The debate about how best to handle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic rumbles on almost a year after it began. It’s only now that the UK and Ireland have decided that it might be a good idea to stop thousands of people flying into the country and wandering freely among the populace, spreading a veritable smorgasbord of COVID variants throughout the land, leading to a lockdown that is going to go on so long it will become our new reality, and release from it will be deemed the ‘change from the norm’. In fact, there’s a chance that divorce rates will plummet following this lockdown as 98% of adults are showing signs of developing ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and are falling in love with their captors / partners. Remarkable.
This approach, which has been hugely successful in Australia and New Zealand, is clearly a very good idea, and it got me thinking how it could be applied to football. Then it struck me. Any attackers arriving near the Liverpool defence should be made to quarantine for 14 days while Jurgen and the lads work out how best to stop the attack.
Defender: Stuart Dallas, Leeds United
A free-scoring, free-assisting rampaging defender playing against a side so devoid of spark, ambition and goals that they could be playing in front of an empty St. James’ Park even if restrictions were lifted.
Newcastle have a single goal in their last six matches, and while the Leeds United defence is not exactly rock solid, this is too good an opportunity to turn down. There’s every chance Dallas picks up his sixth clean sheet and adds to his five attacking returns.
Besides, it’s Bielsa v Bruce and in the return fixture in GW13 Dallas scored and Leeds notched five. While Newcastle scored twice that day, they’ve scored exactly twice in seven games since. Bruce was clearly spooked by Bielsa’s Bucket.
Midfielder: Raheem Sterling, Manchester City
Raheem Sterling has started eight of the last nine matches, scoring thrice with three assists (including one against WBA in GW13) during that run. Now City face a run of games without their talisman De Bruyne, and Raheem Sterling is going to be expected to pick up the slack.
An away fixture against a side that have conceded a lot in recent weeks is very, very temping. The Baggies have shipped thirteen goals in their last four games. They’ve conceded five goals at home in two of their last four home games. They conceded three and four in the other two home games! That’s SEVENTEEN home goals conceded in their last four home games. Two of those opponents were Crystal Palace and Arsenal!
The more I research the stats on this, the more I’m convinced this could be very, very ugly for West Brom. Imagine Big Sam in a bikini. Yeah, that ugly.
Forward: Tammy Abraham, Chelsea
So poor old Frank ‘Frankie’ Lampard is about to get the big heave-ho, apparently. This is an astonishing attack on one of ‘Britain’s Finest’, and a real shock based on the media coverage since his tenure began. Obviously, those swarthy foreign types Conte and Sarri deserved to be shipped to the kerb with their Premier League titles, FA Cups and Europa League trophies. Poor Frank has been hamstrung by the squillions in new attacking players shipped into his squad (all foreign, naturally), and this COVID affected league campaign caused by a virus from overseas. I’m not sure how, but this is all the EU’s fault.
Anyway, if rumours are true, assistant manager and renowned lover of all things British Jody Morris could be in charge on a temporary basis. Tammy Abraham is off the back of a FA Cup hat-trick at the weekend, so looks a good bet to lead the line against Wolves in decline. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have shipped three goals against the mighty attacking forces of Brighton and West Brom in recent weeks, which makes no sense whatsoever, much like this season.
UPDATE: Frank has indeed been murdered (or sacked, I can’t tell from all the wailing) and been replaced by, wait until you hear this, a EUROPEAN in Thomas Tuchel. Damn you Brussels!
Captain: Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United
Just one clean sheet for Sheffield United in nineteen attempts, and that doesn’t really count as it was against Newcastle, so y’know…
Anyway, that Bruno Fernandes lad is annoyingly good, isn’t he? Just the twenty attacking returns in nineteen league games this season. United are flying high, but here comes a real challenge – three home games in the next four. Their away form has been so spectacular that if I was Ole I’d arrange a four-hour bus trip before each home game so they can pretend their playing away. Paul Pogba can lead the singsong from the back of the bus.
Outsider: Alexis Mac Allister, Brighton and Hove Albion
Alexis has started three of the last four Brighton matches, as well as the FA Cup game at the weekend. He has a goal and an assist in FPL and notched again in the Cup. He faces Fulham at home this week, and with my patented 0.0% ownership tip due another big winner, as ever, it’s your move….
Written by Niall Hawthorne.
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