You Can Open The Curtains Now, The Transfer Window Is Shut…

Perception can be a cruel mistress. The same fact can mean drastically different things to different people due to their perception of that fact.

Take the Summer Transfer Window business of Liverpool Football Club for instance. I can tell you for a fact that it is thus:

Transfers In

Transfers Out

Total Money Spent: £80,100,000

Total Money Received: £ 42,480,000

So there you have it, all the facts of the matter.

Yet if you printed off all the tweets where people discussed how they perceived these facts, and stacked them one on top of the other, the astronauts on the International Space Station would have enough paper to doodle for months.

As ever, there are extremes of perception in favour of, and against, the business done by LFC in this transfer window. There are those who would organise a #FSGOUT march through the centre of Liverpool with all the gusto of a white supremacist rally in America, while others would volunteer to throw rose petals under the feet of Michael Edwards as he strode to his car after work today.

FSG Out
Look at this f*ckwit…

It’s impossible to write an opinion-piece like this without my own perceptions seeping into these words, but then again you can’t read it without your own perceptions affecting your opinion of this piece, so let’s all agree to read this and never speak of it again, ok?

This has been a GOOD transfer window for LFC. There I’ve said it. If you can’t read the paragraphs below due to the quantity of spittle and bile all over your screen, then you should stop reading here….

It has not been a great transfer window however because one transfer didn’t happen, to address one area of ‘perceived’ weakness in the Liverpool team, namely the failure to capture Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton. This ‘failure’ (and I use that term loosely as I’m not sure you can deem it a failure if the club that owns the player simply refuses to play ball, particularly when you played with their ball without their permission first…) is all the more frustrating as it has been the single biggest issue in the minds of the LFC fans for longer than any other. However it hasn’t happened, no matter how upset you may be about it, and they continue with what they have, and what they have is better than what I hear many say.

VVD
A Saint Or A Sinner? 

I’m not going to name specific players because you all know who is considered a weakness in this Liverpool defence, but I am going to point out some FACTS to you about this Liverpool defence:

In the last TEN league games played, Liverpool have conceded SIX goals. Defensive issues? What defensive issues? Ahh, but hold on, I can actually hear you screaming ‘small sample size’, ‘selective bias’ and ‘FSG apologist f*cknut’, so let’s continue…

In the TEN league games prior, Liverpool conceded FIFTEEN goals. Defensive issues? Oh, aye, those defensive issues. Why didn’t you say so! There you go, proof positive that the failure to capture VVD will ensure this season ends in tears and that the transfer window was a busted flush.

Perception, eh? What a bitch. The FACTS of the matter are that Jurgen Klopp got fed up with his side conceding so many goals and tasked his coaching staff with sorting out the defensive performances. Therefore LFC go from 15 goals conceded in a ten game spell to 6 goals conceded in the next ten game spell with the exact same personnel, apart from Andrew Robertson’s fine debut at home to Palace a couple of weeks ago. You can still argue that it was a ‘nice run of fixtures’ or ‘sheer luck’, and that’s an argument that can be made. However anybody watching LFC over the past two seasons will have seen that Klopp improves players, so you could make a counter-argument that it just took longer for his magic to work on the defensive side of their game.

Any defence will obviously still have ‘off-days’ where you could , ooh I dunno, concede three goals away to Watford (HAH! Evidence that they’re shit in defence!) or concede three at home to Burnley (What? Chelsea? The Champions? Oh, but that’s just a fluke, right?).

Chelsea Burnley
Ropey Defence. LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE. 

It’s accepted wisdom that if you reduce the amount of goals conceded in a league season to below thirty, you’re almost certain to win the league. LFC have conceded 3 goals in 4 games, which extrapolated out over 38 games puts them on target to concede 28.5 goals. I’m already blaming Moreno for the .5 goal you know. I’m not saying that this level of defensive performance will happen, but stretching it out to the last ten games, they’re on target to concede 22.8 goals….I’ll stop now…

So time will tell if the Liverpool defence will continue to be the achilles heel of this team, but if you analyse last season (which I’m sure most of you have) it was the absence of Sadio Mane in January/February that many will tell you really hurt Liverpool. The team was used to (and perhaps accepted) conceding a goal a game when they were scoring three in reply, but when the goals dried up those goals meant losses and draws. In the event of an absence of Mane this season, the transfer window captures of Mo Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dominic Solanke should ensure that Liverpool continue to score two or more goals a game while the defence continues to leak more than the White House (or not, eh?). The start that Mo Salah has made to his Liverpool career should not be overlooked, as he has been simply sensational. In fact he’s been so prominent and successful in getting into attacking positions that I believe he needs to work on his finishing – that may sound like a negative, but it’s a real positive in that he could/should have had another couple of goals this season at least, and Liverpool have scored SEVEN in three games for crying out loud.

Salah
On your marks…Get set…Too late, I already won…

The full-back options open to Jurgen Klopp should be another reason why this transfer window should be considered a qualified success for LFC. Last season ended with an underwhelming Nathaniel ‘Patsy’ Clyne at right-back and a fish out of water James Milner at left-back. However now at the start of September with a rejuvenated Alberto Moreno battling with new acquisition (and seriously impressive clean-sheet keeping debutant) Andrew Robertson for the left-back slot, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez seemingly locked in an incredibly high quality battle to the death to secure the right-back slot, with ‘Patsy’ Clyne humming ‘Crazy’ while rocking back and forth on the bench…

Of course the fact that the left-back slot is now so well covered means that James Milner has been freed to roam freely in the fresh green pastures of midfield, where he’s now battling Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coutinho (steady…that’s a different blog) and from next season Naby Keita for one of the three midfield berths. Now I’m not sure if you can count as well as me but that’s EIGHT players (all of whom are a billion miles better than Kevin Stewart, and that’s not a slight on Kevin) battling for THREE places. Depth? A nuclear submarine could get lost in that depth.

There is now genuine competition for places in every part of the Liverpool team, even in goal. Just when it seemed that Mignolet had seen off Loris ‘Fandango’ Karius, Klopp drops one for the other in a move that I can only describe as ‘sharp’. It was a clear message to Mignolet to not let his standards drop for a second, lest Karius will usurp him in the blink of an eye. It’s quality management by Klopp who has worked out that a complacent Mignolet is a flappy Mignolet. He’ll have him on his toes so much this season Mignolet may well end up starring in Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall before May. He’d look good in a Desmond.

Simon Mignolet Yellow

So when I take a cold, calculated look at the ‘new’ squad as a whole, I feel that LFC fans should be satisfied with the business done. However I accept that others may not feel as sated, and that’s perfectly acceptable. What is not acceptable however is the vitriol that I see on Twitter from so-called LFC ‘fans‘ who ‘want what’s best‘ and won’t ‘accept failure‘. Let me make one thing clear to you all. If I see you on Twitter claiming to be a ‘fan‘ but aiming direct abuse at a player/owner/owner’s wife, I’m going to screenshot it and I’m going to start a new blog and highlight you to the world (or at least the 4 people who will read this). On a serious note, enough is enough. You don’t have to be happy-clappy and believe that all is well in the world of Liverpool Football Club, but abusing your own while claiming to be a ‘fan’ doesn’t wash with me. You have been warned.

Anyway, enough of the negativity, UP THE DEFENSIVELY IMPROVING GOOD TRANSFER WINDOW SCORING GOALS AT WILL CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE REDS (utdigtwsgawclgsr…that acronym needs work)

 

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Liverpool 2-1 Burnley: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

 

Yes, I know there’s been another gap between ratings, but there’s another good reason for that…the work I had done with the lads before the Spurs game was nowhere near enough. I had foolishly thought that my motivational speeches and psychological guidance would see the lads flourish against the big teams AND the rest…but following the Leicester debacle, I realised my folly, and was back over to Melwood quicker than Jurgen could say ‘I want a refund, you cheeky Irish git’…

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

One of my tips to Jurgen was to proclaim to the world that he didn’t need a new goalkeeper this summer, and here’s the logic:

  1. It will make the incumbent keepers feel a bit better about themselves, and should result in a boost of self-esteem, which would lead to a boost in performances
  2. If you publicly state that you’re looking for a new keeper, then every sodding keeper on planet earth will have an extra ‘0’ added onto their price tag and weekly wage demands.

Makes sense, right?

