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Fantasy Premier League: Brighton, Huddersfield and Newcastle FPL Options

Troubling times for Newcastle and Sunderland

Newcastle 2-2 Southampton: 10 Things we learned about Newcastle

Arsenal vs Newcastle: Confirmed Lineups and Preview

Off the Mark: Newcastle in a Chokeslam, WWE style

Off the Mark: It’s a crucial month for Alan Pardew and Newcastle

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Now on these pages we’re always going to be more concerned with club football than internationals, but Premier League news has been a little thin on the ground lately.

When Jack Wilshere finally stopped giving us a story a day on his social habits, the top flight tales fell away and were inevitably replaced by England’s quest to reach the World Cup, which ultimately they did, mostly without Wilshere’s help.

One little story did creep through though, and it has the potential to get even bigger over the next few weeks.

At the weekend Newcastle boss Alan Pardew suddenly decided to tell us that Magpies owner Mike Ashley – the man who pays his wages and who gave him that still unfathomable eight-year contract last September – sometimes gets “confused and upset” by the way football works.

You could say the same for the Newcastle defence in that first half at Everton of course, but Pardew was referring to the vagaries of the game behind the scenes, and how that has an effect on a man once frequently seen downing pints of lager and sitting in with the fans.

Those same fans are sick of him though.

A number of them are planning a protest march towards St James’s Park ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Liverpool, with Ashley the target of their ire.

They’ve done similar things before of course, and then, as now, the considerable frame of the owner has remained unmoved, but in the wake of his manager’s fairly unwise words how will Ashley react this time?

Things had just seemed to calm down a little from the summer shambles involving the reappointment of Joe Kinnear, a bad smell for Newcastle fans who simply won’t go away.

The team won at Cardiff before the international break – a win made possible courtesy of two goals from the in-form Loic Remy, their only major summer signing – whilst they recovered some lost pride in the second half at Everton and are through to the next round of the Capital One Cup.

A reminder of the disharmony behind the scenes will come with that march on Saturday though, and Newcastle could do with just focussing on their football ahead of what looks a tricky month.

They ‘welcome’ Liverpool to Tyneside less than six months after the Reds won 6-0 there towards the end of last season, a feat they achieved without the banned Luis Suarez.

That meeting this weekend will be swiftly followed by the Tyne-Wear derby and then games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham.

The City test is in the cup, but nonetheless Pardew will know that it forms a crucial part of a period which has the capacity to go drastically wrong for both him and his team.

A thinly-veiled, admittedly pretty meek criticism of Ashley probably isn’t the wisest move at this time then, and with the protest and in-form Liverpool now looming so large on the horizon, it doesn’t seem like the best time to get in the owner’s bad books.

No time is, of course, but this one seems especially needless given that the green shoots of recovery for the Magpies were starting to become visible.

Remy is scoring goals, Yohan Cabaye is back in the team following his summer flirtation with Arsenal and Pardew has dropped the simply awful Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

The Cardiff win should see them approaching Liverpool with confidence, determined to wipe away the misery of that 6-0 loss.

Instead, the same old mess which seems to permanently engulf St James’s in a cloud of fog could well be in residence again come Saturday, when Pardew, Ashley, the baffling Kinnear and the long-suffering fans will try to blink through it and simply hope for the best, i.e. not 6-0 again.

***

Rooney tuned up

It’s been just over a month since Wayne Rooney returned to action, and in that short time he’s shown just why Manchester United fought to keep him so much.

On his day the forward can be unstoppable, and with England benefitting from his rejuvenation too then perhaps we could be seeing the renaissance of a man who had appeared to be going through a decline.

Nobody at United will admit that the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson was good for the club, but with that clearly fractious relationship now removed from his life, Rooney appears to have rediscovered a form that many thought had gone for good.

***

Give Gus a proper go

Gus Poyet and Sunderland might just work you know, if it is given time.

Of course, time is the one thing that you’re not guaranteed to get when you’re at the foot of the Premier League table with one point from seven games, but if Poyet can quickly instil his brand of football at the club than that win column should be filled soon.

