We have our first gap opening up at the top of the table. We’ve a two team brekaway. Uriah Rennie 2nd XI and Queen Of The North move past the 700 point mark with healthy weekly scores of 65 and 66. The gap between QOTN and The Craggy Islanders in 3rd is 23 points. Then only 13 points separate the next nine teams. In fact, an inspired captain choice and prevailing wind could see teams as far down as maybe Rip Roaring Reds in 17th climb the league and land somewhere in the top ten and within shooting distance of the prize money.
November manager of the month goes to Greenyteamy who held off challenges from a number of teams to hold on to the lead they’d established after last week’s matches. Only Yeboahs Right Foot and Hedgehog Corpse of those featured in the monthly table appear in the overall top ten. This may explain the tightly packed nature of the mid table. Other than our leading pair and Hedgehogs, the rest of our top ten had a fairly uninspiring week in which they limped to an around-average score. Much the same as last week. And the week before.
Buckets stalwarts, Romeoshondavan, scored the highest weekly score. More than half of their 70 point total came courtesy of old faithfuls Sergio Aguero (as captain) and Alexis Sanchez. Before the week started, Philippe Coutinho was not only the most picked player in the game, but also the most transferred in and most popular captain of the week. He lasted 36 minutes. The rap he took to his ankle looks like it might rule him out until the New Year. There was potential for a Sunderland trouncing at the hands of the Liverpool midfield, but it never transpired, and left a lot of managers cursing their luck.
The nine goal thriller served up by Swansea and Palace provided us with six of the ten players who managed double figure scores this week. They’re not among the most popular teams with fantasy managers. I know a couple of Buckets teams have Christian Benteke clogging up their attack. His ownership across the whole game is only at 6%. More surprisingly perhaps is that Gylfi Sigurdsson appears in only 5.2% of teams in the game as a whole. Maybe his value seems a little high. But, he’s a top ten midfielder, has played virtually every minute of Swansea’s last nine games and has contributed meaningful points in seven of them. Basically if Swansea score, he’s usually somewhere in the mix.
Player of the week – Fernando Llorente – 15 points.Collected in 25 minutes.
Bargain of the week – Leroy Fer – 14 points. His 5th and 6th goals of the season. Only Hazard and Sanchez have more in the midfield.
Donkey of the week – Kyle Naughton – -1 points. A clean sweep. His fourth donkey in three years.
Goal of the week – Pedro.Finally worth considering him for your fantasy team. At 3m25s
I don’t think there are any other teams set to join the league – so 51 it is – FIFTY ONE TEAMS. The only slight annoyance about that is the league table page on the website only has enough room for 50. So if you don’t see yourself on that page, you’re probably last. Sorry about that. The prize money calculations appear on the ‘Prize Money’ page. Of all places. Information has been updated on the ‘Buckets Cup’ link page regarding when that will start, how long it will take and who gets a bye into the first round proper.
We’re off. Saturday was a slow-ish start with 14 goals scored across the seven games. The two games on Sunday produced almost as many goals – 11 in total. Worries that Arsenal fans might have had about their defence were justified as they shipped four and Manchester United did what they were meant to do and won convincingly with a Rooney goal, a Zlatan debut goal and noteworthy assists from Anthony Martial. Basically, if you started out the weekend with your team based heavily round the West Brom or Swansea defence, the Liverpool midfield and the Manchester United attack, you probably did OK.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sergio Aguero appeared to start the weekend as the most popular captain choice, and didn’t disappoint, adding all three bonus marks to his goal, and contributing 18 points to the majority of teams. Including The Craggy Islanders – who set the early pace with 74 points – and win the first manager of the week award. The average score across the game was 44 and we had 33 teams scoring above that. Our highest scoring debut manager is nO fucHs given who posted 63 points. Pudding and Pie are the lone team occupying page two on 19 points. They were let down by everybody, not least their defence (and keeper) who only managed six points between the five of them.
