Blog Archives

5 Tips To Avoid FPL Burnout

5 Tips To Avoid FPL Burnout

Written by Ash @FPLHints

Burnout isn’t something you usually associate with a game of fantasy. If anything, the former and the latter are a contradiction of terms. But even in the world of fantasy football you can have supposed ‘bad days’ for numerous reasons and even quit forever.

In my experience you are more prone to burnout if you are addicted to something or if you no longer find it fun. I should know as I have suffered from it at times to the point where I have said that I would ‘semi-retire’ from FPL (whatever the heck that means) or thought of packing it in altogether.  Of course, one day I will quit FPL but I would want to do so on a high or at the end of an organic journey, not because I was fed up or hated the game.

I have been playing FPL since 2007 and have been a fully-fledged FPL addict since 2010. By addict I mean taking the game more seriously in comparison to a so-called casual manager. You would naturally think I would get better and better with this approach, right? 

Wrong

My overall rank actually got progressively worse the more I wrote about FPL and funnily enough when I finally took a break from creating FPL content I had my best every finish (Top 5K) in 9 years. Coincidence? Probably not if I’m being honest.

Naturally there is a correlation between a decline in my fortunes, being unlucky and not enjoying the game as much as I used to.  I certainly don’t find FPL as fun as I used to. For instance Giroud’s red card, when I happened to captain him on Boxing Day 2014, was a watershed moment and in many ways took a fair bit of time to recover from.  It was the point from which I stopped playing FPL with a risk-inclined mind-set to adopting a heavily risk-averse approach.

(ED. Funny as **** from a neutral, non-Giroud owning perspective though)

Aside from my own experiences, there are plenty of FPL accounts and websites that used to be popular which no longer exist, no doubt in small part due to burnout.

However, with everything in life, we need context. Less than 3 million managers played FPL when I finished 110th in the world, yet since then millions more play the game and every season it becomes even more difficult to finish in the coveted Top 10k. Probability would dictate that experienced managers’ overall ranks will go down due to the increase in managers. I think it’s a bonus in itself if my overall rank improves substantially from the previous season in which less managers played the game. I’m not ashamed to say that overall rank matters a lot to me in FPL. With that said, there’s no way I’m going to finish 110th ever again in FPL.

That’s enough of me banging on about my team.  I wanted to share my experiences as I do at times suffer from FPL burnout. With this in mind, here are my 5 tips to allay burnout in the weird and unpredictable world of FPL:

 1. Be sure to set realistic goals

You’re not going to hit every one of your FPL goals for a given season. And in this day and age you may not even come close to winning any of your mini-leagues. You need to be practical in what you’re looking to achieve. This is all the more true if you regard yourself as a non-casual FPL manager. 

None of us are experts in the true sense of the word and we’re all prone to suffering from a below par season or bad run of form here and there. An achievable aim could be winning a small mini-league or aiming to finish in the top 1% of the overall rankings.  I’m glad I have been able to achieve the latter on multiple occasions and to be frank this is one of my motivations at the start of each season.

2. Try alternative games to FPL

Without overloading myself, I’ve had the good fortune of playing multiple fantasy football and predictor games on the side when also playing FPL.  Those games tend to be smaller and different to FPL.  There have been weeks in which I haven’t done well in FPL, but done well in the alternative games. They serve their duty as a good release from the intensity of FPL A good example of this is Perfect Picks.

It’s played by hundreds of people rather than millions. It’s a multi-sport prediction game with an easy to navigate interface. I’ve found it simple to play and managed to become their World Number One at the end of last season which only served to boost my ego and to some extent complemented my anticipation skills.

3. KISS

Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.

You may be prone to burnout if you plan heavily in advance but then fail to achieve your goals with the desired amount of fantasy points or overall rank. You also don’t need to overcomplicate things by signing up to dozens of random subscription services or get lost inside a monochrome sea of spreadsheets. Is it really worth consuming too much content? Of course not.  Have some sort of strategy but be prepared for unexpected events in FPL. Plan within reason and be aware of potential pitfalls.

