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?

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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.

FantasyYIRMA GW 13 Review…Unlucky for all?

Do you remember the summer of 1996?

The days were gloriously long and hot, football was ‘coming home’ (but took an unfortunate detour to Berlin in the end), and a group of young ladies called the Spice Girls burst into our lives with an infectious pop-classic called ‘Wannabe’. We all know the song, and if the infectious tune is running through your head right now, I’m sorry.

What you probably don’t realise however is how prescient that song is. Aside from launching the careers of five young women who are still ever-present in popular culture, it also predicted the star-player for FPL GW 13. It’s a bit niche, I grant you, but bloody impressive nonetheless. The chorus is where we get the incredible foresight:

Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha)
I wanna really, really, really wanna Zeegelaar…

And who wouldn’t? A stonking 14 points from the raiding Hornet at St. James’ Park, thanks to a clean sheet and two assists to leave Rafa Benitez’s goatee soaked in bitter, salty tears. Big Marv (that’s what we’re calling him now) has burst onto the scene in the last two GW’s with his first two appearances, two clean sheets, two assists and 22 points. But before you all jump on board the Zeegelaar bandwagon, bear in mind that he faces United and Spurs at Vicarage Road in the next two GW’s.

Speaking of people jumping on bandwagons, this whole Brexit thing is looking good, eh? Infighting within government, the economy looking more sluggish than Boris Johnson in an Olympic 100m final, and the Irish Government releasing official statements telling Britain to ‘shove it up your hole’. However while Sterling is on the verge of collapse, Raheem Sterling has never looked more appealing to FPL investors. A third double-digit haul of the season thanks to an outrageous piece of good fortune for his goal as well as an unfortunate tumble to earn his side a penalty. All of this to break the hearts of the pluckiest of plucky underdogs in Huddersfield. Doesn’t it make your heart sing when a middle-eastern state can tear the heart out of a local team fighting against all odds and surviving in the Premier League? A truly modern Christmas tale.

Southampton must have thought all their Christmases had come at once when Everton rolled into town. The same team that were battered around Anfield just a week prior looked like Brazil circa 1970 as they smashed four past the Toffees, with Charlie Austin and Dusan Tadic racking up 13 and 12 points respectively. At this stage you really need to see who are playing The Ev next and pile into their forwards. West Ham play at Goodison on Wednesday night, so I expect to see big Andy Carroll transferred in by over 2 million FPL managers. Heh, just kidding.

Final hat-tips of the week go to Alexis Sanchez for breaking Burnley hearts, Mamadou Sakho for breaking Stoke hearts and Marc Albrighton for almost giving David Moyes a heart-attack.

Alas we must now plunge the depths of the negative points territory, and we find two players waking up on Monday morning with the ignominious honour of being our Villains of the Week….

DeAndre Yedlin will be feeling a bit maudlin this mornin’. An own goal and two others against his name leads to that dreaded -1 score and to cap it off he’s got irate Geordies to deal with as a result. You don’t want irate Geordies on your case, they’re not all like Ant & Dec, believe me.

Rajiv van La Parra will have raised the ire of his FPL owners on Sunday evening. He’d just toiled to a respectable couple of points against the heretofore rampant Manchester City attack, and then after the final whistle blows he turns insane after a shove from Sane, lost his brain and was sent off in the rain. What a pain. To score negative points in FPL after the final whistle has sounded is quite a feat.

 

