up in fantasy very often, and Torres who is (repeat after me) dead to us. That leaves Sturridge who seems to find ways to score even if he isn't playing great.
- Walters - Quietly having a very solid season and this weekend he's playing at home against Rovers, hard not to like that combo for less than 10.
- Bendtner - He didn't do as much as I'd hoped last weekend but he wasn't terrible and the opposition gets even easier this weekend with Wigan visiting.
- Aguero - Rested for all but 10 minutes in Naples and should be ready for a showdown of South American forwards with Liverpool and Suarez this weekend.
- Graham - His price is still pretty low and he's playing at home against Villa - my emerging soccer crush on him makes sense again this weekend.
- Lampard - He's expensive and he didn't do much last weekend but I like him to get back to it this weekend against Wolves at the Bridge.
- Ramires - His price has dipped back down to close to 7 and he is just athletic enough to beat Wolves on that ability alone.
- Walcott - Every time I've seen him play recently he's been playing better and better. He seems to depend a great deal on being healthy and playing consistently but when those things are in order, he's a handful.
- VDV - Bale has been getting the fantasy points recently but hard to imagine that Rafa will be kept quiet for long and on a weekend where he costs less than Bale, I'd choose VDV over Bale.
- Sessegnon - A good weekend last weekend and the good times should continue this weekend with the great match-up.
- Pennant - Eth might produce a little more but Pennant is definitely the better value if you don't have 13+ to spend on a midfielder from Stoke.
- Brown - You'd certainly be happier with the purchase if you got him under 4 on the BD but even at his current retail price he's worth it given the match-up.
- Kaboul - Like Brown, the price was better last weekend but there's still decent value there.
- Wilkinson - He's up (over 5 points) and down (negative) week-to-week but this seems likely to be an "up" week and for the price, that wouldn't be a bad outcome.
- Heitinga - Hard to get too worked up over him since he's always a YC risk but his price is right and @BOL isn't really a frightening match-up.
- Outside of the above, hopefully you have some guys at discounts like Verm to make up the numbers.
- Sorensen - Hard to know if he's going to get a second chance - Begovic was removed for his part in the @sswhipping by Bolton but Sorensen responded by losing 3-2 to QPR. If it looks like Sorensen is going to get the call then he's a strong risk at 1. Begovic is less attractive at 5.56 but not a bad bet either given the opposition.
- Westwood - His price went up on the back of his clean sheet last weekend but he's still reasonable, playing at home, and has a great match-up.
- Szczesny - I'm not entirely sold but if you're going in for one of the teams with an attacking advantage then I'd go with Szcz over Cech.
- WARNING - I wouldn't be shocked to see DDG sitting again this weekend given his "contribution" to United's Champions League draw. That combined with a tough match-up with Newcastle makes me dubious about starting him this week unless you're still taking a long view for the season.