Be flexible in your approach and consume knowledge from trustworthy sources but never overload yourself with heaps of content. Also, avoid getting lost in groupthink. You are in charge of your FPL team.  Ultimately do what you deem is best and not what an FPL Twitter account is ranting on about as their opinion isn’t a single source of truth.

4. Take a break if you need to

I became addicted to FPL as I found it fun. It should be a window into the world of fantasy and escapism – away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  If you’re not finding it fun take a break immediately. If you’re really fed up of FPL and are only playing it as your online and offline mates are playing it, STOP.

There’s no harm in saying no. I took a sabbatical for two seasons (albeit to dedicate more time to other pursuits) and would gladly take another sabbatical. In fact, I found my more recent break from content creation to be very beneficial and it freed up time for me to concentrate on far more important things. If you can’t recharge your FPL batteries during the off-season take more time out and do what is best.

5. Focus on your mental and physical health

In some ways this may link to the previous point but without you necessarily putting a halt to playing FPL. Don’t let those pesky red arrows get you down. They don’t mean much at all in the wider context of things. You may see countless FPL managers sharing ridiculously high scores on your social media timelines and it may make it appear to you that you did terrible in comparison. But don’t let that echo chamber fool you. Hardly anyone is going to share their fantasy football failures so the better scores will always be more inflated in comparison and more so when you actually see the actual average for the week. 

Use your time wisely. If your health permits, consider exercising rather than sitting aimlessly waiting for the game to update or watching a pointless football match on TV. You can achieve so much more with your fitness if you invest time properly than worrying about a make-believe game that you can’t control. 

Finally, remember that for every bad Gameweek there’s a good Gameweek. For every Giroud red card, there’s Aguero scoring 5 goals. Dealing with reality should trump fantasy, always. You catch my drift? Of course, you do. Now go on and be the change you wish to see!

Ash, is the Chief Editor of FPLHINTS Magazine. He has been creating FPL content on multiple platforms since 2011. He probably couldn’t beat Ryan in a race but did beat him in FPL last season.

`

Fantasy Football Preview: Liverpool, Burnley and Fulham for GW31?

We’re firmly into the home straight of the 2020/21 FPL season now and it’s a sprint to the finish to see who can get that magical Top 10k / 5k / 1k spot that will be bragged about over pints for years to come.

This is where the wheat gets cut from the chaff, where the brave take chances and where you can make yourself a legend.

Are you ready? Well, are you?

Onto GW31!

Written by the quite excellent – Mr @NiallHawthorne

 

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool     

Possibly the most talked about defender in the English game right now, we need to separate ourselves from the hyperbole and the hysteria, to focus on his numbers.

Right now, his numbers are good. Three clean sheets in his last five games, maximum bonus points on all three occasions and an assist thrown in for good measure.

This week he faces a home game against Aston Villa, and while it’s true to say that Liverpool haven’t won at Anfield in over 98 years or so, Villa are not the same team with Jack Grealish, and there is a doubt around his availability for this game. Even with Grealish back, the return of Fabinho as a defensive midfielder has protected the inexperienced CB pairing behind him.

While they were exposed once more against Real Madrid in midweek, Aston Villa are not Real Madrid, with all due respect.

If TAA is out of your budget however, I wouldn’t put you off looking at Kabak or Phillips for the clean sheet potential.

 

Midfielder: Matheus Pereira, West Bromwich Albion

Fresh from mauling the much-vaunted Thomas Tuchel last weekend, Big Sam Allardyce will now pit his wits against Ralph Hassenhutl.

Matheus Pereira was astonishing at Stamford Bridge with two goals and two assists netting him an astonishing 21 points, and there’s reason to believe he can continue this form against a Southampton side who should be safe with a 10 point barrier between them and the drop zone.

The Saints have the second worst defensive record in the division however (ironically second to their opponents this week), so I expect goals in this fixture. My hunch is that Pereira will be among them.

 

Forward: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham    

When you’re hot, you’re hot and right now Mitro is red hot.

