BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 14)

OVERVIEW: Another week and another foray into the wild world of Premier League fantasy football.

I’ll start by getting the elephant out the room early. As a result of the gap between the last gameweek’s 12 and 13 being so small, the leader of our office mini league forgot to make changes with the silent treatment working an absolute dream. He had 2 injured players in his line up and a default selected captain, there couldn’t be much worse scenarios. So, when opportunities come knocking you need to open the door with both hands and accept that gift. Did our boys take that chance? DID THEY F**K!?! We only managed to cut his lead by a measly 5 points, us scoring 39 and them 34. It feels like a massive open goal missed and and chance to go back top squandered but we cannot dwell and need to move on.

To be honest, it was a low scoring game week all round and we weren’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination – The average score only being 42. Obviously with the circumstances just mentioned it feels like a bad defeat but in terms of the bigger picture we are in a steady place – Only 20 so points behind and we have 2 free transfers to play with in GW14.

Looking ahead there’s a real mixture of fixtures this coming gameweek. There’s no match where you would say ‘that’s guaranteed points’ but in the same token, there’s no match you wouldn’t stay clear of.

For me, the pick of the bunch would have to be Chelsea v West Ham and Man United v Leeds with outside mentions for Newcastle at home to Fulham and Brighton entertaining Sheffield United. A big problem fixture, definitely in terms of my side and I’m sure many others, is Spurs against Leicester. The conundrum on my part being that I need Kane and Son to continue their great form knowing that comes at the expense of my goalkeeper picking up points.

My goalkeeper is actually an interesting point. It’s the only position in the squad that has been a mainstay throughout, even going back to last season. Kasper Schmeichel has been in all this season and all last which I suppose is testament to way Leicester play. I’ve never considered taking him out either. The reason being to get someone better is going to be a big budget hit and to put a lesser priced player in would potentially end in massive points losses. He’s seems to balance the scales perfectly and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So, my questions for you guys this week is..

Who are your mainstay players? And why?

This is the player you wouldn’t or can’t replace. Your go to guy who has your loyalty till the death. Your Nico Kranjar to your Harry Redknapp. I’m interested to know.

Now, can I finally get rid of Kilman, let’s find out.

THIS WEEKS PICKS: Two free transfers available this week and we’ve used them both with things are unravelling for our TOON ARMY players. We are now down to just one!! As Saint-Maximum’s injury return date is not specified, I couldn’t have him clogging up the bench any longer. I’ve replaced the French wing wizard with the more pragmatic cheaper priced Oriol Romeu of Southampton. This is basically to free up funds to finally replace Kilman. Has it worked? YES IT HAS. In comes Tariq Lamptey of Brighton. The flying wing back has been a revelation for south coast club this season and, with a tasty home fixture again bottom side Sheff United coming up, is the perfect fit.

My plan of a few weeks ago of having a more balanced all round squad is now completely out the window. It’s all about the XI on the pitch. If I have to take minus points in future weeks, so be it. That’s the risk I’m willing to take. A good manager is always learning and can adapt where necessary.

In terms of captain’s pick this week, I’m seriously struggling. De Bruyne played midweek which makes him a serious pep resting risk. Fernandes has, somewhat conveniently, underperformed since I bought him in but home to Leeds, it’s tempting. Do I go with the form of Kane or Son knowing they have a potential banana skin against Leicester. Or do I go total left field and go with someone like Welbeck who has a inviting home fixture against Sheff United? NOT A CLUE so I’ve gone with Kane as provisional skipper which, of course, is subject to change right up to the 11am deadline Saturday morning. I’ve just got a sneaky feeling the skipper selection is going to be crucial this week, no one stands out as an automatic pick which makes the choosing very difficult and problematic.

Fernandez is the only surviving TOON player in the squad. Sad times but very necessary at this stage. The Toon boys will be back soon, I promise.

ATTACK FROM THE FIRST WHISTLE.

GW14 SQUAD.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 13)

OVERVIEW: Welcome all.

It’s the quickest turnaround between game weeks so far this season as we hit the fringes of the busy Christmas period. In fact, there’s only 2 days between the last match in game week 12 to the first in game week 13.

It’s a time where squad strengths will be tested to max and for us, the fantasy manager, it’s going to be about 2nd guessing and taking risks. Who will play regular in this busy period? Who will be rested? Which players are likely to throw one for Christmas off? All trials and tribulations of the man on the touch line.

