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

Harry Kane

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

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

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

Jermaine Defoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benteke Palace

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

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FantasyYIRMA GW 15 Review – Saucy Samba Sensations Sizzle…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FantasyYIRMA GW 13 Review…Unlucky for all?

Do you remember the summer of 1996?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

FantasyYIRMA GW 12 PREVIEW!!!

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

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

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

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

Defender: Alberto Moreno, Liverpool

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

Midfielder: Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke City

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

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

Forward: Alvaro Morata, Chelsea

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

Captain: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

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

Enough said.

Outsider: Callum Wilson, Bournemouth

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

Draft: 

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

 

FantasyYIRMA GW 11 Review

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

Alastair Cook – Good at English Hurling

Norman Cook – Had a Ball while spinning the decks

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

Steve Cook

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

Mo Salah

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

Shaqiri

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

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

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

Scott Malone

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

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

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

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

Romelu Lukaku

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

FantasyYIRMA GW 9 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FantasyYIRMA GW 5 Review

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)!

Sergio Aguero Stats

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…

Sideshow Bob Rakes

 

FantasyYIRMA GW 3 Review

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.

STOP LAUGHING!

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’.

 

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

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

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

Transfers In

Transfers Out

Total Money Spent: £80,100,000

Total Money Received: £ 42,480,000

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

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

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

FSG Out
Look at this f*ckwit…

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

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

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

VVD
A Saint Or A Sinner? 

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

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

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

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

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

Chelsea Burnley
Ropey Defence. LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simon Mignolet Yellow

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

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