I have a theory that there is a kind of mass psychosis affecting the population of planet Earth for the past 18 months or so – something ethereal that causes normally sane people to make terrible, idiotic and often damaging decisions. The evidence is there for all to see:
Brexit – A heinous act of self-harm perpetrated by 17,410,742 people who thought that poverty and destruction of the future was a jolly good idea
Trump – An even more heinous act of harm on the whole planet perpetrated by 62,979,636 people who thought that the leader of the free world should be two croissants short of a continental breakfast
Not Selecting Sergio Aguero – An egregious act of self harm perpetrated by 83.8% of FPL players (that’s 4,211,355 teams) who thought that he just isn’t that good. Just take a look at his stats over the last four seasons…those points…those bonus points…now look at his price! He’s cheaper than Kane (29% ownership)! He’s cheaper than Lukaku (55% ownership)!
Now tell me that there isn’t something funny going on on a global scale with people’s decision making, eh? The case rests m’lud…
Two defenders make up the remainder of the top three highest-scoring players this week, but only one of them is worth discussing, and it’s not Nicolas Otamendi. No, it’s Antonio Valencia who deserves a nod in this week’s review thanks to his Worldy Thunderbastard Thronking Golazo against Everton on Sunday afternoon. It was so good that in the middle of one of the great All-Ireland Football Finals the patrons of a pub in East Cork were moved to divert their gaze to the only TV showing the ‘Foreign Football’ and nod in appreciation. Quite the feat.
The next member of the Winners section is a man who looked as useless as Theresa May at a EU Summit for 80 minutes of the match on Sunday but turned it around in spectacular fashion with an assist followed by a goal followed by top class trolling of the fans who used to idolise him, Mr. Romelu Lukaku. His late burst of point-scoring action transformed the headlines from ‘Blankaku’ to ‘Red Rom’ and the weekends of over half the FPL players who had selected him. You can never count against the curse of the former player. Never.
Matt Ritchie is a curious player in many ways. He’s now 28 years old but strikes me as a young man just starting to make his way in the game. He’s English born but plays for Scotland, and he left a Premier League team where he was assured of regular playing time to sign for a Championship side. Of course he was signing for Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United, so the man clearly has vision and good taste, and he’s starting to make a real impact on the FPL game with four assists in his last three games, two of which put Stoke City to the sword. An impressive 11 point haul including three BP’s (that’s Bonus Points, not three versions of the oil company) raises him to the pantheon of weekly champions.
Speaking of players who it could be argued took a backward step in order to progress, Lukasz Fabianski is the highest scoring goalkeeper of the week with a very impressive 11 points thanks to his clean-sheet, eight-save, three BP’s performance at Wembley to frustrate Harry Kane and co. That curse isn’t going away you know. In fact it may be getting stronger now that it’s inspiring ex-Gooner goalkeepers to turn into Lev Yashin (ask yer Granddad).
As for the Villians Of The Week, well we just have to cast our eyes over to Elton John’s place and recoil in the horror at what we see. No, I’m not talking about David Furnish in a half-open bathrobe bending over to pick up the newspaper, I’m talking about the scenes of destruction at Vicarage Road that would be deemed ‘too graphic’ for Game of Thrones. I could name names here, but I’m going to spare the blushes of the Watford defence, who combined for a tear-inducing -5 point haul. Ah screw it, the worst was actually José Holebas who picked up a yellow card and finished with -2 points. Mind you, I’d argue that if more Watford defenders cared enough to get booked, maybe they wouldn’t have conceded six goals. Incidentally did you know that José Holebas was the inspiration for the seminal 2004 hit by Gwen Stefani after they started dating? Aye, she was chuffed to be the ‘Holebas Girl’…
It wasn’t just defenders in dayglo yellow that suffered a negative score this week, as they were joined by Ashley ‘Marginally Better/Younger Than Phil Jagielka’ Williams who racked up -1 point after disintegrating in the last ten minutes at Old Trafford and picking up a yellow card too. If only Everton had some warning that United finished games strongly, how were they possibly to know???
However you don’t have to end up with negative points to be a Villain Of The Week, isn’t that right David ‘Sideshow Bob’ Luiz? Cruising along to a lovely clean sheet for over 22% of FPL players and he goes and trods on a rake to pick up a straight red. So unnecessary. In fact the last ten minutes of that match was an unseemly point-sucking vortex as referee Michael Oliver threw around more cards than a croupier at Vegas. Rakes everywhere…
So an international break is upon us just as you were getting into your FPL rhythm. How frustrating is that? I tell you how frustrating it is…It’s like you’re 16 again and UEFA are your parents arriving home early when you and your ‘significant other’ are just getting into *ahem* ‘things’ (If you are 16 and reading this, behave yourself!)
Anyway, every cloud has a silver lining so my Heroes of the week are going to be based on the Republic Of Ireland football team, who, based on FPL achievements in GW3 are on the verge of winning the World Cup.
Ciaran Clark, the colossus at the heart of the Newcastle United juggernaut top scored this week with a sensational Clean Sheet + Goal Scored + Full Bonus Point haul against the mighty West Ham United, who I’ll remind you, actually did in the World Cup in 1966.
Added to Clark is his potential CB partner for the next fortnight, Shane Duffy, who led Brighton & Hove Albion to their first clean sheet of the season at Watford and picked up maximum bonus points along the way. I’ll remind you that the mighty Liverpool conceded three at Vicarage Road a couple of weeks ago, although that match didn’t feature Miguel Britos attempting to remove an opponents leg without anaesthetic.
The final member of the ‘Eire’ (It’s always odd when I see people refer to the Republic of Ireland as Eire, when nobody in the Republic of Ireland actually does so themselves) GW3 hall of fame is Robbie Brady who strolled into Wembley Stadium and produced an outrageous threaded through-ball that took out at least five Spurs players for Chris Wood to score. You really can’t underestimate the quality of the pass because Chris Wood is actually ranked 67th in the World Golf Rankings and is one of the most promising young English golfers for the future. Remarkable.