After a very slow start to game week 12, our lads rallied and conjured up a very impressive 61 points, 10 points above the average number. It was enough to claw back 20 points on our office league leader and move up from 3rd back into 2nd place.

For the 2nd week running the captains pick was bang on the money with Kane scoring, taking home 18 points and his strike partner, Son, making the assist. Taxes, death and those 2 providing for one another are the only sure fire things in this uncertain world at the moment. Taking Son out a few weeks ago was a big mistake on my part – to which I’ve owned up, rectified and moved on.

Also a big shout out to the Leicester players in my team. James Justin (11 points) and kasper S (7 points) really boosted the teams total, we need more of the same this week.

Looking ahead to GW13, I’m not sure how I feel. Spurs face their toughest test of the season away at Liverpool. Obviously with both Kane and Son in the lineup there’s potential for neither to score. Then we have two favourable fixtures in Man City v West Brom and Sheffield United v Manchester United however is this where squad rotation really takes affect. 2nd guessing Pep Guardiola is difficult at the best of times but coming up to the Christmas period it’s going to be an absolute minefield. De Bruyne to be rested is a real possibility and cause for concern.

With these concerns in mind, I think the tactics this week will be to maintain position and look to attack when the fixtures are better matched. A score around the average mark we will take.

PRAGMATISM.

PICKS: We’re going for the sensible approach to GW13 by not making any transfers. There’s a certain risk involved but the benefit of having 2 freebies in GW14 should outweigh those.

I actually wanted to get Kilman out the team with Wolves having had players return from injury in recent weeks. His playing time has now become very limited and finding an adequate replacement for the same price is proving some what problematic. TWO FREEBIES NEXT WEEK IT IS.

In terms of captain pick. I’ve gone with Bruno Fernandes. I felt De Bruyne, despite an easy home fixture, is too much of a Pep resting risk and obviously Kane and Son have the difficult trip to Anfield.

Another Leicester clean sheet would go down an absolute treat and with Saint-Maximin still injured, Federico Fernandez flys the flag solo for our Toon Army boys.

KEEP IT TIGHT LADS.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 12)

OVERVIEW: Hello all, welcome.

Where do we start this week? Plenty to discuss. High scoring, lifting the curse, unlucky Ziyech, Bruno Fernandes the sub or maybe the Son faux pas? I think we’ll start positive – It’s got to be LIFTING THE CURSE!

We finally managed to put the armband on the correct arm in game week 11 after what seemed like a million week’s of wrong and costly picks. A Kevin De Bruyne goal, assist and win bonus resulted in 28 glorious points, a relief and a weight lifted from the shoulders like a baron striker ending a goal draught.

That KDB tally helped the team to a very respectable 64 points, which actually brings us nicely on to high scoring. The week’s average was a whopping 62, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a high mean number. I could be way off the mark but I can’t recall the average being in the 60’s too often. Anyone know the record? Anyway, when the mean is high like that, you know the big hitters have had good weeks – Kane, Salah, Son and the afore mentioned De Bruyne all chalking up the numbers. I was initially pleased with my total until I saw the scores of my opponents. Looking deeper at my XI, zero’s for Kilman and Barnes who didn’t play, whilst Ziyech only picked up the 1. Had they contributed a little bit more we would have been looking at a huge week. We can’t dwell.

I had high hopes for Ziyech a couple of weeks ago and it just hasn’t quite happened on a points scoring front, despite his impressive performances for Chelsea. It now looks like he’s picked up another injury which will probably sideline him until after Christmas – that’s 1 forced change this week for sure.

I mentioned last week about how having both Kane and Son in your team at the same time was a risk. This was on the grounds of how costly it could be if Spurs had an off day. Well, on that basis I transferred out Son – how foolish did that turn out to be?! The Tottenham duo scored and assisted each other. Then, to make matters worse, the player I bought in to replace the South Korean, Bruno Fernandes, started on the bench for Man United. You couldn’t make it up especially as I’d been plotting the Bruno move for weeks and had finally manoeuvred my squad around enough to get him in. Luckily enough though, he came on at half time and inspired a Manc comeback salvaging himself a respectable 45 minute, 5 points. Eventful Game week indeed.

