Written by Mr. Niall Hawthorne We have reached the end of the road. The cul-de-sac of Fantasy Premier League greets us once more, and upon your arrival you will either be lauded as a hero or mocked as a failure. As ever there are winners and losers, but as with life it’s the taking part […]
I type this with a stinker of a settling hangover after a big work event last night, so let’s just crack on, quietly….
GW31 Defender: Reece James, Chelsea
Yeah, so Reece James is fit, apparently. Or not. I dunno. It hurts to blink. Chalobah is in good form in the last few weeks too, but will he start? Will James? Can I lie down now?
Chelsea are home to Brentford, so yeah, one of their defenders. Cool? Sound.
GW31 Midfielder: Abdoulaye Doucoure, Everton
It took me three goes to spell his bloody name, and now my brain is rattling in my head. He plays twice, I think. Can anyone confirm if two still comes after one? I’m not sure anymore. Anyway, Claret and Hammers for Doucoure, which sounds shakingly familiar to last night for me.
GW31 Forward: Teemu Pukki, Norwich
I’m going to level with you, the form guide has Pukki in the top 5 form forwards in the game right now. That could still be my addled mind playing with me, or it could be true. I dunno. But he has lovely green games coming as far as the eye can see, and has scored/assisted in three on the spin, so why not? Pukki party!
Nope. Never having a party again. Ever.
GW31 Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool
Salah. At home. To Watford.
This doesn’t take a great deal of thought, which is handy because I don’t have a great deal of thoughts.
GW31 Outsider: Connor Roberts, Burnley
Sean Dyche has had two weeks to plan for these two games, with (presumably) not many players away on international duty. He’ll have them primed, prepped and ready to lock City and Everton down.
Yes I know I’m talking bollox, but it’s the best I can do right now.
Your move…I’m moving to a bed.
I normally comment on world affairs and make a smart comment, but it’s still too serious, too depressing so let’s move on.
GW30 Defender: Romain Saiss, Wolves
Wolves have built their success this season on being hard to beat, and indeed, hard to score against. Only the current top three in the league have conceded less goals this season, and Wolves are a full six goals ahead of the fifth place team in that metric, Arsenal.
With this in mind, a home game against a struggling Leeds United, off the back of a couple of clean sheets, draws my attention.
You could plump for Sa, Coady or Kilman, but Saiss has an eye for a goal in his locker, so he’s my choice this week.
GW30 Midfielder: Harvey Barnes, Leicester City
Harvey Barnes has struggled for consistent fitness this season, but he has started four of the last five games, and in that time he’s racked up two assists and a goal.
Looking at the Premier League table, Leicester City have sod all to play for. Adrift of any hope of a European place, and comfortably away from the relegation zone, it will be interesting to see what Brendan Rodgers can get out of his troops between now and the end of the season. If they play with freedom and lack of worry, they could be destructive. If they give up, they’ll be useless.
GW30 Forward: Ivan Toney, Brentford
Like a reverse Ivan Drago, Ivan Toney decided to pick Brentford up off the canvas in the past couple of games, and batter them to survival with an astonishing five goals in two games against relegation rivals Norwich and Burnley in two genuine six-pointers.
That has left them 8 points clear of the relegation zone as things stand, with 30 points, so another six points should see them safe, which would be a superb achievement all things considered.
Toney now has 11 goals in his maiden premier league season and against a renowned leaky defence such as Leicester City’s, he’ll fancy his chances of continuing his hot streak.
GW30 Captain: Harry Kane, Spurs
Six goals in his last five games. Throw in an assist and eight bonus points in the same games, and when the pickings are this slim, there’s no need to overthink this.
West Ham visit White Hart Lane and in 17 games against West Ham in the Premier League, Harry Kane has 11 goals and 2 assists. He likes to hammer the Hammers.
GW30 Outsider: Rodrigo Moreno, Leeds United
Word has it that Ted Lasso, sorry, Jesse Marsch has put an arm around the shoulder of Rodrigo, whispered sweet Americanism’s in his ear, and is getting the best out of the striker.
In fact, I heard that he said ‘Do it for Gabriella’. If you know, you know.
Written by Mr. Niall Hawthorne
Not sure who reads this column anymore??
GW28 Defender: Tino Livramenton, Southampton
Ah Tino, how we have missed thee.
The darling of FPL in GW’s 1 – 11 has now resurfaced on the back of a stunning 20 point haul in his last two games. Marry that with the fact that Southampton are purring right now, and they have two matches in GW28 against mediocre opposition, and he may well be too good to ignore.
GW28 Midfielder: Hakim Ziyech, Chelsea
Three goal-scoring returns in a row for the man who RomeloLukaku owes, big time.