Simon took to the field on Sunday with his self-esteem at record new highs, which led to an unfortunate incident pre-match when Ragnar Klavan accidentally kicked his boot across the dressing room, leading to Migs roaring into his face “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the king of the world! I’m the greatest! I’m the glorious lovechild of Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks following a saucy encounter in a laboratory in Brussels in the late 80’s”.

Nothing like a bit of self-confidence, eh?

Thankfully Migs backed up his words on the pitch with a flawless display against a team that thought they had sussed out his (and his teammates) weaknesses. Long ball after long ball was humped towards the edge of Mignolet’s box, but time and again he came strongly (ooo-errr missus!), to fist cleanly (now stop it…) away.

I’m working on deflating his ego just a tad this week, after he tried to chat up nine of the other players wives with the same chat up line. ‘Belgium is famous for it’s waffles, do ya wanna taste my batter?’

Give me strength…

8/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

You may have noticed that Patsy has quite a bit of ink, pretty much from the neck down is covered in ‘body art’…or that’s what he wants you to think.

The truth is that Patsy is a bit, how shall I put this…’Hard Of Thinking’. In essence, he’s one Spice Girl short of a reunion tour, and all that ‘body art’ is actually notes, hints and tips on every aspect of his game.

Before you judge him, think back to your school days. Yep, we’ve all done it, writing notes/formula on our palms or shirt cuffs, or the name of that Welsh town with the longest name in the world on our penis….or maybe that’s just me who was able to fit it all in…in BLOCK CAPITALS….

So the next time you see Patsy hesitate when a quick cross is on, remember that it’s not his fault. He’s just searching for the instructions on what to do next.

Klavan got the blame for the goal conceded, but for me Patsy forgot to read the instruction on his left butt cheek that says ‘Cover and sweep behind the centre-backs when a striker peels off them’.

Unfortunately yesterday he played like all the notes were written in invisible ink. I’m not sure my words of wisdom were much use at half-time when I told him to ‘just bloody copy what the Burnley right-back did when he set up their goal’.

The single tear that rolled down his cheek will haunt me for a good few days y’know.

6/10. 

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

While our right-back has a brain function that buffers more than a porn video in 1997, our Estonian centre-half has the memory of a goldfish.

You would think that being absolutely roasted last August by a fella called Andre Gray might stick with you, but in the first half Ragnar played like he’d never seen the man before in his life, and made pretty much the exact same mistakes as he had at Turf Moor.

Incidentally, Turf Moor is Irish for ‘Big Turf’. I just realised that.

Anway, I digress. After half-time, when I pulled Ragnar aside and showed him You Tube clips of the beasting he got from Gray last August, y’know, to prove that it actually fecking happened, he had a moment of clarity and suddenly he knew what he had to do…so he did it.

Hale-fecking-liua.

In the second half he was big, strong and had Gray in his pocket for the remainder of his time on the pitch.

7/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

To say that the heart of the Liverpool defence has been ‘changeable’ would be a bloody understatement. There’s been more changes in the Liverpool rearguard than there’s been Ed Sheeran songs in the Top 20 this week.

Joel was tasked with creating a ‘working relationship’ with Ragnar Klavan yesterday,  and deep down he knew this relationship was one of many he has to nurture. For a start, Dejan Lovren was peering down from the stands, waiting for his chance to show Joel some love, not to mention Shut Up Shop Ltd on the bench bursting to get back into a manly embrace with Joel, but it’s also the fact that Billy Joel had sung about this exact scenario in his 1986 song ‘A Matter Of Trust’….

 

Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will it’s just a question of when
I’ve lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned
But that won’t happen to us
Cause it’s always been a matter of trust

Indeed, Joel has to build that trust with three different men this season, and that’s leaving aside the fact that Emre Can keeps butting in every five minutes, and he’s a hard man to ignore when you’re trying to build a relationship. I should know, my wife keeps drooling over him every 5 minutes.

I’ve said too much.

8/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

You know the ‘Bleep Test’?

That training exercise where you run from Point A to Point B before the buzzer goes at each end, which just speeds up as you get more knackered?

I believe that some of the world’s fittest athletes get to Level 14 before keeling over.

James Milner is currently at Level 863, and is still going. Up and down that left wing, trying to get a cross in before the buzzer goes, then back down the wing, trying to chase a ball into the oppositions flying forward, which they KEEP. BLOODY. PLAYING. BETWEEN. MILNER. AND. THE. CENTRE. BACK….

The poor man started the season standing 5’10” in his socks, and he’s now 5′ 8″ as his legs have been worn away.

But he just keeps running….

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can: 

 

£35,000 a week might sound like a lot of money to me and you, but to Emre Can it’s a major bone of contention for him as he seeks to hammer out a new contract. He’s looking for around £70,000 a week (you’re hearing £100,000 a week, but you’ve got to highball first in any negotiation, right?).

I’m not saying that my motivational tactics with the lads work 100% of the time, but here’s what I tweeted at half-time:

Tweet 1

Within 15 minutes of that tweet, Jackie had hit a 25 yard daisy-cutting, worm-burning thunderbastard into the back of net at the Kop end, and then launched himself into a knee-slide celebration that made everyone over the age of 37 envious.

You’re welcome.

Leaving aside the ‘real world money’ argument, in modern football Emre Can has got to be worth £70,000 a week on a new contract, if only for the fact that a new contract increases his selling price if it ever comes to that. Sign him up Jurgen.

Oh, and stop playing silly buggers Emre. Good lad.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

 

What you may not know about Adam is that he’s quite insecure in himself.

He knows he’s got all the tools to be a top class footballer, but you might be surprised to know that footballers don’t always just think about football.

Adam is into his ‘looks’ because he’s compensating for his insecurities surrounding his appearance. That’s why he moisturises 19 times a day and why his skin holds more moisture than the Great Barrier Reef.

His performance yesterday, while not bad, was not up to it’s usual high standards, as Adam realised just before kick off that he was now playing in arguably the most handsome midfield in world football….and he soiled himself.

Jurgen tried to help by hugging him for 12 minutes straight, while stroking his hair, but it didn’t work, and now Jurgen can’t hold anything without it slipping right out of his grasp.

Nivea has a challenge on it’s hands. Does it try and make Adam more handsome, or does it take Gini/Emre into a back alley and smash their faces in?

Decision, decisions.

7/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Composure.

It’s a rare commodity.

When the most gorgeous woman in the bar approaches you and tells you she wants you right now, do you jauntily raise an eyebrow, smirk and tell her she’s made a wise decision, or do you shake uncontrollably, dribble like a teething baby and make a squeaky noise associated with pet toys?

Aye, exactly.

Gini showed incredible composure on the stroke of half-time as the ball ricocheted between him and Mee (no, not him and me, him and Mee. No, not me, Mee. Oh forget it…). While Mee stretched out a leg in vain (no, not me, Mee), and Ward charged towards him, and Heaton did his best starfish impression, Gini went all ‘Matrix’ and made the world pause…before slamming the ball into the net.

Gini is like ‘Hawkeye’ in the Avengers movies. The big names like Iron Man or Hulk or Thor with all their fancy moves tend to get all the attention, but when they don’t show up, the Avengers need someone else to come to the rescue. So as Phil/Bobby/Sadio have gone missing at various times this season, Gini has stepped up with goals against City/Chelsea/Arsenal and Burnley.

I know which one I prefer right now.

9/10

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Some said that this was a ‘huge chance’ for Divock and that he must grab it with both hands.

Some said that he blew his big chance.

Some talk an awful lot of guff.

Make no mistake about it, Bobby Firmino comes back into this team as soon as he’s fit, so nothing Divock did yesterday was ever going to change that. He knows it, and I know it, and you should know it.

That’s not to say that he didn’t do well though. While the Fantasy Football stats may only give him one assist, in the real world, he has two. It was his cross to Gini that set up the equaliser, as well as his pass to Emre that set up the winner.

What more can he do?

Well yes, of course he could score. I take your point. Alright, nobody likes a smartarse.

8/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

Have you ever seen ‘The Three Amigos’ movie?

It’s a cracker, I highly recommend it. Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short combine wonderfully to make you howl with laughter for 90 minutes.

However, I’ve found that when the ‘Three Amigos’ are seperated, they’re funny, but not THAT funny. I mean Chevy Chase can be downright annoying, Martin Short is barely noticeable and Steve Martin, while clearly a very funny man, needs someone opposite him to truly thrive.

