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West Ham, Leicester and Maradona make the Preview

Liverpool, United, Villa and a load of Red Flags

Written by @NiallHawthorne

We’re in the run up to Christmas and the ‘happiest time of the year’. You might say I’ve gone a bit early, but I’m only talking about it. I know loads of people who have gone the whole hog and put up the tree.

In any case, it may be a bit of a challenge for this Christmas to be considered the happiest time of the year. Can you be happy when deciding whether or not you’ll see Mum/Dad/Granny/Grandad for Christmas dinner and then calculating the odds of them catching COVID?

If only the vaccine had come through a couple of months earlier we could all have had one from Santa Claus to allow us to really celebrate Christmas properly, except for those who don’t believe. In vaccines, obviously,

Tesco are telling us that there’s no naughty list this year. Every Lidl helps, right? Meanwhile every other marketing guru is hellbent on making us cry our eyes out after every advert, at the end of the most harrowing year of all our lives. How about a laugh or two, eh? Why couldn’t we have slapstick moments with Ant & Dec falling over a Christmas tree or Tom & Jerry giving each other gifts that they then use to wallop each other with?

Leave my heartstrings alone please, they’ve been plucked, strummed and ripped this year.

Even FPL has turned on us in our hour of need, as I open up my team to see that my team has erected it’s Christmas decorations early. There’s red, yellow, orange and white all over my squad thanks to COVID, tendons, ligaments and hamstrings.

All my tips this week are subject to a caveat – I have no idea who will be fit or able to tog out this weekend.

All I can do is recommend that you dive deep into the Twitter account and website of @BenDinnery because if he doesn’t know, nobody does.

Onto GW9!

Defender: Alex Nicolao Telles, Manchester United

Yes, I’m tipping a player who hasn’t played a minute of action in FPL this season, but I have my reasons!

He isn’t reported as being injured, sick or AWOL, which is a distinct advantage this week. His direct competitor for a place in defence has twanged his hammy. He’s facing an opponent that has scored one goal in their last five games, and have more than a couple of their forward/attacking players in doubt.

You can pick Telles and watch him in action at 8pm on Saturday night or it’s Strictly Come Dancing. It’s your choice. You should know however that even Strictly is suffering. They’re so short of judges that Anton Du Beke got called into action last weekend.

It’s carnage out there ladies and gents. Absolute carnage.

Midfielder: Diogo Jota, Liverpool

It would be easier to predict the weekly lottery numbers, or the next insane thing to be tweeted by former President Trump (that feels very nice to type) than it would be to predict the defensive players picked by Liverpool and Leicester City this Sunday night.

Both are, in the words of Leo Tolstoy, up shit creek without a paddle.

Van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold all out. Fabinho, Robertson, Williams all doubtful.

Soyuncu, Amartey out. Schmeichel, Pereira, Castagna, Fofana all doubtful.

There’ll be goals at Anfield this weekend, I’m certain of it, and with Mo Salah out with the ‘rona there’s a sure fire starting spot for a man who was muscling in on the fabled front-three in any case.

If you were offered the chance to take a regular starter in the Liverpool attack for under £7m and 10% ownership, would you turn it down?

Well, would you?

Forward: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

Eight goals this season already for Vardy, and seven of them have come away from home. This week, as mentioned just above, he faces a patchwork Liverpool defence that were hardly covering themselves in glory this season anyway.

When you consider he steamrollered over Manchester City’s defence for a hat-trick, what could he do here?

You know how Liverpool have gone 63 games at home without defeat? Well if you potentially take Salah, Henderson, Thiago, Fabinho, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez and Robertson out of their team, that run could come to an end. It could be James Milner at CB. It really, really could.

Captain: Jack Grealish, Aston Villa

I will admit that I have a pretty strongly defined hump with Jack Grealish. The GAA-playing, Irish-shirt-wearing midfield dynamo chose to play for England, and now he’s the next coming of Gazza.

However FPL is all about being cold-blooded and calculated, and the boy Grealish is the real deal. Indeed, his recent displays for Villa have not reminded me of a young Paul Gascoigne, they’ve reminded me of an older Steven Gerrard (calm down, I’m not saying he’s as good or better, I’m just saying he reminds me of him). The Gerrard who linked with Torres and scored over 20 goals a season, that Gerrard.