FantasyYIRMA GW 12 Review: When you’re right, you’re right…

Rudyard Kipling used to play Fantasy Football y’know, way back in the day. What do you mean you thought it was a new invention? Not by a long chalk, let me tell you. Oh the gnashing of teeth as Newton Heath dropped Donaldson on September 24th 1892 and they promptly lost 6-0 at Everton….
Not only that, Rudyard used to write a widely-read and renowned preview paper on FPL each week, which admittedly had a small readership, what with there being not t’internet or owt.
He understood more than most the frustrations of playing FPL and more so the pressure to get his preview tips right. He used to get dogs abuse when he was wrong, but when he was right he was lauded by the proletariat and royalty alike. He even wrote a poem about it (which most people totally miss the real meaning of, so I’ll help translate…)
If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, (bad preview tip) 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too; (Kane over Lukaku? ARE YOU MAD?) 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, (Will Ben Dinnery EVER post an update?)
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster (94 points in GW11 and 28 in GW 12)
    And treat those two impostors just the same; (As f*cking if…)  
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, (He said BLANKAKU! FRAUD!)
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: (-8 point hit next week lads…)
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings (every single August…)
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, (FantasyYIRMA will tell ya…)  
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Especially if you get a Top 1,000 rank at Seasons End*
*May not be part of the actual poem
So anyway, I wrote the FantasyYIRMA Preview for GW 12, and to quote Kipling “I fecking nailed it”.
Salah Captain anyone? 32 points, you’re welcome.
Morata up front? A shed-load more points than Harry Kane
Moreno Clean Sheet? No, I wasn’t taking the piss. He got one
Shaqiri in midfield? That Assist don’t lie…
Callum Wilson Differential? How’d you like them apples!!! All three of ’em!
Yeah, so Kipling is a bigger man than me. Keep my head? Be a man? Sod that. I’ve been a screaming toddler all week, and I don’t care. So there.
I should grudgingly point out that Eden Hazard racked up a whopping 18 points, and he’s on fire right now. Of course that makes him a Fire Hazard so I’d expect the Health & Safety wallopers to ban him immediately.
The ‘other’ differential of the week is a Watford man who’s name Stoke fans normally say the words ‘be sacked today’ after. Yes, Will Hughes scored a goal, grabbed an assist, a clean sheet and all three Bonus Points to make himself really stand out. Which is handy as if he ever wandered naked into a snowstorm, he’d actually disappear…
Two other defenders accumulated double-digit scores with Marcos Alonso continuing a fine return to form with 14 points and Shkodran Mustafi came back from injury to score the same. Mustafi is one to watch, as despite a four week absence, he had four consecutive GW scores of 6 prior to that. In fact, he’s played 6 GW’s and has 40 points…
Hat-tips also to Coutinho, Pogba and Cork (Up The Rebels!) who all broke the 10 point barrier.
As for villains of the week, we only have to look in one place, namely the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth which saw TWO players plunge headfirst into the dreaded negative points territory. Simon Francis managed to score -2 points despite being a defender in a team that won 4-0 at home. Quite the feat, but red cards will have that affect on your score.
The other principal actor in this grim tragi-comedy is Florent Hadergjonaj of Huddersfield. Now I know it looks like I had a mini-stroke while trying to type his surname, but I assure you that’s how he spells it. Nobody else does, because they can’t, but he does. I’ve always been fascinated about the origins of surnames. I mean, the surname Smith is easy, as the forefathers of Mr. Smith were, err, Smiths, probably. Hawthorne is more rare, but I assume one of my ancestors lived under a tree, or was found in a bush or…actually I’ve probably said too much. As for this lad? I reckon his forefathers fecked all the Scrabble tiles at a wall and whatever stuck they used as his surname. Anyway, back to my point, and that is his -1 score for 4 goals conceded and a yellow card to boot. Not that it mattered in FPL terms as he has a whopping 0.0% ownership, despite picking up 8 points against West Brom in GW 11. No wonder Pulis got sacked…

FantasyYIRMA GW 12 PREVIEW!!!

As this is my first preview piece for FantasyYIRMA (and a literal gauntlet being thrown at the feet of @FantasyGaffer), I have been mulling over how I could make a real mark, to stamp my authority all over this GW 12 feature. There are obvious avenues I could go down:

  • Wildly optimistic outsider tips which if successful would have Paddy Power himself ringing me looking to meet for coffee.
  • Wildly pessimistic tips that would have the Samaritans ringing me and Theresa May telling me not to be such a bloody downer.

