FantasyYIRMA GW 30 Review: From Russia With Love…

Regular readers of this column will know that I am firmly of the belief that this game of FPL trolls us, in a myriad of ways, and with no sense of justice or fairness. It’s almost certainly a complex Russian algorithm designed to drive over 5,000,000 of the global population to drink. Combine that with the Russian algorithms that got Trump elected, Brexit passed and Paddington 2 to be ignored for the Oscars, and it’s clear that the ‘Beast from the East’ is not a bloody snowstorm.

Kane got a point and injured. Aguero injured in training. Salah was crushed under the Mourinho bus. Chelsea clean sheet gone in the last minute. Davies not in the squad…As I stood on the ledge of the highest building in Cork I realised that I now know how those traders on Wall Street feel when the market crashes. However I also realised that I have a Free Hit and Triple Captain chip to play, so I’m still here ready to fight on.

Incredibly it’s one of the best weeks of the season for the quantity of players that hit double figures – a whopping 16 players scored 10 points or more. However just 4 of those players had ownership of more than 10%. Damn you Moscow!

David Silva had been absent in recent months due to the premature birth of his child, which as absence notes go is a bloody decent excuse. Hopefully things have worked out well in that situation, for David has returned to the Man City team with gusto, and his 16 point haul at The Britannia has brought his team to within 6 points of the title. He’s matched on that points total by Kenedy, the young Brazilian on loan from Chelsea. What’s that I hear you say? Young, talented and not getting a game for Chelsea? He’s the next De Bruyne! Salah! Lukaku! Well he did a decent impression of them this week with 2 goals and 3 bonus points.

I’m not saying that Arsenal have been in poor form, but Barnet (bottom of League 2 with 7 league wins) asked for a behind closed doors practice game to boost their players morale. People see that win over AC Milan as a sign that Arsenal still possess quality, and perhaps they do, but you should remember that AC Milan are playing Fabio Borini at right-back these days, so y’know…Anyway, a friend of mine is in a tight race in his FPL mini-league and took a punt this week when be brought in Peter Cech to face Watford. He was handsomely rewarded with a 15 point haul thanks to a clean sheet and a first ever penalty save at The Emirates. I asked my buddy how that left things in his mini-league and his response said it all: ‘Cech, mate’.

Chris Wood of Burnley scored 2 goals, provided an assist and picked up 3 bonus points, all in the space of 29 second half minutes at The London Stadium. You might think that’s impressive, but you should realise that one of those goals was assisted by West Ham fans invading the pitch, and the other was straight from a corner kick taken from the centre circle. To say things got out of hand on Saturday afternoon is an understatement. There were tense scenes as a large group of people gathered in front of Lady Brady looking for an improvement in their lives, something to give them hope for the future…but that’s all I can tell you about the next series of The Apprentice. She then went to watch West Ham play and you know the rest.

Finally the South Korean bid for World Domination (see last week’s column) continued as Son scored twice and racked up another 15 points. It’s rumoured that he’ll lead the ‘peace talks’ between Trump and Kim Jong-Un where he’ll immediately raise the average IQ by 147 points. There’s nothing that this boy can’t do.

Henrik Mkhitaryan scored 13 points as he continues to forge an impressive looking partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Now it just took me 4 minutes to type that sentence so if these two do become a goal-scoring/assist-giving double act of note, than I propose nicknames. I’m open to suggestions, and you should send all ideas to @FantasyYIRMA, but I’ll start with Mickey and the PEA. He was joined on this points total by Serge Aurier who is the FPL equivalent of Russian Roulette. Sure, there’s a chance he’ll grab you points (26 in the last 3 games) but you just know he’s likely to deliver a red card at any minute. The perfect choice for those thrill-seekers out there.

Honourable mentions now for Mustafi, Baines, Rashford, Mahrez, Iheanacho, Shelvey (!), Alli, Willian and Iborra, but I don’t have the time and you don’t have the patience.

Onto our Villains Of The Week, and a strong group this time featuring four players in negative points territory. Young Jordan Ayew has caught the eye of 11.7% of FPL Players as he represents pretty good value for money…until this week when he was sent off after 10 minutes. -2 points for many of us who were also reeling from the Kane/Aguero/Salah/Davies debacle. Cheers Jordan, great timing!

Anthony Knockaert joined Ayew in the red card crucible at Goodison Park to grab himself -1 point and complete a pretty miserable day for the Seagulls. You know you’re having a bad day when you have two players in negative points territory and you’re only playing Everton! Joining his fellow ‘Gull’ is Gaetan Bong who grabbed an own goal to ‘earn’ his -1 point. He must have been dreading the Monday morning review from Chris Hughton. After all, the Seagulls had been flying so ‘high’. I’ll let you work that gag out yourself….

