Season preview

May 18, 2016

1 FC Caligula Ajay Supeda 48 2,261
2 The Kolarov Mané Trevor Gordon 76 2,245
3 Your Ad Here Matthew Hopkins 37 2,234
4 Shoelace Untied Caroline Strong 57 2,215
5 Edgbaston Micheal Dinneen 64 2,210
6 Rocky Ba Bauer P Hawkins 38 2,190
7 Game of Throw ins Darren Lavelle 42 2,162
8 Golden Boys Stephanie Cripps 41 2,158
9 Init fc Mustafa khan 65 2,149
10 Walking with Memphis Noel Driver 86 2,148
11 Atlético Chappers Richard Chapman 55 2,124
12 Sergio Five O DEAN CRIPPS 55 2,101
13 JonniestaRedmondinho David Spinks 39 2,086
14 Neil Madrid Neil Strong 59 2,082
15 Bicuitmen Chris Morton 35 2,074
16 4 Lime Jellies Ian Williams 41 2,068
17 SS3 FC Paul Murray 44 2,055
18 scotty2hotty scott mcgow 47 2,054
19 The Craggy Islanders Adrian Roche 52 2,053
20 Howayman Mark Bromham 38 2,052
21 Hedgehog Corpse FC Nick Smith 38 2,036
22 Gaalacticos Colin Goulding 41 2,024
23 Grievous AngelRangel Andrew Swift 37 2,016
24 Uriah Rennie 2nd XI Neil Greenwood 42 2,005
25 Pretty Schitty City Alex Michaluk 26 1,993
26 Romeo’s Honda Van Rob Hewer 15 1,990
27 Bermie Utd Glen Davies 32 1,983
28 Rip Roaring Reds Sean Whyton 47 1,957
29 Below Par Paul Bentz 32 1,945
30 Panza Grande XI Stuart Baker 36 1,943
32 greensmeansbusiness adam greenwood 16 1,928
33 The Mindless Morons John Seacroft 29 1,905
34 The Hardy Boys Alan Hardy 42 1,902
35 Release The Hounds Paul Mitchell 49 1,883
36 Upper Bullens Andy Taylor 47 1,872
37 Sweet Cherry Pie Jason Earwicker 21 1,870
38 Go Buffoons Go!!! Jitesh Lakhani 39 1,801
39 Crazy Legs XI David Caldicott 27 1,792
40 Ciderheads Darren Pope 56 1,783
41 Baker Bum Boys Lewis Baker 27 1,781
42 Bish Bosh Goal Simon Purnell 31 1,578
43 REAL JORVIK Simon Brown 45 1,553
44 BrussiaHairbach Alex Ritchie 38 1,439


There’s your end of season table. FC Caligula are champions. Congratulations to them. Not only that – they’re also cup winners. They’re the first team to achieve a Buckets league and cup double. Add to that the fact that they’re a Leicester fan, and you might be forgiven for wanting to smash their face in. Much like Leicester, they started well, and basically got better. They never sank lower than eight place, rising to the summit in week 24 and staying there for all but one other week. In total they collect £405 in prize money, the highest in Buckets history.

At the half way point, The Kolarov Mane were 21st and had been rattling around in mid table for most of the first half of the season. Their rise began around gameweek 23 when they jumped 10 places from 14th to 4th. After a slight dip into the lower reaches of the top 10, they climbed gradually again up until week 34 when they hit 190 points in the first double gameweek and cemented their place in among the challengers for the league. That 190 points is another record. No team has scored more than that in one week in Buckets history. It’ll take some beating. If anything, it was their below average performance in double gameweek 37 that put them just out of reach of a title challenge, although they bounced back to post the second highest score of the last gameweek to clinch second.

Your Ad Here were third. The former cup winners went one place higher than their previous best performance, but will be disappointed not to have finished second – a position which they had held since gameweek 26. They’d also briefly held top spot in gameweek 25. A bad week 38, which saw only ten of their players take the field (in their flip flops) saw them give way to The Kolarov Mane.

Completing the top four are Shoelace, finishing in the prize money spots for the first time. It was another late charge following a slow start and a sluggish middle period. They were outside the top ten as recently as gameweek 29 and only appeared in the top four for the first time last week.

An honourable mention must go to the Golden Boys who eventually finished 8th. They never sank any lower than that position all season having taken the lead in gameweek 10 and holding it for 14 weeks. Unfortunately they go away empty handed having not managed to pinch a monthly prize. In fact they only won one weekly prize despite their early season dominance.

