Yet another crazy week at the beginning of the corporate year here in the US (yes, even a full month in it still qualifies as "the beginning of the year" as we work through things like performance evaluation for 2011 and performance planning for 2012). It isn't my intention to bring too much of my day-job life here to the blog but I have come to expect that I'll have the time to write two to three major posts plus a minor Injuries and Suspensions post every week and my guess is that many of you have come to expect me to write them as well. When that isn't happening as often as I'd like, I feel that it is generally a good policy to let everyone know that it isn't because I'm ignoring the blog but rather because there are only so many hours in the day and after a day of back-to-back-to-back meetings with people discussing a difficult topic (performance evaluation), there is often not much left in the tank to compose the sort of post that I'd be proud of.
In an effort to make sure that you get all of the information you need to make your picks, I'm going to combine Injuries and Suspensions with an abbreviated version of my player picks. If you want an extended player picks column and you haven't read it yet, I also direct you to Nik's Player Picks column from yesterday.
First, the injuries and suspensions as they come in (I'll be updating this space as more information becomes available):
Newcastle vs. Aston Villa - Yohan Cabaye is still suspended by Demba Ba is back and should definitely start and Papiss Cisse is an option but not as certain as Ba to start. For Villa Gabby Agbonlahor and James Collins are both doubts while Marc Albrighton is definitely out. That leaves Darren Bent, Stephen Ireland, and Charles N'Zogbia as the most likely attacking contributors and Cairen Clarke as a likely starter.
Arsenal vs. Blackburn - The BBC news link has Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a doubt and Keiran Gibbs not quite ready to return to the line-up (you're shocked I know). No mention of the rumor that Nik linked to earlier indicating that RvP may be rested. No guarantee that it won't happen but there's nothing in that story in The Sun that provides even an inclination that The Sun has a source as opposed to just speculating based on van Persie's recent run of starts. Nothing particularly interesting on the Rovers side other than the mention that Chris Samba is not likely to be in the line-up.
Wigan vs. Everton - Honestly, there's nothing particularly interesting behind the link but you can see for yourself if you don't believe me.
Manchester City vs. Fulham - Not a lot here other than the fact that Schwarzer and Dembele are back in contention. It seems likely that Schwarzer will start if he's fully fit but Dembele may or may not given Fulham's recent success attacking. For City, Aguero and Dzeko will likely continue as Balotelli isn't fully healthy.
Stoke vs. Sunderland - Stoke is generally healthy but the one injury absentee, Matt Etherington, is a fairly important one while Sunderland will be missing Wes Brown (boo), David Vaughn, and Nik Bendtner among viable fantasy players and Lee Catermole (who will be missing but isn't a viable fantasy player under any circumstances unless you're in a league that considers yellow cards and dumb tackles for positive points).
West Brom vs. Swansea - Not a lot here other than some defensive reinforcements arriving for the Baggies in the form of Liam Ridgewell and Keith Andrews. Modestly interesting at best.
Norwich vs. Bolton - We may get a first look at Bolton's new signings but on the road against a better team is a tough time to pick unknown quantities who may or may not start on a bad team.
QPR vs. Wolves - Lots of potential debuts and/or returns with Zamora coming over from Fulham to join Djibril Cisse (and likely push Helguson to the bench) and Armand Traore and Adel Taarabt are both back from ACN duty with Taarabt being at least moderately interesting. For Wolves, they have to hope that Bassong can help make the back line more solid. I certainly wouldn't bet on it.
Chelsea vs. Manchester United - Terry and Cole out (injury and suspension respectively) and Gary Cahill will show us whether his young legs are a better fit for Chelsea's defense than his more senior teammate. For United, the injured are returning in the form of Rooney, Nani, Ashley Young, and Tom Cleverley. The big question is where they will all fit. You have to figure Valencia (who has been one of United's best players recently) will play somewhere. It could be at Right Back to allow Young and Nani to resume as the starting wings but we'll have to see.
Liverpool vs. Tottenham - [STILL WAITING FOR THE NEWS]
[MORE HERE AS ADDITIONAL INJURY REPORTS COME IN]
Here are my player picks for those still teetering on the brink of some decisions:
Sergio Aguero - Dzeko's price has climbed higher than Kun's so I'm going for the cheaper of the two. As it turns out Aguero is also the better of the two so that works out nicely for everyone.
Demba Ba - He's back and there's no reason to think he won't resume his general awesomeness at home against Villa.
Robin van Persie - The aforementioned risk of rotation is modest in my mind (Arsenal pretty much NEED the win) but the better question is whether you're getting your money's worth with van Persie whose early season form has cooled slightly leaving him somewhat over-priced in the Yahoo format. He could break out at any time but you do have to factor in that you could have Ba and 7 to spend elsewhere. If you have the money though, by all means go for it with the Dutchman.
Djribil Cisse - He re-introduced himself to the Prem with a 13.5 point effort in mid-week. Hopefully you got him on the BD for a solid match-up this weekend. If not, his price still isn't bad and the match-up is still good.
There are lots of interesting midfielders right about now from the ones that most people have cheap (David Silva and Antonio Valencia) to some of the more recently productive enablers (Gylfi Sigurdsson, Hatem Ben Arfa, Darron Gibson) to the recently on fire (Clint Dempsey, Gareth Bale, Stephane Sessegnon). Of that group only Bale and Dempsey seem a little too expensive given match-ups. If you're particularly bold you might consider Theo Walcott in the "expensive" midfield role. As mentioned above Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a question mark so you can probably do much better as far as enablers go. Somehow, it also feels like a Samir Nasri sort of a weekend but I can't say I know why I feel that way. Maybe just because there aren't many other premium midfielders who interest me this weekend.
Taye Taiwo - An inexpensive attacking defender playing at home against one of the league's bottom feeders - sometimes it's that easy.
Davide Santon - He's steadily producing and his price is still reasonable.
Angel Rangel - Disappointing weekend last weekend that would have been better but for a bad bounce in injury time that cost the Swans 2 points and Rangel his clean sheet. He hasn't had too many stinkers though so I'd expect he'll be back to being productive this weekend.
Vincent Kompany - If you have some money to spend City seem like a strong bet to rebound with a clean sheet with their captain back and playing at home against a bad road team.
Tim Krul - He rebounded in a huge way this week and the match-up continues to look a good one. Hopefully you were in on the cheap but still a solid get at retail given Newcastle's track record this season.
Paddy Kenny - It is impressive that he managed 13 points in mid-week despite the fact that QPR conceded two goals only managed a draw. On the other hand, the risk is that all the saves that led to those points start going in. The upside of course is the low, low price that it will cost you to find out and the presence of Wolves on the other side of the pitch.
Joe Hart - If you have money to burn he's definitely the safest bet for the weekend.
I'll be back updating the injury reports as they happen.