Gameweek 37 preview

May 19, 2017

Arsenal v Everton
Burnley v West Ham
Chelsea v Sunderland
Hull v Spurs
Leicester v Bournemouth
Liverpool v Middlesbrough
Man Utd v Crystal Palace
Southampton v Stoke
Swansea v West Brom
Watford v Man City

We’ve made it to the final week of the season. The race for this year’s Buckets title is between three teams. When Harry Met Alli lead The Craggy Islanders by two points. Long time leaders, Aquamar, are 30 or so points back in third. WHMA have their All Out Attack chip remaining, and given the crazy goalfests you often get in gameweek 38, it might be the best time to play it. It might be what gets them over the line ahead of their rivals.

Five other teams go into the week with a realistic chance of finishing fourth. Kebab Eaters United have their All Out Attack remaining. Hedgehog Corpse have a triple captain to play, and they have Gabriel Jesus and Alexis Sanchez in their squad. Manchester City and Arsenal are two of the three teams left with something to play for and those two players were two of the top five scorers from last week’s mega double gameweek. That’s not to rule out last week’s high scorers, Edgbaston, last year’s champs, FC Caligula, and double manager of the month, Rico United. It’s the creme de la creme.

The other team with something to fight for are Liverpool, who, due to their lack of action in double gameweeks, have fallen off the fantasy radar a little. Their rout of West Ham last week, and the fact they take on a relegated Middlesbrough at home this week, should turn your attention to that elite midfield bunch of theirs for one last time this season. Philippe Coutinho seems the obvious choice and would only cost £8.6 million. They’ve also finally figured out how to defend with four clean sheets in their last five. Joel Matip leads the way in their defence with three two point bonus performances in that run.

Gameweek 26 preview

February 23, 2017

Chelsea v Swansea
Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough
Everton v Sunderland
Hull v Burnley
West Brom v Bournemouth
Watford v West Ham
Spurs v Stoke
Leicester v Liverpool

The first reduced gameweek. I’ve been rattling on about it for long enough. Here it is. And gameweek 28 has taken a turn for the better. Due to Burnley’s cup exit at the hands of Lincoln, another game has survived. They’ll play Liverpool which opens up a few more options when planning for this and that gameweek. Manchester City against Stoke is still scheduled to take place, but you’d have to expect that City will dispatch of Huddersfied in their forthcoming replay.

Arsenal and Manchester United don’t play in either. As well as Liverpool and Burnley -Swansea, Hull, West Ham, West Brom, Bournemouth and Hull play both. I have no idea whether sacrificing your Arsenal and United players is a good or bad move. You can always by them back, but loss of funds is always a possibility. There aren’t too many of them in startling form, but we all know that Sanchez or Ibrahimovic can post a double figure total against any team.

Sadio Mane’s return and double against Spurs sets him up as the best transfer in option. Leicester have just sacked Ranieri – a shame – but not all that unexpected. Liverpool should fancy their chances. It was a much needed return to form against Spurs and maybe those other Liverpool midfield options also come back into the reckoning.

Gameweek 22 preview

January 20, 2017

Liverpool v Swansea
Bournemouth v Watford
Crystal Palace v Everton
Middlesbrough v West Ham
Stoke v Man Utd
West Brom v Sunderland
Man City v Spurs
Southampton v Leicester
Arsenal v Burnley
Chelsea v Hull

We all want Diego Costa to play – that is, those of us who decided to give him another week to calm down and realise the error of his ways. It’s a home tie against Hull. There’s rich pickings there. Alternatively it gives you a nice chunk of money with which to redesign your squad. The pounds have been dropping off Costa since his suspension four gameweeks ago. Close to 700,000 managers decided not to keep him and his value fell by £0.3 million. With the news breaking on Saturday morning of his latest indiscretion nearly another 300,000 managers decided enough was enough. And it had all been going so well. His value is down to £10.6 million from a season high £11 million. It seems destined to tumble further and yet whatever your left with annoyingly isn’t enough to purchase Zlatan or Kane. You can buy every other striker in the game – just not the two you really, really want.

The next best affordable option is Jermain Defoe. Sunderland may go down this season, but that doesn’t rule Defoe out of being a prized fantasy asset. He scored a third of Sunderland’s goals last season and he’s got just over half of them so far this season. If his scoring continues at the same rate he’s going to end up with at least 20.

Romelu Lukaku is the pound for pound option. At £9.6 million it wouldn’t leave you with much to invest elsewhere, but it may guarantee you a lot of goals. Lukaku’s form has been Kane like in it’s inconsistency. Scoring in patches in between looking bored. But – Everton arguably have the best run of fixtures, and should be buoyant off the back of their dismantling of Manchester City.