The manager of the week record remains intact – Romeo’s bagged seven two seasons ago. Walking With Memphis and SS3 FC both scooped three weekly awards, with a host of other teams managing a double. We had ten different managers of the month this season. I’m pretty sure we’ve always had one team managing a double or treble of manager awards – but then we’ve never had a 44 team league before.

In the real world Leicester (who else) dominated the player and team awards. They picked up eight player of the week awards across the two categories and only one donkey. Mahrez and Vardy finished first and second in the overall scoring charts. The highest scoring goalkeeper and defender both came from Arsenal – Petr Cech and Hector Bellerin. The Gunners had two other defensive players in the team of the season (jump to the bottom of this page).

Sergio Aguero scored the most single weekly points – 26 in gameweek 34. Several teams triple captained him to a 78 point total. That’s the new highest single gameweek score in Buckets history. Aguero also managed 25 points in gameweek eight, a total which was matched by Georginio Wijnaldum the following week.

Southampton scored seven player of the week awards, with both Manchester City and Sunderland managing six. No one player dominated the player awards. Kane, Aguero, Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne and the mighty Andy King all picked up two weekly awards.

Chelsea led the way in the donkey race with five – two each for Thibaut Courtois and John Terry. Kyle Naughton was the only player to sink to -4, somewhat unluckily, as he eventually had his red card rescinded.

Leicester also hit six contenders for goal of the season – three each from Vardy and Mahrez. Liverpool equaled that, including two each from Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. Dele Alli and Andros Townsend also appeared on the goal of the week list twice. Manchester United, incidentally, had no goal of the season contenders. Everyone will have their own favourite. I’ve got a soft spot for the Mahrez goals against Chelsea and Manchester City. The’re still trying to untwist Cesar Azpilicueta. Vardy’s record breaking goal was typical Vardy, but the pass from Christian Fuchs made it a million times better than it first appeared. The Vardy volley against Liverpool and the Alli volley against Palace seem to be the favourites of the pundits, but my choice is Cuco Martina’s bender for Southampton against Arsenal. There’s an angle from behind the strike where you get the full on Roberto Carlos-ness of it. It’s going out for a throw, then it’s in the net. And he can’t fucking believe it can he?



Team of the Season

  • GK – Petr Cech – Arsenal – 159 points
  • DR – Hector Bellerin – Arsenal – 172 points
  • DC – Toby Alderweireld – Tottenham Hotspur – 166 points
  • DC – Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal – 153 points
  • DL – Nacho Monreal – Arsenal – 152 points
  • DM – Mark Noble – West Ham United – 133 points
  • MR – Christian Eriksen – Tottenham Hotspur – 178 points
  • MC – Mesut Ozil – Arsenal – 200 points
  • ML – Riyad Mahrez – Leicester City – 240 points
  • CF – Jamie Vardy – Leicester City – 211 points
  • CF – Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur – 211 points


Bargains of the season

  • GK – Heurelho Gomes – Watford – 157 points (starting price – £4.5 million)
  • DR – Craig Dawson – West Bromwich Albion – 124 (£5 million)
  • DL – Christian Fuchs – Leicester City – 150 points (£5million)
  • DC – Wes Morgan – Leicester City – 139 points (£4.5 million)
  • DC – Robert Huth – Leicester City – 140 (£4.5 million)
  • DM – Danny Drinkwater – Leicester City – 129 points (£4.5 million)
  • ML – Marko Arnautovic – Stoke City – 165 points (£6 million)
  • MC – Dele Alli – Tottenham Hotspur – 166 points (£5 million)
  • MR – Michail Antonio – West Ham United – 126 points (£6 million)
  • CF – Odion Ighalo – Watford – 175 points (£5 million)
  • CF – Troy Deeney – Watford – 166 points (£5.5 million)