Finally we have Martin Kelly of Crystal Palace, singularly the unluckiest professional footballer playing today. I’m not even talking about his own goal at Stamford Bridge that condemned his side to another defeat and earned him -1 point. I’m talking about the fact that on two separate occasions he’s been at a club which has brought in Roy Hodgson as manager. Nobody deserves that.

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@FantasyYIRMA GW 30 Preview: Peroni on Draft…

Hi! I’m @NiallHawthorne, and you  might remember me from such @FantasyYIRMA blogs as all the Gameweek Reviews this season and the now legendary (in my mind) Gameweek 12 Preview, where I tipped Alberto Moreno (6 Points), Xherdan Shaqiri (5 Points), Alvaro Morata (9 Points), Mo Salah (16 Points) and Callum Wilson (17 Points). How’d you like them onions, eh? So, y’know, you can heed the advice I’m about to convey…or not. Just don’t come crying to me Monday night (that applies if my tips are fantastic and you ignored them, or appalling and you followed them). Caveat Emptor! (No, he doesn’t play for Lazio, for F*CK sake…)

Defender: Jamaal Lascelles, Newcastle

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. That’s some sage advice for you right there, and 18 GW’s ago I told you all to back a defender that was facing Southampton. Guess what? Yep! Rafa Benitez is preparing his troops to face Southampton, and his young padwan in the opposite dugout, Mauricio Pellegrino. These two have history; Pellegrino played for Benitez at Liverpool, then joined him as a young coach following his retirement. Rafa has remained ‘Rafa’ in the intervening years – he could likely coach the worst U-15 team in your area to beat West Brom on any given day – and his penchant for defensive strategy should see him in his element this weekend, as the Geordie defence face the worst attack in living memory. Jamaal Lascelles is the main man at St. James’ Park these days, and he’s nailed on for a clean sheet, while he also provides plenty of threat at set-pieces with three goals already this season.

Midfielder: Michail Antonio, West Ham

Yes, I know that the Hammers are muck, but you don’t want to play it safe all your life, do you? Come on, take a chance, roll the dice, spin the roulette wheel of life! While this choice is admittedly a risk due to The Moyesiah being an idiot of biblical proportions, Antonio’s recent form should guarantee him a start against Burnley at The London Stadium. A 6 point return in each of his last three GW’s, despite only starting one of those games, is impressive. Allied to this surge of form is the fact that Burnley hit 40 points with their victory last weekend, so they’re safe. Now I can’t tell you how I know this, but a credible source has told me that the Burnley squad have already hit the beach, mentally and physically. They’ve packed it in. Job done. So much so that the away kit they’re wearing against West Ham features Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses and flip-flops. You know what? They’re dead right too.

Forward: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

He’s playing West Brom. West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies. They play at The Hawthorns and they’re so bad that even if it was my back garden, I wouldn’t open the curtains to watch. They’ve conceded 13 goals in their last 6 games, against attacking juggernauts like Southampton (chortle), Everton (guffaw), Huddersfield (snigger) and Watford (ROFL). The players don’t care anymore, and why would they when they’ve got Alan Pardew as manager, a man with as much charm, empathy, talent and self-awareness as Donald Trump? There ain’t no party like a Vardy party, and Jamie is going to be smashing into the Blue WKD on Saturday night celebrating a hat-trick.

Captain: Eden Hazard, Chelsea

Did you see the state of Hazard at The Etihad last week? Man dear, he was trudging around that pitch like a young teenager who just got caught watching porn before being thrown out onto the street to play football with his friends. I’m not saying he was moody, but the actual Moody’s ratings agency downgraded Antonio Conte’s stock from A- to Junk Bond status. Now THAT is moody. However the upside is that he has pent up frustration inside him, bubbling up like a Belgian beer, ready to froth over against a hapless opponent who just don’t have the testicular fortitude to withstand such an explosion. Oh hello Crystal Palace! How nice to see you! Palace have the backbone of jellyfish, as demonstrated in their last two outings against Spurs and United and Hazard is going to take it out on them. He’s going to destroy them.

Oh, but always Captain Salah. I had to say that.

Outsider: Jose Heriberto Izquierdo Mena, Brigton & Hove Albion

This midfield dynamo has risen to prominence in the last few weeks as Brighton have picked up 11 points from their last 5 games, with the Columbian bagging two goals and an assist in that run. He’s got pace, an eye for goal and a effervescence that makes me feel warm inside. He’s also playing Everton who are going to get relegated. You heard it here first.

Draft: Peroni. A beautiful pint on draft. Yes indeed. 

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)