FantasyYIRMA GW36 Review: Getting yourself ‘Transfer-Window’ ready…

It’s that time of year again when the Sunday papers cram their supplements and pull-outs with a deluge of tips on getting ‘Beach-Body Ready’. They once again perpetuate the myth that a few lunges and squats combined with kale and papaya juice will turn the body you’ve been moulding since last November with pizza, chips, beer and crisps into a replica of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or Kelly Brook, all within four short weeks. It is of course an utter nonsense. Anyone who follows ‘The Rock’ on Twitter will know that his fitness regime would make US Marines walk away shaking their head in disbelief. I personally would much rather drool on my pillow at 3.30am and scratch my arse on my couch at 9.30pm rather than hit the gym and lift things heavier than the planet Venus. My body reflects this level of dedication too, and I’m comfortable with that. Yet clearly the media moguls put these supplements in each year because it helps sell the papers, which means there are LOADS of people out there that fall for this claptrap.

To be fair, the professional footballers of #FPL carry out a similar charade at this time of year as GW36 demonstrated clearly. Of course they’re all physically sculpted by virtue of being professional athletes, but many decide that they want to get ‘Transfer Window’ ready. Instead of lunges, squats, kale and papaya they spend a few weeks scoring goals, providing assists and showing a level of gumption and motivation that was bewilderingly absent between GW1 and GW35. Don’t believe me? Well here’s my proof:

Dusan Tadic had 3 goals and 3 assists in 33 GW’s in which he featured in almost all, yet has 3 goals since GW34. What’s that you say? His team may be relegated? He knows he’s better than the Championship, but needs to attract attention ahead of the Summer Transfer Window? Well whad’ya know…welcome to the party Dusan. If I were a Southampton fan I’d cheer every goal and assist between now and the end of the season while simultaneously giving him the finger. This isn’t ‘digging deep to save the club he loves’, this is ‘digging deep to save his own arse’.

There are FOUR Crystal Palace players who scored double digits in GW36, a statistic that has gasted my flabber completely. Now I’m not saying all four are mercenary like our good friend Dusan Tadic, but you have to wonder at their sudden motivation after a quite rotten season. Wilfried Zaha grew up around the corner from Selhurst Park, so he get’s an honorable exception with his 14 points, but Patrick Van Aanholt (13 points), Mamadou Sakho (12 points) and James McArthur (11 points) may well have realised that while their Premier League status is secure, they’re still being managed by The Hodge, and when you’re managed by The Hodge, you really want to get out of Dodge…

Leighton Baines (12 points) has missed almost half the season through injury, but since his return he has 43 points in 7 GW’s. Sure, he’s an Everton stalwart who must love the club after hanging around for so long, but he’s also spent half the season looking at Big Sam’s massive head, his jowls flapping in the wind as he chews what I can only presume is gum, but could quite easily be part of the enormous chip he has on his shoulder. There’s no harm in making yourself ‘Transfer Window’ ready for one last payday and to escape Big Sam’s gravy gulag is there? Idrissa Gueye (11 points) might be looking to hang onto Leighton’s coattails as he’s suddenly scored 24% of his full season points in the last three GW’s. Coincidence? As Buffy The Vampire Slayer once said:

Giles, there are two things I don’t believe in: coincidence and leprechauns

Quite.

Plenty have lauded the effect that Darren Moore has had on West Brom since he was placed in temporary charge following the unfortunate ‘incident’ we’ll just call Chunky-gate. Many have called for him to be given the job permanently when their inevitable relegation is finally confirmed, but I would advise that people start to view the recent Baggies Bounce through my eyes. Sure, Darren seems a lovely fella and the players seem happy to try harder for him…but right now they’re all trying harder for themselves, and themselves only. They’re doomed, they know it, and they know what the wages are like in the Championship compared to the Premier League. West Brom players right now are like the ‘gentleman’ in the ‘Titanic’ movie that wangled his way onto the lifeboat carrying a child that wasn’t his ahead of women and children that should have had been saved. Matt Phillips amassed 11 points against Newcastle, scoring only his second goal of the season while holding a 3 year old West Brom fan in full replica kit.