Moving away from the Emerald Isle brings us to Spain and Alvaro Morata who for the second time in three games produced a Goal + Assist performance, and at £10m is looking like a must-have for all you ‘Screw this I’m hitting the Wildcard before GW 4 merchants’. He’s got Leicester, Arsenal and Stoke City on the horizon which looks ripe for a rich points haul despite the FPL website telling me that the Arsenal game is a ‘4’ on the difficulty rating. Or maybe that’s just a prediction on how many Alvaro will score in that game. Don’t even bother arguing Gunners fans, unless it’s on ArsenalFanTV, in which case keep it up, I do like a good belly-laugh.
Incidentally, did you hear the one about the Senegalese, the Egyptian and the Brazilian that made the Frenchman cry? Mane, Salah and Firmino are the triple-act that is tearing the league apart in the formative first few weeks. An acronym is all the rage in football, and has been for yonks. Remember the ‘SAS’ of Shearer and Sutton for Blackburn? We also had the ‘MSN’ era in Barcelona. I’m tempted to try and arrange the LFC trio into an acronym, but whatever I try, be it MSF / FSM / SFM, it just comes across (steady…) as an advert for a Swingers / BDSM personal ad in your local phone box. Mind you, they look like they’ll f*ck over loads of teams between now and the end of the season and I make some very questionable ‘noises’ when I see them in full flight. Anyway, I’ve said too much.
Finally a special mention to Cecil Fibreglass who I tipped as an asset to have in my pre-season preview, but then proceeded to get himself sent off against Burnley. Those of you with patience will have been rewarded with a goal-scoring and max-bonus-point haul of 11 points. I should also commend Kyle Naughton for his magnificent 12 points at Palace, but seeing as I marooned him in the final sub spot on my bench, I just can’t bring myself to say much more, lest the boo-hoo’s start again…
As for Villains of the week, well, where to begin…
Romelu Lukaku and ZERO points at home to Leicester City. Man, he teased everyone with his first two games hauling in 19 points, and then…THAT. I’m not saying that he telegraphed where he was going to put his spot-kick but Kasper Schmeichel started his dive to the right before Lukaku started his run-up. The fact that Kasper has now saved more penalties at Old Trafford than his Dad ever did is one of the all-time great stats.
Another player proving to be a bit of a frustration is Sergio Aguero, benched for the lunchtime Saturday early game. While he picked up a miserable one point, I think he should have been awarded at least three bonus points for trying to protect that poor young fella that was being hogtied by over-zealous stewards following City’s last minute winner. We’ve seen Cantona go into the crowd studs up but if Kun had repeated that trick to those stewards I suspect many would have applauded. However, if you pick a Captain for that game you deserve all you get. NEVER CAPTAIN A PLAYER IN THE SATURDAY LUNCHTIME GAME. You should always listen to advice you get on FantasyYIRMA…which brings me onto…
Harry Kane, a man whose FPL points haul so far this season would ensure qualification through most rounds of ‘Pointless’, and who you were all advised (on this very site) to pick because he was playing on a Sunday and you didn’t want to spend every Sunday afternoon hiding behind the couch. Well, I followed this advice and now I spend every Sunday evening hiding behind the couch and drinking heavily. Marvellous.
A special nod to Raheem Sterling who managed to ruin a perfectly good away day points haul with his red card, achieved for what in essence was a gentle trip and a hug. And finally to the aforementioned Miguel Britos who launched an outrageous two-footed, studs-up, shin-high lunge at Anthony Knockaert and then argued that the decision was a bit harsh. If you watch the incident again, keep an eye on the linesman who was nearest the action. He nearly shook the flag off his stick in horror. Scientists have now revealed that 98.37% of those who watched a replay of the incident on MOTD uttered the words ‘Jesus Christ’ in response. The other 1.63% of people were Watford fans who uttered the word ‘Tw*t’.
£7.0m will get you quite a good player in midfield in this seasons FPL – You could have a Mata, a Ramsey or even a Geordie Winegum – all players that regularly chip in with goals and assists and wonderful, valuable, delicious fantasy football points.
£7.0m is A LOT of money however for a FPL defender. So much so that there’s only one defender in the game that costs that much this season, namely Marcos Alonso. Following the shellacking that he and his mates received at home to the mighty Burnley, you’d be forgiven for congratulating yourself for not wasting money on him. If you had succumbed to temptation you probably told yourself that you’d be wise to bench him for GameWeek Two as the good ship Chelsea listed and keeled into Wembley Port, seemingly sunk below the waterline with the media full of stories of ‘Mutiny On The (Stamford) Bridge’.
Wise? Let me tell you about wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. Wisdom is knowing that a tomato is a fruit but you should never put one in a fruit salad.
72, 380 of you ditched Alonso for this GameWeek. The only wisdom you lot have are DVD’s of Norman Wisdom.
For the second GameWeek running the top scoring players are all defenders. Following hot on the heels of Marcos Alonso is Eric Bailly (who incidentally is definitely NOT a relation to 1980’s United custodian Gary Bailey, no matter how many times I tell people in the pub that he is). In fact you really needed to be backing Jose Mourinho and his charges for the first two GameWeeks as they have smashed in eight goals without reply with the midfield of Pogba and Mkhytarian running rampant. Mind you it was just West Ham and Swansea…with Leicester, Stoke, Everton, Southampton and Palace to come. How’s THAT for a kind fixture list, eh Jose? Jose? Oh, NOW you’re quiet.
Joining Alonso and Bailly in this weeks Defenders Hall Of Fame is Jacob Harry Maguire (aka ‘Harry’ Maguire) of Leicester City who now has a goal, an assist and a clean sheet in his first two games of the season and who looks to be a real find. I’m not saying that he’s a big lad, but the residents of Leicester didn’t bat an eyelid at yesterdays solar eclipse as Harry has been blocking out the sun ever since his arrival. (I could make the same gag about Hull but they haven’t seen sunshine since 1928)
As it’s still early days in the season we’re all looking for ‘green shoots’ that may indicate who our next shrewd transfer should be. Well look no further than the ‘little pea’ himself, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez who is proving once more that he’s a deadlier pea-shooter than Dennis The Menace. Two shots on target, two goals. He’d make the hardest FPL heart go all mushy with stats like that. I’ll stop the pea puns now before you all go green with envy.
