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#FPL Preview – Gameweek 28. Written by Niall “Big Balls The Man” Hawthorne

I got an email from @FantasyYIRMA towers on Sunday evening telling me that @FantasyGaffer was selected to do the Preview for GW28. Yet for some reason I just felt like ignoring the instructions of ‘management’ (don’t snigger) and continue on regardless. You should now fully expect me to do the FPL tipping equivalent of diving right over a simple penalty to save, then claim that I misunderstood the email.

Let’s begin…

Defender: Matt Doherty, Wolverhampton Wanderers

You know Matt Doherty has made the big time when he’s featured in an interview on Football Focus and the interviewer admits that the British press have only worked out how to properly pronounce his surname thanks to his stellar success on the pitch. If he was having a mediocre season, they’d still be butchering his name as they did with poor Kevin Moran (NO emphasis on the ‘a’), Paul McGrath (NO emphasis on the ‘th’) Padraig Harrington (I’m not even going to try, you just have to be Irish to know) and Roy Keane (over here there are 6 syllables in his surname when pronounced correctly).

This Tuesday night he and the rest of his Wolf Pack travel to Huddersfield to face a team with one goal in their last six games, and firmly playing for their way out of the squad for next season, or for their place in the Championship squad. Ergo, a clean sheet is probable. Three goals and six assists (2 assists in his last three appearances) add to the rationale behind getting him in your team for this midweek set of fixtures.

Midfielder: Mo Salah, Liverpool

GW24 – James Ward Prowse tipped, and scored

GW25 – Sadio Mane tipped, and scored

GW26 – Paul Pogba tipped, scored twice

GW27 – Sadio Mane – D’OH!

A couple of logical reasons behind this selection – Liverpool play better when the games start coming thick and fast, as they now will do. Salah has one goal in his last five starts, and that’s ‘unusual’, so I’d expect it to change. Oh, and he scored FOUR in the same fixture last season, and also notched away to Watford in GW13. He likes battering hornets.

Forward: Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal    

Four goals in his last five starts. Five goals in his last seven starts. He’s suspended for a couple of more Europa League games, making him extremely unlikely to be rested in the Premier League. He’s also facing a Bournemouth side who have conceded a whopping EIGHTEEN goals in their last SIX away league fixtures, resulting in 8 consecutive defeats.

Sometimes the obvious choice is also the right one.

Captain: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City  

Speaking of which…

Two hat-tricks in his last two home games. Gabriel Jesus nursing a hamstring injury, and following hot on the heels of the Wembley injuries to Fernandinho and Laporte, Pep will be loathed to rush Jesus back.

He’s facing a West Ham side with just four clean sheets all season, and a side they shellacked 4-0 in London earlier in the season (although Kun played 80 minutes and didn’t score or assist in that game).

Anyway, speaking as someone who missed the Aguero gravy-train in the last few weeks, I’m not risking it again, and you shouldn’t either.

Outsider: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City  

When you’ve watched football for as long as I have, over the different eras (says I sucking on a Werther’s Original in my rocking chair), you learn that footballers psychology is different than almost any other walk of life. There’s a prime example at Wembley yesterday as Kepa quite clearly defied his manager and refused to be subbed – how that plays out in the next fixture and beyond is going to be fascinating, but I’m 99.9999% sure that it’s the manager who’ll carry the can for that, and not the player, in the long run.

It’s been clear for quite a long time that Jamie Vardy and Claude Puel didn’t see eye to eye, and this clearly affected Vardy’s form. But now that the French Johnny Giles has been guillotined, I’ve a hunch that the old, snarling, gobby Jamie Vardy may well reappear, starting with a home game against Brighton. The caretaker ‘dream team’ of Stowell and Sadler (does this remind anyone else of the Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets?) are almost assured to go back to basics, which will be to play to the strengths of their talismanic marksman.

Oh, and he’s under 5% ownership, so that makes him an outsider. So there.

Draft: Miguel Almiron, Newcastle United     

Why not?



Written by Niall Hawthorne.

Drop Niall a follow on twitter. Good thing about Twitter – you can always unfollow again later!


Niall Hawthorne has a strange view on most things.

Check out his blog for proof


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Fantasy Football – Gameweek 21 Preview – Written by @NiallHawthorne

If I don’t see another turkey for as long as I live, I’ll be a happy man. Which is awkward because my FPL team is full of them right now. As we finally get to the end of the hectic festive football period (which started on December 1st according to Sky Sports), the following tips all carry the same caveat:

I have no bloody idea which players are going to be fit / be picked in light of all the games they’ve played in the last 10 days.