Gameweek 25 results

February 9, 2016

1 Your Ad Here Matthew Hopkins 86 1,408
2 FC Caligula Ajay Supeda 70 1,396
3 Golden Boys Stephanie Cripps 60 1,378
4 Atlético Chappers Richard Chapman 67 1,369
5 Pretty Schitty City Alex Michaluk 79 1,367
6 Bicuitmen Chris Morton 65 1,364
7 Rocky Ba Bauer P Hawkins 63 1,359
8 Game of Throw ins Darren Lavelle 66 1,358
9 SS3 FC Paul Murray 51 1,336
10 The Kolarov Mané Trevor Gordon 49 1,334
11 Sergio Five O DEAN CRIPPS 72 1,333
12 4 Lime Jellies Ian Williams 55 1,331
13 Shoelace Untied Caroline Strong 61 1,320
14 Grievous AngelRangel Andrew Swift 55 1,316
15 Uriah Rennie 2nd XI Neil Greenwood 56 1,313
16 Gaalacticos Colin Goulding 53 1,311
17 Edgbaston Micheal Dinneen 44 1,309
18 Hedgehog Corpse FC Nick Smith 62 1,307
19 Howayman Mark Bromham 58 1,306
20 greensmeansbusiness adam greenwood 50 1,301
21 Romeo’s Honda Van Rob Hewer 62 1,300
22 Walking with Memphis Noel Driver 50 1,298
23 JonniestaRedmondinho David Spinks 60 1,295
24 scotty2hotty scott mcgow 61 1,295
25 Below Par Paul Bentz 61 1,283
26 Init fc Mustafa khan 49 1,283
27 Panza Grande XI Stuart Baker 55 1,269
28 The Hardy Boys Alan Hardy 57 1,266
29 The Craggy Islanders Adrian Roche 64 1,257
30 Bermie Utd Glen Davies 47 1,256
31 Neil Madrid Neil Strong 50 1,253
32 Upper Bullens Andy Taylor 60 1,232
33 The Mindless Morons John Seacroft 56 1,217
34 Rip Roaring Reds Sean Whyton 42 1,214
35 Release The Hounds Paul Mitchell 56 1,200
37 Ciderheads Darren Pope 60 1,148
38 Baker Bum Boys Lewis Baker 87 1,140
39 Go Buffoons Go!!! Jitesh Lakhani 45 1,140
40 Crazy Legs XI David Caldicott 41 1,129
41 Sweet Cherry Pie Jason Earwicker 49 1,107
42 Bish Bosh Goal Simon Purnell 78 1,088
43 REAL JORVIK Simon Brown 42 995
44 BrussiaHairbach Alex Ritchie 43 965


The Baker Bum Boys win week 25 with 87 points. They played their wildcard to great effect, realising the current strength of the Saints defence and bringing in Jose Font to pay alongside Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld. Petr Cech was also transferred in. In the week he collected top bonus marks for his clean sheet. He’s now out clear at the top of the keeper charts. Mesut Ozil made a welcome return to form, and Diego Costa’s slight return to being a worthwhile fantasy player paid dividends, wearing the armband and picking up 18 points.

They beat Your Ad Here, who are our new leaders, by a point. YAH take their turn at the top of the tree ahead of FC Caligula. They drafted in Roberto Firmino who posted his third double figure score in five weeks. This moves him to the top of the overall form charts. A good week for Leicester, which admittedly is nearly every week, signals a good week for Pretty Schitty City. They bounced back into consideration, climbing up to fifth, and to within 10 points of the once seemingly uncatchable Golden Boys. Riyad Mahrez supplied 28 points as captain. His five week lean spell is well and truly forgotten. It’s three scoring weeks in succession, and his 10th double figure score.


Player of the week – Robert Huth – 16 points. 57 points in 7 weeks.

Bargain of the week – Maya Yoshida – 15 points. Bagged two bargain awards last season. Plays too occasionally to be a serious consideration.

Donkey of the week – Pablo Zabaleta – 0 points. Mahrez’d.

Goal of the week – Riyad Mahrez. Who else? Goal at 1m48s.