I know that Bobby F was missing yesterday, but that can’t excuse that performance Phil. You were DIRE. I’ve never done this before, but yesterday I felt I had to. I tweeted about you Phil. I feel dirty, but strangely vindicated.

Tweet 2

I know you’re annoyed at Jurgen for hooking you, but as you can see now, it was all me Phil. I’m not sorry either. This ‘thing’ we have has to be a two-way street. Since your return from injury, it’s been all ‘take, take, take’ from you. What have you given me? Do I not deserve the very best? Is the magic gone between us Phil? Just say the word and I’ll be out of here! Just be honest with me Phil, that’s all I ask.

As always,

Love you,

Xxx

5/10

sadio-mane

Sadio Mane:

 

The one player I have to spend the least amount of time with is Sadio. He’s just got all the self-confidence you could want, and shows it out on the pitch. He was Liverpool’s only real threat during that woeful opening half, and he kept the Burnley defence on edge all match long.

On more than one occasion he was inches away from the perfect pass to set up a goal.

The thought of Sadio on top song against THAT City defence next weekend makes me happy.

8/10

Substitutes:

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

11 minutes left when the barriers came down, and they stayed firmly down until the full-time whistle.

Not only did Lucas shore things up, he also found himself rampaging forward with the ball at his feet, 30 yards from goal. Even he realised how daft that situation was…

7/10

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

How would you feel if you woke on Monday morning and remembered that you were brought on by Jurgen Klopp after an hour to replace Philippe Coutinho?

Aye, exactly. That’s why Ben is walking around with an 8 hour erection as I type. Ah, the miracle of youth.

He did pretty well too.

7/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Right Jurgen, you’ve had the benefit of my presence before Spurs and now Burnley, so every other game this season will be degrees of each.

10 games to go. You’ll be fine for the next two, that’s a nailed on six points, but it’s the final 8 that will really tell us about this team: Bournemouth (fighting), Stoke (on the beach), West Brom (on the beach), Palace (probably on the beach by then), Watford (on the beach), Southampton (on the beach and we owe them one), West Ham (on the beach and a bit sh*t), Boro (in the Championship by then).

If you need me, you know where I am. You’ve already started using my advice, so keep it up. I like the whole ‘I don’t have a Plan B’ thing, that was beautiful. Just remember to pick Moreno every now and again and you’ll have everyone fooled. LOL.

7/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

FantasyYIRMA GW 27 Review: How May We ‘Assist’ You?

Gameweek 27 will be remembered in FPL seasons to come as the week when most mini-leagues swung decisively, one way or t’other. While the average score for the week was 61 points (2nd highest this season behind the 62 point average in GW 20, stat fans!), there are many, many FPL Players who flirted with, reached or even smashed the 100 point barrier this week. It’s not hard to spot them, even if they’re not in your league or you don’t know them personally. They’re currently strutting around, tops off, tweaking their nipples (male and female players) with a grin as wide as the Thames, asking all in earshot “How was YOUR GW 27?”. I’m delighted for them, I really am. The smug B*STARDS.

Of course the majority of them have a certain Argentinian pocket rocket to thank for their chafed nipples as Sergio Aguero did what Sergio Aguero tends to do at least once a season – score more than three goals in a game. His 21 point haul leads the way this week. If you’re like me and have Aguero but didn’t put the armband on him, I understand what you’re feeling right now, I really do. After all, just 3 in 10 players have him in their squad. He’s actually a hell of a differential, especially when he scores 4 goals. I mean, Salah has over 1 in 2 owning him. It’s obvious in hindsight, right? RIGHT?

AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH……………

Forrest Gump

On Monday night Eden Hazard decided that he wouldn’t mind if Antonio Conte hung around for a little while longer, so he turned it on against West Brom to bag himself two goals and 16 points. We can only speculate as to what prompted this sudden motivation from the temperamental Belgian, but I did note with interest that Alan ‘Chunky’ Pardew turned up at Stamford Bridge with the West Brom squad, his agent, his CV and some breath mints. The prospect of being managed by Pardew would be enough to motivate anyone into keeping their current manager in employment.

Regular readers will know that this is now the third GW review in which our old friend Steve Mounie has featured. He was one of the stars of GW 1, then disappeared off the radar until GW 16 when he once again reminded us all of his existence. In fact in my GW 16 review, I predicted that he wouldn’t be heard of again for quite a few weeks…

GW16 Prediction

Just out by 4 Gameweeks…so close and yet so far – like most of his shots. Sorry! Cheap shot – like most of his shots. Ooops, I did it again! Unlike Steve, who barely does it at all. I’ll stop now.

The next names on the weekly heroes list are Salah and De Bruyne, both with 13 points, but I don’t need to go on about them – they’re the best two players in the league by a street, and you should really own at least one of them (although De Bruyne is over-priced on a pound per point basis y’know. Just saying…).

Victor Moses is an interesting character, isn’t he? I mean, if you said to me five years ago that he’d be playing in defence for one of the most defensively tactically astute Italian managers in the game, I’d have had you arrested for heresy. Yet here he is, categorised as a defender and churning out a few double-digit scores thanks to 2 goals, 3 assists and 9 clean sheets this season. Yet he also churns out more than his fair share of 0’s, 1’s and 2’s in among the highlights. He also costs £6.4m. Quite how his 1.9% of owners have worked out how to balance these facts is beyond me, but they were rewarded this week.

Alex Pritchard is a new arrival in the Premier League with Huddersfield Town, arriving from Carrow Road last month. He has certainly made an impact with a goal, an assist and 12 points against Bournemouth, which was a huge boost for…well, nobody. Yep, 12 points are left floating away on the winds of change, as Pritchard has a grand total of 0.0% ownership in this FPL game of ours. FOR F*CK SAKE…

Finally a quick word about ‘Assists’, how utterly random they are, yet how incredibly important they are as they determine the fortunes of each and every one of us in this game. This weekend was a prime example. Roberto ‘Bobby’ Firmino provided arguably the assist of the season with his 45-degree lofted backheel assist for Mo Salah – an assist of such dazzling beauty that you’ll go blind if you stare directly at it. For this display of utter genius, Roberto Firmino was awarded the same amount of points as Aaron Creswell of West Ham, credited with an assist for Arnautovic thanks to…well…having the ball BLOOTERED against his shins by a defender. Yep, the ricochet off a Cresswell shin leads to a goal so both Cresswell and Firmino get the same reward. Similarly Kyle Naughton played a pass infield to Jordan Ayew who waved a toe at the ball, missed by an inch, and then Ki Sung-Yeung latched onto it to score. An utterly random moment of good fortune, but with the exact same reward. FPL, eh?

firmino

As for our Villains Of The Week, we have five likely lads to scrutinise. Simon Francis and Steve Cook both conceded four while getting booked at Huddersfield, which should actually be a crime rather than a score of -1, but I’ve not been elected to power…yet. Harry Maguire similarly endured a rough night at The Etihad in conceding five and picking up a booking for his score of -1, but hey, that’s happened to many players this season.

The two biggest villains however are Danny Simpson and Charlie Adam. Simpson (while taking a break from his ‘not very hilarious social media spat’ with Jamie Carragher), was introduced as a half-time substitute for Leicester City at The Etihad with the game finely poised at 1-1, and trudged off 45 minutes later after watching Sergio Aguero score 4 times, pee in his shoes and sleep with his wife, all of which earned him -1 points. Charlie Adam however plumbed new depths this week following his unfortunate last-minute, season-defining penalty miss, followed up by his ‘tectonic plates move faster’ follow up for the rebound, which he was beaten to by a Brighton defender who started his run from, well, Brighton, before clearing it off Charlie’s toe. There are some mundane ways of achieving a negative points tally in any given Gameweek, but as ever Charlie Adam always goes for the spectacular, and this time he succeeded.

FantasyYIRMA GW 26 Review: Always Bet On Red

The low-level murmur in the FPL community surrounding the build up to GW 26 was all about one man; one man who would make a triumphant return at The Emirates on Saturday night, when Arsenal faced Everton, to show everyone what he’s capable of. He would strut into the cold North London air once again and dazzle us all with his outrageous skill and eye for goal, hold his arms aloft and accept the acclaim of the crowd who perhaps didn’t quite appreciate what they had before it was gone.