I’d also like to commend Riyad Mahrez for his sterling efforts this season despite putting in a transfer request. Three assists in his opening two games despite wanting out of the club. It’s called professionalism, maturity, gratitude and character. ISN’T THAT RIGHT PHILIPPE COUTINHO???? (I don’t care, I really don’t. The little poxbottle).
Two new names have popped up on the FPL radar this week with the goalscoring feats of Mooy and Jese catching the eye. Now both these players are new to me and the pronunciation of both their names is proving to be a challenge. Mooy seems to be how you’d describe an overly vocal cow, while Jese sounds like the noise you make when you sneeze. Mind you, if they keep generating FPL points at the rate they are, I’ll call them whatever they want me to call them, including ‘Daddy’.
Finally a chance to pat myself on the back again as I remind you of my Season Preview piece where I advised you to avoid Premium Goalkeepers in favour of those playing behind somewhat porous defences where they can make some saves. Come on down Jack Butland! Six saves for two points, a clean sheet for six points and three bonus points on top of all that. An eleven point haul compared to Courtois who was beaten by his own man and Lloris who was beaten at his near post. That’s a handy £0.5m better off spent elsewhere. (I also specifically tipped Ben Foster who has yet to concede a goal this season – the only thing I’ve got right so far *weeps*)
VILLAINS OF THE WEEK:
Marko Arnautovic is Austrian, and clearly the first villain to ever come out of that country, right? Oh…never mind. Moving on swiftly I have some sympathy for him in that he was clearly clattered, and it probably hurt, but if you’re going to get retribution you need to be far, far, far smarter than he was. I’m not saying his actions were obvious but if he picked up his opponent and body-slammed him through a table it would have been just as obvious. A score of -2 points and a suspension until the middle of September meaning a nice little break at the end of the summer. Marvellous.
Mind you it took Marko a full 32 minutes to accumulate that total of -2, whereas it only took Michy Batshuayi 11 minutes to rack up his total of -1. Coming on as a sub at Wembley, heading into your own net and denting the 2 x Goal, 3 x Bonus Point and 1 x Clean Sheet total of Marcos Alonso? THE MONSTER.
Speaking of Wembley it’s time we talked about hoodoo’s and voodoo’s and the like. Harry Kane never scores in August. Spurs never win at Wembley (apart from when they do but that doesn’t count apparently). Combine the two and only the truly foolhardy (and me) would pick Harry Kane at the start of this season. However despite his double 1 point haul to start this season I’m backing Harry to turn it around at home to Burnley next Sunday. I mean Burnley have no chance travelling south to London against a top six team, right? RIGHT?
Finally we have the ex-Spurs right back Kyle Walker (who has been cloned and replaced at Spurs by a player called Kyle Walker-Peters, which is frankly just weird). Kyle has never struck me as being the sharpest tool in the box but to get ‘conned’ into a red card by a 14 year old Everton striker takes some doing. Mind you if you thought that Calvert-Lewin’s sh*thousing was good, he was shown up by the master Sergio Kun*ahem* Aguero who snided Morgan Schneiderlin into a red card with a dive, pirouette, triple salchow and fake death after the Frenchman had the temerity to win the ball. Minus points all around and jolly good entertainment on a Monday evening, unless you happened to be daft enough to captain either of those players.
When 2017 draws to an end in just 7 months time (I know, where does the time go, eh?. Deary me, it seems like only yesterday I was taking down the Christmas Tree and fecking it over the wall next door…), you will look back on the year and reminisce about the momentous events that have occurred over the previous 12 months.
The inauguration of Donald ‘Lenin’ Trump (and his hilarious downfall *taps nose*)
General Election 2017 and the rise of Prime Minister Corbyn (stop sniggering)
The Gameweek 37 Triple Captain Schenanigans
One of those events will resonate more than the others. It will colour your view of 2017 as a year when everything changed forever. Yep, if you Triple-Captained Harry Kane, you couldn’t give a rats arse about Russia taking over the White House or the UK committing societal harikari, you’ll remember 2017 as the year when you f*cking nailed it.
Over 29% of players had planned, plotted and executed the capture of Alexis Sanchez for this most vital of GW’s, with 70,403 people thrusting the Triple-Captain chip at him and thus trusting their mental health and social status to the volatile Chilean. To those who pursued this course of action, you did well. Make no mistake, it was a shrewd move, and you amassed an impressive 81 points, a fine reward for weeks of painstaking, disciplined team management.
Of course 15,194 of you just gave the Triple-Captain chip to Harry Kane, cracked open a can of your finest Dutch Gold and flicked the V’s at the world while toasting the season-high 93 point haul from the now three-season wonder. It’ll never last you know…
Honourable mentions go to the other attacking players who so many entrusted with the Triple Captain chip this week. So please be upstanding and applaud the following for their efforts this week (no really, I can see you, get up off your arse and start clapping):
Gabriel Jesus – 19 points
Philippe Coutinho – 19 points
Heung-Min Son – 19 points
However, there is one players who we need to discuss above all others. A man who amassed 20 points this week, and who was Triple-Captained by 400 people. Yes, 400 people gave the TC chip to a defender whose name they can’t spell. And you wonder why Trump and the Tories got elected….
Here’s to you Cesar Azplic…Azpicle…Azpclip…
Here’s to you DAVE!