Gameweek 20 results

January 4, 2016

1 Golden Boys Stephanie Cripps 37 1,132
2 Your Ad Here Matthew Hopkins 30 1,112
3 FC Caligula Ajay Supeda 45 1,103
4 4 Lime Jellies Ian Williams 28 1,094
5 Howayman Mark Bromham 49 1,075
6 greensmeansbusiness adam greenwood 51 1,067
7 Sergio Five O DEAN CRIPPS 46 1,067
8 SS3 FC Paul Murray 56 1,065
9 Game of Throw ins Darren Lavelle 43 1,065
10 Pretty Schitty City Alex Michaluk 37 1,062
11 Walking with Memphis Noel Driver 53 1,060
12 Edgbaston Micheal Dinneen 31 1,059
13 Gaalacticos Colin Goulding 33 1,057
14 Rocky Ba Bauer P Hawkins 29 1,054
15 scotty2hotty scott mcgow 21 1,054
16 Shoelace Untied Caroline Strong 31 1,050
17 Hedgehog Corpse FC Nick Smith 39 1,045
18 Atlético Chappers Richard Chapman 43 1,042
19 Bicuitmen Chris Morton 37 1,041
20 The Kolarov Mané Trevor Gordon 50 1,039
21 Init fc Mustafa khan 41 1,035
22 Grievous AngelRangel Andrew Swift 51 1,025
23 Romeo’s Honda Van Rob Hewer 38 1,021
24 JonniestaRedmondinho David Spinks 42 1,018
25 Neil Madrid Neil Strong 29 1,012
26 The Craggy Islanders Adrian Roche 46 1,010
27 Bermie Utd Glen Davies 35 1,006
28 Below Par Paul Bentz 35 1,006
29 Rip Roaring Reds Sean Whyton 42 1,006
30 The Mindless Morons John Seacroft 38 1,000
31 Panza Grande XI Stuart Baker 41 997
32 Upper Bullens Andy Taylor 30 975
33 Uriah Rennie 2nd XI Neil Greenwood 52 973
34 The Hardy Boys Alan Hardy 35 932
36 Go Buffoons Go!!! Jitesh Lakhani 37 925
37 Ciderheads Darren Pope 43 921
38 Release The Hounds Paul Mitchell 56 902
39 Baker Bum Boys Lewis Baker 51 900
40 Crazy Legs XI David Caldicott 43 889
41 Sweet Cherry Pie Jason Earwicker 19 866
42 Bish Bosh Goal Simon Purnell 52 847
43 REAL JORVIK Simon Brown 49 777
44 BrussiaHairbach Alex Ritchie 43 740


Too much Christmas pud maybe? A low scoring week in which Release The Hounds and SS3 both scored 56 points to be in contention for the manager of the week award. SS3 become the first team to pick up three weekly awards, scoring one more goal than RTH. The fact that only Romelu Lukaku of our super six contributed anything extra may explain the low scores. Riyad Mahrez and Mesut Ozil even dared to add a minus score to their finishing totals. Mahrez missed a penalty and Ozil was booked.

Laurent Koscielny and Petr Cech boosted SS3’s total. A risky punt on Cech as skipper yielded 20 points. SS3 may have expected a standard six point clean sheet haul, doubled to twelve. Thanks to Newcastle actually competing, Cech made six saves, which converted into two save points, which led to two more bonus points. The extra (possibly unexpected) eight points helped SS3 climb seven places in the table into the top ten and up to eighth.


Player of the week – Laurent Koscielny – 15 points. Toe poke and a clean sheet.

Bargain of the week – Jermain Defoe – 13 points. To move 7 points ahead of Villa.

Donkey of the week – Simon Francis – -2 points. Lasted less time than Geoff Cameron, and is owned by more people.

Goal of the week – Carles Gil. In a week of crackers…as much for the ridiculous headless chicken run that set it up.


Gameweek 1 results

August 11, 2015

1 greensmeansbusiness adam greenwood 57 57
2 Pretty Schitty City Alex Michaluk 52 52
3 4 Lime Jellies Ian Williams 51 51
4 Golden Boys Stephanie Cripps 44 44
4 scotty2hotty scott mcgow 44 44
4 Walking with Memphis Noel Driver 44 44
7 FC Caligula Ajay Supeda 43 43
7 Bermie Utd Glen Davies 43 43
9 Sweet Cherry Pie Jason Earwicker 42 42
10 Gaalacticos Colin Goulding 41 41
11 JonniestaRedmondinho David Spinks 40 40
12 Your Ad Here Matthew Hopkins 39 39
13 Crazy Legs XI David Caldicott 38 38
13 Grievous AngelRangel Andrew Swift 38 38
15 Neil Madrid Neil Strong 37 37
15 Rocky Ba Bauer P Hawkins 37 37
15 The Kolarov Mané Trevor Gordon 37 37
18 Release The Hounds Paul Mitchell 36 36
18 Shoelace Untied Caroline Strong 36 36
18 What’s Up????? DEAN CRIPPS 36 36
21 SS3 FC Paul Murray 35 35
21 Bicuitmen Chris Morton 35 35
21 Panza Grande XI Stuart Baker 35 35
24 Game of Throw ins Darren Lavelle 34 34
24 Rip Roaring Reds Sean Whyton 34 34
26 Atlético Chappers Richard Chapman 33 33
26 Below Par Paul Bentz 33 33
26 REAL JORVIK Simon Brown 33 33
26 Hedgehog Corpse FC Nick Smith 33 33
30 Ciderheads Darren Pope 32 32
30 Init fc Mustafa khan 32 32
32 Baker Bum Boys Lewis Baker 30 30
33 The Hardy Boys Alan Hardy 29 29
33 Edgbaston Micheal Dinneen 29 29
36 Howayman Mark Bromham 26 26
36 Romeo’s Honda Van Rob Hewer 26 26
38 Uriah Rennie 2nd XI Neil Greenwood 25 25
39 The Craggy Islanders Adrian Roche 23 23
40 BrussiaHairbach Alex Ritchie 22 22
41 Go Buffoons Go!!! Jitesh Lakhani 21 21
42 Upper Bullens Andy Taylor 19 19
43 The Mindless Morons John Seacroft 11 11