This week he faces Burnley and Norwich. He’s red-hot, confidence must be sky-high, and he’s owned by under 1.5% of players?
Madness I tell you. Utter madness.
GW28 Forward: Harry Kane, Spurs
Many will plump for Che Adams here, and they’re not wrong. He’s got two games, is the in-form forward in the game, and could do well.
However Harry Kane seems to have found his mojo once more, as the end of a season looms, and a juicy transfer window is about to open in a few months.
This week he faces Everton at White Hart Lane. Everton are bobbins on the road, truly awful. 12 goals conceded in their last 6 away games in the premier league leads me to believe that if Spurs turn up (and admittedly that is a bit of an ‘if’), then Kane could plunder his third double-digit haul in his last four starts.
GW28 Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool
What, again? I hear you cry…
Last week I had to choose differently and Bruno Fernandes blanked harder than Terry Wogan on a BBC game-show in the 1980’s that gave you a chequebook and pen as a prize.
This week he’s off the back of a 28 point haul in DGW26, a shiny new winners medal in his back pocket, and a rest in midweek.
The Hammer can blow bubbles all they want. Salah will blow West Ham away.
GW28 Outsider: Ryan Fraser, Newcastle United
Two clean sheets, two assists, a goal and 25 points in his last four games.
Not bad for a defender with just 0.7% ownership playing for a team that seems to have found its feet under their new manager.
Two games this week too, against Brighton and Southampton.
GW27 Defender: Ben Mee, Burnley
A DGW for Burnley once more, who are riding high after swatting aside Brighton last weekend and showing signs that they just might get themselves out of the relegation zone. Which would be a travesty, obviously.
However, in FPL we don’t care about things like that. We care about the fact that they are playing Crystal Palace and Leicester City this week, and it’s the Foxes fixture that has me salivating.
We all know how bad Leicester City have been at defending set pieces this season, so the prospect of the Burnley Bruisers facing that defence…well, I’m backing Ben Mee to score at least once.
GW27 Midfielder: James Ward-Prowse, Southampton
Southampton are a funny side, aren’t they?
They produced Matt Le Tissier who was a world-beating baller who never left the South Coast, and never really fulfilled his potential at a higher level.
Now they’ve produced James Ward-Prowse from their academy, who while not quite at the Matt Le Tissier level of skill (or conspiracy looniness) is a set-piece Don, almost certainly capable of playing at a higher level (indeed I’d argue he’s got David Beckham levels of quality surrounded by lesser players), and you wonder will he ever move on?
Anyway, I digress. Norwich City at home this Friday night, and after 6 goals, 4 assists and breaking through the 100 pointbarrier last week, he’s too good to ignore this week.
GW27 Forward: Harry Kane, Spurs
I love Harry Kane.
Always have, always will.
He’s a stand-up guy. A true gent. A scholar. The most handsome, intelligent man that has ever existed. Better than Pele, Messi and Maradona combined.
If he really has found his mojo and wasn’t just showing his potential future employer what they could have won, then this weekend he plays Leeds, who are conceding goals at an alarming rate.
GW27 Captain: Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United
Back-to-back goals for the first time this season, both returning double-digit hauls, it appears that the old Bruno is finally returning.
A home game against Watford delivers huge promise for a third haul in a row. Now if Ralf could just jettison CR7 and let Bruno really do what he does best, everyone would be better off.
GW27 Outsider: Riyad Mahrez, Manchester City
Less than 5% ownership, a fixture against an absolutely terrible Everton side, and an inevitable bounce-back from a City side that will be desperately looking over their shoulders at Liverpool marching towards them.
He’s had his minutes managed since the AFCON, but I reckon he’s a lock to start here.
Glory Be! A Double Gameweek!
The unique event in a season where you scour the Burnley squad because you actually want to put one or two of them into your team! How random!
GW26 Defender: Kieran Tierney, Arsenal
Two games ahead this week, both at home, against Brentford and Wolves.
Brentford have one goal in their last four away games. Wolves are more prolific, but aren’t exactly the top scorers in the league.
Tierney is also in form with three clean sheets in his last four games, and six clean sheets in his last eight.
Finally he has four attacking returns this season, has been picked when fit, and is owned by under 15% of players.
GW26 Midfielder: Maxwel Cornet, Burnley
The start of a double double gameweek for the Clarets, who have four league games to play by March 1st.
While pickings are slim amongst the ranks of the gravel-voiced master’s men, Cornet is the clear class act in the team with six goals to his name this season.
Brighton and Spurs this week, and if you bring him in now, he’s facing Palace and Leicester next week.
