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Fantasy Football Gameweek 18: Will it? Wont it? Who Knows?

Written by Niall Hawthorne

On the small off-chance that any football actually happens this weekend, I’m going to give you some tips. This hasn’t taken long, there are only five matches still due to take place, and I know many won’t have a full XI to rely on, but sure let’s give it a lash.

Oh, and in true Sesame Street style, this week’s column is brough to you by the word ‘If’. 

Onto GW18! 

GW18 Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool

I could easily say it’s only because of THAT goal.

But that would be to overlook SIX double-digit hauls in 15 starts, the NINE attacking returns and the NINE clean sheets. 

If the game goes ahead, and if he doesn’t have the ‘rona and if Harry Kane continues being Harry Kane, then this is an easy pick. 

GW18 Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

If this game goes ahead, and if KDB doesn’t have the ‘ronaand if he really is back to his best form, then an away game to Newcastle United is almost as delicious as your Christmas dinner. 

Get stuck in! 

GW18 Forward: Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa

Picked him last week and a goal, an assist and 12 points later I’m going to pick him again this weekend. 

It’s only Burnley, like. 

GW18 Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool

Can you remember the last time Mo Salah didn’t score or assist in a Premier League game? 

I do. 

It was Saturday, August 21st in the dreaded early Saturday slot. After his annual opening day haul, the goals and assists dried up. 203,000 players decided that he was a flash in the pan and transferred him out ahead of GW3. 

LAAAARRRFFFFF. 

14 goals, 8 assists and 17 bonus points in the next 15 games have made those people look very, very silly indeed. He’s on for 375 points in the season at this pace, and a reminder that he holds the record with 303 points in a season. 

This run he’s on is historic. It’s Vardy Party levels of historic, and he could beat it this weekend if the game happens and if he’s not got the ‘rona. 

GW18 Outsider: Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal

So ostensibly a striker, categorised as a midfielder, taking the place of an ostracised captain, costing £5.2m, owned by less than 1% and has two goals and three assists in the last five games? 

Your move…

Written by Mr. @NiallHawthorn

It’s finally happened.

After three years of a frankly bewildering myopia from Manchester United fans, Manchester United ex-players and Manchester United Executives, the substitute teacher has been shown the door. 

His exit interview was a cringe-fest for most of us, but a heart-wrenching trauma if you’re of a Red Devil disposition. His whole tenure reminded me of The Simpsons episode where Mr. Bergstrom became Lisa’s favourite ever teacher while substituting for Miss Hoover. I’m almost surprised Ole didn’t look right down the lens of the camera to address every Manchester United fan and say…

‘You are Manchester United’

Onto GW13! 

Look, we all know that this season you must have 3 or 4 of TAA, James, Chilwell and Cancelo, so if you don’t have at least three of those, you’re doing it wrong. 

Defender: Tyrone Mings, Aston Villa

However, my job is to look for other options, and Aston Villa are now interesting to me after the appointment of Steven Gerrard. 

Gerrard’s management style at Rangers was one of solidity, keeping it tight at the back. It’s no surprise considering the manager he got most joy under was one Rafa Benitez, who led two Liverpool teams to a Champions League final by keeping things tight. 

Villa began the Gerrard-era with a clean sheet and a victory against Potter-ball, so that’s a good sign. This week they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, as two of the greatest midfielders of their era go head-to-head. I’m talking Gerrard v Vieira, not Milivojevic v Nakamba, to be clear. 

Mings was benched for Smith’s last game in charge, but has come back into the team, kept a clean sheet and scored, making it a goal and two assists so far this season. At less than 7% ownership and under £5m, he’s worth keeping an eye on.  

Midfielder: Emile Smith Rowe, Arsenal

Even while being battered by four at Anfield, Smith Rowe showed glimpses of what he’s about on Saturday evening, so he’s worth trusting once more this weekend as he faces Newcastle United at The Emirates. 

Prior to GW12 he had three goals and an assist from GW9 – GW11, and Newcastle United under Eddie Howe may score their way out of trouble, but they sure as hell aren’t going to keep many clean sheets. 

Forward: Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers

Jimenez began the season understandably slowly as he worked his way back to match fitness following his broken head last season. 