If you haven’t been following the gazillions of international matches during the recent international break you may have missed the fact that Mitrovic was banging them in from all angles for his country. He brought that confidence and form back to the Premier League by putting Fulham ahead against Aston Villa in GW30. While that itself turned out to be nothing more than a consolation for the Cottagers, it will have kept up Mitro’s dander, and this week he faces a Friday Night Lights outing at home to the defensively wobbly Wolves.

Captain: Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur   

Just the seventh double digit haul of the season for Harry Kane as he now leads the race for this seasons golden boot.

At this stage of the season you are searching for those players with motivation, and looking to avoid those who like to mentally don their flip-flops in April and head for the metaphorical beach of their mind weeks before the curtain falls on the season.

One of those previous six double digit hauls for Kane this season was at Old Trafford, where Spurs walloped United. Kane has Maguire’s number. He knows it. Harry knows it. Jose knows it.

Now, you know it.

 

Outsider: Matej Vydra, Burnley    

This tip is partly motivated by form and partly motivated by ‘Who plays Newcastle next?’.

Vydra has two goals and an assist in his last four and is getting regular starts alongside Chris Wood. He is owned by just 1.1% and costs £4.8m.

Burnley also are motivated as they look to AVENGE their defeat at St. James’s Park in GW4.

If I’m right, it’ll be misery around South S.H.I.E.L.D.S as we all shout HAIL VYDRA!

Your move….

Gameweek 29 Preview: Bunch of Blankers

Hey!

Hey you!

Yes, I’m talking to you. Don’t skip past this bit and head straight to the ‘Forward’ tip seeking the next Kelechi Iheanacho hat-trick hero, I’m talking to you, like I do every week.

I may have picked up close to 100 new followers on Twitter thanks to my quite frankly outrageous tipping of Iheanacho in GW28 but how many Purple Monkey Dishwasher replies did I get? About five. If you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, you’re proving my point.

Shame on you all. If you think my FPL tips are good, you should read the life tips I put in here most weeks. You might learn something useful that you can use outside of the Fantasy Football realm.

You’ve stopped reading already, haven’t you? Yeah….

Onto BGW29!

Written by Mr. @NiallHawthorne

Defender: Aaron Cresswell, West Ham United

With just four matches and eight teams to choose from this week, the selection of the top scoring defender in the game is a no-brainer, right?

Someone should ask Gareth Southgate that very same question as he quite inexplicably left young Cresswell out of his latest England squad. Clearly ten clean sheets and ten assists this season is just not good enough. I trust Southgate’s squad picking skills about as much as I trust his penalty taking skills.

Midfielder: Adam Lallana, Brighton & Hove Albion

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned in recent times – if you’re English and have a job in the Premier League, you get a far smoother ride from the media than those not English. Take Graham Potter for example, who, according to media pieces I’ve seen this week, is an amazing manager with an incredible philosophy, despite having Brighton hovering around the drop-zone after just 6 wins in 28 attempts.

This dovetails nicely with the arguments in recent years that English managers don’t get a fair go in the Premier League, and if trusted they’d be just as good as those not from England. Well the bottom six in the Premier League are all managed by Englishmen. Well, they were until Chris Wilder got sacked for having one of the worst Premier League records in a season, ever. A crying shame, by all accounts. Honestly!

One Englishman I do fancy to do the business for us this weekend is Adam Lallana who seems to have some modicum of fitness at last after completing consecutive 90 minutes for just the second time this season. A home game against Newcastle United awaits in a real relegation six-pointer at the AMEX. Whoever wins this one will deserve all the credit.

Boom and indeed Tish.

Forward: Michail Antonio, West Ham United

A very bold decision made by Michail Antonio this week, as he appears to have pledged his international allegiance to Jamaica rather than England.

The only reason this is noteworthy is that he’s now not like Harry Kane who can commit life-threatening tackles with impunity every week. Instead he’s now technically a ‘foreign’ striker and could be defined as a diving, cheating horrid git starting at 3.01pm this Sunday, March 21st.