However, events on Monday night have reminded me of one thing about the human psyche that should never be forgotten. People don’t like change. The amount of mewling, whining and downright gnashing of teeth by non-Italians at the demise of the Azzurri was astonishing. If you’re not Italian I’m struggling to comprehend why you care that they couldn’t score in 180 minutes against the IKEA Meatball Monsters. ‘Oh the World Cup won’t be the same!!!’. Err, yes it will. There will be 32 teams, most games will be shite, some games will make your jaw drop,  and one of about 4 teams will win it, no matter what. Standard.

Anyway, back to what I was saying about change…so here’s my very formulaic preview for Gameweek 12.

Defender: Alberto Moreno, Liverpool

Now don’t go pulling that face, there’s method to my apparent madness, and if the wind changes, your face will stay like that forever. Firstly Liverpool are at home to Southampton, which in defensive terms is akin to stepping in the boxing ring with a wet paper towel. This has got ‘home clean sheet’ written all over the, err, wet paper towel. Secondly, Moreno has licence to bomb forward on the left, and while he only has one assist so far this season, he’s due to add to that total, and I fancy him to do so this Saturday. Thirdly, six of the next seven teams to face this Liverpool defence are: Southampton, Stoke, Brighton, Everton, West Brom and Bournemouth. I admit that it will take a brave man to invest in a Liverpool defender, but he who dares wins, and this time next year we’ll be millionaires. Only fools and horses work for a living and by backing this Spanish Stallion, you’ll be on easy street very soon.

Midfielder: Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke City

If you listened to the latest Talking Togga podcast, I’m sorry for your troubles and you should probably seek counselling, but if you listened to the very end you would have heard yours truly discussing the 13 points that Shaqiri racked up against Leicester City in GW 11. Since then I’ve watched the Swiss sensation cause more of a hullabaloo in Northern Ireland than a group of men jauntily strolling down the wrong street in the middle of summer. Xherdan would have had about 9 assists if Seferovic had worn Adidas Predator boots instead of Toblerone slippers. In any case he’s back with Crouch and Co. this week and faces Brighton, Palace and Swansea in three of his next four games. This could be a Swiss Roll you’ll want a slice of.

Just don’t forget, my tips don’t lie. Shaqiri! Shaqiri!

Forward: Alvaro Morata, Chelsea

Following a quiet October, Morata roared back into form in GW 11 with the kind of towering header that makes men over 40 sit forward on their couch, nod the air full force with a beer in their hand while uttering a guttural ‘OOOOHHHFFF’ at the TV. Since then he has bagged again for Spain against the mighty Costa Rica and looks to be back to his best. With 7 goals and 3 assists in 11 Gameweeks, this isn’t the most ballsy call, but sometimes I can be sensible. Alvaro’s upcoming fixtures are so favourable you’ll see less green in Landsdowne Road with 10 minutes to go against Denmark. With Hazard back up and running in support, I’m backing Morata to crush all before him, including those Welsh bands who want independence from his home country. Who does that Cerys Matthews think she is anyway?

Captain: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

As my dear mother would say to me as a young boy: ‘Just do what you’re told or I’ll put your head through the wall’.

Enough said.

Outsider: Callum Wilson, Bournemouth

He’s back. He’s fit. He’s scored a Premier League hat-trick you know. His rivals for a starting place are either broken or bereft of form. He’s got Huddersfield, Swansea, Burnley, Southampton and Palace in the next five games. He’s selected by 0.1% of teams. YOU WANT A DIFFERENTIATOR? YOU CAN’T HANDLE A DIFFERENTIATOR! I DERIDE YOUR DIFFERENTIATING ABILITIES!

Draft: 

Ok, I don’t play ‘Draft’. I’ve no idea what it’s all about. I could blag it, but I’m all about the truth. So if you’re worried about your draft, get your windows checked. Craig Doyle can help.

 

FantasyYIRMA GW 11 Review

Captain Cook – Discovered Australia and a place for the ne’er do wells of Britain and Ireland to holiday.