Titanic Man
You have to save me, I’m far too good to go down…

Cecil Fibreglass, sorry, Cesc Fabregas has had a disappointing season by his usual standards, but that can be explained. Y’see, a few months ago the Chelsea lads decided that Antonio Conte was annoying them and they fancied a new gaffer who might be nicer to them. So the Chelsea lads do what the Chelsea lads do and decided to down tools for a bit, like they did to Jose that time. Unfortunately for them the job they thought Conte would leave for has been taken by Roberto Mancini which means that the gaffer may be around next season after all, so a WhatsApp message was sent around advising everyone to start putting in a shift again. This explains the recent upturn in Chelsea form, and why Cecil scored 10 points this week.

Finally Paul Pogba (10 points) has been the subject of transfer rumours for months now. His relationship with Jose Mourinho is more complicated than a Mormon with 10 wives going on an episode of First Dates. Pogba’s recent upturn in form could be driven by his determination to convince Jose that he’s the man for the future…or it could be driven by his determination to be viewed as another De Bruyne / Salah when he’s flogged by Jose and then goes on to thrive in the future. Either way, he’s also ‘Transfer Window’ ready.

I normally discuss the Villains of the Week now, but in a way everyone I’ve discussed this week could be viewed as that…but for the record Pablo Zabaleta racked up his FOURTH negative points total of the season with -2 against Man City. I’m not saying he’s not ‘Transfer Window’ ready, but the blinds are drawn, the shutters are closed and he lives in a basement. Finally Marc Albrighton was sent off against Palace to score -2 points. He has an excuse though. It’s hard to play football when you’re wearing flip-flops with an inflatable ring around your midriff while drinking a Pina Colada through a straw. Here comes the summer!

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FantasyYIRMA GW34 & 35 Review:

Predicting the end of times seems to be a bi-annual occurrence these days. You can’t go more than six months without some group of crackpots declaring that a random Wednesday is going to see the rapture descend upon us. Four horsemen. Earthquakes. Thanos. Volcanoes. Y’know, the usual feeling you get after 4 days on the tear at Cheltenham and seeing a trailer on YouTube while feeling like death. However I believe that we’re being protected from a grizzly end by a group of people that will always be there for us, always around to pick us up when we’re down, who will ensure that when all hope seems lost, new hope will spring eternal.

The Avengers? Nah, screw that lot, I’m talking about people that have been hailed since time immemorial. May I introduce to you…The Scripture Squad!

Jesus…16 points

Jesus

Mohamed…15 points

Mohamed

Moses…15 points

Moses

Giroud…well, he looks like a God, right? 14 points

Giroud

Captain Salah has been our hero all season long and nobody in their right mind doesn’t have Cap in their squad. Throw in his Scripture Squad buddies and the last couple of weeks would have seen you ascend up your mini-league tables to your rightful place at the right hand of…whoever is on your left.

Of course the Scripture Squad need allies who are good, but who just aren’t quite ‘superhero’ status yet. (Yes, this is a dig at Hawkeye, deal with it). Step forward Wilfried Zaha. He may have tanked at the Box Office when he got his big budget break at ‘The Theatre Of Dreams’, but he’s proven that in lower budget productions he can bring the crowd to their feet. 16 points in GW’s 34 & 35 may yet see him given one more blockbuster move.

Raheem Sterling amassed a huge 21 points, but there’s something preventing him from full graduation to superhero status. Is it the way he runs? Is it that he should really have had over 30 points? I’m going to compare him to Paul Rudd as Antman. Yes he has ‘skills’ but he’s small and still the guy we’ve all laughed at many, many times. Paul Rudd also appeared in Anchorman, and as a Liverpool fan every time I see Raheem on the TV I shout something that begins with ‘W’ and rhymes with Anchorman.

Ayoze Perez scored 14 points (with 12 points in GW33) but to have had the foresight to stick him in your squad for these last few weeks would have taken some serious ‘Vision’. Ashley Barnes also scored 14 points over the last couple of weeks and has 6 goals in his last 8 GW’s, after a modest season up to that point. Every superhero group needs a ‘plucky’ character, so let’s all hail ‘Plucky’ Barnes, a man with a cap for the Austrian U-20’s and who plays in shorts in Burnley from October – March every year. Now THAT is a Winter Soldier if ever I saw one.

