The last word on player fitness and who to start and who to avoid before you lock in your Fantasy EPL line-up for Match Week 8.
As always, we start with a link to a consolidated list of team reports from SoccerNet. Why there aren't more examples of this consolidated format (as opposed to having to go to 10 or 20 different team or match-specific pages) is beyond me. I'm all for generating page views and advertising revenue but at some point the audience experience has to come first.
OK, enough on that rant and on to why you're here, the list of important items from the team news reports and how they impact your fantasy selections:
Berbs is Back - he's among the most attractive fantasy options this week with Fulham at home. Mladin Petric is back too while bargain play Bryan Ruiz's status is uncertain. In my mind, that leaves Berbatov and Damien Duff as the two clear choices from the Fulham attack. The fact that Brad Guzan might be missing or a bit dull from a long international week trip just fuels the fire that is buying Fulham's attackers.
Pepe Reina Uncertain - About as bad as news gets about a player. There is significant doubt (meaning you take a major risk buying him) but he is not entirely ruled out (meaning that his potential replacement is just as risky). This is probably doing fantasy managers a favor by removing the temptation of investing in Liverpool against Reading. Andre Wisdom is probably still the smart investment in the Liverpool defense as it looks like Enrique is back in training but probably not ready to play.
City Players Missing - West Brom's chances of an unexpected point (or points) went up with the news that David Silva, Jack Rodwell, and Javier Garcia are all out for City's trip to the Hawthornes. I'm still not excited about the Baggies defense but you'd have to expect this to mean more possession (and ultimately more opportunities) for the home side.
West Ham Defensive Questions - Jussi Jaaskelainen is a popular choice for the upcoming week and the value of that choice could be in flux as Winston Reid and Guy Demel are both questionable with fitness concerns. If they are both healthy and a reasonable facsimile of their best then Jussi retains his value against Southampton. If one or both are out then you have to wonder whether Southampton will score enough to minimize Jussi's value regardless of the final outcome (which we'd expect will be a WHU win).
Injuries + Arsenal = No Surprises - What's an injury column without a significant piece on Arsenal? In this case, the main focus is the defense and specifically Keiran Gibbs. At least Gibbs has the good graces to be "out" as opposed to "a doubt" so managers will have to decide if they want to keep Gibbs on a deep discount they might have or pick up Andres Santos (or Carl Jenkinson). Jenks remains the best value if you're buying retail for this weekend. The other important injury note is that Vito Manonne will remain in goal as Szczesny continues to be injured. Elsewhere, the typical names appear - Wilshere, Diaby, Rosicky, and Sagna.
Fellaini and His 'Fro Out - He has been frustrating to fantasy managers in recent weeks but he has been very good all season in the real world where Everton have been off to an unusually fast start. The question is whether his absence opens even more opportunity for Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar or leaves a gap that causes those two plus Jelavic and Mirallas to lose value. Given the opposition, my bet is on the former rather than the latter but I'm not quite as confident in my Everton love as I was before Fellaini's absence.
There are other minor items that might be of interest to a few managers but those are the major news items and how they're likely to impact your team. We hope to see you all for The Barn Door Live tomorrow and Sunday as the matches happen.