Alastair Cook – Good at English Hurling

Norman Cook – Had a Ball while spinning the decks

Steve Cook – A goal, a clean sheet, three bonus points and a 15 point haul.

Steve Cook

I know which of the four Cooks above is the most impressive – the one that broke Geordie hearts and put multiple police horses in severe danger of a pummeling. His GW 11 return must have been a real boon to the 0.5% of players who selected him. These people are wise beyond their years. I mean, it’s not a shock that Steve Cook put in this kind of performance. He has 6 goals and 2 assists from his previous two Premier League seasons with Bournemouth. One to watch in the future perhaps? Maybe, but I don’t do previews, so I’ll keep my powder dry on that one…

Mo Salah

The next hero of GW 11 is a man from Egypt, where they have just discovered a large void inside the Great Pyramid. There are many speculating as to what may be found but I’m here to tell you that it’s not that exciting. It’s simply a sign taller than the Statue of Liberty that says ‘Captain Salah’. My God, the Egyptians were YEARS ahead of their time. Mo Salah’s outrageous streak of good form continued at the London Stadium on Saturday night and promptly got Slaven Bilic the sack. Two goals, three bonus points and a Premier League haul of 7 goals, 3 assists in 11 games is the kind of form that would make Cleopatra blush.

Shaqiri

Next up we have a man small of stature but big of heart, a man who some old football types may describe as a ‘fancy-dan’, but one that can do it on a cold wet night in Stoke. A man who has spent two full seasons re-learning how to cross a ball so that he can get it high enough to hit Peter Crouch on the head. A man who racked up 13 points with a goal, assist and three Bonus Points. A man called Xherdan Shaqiri. I sometimes look back on history and marvel at how people in times of huge historical significance didn’t seem to appreciate what they were living through at the time. Well look around you lads and lassies. Trump. Brexit. Shaqiri at Stoke. Three things that make absolutely no sense. It’s happening, and it’s happening right now. Remarkable.

Next up we have three defenders all breaking the double-digit barrier, some less surprising than others. It’s now clear that Cesar Azpilicueta and Alvaro Morata have a ‘special bond’. No that’s not a euphemism for anything romantic (although they would make a very cute couple), it’s more the fact that it’s a wonderfully rare example when two players just click and one can’t stop setting up the other for goals, goals and more goals. The last time Morata scored a goal that wasn’t assisted by Azpilicueta, he had yet to reach puberty.

Leighton Baines has been a stalwart of FPL for many a season (11 in fact), but to say he’s been having a quiet one would be like saying that Everton have questionable ownership – too damn right he’s been having a quiet one. However he exploded into life on Sunday afternoon with a dramatic late goal to add to an assist and two bonus points. You’d be a brave man to stick him in your squad though, although that hasn’t stopped over 1 in 20 FPL players from doing so….mental…

Scott Malone

Finally we have the ‘bolter’ of the week, Mr. Scott Malone of Huddersfield, owned by a whopping 0.1% of FPL players. Now I’ve done some digging and I can confirm that these people are related to Scott Malone, except his mother who didn’t have him in her squad. Unbelievably he took his seasons tally from 3 points to 15 points with an assist, clean sheet and the full bonus points. Congratulations to all the Malone family on their green arrows this week (except for Mammy Malone who wheeled her wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow crying ‘Red Arrows’, ‘Red Arrows, Oh no! Oh no!’).

Two players strayed into negative points territory this week to lead our ‘Villains Of The Week’, and we’ll start our list with Christopher Schindler…Everything was going to plan with a lovely juicy clean sheet in the offing against the Baggies, and then he went and spoiled it all by getting himself sent off. -2 points clutched from the jaws of +6 points. Ouch.

Mind you if you thought that was painful, you should have seen Winston Reid try to catch Mane and Salah as they broke for the first Liverpool goal on Saturday night. It was like watching Boris Johnson becoming self aware – painfully slow and it never actually happened. A further three goals conceded along with a yellow card and the Kiwi finishes with -1 point.