Put this Grealish in that kind of team, and who knows what he could achieve? He’s doing a pretty good job with Villa right now, and I expect them to swat aside Brighton this weekend with Grealish the star of the show.

Outsider: Richarlison de Andrade, Everton

Returning after his three game ban for trying to amputate Thiago’s leg during the Merseyside derby, it’s fair to say that Everton have missed their frontman. Dominic Calvert Lewin has ‘only’ had a goal and assist during those three games, whereas he had seven goals in five games with Richarlison alongside him.

Everton travel to Craven Cottage to face Fulham in what looks like being the most watched Premier League game of the weekend, because it’s on the BBC on Sunday morning.

Fulham are rotten and the return of Richarlison, with under 4% ownership, gives you a chance to truly makes this a Sunday morning of worship. Or it could ‘Marr’ the day for you altogether.

I’ll get my coat.

Gameweek 8 Preview: Chelsea, Spurs and Far, Far Too Much Donald Trump

Forget The Presidential Election: Gameweek 7 Review

GW6 Review: Posted After The Final Whistle & The GW7 Preview

Fantasy Football GW7 Preview: EARLY DEADLINE

Written by @NiallHawthorne

The year 2020 is so far beyond weird that it’s laughable. It’s completely bonkers.

Who would have foreseen that the toughest opponent Marcus Rashford would face this season would be Boris bloody Johnson?

Who would have contemplated an entire nation going into mourning because a dolphin has gone off for a swim for a couple of weeks? (If you’re not Irish, google ‘Fungie’ and don’t judge us)

Who would have thought that the fabled Leicester City miracle season would be replicated within five years? Escape relegation by the skin of your teeth, start the next season like a steam-train, get talented yet under-achieving midfielders playing to their full potential, and unearth a lethal striker from the lower leagues….Aston Villa are willing the title this year…

As I said, bonkers! Onto GW6!

Defender: Max Kilman, Wolverhampton Wanderers

Nominative determinism is a powerful force. This is the term applied to people who end up doing for a living what their name has always suggested they should do.

  • Hubert Legal is a solicitor for the EU Council.
  • Daniel Snowman wrote a book about the polar regions.
  • A.J. Splatt and D. Weedon wrote a paper together about incontinence.

I’m not sure where the future is going to take Max Kilman, but if he turns out to be the world’s most prolific serial killer, it’s not really his fault, is it?

Before he heads down that road, he’s made a promising start to his Premier League career, with two clean sheets and an assist to his name in his first two appearances. He’s only £4.1m and owned by less than 7% of FPL players, so let’s all enjoy him before he develops a taste for a nice chianti and some fava beans.

Midfielder: Ross Barkley, Aston Villa

Ross Barkley has been holding onto the ‘promising’ tag longer than Boris Johnson has been holding the ‘buffoon’ tag. Eventually though, the tags change.

Ross is entering his TENTH premier league season, so we need to stop calling him promising, and admit that up to now he’s over-promised and under-delivered. Boris Johnson has stopped being bumbling and evolved into pure undiluted evil.

Barkley seems to have licence to bomb forward in this Villa system, and has plundered two goals in two games since he departed Stamford Bridge. He’s got three straightforward home games in the next four GW’s, and is owned by fewer than 3%.

Forward: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City  


This tip has a 50% chance of getting you 20+ points.

This tip has a 49% chance of getting you 1 point after an 89th minute cameo from the bench.

This tip has a 1% chance of getting you 0 points after Sergio Aguero is revealed to be a surprise entrant in ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ before the weekend.

However, he’s owned by 2.1% of players, Manchester City have no fit strikers available, and you can just smell the potential.

You damn fool.

Captain: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Six goals and an assist. Two double digit hauls. One 20-point haul. All in just five games.

This weekend Liverpool welcome Sheffield United to Anfield, and this is a very different Sheffield United to last season’s Sheffield United. The Blades appear dull and blunt.