However, form is temporary and class is permanent, and since GW5 Jimenez has three goals and three assists in seven GW’s. In short, the Jimenez of old looks to be back and he’s only getting warmed up. 

With that in mind, a trip to Norwich City looks promising. While the Canaries started the Smith era in style last weekend, their defence is still ropey (27 conceded in 12 games). 

This wolf is on the prowl and canaries are but an hors d’ouevre. 

Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool

Last week I told you that Mane might be a nice differential, and he duly outscored Salah by four points, giving those of you that listened an 8-point swing on your rivals. 

Having said all that, Salah scored again, so that’s just the 11 goals, 8 assists and 16 bonus points in 12 GW’s so far. Heh. It’s almost farcical typing that y’know.

This weekend Liverpool face Southampton at Anfield, and I’ve got a feeling….

Y’know the way Southampton under Hassenhuttl have, well, shipped 9 goals TWICE? 

Y’know the way Liverpool have a meaningless CL game against Porto where they can rest players? 

Y’know that Triple Captain chip most of us have burning a hole in our pockets? 

Mmmmm…..

Outsider: Marc Guehi, Crystal Palace

Admittedly my Palace defensive tip didn’t work out last week, but they do appear to be getting more solid in general, and as pointed out above about Aston Villa, are facing a side more concentrated on stopping them than scoring against them. 

£4.5m and 0.5% ownership and an ever-present in the side? 

Your move…

Fantasy Football – Gameweek Preview – Palace, West Ham and Liverpool

Fantasy Football Gameweek 10: Just one Cornet goal!. Give it to me!

Fantasy Football Preview: Gameweek 9 – Chelsea, Palace, Wolves and Mo Salah

Fantasy Football Preview – Gameweek 8: Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham

Fantasy Football Gameweek 7: Chelsea, Leeds and Watford?

So, we face our winter of discontent. 

It’s not like we haven’t been warned. They do say that all the Hollywood movies and TV shows are secretly designed to prepare us for the future. We know what to expect when the aliens come from Independence Day. We know what to expect from cataclysmic climate change from The Day After Tomorrow. And we know what to expect from a hard, brutal winter from Game of Thrones. Winter is indeed coming. 

Food shortages. Power outages. Fuel costs rocketing. Soda streams banned. Covid lockdown after covid lockdown on the horizon. It’s all ahead of us during the bleak, dark months ahead. 

Thanks be to goodness we have this fun, amazing game to make us all happy right? Right? 

Onto GW6!

Written by Mr. Niall http://twitter.com/niallhawthorneHawthorne

Defender: Gabriel, Arsenal

Tipping an Arsenal defender, the man has clearly gone simply mad. 

Well, yes, I have, but over some other issues. For FPL I’m clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. 

Arsenal are off the back of two clean sheets (admittedly against Burnley and Norwich) but they are facing a Spurs side featuring Sulky McSulkerson up front (also known as Harold Kane) and have looked as threatening up front as a baby lamb in spring over the past two weeks. Roy Keane was not impressed, and nobody could really say he was wrong. 

If Gabriel keeps a clean sheet here, dreams really do come true. 

Arteta can make it three wins on the spin in a North London derby, and in doing so he’ll effectively secure his position until after Christmas at least. I reckon we’re going back to simpler times here. 

1-0 to the Arsenal.

Midfielder: Allan, Everton

Remember when you had to be a really, really, REALLY good player to just have one name? Pele. Maradona. Zico. 

Now every no-mark has one, and while I’m including Allan in this list, I’m also tipping him to be a peach of an outsider bet for your midfield this week. 

Everton host a truly woeful Norwich City side who are on a run of 124,862 consecutive Premier League defeats under Daniel Farke (or something close to that number). They’ve lost every game this season in the league, were just battered by Liverpool B/C in midweek and are there for the taking. 

They’ll play three at the back again, try and sit deep and contain, so Everton need the right tool for the job. 

Allan’s key.

Forward: Michail Antonio, West Ham United

If you knee-jerked and sold him after his red card in GW4, then you’re either slapping yourself in the face repeatedly, or doing all kinds of transfer nonsense to get him back in for this week. 

If you were calm and patient while benching him for GW5 then yours is the world and everything in it. 