Looking ahead to GW12, the fixtures to look out for on the fantasy front have to be Liverpool at Fulham and Tottenham at Crystal Palace. Notable mentions maybe for Leicester home to Brighton and even Arsenal home to Burnley – could this be the week Pierre-Emmerick Aubameyang finally starts his season, I’m not saying put him in but he has too much quality to continue this poor form for much longer. The plight of Arsenal this season shows how much they have relied on their talisman in recent seasons. I suppose the same could be mentioned for Alex Lacazette to an extent too.

Also, it’s worth mentioning to you guys, but not my work office rivals, that we have an early start this week as Leeds take on Aston Villa in the Friday night match. This means any changes to your squad must meet the earlier deadline, 18:30 friday tea time I think it is so there’s your heads up – don’t say I never tell you nowt.

PICKS: For the first time in months I’ve had to take a -4 points hit for transfers. One forced change was the earlier stated Ziyech injury meaning he needed replaced. The bottom line is, I needed to get Hyeung-Min Son back into the team. A good manager can admit when he’s made a mistake, my hands are held up. We learn and move on.

Now the problem we had here was, I didn’t have the funds to get the Premier League’s top scorer straight back in having used the budget on Fernandes. Bit of mixing the pack was required so out came Harvey Barnes and in came the cheaper Daniel Podence of Wolves. It’s worked out quite well to be honest. The reason being that Barnes has been left out of Leicester’s starting eleven a few times recently and we can’t be taking that sort risk – we need players who play week in, week out.

Podence, on the other hand, could potentially play more prominent role in Wolves’ campaign going forward with the unfortunate injury suffered to their main centre forward, Raul Jimenez. It’s a -4 I’m pretty happy to take when you break it down into logic.

So, with those 2 transfers I now have a midfield that contains De Bruyne, Fernandes and Son – STRONG is the only way to describe it.

In terms of captain’s pick this week we hope the curse does not return. Kane takes to arm band with Son accepting the vice role. And we save the best bit of team news for last – One TOON player returns to the lineup, Federico Fernandez comes back into the defence following Newcastle postponement last time out. My team felt bare without a beautiful black and white shirt in it. TOON TOON.

RELAX ON THE BALL LADS.

GAMEWEEK 12 starting XI

FIFA 21/PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE.

WHERE HAS IT GONE WRONG FOR FOOTBALL GAMES?

Six teenage lads are crammed into a bite-sized bedroom. Two around the PC, malfunctioning the motherboard by illegally downloading mp3’s as the others sit on the edge of the single bed staring, fully concentrated at a box Beko TV. It’s not PES or eFootball, It’s Pro Evo on the PlayStation 2 – The one with Colina on the front. Hours upon hours of winner stays on or round robin format and the glory days of football gaming. It was simplistic and that was key. There weren’t updates, coins, packs, points or any other pointless money grabbing gimmicks – Just the game, a 10 minute 90 minutes on the pitch.

To be clear this isn’t a FIFA versus PES who did what to who, rather a plight summary of the 2 franchises. Having tried to play the ‘next-gen FIFA’ in the last week or so I feel compelled to write this, I don’t give a scripted sweaty last minute winner which is better. I just want a good football game to play – A game that will excite, bring realism without sucking the fun out of the sport, that crucial fine balance. Other than the historically great PES Master League which still delivers some magical moments, I’m struggling. When I look back to those days of old, all I remember is joy. Very limited scripting, no buying wins in bulk, just great multiplayer on a level playing field and seasoned career modes to boot.

We are now 3 whole generations of console beyond those halcyon Pro Evo days and I’ve remained a constant throughout, buying all the PES games on release and most FIFA’s – some of which have been god awful, on both’s behalf. Whether football games were genuinely better in the early 2000’s or whether I’m wearing my teenage rose tinted spectacles with Pro Evo pride leaves a large scope for debate but, I would hope 20 years from now there are absolutely no doubts and no looking back. Games, in general, should be miles ahead of a previous generational period as the technology advances with the passing years. We may still have our own preferences or favourite console era’s but it should never be better from a gaming or technical perspective, the latest product should always be the best in that regard.

WHERE WE’RE AT

This year EA have at least tried to deliver a next gen version of FIFA 21 as opposed to Konami’s gap year previous gen ‘season update.’