Much has been made of topsy-turvy start to the season by the reigning champions, however they have played five league games and never failed to score less than twice. Salah and friends were hauled off en masse before the hour mark in Amsterdam, surely with an eye on this clash. Liverpool may also, on a sub-conscious level at least, adopt a motto of ‘we’ll score one more than you’.

This could get very, very messy.

Outsider: Michy Batshuayi, Crystal Palace

Who else could I tip in a column that elaborates on how batsh*t mental this year is, than a player they call Batman?

With Jordan Ayew being all COVID-y, there’s a window of opportunity for Batshuayi to stake a claim for a permanent spot alongside Wilf Zaha. He threw in a cheeky assist in his first start last weekend, costs under £6.0m and is owned by less than 1%.

If you back Batman, you could be Robin a lead on your opponents.

I’ll get my coat.

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

GW5 Review: Posted After The Final Whistle

Gameweek 5: Spurs, Sheffield United and WBA make the Preview

I think it’s fair to say that we are living through unprecedented times.

In fact, I can’t remember back to a time when things were precedented. I often find myself wondering how historians will view the times we are currently experiencing. How will they view the decisions made by our leaders and ourselves?

I have no doubt that one of the things that will confuse the bejaysus out of them is the decision to proceed with international football during a global pandemic….

The logic behind sending footballers out of their club ‘bubble’ around the globe to play international games that are as important as my opinion on Masterchef Australia (No Poh! No!), leading to an inevitable surge in positive COVID-19 cases which are then brought back into the club ‘bubble’, therefore possibly bursting the bubble of professional football happening at all….

Yeah, onto GW5!

Defender: George Baldock, Sheffield United

I’m not saying that The Blades have had a ropey start to the season, but right now Richard Osman has them written down as an answer on his desk. Yep, they’re pointless.

This weekend they face the only team below them in the table, as Fulham come calling. While The Cottagers racked up three goals at Elland Road in GW2, they’ve been firing blanks elsewhere.

I’ve had to ignore the fact that George’s surname references a very niche fetish, and focus instead on the fact that he has a knack of adding goals and assists to his clean sheet hauls. He’s already notched an assist this season, and he’s due a clean sheet.

Midfielder: Matheus Pereira, West Bromwich Albion

West Brom welcome Burnley to my gaff this weekend, so I may open the curtains to watch them in the garden.

Pereira has started the season strongly with a goal and a brace of assists thus far, and he faces Sean Dyche’s men who have conceded SEVEN goals in their two away games. SEVEN! Imagine conceding that many goals in two away games! What eejits!


Forward: Neal Maupay, Brighton And Hove Albion

Here’s a player who is smashing it while flying under the radar of many.

Four goals and an assist already this season, adding to his ten-goal haul last season. He travels to Selhurst Park as The Seagulls take on The Eagles.

Based on knowledge of ornithology alone you’d fancy the Eagles, but have you seen how rowdy the Seagulls have become in recent years? They’d have your fish supper out of your hand and slap you across the face with their wing if you don’t have your wits about you.

Neal Maupay is a French seagull. Just imagine the attitude…

Captain: Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur

I’ve seen plenty of stats during this interminably daft international break about West Ham United and how sound defensively they have been. Their xGA is tiny, apparently. Their xGF is decent. Their xGEEKS is as yet unknown.

My fantasy football methodology is far more straightforward. Old Moyesey has self-isolated and rid himself of his COVIDness, so he’s back on the touchline and The Hammers are going to hell in a handcart once more.

Harry Kane will profit handsomely

Outsider: Rhian Brewster, Sheffield United

Whether you’re one of those (like me) who has had Rhian tucked up safely on the corner of your bench since the season started, or you’ve taken the plunge once you saw him move to Bramall Lane, welcome to the beginning of the ‘£4.5m Bloody Hell He’s A Bargain At That Price’ adventure.

The kid is a talent, and his first big chance is against at home to a team that has a habit of conceding three goals in every game.

All aboard!

Written by @NiallHawthorne

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

GW4 Review: Posted After The Final Whistle

GW4 Review: Written by @JackAGoodwin

Much like James Bond’s No Time To Die, or Black Sabbath’s album “13”, I’ve delayed this long enough, haven’t I. The inevitable write-up of a horrendous GW for my beloved Manchester United only slightly less salty due to Liverpool’s arguably worse performance in GW4.