The Scripture Squad have had a spiritual leader for many, many years, but alas he was destroyed last week by the fearful interglactic warlord they call #WengerOut. This has enraged his lead Gunner, Alexander Lacazette, who has taken his frustrations out on everyone and smashed 3 goals for 21 points.

The one they call ‘Guardiola’ has begun to produce FPL superheroes, but not everybody is impressed. The old school English pundits don’t care much for ‘Guardiola’, his philosophies and his different ways. 1,000 passes in a single match? They call him ‘Dr. Strange’, but he can change our very perception of football. For instance the speed with which his pupils rack up FPL points is incredible. David Silva – 10 pts in GW35. Bernardo Silva – 11 pts in GW35. Not just one, but two ‘QuickSilvas’.

However without the bad guys, there’d be no need for the Scripture Squad, and in GW’s 34 and 35, Planet FPL was under attack from another negative point tirade. Kevin Long betrayed those of us who trusted this budget defender who had been drafted in to plug the hole in the defensive Dyche constructed at Turf Moor. An own goal and a score of -1 left many casualties. However GW35 was to prove even more calamitous as two traitors led many of us into negative points. Martin Olsson thought he could pocket two pieces of Silva and get away with it against Man City, but in his 74 minutes of action he was punished by Jesus, conceded four and picked up a yellow card to give him -1 point. Joining him was Pablo Zabaleta who worships false Gods and believes in ‘The Moyesiah’. Such heresy was duly punished thanks to a 4 goal yellow card spanking at The Emirates.

FantasyYIRMA GW32 Review:

There’s one life lesson that we should all pay heed to: If an Austrian man nicknamed ‘Arnie’ has a grudge against you, then be afraid…be very afraid. He could be a cyborg from the future looking to destroy/save the past/future (I’ll be honest, I was young watching the Terminator movies and I’m a bit hazy on the details).

It could also be a West Ham United player with bundles of talent but who sometimes lacks motivation…until he sees Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes in the opposite dugout and decides that he has a point to prove. On Saturday Marko ‘Arnie’ Arnautovic terminated the last remaining shred of managerial credibility Mark Hughes possessed as he plundered 2 goals and 3 BPS against a sorry Saints side to keep the Hammers faithful happy (or at least quelled their urge to rampage…for a week at least).

So in summary, don’t annoy an Austrian named Arnie! Or any Austrian with a first name beginning with ‘A’, come to think of it…..

Before we move on from the London Stadium, we should also acknowledge the other two Hammers who bagged double-digit scores – Yes, THREE West Ham players scored double-digit scores! Who said rioting locals can’t motivate the players, eh? Arthur Masuaku will have been spitting chips at his recent 6-game ban (well, he was spitting something to get the ban in the first place), but he returned to register his fourth clean sheet and third assist as he cleared his throat loudly…to remind everyone he was back. Finally the favourite player of Nintendo’s iconic Italian plumber also racked up 10 points thanks to a goal and 2 BPS. Next time Super Mario finishes a level, just listen as he raises his fist in celebration and proclaims ‘Joao! Mario!’ at you…

Kasper Schmeichel is a player that I just can’t warm to I’m afraid. It’s nothing to do with him per se, it’s more to do with the fact that he reminds me of how old I’m getting. I can’t handle watching the sons of Premier League stars of my youth strut their stuff. Christ on a bike, I’m still waiting for his Dad to make a comeback for one last hurrah. Surely he wouldn’t do any worse than Wayne Hennessey, right? I remember watching Sky Sports in my teens and seeing a young Kasper playing ball in the Old Trafford tunnel with Tom Ince. They were about 7 years of age. At this rate I’m half expecting to see the grandson of John Barnes roaring down the wing for Liverpool as I unwrap one more Werther’s Original to gum on before I sip my cocoa and shuffle off this mortal coil. Anyway, I digress. Kasper saved a penalty against Brighton to preserve a clean sheet (something that’s harder to do as you get older I find…I’ve said too much) and grab 15 points for himself. Jaysus, his father must have been getting a million points a season in his prime, eh?

