Fantasy Premier League: Festive Review
Written by @NiallHawthorne
Well that was a festive period of football to remember then, eh? If you’re like me you were probably heading into work on January 2nd wondering where the hell the holiday period had gone. It seemed like 48 hours since I put my out of office on my email and frolicked into the twinkling lights of Christmas with gay abandon. And yet…
When I reflected on the festive football, I recalled that the start of my holidays coincided with the first game of GW 19, namely Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool, and that game, in a football sense, seemed like an eternity ago. That madcap match where Liverpool slapped the Gunners around The Emirates for 85 minutes, yet somehow conceded three goals in less than five minutes to snatch a draw. What japes! I bet you can’t remember much else about GW 19, lost as it is now in the maelstrom of what has followed in GW’s 20, 21 & 22. Well let me remind you…
Harry Kane decided that he really, really wanted to break the record that nobody had heard of prior to GW 19, namely the ‘most goals in a calendar year in the Premier League which once had 22 teams and 42 games, but now has 20 teams and 38 games, and isn’t run over a calendar year and only started in 1992 because football didn’t exist before then but really it did so the whole thing is a f*cking nonsense’, which was held by Alan Shearer. So Harry bagged a hat-trick at Turf Moor to become a legend in the land of whippets and pies (until Ragnar Klavan stole his thunder, but more of him anon…).
Sergio Aguero kept Jesus out in the cold, which seemed apt, by scoring two and assisting another in City’s home demolition of Bouremouth. You can add your own jokes about Donkeys and Wise Men, it’s now January 5th and I can’t be arsed. Joe Allen has long been hailed as the second coming (most women weep with joy when fellas are the second coming, but that’s a different issue), and true to form he scored and assisted in a Stoke City win at home to the Baggies. If you missed how much trouble Alan Chunky Pardew is in right now, just read that sentence back. Stoke City, with Mark Hughes, stuffed them 3-1. I know. Juan Mata scored twice to seemingly give Manchester United all three points (and himself all 3 bonus points) at the King Power Stadium against Leicester, until Chris Smalling hurt himself with no subs left to play, and then everyone in red decided to abdicate responsibility for filling in for him, allowing that slight, svelte Harry Maguire chap to nip in at the far post and grab a point for the Foxes.
Then we all ate, drank and tried to be merry while staring at our in-laws wearing cracker hats and making inappropriate comments about Brexit before we moved onto GW 20, the annual Boxing Day Massacre for most defences.
Royalty have long dined on swan on special occasions, so Bobby Firmino, the King of Style at Anfield, feasted on the managerless swans of Swansea City as Liverpool ran 5 past Leon ‘Little’ Britton and his mates. On what is arguably the holiest of holy days in the Christian religion, Harry Kane and his Spurs mates slaughtered Saints by sticking 5 past Southampton with Kane again chasing down that record that will now live forever, probably because everyone will forget about it and not notice if anybody beats it because IT’S A BLOODY STUPID RECORD. Anyway, he scored another hat-trick, the big show-off. Son, Alli and Eriksen all bagged goals/assists aplenty also. A good day to have a Spurs heavy team, just before they had a week off. This game laughs at us you know, it really does.
Bournemouth and West Ham served up a six-goal thriller with Marko Arnautovic tempting many of us into buying the useless git for GW 22 (GAH!), and Nathan Ake scoring a goal and registering an assist, which is handy for a defender who conceded three. However I was particularly amused to see a Gosling score and assist the day after Christmas. Give him another year and he’ll be plump, juicy and ripe for plucking (I said plucking…I’m not talking about that Gosling, and admit it, we all would).
