Thank you to Jeremy for taking over my usual duties on The Week Ahead this week. Between new fatherhood duties and a lot of time out of the office at work, it was just one of those weeks where free time didn't present itself to write something that you would have found useful. As a replacement for my usual tome, I'll give you my line-up heading into Friday afternoon (East Coast of the US time):
Jan Vertonghen, Branislav Ivanovic, Leighton Baines
Michu, Santi Cazorla, Marouane Fellaini, Gaston Ramirez
Kevin Mirallas, Nikica Jelavic, Fernando Torres
I'm pretty much at the edge of my budget with that team but I'm considering the following potential changes sure to go wrong if I make them:
Torres to Eden Hazard
(and if I make that move) I might consider moving from Ramirez to Adam Lallana or someone else in midfield.
If you want the entire rundown of injuries and suspensions, here's SoccerNet's compilation of all of the team news. For me, these are the interesting bits for fantasy managers and what they mean:
- Yaya Toure and Javi Garcia doubtful - With Toure, Sergio Aguero and David Silva are the axis that makes City go in the attack. My perception is that if any of those three is absent or at less than full capability then they go from exceptional to merely better-than-average as an attacking team. In my mind, Toure's potential absence reduces the expected value you should have from Kun, Silva, Nasri, etc.
- Sturridge Out for Chelsea - The real question here is if/whom Chelsea might rotate. The good news is that Sturridge is the only likely replacement for Torres and his absence increases the chances that Torres will start a match that might otherwise be a solid opportunity to rest him. Hazard only played 25 minutes in mid-week so the chances of him being rested seem small to non-existent.
- Peter Odemwingie Returns from Suspension - Certainly not good for Romelu Lukaku's playing time which, given his production, wasn't enough even without Odemwingie available. Chris Brunt is out as well which keeps James Morrison's value high. One thing adding to some potential WBA attacking fun is the continued absence of a bunch of QPR defenders - Anton Ferdinand, Jose Bosingwa, Fabio, and Samba Diakite are all out or highly questionable.
- Fulham's Best Two Forwards Likely Out - Mladen Petric has joined Dimitar Berbatov as likely absentees meaning that what looked like a rare strong road match-up for the Cottagers is decidedly less so. My mild soccer crush on Bryan Ruiz may have to wait until there's someone for him to pass to. Damien Duff may find himself similarly limited by the lack of a target man.