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The Week Ahead, Part 1: The Schedule

I'm back baby!  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
I'm back baby! (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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Pretty interesting first set of matches after the transfer deadline. Tim Krul redeemed himself for everyone who kept the faith after his Craven Cottage meltdown. Daniel Ayala returned to form as well by scoring a goal...for the other team. Predictably, that led to another red number next to his name in the "Fantasy Points" column. Sadly I knew even when I was typing his name into my mid-week Player Picks column that it would all go bad for him (and anyone who chose him).

Elsewhere in the league there were some impressive debuts and returns with Frazier Campbell returning to Sunderland's Premier League line-up and Djibril Cisse and his hair making their collective return to the Prem with Queens Park Rangers. In a more muted debut, Taye Taiwo was solid and picked up 6 points on 1 SOT and 6 passes intercepted while he was definitely attacking far more than defending.

Clint Dempsey, Darren Bent, Dirk Kuyt, and Craig Bellamy continued their impressive play and Stephane Sessegnon broke my streak of predicting the wrong attacking midfielder from Sunderland. It was an exceptional week for me so I'm going to continue to enjoy it until Saturday morning when everything goes wrong.

If you have any doubt that the Premier League has serious intentions toward the United States then you should have no doubt at all when you look at the schedule. The league has been making a habit of scheduling high profile match-ups for the same Sundays that Fox can "promote" the broadcast of that high profile match-up to their main network and promote the heck out of it to a huge audience primed to watch a lot of sports that day. This weekend, Super Bowl Weekend, we find Chelsea hosting Manchester United with Liverpool hosting Tottenham on Monday for those still glued to the TV. I'm not particularly excited by the prospects of "investing" in either of those matches which leaves the other eight as possible prospects. Here are some quick notes on the rest:

Arsenal vs. Blackburn - As soon as Arsenal sucks me back in and gets my hopes up by making a great comeback against Villa in the FA Cup they flounder against bottom-feeder Bolton on the road. This SHOULD be a huge advantage for the Gooners but we thought that last time these two faced off and how did that work out again? Seriously, how did it work out, my brain seems to have a serious case of selective amnesia associated with this match.

Manchester City vs. Fulham - Another talented team not playing up to the combined potential of their talent is found in light blue in this match. The difference is that Fulham pretty much stink on the road and City have yet to drop a point at home so I'm thinking that this is a pretty strong candidate for your investment funds.

Norwich vs. Bolton - Not a good result for the Canaries in mid-week but Bolton arriving is a strong tonic for those sorts of ills. Probably a minor investment candidate here as well.

QPR vs. Wolves - The momentum seemed to be so strong at the beginning of the match but apparently Aston Villa learned something from Arsenal's comeback last weekend and perpetrated one of their own against the Rs. You'd think Rangers would have at least a modest advantage against Wolves at home but I have to say I'm at least a little cautious.

Wigan vs. Everton - Great momentum for Everton with their win over Manchester City and getting Wigan next provides the opportunity to build on that momentum. Should be a fair amount of advantage for the Toffees.

West Brom vs. Swansea - The Swans were extremely unlucky not to get all three points against Chelsea in Wales on Tuesday and their trip to the Hawthornes should provide more joy for a team that feels like they are building more and more momentum every week between great results and player acquisitions.

Stoke vs. Sunderland - How bad does Steve Bruce look now? Sunderland have actually come from WAY behind Stoke to catch them in the standings despite having basically conceded the first quarter of the season before Martin O'Neill arrived. This feels like a draw or an away win with Stoke flagging as Sunderland are flying.

Newcastle vs. Aston Villa - Remember all those predictions for Newcastle's fate while Demba Ba and Cheik Tiote were gone? 3 wins and 1 loss later things seem to be going well and Ba should be back and bringing another forward with him. You have to think Villa are in trouble at St. James' Park this weekend.