Needless to say the past week I have been shaken AND stirred by friends and family about how hilariously bad United are, to which my damaged soul is only just coming to terms with it (deep, I know – t’was the only way I could shove a Black Sabbath track from 13 into the sentence).

With that, let’s review GW4 – Let’s get this over with shall we…

Chelsea 4-0 Crystal Palace

Business is back at Stamford Bridge, Abramovich likely standing down some of the assassins he has positioned near some of the Chelsea players houses after this vote of confidence of a game.

It did take a 4-goal second half for the Blues to turn it up a notch after a pretty dull affair for the first 45 in which Palace were right in the game.

Chilwell & Zouma opened the scoring within 15 mins of the restart, the game then signed sealed & delivered from the spot with 2 penalties by Jorginho.

In FPL Chilwell stole the show, with a goal, assist and 3bps he took home a cool 18 points on his Chelsea debut (insert Conor McGregor swag walk gif here). Jorginho delivered 15 points, Zouma 13, and is time nearly up for Werner owners? He took home a lonely 2 points.

As Shakira would likely say if she changed her lyrics a little bit, the Stats Don’t Lie. Chelsea had 71% possession, 17 shots and were deserved winners (even if 2 goals were PK’s) …. (get it…PK…. Pique…. Shakira…Oh forget it!).

Everton 4-2 Brighton

OK everybody calm down, calm…down. Everton, sure, 4 wins out of 4 and looking fantastic, are on quite a run. It’s 4 games, only one of which against “big” hitters when they rocked Spurs 1-0 in the opening game of the season.

They DO look good, Ancelotti (yet to smile) pretty much won the transfer window with his acquisitions who are already rewarding him, none more so than Caitlyn Jenner lookalike James Rodriguez. An 18-point return from 2 goals, an assist and all the bonus points rounded off another successful day on the pitch for the guy known the world over for one lovely volley in that World Cup that one time.

Also unstoppable is Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who scored his 6th Premier League goal and 9th of the season (remember we’re only 4 games in!) and is so high with confidence there’s really no betting against him scoring this coming weekend against rivals Liverpool. Especially with the unfortunate injury that took off Richarlison in the 1st half, DCL needs to now more than ever be the star of the team.

Pickford is naff, let’s get that straight. Everton landed a GK in the transfer window which may see Picky both dropped from the Toffee’s lineup but importantly then Euro2020/1 next year. Brighton did get 2 past him, Maupay with his 4th of the season (a bright light in a very foggy Brighton outfit) and Bissouma with a 90-minute consolation.

Everton this coming weekend are like a bunch of 17 year old’s beaming with confidence rocking up to Anfield with their fake I.D’s. Could go two ways: 1) the bouncers let them in and they have a blast inside (even Pickford hooks-up) OR 2) the bouncers aren’t fooled, let them in knowing they’re going to get battered inside by the much bigger group (Liverpool) inside. Poor analogy, I know, let’s move on.

Leeds 1-1 Manchester City

Aww this was nice, wasn’t it? Didn’t we all enjoy this? Leeds (5th in the League now!) came from behind to earn a point from a City side lacking in confidence.

It was of course City on the attack from the outset, 23 shots in total, but this is quite deceiving. Of those 23, only 2 were on target, whereas Leeds registered a much less 12 shots but higher 7 on target. Leeds also had more possession in a game which saw them looking rather comfortable in what was their biggest test in the Prem so far. They passed with flying colours, sticking to their attacking mentality themselves regardless of the opponents.

Rodrigo scored for Leeds, who interestingly scored in the Premier League nearly 10 years ago for Bolton (the 2nd biggest gap between goals scored, only Andy Johnson betters that “record”).

For City it was flappy-hands Sterling who scored his 1st of the season and for all the world looked like he would go on to score more, but the Leeds defence was solid.

Not much FPL return, with KDB, Jesus & Mahrez not even in the top 10 in the FPL BPS ranking – does this concern you? Are you worried not only the Pep-Roulette, but now actual form may cause you to change FPL strategy? Does anyone even like Kyle Walker? Am I asking too many questions?