Not that anyone cares in the FPL world as we don’t care if you’re from Blighty, Bulgaria or the moon, if you’re hauling. After recent goals against Spurs and City, I see no reason why Antonio won’t net against Arsenal.

Captain: Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur

Before you mock and jeer, I have two words in my defence: Kelechi Iheanacho (last time, maybe…)

The thing with Gareth Bale is, he’s spent about three years not being a footballer, so it takes a bit of time to get back into the swing of things, rather than the swing of a golf club.

GW26 – 19 points. Bale is back baby!

GW26 – 2-point blank. Hah! He loves golf more than goals!

GW27 – 14 points. Could it be? Is it really him?

GW28 – 1 point. Hauled off before the hour. Useless. He’s a busted flush!

Or, and hear me out here, he could be building back up his fitness and relearning what it is to be a relentless FPL point-scoring machine, which he used to be. So BGW29 is against Villa on Sunday night, and another double-digit haul is coming.

Outsider: Dwight Gayle, Newcastle United

The emergence of Dwight Gayle each football season can be synchronised with the emergence of the Spring season. The birds are chirping, the grass is growing again, and Dwight Gayle starts to fancy it once more.

Your move….

Fantasy Football: Liverpool, Leeds and WBA

I hope everybody had a peaceful and joyous Christmas, except Sam Allardyce.

Written by Niall Hawthorne.

Onto GW16!

Defender: Charlie Taylor, Burnley

Burnley only tend to concede large amounts of goals when they feel they are the inferior team. They shipped three against Chelsea, five against Manchester City and three against, err, Newcastle United.

Apart from that they’re a solid defensive FPL option having conceded just three goals in seven league games (excluding the City game).

In short what I’m saying is Burnley are like Nelson Muntz. They can pick on the smaller kids, but can get their ass whomped by Jimbo Jones.

This week they face Sheffield United, aka Martin Prince. HaHa!

Cheer up Charlie, this is your golden ticket to a clean sheet!

Midfielder: Sadio Mane, Liverpool

On the third day of Christmas, Sadio gave to you nine FPL points thanks to his goal and bonus points against West Bromwich Albion.

This followed his nine FPL points before Christmas which ended his ‘drought’. We are truly living in biblical times, eh?

Form is temporary and class is permanent. Sadio Mane will always be class, and he likes playing at St James’s Park where he will be on the sixth day of Christmas. Instead of six geese-a-laying, I predict he’ll deliver at least 6 points-a-playing.

Forward: Patrick Bamford, Leeds United

I know that most people would be expecting to see the name of Harry Kane here as they face Fulham at home, but Fulham are undefeated in four with only two conceded. Spurs may face a harder game than most anticipate.

So, I’m plumping for Patrick Bamford against the Baggies, who have just come away from Anfield with a point. However, that’s the third game where West Brom have taken points against one of the ‘Big 6’ and after each of the previous two games, they got spanked. After a point against Chelsea, Southampton mullered ‘em. After a point against Man City, Villa mullered ‘em.

Plus, I really really want to see Big Sam’s face as Marcelo Bielsa’s tactics rip his side to shreds while he sits on a bucket and ‘posh boy’ Bamford runs amok.

Captain: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers takes his side to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace, who have hilariously forgotten how to defend, and have now lost their best defender to injury in Gary Cahill.

That’s ten goals shipped in the last two matches and Leicester City possess one of the best away records in the division with six wins from seven trips on the road.

Vardy himself has a frankly ridiculous nine goals and three assists in those seven away matches. It’s almost like Premier League teams don’t realise that Vardy is most dangerous when the other side have the ball and lose it suddenly…

A Vardy Xmas/New Year Party is very much on the cards.

Outsider: Karlan Grant, West Bromwich Albion

Having said all the above, we live in Brexit times, and some good old fashioned British Bulldog Spirit from Sam Allardyce may well put a hole in Bielsa’s bucket.

Grant was a willing front runner at Anfield and perhaps should have scored in the second half, so the not-quite-watertight Leeds defence may get breached.

He’s owned by 0.0% of FPL players right now. You know what my record is like tipping players owned by nobody.