@Mark_Jones86

Fantasy Premier League: Tips out for YIRMA

Tips out for Yirma

Don’t forget to check out the official FantasyYIRMA preview also available now “GW25 Gareth Bale to sting the Hawthorns”

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Both @pedro_lamb and @mark_jones86 reckon Arry’s wheeling and dealing won’t save QPR from a loss to Norwich

GAMEWEEK 25

Here within the Fantasy Yirma administration team, we like to pretend we have money. With that in mind we have devised a FY Tipster selection competition.

The loser from the Admin team at the end of the season will pay the £50 prize fund for the mini league!!

Here’s the current standings after Gameweek 24:

FY Tipster GW24 Spend GW24 Return Total Spend Total Return  Difference
@pedro_lamb £30  £28 £720 £761.28 +£41.28
@mark_jones86 £30  £0 £720 £527.19 -£192.81
@ryano83 £30  £0 £720 £803.66 +£83.66

Rules

Each player must place three £10 bets (Monopoly) per gameweek. (SINGLES ONLY/ PL Only)

The bet can be on any individual result/market/outcome with the only proviso being that you must stipulate the odds at time of selection submission and it must be from the same odds provider.

In practice this means your three £10 bets can be across three fixtures or three markets within one match.

Get your tips out for Yirma!!!

Gameweek 25 tips:

@pedro_lamb

£10 Norwich (-2.0) to beat QPR 25/1

£10 Stoke to beat Arsenal 7/1

£10 Fulham v Man Utd Draw 3/1

@mark_jones86

£10 Norwich to beat QPR 3/1

£10 Newcastle to beat Chelsea & Papiss Cisse to score anytime 6/1

£10 Luis Suarez anytime goalscorer (Man City v Liverpool) 15/8

@ryano83

£10 Southampton to beat Wigan 5/2

£10 QPR to score the first goal v Norwich after minute 28 23/10

£10 Spurs (-1.0) to beat West Brom 3/1

We want to hear your thoughts.. Drop your bets in the comment section below…

Newcastle United: Third season syndrome?

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Given their past experiences at the top end of the Premier League table in the mid to late 1990s – times they really, really loved – it is easy to forget that Newcastle United are still a recently promoted club.

Relegation in the 2008/09 season meant a season in the Championship for the Geordies and their devoted followers, who were able to watch a team including the likes of Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton bounce straight back to the big time at the first time of asking under manager Chris Hughton.

Just a glance at those names above and a consideration of the varying degrees of success they’ve had since they held aloft the Championship trophy in 2010 will tell you that two-and-half years can be an awful long time in football, and as today’s vastly different Newcastle staff face up to the realisation that they are in another tough relegation battle they are unable to call upon the experiences of too many of those who were involved in the last one.

A reasonably solid first season back in the Premier League in 2010/11 – albeit one which didn’t prevent the removal of Hughton – was suddenly transformed into a rapid change of personnel as the likes of Carroll, Nolan, Barton and Jose Enrique departed and Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Davide Santon arrived. It could have gone one of two ways, but it went upwards.

Aided by last January’s arrival of Papiss Cisse the Magpies flew to a thoroughly deserved fifth place in the table, impressing all onlookers and embarrassing a number of teams below them who had spent a lot more money in the quest for success.

Given the relative newness of the team and breath of fresh air brought by many of the personnel in some ways it was the equivalent of a new team to the division impressing in their maiden campaign; an approach which would place the current problems experienced by Alan Pardew and his side squarely in the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ territory.

Fifteenth in the table and only two points above the relegation zone, Newcastle go into Saturday’s trip to Norwich off the back of nine defeats in their last 11 league games and a demoralising FA Cup loss at Brighton & Hove Albion last Saturday.

Pardew has problems, that much is self-evident, and with Ba deciding to swap the north-east of England for west London – ensuring that the Senegalese top scorer is just another name to come and go during Tyneside’s whirlwind two-and-a-half years – the onus will fall upon Cisse to start finding the net again to lift his side up the table.

Given that matches against fellow strugglers Aston Villa and Reading follow the Norwich game it is not too far-fetched to claim that January is the most important month for Newcastle in quite some time, especially as February brings a fixture against Ba’s Chelsea and a trip to Tottenham as well as the distraction of a two-legged Europa League tie against the Ukrainians Metalist Kharkiv.