Newcastle 3-1 Burnley

Callum Wilson, that one from Bournemouth, scored his 3rd & 4th goal of the campaign in a match against a worryingly bad Burnley side short of any impact players.

FPL’s favourite man, Allan Saint-Maximin came back from injury, scored a goal, grabbed an assist, took all 3 bonus points, and then got injured again – picture Grandpa from the Simpson’s walking into Mo’s Tavern, taking his hat off, turning around, putting his hat on and leaving. That, but instead of Grandpa it’s Allan, and instead of a hat, it’s a Gucci headband.

Wilson (& now ASM) aside, Newcastle despite their position in the table and recent results, don’t have many more attacking outlets – Joelinton is absolutely useless, Shelvey isn’t consistent enough and Fraser hasn’t hit his 18/19 Bournemouth form just yet. With United, Wolves, Everton & Chelsea on the horizon, the sunny start may get rather dark soon for the Toon.

Dyche’s lads are a mess, without a point for the season (still, only 3 away from Man United lol) and not knowing where they will win their first match. West Brom are up next, so there’s a chance, but for FPL managers the world over you’re likely avoiding all Burnley assets for now unless you set-n’-forgot Nick Pope.

Southampton 2-0 West Brom

It wasn’t Ings this time, it was FPL outcasts (3% and 0.2% owned) Romeu & Djenepo with the goals that saw the Saints go marching on. With Chelsea and Everton up next it’ll likely be on Ings shoulders once again – he was quiet in this one.

After his brace against Chelsea, West Brom’s Callum Robinson not only blanked, but got subbed at the 59-minute mark! Johnstone had to make 6 saves, and as the GK was the most active player for them unfortunately. Southampton were better in every way, and that’s not because they were playing fantastic football, it was more the lack of it from Bilic’s side.

Fun fact, Johnstone is only the second goalkeeper to concede 13+ goals in his first four Premier League games, after Fraser Digby for Swindon in 1993-94 (Swindon’s only ever season in the top league). Funner fact, Twitter ITK superstar & Norwegian striker Jan Åge Fjørtoft scored 12 for Swindon in this campaign.

Leicester 0-3 West Ham

The Bluebells were singing Young At Heart, Indecent Proposal just hit the cinemas and Hulk Hogan had just pinned Yokozuna after dodging some salt at WrestleMania 9. April 1993 also saw the last time West Ham beat Leicester 3-0 (David Speedie with a brace and Kevin Keen with the other!).

We now have Cardi B literally talking about her woman bits, cinemas are closing down, and wrestling ratings have plummeted to record lows – take us back to 1993!

I digress, Moyes’less (covid) West Ham ended Leicester’s 100% record with a display mirroring Leicester’s own dominant display against City just a week prior. West Ham countered with confidence and looked totally in control throughout. Antonio bagged his 2nd goal of the campaign, Bowen his 3rd in only an 8-minute cameo appearance, Fornals with the other goal in this game.

Interesting, FPL darling Cresswell is picking up form, a double assist in this game saw him take all the bonus points, however, be warned that the next 3 games for West Ham are Spurs, Man City & Liverpool so I can’t imagine clean sheet points will be as available as they were here.

Worryingly Leicester did not register one shot on target, a quiet day for the almost always present Vardy who after his hattrick over Man City was nowhere to be seen. Villa next, so don’t panic.

Wolves 1-0 Fulham

Not nearly as fun as above, the last time Wolves beat Fulham 1-0 was about 4 months ago.

A 4th straight defeat for Fulham see’s them hand in hand with Sheffield and Burnley at the bottom of the League – all crying on each other’s shoulders. Fulham’s Mitrovic still the only outlet, still very much on a dry run and looking destined to fail (& grab plenty of yellow cards on his way).

Wolves bounced back after getting thrashed by West Ham, Neto scoring the only goal here in a match short of much chances for either side. Jiminez now 2 games barren after a strong start is causing over 190k managers transfer him OUT, but with Leeds, Newcastle and Palace next there still might be something for Jimmy to grab.