Nice to see the Premier League is as predictable as ever. Arsenal second bottom. Leicester, Palace, West Ham and Villa occupying the European places. Long may it continue. Although it won’t will it? It’s the first week. No-one knows what’s about to happen. No amount of fantasy pre-planning would have envisaged Arsenal conceding two and scoring zero against the Hammers. Only five teams managed a clean sheet. It wasn’t a weekend for the defence. Thank goodness for Man City who posted the most convincing result. Their 3-0 defeat of West Brom established them at the top of the league, and gives Yaya Toure the first player of the week award. He and Vincent Kompany had sluggish seasons last time out, but their double figure scores for this week might get a few more managers interested in them again.

So – plenty of points to be had among the goal scorers and assist makers – but, only if you’d taken some wild-ish punts on the mid price market. Aside from Toure, the most expensive player occupying that first page of high scores is Philippe Coutinho at £8 million. Next highest scorers of the week Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton won’t set you back any more than £5.5 million. Highest scoring striker Arouna Kone is a £5 million player and £4.5 million Liverpool youngster Joe Gomez posted the second best score for a defender behind Kompany.

A good selection of the lesser known new signings made their mark. As well as Gomez, Jordan Amavi and Rudy Gestede had promising debuts for Villa. As did Andre Ayew for Swansea, Dimitri Payet for West Ham and Georginio Wijnaldum for Newcastle. All should have slipped onto a few managers’ radars. Slipping off may be Petr Cech, who clearly thinks he’s still playing for Chelsea.

As things stood on Saturday night we had a Leicester fan sat at the top of the Bucket with a Sunderland fan at the bottom – which felt right. Apologies if anyone was led down a Mackem based garden path based on what I’d written in the first blog post. It was a double whammy of sorts for the Mindless Morons who didn’t even have any Sunderland players in their team, yet still propped everybody else up. They were one of many to invest in Thibaut Courtois. Pretty Schitty City stayed loyal to Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, and they returned 25 points. But its league newcomer, greensmeansbusiness, who leads the way and gets our first manager of the week award. Their 57 points came courtesy of a canny (or was it accidental?) use of their bench boost chip. An extra 13 points was added to their total courtesy of scoring performances by Jason Puncheon and Steven Fletcher.

Player of the week – Yaya Toure – 16 points. Making City the early pacesetters.

Bargains of the week – Marc Albrighton – 15 points. Ended last season strongly too.

Donkey of the week – Thibaut Courtois – -2 points. A chance for Asmir Begovic?

Goal of the week – Philippe Coutinho. Because it appears overhead kicks have been banned.

08 Aug 12:45 Man Utd v Spurs
08 Aug 15:00 Bournemouth v Aston Villa
08 Aug 15:00 Everton v Watford
08 Aug 15:00 Leicester v Sunderland
08 Aug 15:00 Norwich v Crystal Palace
08 Aug 17:30 Chelsea v Swansea
09 Aug 13:30 Arsenal v West Ham
09 Aug 13:30 Newcastle v Southampton
09 Aug 16:00 Stoke v Liverpool
10 Aug 20:00 West Brom v Man City

As I write I’m still not sure how many participants we have this season. It looks like we’ve broken the 30 barrier which will give us a prize pot of over £600. The winner could scoop £250 this season if the maths works out. I’m considering upping the manager of the month prizes by a couple of quid. But it all depends on how many players we get. I was aiming to get 40. I’m not sure we’ll reach that figure. All prize money calculations will appear under the prize money link. I’ll update the format for the Buckets Cup once I know how many teams we have. That will appear under the Buckets Cup link – of all places.