Spurs are having another outstanding season and over the last couple of games have decided to show Daniel Levy that he should take £120,000,000 for Harry Kane this summer as they clearly don’t need him. No, really. Three goals at Stamford Bridge, with two of them scored by the man they’re going to name part of their new stadium after. Forget ‘The Harry Kane Kiosk’, or the ‘Jan Vertonghen Veranda’. When the fans go for their refreshments in the new White Hart Lane, they’ll queue up for lukewarm Bovril and soggy pies in the Deli Alley. Honestly, if that doesn’t happen then Spurs should be disbanded as a club. The real Dele Alli scored a worldie followed by a scramble to ratchet up 15 points for the 11.9% of FPL players who kept the faith with him.

Speaking of ownership percentages and keeping the faith, just 2.9% of players own Alexis Sanchez. TWO POINT NINE PERCENT. Oh how the mighty have fallen, but with a price tag of £11.5m and a points return of 129 for the season, you can see why. In fact, while he scored 14 points with a goal, an assist and 3 BPS I still judge those stubborn enough to keep hold of him. You can spot these people in real life easily enough. They’re the ones at the penny drop machines in the arcades who plough £25.78 into the machine because there’s a bunch of pennies worth £0.58 ready to drop, and then celebrate when it finally happens. They also voted for Brexit and are most likely serving in Government right now. Oooh, that’s a good Freedom of Information request! Let’s see the FPL teams of the Tory Government! Bet that’ll be an eye-opener…

Our next weekly star is a player who I personally brought in and immediately handed the armband. Now I’m not bragging because I even tried to help everyone who follows me on Twitter. I put out a cryptic clue on Friday about this player, and those of you clever enough to have worked it out will have immediately bought him and reaped the rewards. Here’s the clue (and a reason why you should immediately follow me on Twitter):

Aubameyang Clue

Now let me break it down for you: Golden (Au) Ethnic Minority (BAME) Half Of A Chinese Philosophy (Yang); Au-BAME-Yang. Ta-da! (More) proof that I’m weird, and proud of it. Two goals and 3 BPS a handsome reward for all of you who followed my lead (for the record, nobody officially ‘got it’ on my timeline).

Final mentions for David Silva who is making a late run to make any coronation of Kevin de Bruyne as POTY look foolish, and Ben Chilwell who was once on the radar of Liverpool and could have been ‘Andy Robertson’. 11 points for each.

Nobody in negative points territory this week, which doesn’t make for a lengthy Villains of the Week section, but never fear because as my mother says…’There’s always one’. Step forward Mr. Glenn Murray, who missed a crucial penalty at home to Leicester City to drain his points total quicker than the bank account of a Bitcoin investor. Is there anything worse than a seagull ruining your weekend? When one sh*ts on you, it is NOT good luck, no matter what those ‘old wives’ say.

FantasyYIRMA GW 31 Review: All Hail The Egyptian King…

With just four matches taking place in GW31, the word ‘strategy’ was used frequently among the FPL community this week. Some had been planning for this for weeks, strategically bringing in crap players, sorry, players from teams such as Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Huddersfield with this week in mind. Others were reaching for their ‘Free Hit’ chip and loading up on 12 crap players (Damn! Sorry!), players from ‘non-fashionable’ clubs to add to their three Liverpool sure-fire bankers. Yes, that says bankers. Some even chose the strategy of ‘doing nowt’, hoping that a team consisting of less than a handful of players might avoid a massive red arrow of doom.

Ironically none of the above strategies mattered…as long as you captained Salah. Don’t say this column didn’t warn you!

Mo Salah

The debate surrounding the ‘Footballer Of The Year’ award is going to come to a head in the coming weeks as the ‘De Bruyne / Salah’ debate rages on, where one party is going to be aggrieved no matter what the result. However in FPL world, the results are already in. All hail Mo Salah! Y’see in FPL it’s not about cups won, it’s about points won, and he’s now 83 points ahead of KDB this season. Yes the Belgian has a game in hand put he’d want to be putting in some shift to make up 83 points…

Against Watford we finally saw Mo Salah doing what he’s been threatening to do for quite a while – he tore an opponent a new one. 4 goals. An assist. 3 bps. TWENTY NINE POINTS (In the style of the old BBC Videprinter – ask yer Da).

The remaining stand-out players in GW31 all had ownership under 10% (which is becoming standard in this bloody game at this stage). James Tomkins scored over 20% of his full seasons points with a goal, clean sheet and 3 bps to break Huddersfield hearts and give Crystal Palace a chance of staying up this season. The b*stard (Sorry, not sorry). Cenk Tosun has responded to Sam Allardyce calling him ‘rubbish’ by being not rubbish and grabbing two goals at Stoke. I’m not saying he damaged Stoke irreparably, but he did a damn fine impression of a bull in a pottery shop to smash their hopes of staying up.