Antonio returns nice and refreshed against a Leeds side leaking goals at an alarming rate in the Premier League. In four appearances it’s four goals and four assists for Michail and you’ll be a brave man to back against him improving those figures.

Captain: Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United

Aston Villa visit Old Trafford this Saturday lunchtime having conceded three goals in each of their two away games this season. 

While it’s no disgrace to concede three at Stamford Bridge, conceding three at Vicarage Road is well dubious.

Ronaldo is no doubt seething about last weekend where he was hauled down at least twice in the box only to have both the referee and another referee staring straight at a TV screen turn down his appeals. Presumably just for a laugh. There’s no other logical explanation. 

If I know Manchester United, and I think I do, Ronaldo is going to be awarded at least two penalties in this game and I reckon he nets a hat-trick too. 

It’ll be a torrid time for Aston Villa’s defence but surely, it’s a d:ream to play Ronaldo. After this, Mings can only get better….

Outsider: Jordan Brian Henderson, Liverpool

If you cast your mind back a couple of seasons, before pandemics were a thing and Liverpool were chasing a league title (which they missed out on by a point), Jordan Henderson was moved to a more advanced ‘8’ role by Jurgen Klopp, and it worked. 

Well, here we go again. Henderson is playing far more advanced, getting in the box, creating, and shooting with regularity. He’s just £5.0m and owned by less than 1%. You could do worse.

Your move…

Written by Niall The Legend Hawthorne

We finally reach the end of this turgid, harrowing, depressing, weird, condensed FPL season.

To those of you who are winning you should know that this season will forever have an Asterix next to it and it doesn’t count.*

To those of you like me who have languished badly all season and the game stopped making sense, you shall inherit the earth. It’s the game that’s wrong, not you.

Roll on GW1 of next season when we’ll have sunshine, fans in stadiums and normality back once more. We’ll have a cracking four team title race, nine teams in relegation trouble all season long, VAR will finally work like it’s supposed to, and Micah Richards will body slam Gary Neville after the laughing finally stops.

Onto GW38!

Defender: Stuart Dallas, Leeds United

Let’s finish the season with the top-scoring defender in the game, eh?

Earlier this season Leeds United walloped The Baggies by five, with Dallas getting an assist, three bonus points and a 12-point haul. With Big Sam departing stage left holding a pint of wine in his right hand and a gravy boat in his left hand, West Brom players will have their minds elsewhere as they frantically try to get a new contract at a Premier League club. If your name is not Pereira, best of luck with that.

Dallas to score, keep a clean sheet and then step out of the shower after the game to reveal that this whole season has just been a dream.

We can hope.

Midfielder: Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur

Gareth Bale has 9 goals, 3 assists and has played over 60 minutes in a game just 9 times this season.

If he could ever be arsed about football again, he’d be amazing.

Alas his head doesn’t seem to be in the game anymore, and after this game nobody has a clue as to where he will end up next season – The Real Madrid bench? The Spurs team? The golf course? Your guess is as good as mine.

However, he didn’t start last week against Villa so I reckon he’s nailed on to start this weekend and may well sign off (possibly) from Spurs once more with a goal or two.

Forward: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

Choosing who to pick up front this week was impossible!

Firmino is bang in form, playing for a team on a mission, has two goals and an assist against the same opponent from earlier in the season.

Harry Kane wants the golden boot almost as much as he wants to leave Spurs.

Kelechi Iheanacho can’t stop scoring and wants to fire Leicester into the Champions League again.

Chris Wood is the form striker in the league and faces Sheffield United.

Patrick Bamford faces relegated West Brom who he scored 8 points against earlier this season.

They all make compelling cases, but my gut, my head and my heart say it’s time to say farewell to Sergio Aguero by sticking him up front. His last ever Premier League game (unless he fancies partnering Teemu Pukki up front at Carrow Road next season), and we say farewell to a true Premier League legend.

Only Andy Cole, Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer have scored more than the Argentinian maestro. While Pep will be rotating his team ahead of the European Cup final, this is the perfect opportunity to give Aguero a fully deserved swansong, because barring injury he ain’t starting against Chelsea in Portugal!

The returning City fans could witness the final goal(s) of the Aguero era, and he only needs five to catch Andy Cole….

Just saying.

