Hard to ignore this guy even at his high price with two matches over the match week (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
- Whither DDG? - De Gea's high profile gaffe that contributed to the shocking United loss to Rovers on Saturday wasn't his first of the season. With Lindegaard having gotten progressively more playing time over the holiday period the biggest question for those holding DDG on a big discount is whether this will signal a change in philosophy for United or SAF will keep the faith with the young keeper who he invested in so heavily over the summer. My intuition is that he almost HAS to stick with DDG because failing to do so would potentially crush the youngster's spirit and that would be one expensive spirit to crush this early into his tenure.
- What's Next for Suarez? - If I were Kenny Dalglish I'd get Suarez's suspension started immediately. They're not likely to beat City with our without their talisman so why would you risk losing the match AND having his suspension extended. The report (widely available on the FA's web site) doesn't seem to offer much hope of a reduced penalty. The only reason to delay would be if Liverpool are going to take a little time to try to get an alternative in the transfer market and they need time to do so. My overall advice is to keep hold of Bellamy at a big discount if you have him.
- Vermaelen Injury Impact - The "Curse of Ashley Cole" (not to be confused with Ashley Cole cursing) seems to be continuing into 2012. Since the not-even-remotely-lovable Chelsea man left Arsenal they've had a really hard time keeping a left back healthy for more than 10 minutes at a time and that appears to have extended to the fill-in left back Thomas Vermaelen. Reports today have him out for 2 to 3 weeks. I assume many of you have him at a deep, deep discount. The good news is that after tomorrow, Arsenal don't play a Premier League match until January 15th. With Verm likely back by the 22nd at the latest, you're really only risking 2 pointless matches to keep one of the most effective defenders in the game for about 6. I'd keep him unless you start hearing those worrying rumbles from the Arsenal training staff about the injury extending.
With Spurs and Everton playing two matches, we're going to pay almost exclusive attention to the value on those two teams.
- The obvious "must-haves" are Bale, van der Vaart, and Adebayor (in that order for my money)
- Next up for me would be Friedel if you have the money and a spot open at GK (two home matches against mediocre attacking teams makes for good stuff from your keeper even at that price).
- If you want to dip into the Spurs defense then you will want to look to the wings with the expensive Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekoto rather than the muddled picture at Center Back which sees Michael Dawson available again along with Kaboul, Gallas and the always questionable Ledley King. That uncertainty makes the wing backs the only way to go.
- If you're looking for an enabler then I think you're likely to do better with Everton players (or keeping players on one match that you have for cheap) but Sandro would be your only real choice from the Spurs team.
- Modric has been regressing a bit in terms of his fantasy output over the past few matches so I'd be a little wary of him vs. similarly priced alternatives in the Spurs back line.
- Everton have been a bit of a fantasy disaster this season. Even Baines (way over-priced) hasn't been up to the standard he set for himself last season even with Arteta not taking kicks away from him any more. My recommendation is to limit EVE players to "enabler" status for this coming weekend.
- Howard. If you're looking to replace DDG (see above) with someone at a similar price then Howard is a solid option for at least a little while longer (until the BD closes). We'll see after that. Hard to know if his price will go up much after a win, clean sheet, and a single save.
- As far as cheap enablers go, there are lots of options. I like Heitinga the best. Rodwell is promising but he looked terrible coming off an injury today and the quick turnaround to the next match makes him an uncertain proposition for the next match. Phil Neville is more certain to start but he hasn't put up a good fantasy day in ages.
- Donovan would be the obvious choice since he will be available for the next match but as of my most recent check, Yahoo hadn't made him available yet.
- If you're looking to mix it up, we know guys like Saha and Cahill have talent but neither have done much this year. Despite having rotten years, the match with Bolton seems to offer hope of a renaissance which would make anything they got against Spurs a bonus.
- Ayala is the cheapest defender available and started on Saturday. A solid enabler who won't make you cry if he doesn't start either for that price.
- Guzan and Clark are other interesting options with Swansea coming to town. The Swans are pretty rotten on the road and Villa will be looking to consolidate the momentum gained at Stamford Bridge.
- Honestly, other than those few enablers, I'd be sinking my money into the two-gamers (and keeping those players you have at deep discounts to make the big expenditures possible). It helps that there aren't any exceptional one-game match-ups as well. Chelsea @ Wolves would ordinarily be the best but Chelsea are really not playing well which makes that less attractive.
Cheers - Neal