The Analog Kid (Rush), Aces High (Iron Maiden), Rainbow in the Dark (Ronnie James Dio), and Blue Sky (The Allman Brothers Band) - XM Satellite Radio did some great work for me this morning on the way to work. If my fantasy team can perform as well it's going to be a great weekend despite the fact that it has gotten seriously cold here in the DC-area and the weekend promises to add rain to the cold. I haven't heard anyone say it yet but given the combination of the predicted temperature lows on Saturday and the rain we might actually see some snow which would just be cruel this early in the year. I have chosen not to live in Canada or at the top of a mountain and I'd certainly prefer that nature respect that choice and not snow on me until late November at the earliest. The one upside is that the weather won't give me any reasons to enjoy the outdoors rather than sitting inside and watching the Prem.
In other (non-injury) news that may be of interest to some of you soccer watchers here in the US. I was informed by competing tickers across the bottom of my TV screen last night that Fox and DirecTV are having trouble agreeing on a price for the renewal of their current broadcast agreement. If they don't come to an agreement by Tuesday of next week then there is every chance that DirecTV will stop (or at least suspend) the broadcast of many of Fox's cable-only channels like FX and much more importantly Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer Plus. As a DirecTV subscriber this is obviously very distressing to me. I'm sure the issue is money (when is it not?). I have no idea who is "right" nor do I really care. My message to both sides is simple - get something done. Fox Soccer has been making great inroads in the US market with their ratings numbers and can't really afford the hit. DirecTV can't be eager to lose out on subscribers like me who are passionate about soccer (and yes, I'd consider quitting DirecTV over this if anyone from DirecTV is reading or monitoring social media). I'll also be checking out the FoxSoccer.TV offering and figuring out if that is a reasonable alternative.
OK, on to the injuries and suspensions news:
Here is the full report on ESPNSoccernet.com and here are the highlights and relevance for your fantasy team:
Chelsea vs. Arsenal - Vermaelen seems like he'll return so the center of defense seems likely to be stronger for the Gunners but the outsides are still a mess with Gibbs and Sagna definitely out and Jenkinson facing a late fitness test. Not good news with Ramires back to add the sort of athletic counter-attacker that gives the Gooners fits. The only upside is that Drogba is suspended and when you talk about giving Arsenal fits he's been Public Enemy #1 at the Emirates for years so at least there's that.
Everton vs. Manchester United - Everton are missing some key players in Neville, Cahill, and Drenthe. Not good news since United were always going to be a tough nut to crack coming off an embarrassing loss. Ashley Young is the only real injury concern so I'd avoid him in favor of Nani if you're looking for a United winger.
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers - According to the team report Mancini is going to revert to his "full strength" team. I don't know if he's stated that in exactly that way but it certainly makes me feel better about Aguero and Richards being in my line-up. Fletcher is still out for Wolves which isn't going to help anything. In a related note, one of our two resident Wolves supporters Chris Jones predicted that Wolves would win 1-0 this weekend. He wanted to make sure he got in that "I heard it from him first". To that I'd like to add that not only did I hear it from him first but I heard it from ONLY him. Good luck to Chris and his dog when that doesn't happen.
Sunderland vs. Aston Villa - The interesting news here comes more from the police blotter than the injury list with Barry Bannan and Titus Bramble but suspended by their respective clubs pending further understanding of the legal matters that both have been embroiled in recently. Not much to do as a result on either front though.
Swansea vs. Bolton - The only real news here was reported in the TWA comments thread yesterday and that is that Boyata is a "major doubt" for the match due to an ankle problem. His price is still very low so I'd look for an alternative if you need a cheap defender (Bassong?) rather than risking that he'll recover in time. The news doesn't seem promising.
Wigan vs. Fulham - Di Santo and McCarthy are likely to return for Wigan which would help a lot since they were entirely punchless against NUFC last weekend. I'm not recommending either player per se but just letting you know they're available again and that Di Santo at least has been worthwhile when healthy and playing.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool - As we discussed yesterday, Shane Long is out and Tchoyi is the likely replacement in my view (although the linked report also mentions Simon Cox as an option). The more important question mark is Luis Suarez who is questionable after picking up a mid-week ankle injury. Unless you have him at a huge discount, I'd ditch him due to the combination of uncertainty to play and it being an away match.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Queens Park Rangers - The question here is whether Ledley King and/or William Gallas make it back from his injury and what impact that might have on whether SeaBass is available and starting as an extremely inexpensive option at the back. As I read this report, I'm less and less excited about Bassong's chances. This seems like the thing that I'll be spending time thinking about/agonizing over/over-thinking between now and when I finalize my team.
Stoke vs. Newcastle United - It looks like Tiote and Taylor are likely to be back but one player we know for a fact is going to be out is Shola (Sho, Sho, Sho, Sha, Shola) Amiobi. The hope is that Hatem Ben Arfa will get an extended run as the second striker while being listed as a midfielder and being extremely cheap. Makes sense to me but I'm not managing the club. Still, it isn't exactly an expensive bet to make.