GW26 Forward: Emmanuel Dennis, Watford
I’m clinging to the hope that his 14 attacking returns this season are evidence of class rather than form.
If I’m right, then this week could prove the old maxim right, and with fixtures against Villa and Palace he’s the best attacking option for this week.
I mulled over Edouard and Jimenez, but I just can’t see past Dennis this week.
GW26 Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool
Home games against Norwich City and Leeds United.
Liverpool are purring, strolling into the San Siro this week to slap Internazionale around, relentlessly chasing Manchester City down, and looking ahead to a Wembley final next weekend.
If you have a Triple Captain chip, I’m struggling to see where and when you’d have a better option to play it.
GW25 Outsider: Jadon Sancho, Manchester United
It’s now or never Jadon.
Leeds and Watford in a DGW. Ownership of under 3%. Cost under £9m. If you can’t do it this week, will you ever do it?
Fantasy Football Preview: Gameweek 25
written by Mr. Niall Hawthorne
I’m not saying that the world is a confusing place right now, but if my casual glance at the news today is right, then Russia is about to win gold at the Winter Olympics in the ‘Threatening to start a war’ event. Their athlete Vladimir Putin solved his Wordle in just four moves despite the American spelling, and then held a party in Downing Street where some D*** resigned.
GW25 Defender: Marc Cucurella, Brighton & Hove Albion
Two games for a Brighton defence that is the very definition of a tease for the last few weeks.
In the past 12 GW’s, they’ve only conceded more than a goal once, but they’ve also only kept 3 clean sheets. That means for 8 of the last 12 GW’s they’ve conceded just one solitary goal. Now, that’s got to be a trend towards defensive returns, right?
This week they play Watford and Manchester United.
One is a club being run shambolically with constant managerial changes, underperforming staff and now being managed by an over-the-hill old git who used to be respected as being ‘cutting edge’ once upon a time in the dark mists of history.
The other is Watford.
£5.1m and under 5% ownership, this is a differential punt. I said punt.
GW25 Midfielder: Conor Gallagher, Crystal Palace
7 goals and 5 assists for the Chelsea loanee this season, and this week he takes on a Brentford side that are shipping goals at an alarming rate in recent weeks. 14 goals in their last 5 games, to be precise.
It’s Bees v Eagles in a London derby on Saturday afternoon, and I fancy this Eagle to soar in this one.
GW25 Forward: Allan Saint-Maximin, Newcastle United
Did you see him the other night? I haven’t seen somebody on my TV move that quickly since Wile E. Coyote had an ACME knife and fork in his hand at dinnertime.
Two goals and an assist in his last four games shows decent form for a forward in the Premier League, which is a position that seems to be dying out of the game, weirdly.
This week he faces Stevie G’s Villa who shipped three goals last time out, so there you go, that’s ALL the logic.
Oh, and I’m not picking Ronaldo. Just because.
GW25 Captain: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
66 points in his last 8 games. That’s over 8 points a game if my calculator is to be believed, but then again can you really believe calculators these days?
Calculators are controlled by the Alt-Right who make us believe that 2+2 = 4 from an early age so we trust whatever we tell them for the rest of our lives. Calculators define our calculations in every aspect of our existence, and we never question them. The more advanced ones even goad us. Sin? It’s not ‘Sine’, it actually says Sin, the evil b*stards. Cos? They do this, just ‘cos. Function? Yes, we can, but only if they let us, and they know it.
Open your eyes sheeple. They’ve infiltrated your phones, they know everything about you! You can delete your Facebooks or your Twitters but who deletes their Calculator app? NOBODY! It’s always there, watching, learning, calculating.
Anyway, KDB for Captain this week.
GW25 Outsider: Samir Caetano de Souza Santos, Watford
I’m long overdue a 0.0% scoring tip, and I have a feeling this week could be it.
This lad plays for Watford, in defence, which is now being marshalled by Roy Hodgson. They’ve only conceded one goal in their last two games, and that was a jammy deflection at West Ham.
£4.5m and NOBODY owns him. Oh, and he’s playing Brighton, who aren’t exactly prolific.
Fantasy Football Preview: Gameweek 24
Written by Mr. Niall Hawthorne
Now that AFCON, the winter break and the FA Cup are out of the way, we can concentrate on six glorious uninterrupted weeks of pure FPL mayhem, as Double Gameweeks approach, Blank Gameweeks loom large, and there’ll be more chips in circulation than Microsoft could handle.
GW24 Defender: Joao Cancelo, Manchester City
It feels like quite a while ago, because it was, but City’s bubble was slightly deflated in GW23 as they were held to a draw at Southampton, following a run of 963 consecutive wins spanning nine decades.