Our final villains of the week are two strikers who have 39% and 48% ownership (and it wouldn’t surprise me if a large % of those FPL players had both), namely Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku. While Harry clearly had an off day, it was a bad day to have it. Literally MILLIONS backed him to run riot against Crystal Palace and MILLIONS had a bad Sunday because of it. However he’s bound to come good soon, unlike our old friend Lukaku who has been having a barren time of late. You know what that means, don’t you? It’s time. It’s coming. Nothing can stop it. No, not winter. It’s…

Romelu Lukaku

LUKAKUWATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Coming soon to a Twitter feed near you…)

FantasyYIRMA GW 10 Review

Sead Kolasinac.jpg

Aside from the fact that he scored a goal, provided an assist and racked up three Bonus Points for a mammoth 14 point haul, Sead Kolasinac is an interesting character for other reasons. Firstly, he looks to be a solid, tough player who won’t be pushed around easily that was purchased by Arsene Wenger. In the 21st Century, that’s as rare as rocking-horse sh*t. Secondly, he is the proud holder of a World Cup record, having scored the fastest own-goal in World Cup history, against Argentina in 2014. In my mind that makes him the anti-Bryan Robson, and let’s be honest, that’s probably a good thing. Particularly when it comes to bubble perms.

Second on our list of FPL heroes this week is a Man City player who was just trolling 95% of us this weekend, namely Fernando Luiz Rosa, also known as Fernandinho. While the vast majority of us were toiling over Aguero v Jesus, Sane v Sterling, Silva v De Bruyne, the 5% owned Brazilian waltzed into The Hawthorne’s to notch a goal, an assist and pick up all three Bonus Points. That’s 2 goals and 2 assists this season already, surpassing his contribution for the whole of last season already. Just when we thought the FPL ‘Pep Roulette’ game was infuriating enough, now we have to throw Fernandinho into the mix too. Someone needs to have a word with Guardiola, this is getting out of hand. We can only pick three from any one team and this Catelonian Cowboy (that was an alternative ‘C’ word for a while) is producing a team where any one of at least 6 players can be ‘the man’ on any given week. Oh aye, Sane scored 12 points too. See what I mean? Ridiculous.

Christian Fuchs

Speaking of players that make you swear like a sailor, Leicester City’s full-back didn’t give two ‘Fuchs’ about David Unsworth’s fledgling senior management career as he and his mates chewed up the Toffees and spat them out at the King Power Stadium. An assist, clean sheet and three Bonus Points for the Austrian Ace who may become a coveted FPL asset now that Claude Puel is in charge of the Foxes. The man knows how to organise a defence, as we saw with Southampton last season. He’s also a doppleganger of former Republic of Ireland player/manager John Giles. Go on, google it. I’ll wait. No, really, I’m not continuing until you do it….

Those Anfield scholars who saw the second-coming of James Milner (and apologies if you’re eating while reading that line…) will have been both ecstatic and furious as events unfolded v Huddersfield Town last Saturday afternoon. Not only did Liverpool keep a clean sheet (!!!!), but Milner also threw in a tasty assist for a 12 point haul. All well and good, right? Well, except for the fact that Liverpool also had a penalty in that match and James Milner (penalty-taker extraordinaire last season) stood by and watched as Mo Salah blootered it straight at the Terriers keeper. What a waste…

The final two heroes of the week come from the ‘Less Than 1% Ownership Club With Double Digit Hauls’, or LTOPOCWDDH. I’ll admit the name of the club needs work, so suggestions on a postcard please (or Twitter). Darren Fletcher is the first member of this exclusive club this week as he scored a beautifully well-crafted training ground goal against the Hornets to grab a 1-0 win and all three bonus points. A delightful 11 points for the 0.6% of owners with him in their squad (the vast majority of who almost certainly had him on the bench, right? RIGHT?).

Darren Fletcher

There there’s Demarai Gray, a young exciting up and coming talent that’s been young, exciting and up and coming for about two years now, but showed against Everton what he can do – namely run the length of the pitch dancing around Everton tackles while then performing mind-control tricks on Everton defenders to make them perform comical defensive howlers. Not bad.