Liverpool haven’t had a great January, but this Swansea team love conceding. And they’re very good at it. This should be the game where the Reds get back to winning ways. Liverpool players have permanently featured on the first page of the FPL form charts. Not at the moment though. Lots of managers need Firmino, Lallana and Coutinho to start finding the net again.

Of course, Chelsea are an obvious clean sheet bet. Captain Alonso again. And always bear in mind Burnley’s shocking away form. They’ve scored just three goals on their travels. So Arsenal defenders should come into the reckoning – and they could be keepers with a fairly kind run of fixtures on the horizon.

Gameweek 16 preview

December 13, 2016

Bournemouth v Leicester
Everton v Arsenal
Middlesbrough v Liverpool
Sunderland v Chelsea
West Ham v Burnley
Crystal Palace v Man Utd
Man City v Watford
Spurs v Hull
Stoke v Southampton
West Brom v Swansea

Midweek games always bring that prospect of a bit of tinkering, especially at this time of year with the Christmas fixtures on the horizon. There’s no planning for it. You’ve just got to take it on the chin and hope you’ve got ample on the bench.

Still the Chelsea juggernaut rolls on. This gameweek sees them start a run of four fixtures against bottom half teams. Winning them all to nil is not out of the question. It’s difficult to know which players to hang your hat on. Diego Costa is undroppable at the moment, despite being one card away from a suspension. The defence are expensive, but worth every penny. It might even be tempting to captain one of them – particularly Cesar Azpilicueta, who leads the way for defensive bonuses.

And no other defence can compete. Liverpool and Manchester City continue to struggle. Dodgy keepers and a questionable defensive philosophy make every one of their players virtually unplayable. They’re so unattractive. John Stones has even dropped into the bargain zone.

And their struggles don’t end at the back. Is it the Aguero suspension/Coutinho injury having a negative effect? Managers are growing tired with certain players. Last week, Roberto Firmino was the most transferred player out. Closely followed by Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and James Milner. Other midfielders are making their presence felt and it’s no longer a risk to drop these once so reliable players.

Gameweek 14 preview

December 1, 2016

Man City v Chelsea
Crystal Palace v Southampton
Spurs v Swansea
Stoke v Burnley
Sunderland v Leicester
West Brom v Watford
West Ham v Arsenal
Bournemouth v Liverpool
Everton v Man Utd
Middlesbrough v Hull

December is upon us. A six week slog culminating in the festive fixtures. You get £60 if you finish as manager of the month. Eyes down.

Whereas Chelsea’s lack of European action seems to be working out just fine – an unchanged first XI for seven consecutive games is a fantasy manager’s dream – the same can’t be said for Liverpool, who despite also being free from foreign travel, are seeing their much vaunted attacking options dropping like flies.

Biggest headache of the week is dealing with the Coutinho injury. The most popular player in the game before last Saturday’s fixture against Sunderland – his value has plummeted by £0.3 million in the space of a few days. Managers were so quick to get rid of him even before the length of the lay-off was announced. Those waiting till the end of the week to make their change might not be able to bring in their desired replacements as a result of the drastic price drop.

As well as the injury to Coutinho, Roberto Firmino also picked up a knock. Daniel Sturridge is out again and there’s no sign of a return for Adam Lallana, although both he and Firmino are tentatively pencilled in for the Bournemouth match. Klopp might have to play some actual defenders and attackers. Divock Origi is in with a shout having scored in both the victory over Sunderland and the League Cup win in midweek. And Emre Can offers a dirt cheap way into the midfield at £4.8 million. He’s started the last six league matches anyway and scored two goals in that period.

Chelsea conceded their first goal in seven against Spurs last weekend and now they come up against a Manchester City side who have only failed to score once this season. Chelsea will undoubtedly name that same trusted starting XI, but Guardiola has been teasing us with some unpredictable line ups of late. Last week Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva started on the bench – Ilkay Gundogan and John Stones didn’t even make it that far. For arguably their toughest game of the season to date, he’s got to name his strongest XI. Shame no-one seems to know what that is.

Away from the top three, who in truth don’t offer much captain material this weekend, Spurs’ home tie against Swansea is definitely worth looking at. There are plenty of armband options and potential Coutinho replacements. With a bit of tinkering, Harry Kane leads the list. His post injury form isn’t bettered by many and Swansea’s defence are the cheapest for a very good reason. If Palace can score four aganst this lot…

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