There are some rule changes to this year’s game. There is no longer a ‘transfer window’ wildcard. Instead you have two wildcards to be used in each half of the season. Your first must be used up to and including gameweek 19 – the second from gameweek 20 onwards.

And there are also three new ‘chips’ to be used at some point during the season. The ‘bench boost’ chip brings all 15 of your players into the game. All players in your squad, including those on your bench, will score during that gameweek. The ‘triple captain’ chip means that your captain’s points will be tripled instead of doubled. And the ‘all out attack’ chip allows you to pick a 2-5-3 formation, employing all eight of your more forward thinking players.

It seems fairly obvious and sensible to suggest that each of these would be better utilised in a double gameweek, although some forward thinking tactics wouldn’t go amiss – particularly for the bench boost and all out attack. You’d need to be confident that your reserve players were also guaranteed some gametime. League Cup final weekend and FA Cup 6th round weekend are your guaranteed double gameweeks, but they don’t roll round until February and March. It’s unlikely we’ll see any before then unless the winter weather bites and games are postponed.

You could aim to play them, maybe even consecutively, during our shorter game months to give yourselves a better shot at a manager of the month prize. August, September and November are three weeks long. May is a two week shoot out.

Playing them this week might be a bit too maverick, but they could get you off to a flying start. Although, before a ball is even being kicked, this season is already throwing up some selection headaches. Prepare to carry on tearing your hair out over Diego Costa’s fitness as he looks uncertain for Chelsea’s first game against Swansea. Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero look likely to have just the one game off before coming into contention for gameweek two. Pick, wait, or just go with someone else?

There has been plenty of transfer activity to ponder over. Christian Benteke’s first outing in a Liverpool shirt produced a stunning volleyed goal. A lack of match fitness means he may not start this weekend, but some game time looks likely on the back of that goal as Brendan Rodgers tries again to fill the Suarez gap. No matter what you might think of Raheem Sterling, his pre seaosn form has been encouraging. He’s been in among goals an assists, which is good for City, because their defence looks no less creaky. John Terry suggested that Petr Cech could win Arsenal 15 more points this season. That would win them the league based on last season’s points tallies. Whether that happens remains to be seen – but 15 points – five more wins – five more clean sheets maybe? £5.5 million looks great value for one of the league’s best goalkeepers.

And that’s just scratching the surface. The season will take shape and other players will come into consideration. Someone – a relative unknown – will almost instantly start making a name for themselves – a new player brought in from abroad. And there’ll be that transfer clamour. His value will escalate. Will he keep it up past Christmas? Old favourites will fair well. There’ll be flops. There’ll be undroppables. Who will be this season’s Southampton? Who’ll be this season’s Charlie Austin? Who’ll be the mid price midfield maestro? Will anyone pick Mario Balotelli?

If any tactics are to be employed this week, try looking ahead to the first international break and work out whose opening fixtures could yield the most points, goals and clean sheets. The first split in the season comes between gameweeks four and five. That’s four fixtures neatly taking you to the end of August. Neither Chelsea, City, United or Arsenal have a run of completely winnable fixtures. Chelsea and City must play each other, whereas games against Spurs and Liverpool won’t be straightforward for the other two. Southampton’s season is up and running, having taken part in two Europa League games, both of which they won comfortably. There early run of fixtures offers good potential of clean sheets and goals, coming up, as they do, against Newcastle, Norwich and Watford. And oddly, Sunderland could provide good clean sheet options. There defensive form at the end of last season improved greatly under Dick Advocaat. They could get through their fixtures against Leicester, Norwich, Swansea and Villa with very little damage tot heir against column.

On the other hand there are also teams to be avoided. Newcastle haven’t made great strides to improve their back line and games against Southampton, United and Arsenal will be difficult. Watford have a testing opening month culminating in a trip to the Etihad and West Brom will be glad to get early season games against City and Chelsea out of the way. And Everton, despite starting with a home tie against Watford, see their run of fixtures become much more difficult from week two all the way through to week six. Everton regulars, in the long run, will get in among the points. But – don’t touch them till the Autumn.

Good luck.

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