Andrew Robertson was purchased from Hull City for £8m last summer by Liverpool. Liverpool then sold Kevin Stewart to Hull City for £8m in return. THAT, Mr. Trump, is what you call ‘The Art Of The Deal’. In fact I’m ashamed to call it a ‘deal’. It’s blind robbery. A long-con of epic proportions. It would make Cambridge Analytica blush. Robertson’s cross for Mo Salah’s second was so beautiful that it can blind you by looking directly at it. I know of men who have left their wives and children to run off with that cross. It helped Mr. Robertson to 11 points. Swoon.

Jordon Ibe was also sold by Liverpool in the not too distant past and for the majority of the time since, it looked like Liverpool had once more gotten the best part of that deal. However Jordon grabbed his second goal of the season to go with his six assists to grab 10 points against the not so ‘boinging’ Baggies. With form like that Herr Klopp must be crying salty tears into his coffee when he considers he could have kept Ibe and not bought Salah….ahahahahahahahaahaaaa!!!!

Junior Stanislas has shown real form in recent weeks and another 10 point haul will have really pleased his Dad, Stanislas Stanislas. At least I think that’s what his Dad must be called, right? You get called Junior when you have the same name as your Dad? Maybe he’s called Senior Stanislas? Imagine if they brought that custom into Scandinavian culture, where I believe that your surname is derived from your fathers name. Henrik Larsson’s dad was called Lars. Anders Svensson’s dad was called Sven. Bring in the ‘Junior’ custom and in three generations you’d have everyone in Scandinavia and Iceland called Juniorsson. It would be a nightmare for football commentators in the 2042 World Cup.

Finally we have Luka MiliVanilli Millvilleneuve Milivojevic of Crystal Palace, a man who has 106 points for the season because he turns up and scores penalties. No really, that’s all he does. Assists? Pah! Luka laughs at the mere thought. He’s there for the penalties and nothing else interests him. He scored his 8th of the season out of 9 attempts. The one he missed? Oh, it just would have beaten Manchester City. No big deal….

So we come onto our GW 31 Hall Of Shame, and this week we have one ‘winner’. This is a man who has had an unbelievably sh*tty start to 2018. To begin with, he plays for Stoke. He started the year with Mark Hughes as his manager. He then had Paul Lambert take over. That’s bad right? Oh you haven’t seen anything yet. He sits on the bench or out of the squad most weeks, but when he does get his chance he has a public row with his teammates over who should take a crucial late penalty to defeat a relegation rival, misses the penalty, moves slower than tectonic plates to the rebound and costs his team a win. He then sits on his arse for a few more weeks, and gets ONE LAST CHANCE when he starts in another huge relegation battle against an Everton team who enjoy playing away as much as Theresa May enjoys EU Summits. After 29 minutes, with his team in the ascendancy he goes in studs up on Wayne Rooney to earn a straight red card. His team go on to lose another crucial game. Then, to round off his utter humiliation NASA find the ball that he blootered over the bar in the 2012 League Cup Final penalty shoot-out against Cardiff City. It’s on Mars. No, really, it is.

Mars Ball

Charlie Adam ladies and gentlemen. And you thought YOU had a hard weekend?

FantasyYIRMA GW 30 Review: From Russia With Love…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@FantasyYIRMA GW 30 Preview: Peroni on Draft…

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

Defender: Jamaal Lascelles, Newcastle

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

Midfielder: Michail Antonio, West Ham

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

Forward: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

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

Captain: Eden Hazard, Chelsea

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

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

Outsider: Jose Heriberto Izquierdo Mena, Brigton & Hove Albion

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

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

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

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

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

AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH……………

Forrest Gump

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

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

GW16 Prediction

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

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

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

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

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

firmino

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

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

FantasyYIRMA GW 26 Review: Always Bet On Red

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FantasyYIRMA GW 25 Review: Popping Cherries…

This game mocks us all.

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

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

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

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

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

What? Only £7.2m? *sweats profusely*

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

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

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

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

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

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

This game

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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