Another defender who performed heroics was Kyle Naughton of Swansea. You see, some shrewd managers recognised early doors the improvement the side were making under Clement, and reacted accordingly. They played Naughton week-in and week-out, suffering the bad days, and enjoying the ever increasing good days as Swansea finally extricated themselves from the neck-high excrement they found themselves in…and then ‘somebody’ chose to bench Naughton on the week he did a madness and racked up 15 points. I’m fine. No, really, I’m fine. Steve Cook was clearly the better choice on paper. *sobs*
However as we all know, night follows day, yang follows yin and despair follows success, such is the way of the world, so we now need to discuss those who flopped more than Dick Fosbury in this most crucial of weeks…
I couldn’t find a stat for how many people Triple-Captained Eden Hazard, but I did read that the absentee rate of workers in the UK and Ireland more than quadrupled since Tuesday. It’s understandable really. If you had racked up a whopping 15 points after holding onto your TC chip for 37 weeks, and found that your ‘star man’ got less points than John freaking Terry, you’d struggle to face the world too. Ah well, just 13 or so weeks until next season, eh?
Another huge disappointment was Romelu Lukaku who has chosen to depart Everton by quietly slipping out of the door as opposed to the accompaniment of a huge fanfare and the Golden Boot for the 16/17 season. Just the 2 points at home to Watford, his worst points haul at home since…well, the previous game in fact. That’s 8 points in 4 games for the burly Belgian, so those Liverpool fans hoping for favours from Lukaku at The Emirates this weekend can dream on. Romelu has packed his trunks and has said goodbye to the circus that is Everton Football Club. Who he’ll play for next season is still a mystery, but I’m willing to bet that he’ll still be playing in blue….(SPOILER ALERT: It’s Chelsea, he’s going back to Chelsea. To replace Costa)
Our final disappointment of the week is a man who I predict will be synonymous with disappointment as his career gradually meanders and stalls over the next decade, all because he just hasn’t learned how to kick a football hard enough. Come on down Raheem Sterling! While his teammates were filling their boots with two home games v Leicester and West Brom, Raheem was bumbling around the field for 77 minutes against Leicester and doing so badly that he wasn’t allowed play against the Tony Pulis Giants, who really don’t fancy a quick, nippy winger type running at them. THAT’S how bad he was. A 2 point haul was pitiful considering the likes of Sane got 12, De Bruyne got 15, Old Man Silva got 10 and the lumbering sloth that is Yaya Toure also got 10. £50 million quid? You got mugged City. Absolutely mugged.
A time for renewal and revival throughout our world.
Animals emerge from hibernation or return to our shores after spending the winter down south (although Brexit will make re-entry impossible from Spring 2019).
Trees begin to, err, grow their leaves and stuff. Flowers bloom. Trump turns slightly more orange.
The world of Fantasy Football is not immune to renewal and revival as demonstrated by the list of ‘Heroes’ in this godforsaken strung-out-longer-than-this-really-strung-out-stupidly-long-word double GW 33.
However in nature, not everything that re-emerges in Spring is cute and fluffy and makes you say ‘Awwww’. You have Great White Sharks for example, and the Star Nose Mole, an animal so scary that even Stephen King thought ‘f*ck that’ when contemplating including him in one of his stories. You also have that utter b*stard Diego Costa, who had been dumped by thousands heading into this week, only to suddenly renew his interest in a lucrative move to China and bag himself 16 points.
Anthony Martial is a simple man who’s simplicity had befuddled the managerial genius of Louis Van Gaal, but not José. José knows. It’s not about ‘psychology’ with Martial. It’s not about ‘building confidence’ or ‘giving him autonomy’. It’s simply a case of telling him exactly what he has to do….or else. His goal away to Burnley was a bolt from the blue as he sprinted clear of Joey Barton (who was 33/1 in-play to make the tackle) to poke home the opener. Ét voila! 14 points and Martin Tyler proclaiming in his shrill sex voice that he has ‘come back to form’, unlike Martin who just ‘cums’ whenever ‘MARTIAAAALLLLL’ does a goal.
David De Gea threw in two clean sheets just as Real Madrid were linked to another move for his services. Funny that, eh? Rumours that sales of brand new fax machines in the Greater Manchester area have grown 470% in the past week can be neither confirmed nor denied.
There was even 11 points for Brad Guzan. Yes, THAT Brad Guzan. A man last seen picking the ball out of his own net so often that he came 7th in the GQ Rear Of The Year poll.
Anyway, I’m currently wearing a tinfoil hat as recent events have led me to believe that ‘Evolution’ and ‘Creationism’ are all a load of horsesh*te, and that we are in fact living in ‘The Matrix’ (although I’m yet to find that lady in the red dress…). Y’see I was having a ‘Mexican Theme Party’ on Wednesday night and had served up my world famous Nachos to my guests. As usual they went down a storm with my mate Brian declaring “those Nachos are unreal!”. Within 15 seconds Nacho Monreal blootered a shot miles wide in desperation only to see it smash off Robert Huth and into the net for the winner for Arsenal. Unreal Nachos indeed. FFS.
Finally in our ‘heroes’ section (and it pains me to type that) we have Christian Benteke who returned to Anfield to stick two fingers up at Liverpool Football Club and win an impromptu game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ with Mamadou Sakho. Of course this was in no way intended to be a dig at Jurgen Klopp by two players chucked out on their arses by the hirsuite German. Oh no sirree bob. I mean, who doesn’t like a game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ after scoring a goal at Anfield. As for the symbolism of ‘Scissors’ cutting ‘Paper’, that has nothing to do with ‘Contracts being cut up’. Nope. Not having it.
In fact it was this game which has led me to now bet on every ex-player playing against his old club. Due to the quantity of transfers these days, it involves an outlay of approximately €2,500 per week, but I’m confident that Paddy Power will be weeping into his chardonnay in a few weeks. Watch this space.
As for ‘Villains’ of the week, look no further than Gaston ‘The Ladybird’ Ramirez (only readers with young kids will get that nickname) who managed to get himself sent off at Bournemouth within the first half an hour of what promised to be a lucrative double GW for those of us desperate for a real ‘differential’. The flute.