Just the one negative point scoring Villain this week, so buckle in Fuka-Arthur Masuaku Kawela, I’ll try and be gentle….

Yeah, so when you come on at half-time with your team two goals to the good, and trudge off at full-time having conceded two goals, the second of which was in the 97th minute, and you pick up a yellow card in the process, well that’s not a good day at the office. This ‘cameo’ helped Arthur Masuaku to a -1 total, but he’s not my only villain of the week, oh no sirree bob. Michail Antonio is a senior professional with over 270 appearances behind him, so quite what he was doing with 96′ gone and his team hanging onto a one goal lead at Selhurst Park, I’ll never know. Take it into the corner Michail. It’s Parks Football 101 for feck sake. Strolling along the byline and then smashing a cross at a defender is not a good way to see out a game. It’s a good way to a bollocking, sure, but not how to see out a game.

Arthur Masuaku

Finally, while it pains me to say it, two of my own selections make the Villain of the Week list. Now don’t get me wrong, Mo Salah has been easily Liverpool’s best performer this season, but when you’re my FPL Captain and you miss a penalty, then my fingers get tap-tap-tapping on that keyboard. He also hit the post with a second-half effort, and while he notched an assist for Gini Wijnaldum, my conservative estimate is that he cost me 8,397 points this weekend, and I am not happy about it.

Nor am I happy with Alvaro Morata who took a trip to the South Coast with his Chelsea teammates and then proceeded to play like the donkeys on the beach in Bournemouth. He was so bad that if he was presented with a bloody massive banjo he’d still fail to hit the donkey on the arse. Should have had a hat-trick, came away with an assist. I’d be winning this whole damn thing if it wasn’t for Salah/Morata y’know*

*maybe a slight enormous exaggeration

FantasyYIRMA GW 9 Review

There’s an expression in everyday life that ‘The cream will always rise to the top’, and that is actually true, for a myriad of dull scientific reasons (and if you know a scientific reason why this is not true, blow it out yer arse, this is a Fantasy Football blog…). However if the cream always does rise to the top, this is because the dross sinks to the bottom, which was demonstrated in spectacular fashion this weekend in the Premier League.

Harry Kane tops the leaderboard this week following his 2 goal, 1 assist public humiliation of Dejan Lovren at Wembley on Sunday afternoon. I’ve not seen a more embarrassing, turgid, life-sapping display on Sunday television since they tried to replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear with that T(otal) F(eckin) I(diot) Chris Evans and Joey from Friends. At least Jurgen Klopp was able to haul Dejan ashore after half an hour…it took the BBC weeks longer to do the same to Evans.

Following closely in second is Nicolas Otamendi who delivered a sensational 15 points to the 18% of FPL players who have him in their ranks. Think about that for a second. That’s pretty much 1 in 5 of all players have Nicolas Otamendi in their team. That’s like finding out that 1 in 5 of the general population believe that the moon landings in 1969 were real! LOL. (They were SO faked y’know, but that’s for another blog…)

Getting back to the dross on display last weekend, the shambles that is Everton Football Club presented some old FPL stalwarts from Arsenal to shine on Merseyside in the early Sunday kick-off. Seeing the likes of Ozil and Sanchez racking up double-digit scores made me all nostalgic and yearning for the days of yesteryear when a manager could go more than eight games without losing his job, reality TV stars who I’ve never heard of didn’t fall off the stage and Jose Mourinho was getting the tea for Sir Bobby of Robson. The fact that both have ownership figures below 2.3% shows how the mighty had fallen, and how fickle FPL owners are. It doesn’t matter if Alexis had carried your miserable arse to glory for the past three seasons, as soon as he threw his toys out of his pram at The Emirates you dropped him like a hot snot. He’s a real person too y’know. How do you know he doesn’t log into the FPL website each Saturday morning to see that 2.2% of players own him, with a single, salty tear running down his face? You ungrateful b*stards.