European football appears to have come far too soon to a squad and a manager who have struggled to cope with the demands it brings, and these next few weeks before they head out onto the continent again offer a huge chance for Newcastle to pull away from those who – at the moment – appear more likely than them to remain near the foot of the table the longer the season goes on.

The Magpies dare not fail.

Their third season back in the big time has exhibited many of the characteristics of a team going through a second season of struggle after a first season of success, and with Pardew admitting that his team face a second period of the campaign in which they’ll be more concerned about the bottom places in the table than the ones at the top, the likes of Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Cisse simply can’t return to fitness and top form quick enough.

Time has a habit of flying just when you don’t want it to, after all.

@Mark_Jones86

Gameweek 15 preview: The case for the defence – Volume II

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After our Gameweek 8 focus on some of the men who ply their trade at the back, the case for the defence has been reopened ahead of a weekend which is likely to see defenders prove as important as ever.

Scrappy Gameweeks 13 and 14 saw clean sheets and defensive bonus points become vital, and if you can get your hands on a player who will provide both as well as offering an attacking threat then it’s wise to hold onto him. Fortunately there is one currently stationed on Liverpool’s left wing.

Just how long Brendan Rodgers continues with his efforts to transform Jose Enrique (£5.9m) into the new Gareth Bale remains to be seen, but the Liverpool manager’s selection of the Spaniard ahead of converted left-back Stewart Downing in his side’s last two games shows that this is an experiment which is set to last.

Ever since taking up the left midfield role in the second half of Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea in Gameweek 11, Enrique has carried a greater goal threat than any other Reds player bar Luis Suarez. He almost scored in that Chelsea game, provided a goal and an assist in the win over Wigan, had an effort controversially disallowed at Swansea and came close numerous times in Wednesday’s loss at Tottenham.

With Southampton visiting Anfield on Saturday the home crowd will be expecting their underachieving team to both create plenty of chances and keep it tight at the back, two elements of their game that could see Enrique pick up plenty of points. He could even be a left-field left-sided captaincy choice for the brave and the bold amongst you.

Whilst the former Newcastle man is a familiar face to Fantasy players thanks to his five-and-a-half years in the English game, there is also a relative newcomer who could also be worth considering this weekend.

Manchester City’s Matija Nastasic (£5.5m) will need no introduction to Joleon Lescott after the young Serbian took the England defender’s place in the City team, and after starting City’s last six league games the 19-year-old looks here to stay.

The champions have kept five clean sheets in those six matches, and whilst Nastasic’s team-mate Pablo Zabaleta (£5.8m) is another name to consider as an alternative to the expensive Vincent Kompany (£7.2m), the Serb’s price only looks like rising throughout the campaign as City’s title challenge seemingly grows stronger. City’s defenders do come with a warning of a fixture list which sees them face Everton and Manchester United in their next two matches, but Nastasic might just be worth the risk.

Elsewhere as we continue our look at the men at the back, perhaps the weekend’s best chance of a stalemate – Gold-dust when we conduct these cases for the defence – comes at Loftus Road where QPR face Aston Villa in a contest which will see Ryan Nelsen (£4.0m) marshal the home defence and Villa’s Matthew Lowton (£4.5m), Ciaran Clark and Eric Lichaj (both £4.4m) all feature for the visitors.

Manchester United left out Rio Ferdinand (£5.9m) for the midweek win over West Ham at Old Trafford, with full-backs Patrice Evra (£6.8m) and Rafael (£6.5m) perhaps the only two certain starters for their Saturday evening trip to Reading, whilst Chelsea seem to have no problem keeping clean sheets under Rafael Benitez, with Ashley Cole (£6.5) certain to be a key part of the attempt to keep a third in a row as they go to West Ham.

If you need a cheaper option though then it might pay to head to North London, where Per Mertesacker (£5.3m) has started Arsenal’s last eight matches and popped up with a goal in the Gameweek 12 win over Tottenham.

The Gunners have only kept two clean sheets in those eight matches, but they’ll expect to be on the front foot as Swansea visit the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, whilst the return from suspension of Fabricio Coloccini (£5.0m) should shore up Newcastle’s back-line for Monday night’s visit of Wigan.

@Mark_Jones86

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