Oumar Niasse did something similar and broke the hearts of quite a few players who were banking on Hull’s impressive home form to continue. Mind you, if you have picked Oumar Niasse for your fantasy football team, you need to reevaluate your life. Trust me on this.
Our final villain is our old friend Phil ‘Jags’ Jagielka who blew his chance to emulate the legendary Paul Warhurst and drew a blank in front of goal at West Ham. Gareth Southgate has now been forced to consider actual strikers for the next round of international matches. Coincidentally Wayne Rooney has been spotted at the Everton training ground this week with a big box of chocolates and a ‘Thank You’ card. I can’t imagine what that’s all about.
They say that you can judge a person by the Kompany they keep. Well, if you kept faith with Vincent Kompany in your Fantasy Football team, I’m going to judge you thusly…
You’ve been a mahoosive idiot
You’re a genius today. Played.
A scarcely believable 3 point haul ALL FECKING SEASON (I know, I had to triple-check), followed by 14 points on one hazy south coast evening. That’s the kind of inflation you won’t see in the UK for, ooh, about another two years….
Just 0.5% of owners had him, and I wonder just how many had him on the bench. If you’re one of them, please send screenshots of your offending bench to @FantasyYIRMA on that Twitter machine thingy. He’ll appreciate it greatly.
Almost TWICE as many people (an enormous 1.1%) had the next star of the show this weekend, namely one Ander ‘Health & Safety Inspector’ Herrera, a man who neutralises Hazard(s), and who put a Belgian in his pocket for 2 hours (no mean feat considering most of you couldn’t keep anything Belgian out of your gob for more than 20 minutes on Sunday…). He also contributed an assist and a goal to send the Manchester United fans into raptures as they soared from 6th to 5th in the league on the back of a stellar 22 game unbeaten run. Incredible consistency, indeed.
Stop smirking, you.
This is the time of year when players realise that contracts may be coming to an end, or have a year to go, or even two years to go, or just have a greedy bastard of an agent who fancies a week in the Maldives if he can ship his slab of Nike-wearing-beef to another Premier League club just for shits and giggles.
Therefore we see some players stepping out of the wintery shadows into the glorious spring sunshine, catching the eye of managers and scouts desperate for that key summer signing. That’s three seasons in one sentence. I’m expecting a Pulitzer for this.
Two such creatures revealed themselves at the Bet365 Stadium as Shaqiri and Arnautovic both reminded the world that they’re quite good at this football lark, and are most likely being held captive in Stoke by a perpetually angry Mark Hughes. It’s a fate worse than death, wouldn’t you agree? Following their combined 25 point haul, perhaps they’ll be transferred to somewhere more fulfilling and hopeful, like Afghanistan or Dundalk.
Before my final hero of the week, I’m just going to point out that I’m not going to make a big deal of the fact that Phil ‘Jags’ Jagielka scored AGAINthis weekend, and that Gareth Southgate was at Goodison Park running the rule over his new England centre-forward, just as I predicted. That would be self-aggrandisement and crass, and I won’t stoop to that level.
That brings me onto Wahbi Kazri, a man who has a name that sounds like Item 49 in my local Sushi restaurant, and who is owned by 0.1% of Fantasy Football owners (presumably himself and his extended family). If you selected him this week and saw him score directly from a corner, pick up maximum bonus points, and confuse 25,000 Mackems by doing something nobody in red and white had done for about a decade, then take a bow. You jammy weirdo.
Speaking of weirdo’s, time to discuss our Villains Of The Week, and where better to start than Goodison Park. No, Kelvin Mackenzie was not there, the bile-inducing, pseudo-human pit-stain. This time I’m referring to Joel Robles, a goalkeeper sobad that he’s destroying the career of Martin Stekelenburg just by being selected ahead of him each week. To rush out of your goal towards a striker running AWAY from you, and then execute a knee-slide like you’d just scored the winning goal in the cup final, all to concede a penalty…well, that takes a special kind of gobshite. It could have cost Jags a double-digit score for feck sake!!!!!
Speaking of goalkeeping douchebags, a special mention to Thibaut Courtois who managed to get himself injured playing basketball for a marketing promotion. Y’know, he’s just the No. 1 for the league leaders who had just 7 games left to play, no biggie. It’s not like us Fantasy Football enthusiasts care if our uber-expensive Chelsea defenders can’t keep a clean sheet anymore, is it? GAH!
Finally a round of applause to the Southampton bench for their performance on Saturday night. When they unleashed the ex-Cork City legend Shane Long from the bench, I fully expected Manchester City to end up on the end of a Tipperary thwacking, but unfortunately for Shane he made a fatal error of scratching the back of his leg. Oh yes, one wee scratch and the Southampton medical team had 3 ambulances outside the ground as they hauled him ashore for what was clearly a broken leg, or pulled hamstring, whatever. I applaud Shane Long for not ripping his perfectly good hamstring from his leg and wrapping it around the neck of Claude Puel, who by the way is the spitting image of Johnny Giles, in case you missed it.
The star of the show in GW32 was a player that was destined to do great things for Spurs since Daddy Son eyed up Mammy Son across a dance-floor in 1991, many thousands of miles from North London (in Chuncheon, South Korea to be precise).
It’s fate, it’s destiny, it’s just meant to be. How else can you explain a footballer from the other side of the world playing in North London with the quintessential surname to suit the cries from the Spurs fans?
‘Go on my Son!’
‘Get in there my Son!’
‘I laaave you my Son!’
Many of us eyed up Spurs v Watford as a potential boot-filler for our Spurs attacking midfielders, with Harry Kane still on the mend. Indeed, I plumped for a Captain Eriksen differential myself, so I was only too thrilled to see Son amass 19 fecking points…GAH.
Indeed it was a week for ‘differentials’, which is just fantasy football nerd-speak for ‘who the hell saw THAT coming?’, which brings me nicely onto Andros Townsend. Yes, Andros. Townsend. THAT Andros Townsend. 14 points to plunge the dagger into the quivering heart of Arsene Wenger and light the fuse on Arsenal TV for the world to enjoy. Magnificent.
