We’re in the run up to Christmas and the ‘happiest time of the year’. You might say I’ve gone a bit early, but I’m only talking about it. I know loads of people who have gone the whole hog and put up the tree.
In any case, it may be a bit of a challenge for this Christmas to be considered the happiest time of the year. Can you be happy when deciding whether or not you’ll see Mum/Dad/Granny/Grandad for Christmas dinner and then calculating the odds of them catching COVID?
If only the vaccine had come through a couple of months earlier we could all have had one from Santa Claus to allow us to really celebrate Christmas properly, except for those who don’t believe. In vaccines, obviously,
Tesco are telling us that there’s no naughty list this year. Every Lidl helps, right? Meanwhile every other marketing guru is hellbent on making us cry our eyes out after every advert, at the end of the most harrowing year of all our lives. How about a laugh or two, eh? Why couldn’t we have slapstick moments with Ant & Dec falling over a Christmas tree or Tom & Jerry giving each other gifts that they then use to wallop each other with?
Leave my heartstrings alone please, they’ve been plucked, strummed and ripped this year.
Even FPL has turned on us in our hour of need, as I open up my team to see that my team has erected it’s Christmas decorations early. There’s red, yellow, orange and white all over my squad thanks to COVID, tendons, ligaments and hamstrings.
All my tips this week are subject to a caveat – I have no idea who will be fit or able to tog out this weekend.
All I can do is recommend that you dive deep into the Twitter account and website of @BenDinnery because if he doesn’t know, nobody does.
Defender: Alex Nicolao Telles, Manchester United
Yes, I’m tipping a player who hasn’t played a minute of action in FPL this season, but I have my reasons!
He isn’t reported as being injured, sick or AWOL, which is a distinct advantage this week. His direct competitor for a place in defence has twanged his hammy. He’s facing an opponent that has scored one goal in their last five games, and have more than a couple of their forward/attacking players in doubt.
You can pick Telles and watch him in action at 8pm on Saturday night or it’s Strictly Come Dancing. It’s your choice. You should know however that even Strictly is suffering. They’re so short of judges that Anton Du Beke got called into action last weekend.
It’s carnage out there ladies and gents. Absolute carnage.
Midfielder: Diogo Jota, Liverpool
It would be easier to predict the weekly lottery numbers, or the next insane thing to be tweeted by former President Trump (that feels very nice to type) than it would be to predict the defensive players picked by Liverpool and Leicester City this Sunday night.
Both are, in the words of Leo Tolstoy, up shit creek without a paddle.
Van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold all out. Fabinho, Robertson, Williams all doubtful.
Soyuncu, Amartey out. Schmeichel, Pereira, Castagna, Fofana all doubtful.
There’ll be goals at Anfield this weekend, I’m certain of it, and with Mo Salah out with the ‘rona there’s a sure fire starting spot for a man who was muscling in on the fabled front-three in any case.
If you were offered the chance to take a regular starter in the Liverpool attack for under £7m and 10% ownership, would you turn it down?
Well, would you?
Forward: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City
Eight goals this season already for Vardy, and seven of them have come away from home. This week, as mentioned just above, he faces a patchwork Liverpool defence that were hardly covering themselves in glory this season anyway.
When you consider he steamrollered over Manchester City’s defence for a hat-trick, what could he do here?
You know how Liverpool have gone 63 games at home without defeat? Well if you potentially take Salah, Henderson, Thiago, Fabinho, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez and Robertson out of their team, that run could come to an end. It could be James Milner at CB. It really, really could.
Captain: Jack Grealish, Aston Villa
I will admit that I have a pretty strongly defined hump with Jack Grealish. The GAA-playing, Irish-shirt-wearing midfield dynamo chose to play for England, and now he’s the next coming of Gazza.
However FPL is all about being cold-blooded and calculated, and the boy Grealish is the real deal. Indeed, his recent displays for Villa have not reminded me of a young Paul Gascoigne, they’ve reminded me of an older Steven Gerrard (calm down, I’m not saying he’s as good or better, I’m just saying he reminds me of him). The Gerrard who linked with Torres and scored over 20 goals a season, that Gerrard.
Put this Grealish in that kind of team, and who knows what he could achieve? He’s doing a pretty good job with Villa right now, and I expect them to swat aside Brighton this weekend with Grealish the star of the show.
Outsider: Richarlison de Andrade, Everton
Returning after his three game ban for trying to amputate Thiago’s leg during the Merseyside derby, it’s fair to say that Everton have missed their frontman. Dominic Calvert Lewin has ‘only’ had a goal and assist during those three games, whereas he had seven goals in five games with Richarlison alongside him.
Everton travel to Craven Cottage to face Fulham in what looks like being the most watched Premier League game of the weekend, because it’s on the BBC on Sunday morning.
Fulham are rotten and the return of Richarlison, with under 4% ownership, gives you a chance to truly makes this a Sunday morning of worship. Or it could ‘Marr’ the day for you altogether.
I’ll get my coat.