And so it came to pass…Aaron Ramsey started just his second match in the last ten, bludgeoned the Toffees with a scintillating hat-trick and landed an incredible 20 point haul in just 74 minutes of action.

What? Theo Who? Walcott? Don’t be daft. I told you last week that I’ve seen the Walcott Bandwagon Express depart countless times before, and it always disappoints. If you don’t listen to Uncle Niall, then there’s not much more I can do for you.

Speaking of listening to Uncle Niall, I have a certain mantra that I’ve been spreading throughout the FPL world for a few months now. It’s quite catchy, easy to remember and contains only two words: CAPTAIN SALAH. Now I admit that I don’t always listen to myself as often as I should, but that’s not going to stop me from patting myself on the back. Let’s face it, I’m getting to an age where patting myself on the back is quite an achievement so I’ll do so for as long as I can. Another scintillating two goal and three BP display at Anfield for the King Of Egypt and a 15 point haul – a sensational reward for those who backed the bubble-permed bearded wonder when you compare his returns in GW 26 to those of the other big-hitters *cough* Kane *cough* Aguero *cough*

While Mr. Ramsay may have been stealing the limelight this weekend (and no, I’m not speaking about the chef, although his starring role in the Amazon Alexa Superbowl ad is worth a gander), he was aided and abetted by a player who is enjoying his life as a free man following an unfortunate incarceration at H.M. Old Trafford Prison, where joyous skill, impudence (no, Mrs. Mkhitaryan is very happy by all accounts) and creativity are snarked out of you on a daily basis. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is glad to be out of the clutches of Prison Warden Mourinho, and showed his glee by providing not one, not two, but THREE assists on Saturday night, for a 13 point haul.

Joining Mkhitaryan on 13 points this week is a former favourite of bargain-hunting FPL players this season, Pascal Groß. I’m not saying that his goal, assist and 3 BP’s for the Seagulls was inspiring to others, but just 24 hours later the Philadelphia Eagles won something called the Superb Owl for the first time. Birds of a feather flock together. Fly Seagulls Fly!

The ‘Gerard Deulofeu Wheel Of Fortune’ landed on Watford last week. You may not have heard of this game show, but it’s huge in Paraguay. Every 6 months they spin a wheel with every club in Europe on it, and wherever it lands Deulofeu must turn up and initially impress before ultimately stinking the place out. So far he’s been at Barcelona, Everton, Sevilla, Everton, Milan, Barcelona and Watford. Let me just remind you that he’s 23 years old. The man has more stamps on his passport than Phileas Fogg. But as with Mr. Walcott, heed my advice and don’t jump on this bandwagon. He’s nowt more than a Spanish Aiden McGeady.

James Ward-Prowse is a player in red-hot form with 3 goals and 2 assists in his last four games, and has always struck me as being ‘nearly the next big thing’. I mean, he’s clearly got an eye for goal, delivers a cracking set-piece ball and has lovely hair. In many ways he reminds me of a young David Beckham. If I were his agent, and I wanted him to get his big money move, I wouldn’t bother touting him to big clubs. All he needs to really hit the big time is to marry one of Little Mix. Et Voila! He’s the 21st Century David Beckham. He’d be at Liverpool before you could say Virgil Van Dijk (yes, I know he’ll probably end up there anyway…).

Finally hat-tips to a plethora of players who hit 10 points this week, but aren’t good enough to get my full attention, and read like a who’s-who of FPL benchwarmers or cheap alternatives: Gudmundsson, Milivojevic, Lossl, Danilo, Lemina, Fernandez and Doucoure. If you had 2 or more of those in your first XI last week, well-played. Well played indeed.

Our Villain Of The Week section contains two players who dipped into negative point territory, and two players who didn’t, but deserve a flogging anyway. Tiemoue Bakayoko picked up 2 yellow cards in 29 minutes and -2 points for his troubles. Michael Keane of Everton played one half of football at The Emirates, conceded 4 goals, got hooked, and thus ended up with a score of -1 without even getting a yellow card. In fact, that’s probably why he was hooked – how can you concede 4 goals and not kick someone at least once? Soft Toffee.

Harry Kane makes this section despite his 4 points because he missed a penalty against Loris Karius, after diving to win it. I mean if you’re going to torpedo your reputation to win a penalty, you may as well smash it in the net. Finally, Raheem Sterling has to get a mention for ‘that’ miss at Turf Moor. We’ve seen some spectacular misses this season (it feels like we’ve seen more than usual), but this one takes the Kimberley, Mikado AND Coconut Cream. When he was subbed minutes later I’m actually surprised that Pep didn’t stride onto the pitch and grab him by the scruff of the neck to haul him off. Still, it’s not the first time in recent history that Sterling has stumbled, and it won’t be the last either. Happy Brexit everyone!

 

FantasyYIRMA GW 25 Review: Popping Cherries…

This game mocks us all.

It sits there behind its firewall, snuggled up in its server, thumbing its nose at all of us who pour over form and fixtures, slaving away to ‘crack the code’ and ensure maximum points in each and every Gameweek. It cackles maniacally as millions transfer in Mahrez, knowing full well that the Algerian temper-tantrum has chucked all his toys out of his pram and gone for a ginormous sulk. It smirks knowingly as millions of eyes light up when they see that Aguero is at home to West Brom and the ‘Captain’ button is clicked fervently in the hours before the deadline.

Y’see, this game knows all. It knows that 99% of us were backing Aguero or Firmino or Kane, and This Game knows that 99% of us are short-sighted eejits. It knows that of the 15 players to hit double-figures this week, only one would be a striker, and his name is Callum Wilson. Evil I tells ya. Pure, undiluted evil.

Not content with trolling us with a Callum Wilson 12 point haul, this game also threw in a 12 point Junior Stanislas and a 14 point Nathan Ake. Oh, did I mention that they were away at Chelsea? That’s right. Bournemouth, away at Chelsea, smashing them, rampaging through Stamford Bridge slaying Antonio Conte’s boys as their ‘Milkybar Kid’ manager smiles sweetly on the touchline, like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. The saccharine assassin.

This game then decides that the joint top-scoring player of GW 25 should be a man called Sam Clucas. As one wag put it on Twitter on Tuesday night; ‘Siri, what’s a Clucas?’. Indeed. 15 points at home to Arsenal for a player so nondescript that Match Attax printed 85% more Sam Clucas cards this season than Eden Hazard cards. Seriously, go find a young person who collects Match Attax and ask them how many Sam Clucas swaps they have. You probably won’t get an answer though as the very mention of his name will have them whimpering in a corner. He’s ginger too y’know.

The other joint top-scoring player in GW 25 is perhaps the biggest troll of all that this game could have inflicted upon us. Yes, Theo James Walcott is back. 15 points and just watch as the lemmings of FPL jump on the Walcott Express in their droves. This game knows that will happen, because it knows people have the memory span of a common Donald Trump. I’ve been a ‘Walcott Wally’ too many times in the past to fall for it again. Nope, not this time. Not happening.

What? Only £7.2m? *sweats profusely*

While the usual suspects such as Sterling and De Bruyne were racking up points at The Etihad, I can’t have been the only FPL player with Aguero as Captain that turned the air blue (sky blue, obviously) upon hearing that Fernandinho had opened the scoring. Fer.Nan.Din.Ho. This game

If you had a Burnley goalkeeper and a Newcastle defender you would have been praying for a goalless snooze-fest at St. James’ Park, and while goals went in at both ends, many prayers were answered. A penalty save from Pope and a Lascelles goal ensured that particular double-act returned 21 points. What this game takes, it sometimes gives back…

This game has made it easy for us to pinpoint where the points are coming from when Liverpool are playing. You get in Salah and/or Firmino, you avoid their defenders, and you reap the rewards. So far, so very, very simple. Yet this game just loves to stir things up and hence you have 14 points for Emre Can at Huddersfield. We shouldn’t have been surprised though. The immaculately coiffed German is playing for a new contract…In Italy.

If you’re one who likes a gamble, likes to roll the dice, likes to mix things up, then this game would have rewarded you handsomely – if you decided that Orestis Karnezis was the gamble for you. What do you mean ‘Who is Orestis Karnezis’? The Watford stopper, in just his second appearance, keeps a clean sheet, gets 3 BP’s and 10 points. Mr. Javi Gracia (no, that’s really his name, it’s not a misprint I promise) is known for ensuring his teams are hard to break down, so you might want to watch that Hornet shaped defensive space…

The final player of merit that this game decided should get some of the spotlight is Mark Noble, who scored his second goal in three games and has now racked up 5 BP’s in that time. Is he about to explode into form? No, he’s not. He’s so harmless he can’t even light his own farts. We all know that Noble gases are non-flammable. They’re also supposed to be odourless, but Mrs. Noble has debunked this scientific theory after he’s had a vindaloo.