Mind you, if you thought that was unlikely, you would need to have been from the future to have drafted in Phil ‘I played in the Premier League for Sheffield United you know’ Jagielka a couple of games ago when Funes Mori was crocked. For the second week in a row ‘Jags’ racked up a double digit score without keeping a clean sheet. At this rate he’ll be picked as a striker by Gareth Southgate for the next England squad. It’s not that unlikely you know. Remember the Sheffield Wednesday defender Paul Warhurst? He got chucked up front as an ’emergency striker’ in 1992, scored 12 in 12 and got a call up for the next England squad. So I’m starting the ‘Jags To Lead The Lions Line’ campaign here.
In a far more predictable development, Romelu Lukaku clocked up yet another double digit score at home for Everton, the 5th time in 7 home games he’s managed to do so. He always delivers the Good(i)s(on) at home…(sorry, not sorry). On more than one occasion I have seriously considered using the Triple Captain chip on the big Belgian at Goodison, but here I am, with 6 Gameweeks left, clinging onto the chip, pretty sure that I’ll take it with me into next season. You can do that, right? RIGHT?
Honourable mentions for Wilf Zaha and Josh King who have continued their fine form, and also for Jose Mourinho, who threw new batteries into his PS4 controller and expertly guided Luke Shaw around for 90 minutes at The Stadium of Light for a 10 point haul. You didn’t think it had anything to do with Luke himself, did you?
That match also saw Zlatan grab 12 points against the Moyes’ Mighty Mackems, but you’d be loathe to draft him in now with THAT run-in ahead of them (says the jittery Liverpool fan).
Now that we’ve covered those who delivered, let’s move onto the poxbottles who left us down…
I’m not saying that Alexis Sanchez is an expensive liability, but £11.6m for a midfielder with a face like a smacked arse, an attitude to match and who’s wearing Chelsea underwear in every game is too much for any self-respecting Fantasy Football manager to carry.
Begone Alexis! I smithe thee to the realms of next season where thou may be playing for a good team and I shall consider thee selectable once more!
Dear Kyle Walker, would it trouble you so much to send me a quick text to let me know that you’re going to spend a couple of weeks picking splinters out of your arse?
As for Sergio Aguero, there used to be a glorious time in Fantasy Football land when you just knew that a home game v Hull meant you didn’t need to worry about your Captaincy choice that week. He’d be guaranteed at least 15 points…but alas those days are long behind us. With a meagre 9 points (it’s all relative, right?), many were indeed extending his ‘nickname’ on Saturday night…KUN…
Finally, as if proof was ever needed, the worlds of ‘Real Football’ and ‘Fantasy Football’ are light years apart. In the ‘Real’ world, Jurgen Klopp is sitting pretty having squeaked out of Stoke with 3 points. In ‘Fantasy Football’ world though there are many who are cursing under their breath at his decision to start the game without his Brazilian Brothers. Yes I know they came on and did the business, but Stoke are woejious (that’s an Irish term for utter sh*te), so who knows how many points they could have scored with a full 90 minutes? Mind you, kudos to some of the Liverpool fans on Twitter who are working out how to ‘repay’ Coutinho for hauling himself off his sick bed to help the cause on Saturday. I don’t know lads, but surely £100,000 a week is thanks enough?
I know a guy, and that guy is in sales. It’s a tough gig, he’s always under pressure to deliver results. Anyway, a few years ago he secured a contract with the biggest company in the world. It was the first time that the biggest company in the world had required the product he was selling. It was a big deal, and he knew it would lead to lots more big deals in the years to come. He’d hit the mother-load. As the doughnut vendor said to Marge in The Simpsons…’Lady, you’re husband is putting my kids through college’. It was THAT big a deal.
A few months later, as the boss was putting the usual pressure on the sales guy, the sales guy defended himself by pointing out the lucrative contract secured with the biggest company in the world. You know what the boss said?
‘Yeah, but why did we not have that contract for the last three years?’
There’s no pleasing some people…isn’t that right Migs?
He couldhave saved Walters’ header. It would have been a stunning save, but if you’re looking for reasons as to why/how that goal was scored, you could name about 4 outfield players more at fault than Migs.
Just 10 minutes later and Migs produces a genuinely top class save, denying The Lord Joe Allen (just after his birthday too…), and keeping Liverpool in a game that they went onto win comfortably. Do you think that it would have been a stroll had they found themselves 0-2 behind after 25 minutes? Aye, me neither.
One goal conceded in three games. A crucial save at a crucial time. Yet all I’m seeing is more wailing and gnashing of teeth about ‘Liverpool’s Goalkeeping Situation’ (L.G.S.). Certain club legends (who talk an awful lot) are ‘telling’ Jurgen Klopp to go and get Joe Hart.
Is that the same Joe Hart who had a ‘Mignolet’ before Mignolet had a ‘Mignolet’? The same Joe Hart that was bombed out of the Man City team for being a bit, well, sh*t? The same Joe Hart that was sent to the Coventry of Italy this season, not seen as good enough by the coach of one of our main rivals? THAT Joe Hart?
Nah…not for me Clive. I’m not saying Migs is the answer, but having purchased one of the top rated keepers in Germany during the summer, and bowing to pressure (and common sense) to take him out of the firing line, the last thing Klopp should do now is to muddy the waters further and throw a Joe Hart shaped cat among the Achterberg pigeons.
Having decided to back Migs just three weeks ago, it’s time to keep backing him. He’s done very little wrong…this time around…
A very wobbly initial 20 minute spell, followed by 70 minutes of rock-solid, decent, professional Christmas fare.
Some people say that Clyne was ‘poor’ at the start of the game, but some people don’t understand Jon Walters. To the untrained eye of the non-Irish football fan, he seems to be a journeyman pro, making the most of his limited abilities to forge a career at the highest level he possibly can. However they’re all wrong.
Jon Walters is Highlander, and as we all know, there can be only one.