At Old Trafford Jesse Lingard continued his bid to be remembered for something other than dabbing by scoring another two goals, both assisted by a player trying to be remembered for something other than diving and/or having a bird sh*t in his mouth, namely Ashley Young. This broke the heart of Sean Dyche who was on the verge of a famous away victory for his Burnley Brexiteers. Have you ever heard Sean Dyche cry? It sounds like a Maserati at full throttle at the bottom of a swimming pool. Finally Alexis Sanchez dangled a bit of prime Chilean leg towards Pep Guardiola by scoring a brace at Selhurst Park to see off Crystal Palace, and he was ably assisted by Lacazette who, err, assisted two goals.
We then moved on, in a cheese-induced coma, to GW 21 and the last games of 2017 for each of the clubs. This is where the moaning of the Premier League managers was only drowned out by the moaning of the FPL managers, as rotation started to bite. A&E Departments across the land reported a 487% increase in cases of ‘fist-chewing’ as FPL managers saw players benched and omitted hither and tither, and to make things worse, the goals dried up too. The players who played all the games were exhausted, and those who came in thanks to rotation just proved why they don’t get a game in the first place. The highlight though had to be at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea, as expected, ran roughshod over a Stoke City team who wore a white flag instead of their usual kit. Five goals were scored, and there wasn’t a goal or assist to be seen for Alvaro ‘Just a Spanish Tony Cascarino’ Morata. If ever a FPL event summed up the sh*tshow that was 2017, this was truly it.
In fairness Will.i.an warmed up for the return of ‘The Voice’ by scoring one and setting up two others. In other games, Ryan Fraser scored two goals in a game for the first time in his career, delighting the 0.6% of FPL owners who had him. The King of Egypt ended his less than two game ‘barren spell’ by scoring both goals at Anfield as Liverpool saw off a spirited Leicester side, led by Riyad Mahrez, who has hit a real purple patch of form just ahead of a transfer window opening. Remarkable. At Selhurst Park the Eagles should have finished the unbeaten domestic season of Manchester City but Milivojevic sh*t the bed like a common Benteke. Jesus picked up an injury in that game, but reports since say he’ll recover in time for Easter. Finally an Arsenal clean sheet was wiped from the records after Mike Dean decided that the very last game of 2017 should be all about him. Classic Mike Dean.
Finally we hurtled into the new year after watching Jools Holland coax a bunch of celebrities into pretending it was 2018, despite the fact that the show was recorded in August. GW 22 was now upon us and there was only one subject on everyone’s lips: A SPURS DOUBLE GAMEWEEK…Rumour has it that there were more Harry Kane’s bought in the first week of January than gym memberships, and in truth those purchases were equally as f*cking useful. With Harry coming off the back of consecutive hat-tricks, he then got the sniffles and was benched away at Swansea. In fairness to him he came on and set up a goal, but because Sandwich Lane, sorry, Dele Alli blootered the ball at the keeper first, it didn’t register as an assist. Splendid. Hope was not lost however as Kane started at home to West Ham. This was it. This HAD to be it. Over 100,000 Triple Captain chips rested on this game…and nothing. Nada. Zilch. A grand total of 3 points over two games for Harry f*cking Kane. Am I bitter? You better believe I’m bitter.
Aside from the Spurs schenanigans there were some cracking games this week. Arsenal and Chelsea played out a pulsating 2-2 draw that saw Alvaro ‘Just a Spanish Sean Dundee’ Morata waste at least three great opportunities and two decent ones. Marcos Alonso popped up with yet another goal to try and show his compatriot how it’s done. Liverpool went to Turf Moor with two centre-backs under serious threat from a Dutch purchase more expensive than a Van Gough painting, and this sparked both into life as Lovren assisted a Klavan winner. Motivation is a funny thing, eh? Andy Carroll popped onto the FPL radar by scoring twice as West Ham saw off West Brom. I shall smile wryly when I see the flood of ‘Transfers In’ for the big lummox in a weeks time. Some people just never learn.
Finally Riyad Mahrez scored and assisted in an emphatic home win against Huddersfield, made all the more remarkable by the fact that he played with a big neon sign on his back saying ‘Buy Me. For The Love Of God Buy Me Now’.
I suspect someone will.