So we move onto a very short ‘Villain Of The Week’ section, and let’s all have a long, hard stare at Phil Jones, who racked up a stunning -2 total in GW 25 thanks to a cracking finish into his own net, a yellow card for hacking down Harry Kane, and a special extra -1 point for excessive gurning and sweating. A fine nights work for a player who has accumulated a staggering 16 BP’s this season. That high-wire act was always likely to come crashing down at some stage, and he managed it on the greatest stage of all, Wembley. Now THAT’s a curse.

This game

 

 

FantasyYIMRA GW 24 Review: They Walk Among Us…

‘The best form of defence is attack’ as the old adage goes.

Poppycock!

The best form of attack is defence, and I can prove it. Gameweek 24 saw 10 players score double-digit scores, and five of them are defenders. Indeed a back five of Moses, Monreal, Mawson, Fernandez and Koscielny would have yielded you 69 points and Salvation from your wretched season (as well as a visit from the local psychiatric hospital asking if you’d like a ‘check up’). Indeed this may be Just My Imagination but there are four people on this planet who revealed themselves to be time-travellers from the future this weekend. Yes, four souls from an unspecified future date (probably no more than three weeks from next Thursday the way Trump is going…) decided that Victor Moses was worthy of the Triple-Captain chip for his trip to Brighton on Saturday lunchtime.

Who does that? Who in their right mind thinks THAT is a good plan? I’ll tell you who – those who KNOW it’s a good plan. Those who KNOW what is going to happen. Time-travellers with 51 points for Moses and about £250,000 on the Patriots to beat the Eagles 37-32 in a couple of weeks time *taps nose*.

It’s what Dreams are made of.

Of course you’d also have to know the future to have stuck two Swansea defenders in your team as Liverpool came knocking with Salah do-de-do-do-do-do, Mane, Mane do-de-do-do-do-do, Bobby Firmiiiiinooooo but without Coutinho…Yet who am I to judge? We’re all Free To Decide and thus Fernandez and Mawson combined to maximum effect and end the 18-game unbeaten run of Jurgen’s men. It just goes to prove that there’s no such thing as Ridiculous Thoughts.

It was slightly easier for everyone to work out that Sergio Aguero was likely to run riot against a Newcastle side that he just can’t help mauling every time he faces them. Maybe he was a lion in a past life and he just sees a helpless yet tasty zebra when he plays them, unable to contain his Animal Instinct. All I know is that less than 1 in 4 own him, which is yet more proof that the human race have lost their collective minds in the 21st century. I blame Apple.

Perhaps the most impressive performer this week is Nacho Monreal who scored 16 points thanks to a goal, two assists and three bonus points despite deciding not to Linger and only playing the first 33 minutes of the match. I’ve spoken to NASA boffins who have analysed the rest of the game following his departure and they confirm that had he hung around he’d have scored 83 points by full-time. Remarkable.

Eden Hazard has once more presented FPL players with a mind-bending conundrum, namely do they now/once more (delete as applicable) shoehorn him into their sides. His 16 point haul in GW 24 follows on from his 10 point haul in GW 22, which shows some form…but we’ve been here before. GW’s 10,12,13 & 15 saw scores of 11,18,8 & 15, but they were followed by a total of 17 points in the next 6 GW’s. Trying to work out what he’s going to do next is keeping me awake at night, and now I’m like a Zombie trying to work out what to do.

Finally kudos to Willian, The Lord Joe Allen and Tony Martial for their hauls this week, all of them proving themselves to be Stars in GW 24. Willian surely must be prime for a settled run in the Chelsea first XI following a stellar performance alongside Hazard and Batshuayi (stop giggling). The Lord Joe Allen decided that GW 24 is when the resurrection of Stoke City’s season should start. Incidentally I thought it was a jolly good show from Paul Lambert to dress like and jump around like Martin O’Neill of 10 years ago. To be so comfortable in your own skin that you dedicate your first game in charge to a man who didn’t want the job you so desperately took, that takes some cojones. He was Free To Decide to wear a suit and re-invent himself, but maybe I shouldn’t Analyse things too much.

As is traditional, we move onto our Villains Of The Week, but in fairness they’re in short supply as all three players in negative points territory are from Brighton & Hove Albion FC. Congratulations to Messrs Duffy, Goldson and Schelotto, the last of which should consider himself incredibly unlucky with his score of -1. He could/should easily have had two penalty assists as well as a goal for his efforts, but alas Jon Moss can see that Time Is Ticking Out for Antonio Conte so he turned a blind eye to all penalty claims from the Seagulls.

That’s it for another week. Thanks for reading, it really means a lot. It’s so lonely When You’re Gone.

RIP Dolores x

FantasyYIRMA GW 19-22 Review: The Christmas Cacophony Of Chaos

Well that was a festive period of football to remember then, eh? If you’re like me you were probably heading into work on January 2nd wondering where the hell the holiday period had gone. It seemed like 48 hours since I put my out of office on my email and frolicked into the twinkling lights of Christmas with gay abandon. And yet…

When I reflected on the festive football, I recalled that the start of my holidays coincided with the first game of GW 19, namely Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool, and that game, in a football sense, seemed like an eternity ago. That madcap match where Liverpool slapped the Gunners around The Emirates for 85 minutes, yet somehow conceded three goals in less than five minutes to snatch a draw. What japes! I bet you can’t remember much else about GW 19, lost as it is now in the maelstrom of what has followed in GW’s 20, 21 & 22. Well let me remind you…

Harry Kane decided that he really, really wanted to break the record that nobody had heard of prior to GW 19, namely the ‘most goals in a calendar year in the Premier League which once had 22 teams and 42 games, but now has 20 teams and 38 games, and isn’t run over a calendar year and only started in 1992 because football didn’t exist before then but really it did so the whole thing is a f*cking nonsense’, which was held by Alan Shearer. So Harry bagged a hat-trick at Turf Moor to become a legend in the land of whippets and pies (until Ragnar Klavan stole his thunder, but more of him anon…).

Sergio Aguero kept Jesus out in the cold, which seemed apt, by scoring two and assisting another in City’s home demolition of Bouremouth. You can add your own jokes about Donkeys and Wise Men, it’s now January 5th and I can’t be arsed. Joe Allen has long been hailed as the second coming (most women weep with joy when fellas are the second coming, but that’s a different issue), and true to form he scored and assisted in a Stoke City win at home to the Baggies. If you missed how much trouble Alan Chunky Pardew is in right now, just read that sentence back. Stoke City, with Mark Hughes, stuffed them 3-1. I know. Juan Mata scored twice to seemingly give Manchester United all three points (and himself all 3 bonus points) at the King Power Stadium against Leicester, until Chris Smalling hurt himself with no subs left to play, and then everyone in red decided to abdicate responsibility for filling in for him, allowing that slight, svelte Harry Maguire chap to nip in at the far post and grab a point for the Foxes.

Then we all ate, drank and tried to be merry while staring at our in-laws wearing cracker hats and making inappropriate comments about Brexit before we moved onto GW 20, the annual Boxing Day Massacre for most defences.

Royalty have long dined on swan on special occasions, so Bobby Firmino, the King of Style at Anfield, feasted on the managerless swans of Swansea City as Liverpool ran 5 past Leon ‘Little’ Britton and his mates. On what is arguably the holiest of holy days in the Christian religion, Harry Kane and his Spurs mates slaughtered Saints by sticking 5 past Southampton with Kane again chasing down that record that will now live forever, probably because everyone will forget about it and not notice if anybody beats it because IT’S A BLOODY STUPID RECORD. Anyway, he scored another hat-trick, the big show-off. Son, Alli and Eriksen all bagged goals/assists aplenty also. A good day to have a Spurs heavy team, just before they had a week off. This game laughs at us you know, it really does.