This has left the door ever so slightly ajar for Liverpool, but City will be determined to slam it shut as soon as possible, starting this week at home to Brentford. This should be a routine home win with a clean sheet, so Cancelo is the obvious pick. He’s just penned a new contract and has only missed one start this season. With 12 clean sheets, 8 assists and a goal, the odds are he increases at least one of those stats this midweek.
GW24 Midfielder: Jarrod Bowen, West Ham United
An astonishing 18 attacking returns in 23 league games for the Hammers, and he’s also doing it in the cups, scoring the 121stminute to shatter the hopes, dreams and future of non-league Kidderminster Harriers, the big bully.
This week he has a home game against hapless Watford with Harry the Hornet alongside Hodgson hoping against hope for help in their relegation battle.
While West Ham have wobbled in the league recently, they battered Watford in the corresponding fixture a few weeks ago, and Bowen racked up three assists and 14 points in that game.
I’m expecting more returns for him this week.
GW24 Forward: Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa
Ah yes, the forward pick. It’s like looking for the shiniest turd, the most-educated Brexiteer, the most logical anti-vaxxer. It’s basically impossible.
However Leeds United have conceded a whopping 20 goals in their last 7 league games, and Ollie Watkins is due to break this worst barren spell of the season, so I’m going for him.
GW24 Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool
They made him cry.
Oh, and Leicester City are imploding in typical Brodgers style as his time runs out at yet another club, so even if Salah only gets 20 minutes, he’ll plunder points. Nailed. On.
GW24 Outsider: Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace
Following his AFCON excursion, Zaha returns for Palace away to Norwich City. In his next five games, he faces Norwich, Watford, Burnley and Brentford.
Less than 5% ownership and that fixture list? It’s a recipe for something, that’s for sure.
Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 23
Written by @ Mr Niall Hawthorne
If FPL teams are picked but FPL teams don’t play, does the tree make a sound of one hand clapping?
This season feels like one of those theoretical conundrums with no answer. On we march, through the doubt, the disappointment and the despair.
GW23 Defender: Jose Sa, Wolves
Admittedly my Wolves defensive tip was mysteriously absent last weekend, but to make it up to you I’m going to reveal the big secret of this FPL season that very few people seem to know Jose Sa is the best goalkeeper in the league from an FPL perspective.
He’s fourth for saves made, just six behind David De Gea (stop giggling). He’s got more points than Ederson (!) despite only having 8 clean sheets compared to his 12 (and City’s 13 in total). He costs only £5.2m which is cheap when you consider he has 95 points and is owned by less than 7% of players.
He hasn’t scored less than 3 points since GW11 and racked up 7 points last week despite conceding against Southampton (and even then, that was a worldie by JWP).
He’s set and forget material, and I’ve had him for months. It’s a joy.
Oh yeah! He’s away to Brentford, who aren’t exactly prolific. Almost forgot that point.
GW23 Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
I was tempted to tip Bukayo Saka this week, as he looks to be in top form. However, Arsenal are due to play Burnley this weekend, and the odds on that match happening are longer than the odds on Novak Djokovic guest starring on Neighbours next week.
Bowen is in flying form, but West Ham are away to United and he may not want to annoy a potential new owner (sorry Hammers fans). James Ward-Prowse is turning into prime Matt Le Tissier at the moment (minus the batshit conspiracy theories, probably), but is facing Manchester City, so he’s out.
I’m left with Kevin De Bruyne, who is finally looking like his old self for the first time this season. Six starts in a row hasyielded four goals, one assist and 47 points, so almost 8 points a game. With Southampton, Brentford and Norwich up next, and an ownership of under 10%, he’s on the verge of becoming a must-have.
GW23 Forward: Emmanuel Dennis, Watford
A striker in form! A striker in form! My kingdom for a striker in form! Wherefore art thou, striker in form!?
I may have mashed up my Shakespeare plays a bit, but the point stands. Alex Lacazette is the striker most in form in FPL and that, quite frankly, is a disgrace.
But we must find a tip, so a tip we will find. Emmanuel Dennis let me down this week (although one of his games was postponed because somebody in Burnley sneezed and sixteen teammates pulled muscles in shock and caught Covid at the same time), but he’s at home to Norwich this weekend in a must-win game for both sides.
While Norwich have stoked talk of possible survival with their win over Everton, people forget that Everton were managed by Rafa Benitez on peak mission mode to destroy Everton from the inside. Not that an agent needs much help when the owner himself allows his best player to be sold due to being unhappy with the manager and then sacks the manager in the same week. How daft is that????
