The Week Ahead, Part 1 - The Schedule

Who's the man? (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

USA! USA! USA! I know it was only a friendly and that the Italians had most of the chances but you know what, I don't care. It isn't often that the good ol' US of A goes to Europe and wins against even second tier competition like Poland or Belgium. Going to Italy and getting a win there is a really nice launching pad for a Klinsmann era that didn't start in exceptional fashion. Here are a few thoughts just after the final whistle:

  • One wonders what the long run-on German word for "I told you this was going to get better" is and exactly how Jurgen Klinsmann is going to communicate it to reporters who have been skeptical of his results so far. Regardless, you can bet that what he'll be thinking is "suck it".
  • Great momentum for Clint Dempsey heading into his home match this weekend with Wolves. He was already likely to be picked up by a lot of people given his great season, the opponent, and Fulham's home record. Adding the confidence of a match-winning goal against Italy in Italy can do nothing but add to the excitement among fantasy managers.
  • Even better than Dempsey's goal from an overall team development standpoint is the fact that they kept a clean sheet. The back line is going to be the biggest question for the USA over the next two years and if they can figure out how to lock things down against good teams then there may be a step or two forward possible in Brazil.

OK, with that brief round-up done, we return you to your regularly scheduled preview of the Premier League schedule for the upcoming weekend:

Manchester City v Bolton Wanderers - Clearly the most attractive match-up of the weekend. The big questions will all revolve around who Mancini elects to start not whether City will win. Particularly interesting will be the outside defenders and the second forward choice. Friend of the blog Mo (who finished 6th overall last season if I remember correctly) has said he has figured Mancini out and will be publishing a correct starting line-up. More to follow.

Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Fulham are strong at home and Wolves are Wolves. This should be a comfortable win for Fulham and I'd imagine a lot of people will be investing in it and rightly so.

Blackburn Rovers v Aston Villa - Amazing how quickly the quality of the match-ups deteriorates after those first two really attractive ones, huh? I am trying to get to a point where I rank order the match-ups but the "middle six" are all just sort of OK in my mind.

Queens Park Rangers v Everton - What to make of QPR? They produce fantasy points despite not picking up points. Everton seem to be experiencing their typical late-season run up the table so it is possible that there will be points on both sides of the pitch in this one.

Stoke City v Norwich City - Classic mid-table match-up that could really go either way. Could be a 3-2 thriller with lots of fantasy points but more likely a 2-1 with middling points so unless you feel good about picking out the goal-scorers I'd stay away.

West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea - The worry here isn't that there won't be goals - it seems likely there will be - the worry is that coming off of big wins last weekend (4-0 and 3-0 respectively) that the players on both teams are all priced up to a point where they HAVE to have a great match to return value. If you have players from this one on the Barn Door then you'll probably be much more excited about this one. If you are buying Drogba, Lampard, or Odemwingie at retail then you'll probably be nibbling at your nails during this one.

Wigan Athletic v Swansea City - Bad fantasy team vs. a bad road team. Do Swansea benefit from Wigan being bad and play more like they do at home? Do Wigan profit from Swansea being bad on the road and outperform their usual pitiful output? Hard to say with any certainty so I'm sticking to enablers and guys (Beausejour and Sigurdsson) I have at a big discount.

Newcastle United v Sunderland - Everyone was very excited about Newcastle last weekend, especially early as Newcastle was out to an early lead and Sunderland was getting spanked by WBA. My sense is that you should be pretty cautious on spending big on this one. Both teams have been playing well overall but Newcastle are actually the team showing more consistent cracks as of late. I wouldn't ignore someone like Papiss Cisse at a big discount but I wouldn't be buying any premium guys at retail price here.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - As I said last weekend, I hate buying players who are featuring in "big" matches. As it turned out I did buy one from the Arsenal/Spurs match last weekend (K2) and it turned out great (in so many ways - sorry Nik, last time). That said, the prices required to buy the premium players in this match-up makes it bad business to spend big when either team could easily be shut down - you just don't know which one.

Liverpool v Arsenal - See above but worse since Liverpool are at home and they tend to play the sort of style (low scoring) that could depress the value of Arsenal players on the back of a week where there are a lot of big prices on those same Arsenal players. I will be staying FAR away from this one.

Back tomorrow with my players picks. USA! USA!

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