Bournemouth and West Ham served up a six-goal thriller with Marko Arnautovic tempting many of us into buying the useless git for GW 22 (GAH!), and Nathan Ake scoring a goal and registering an assist, which is handy for a defender who conceded three. However I was particularly amused to see a Gosling score and assist the day after Christmas. Give him another year and he’ll be plump, juicy and ripe for plucking (I said plucking…I’m not talking about that Gosling, and admit it, we all would).

At Old Trafford Jesse Lingard continued his bid to be remembered for something other than dabbing by scoring another two goals, both assisted by a player trying to be remembered for something other than diving and/or having a bird sh*t in his mouth, namely Ashley Young. This broke the heart of Sean Dyche who was on the verge of a famous away victory for his Burnley Brexiteers. Have you ever heard Sean Dyche cry? It sounds like a Maserati at full throttle at the bottom of a swimming pool. Finally Alexis Sanchez dangled a bit of prime Chilean leg towards Pep Guardiola by scoring a brace at Selhurst Park to see off Crystal Palace, and he was ably assisted by Lacazette who, err, assisted two goals.

We then moved on, in a cheese-induced coma, to GW 21 and the last games of 2017 for each of the clubs. This is where the moaning of the Premier League managers was only drowned out by the moaning of the FPL managers, as rotation started to bite. A&E Departments across the land reported a 487% increase in cases of ‘fist-chewing’ as FPL managers saw players benched and omitted hither and tither, and to make things worse, the goals dried up too. The players who played all the games were exhausted, and those who came in thanks to rotation just proved why they don’t get a game in the first place. The highlight though had to be at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea, as expected, ran roughshod over a Stoke City team who wore a white flag instead of their usual kit. Five goals were scored, and there wasn’t a goal or assist to be seen for Alvaro ‘Just a Spanish Tony Cascarino’ Morata. If ever a FPL event summed up the sh*tshow that was 2017, this was truly it.

In fairness Will.i.an warmed up for the return of ‘The Voice’ by scoring one and setting up two others. In other games, Ryan Fraser scored two goals in a game for the first time in his career, delighting the 0.6% of FPL owners who had him. The King of Egypt ended his less than two game ‘barren spell’ by scoring both goals at Anfield as Liverpool saw off a spirited Leicester side, led by Riyad Mahrez, who has hit a real purple patch of form just ahead of a transfer window opening. Remarkable. At Selhurst Park the Eagles should have finished the unbeaten domestic season of Manchester City but Milivojevic sh*t the bed like a common Benteke. Jesus picked up an injury in that game, but reports since say he’ll recover in time for Easter. Finally an Arsenal clean sheet was wiped from the records after Mike Dean decided that the very last game of 2017 should be all about him. Classic Mike Dean.

Finally we hurtled into the new year after watching Jools Holland coax a bunch of celebrities into pretending it was 2018, despite the fact that the show was recorded in August. GW 22 was now upon us and there was only one subject on everyone’s lips: A SPURS DOUBLE GAMEWEEK…Rumour has it that there were more Harry Kane’s bought in the first week of January than gym memberships, and in truth those purchases were equally as f*cking useful. With Harry coming off the back of consecutive hat-tricks, he then got the sniffles and was benched away at Swansea. In fairness to him he came on and set up a goal, but because Sandwich Lane, sorry, Dele Alli blootered the ball at the keeper first, it didn’t register as an assist. Splendid. Hope was not lost however as Kane started at home to West Ham. This was it. This HAD to be it. Over 100,000 Triple Captain chips rested on this game…and nothing. Nada. Zilch. A grand total of 3 points over two games for Harry f*cking Kane. Am I bitter? You better believe I’m bitter.

Aside from the Spurs schenanigans there were some cracking games this week. Arsenal and Chelsea played out a pulsating 2-2 draw that saw Alvaro ‘Just a Spanish Sean Dundee’ Morata waste at least three great opportunities and two decent ones. Marcos Alonso popped up with yet another goal to try and show his compatriot how it’s done. Liverpool went to Turf Moor with two centre-backs under serious threat from a Dutch purchase more expensive than a Van Gough painting, and this sparked both into life as Lovren assisted a Klavan winner. Motivation is a funny thing, eh? Andy Carroll popped onto the FPL radar by scoring twice as West Ham saw off West Brom. I shall smile wryly when I see the flood of ‘Transfers In’ for the big lummox in a weeks time. Some people just never learn. Finally Riyad Mahrez scored and assisted in an emphatic home win against Huddersfield, made all the more remarkable by the fact that he played with a big neon sign on his back saying ‘Buy Me. For The Love Of God Buy Me Now’. I suspect someone will.

FantasyYIRMA GW 18 Review: Fairytale Of Fantasy League

It was Christmas Eve, babe
With Ilkay Gundogan
An old man said to me
“Should have Captained Lanzini”
And then he sang a song
‘The rare old Mountain Dew’
I turned my face away
And dreamed about Lukaku

Got on a lucky one
Aaron Mooy scored more than one
I’ve got a feeling
Green Arrows for me and you
So, Happy Christmas
I love you, Wayne Rooney
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

“They’ve got Clarets Phil Bardsley
Alonso’s hair’s made of gold
But what this game can do to you;
It’s no place for the old
When you first transferred Sane
In for Watford’s Deeney
You promised me Ozil
Would score more than Ndidi

“You had Sterling and De Bruyne
All hail Manchester City”
When GW 18 finished playing
They howled out for more
FantasyYIRMA was swinging
Those with Ozil were singing
We kissed Dejan Lovren
Then danced through the night

The boys of the FantasyYIRMA choir
Were singing Salah’s name
And you played your Wildcard chip
On Christmas day

“You’re a bum, you’re a punk”
“You’re an old Swansea flunk
Lying there on my bench
Scoring 6 against the Ev”
“You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas, your arse
I dream of seasons past  ”

The boys of the FantasyYIRMA choir
Were singing Salah’s name
And you played your Wildcard chip
On Christmas day

“I could have been someone”
“Well, so could anyone
You took Suarez from me
When I first found you”
“I kept him with me, babe
I play La Liga FPL on my own
Can’t make it all alone
I’ve built my dreams around Lukaku”

The boys of the FantasyYIRMA choir
Were singing Salah’s name
And you played your Wildcard chip
On Christmas day

 

As this is the last Review piece before Christmas, I’d like to wish all of my regular reader (Hi Mum!) a very Merry Christmas. I won’t say anything about New Year yet as I’ll have another piece out before then.

Eat! Drink! Be Merry! But remember to never, ever drink and transfer…

FantasyYIRMA GW 17 Review – ‘Keeping The Faith…

As you grow older and more ‘worldly wise’, you realise that this world of our is populated by spoofers, bluffers and charlatans. There’s a plethora of chancers out there who people proclaim to be the best thing since sliced bread, but who in fact are no more impressive than…well…sliced bread. The #FPL community is deluged with this facet of modern life – how many times do you see FPL accounts jumping on the bandwagon of the next great points-scoring messiah who turns out to be as useful and reliable as a Brexit minister?

Of course it’s not just in FPL that this particular issue arises. I’m struck by a particular television advert at present (for the “yoot” among you, a television is the thing that your parents point all their furniture towards in their living room), featuring Will.I.Am and a coffee pod/drink thingy made by Nescafé. In this abomination of an advert you hear the glorious dulcet tones of Otis Redding and his seminal classic ‘Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay’. Then we’re ‘treated’ to this Will.I.Am gobshite overlaying (at least I think that’s what the kids call it) various ‘beats’ and ‘riffs’ and various other aural assaults. To top it all off you’re then told ‘There’s nothing like being creative to reinvent a classic’.

NNNNNNGGGGGGG….

Listen up Will (if that’s your real name you spoofer). It’s a classic for a reason, and you do not make it any better by sitting there twiddling your knob and rocking your head up and down to your ‘rhythm’. Just. Stop. It. Oh, and Nescafé, for shame.

Anyway, I digress, but only a little. Gameweek 17 scoring is lead by three players who you could never label as a ‘spoofer’, for each has shown themselves to be, in their own way, true class in all they do.

Firstly we have the footballer many jokingly (and in no way funnily) refer to as Will.I.An, a real class act who has played a peripheral role in Chelsea’s season so far, but will to me always be remembered as the one Chelsea player who didn’t down tools and act like a spoilt brat two seasons ago when José picked on the club doctor and the whole club chucked it for a good 6 months. Willian bagged a goal, two assists and three BP’s to lead GW 17 with 16 points. Form is always temporary (as any FPL diehard will tell you) but class is permanent, and Willian is class. Unlike Will.I.Am who’s an eejit.

