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.

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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 15 Review – Saucy Samba Sensations Sizzle…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FantasyYIRMA GW 14 Review – All hail our Umlaut Overlords…

When Americans and British people get together, they generally have a good time. There’s the usual mocking of each others use of the English language, how one used to rule the other, how the other kicked the arse of the former, and when things get particularly heated, how one would now be speaking German if it weren’t for the other.

When the Ginger Prince announced he was getting married to Meghan Markle, Princess Sparkle, one cad on Twitter thought this was a backdoor to Britain retaking America, although right now they’d probably pass, all things considered. What a lot of people have missed though is how many of us in GW 14 are actually speaking German, fluently, thanks to the exploits of the two star performers, Ozil and Rudiger. In fact, you could say that Ozil und Rudiger setzten das Beste, das Großbritannien und Irland im Schatten bieten konnten, mit einem Angriffsziel, defensiver Solidität und teutonischer Effizienz auf.

See? War really is futile. (If someone could send the link of this searing insight to Trump and that North Korean looney toon, I’d appreciate it, and I’ll be in Stockholm to pick up my Nobel Peace Prize next year).

In fairness though, it’s quite an achievement for Wayne Rooney not to be top man this week after scoring three including one from so far out he was practically stood on the Kop. However FPL is a cruel mistress and Wazza did indeed miss a penalty last night, the wazzock. Another blast from the past is alongside Wayne on the honours board today, namely Ashley Young who took the sting out of the hornets with two thronkers at Vicarage Road. Quite the return to form for the man most famous for having a bird land poo in his mouth in the middle of a match.

Robbie Brady popped up with a cracking performance approximately three weeks too late (I’m not bitter, but I’ll never drink Carlsberg again…actually that’s not really a hardship, right?) with a goal and an assist on the South Coast to help Burnley maintain their very real and very terrifying pursuit of a Champions League place next season. Can you imagine it? Sean Dyche toe to toe with Zinedine Zidane. Turf Moor hosting Barcelona. The whippets and ferrets wouldn’t know what hit them…

Finally Jordan Pickford actually saved a penalty to keep a clean sheet against West Ham, and rack up 13 points for those 5.9% of FPL managers who clearly haven’t a clue what they’re doing. I mean, who picks Everton players this season? Defenders especially? Madness.

Finally in the Winners list this week are three more familiar names in Mane, Salah and De Bruyne, two of which are likely duking it out right now for Player Of The Year honours. While the mercurial Belgian is regularly doing things that make me want to touch myself inappropriately, it is the feats of the King of Egypt Mo Salah that really do take some time to get your head around. 12 league goals in 14 league games. Stop. Think about that. He’s not a ‘striker’. He didn’t even start last night. He got to 10 league goals in HALF the games it took Michael Owen. His figures right now are Messi-esque, and he’s playing in the Premier League. Quite why his ownership figure is ONLY 50.2%…that’s a bigger sign of mass psychosis than the Brexit vote. What are the other half of you thinking? Answers on a tweet to @FantasyYIRMA please….

As ever we have to cease our lauding and commence our laughing, as we look at our Villains of GW 14. Pablo Zabaleta must be casting envious glances at his old stomping ground and pining for the bright lights of Manchester as his West Ham retirement junket is turning into a nightmare. For the second time this season he concedes four goals and picks up a yellow card to tip into negative territory. The same can be said for Adrian Mariappa of Watford, fresh off the back of two six-point returns. Rumour has it that both Jekyll and Hyde are set to start for Watford in GW15.

Jonny Evans is yet another who must be muttering dark thoughts into his cornflakes each morning. Only a few short months ago he had Pep texting him sweet nothings, promising him dazzling Champions League & Premier League glory and a huge pay-rise. Michael O’Neill was WhatsApping him links to fancy Russian restaurants and, err, ‘friendship’ services in Moscow. And here he now sits on November 30th in a West Brom team sans Pulis, Alan ‘Chunky’ Pardew taking the reigns and a red card against Newcastle to give him -1 points in GW14. Christ, even as I type that I’m googling the number for The Samaritans. Poor Jonny.

My final two villains of the week are players who deserve to be lambasted by all of their FPL owners for failing to stick the ball in the net. Firstly we have Manuel Lanzini who missed that penalty at Goodison Park. So far, so predictable. But my final villain is a man I hold dear to my heart, Mr. Roberto ‘Bobby’ Firmino. I love you Bobby, like a son, but as a FPL manager who owns you…if I ever…AND I MEAN EVER…see you standing idly by as a ball is bobbling into the goal that you could easily tap in to claim the points, I swear on Lucifers beard I will fly to Liverpool personally and take a shite in your toaster. I’m THAT upset with you.

FantasyYIRMA GW 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 11 Review

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

Alastair Cook – Good at English Hurling

Norman Cook – Had a Ball while spinning the decks

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

Steve Cook

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

Mo Salah

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

Shaqiri

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

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

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

Scott Malone

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

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

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

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

Romelu Lukaku

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

FantasyYIRMA GW 10 Review

Sead Kolasinac.jpg

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

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

Christian Fuchs

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

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

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

Darren Fletcher

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

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

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

Arthur Masuaku

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

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

*maybe a slight enormous exaggeration

FantasyYIRMA GW 9 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do You Know The First Rule Of Fan Club?

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

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

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

Fanatic

A person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal.

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

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

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

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

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

Lovren Fan Tweet 1Lovren Fan Tweet 2

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

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

Back to the old dictionary we go…

Supporter

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

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

No. No. No.

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

No. No. No.

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

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

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

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

YNWA.