Arsenal 2-1 Sheffield United

Yay, Sheffield finally scored in the 2020/21 season! Boo, they still haven’t won a game!

The Gunners did take 60 minutes to get going, Saka heading a Bellerin cross to open the game which Bellerin again provided a lively Pepe to score his first of the season after a 19-pass phase which apparently is impressive?

McGoldrick scored a consolation for the Blades who are yet to find any remnants of their impressive 19/20 campaign. The hope, the little tiny glimmer for Sheffield is Rhian Brewster, who has transferred in from Liverpool and will make his debut next against a poor Fulham side. At 4.5m he could instantly reward those with him.

Aubameyang blanked. Again. Worrying times for the high-priced, now injured “midfielder” in our FPL teams if at all you still have him in there. Nearly 300k of you removed him this GW alone, but weirdly 20k of you brought him IN…what do you guys know? Lacazette didn’t even feature in this match, after scoring in every one of his last 3 appearances – so will Aubameyang’s absence be a blessing for the Frenchman? Read Niall’s GW5 preview, he’ll likely have a better idea on that…

Manchester United 1-6 Tottenham

And now this. Bloody this. Man United lost 6-1 to not only Spurs, but to Mourinho. Kane (2) & Son (2) ran United riot in a game which could’ve very easily been different with a different referee. VAR ruled correctly to give Martial a red card but didn’t punish Lamela who, all TV pundits agreed should have also seen red for his involvement. Yes, I am bitter, but I do think since that moment United looked shellshocked and Spurs pounced.

A fantastic day for Spurs after an impressive transfer window which will only boost the team more once Bale hits the pitch. A window which Cavani, Telles and a couple of kids joined United maybe a little too late with reinforcements needed sooner.

Fixtures are fantastic now for Spurs, FPL managers a’plenty should be investing in not only front line but defensive players with a couple of clean sheets likely. For United, fixtures are tough. Newcastle this coming weekend is a tame starter which leads into a main course of Chelsea, Arsenal then Everton – I do hope Ole is hungry as there’s going to be shed loads thrown at them!

Martial’s red card couldn’t come at a worse time, 3-match ban imminent sees Rashford & Greenwood the focal point of United as Cavani will have to wait to make his debut after Newcastle due to not being an elite athlete or something like that (cracking hairdo though, nonetheless).

Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool

And finally, like finding a £20 note after being mugged, a small victory was then watching this shipwreck of a performance by Liverpool moments later.

Aston Villa of 1982 in the flesh! Jack Grealish aka Peter Withe with 3 assists, 2 goals and the smallest pair of socks you’ll ever see bossed the game from start to finish. 24 FPL points for the lad. McGinn with another 10 points after his performance at Fulham and Ollie Watkins finally scoring not one but THREE goals in a match even the bookies wouldn’t have taken bets on a 7-2 Villa finish.

The Salah brace truly was the icing on the cake, rewarding many (inc. me) with 13 points in a match no Liverpool players should have registered anything to be honest. A tidy return in the untidiest of matches for Klopp’s men. Weirdly, this won’t impact FPL in the slightest, Liverpool will move on from this and your FPL assets will be as secure as a box of dishwasher tablets – those buggers are a pain to open aren’t they?

For the ballsy amongst us, Villa are intriguing now – proving they will attack versus the bigger teams, quite exciting right? The international break is a bugger for them, form is everything and this break will have stalled or perhaps reset the form they had. Teams such as Man United, Leicester and of course Liverpool will have all their players fresh from International performances and all very eager to kickstart their domestic form once again.

T’was a GW to forget for Manchester United & Liverpool fans, but in London there’s celebrations all-round with the cockney teams stealing all the limelight with impressive wins (apart from Palace & Fulham, lol).

Now let’s all see if Niall’s GW5 review is as upbeat and cheery as that! *passes pen*.

FPL GW4 Review


Written by Jack A. Goodwin -Follow him on Twitter @JackAGoodwin

Jack is an “alternative FPL writer” (Who knew, right?) looking for hidden tales behind the most obscure players, dark humour in the game and the creative storytelling to the most mundane of GameWeeks!He’s played the official game for over 7 years, running leagues throughout the offices of his day job.

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