Understood? Good, so on we go…


Defender: Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea

Keeping the rotation risk in mind, I’ve plumped for a footballer who hasn’t missed a single minute of league action for Chelsea this season. Or last season. Or the season before that. In fact, I’m pretty sure he was crossing in assists for Kerry Dixon back in the day (ask yer Da).

Nine clean sheets in 20 outings has been somewhat embellished by two assists, which is down on his usual level of attacking output (he has at least 5 assists in each of the last three seasons). Therefore, he’s due, and he seems to have a unique ability to set up goals for Alvaro Morata, which puts him in a very exclusive club indeed. No other sod can do it. With the injury to Olivier Giroud at Selhurst Park, there’s a chance that Morata may start against Southampton at the Bridge.

All hail Cesar!

Midfield: Felipe Anderson, West Ham

A wee bit of life advice for you now ladies and gents. Don’t gamble on football, particularly the Premier League. The results thrown up over the festive period have been impossible to see coming, and this weekend there are a couple of fixtures that Mystic Meg would refuse to try and predict. Everton host Leicester City where either team could smash the other, and West Ham host Brighton.

While the Hammers can below hot and cold (as evidenced by their insipid defeat to a previously woeful Burnley), they face a Brighton side who are consistently poor away from home and who travel with as much confidence as a commuter with Northern Rail.

Felipe Anderson has been the standout performer for West Ham this season with a solid 8 goals and 3 assists thus far. His recent form has been strong, and should he be selected I’d be confident he can clip the seagull’s wings to get his 2019 off to a flyer.

Forward: Harry Kane MBE, Tottenham Hotspur

Now I know the name of Harry Kane appearing here will make many of you groan with frustration and disenchantment, and I get it, I really do. In FPL seasons past, there were always ‘star strikers’ you could hang your hat on to do the business each and every week, but this season has been the toughest I can remember to find the right man to lead your forward line.

Aguero? In and out all the time….

Jesus? Christ….

Kane? He doesn’t really play up front anymore, does he…

Aubameyang? Yeah, but it’s Arsenal, innit…

This week I’m torn between Kane and Aubameyang. Harry travels to Cardiff with 4 goals in his last 3 games, and Spurs having scored 10 goals in their last 3 away games. Aubameyang hosts Fulham which looks like a no-brainer, but Fulham have 2 clean sheets in the last 3 and have conceded just once in that spell. Plus, Aubameyang had 13 touches at Anfield, 6 of which were kick-offs…

So, I’m plumping for Harry Kane this week, but I fully understand if you ignore everything I say and go for Aubameyang.

(P.S. I tipped Firmino against Arsenal. Your move, kid…)

Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool

Remember last season when it didn’t matter who Salah was playing against, he always just delivered? Well his last five GW scores are…

GW16: 21 Points

GW17: 2 Points

GW18: 12 Points

GW19: 12 Points

GW20: 12 Points

Plus, have you seen Manchester City defend recently? They’re jumpier than a racoon on Red Bull at the back. Klopp and his men have a free hit this Thursday and I reckon they’re going to go for it.

Outsider: Tom Heaton, Burnley

The transformation of the Burnley defence from 17/18 vintage of being tight, solid and reliable to the 18/19 vintage of being slapstick, comedic and hilarious was as quick as it was unexpected. It just made no sense.

Then Tom Heaton started his first game of the season after recovering from injury and he keeps a clean sheet while making four saves. I don’t have the Hart to blame just one man for the mess that has been the Burnley defence this season, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out what the issue may have been.

Is an ownership of 0.1% enough of an outsider for you? Oh, and he plays Huddersfield and Fulham in his next two games.

Draft: Jurgen Locadia, Brighton & Hove Albion

Let’s be honest, your all just waiting for the January transfer window to open wide and lots of new fresh blood you’ve never heard of to fly in, so you can draft them immediately, but until then Locadia will have to do. Happy New Year.


Ed: We didn’t get to record a New Year Song this year so here is Niall’s from last year – it’s as good as it was last year so let’s roll it out again!

Happy New Year Everybody! 

Ryan @FantasyYIRMA



Written by Niall Hawthorne.

Drop Niall a follow on twitter. Good thing about Twitter – you can always unfollow again later!


Niall Hawthorne has a strange view on most things.

Check out his blog for proof

Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and the Alternative Christmas Number 1

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