Two of the more surprising heroes of the week were both from the South Coast as Bournemouth and Brighton headed north (some more north than others) to plunder cracking away wins and heap pressure on the heads of the managers of their vanquished foes. Glenn Murray deserves a huge nod of appreciation for proving that he’s still alive and kicking at 34 years of age with his two goals at The London Stadium – on that performance alone he’s statistically England’s second best striker right now. Heh. Junior Stanislas also caught the eye by scoring one and assisting one up in Stoke on a windy Saturday in October. Senior Stanislas would be very proud. I presume that’s his Da’s name, right?

Final hat-tips of the week go to the Chelsea due of Pedro and Batshuayi. The former has the most wonderous hair in the Premier League – it’s so thick and luxuriant I’m not sure it isn’t an actual helmet. Anyway, I digress, he scored a WHAMBOOZLER (that’s my word) and assisted another for 12 points. The latter also scored 12 points and has continued his quest to become the new ‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’ of the Premier League by bagging another couple off the bench, a teasing titillating FPL option for those of us looking for a ‘differential’ and annoyed that our blood pressure is too damn normal.

Four players make our Villain Of The Week section this week, but only because FantasyYIRMA told me this wasn’t a LFC blog and I couldn’t write 17,000 words on the Liverpool defence. Some people are so self-absorbed aren’t they? Anyway, Idrissa Gueye has been referred to as a poor man’s Ngolo Kante. After this weekend he could be considered to be a poor man’s Gareth Barry, and you never want to be a poor man’s Gareth Barry, especially when you consider Gareth Barry was once considered a poor man’s Steven Gerrard. So many poor men around, eh? I blame the Tories.

Federico Fernandez joins this ignominious list because…well because he battered the ball into his own net, innit? That’s a quick way to negative points in this game. He’s joined on -1 points by a duo of Hornet defenders who thought that their teammate Richarlison needed some tough love. When you’re 2-1 up at Stamford Bridge and you decide that you can showboat by missing an open goal, some will think that you’re a bit cocky. He’s a young lad in his defence, but he’ll never learn unless he’s taught a lesson. How very noble of Holebas and Kiko Femenia to allow Chelsea to score another three goals and demonstrate to young Richarlison that the boring task of scoring open goals should be completed, no matter how ‘uncool’ he thinks it is.

Do You Know The First Rule Of Fan Club?

I’m not exactly sure what tipped me over the edge to make me want to write this piece. I don’t think it was a single eye-swiveling opinion or spittle-coated online rant, more likely it’s been the non-stop ‘drip-drip’ effect of endless nonsensical tweets, YouTube rants and self-absorbed demands of those that call themselves Liverpool ‘Fans’.

What is a ‘Fan’ anyway? That may sound like a daft question, but I’m starting to think that a LOT of people that support LFC have forgotten. Let’s look at the dictionary for a definition because that’s the single agreed point of reference for the definition of anything and everything, unless it’s negative about Donald Trump in which case it’s full of more ‘Fake News’ than the National Enquirer. Anyway, I digress.

A ‘Fan’ is an abbreviation of ‘Fanatic’ which is defined as:

Fanatic

A person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal.

Yep, I can’t say that hasn’t been me over the years. I mean I’ve spent a full fortnight ahead of big cup finals unable to think about anything else, unable to speak about anything else, unable to do anything of any use until it’s over. If the result was positive I was walking on air (while repeatedly punching it) for days and weeks afterwards. If the result didn’t go the way I wanted, I…well, I don’t want to talk about it, no matter what my therapist recommends.

There is much to admire about a ‘Fan’ who is besotted and devoted to their sports team. Hell, multi-billion pound businesses are based on the unbridled passion that a ‘Fan’ has for his or her team, on the fact that they will go to extraordinary lengths to support their team in whatever way they can, be that through attending games, purchasing merchandise or subscribing to sports channels to watch their team.