Captain: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

The final big call for you to make, and there are some golden rules you should always keep in mind.

Firstly, always pick a player who has something to play for. Secondly, pick a player in form right now. Thirdly, always captain Salah.

With all three boxes ticked, you should captain Mo Salah.

Outsider: Fabio Carvalho, Fulham

Let’s try to squeeze in just one more 0.0% owned point-scoring tip this season, shall we?

Fabio Carvalho has started the last two for Fulham, scoring in one, and faces Newcastle at home, and we all know how rubbish Newcastle are, right? (Yes, I admit they did better than I expected, well done Newcastle fans).

So that’s that. My final preview for another season. Thanks for reading. Thanks for not shouting at me when I was wrong. You could tell me you love me when I’m right, but we can work on that. So, until the website uploads the new players for next season, and we all start working on the first of our 1,274 draft teams, for one last time it’s your move….

*Yes, it counts. Well done. I’m just jealous.

Written by @niallhawthorne

Time Travel…

No longer the subject of science-fiction nerds, it’s real, and the time-travellers walk among us. They also play FPL in their droves, amazingly.

28 people from the future triple-captained Alisson Becker in a game where he became the first goalkeeper in the full history of Liverpool Football Club to score a goal.

If that’s not bad enough…

1 person from the future is probably getting a terse holographic telling off from a star lord in the 32nd century for really extracting the urine, when he triple captained Sheffield United debutante Daniel Jebbison.

It’s one thing to lurk in the shadows of a time period you don’t belong to, dropping hints that you exist without ever being spotted. It’s quite another to metaphorically strip arse naked and walk up and down Time Square telling the whole world that you got on the Jebbison bandwagon before anybody else on Earth in the 21st century.

The gall of some people….

Onto GW37!

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool

Play it again Sam! (or John, Michael, Sarah, Michelle, whatever your name happens to be).

There’s no way I can not tip Trent Alexander-Arnold once more, because he’s playing out of his skin right now. A few weeks ago, I pointed out that he had adopted a new role, a quasi-right-back-attacking-midfielder role, if you pay close enough attention.

His last eight appearances have yielded three clean sheets, five assists and a goal. Just one blank in those eight games, to a 95th minute equaliser.

He’s dragging Liverpool kicking and screaming, against all odds, to a potential top-four spot. Only a quarter of FPL players own him.

Forget clean sheets, they would be a welcome bonus. This fella is an out of position attacking midfielder, and an FPL must have.

Midfielder: Joe Willock, Newcastle United

We need to get a handle on the level of hyperbole that is sloshing around in the world of football right now. On Sunday afternoon it was reported that ‘Diogo Jota is out for the season’, and my immediate reaction was to once more assume the foetal position and start rocking back and forth. Then it dawned on me that the season ends next week. FFS.

However, if you’re like me and you have a Jota shaped hole in your squad, I’m recommending Joe Willock to you. He’s scored five goals in his last five appearances, one in each game, and in three of those he came off the bench with just minutes left on the clock.

Forward: Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal

There is no rhyme nor reason for this tip. He’s not started in four games and he hasn’t scored since GW31.

However, I have a hunch.

He has 13 goals to his name this season in one of the worst Arsenal teams for quite a long time. He’s owned by less than 5%, so if you have some ground to make up in your mini league, step this way…

Captain: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

The golden ticket at this stage of any season is to hang your armband around a player who still has something to fight for.

Mo has a top four spot on his mind and is level pegging with Harry Kane for the Golden Boot. That’s double trouble for his opponents.

This week he travels to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, who are going to try and replicate the West Brom approach, but mark Alisson Becker at corners.

Mo scored yet again on Sunday, making it four consecutive games with returns, and he has five goals and an assist in his last seven starts. You get the feeling either he or Kane will score a flurry to seal the deal in the Golden Boot race, and what Liverpool wouldn’t give for it to be Salah on Wednesday night.

Outsider: Christian Benteke, Crystal Palace

Don’t start.

I mean it, just don’t bloody start.

Yes, it’s Benteke, but I’m still recovering from watching my goalkeeper head in the winner in the 95th minute, so anything is possible right now.

Our old buddy Benteke has goals in three consecutive appearances and looks primed to bully a less than physically imposing Arsenal defence this week.

Your move….

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