Willian

Secondly is Shinji Okazaki, a man who you feel is making the absolute maximum out of his talents every damn day. Well on this day he scored two and assisted another to grab three BP’s to match the 16 points of Willian.

Finally we have perhaps the classiest man in football today (now that Xabi Alonso has retired), in David Silva. The man is, and always has been, an assist machine in FPL, but in this past week he’s gone goal-crazy with four in his last three games, a real boon for the 18% of FPL owners who ignored the shiny, expensive Belgian blonde and settled for the ‘more bang for your buck’ shorn Spaniard instead.

David Silva

Serge Aurier finally delivered for the 0.3% of FPL owners who clearly enjoy having a maverick in their ranks as he racked up 15 points thanks to a goal, clean sheet, three BP’s and not getting a red card. Remarkable.

Finally we have a group of four goalkeepers who all delivered double-digit hauls thanks to three BP’s for all three and a multitude of saves between them:

Pope – 7 Saves (and they say that Jesus saves? Hah!)

De Gea – 7 Saves

Pickford – 4 Saves

Foster – 3 Saves

Anyone else notice that three of those ‘keepers are English, and yet Joe Hart is still England’s Number 1 while on the Hammers bench? Hey, I’m not judging, I’m not English, but I will point and laugh when I see something daft. Also, how about Alan ‘Chunky’ Pardew ‘out-Pulising’ Pulis, eh? The game’s gone lads and lassies…

Alas we now must bow our heads in despair and disgust as we mock, sorry, discuss those Villains Of The Week that have let their faithful FPL owners down so badly. Firstly, we have an incredibly rare occurrence (it must have happened before but I can’t remember it), whereby we have a player in negative points territory despite not playing a single second of the game. Come on down Mr. Sam Field, at Anfield, who got a yellow card while warming up on the touchline. A score of -1 for those 0.2% of FPL owners who clearly just wanted to stick a cheap no-mark on their bench. Imagine if he was automatically subbed in for another non-playing player…could that happen? If he didn’t play either? Oooh, that’s a question…Answers on a tweet please to @FantasyYIRMA or @NiallHawthorne.

Secondly we have an oxymoron. No, that’s not a second-string Arsenal winger moving club to become a second-string Liverpool winger, it’s actually Tom Cleverley who did something very, very stupid by picking up a red card after 86 minutes. As soon as he trudged off with his team clinging onto the slenderest of leads, Palace did a madness and scored two late goals to clinch the points and send Tom ‘Not So’ Cleverley into negative territory. Splendid.

Jonjo Shelvey

Finally we have a man with as much brains inside his head as he has hair on top of it, Mr. Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle United. If your the main man in midfield and your team is a goal down with 3 minutes of stoppage time left to salvage something, the last thing you would do is scythe down an opponent and get sent off, right? Not if you’re Jonjo, for that’s exactly what he did. I weep inside when I see a footballing genius like Rafael Benitez having to manage a footballing dunce such as Shelvey. Life’s not fair sometimes, it really isn’t.

 

FantasyYIRMA GW 16 Review…With Kane You’re Able…

Harry Kane

Gameweek 16 will be defined in history as ‘The Harry Kane’ week. When you look at the first seven names in the list of GW 16 top scorers, only one player had more than 2.9% ownership. That man indeed is Harry Kane. While not being the top scorer of the week, he is the hero of the week for those who kept believing, denied all naysayers, showed true devotion at the altar of Harry and were rewarded for their faith. To continue the biblical theme, if you had Kane, you were able…to get green arrows.

The actual top scorer of the week is an old friend of the FantasyYIRMA Review Column, namely Heung-Min Son, who scored a goal, provided two assists and snaffled three Bonus Points for a haul of 16. Regular readers (there’s a good chance I’m talking to myself here…) will know that we did a full biography of the South Korean star a few months back. I also note that one of the other top scorers this week is a man who hasn’t featured since GW 1; a man who conned MILLIONS of us into jumping on board his particularly unreliable bandwagon after GW 1 – welcome back to the party Mr. Steve Mounie, with two goals and 3 bonus points. If I were you I’d be jumping on Mounie in GW 31 after his now customary 15 Gameweek slump is out of his system.

Those of you familiar with my ‘quirky’ sense of humour (careful now…) will be glad to know that I have noted the fact that the above paragraph features a South Korean and a man called Mounie. There’s a joke about cults and marriage in there, but it’s getting close to Christmas and I just don’t have the time…Make up your own and tweet them to @FantasyYIRMA. He’ll be only delighted to read them.

Jermaine Defoe

The next man on our winners podium this week is Jermaine Defoe, or J-Dog as he’s know to…err…me. It’s been a spectacularly quiet season for the ex-West Ham / Bournemouth / Spurs / Portsmouth / Spurs (again) / Toronto / Spurs (again) / Sunderland / Bournemouth (again) legend. They say his nickname is ‘Boomerang’. However with 2 goals, 3 bonus points and a passable impression of Marco Van Basten circa 1988, his name should be changed from ‘Defoe’ to ‘Defriend’ for those who picked him.

Dwight Gayle is a man who seems to be finally settling into Premier League life with 3 goals in his last 5 GW’s, in spite of the fact that he’s had about three goes at Premier League Striking life already. However his goal/assist and 3 BP’s were in vain as Leicester City ran out winners in the most un-Rafa-Benitez-like game you can imagine (apart from that one in Turkey that hardly ever gets mentioned).

Scott Arfield visited Robbie Brady in the hospital just before his knee surgery, to wish his teammate well in his long journey back to fitness. He then took his place in the team, scored a goal, pocketed three BP’s and then went and slept with Robbie’s wife. Well, three of those four things are statistical facts. Robbie Brady probably just feels like the other one happened.

Our final man to be lauded this week is perhaps the most apt name possible at this time of year, when we are all wondering whether we’ve made the nice list or the naughty list. This Huddersfield midfielder is used to lists. Indeed, well played Christopher Schindler on his 11 point haul and his first double digit score of the season. He’s definitely on the nice list today.

Now we move onto those who top the naughty list just at the wrong time of year. First up we have a player who was showered in rose petals in GW’s 12 & 13 when he accrued a staggering 22 points, but his fall from grace has been swift, much to the chagrin of those who really wanted to spice up their life and placed their faith in Zeegelaar. A red card and -2 score means he has now scored a grand total of -1 for GW’s 14,15 & 16. Quite the collapse I’m sure you’ll agree.

Another player wondering what he can do with a lump of coal on Christmas Day is Ayoze Perez, the Newcastle United striker who scored -1 this week and who now has 1 goal and 1 own goal to his credit this season, despite featuring in almost every GW this season. Ouch. At least he still has that assist in GW3 against West Ham to boast about, right?

Benteke Palace

Finally we have the biggest Villain of the week (and possibly the season so far, thanks to his cock-sure look-at-me braggadocio shenanigans at Selhurst Park) in Christian Benteke. I was always taught that Christians were supposed to share and look out for each other, but this particular Christian decided that he wanted all the glory and adulation of winning what could prove to be a crucial bottom of the table 6-pointer come next May. So he grabbed the ball off Luka Milivojevic (presumably just shouting ‘Luka’ rather than his full name, understandably), waddled up to sidefoot the ball straight at Begovic and grab a draw from the jaws of a crucial victory. Marvellous. I’d have paid good money to watch the dressing down Roy Hodgson delivered to Benteke, presumably while stood on a step-ladder with security lurking in the background. Have you ever seen an owl when it’s mad?

FantasyYIRMA GW 15 Review – Saucy Samba Sensations Sizzle…

It’s that time of year when rampant commercialism is dressed up with tinsel and shiny lights and everyone is encouraged to empty their bank accounts to show their nearest and dearest how much they love them during the bleak midwinter. It truly is a magical time of year, but one that needs to be budgeted for carefully when you are of ‘limited means’. It’s easy to splash the cash when you have lots of it, but having an eye for a bargain is key for most of us who want to avoid eating baked beans for 30 days in January.