Jon Walters is 489 years old, and has been playing professional football since the 1800’s. He’s described as an old-fashioned target man, rough and ready and good for a rumble, and that’s exactly what he is. He’s a throwback to the ‘old days’ because he played in the old days. Tom Finney hated him. Nat Lofthouse called him a ‘cad’. Dixie Dean thought he was the toughest opponent he ever played against. Clive Allen was afraid of him. Elisha Scott once conceded 4 goals to him in one game.
Now ask yourself, if Jon Walters, with ALL that experience, decided to give you a hard time, would you be able to get on top of him in just 20 minutes? Aye, thought so.
Well in Patsy.
Dejan loves Christmas. It’s his favourite time of the year. Good food, good times and good music making everyone jolly and merry.
His favourite Christmas tune is ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ by Shakin’ Stevens. Dejan has had it on loop in his home and car for the past three weeks, and unfortunately it had a damaging subliminal effect on him last night. Let’s face it, he was ‘Shaky as f*ck’ for the opening half, but Jurgen straightened him out at half time by threatening him with a week of nothing but Cliff Richard ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ if he didn’t buck his ideas up.
Jurgen is a master of psychology. Dejan had no issues in the second half.
How do you tackle a Barbarian?
Some think that Mark Hughes decided to beat the beast with the size of Peter Crouch. It certainly looked like Ragnar was put off by the scale of the Crouch Mountain, but I can exclusively reveal that it had nothing to do with Crouchy and his physical presence.
Y’see Ragnar is only just getting to grips with the celebrity lifestyle of the socialites in the UK. Crouchy knew that so in the first minute he took out this picture of his missus and informed Ragnar that he was married to this lady and she’s a scouser too….
Now I’ve still not got my head around the fact that Crouchy pulled Abbey Clancy. To say he’s punching above his weight would be like saying…no, I don’t have anything to even come close to matching that…
Ragnar was shocked. Stunned even. His head was gone. He kept looking at Peter’s ‘features’, then thinking about THAT photo, and it just didn’t compute. The poor guy was mentally drowning in confusion.
Thankfully at half time, after Jurgen sorted out Dejan Lovren, he pulled Klavan aside and told him that Abbey Clancy has a soft spot for any Liverpool player who impresses on the field…ét voila, Klavan The Barbarian rose again (in more ways than one…)
While his defensive buddies were having some issues for the reasons detailed above, James Milner was busy being James Milner. Quietly effective, full of beans and throwing in a cheeky assist to boot.
The left-back slot for Liverpool has been filled by players that have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous over the years (and in the case of John-Arne Riise, both…), but we’ve got a gem on our hands this season.
He faces his old teammates on New Years Eve, and you wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to test him with the likes of Sterling / De Bruyne / Nolito / Navas having a pop at him.
An extra cup of cocoa on Friday night and James will sleep a contented sleep and dream of emptying his pockets at the stroke of midnight to allow all those attacking City players to celebrate the arrival of 2017 with him.
Adam is a very popular lad in the Liverpool squad. Everybody likes him. I mean, what’s not to like? He always comes across as very polite, well-mannered and the kind of guy you would have no hesitation in bringing home to meet your Mammy, or bringing to your favourite strip club in Bournemouth…
In fact he’s so popular that he even commands an undying respect and loyalty from ex-teammates. His goal yesterday is categorical proof…a pass from Lallana to his old teammate Glen Johnson, who instinctively played a sublime wall pass to Lallana to allow him to smash home from a tight angle.
There aren’t many players in the world who are so nice that opponents will actually provide them with an assist.
What a lovely boy.
Jordan Henderson has made more passes this season than Donald Trump has made in his entire life towards women.
That’s a staggering statistic, and even more apt since Jordan has faced a number of p*ssies this season (Hi Ross!).
One sublime pass from deep in midfield out wide right that sailed 50 yards in the air into the path of a teammate will live long in the memory. If Alonso / Messi / Gerrard had done that etc etc etc….
It wasn’t that long ago that some were openly discussing who would be Jurgen Klopp’s ‘real’ Captain, almost accepting that Jordan’s captaincy role last season was a hangover from the dying days of the Rodgers era.
Well I can’t even countenance somebody else being Captain of Liverpool Football Club these days. His personal transformation from makeweight in a transfer to Fulham to where he is now (and where he could be headed) should be made into a movie. Well, if they make a movie about Jamie f*cking Vardy (and his stupid masks), then why not?
Geordie Wine Gum:
I have it on good authority (because he told me) that Gini Wijnaldum got enough packets of Wine Gums at Christmas to put Willy Wonka out of business.
Footballers have a very limited sense of humour….
However Gini’s Christmas has been brightened by the rumour linking Quincy Promes with a move to Anfield. He’s very eager for his Dutch colleague to join him at the club, as demonstrated by this less than subtle message on Instagram:
Now you may think that Gini is lonely and would love a fellow countryman alongside him in training each day, but I can reveal the real reason he’s so anxious for him to join….
It’ll give me another daft name to target and I could even park the ‘Geordie Wine Gum’ moniker once and for all (as bloody if…sorry Gini…)
In Charles Dickens seminal classic ‘A Christmas Carol’, the main character was visited by three ghosts over Christmas – The Ghost Of Christmas Past, The Ghost Of Christmas Present and The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come…
Last night Divock Origi was visited by all three, and they were all Daniel Sturridge.
When the man who replaces you is doing his wavy arm dance within a minute of coming on…well, it’ll fair scare the sh*t out of you…
With two games in 48 hours on the horizon you suspect both Divock and Daniel will get minutes, but it’s what happens after that and while Sadio is in Africa that will be really interesting.
Will The Ghost Of Ryan Shawcross’ Backpass come back to haunt Divock Origi?
Now you all know that I adore the Liverpool players, while simultaneously gently mocking them for your entertainment, and you all know that Bobby Firmino had an ‘incident’ on Christmas Eve that is an open goal for me to fire at.
But I’m not going to.