Your move….

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 rantsofarebel.wordpress.com

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.

http://twitter.com/niallhawthorne

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!

Oh….

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 rantsofarebel.wordpress.com.

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

FOLLOW JACK ON TWITTER @JACKAGOODWIN

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.

All or Nothing: Manchester City – Review (Amazon Prime)

All or Nothing: Manchester City (Amazon Prime)

Written by @JamesMartin013

There’s no football of any description – fantasy or otherwise – for at least the next few weeks, which leaves a desperate need for a sports fix. Belarusian league aside, most people are finding the best option to be sports books and documentaries. In the first of a new mini-series, James Martin suggests ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City’ might not be the answer…

There was much understandable excitement when Amazon Prime promised a behind-the-scenes look at Premier League champions Manchester City, but viewers were instead subjected to an eight-hour PR video.

The unrivalled access proved to be the only real draw of an otherwise drab eight-part series, which left a profound sense of dissatisfaction. While the footage did capture areas not usually open to the public, every shot seemed carefully curated to cultivate an image acceptable to the powers-that-be at The Etihad.

Some of this blandness undoubtedly derived from the relatively routine manner of much of City’s on-pitch success in the 2017/18 season, but even when things went wrong for the super-club the documentary failed to engross.

After the transfer team missed out on top target Virgil van Dijk to rivals Liverpool, the programme cut to the sporting director Txiki Begiristain ‘candidly’ musing that the eventual price paid was far too high to be good business. The episode entitled ‘Welcome to Hell’, dedicated to their Champions League exit at the hands of Klopp’s side, promised more. Even this was used to push the club’s agenda, however, placing huge focus on the bottles thrown at the team bus rather than the ultimate shortcomings on the pitch.

It is an inevitability that behaviours will be to some extent altered when cameras are pointed, but in a world where everyone is used to constant scrutiny it was reasonable to expect that the documentary would at least manage to give a relatively genuine and insightful portrayal of players and staff. Instead, I was constantly half-expecting manager Pep Guardiola to turn to camera, The Office-style, and deliver a well-worn cliché.

That is not to question his managerial talents, which shone through even in the sub-par production, but everybody choosing to watch this would have already been well aware of the gifted personnel lured to Manchester City following the 2008 takeover. The fundamental question about All or Nothing duly remains, even after eight long hours: what was the point?

The answer to that question may well lurk under the tailored veneer, and it is a worryingly insidious one. Miguel Delaney of The Independent has written at length on Manchester City’s so-called ‘sports-washing’. This is defined by Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, as: “wealthy regimes… [using] sport as a means to polish up their own tarnished images.”

Sheikh Mansour, City’s owner, is an Emirati royal prince. Nobody will watch the documentary and instantaneously forget that numerous human rights organisations have roundly condemned the UAE, but that is not the point of sports-washing. Rather the viewers are presented with a team that is forward-thinking in all aspects of its day-to-day running, and over time begin to associate this with Mansour and his family instead of what Human Rights Watch describes as ‘arbitrary detention’ and ‘forcible disappearances’.

The programme even depicts a progressive coach who stands up for political freedoms. Pep Guardiola can be seen wearing a yellow ribbon in protest at the denial of a Catalonian independence referendum – on a subconscious level, those watching start to doubt whether the people from whom he takes his salary can really be that bad when it comes to human rights.

All or Nothing was never going to delve into such waters. This does not automatically make it a failure, and precious few football clubs in the modern game can boast immunity from moral criticism, but soft propaganda rarely makes for enthralling television. There is only so long that viewers can be blinded by the veil being drawn back on the operations of a Premier League club – eventually they will notice that there is precious little substance.

This has only become more obvious in the time since the series was released. It did at least re-emphasise the strong appetite for sports documentaries, and Netflix went on to produce Sunderland ‘Til I Die: this was a truly compelling, raw insight into the heart and soul of a football club. The contrast to All or Nothing could hardly be more stark – true emotions were captured as viewers felt the anguish of Sunderland’s fans and saw it contrasted with the relative indifference of some of the senior professionals.