The same can be said for the world of FPL as many of us are toying with the dreaded ‘points hit’ to try and reshape our squads into something that doesn’t resemble a drunk Santa stumbling down your local high street, half-eaten kebab stuck to his beard and a bottle clutched firmly in his mittens. Fear not friends, for GW15 is here to point you in the direction of some frugal bargains to keep you fiscally solvent before Santa drops that oh-so-desired Wildcard into your stocking…

There is a level of giddiness surrounding Eden Hazard at the moment that is bordering on hysteria amongst FPL managers. Yes, he’s on fire at present, and his gliding, sexy, mazy runs helped him to rack up 15 points this week thanks to 2 goals and 3 bonus points. However he’s an extravagant purchase at this time of year – a box of Belgian truffles – when you consider that he’s sitting on 68 points for £10.8 million quid. On the other hand you can leave the Leonidas store and gorge yourself on a tasty Brazilian treat that costs £1.9m less, has 63 points to his name this season and delivered a week-leading 18 points by ripping Brighton a new one. Yes friends, Philippe Coutinho is the wise purchase this Christmas for those who want more bang for their buck.

In a similar vain, there is quite the heated debate among FPL managers about that ‘third striker’ to play alongside your Lukaku/Kane/Aguero/Morata/Jesus pairing (delete as appropriate). You can go for a real budget option and shop in Poundland for your Callum Wilson’s or your Tammy Abraham’s, or you can stretch to a nice, shiny Jamie Vardy for £8.6m, 69 points this season and 2 points at home to Burnley. Alternatively you can save £200,000 and get yourself an even shinier (especially when he smiles) Roberto Firmino, with 67 points this season and a 2-goal, 13 point salvo at the American Express Community Stadium to his credit…I’ll wait until you get that gag…

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has also attracted attention for that third striker spot with his 12 point display at home to Huddersfield Town. With Big Sam to guide him off the pitch, and Wayne Rooney to guide him on it this young man will….well, for legal reasons I can’t finish that sentence….

Perhaps the bargain of this festive season lies at Old Trafford amongst the corporate boxes and prawn-sandwich brigade, in the form of the all-dabbing, all-merking Jessica Lingard. His 2-goal, 3 BP match-winning 15 points comes hot on the heels of his 13 points midweek at Vicarage Road, and at just £5.6m he could be that Andy Warhol doodle you happen upon in a car-boot sale for a fiver.

Finally a round of applause for Julian Speroni who was summoned at the 11th hour to replace the crocked Wayne Hennessy in the Crystal Palace goal, and proceeded to keep a clean sheet, make 7 saves and grab 3 bonus points for him to stick into the pocket of his trackie bottoms. He also prevented Alan ‘Chunky’ Pardew from starting his Baggies career with a win, so he’s gone straight to the top of my Christmas Card list.

While Santa has all of the above players on his ‘Nice’ list, he’s been furiously scribbling down names on his ‘Naughty’ list, and the man right at the top this morning is Mr. Lewis Dunk, the only man to score for Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool in the 2017/18 season. Quite a feat to the man they new refer to as ‘Oggy’, such is his penchant for an Own Goal this year. -2 for him in GW 15 and a chastening experience to boot. He’s now officially suffering from PFSC disorder – Post Firmino Salah Coutinho disorder, which is now afflicting over 1 in 3 defenders in the Premier League. There is no known cure.

Joining Dunk on the list is Davinson Sanchez who decided that he needed some time off in the run-up to Christmas to decorate the house, do some shopping, you know yourself. He’s now free to enjoy the festive period until December 23rd following his straight red card at Vicarage Road.

My final ‘Naughty’ list entrant is young Paul Pogba, who ruined an exceptional 2-assist and likely 3-bonus points performance by deciding that Hector Bellerin would look better with just one leg, so he tried to chop off the other with his boot. I’m not saying that his suspension for the looming Manchester Derby is ironic following his public wish that Manchester City players would get injured, but Alanis Morissette has added yet another verse to her seminal hit. Y’see, now THAT’S ironic. 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife is just daft. Where the hell was she anyway? Spoonland? On Spoon Street? In the Spoon district?

FantasyYIRMA GW 14 Review – All hail our Umlaut Overlords…

When Americans and British people get together, they generally have a good time. There’s the usual mocking of each others use of the English language, how one used to rule the other, how the other kicked the arse of the former, and when things get particularly heated, how one would now be speaking German if it weren’t for the other.

When the Ginger Prince announced he was getting married to Meghan Markle, Princess Sparkle, one cad on Twitter thought this was a backdoor to Britain retaking America, although right now they’d probably pass, all things considered. What a lot of people have missed though is how many of us in GW 14 are actually speaking German, fluently, thanks to the exploits of the two star performers, Ozil and Rudiger. In fact, you could say that Ozil und Rudiger setzten das Beste, das Großbritannien und Irland im Schatten bieten konnten, mit einem Angriffsziel, defensiver Solidität und teutonischer Effizienz auf.

See? War really is futile. (If someone could send the link of this searing insight to Trump and that North Korean looney toon, I’d appreciate it, and I’ll be in Stockholm to pick up my Nobel Peace Prize next year).

In fairness though, it’s quite an achievement for Wayne Rooney not to be top man this week after scoring three including one from so far out he was practically stood on the Kop. However FPL is a cruel mistress and Wazza did indeed miss a penalty last night, the wazzock. Another blast from the past is alongside Wayne on the honours board today, namely Ashley Young who took the sting out of the hornets with two thronkers at Vicarage Road. Quite the return to form for the man most famous for having a bird land poo in his mouth in the middle of a match.

Robbie Brady popped up with a cracking performance approximately three weeks too late (I’m not bitter, but I’ll never drink Carlsberg again…actually that’s not really a hardship, right?) with a goal and an assist on the South Coast to help Burnley maintain their very real and very terrifying pursuit of a Champions League place next season. Can you imagine it? Sean Dyche toe to toe with Zinedine Zidane. Turf Moor hosting Barcelona. The whippets and ferrets wouldn’t know what hit them…

Finally Jordan Pickford actually saved a penalty to keep a clean sheet against West Ham, and rack up 13 points for those 5.9% of FPL managers who clearly haven’t a clue what they’re doing. I mean, who picks Everton players this season? Defenders especially? Madness.

Finally in the Winners list this week are three more familiar names in Mane, Salah and De Bruyne, two of which are likely duking it out right now for Player Of The Year honours. While the mercurial Belgian is regularly doing things that make me want to touch myself inappropriately, it is the feats of the King of Egypt Mo Salah that really do take some time to get your head around. 12 league goals in 14 league games. Stop. Think about that. He’s not a ‘striker’. He didn’t even start last night. He got to 10 league goals in HALF the games it took Michael Owen. His figures right now are Messi-esque, and he’s playing in the Premier League. Quite why his ownership figure is ONLY 50.2%…that’s a bigger sign of mass psychosis than the Brexit vote. What are the other half of you thinking? Answers on a tweet to @FantasyYIRMA please….

As ever we have to cease our lauding and commence our laughing, as we look at our Villains of GW 14. Pablo Zabaleta must be casting envious glances at his old stomping ground and pining for the bright lights of Manchester as his West Ham retirement junket is turning into a nightmare. For the second time this season he concedes four goals and picks up a yellow card to tip into negative territory. The same can be said for Adrian Mariappa of Watford, fresh off the back of two six-point returns. Rumour has it that both Jekyll and Hyde are set to start for Watford in GW15.

Jonny Evans is yet another who must be muttering dark thoughts into his cornflakes each morning. Only a few short months ago he had Pep texting him sweet nothings, promising him dazzling Champions League & Premier League glory and a huge pay-rise. Michael O’Neill was WhatsApping him links to fancy Russian restaurants and, err, ‘friendship’ services in Moscow. And here he now sits on November 30th in a West Brom team sans Pulis, Alan ‘Chunky’ Pardew taking the reigns and a red card against Newcastle to give him -1 points in GW14. Christ, even as I type that I’m googling the number for The Samaritans. Poor Jonny.

My final two villains of the week are players who deserve to be lambasted by all of their FPL owners for failing to stick the ball in the net. Firstly we have Manuel Lanzini who missed that penalty at Goodison Park. So far, so predictable. But my final villain is a man I hold dear to my heart, Mr. Roberto ‘Bobby’ Firmino. I love you Bobby, like a son, but as a FPL manager who owns you…if I ever…AND I MEAN EVER…see you standing idly by as a ball is bobbling into the goal that you could easily tap in to claim the points, I swear on Lucifers beard I will fly to Liverpool personally and take a shite in your toaster. I’m THAT upset with you.