However you should note the synonyms ‘excessive’, ‘extremist’, ‘militant’, ‘radical’, and ‘activist’ included in that definition. I would argue (and you’re free to disagree and be wrong) that those synonyms are applicable to ‘Fans’ who go too far in their fanaticism and who, in my opinion, actually cause harm and become destructive to the team that they ironically want to succeed more than anything else…they try too hard as ‘Fans’…they turn their fanaticism up to 11…they become BLOWHARDS.

Now ask yourself…Are you a ‘Fan’ or are you a BLOWHARD ?

How about a couple of examples of Liverpool BLOWHARDS from that there Twitter machine:

Lovren Fan Tweet 1Lovren Fan Tweet 2

So these two Twitter Accounts are people who would present themselves as Liverpool ‘Fans’. One is from Liverpool itself, and the other has a plethora of LFC hashtags in their bio (#YNWA #KOP #JFT96) so it’s safe to assume both are what they say they are. It took me less than 60 seconds to find these two tweets, and there are many, many more just like them. Just stick #Lovren or #Klavan or (don’t laugh) #KloppOut into the search function on Twitter to see the reams and reams of tweets from Liverpool ‘Fans’ who have become the perfect example of BLOWHARDS.

Let’s be clear about this: If you are tweeting this kind of guff, or moaning on the Kop (or not incessantly chanting and cheering for that matter), or Instagramming it or calling into Radio Phone-Ins (and it takes a special kind of BLOWHARD to do that), you are not helping. I know you think you’re helping, but you’re not. You’ve forgotten the first rule of Fan Club. What do you mean you don’t remember what the first rule of Fan Club is? It’s simple. The first rule of Fan Club is you SUPPORT.

Back to the old dictionary we go…

Supporter

So there we have it. That’s what a ‘Supporter’ does. Ahhh! I hear you cry, it says ‘approve of and encourage and I sure as hell don’t approve of Lovren/Klavan/Chamberlain/etc’. Well, maybe you don’t, and you’re entitled to your opinion. However now we are getting to the nitty gritty of this issue.

What do you think you are going to achieve by publicly demeaning or degrading or vilifying the elements of the team/club you don’t agree with? Will Klopp drop Lovren forever because of your tweet? Will he buy VVD because you told Klavan to fuck off? Will Oxlade-Chamberlain turn into Gareth Bale because you said he was utter shite on his first start?

No. No. No.

What do you think you might achieve if you cheer them on in every minute of every game, give them all your support and clap them off at the final whistle? Will they win every game 4-0? Will Lovren win the Balon D’or? Will Klavan turn into Maldini?

No. No. No.

Y’see? It doesn’t matter what you do on the grand scale of things (although we all know fans roaring a team home can make some difference). So you have two choices. Cheer the lads with all your might or be that BLOWHARD. Why would you, as a ‘fan’, choose the latter?

I’m not immune to the frustration of being a Liverpool fan, I’ve been doing it since I was 7 years of age. I was 13 when I last saw Liverpool lift a league title and now I’m middle-aged, overweight, married with kids and in more debt than an African country. Being a ‘Fan’ of LFC is one of the very few escapes I have left (if my darling wife is reading this…I LOVE YOU!!!). I pray for success more than any of you, and I’m going to stand over that. There is no other Liverpool fan who wants it more than me. So to all of those who tweet me with glib platitudes about not accepting mediocrity, to you all I say ‘YOU DUMB F*CK’. It’s not about me accepting mediocrity, or you not accepting it, it’s about you accepting that there’s F*CK ALL YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT APART FROM CHEERING THEM ON. 

That’s it. In a nutshell. That’s all you can do to have any affect on what happens on the pitch. You can’t change how they train, how they play, who they buy. Your job, and it’s your ONLY job, is to remember the first rule of Fan Club.

Note: I’m purely talking about the ‘cheering’/’moaning’ elements of being a fan. I am fully in awe of the work of the Fans Groups who make a real difference within the club such as in relation to Ticket Pricing etc, and there are also rare occasions when we all need to be BLOWHARDS together, isn’t that right Mr. Hodgson?

YNWA.