The unique opportunity to watch John Stones singing Wonderwall just doesn’t quite stack up in comparison.

Review written by James Martin

James is a sports journalist with a focus on football. He began writing for LFC Fans Corner over seven years ago, and has since been featured on the club website and The Independent among others. He graduated from Oxford in 2019, and holds the Gold Standard NCTJ Diploma in Journalism.
His portfolio can be found at http://jamesmartin013.journoportfolio.com

Gameweek 38: And Now, The End is Near

GW38 Preview by @NiallHawthorne

there’s a Preview here somewhere…

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a season that’s full
I’ve endured each and every game week
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had quite a few
But then again, too many to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each captain pick
Each power chip along the season
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I wanted to throttle my motley crew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I stared at my phone, and I did shout
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my weeks of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all, all so amusing

To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a wise way
Oh no, no, not me
I did it my way

For what is man, what has he got?
If not FPL, then he has naught
To play the players he truly rates
And not the players of his best mates
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

And did it my way

Defender: Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City

On the back of four clean sheets, a cheeky assist in GW37 and maximum bonus points for three weeks running, Laporte heads to the Amex to face Brighton & Hove Albion with it all on the line. As a Liverpool fan (I’m now happy to make this stunning revelation to you all) I know how this game will go. Brighton will camp on the edge of their box from minute one, hoping to hold out. Duffy and Dunk will spend 90 minutes flinging their bodies in the way of every one of the 374 shots that will be aimed at Ryan in the game. City will score early, will then keep their foot on the throttle, and will probably score four to secure the title. All the while, Brighton will forget that they too could attack, so Laporte’s average position for his clean sheet will be 5 yards inside the Brighton half. Easy defensive points, innit?

Midfielder: Eden Hazard, Chelsea

Eden Hazard will say farewell to Chelsea this Sunday before he departs for pastures new, and he’s going to want to put on a show. Chelsea are away to Leicester City and I reckon this game could finish 3-3 at least. Brendan Rodgers has a unique relationship with the final day of the season, as he once led Liverpool to a five-goal shellacking at Stoke City. I back Hazard to net and assist and then wave goodbye as he heads off into a new and even more lucrative life.

Forward: Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

He’s already scored a league winning goal deep in injury time, and he has 90 full minutes to do the same this weekend. Which he will do. Probably more than once. What a Kun….

Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool

While Liverpool will end the season empty-handed, Mo Salah will be gunning to retain his Golden Boot award, and a home game to Wolves will offer him the opportunity to do just that. He’ll be fresh from not having faced Barca, and I reckon he’ll notch twice to seal the deal. Unless my Aguero tip turns out to be even more on the money than I fear…

Outsider: Ryan Fredericks, West Ham United

You know that thing a lot of customer service departments do to retain customer loyalty? They treat you shoddily for ages and ages and ages. You feel annoyed, then angry, then hopeless, then angry again, then you’re right on the verge of giving up, and THAT is when someone swoops in, does something they should have done at the very start, but it’s such a bloody relief that you feel happy it’s over, and you forget all about the crap that went before it, and you go on your merry way.

That’s West Ham United, that is. Ropey all season long, but they’ve now won a couple of games on the spin, and their fans will head into the summer feeling chipper and with hope in their hearts.

But who are we to complain? Ryan Fredericks is getting a game, is owned by 0.2% of FPL players, has two clean sheets and a goal in his last two appearances, and is facing a Watford team that will have both eyes on an FA Cup final and are going to dial it in.

Draft: Alexander Mitrovic, Fulham

He’s probably been dumped or traded by anyone who had him, as his recent form has been rank. However, he’s facing his former team, Fulham are showing a bit of form, and you just know how this goes, right?

Right, that’s me done for the season. Thanks to everyone who read this FPL/Brexit/Trump analysis piece each week, and for those who followed me and interacted with me on Twitter. To those of you who didn’t, you’re all miserable ungrateful b*stards.

Have a nice summer!

Niall

%d bloggers like this: