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The Week Ahead - Merseyside Derby Edition

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My fellow American BBBF has been doing a lot of this recently but his price is low and the rest of the schedule is Charmin soft. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
My fellow American BBBF has been doing a lot of this recently but his price is low and the rest of the schedule is Charmin soft. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Interesting week at the Emirates wasn't it? Arsenal gets THISclose to coming all the way back from their 4-0 deficit against Milan but ultimately falls short. Throw in the news that Podolski to Arsenal seems to be pretty far along if the rumor mill can be believed at all (and the folks that should know these things from the conference last weekend seemed to believe that there was fire in addition to this particular smoke). The rumors of Robin van Persie potentially leaving were as inevitable as Cesc-to-Barcelona had been for multiple seasons. My sense there is that the marker has been thrown down and that if Arsenal both qualify for the Champions League AND bring in some strong reinforcements then he'll stay. If not, he'll force their hand by either demanding a transfer or playing out next season and leaving for free in the Summer of 2013. With consecutive wins against Spurs, Liverpool and Milan (even if the "win" against Milan was essentially meaningless) things are looking up. Poor form at Spurs and Chelsea lend even more evidence that there is yet hope. Call me cautiously optimistic that things may turn out alright.

That brings us to the upcoming weekend in the Premier League where I agree with Nik that this isn't the weekend to dive in too hard on the two-gamers. There may be a couple of players you want to make bets on like Pepe Reina, Luis Suarez, and Roysten Drenthe but beyond that group maybe only Martin Kelly, he of the missed sitter against Arsenal, would make sense as a value play among two-gamers. This is not to dismiss Liverpool and Everton as poor teams but rather an acknowledgement that they are fairly evenly matched against each other, a derby brings an increased chance of fouls and cards, and that their other matches over this match week (LIV@SUN and TOT@EVE) aren't easy by any means.

To put a fine point on it, if you are buying at retail then there are some two-gamers that make some sense as you will struggle to afford all of the most attractive one-gamers. If, on the other hand, you have players like Sigurdsson, Aguero, Silva, Balotelli, RvP, and/or Beausejour at deep discounts then you may well want to keep your discounts rather than taking a wrecking ball to your squad for the sake of modestly attractive two-gamers from the two Merseyside teams.

For more analysis of the one-gamers, click past the jump:

Forwards

  • Wayne Rooney - Of the premium options available, Rooney is the most attractive playing at home against West Brom. The Baggies are playing much better recently but a trip to Old Trafford is a little different than playing a home match with a struggling Chelsea side.
  • Stephen Fletcher - The Pog may have stolen the crown of "Most Efficient Forward" after his early run of 5 goals on 5 SOTs but Fletcher has been very good when healthy and with Wolves facing a must-win relegation 6 pointer against Rovers at home, it feels foolish to bet against Fletcher. Even better that he's a relatively affordable 10.42.
  • Grant Holt - Norwich stumbled against Stoke last weekend but have the chance to bounce back strong with a home match against Wigan. Holt is a little more expensive than I'd like to see but seems well-positioned to return value given the match-up.
  • Djribil Cisse - He may be playing away but he's really cheap coming off of his three match ban and at Bolton isn't exactly at Old Trafford. Strong enabler/value play potential here.
  • Luis Suarez - For approximately 10 dollars/pounds/units less than Rooney you could have two matches of Suarez. Seems like an obvious play if you have a spot available in your forward rotation no matter how distasteful you may find the actual player.
Midfielders
  • Ryo Miyaichi - It used to be that we just had to get used to spelling fairly obvious French names at Arsenal. Then Adebayor forced us to remember to add an extra "m" in Emmanuel and don't even get me started on Szczesny. The next hard-to-remember-how-to-spell name off the Wenger assembly line appears to be Ryo Myaichi. He's been returning great value since his move to Bolton and with a relatively easy match against QPR while his price is still relatively low, we are optimistic about the near future as well.
  • Junior Hoilett - He hasn't done much for a while but that also means his price has dropped a bit which makes him interesting to fantasy managers again.
  • Royston Drenthe - The biggest issue here is that his playing time has been so inconsistent. If I KNEW he'd get two starts across the two matches, I'd be much more inclined to rate him highly. As it stands, I wouldn't be shocked by anything from no starts to one start and one sub appearance, to no minutes played at all over the two matches. I'd rate two starts the most likely scenario but the problem is that I wouldn't rule anything out.
  • Steven Gerrard - If you want to stock up on two-match midfielders then Gerrard, who should theoretically be healthy, could represent great value if he starts both matches. His price is under 10 and PhysioRoom.com indicates he'll be back in time for the weekend. He could be the best start of the week but somehow I find myself unconvinced.
  • Ramires - Another one who hasn't done much for a while but he presents an issue for the Stoke defense in that he is everything that they are not (fast and athletic). You wouldn't be shocked to see him lose his man multiple times and be available running into the box. Whether he converts is another story but you can see where the chances would come from.
Defenders
  • Martin Kelly - There are fewer and fewer interesting defenders as the season goes on most years but, assuming Kelly isn't in the doghouse permanently after missing about as easy a chance as you can imagine against Arsenal, he is a reasonably-priced option who will/could be starting twice this week. Doesn't take a great points/match number to return value on a price of 7ish across two matches.
  • Sylvain Distin - See Kelly, Martin but on the blue side of the derby.
  • Phil Jones - I don't love United for the clean sheet against in-form West Brom but if you're looking for inexpensive sources of potential value then you have to put him in the running. He's had some very strong matches going forward and you wouldn't be shocked to see him break down a questionable Baggies defense.
  • Tim Ream - Started and went the full 90 against Manchester City last weekend. With his price low (3.65) and the opposition significantly weaker (QPR) you have to like his chances of returning some value.
  • Taye Taiwo - You have to figure he'll be back and that his value can only improve playing against Bolton even if it is on the road.
  • Keiron Gibbs - The visit of Newcastle is no picnic and Arsenal's defense is still shaky but Gibbs' price is low and he certainly has some upside if Arsenal continue to play well and Newcastle continue to slide.
Goalkeepers
  • Pepe Reina - The two matches are tough but Liverpool have been stout at the back and the fact that his price is relatively reasonable at just over 10 makes him a solid bet if you're making a move at the goalkeeper position this week.
  • Brad Friedel - His price has taken a pounding over the last two matches against Arsenal and United and now comes in at a devilishly low 6.66. Away to Everton isn't a great match-up but at the very least you should be on alert for the BD because Spurs only remaining really tough match is @Chelsea in two weeks. Otherwise, they have @EVE (this weekend), Stoke, Swansea, @Sunderland, Norwich, @Bolton, @QPR, Rovers, @Aston Villa, and Fulham. That's an incredibly soft run up to the end of the season. Just saying.
  • Wayne Hennessey - If you're not willing to bet on Spurs' recent leaky defense on the road against a solid team then you might want to plug the gap with the 7.00 Wayne Hennessey who has played well this season for the most part despite not a lot of help from his mates. Wolves MUST win this match and you could see Hennessey getting a bunch of saves in the process if they do.
  • Paddy Kenny - His price has been low for a while which is never a good sign but he's still very cheap and @Bolton gives you a reasonable expectation that he could finally get that win/clean sheet that will make this a great pick.