I digress. Norwich are still bobbins. Watford need to win. Dennis is going to be a menace.
GW23 Captain: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
Sure, you could have Dennis for the reasons outlined above. Same goes for KDB.
But when Salah is otherwise occupied it feels like a rare chance in life to experiment in a way that won’t end up with an STD or an arrest warrant but will give you the same thrill (if you know, you know).
TAA and his Liverpool mates are travelling to Selhurst Park, where they scored SEVEN times last season, in a match that Mo Salah didn’t start, coincidentally. Trent has already racked up a quite outrageous 10 assists in 19 appearances. Throw in two goals and ten clean sheets, and he’s the clear defensive points leader (and second overall to Mo Salah), so he’s definitely a viable option.
Liverpool should have Alisson, Van Dijk, Matip and Fabinho all available, so their defensive spine is in place, and a clean sheet is a strong possibility. Add in the fact that without Mane and Salah more of the creative responsibility is upon the LFC full-backs, and you can’t ignore the possibility of a Trent Alexander-Arnold masterclass at Selhurst Park.
GW23 Outsider: Philippe Coutinho, Aston Villa
Firstly, you could go for Andy Robertson, owned by a mind-bending 3% compared to TAA at 45%, as an LFC defensive alternative…
But can you really ignore Coutinho at £7.0m? 4.1% have already jumped on board, and with fixtures against a broken Everton (and all his history there), Leeds, Newcastle and Watford in his next four, if you don’t move now, it could be too late.
Gameweek 21 Preview: Bonus Double Gameweek
This is supposed to be a game of skill.
A game where you see who is going to play, you see who is not going to play, you select the best players you feel will deliver the most points. That’s the skill element. Of course,there is also luck, both good and bad, like any game.
However, as we head into 2022, the skill element has been removed as we have no idea who will play or won’t play. I’m not even talking about individual players here; I’m talking about whole fixtures. As I type, two matches have already been called off for this weekend, but Chelsea v Liverpool looks dodgy, not to mention a couple of others.
So, my ability to show off my SKILLZ is removed, much to my frustration. I know that many of you (because I see your Twitter feeds) are feeling a similar sense of frustration with both the situation and the FPL organisation.
To you all, I tell you this.
It’s just a game. Never forget that.
GW21 Defender: Dunno, don’t know who’s playing – Let’s guess at Harry Maguire, Manchester United
I’m being serious!
Aside from De Gea, he seems to be the only nailed on starter in the United backline these days. That’s important because United are allegedly supposed to play Wolves on Monday evening, and Wolves have scored one goal in their last six games.
Really! One goal in 540 minutes of football, and that was against Brentford. They’ve blanked against City, Liverpool and Chelsea (understandably, I suppose) but also against Norwich and Burnley, which is not good.
So, a United clean sheet looks probably in a game that looks possible.
GW21 Midfielder: Dunno, don’t know who’s playing – Let’s guess at Heung Min Son, Spurs
He’s on a streak of five returns in a row, including four goals and two assists, and faces a Watford side that are conceding goals at a rate of three per game over the same five game period.
Son is a decent captaincy pick, so if my captaincy pick picks up Covid, pick Son as your pick for captain pick and hope he can’t pick up covid too.
GW21 Forward: Dunno, don’t know who’s playing – Let’s guess at Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa
Brentford host Villa, apparently, this weekend.
Alvaro Fernandez took over in the Brentford goal in GW10, and in the nine games since he has one clean sheet and has conceded 16 goals – that’s not great.
Since GW10, Ollie Watkins has played all nine games, scored four goals, provided one assist and has picked up nine bonus points.
Make of those stats what you will.
GW21 Captain: Dunno, don’t know who’s playing – Let’s guess at Mo Salah, Liverpool
If this game goes ahead, there’s a reason why you should get away from the ‘Chelsea are great in defence’ narrative, because they haven’t been…
In their last 10 league games, they have two clean sheets.
In away league games this season, Salah has scores of 17 (Norwich), 13 (Watford), 24 (United, LOLZ) and 15 (Everton, LOLZ x 100).
This is his last game in the Premier League for a month, if it goes ahead, so ignore him at your peril.
Oh, and Ronaldo at home to Wolves? Have you seen the form of the Wolves defence? If not, you should….
GW21 Outsider: Dunno, don’t know who’s playing – Let’s guess at Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
1.This is the first game of the weekend, so less chance statistically that it gets pulled (possibly)
2. KDB has picked up 34 of his 65 points this season in his last four games
3. He’s owned by under 5% of all players
4. He’s playing Arsenal, without lego-head on the touchline for Pep to patronisingly pat