It’s only one week so we probably shouldn’t jump to conclusions on settled line ups, but those that included Joe Hart, Yaya Toure and Cesc Fabregas must be cursing their non-selection. On the other hand there might be a few early forays into the transfer market to bring in the mid to low price players that performed well in the first week. The surprise result of the weekend was Hull’s defeat of Leicester. At the arse end of the striker list Adama Diomande, who will only set you back £4.5 million, bagged one of their goals and some bonus marks in their 2-1 victory. Hull’s squad is so depleted that they had to fill their bench with academy players, and didn’t actually make any substitutions during the game. So you can expect Diomande and those other Hull players you’ve never heard of to get more game time in the coming weeks.
Etienne Capoue, also at £4.5 million, scored Watford’s goal, whilst Stephen Kinglsey, of the £4 million defenders, posted 8 points, starting as Swansea’s left back in their 1-0 defeat of Burnley. Also worth noting is Nathan Redmond’s 10 point score for Southampton. Although listed as a midfielder, Redmond started as an attacker, and his goal and 3 point bonus display will have only cemented that place in the team for another week.
Player of the week – Philippe Coutinho – 15 points. One of four Liverpool midfielders to score/assist/bonus.
Bargain of the week – Leroy Fer – 11 points. This might be the season he doesn’t get relegated.
Donkey of the week – Ben Watson – -2 points. First red of the season
Goal of the week – Philippe Coutinho. Scored the week one goal of the week last season too.
02 Feb 19:45 Arsenal v Southampton
02 Feb 19:45 Leicester v Liverpool
02 Feb 19:45 Norwich v Spurs
02 Feb 19:45 Sunderland v Man City
02 Feb 19:45 West Ham v Aston Villa
02 Feb 20:00 Crystal Palace v Bournemouth
02 Feb 20:00 Man Utd v Stoke
02 Feb 20:00 West Brom v Swansea
03 Feb 19:45 Everton v Newcastle
03 Feb 19:45 Watford v Chelsea
February begins with the end of the transfer window and some midweekers. It ends with our first reduced gameweek. Only 16 teams will compete in gameweek 27 due to the Rumbelows Cup Final between City and Liverpool. As well as the finalists, Newcastle and Everton miss a week. As yet, those games are unscheduled, but look out for some upcoming double gameweeks – probably sometime in March or April.
You may have noticed Sergio piling on the pounds again. It hasn’t taken long, but there has been a rush on the Argentinian since his return to the starting XI. And with good reason if you look at the stats for his last four appearances. For a player that’s only completed four 90 minute appearances in the league all season, it shows how highly thought of among fantasy managers he is. His value to has increased by half a million from it’s original starting price. There’s a good chance he’ll add to his goals total against a Sunderland side who haven’t kept a clean sheet since November.
And you can afford it. Well you’ve got a good chance if you’ve got Kevin De Bruyne in your team. The Belgian looks set to miss at least two months of the season after picking up a knee injury in the Milk Cup semi final victory over Everton last week. A little bit of tinkering is required to make way for Aguero, but in this season of the bargain, your cheaper midfield options are plentiful.
All of the new signings have been assigned prices. The most expensive signing will actually cost you £13 million less than his real life fee. Gianelli Umbula suffers from being a holding midfielder, so is unlikely to feature too highly on many fantasy radars. Oumar Niasse will cost you £7 million, but will probably only play second fiddle to Romelu Lukaku at Everton. Seydou Doumbia may be an instant starter in place of the misfiring Aleksander Mitrovic at Newcastle. A flying start could cement a place in his new team’s line up and could be a tempter in fantasy world. Leroy Fer posted good returns for a £5 million midfielder in his QPR days. His 25 yarders found the target a little more regularly than Andros Townsend’s – another who could make an instant first team appearance in black and white. Another likely starter could be Wahbi Khazri. He could be the attacking midfielder Sunderland have needed since the season started. Alexandre Pato will probably have to work his way into the Chelsea starting XI. Can you see him being anything other than an expensive gamble who’ll be back in Brazil in August? And Emmanuel Adebayor could go either way. Surely his experience is a better bet than the group of third choice strikers Palace are relying on at the moment?
All of these moves were outshone by the news that Pep Guardiola will succeed Manuel Pellegrini as City manager from next season. It’ll be interesting to see how the FPL administration deal with the pricing of Lionel Messi when he rocks up in August.