What Bobby did was wrong. Very wrong. He was pulled over and will get punished however the law sees fit, and the same may happen in-house by Klopp / FSG. However I have to make the point that there are many Christmas dinner tables with empty seats around them this year (and every year) due to drink-drivers. My own extended family has been affected by one such idiot, and as a result I’ve never met a member of my wife’s family.
Let’s leave aside all the ‘football’ bullshit and the ‘Should he be treated like Sakho blah blah bloody blah’. Bobby should be treated the way anyone who breaks the law and endangers lives does.
I’m not calling for him to be fired, or let off, or hung, drawn and quartered. I’ll let the law / the club deal with it themselves. I’ll cheer him on when he wears the red of Liverpool Football Club as that’s what we do.
However I’m putting on record here that I’m disgusted with him personally for his actions on Christmas Eve. I’m disappointed. I’m angry. I’m also thankful he was caught and nobody was harmed. I’m hopeful that he’ll learn a lesson from what happened, and will ensure it won’t happen again.
I’m also happy he scored last night.
It’s not easy being a football fan you know.
Fantasy Football is a great game that keeps me entertained throughout the football season as I pit my wits against friends and acquaintances to see who has the best footballing brain. It’s free to play, the website is slick and it’s great craic.
However it can consume me a little too much, particularly when I put Liverpool players in my team. Last night was a perfect example. For Lallana’s goal I was trying to convince myself that Sadio Mane could get an assist (as f*cking if…), while I can’t repeat what I said when Imbula slid in to score an own goal as Sadio was just about to knock the ball into the net for a valuable goal for my team (in both senses)…
Of course I’m now pondering what to do when Sadio buggers off for January, as is Jurgen. During a late night Skype call yesterday he told me that he thinks Daniel Sturridge is in great form and looking fit, Divock Origi will never let him down, Philippe should be back soon and that even Adam Lallana could push further forward when required.
I told him that I was thinking of bringing in Alexis Sanchez…and then he hung up on me.
Well, we all have our own challenges, eh?
Wait..what? Oh, no, apparently ‘Shut Up Shop Ltd’ may be expanding into the Italian market….
Speaking of which, a new franchise opened up last night when introduced in the 79th minute…
Yep. Please welcome ‘Bertie’s Panic Emporium’.
It got off to a slow start, thankfully…
I’d had a few beers at this stage and can’t really remember much about Jackie.
I presume that’s a good thing.
Raw, natural, unbridled talent.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The best English striker is sitting on the LFC bench, but he may be about to play a very important role…
Please stay fit Daniel. Pretty please?
Manager: Jurgen Klopp:
After the first loss of the season, Liverpool then followed it with a draw and 4 wins.
After the second loss of the season, Liverpool then followed it with a draw and now 3 wins…and Manchester City are up next.
I’ve never wanted a pattern to repeat so much in all my life.
What Chelsea are doing would have won them many a league title in the past, even now. Yes, large gaps have been overcome / frittered away in the past, but more often than not, if you get 10+ points clear in the league, you tend to win. Chelsea should be 10+ points clear in the league. Any team that wins 12 in a row should be (unless they started at the bottom of the table, but that would just be silly).
While Chelsea are churning out the wins, they must be looking over their shoulders wondering how the hell they can shake off Jurgen’s lads. That nagging doubt can erode your confidence….
Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel) If you would like to pay me to write like this, please do get in touch. Christmas cost me a fecking fortune.
Note 2: This blog is dedicated to Jack. Welcome to the Liverpool family buddy.
The hype surrounding this fixture normally doesn’t need adding to, but if you’re Sky Sports and you’ve spent 19 quadrillion quid to have the right to show the game, I suppose you can understand why they’re pushing it harder than Salt & Peppa in 1986. They’re pushing it alright, pushing it real good….
Manchester United travel to this game just 6 points off the top of the table with a place in the Top 4 their reward for a win at Anfield…and yet there seems to be a sense of crisis surrounding Old Trafford, which is nonsense. While José has spent the GDP of a small African country on his squad this summer, he needs time to mould them in his own evil image – you can’t make a squad of benign players into horrible bastards in just a few weeks. It takes months of therapy, finger-pointing, scapegoating and gallons of ‘Hatorade’ before José will be truly happy with his minions.
However you do get the feeling that a defeat for Manchester United at Anfield could well lead to some form of ‘fallout’ within Old Trafford. As is the way of the modern world, somebody will need to be blamed. We all know it won’t be José (he just won’t allow it), so the current blamee (if that’s not a real word it should be, and I claim all copyright priviliges) is Wayne Rooney. Will he start? Where will he play? Will he start crying? Will he tear his new hair out in frustration?
It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see ‘Wazza’ knock home the winner in the 90th minute. If you’ve picked him for your team this week, you may well get your reward. I just hope the paramedics are standing next to Martin Tyler when it happens.
Liverpool are in tremendous form themselves, coming off the back of four consecutive league wins, but alas they are likely doomed tonight as Jurgen Klopp has received the dreaded ‘Manager Of The Month’ award, which has a proven track record of making the latest recipient look like a common Mike Phelan as their side get garroted in the next game.
Throw in the fact that two of their extremely effective midfield trio are likely to miss the game and the writing is on the wall. Adam Lallana has been in superb form until he twanged his groin, while the Geordie WineGum has been effective if a little understated in assisting his teammates thus far.
Herr Klopp could roll the dice by tweaking his system to a 4-2-3-1 with Can/Henderson holding and a front four of Coutinho, Firmino, Mane & Sturridge. The thought of those four in full flight is enough to make a fantasy football manager moist. Sorry. Not sorry.
Admit it. You have more than one Liverpool midfielder in your team, don’t you? You just hate that you don’t know which two will turn it on each week. It’s like Russian Fantasy Football Liverpool Midfielders Roulette (RFFLMR – learn it and put it in all your What’s App messages. All the cool kids are).
The only thing we know for certain is that defeat for either team will make Tuesday morning very uncomfortable for a lot of people in work/school. Nowhere to hide and a full day of slagging awaits.