Intially, I took this as a chickening out on Konami’s part but looking deeper, we are obviously in the midst of a global pandemic, we cut some slack. Also, having played FIFA 21 on PS5 and having seen the funny graphic comparisons with FIFA 17 which have emerged online, maybe the Japanese developer’s decision is, in fact, justified – more time will tell. Konami, by not releasing this year, now have the pressure of making their new version of Pro Evo, PES, Efootball, whatever they decide to call it next, absolutely flawless having given themselves that extra time cushion. You can’t help but feel it’s make or break for the entire Pro Evolution Soccer franchise.

FIFA 17/FIFA 21 – which is next generation?

FIFA

FIFA, love it or loath it, is the juggernaut of football gaming which is fantastic if you’re a large Electronic Arts shareholder. Not so great for us – the consumer. It’s now at the point where no matter what footballing spectacle they put out in front of us, millions of copies will be, and are, sold worldwide come what may.

EA have the licenses, the fanbase but what they are currently offering on the pitch is, for me, very substandard – taking into consideration the substantial resources they have at their disposal.

It’s shockingly scripted with often clunky gameplay and the rip off roulette pack opening culture stinks of pure greed. With a budget as big as EA’s we should be seeing giant strides year in year out. All we actually see is updated transfer window rosters, a few tweaks to the menu screens and changes to whatever soundtracks are hot in the charts that year – A season update?

The FIFA online servers are usually decent. You can get matched up pretty much straight away – mainly because of the amount of people playing the game at any given time. And 9 times out of 10 you’ll get a lag free experience.

The problem you get online however, is a human one – your opponent. The player who doesn’t actually play the game as football but as just another video game. Basically looking to find any shortcut to win. The high through ball has been a cheat for many years, the unrealistic, overplayed skill moves and the mother off all controller based rage, the sweaty cutback. This fault isn’t necessarily with EA but it still makes me think twice about logging in. The point at which you can lay blame at the developers door is the incessant and relentless scripting. You know the score, usually 0-1 last minute after you’ve spent 10 minutes battering your opponent. The FIFA force field comes into affect and its impossible to score, even when you revert to the anti-football tactics mentioned above. Even when you actually get that win, your victories are usually tinged with the feeling of guilt – The computer helped you in some way and that there’s some poor lad or lass at the other end currently contemplating dropping their disc directly in the bin or worse, having to clean the bits of an expensive control pad from their bedroom floor after it connected full force with a wall. It’s a true nightmare at times – but, in the end, we always return for more. The Fifa juggernaut.

I do find selecting the lesser teams does actually serve up a better experience when playing FIFA online. You find more like-minded football gamers looking for a proper football match whereby the result is secondary. Being a Newcastle fan, this is where is becomes easy for me – Newcastle are shit but I love being the toon and playing at St.James park, the stadium detail is excellent. FIFA is pretty good at matching similarly poor teams and player ratings. You can have some pretty decent matches that way but the bottom line is avoid picking Barcelona, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern – you get the gist, try Hull City.

There’s actually alot to like about FIFA. I’ve focused on the negatives – mainly because of the EA budget, there shouldn’t be as many down sides. I’ve seen and read an increasing number of not so favourable reviews that may make the developer sit up and notice that they are sleep walking through the same old motions season after season. I would love to see them push the boat out and give the game a reshfreshing overhaul but I suspect that, while sales remain high, you’ve got more chance of ‘packing’ team of the year Lionel Messi from a freebie.

PES

Pro Evolution Soccer, at first glance, is an awful game. The layout, the menu’s, the unlicensed teams, players and commentary – which is muted from minute one.

And playing online, I’ve found, is near impossible. I’m not exaggerating when I say the very first Pro Evo you could play online, 5 I think it was, had better match making facilities and connectivity. That was 15 or so years ago with an ethernet cable into your (my specifically bought Netgear) router. In 2020, the era of super fast fibre broadband, it shouldn’t be too difficult to have a lag free El Classico, should it? Hugely frustrating – a word that sums up the majority of my football gaming career.

One time, not so long ago, my mate and I spent an hour trying to figure out how to set up a Co-op 2v2 match. After much deliberating with Google and a number of Youtube tutorials we finally used the rocket science like instructions to manage it. In the end, the lag experienced made it an tremendous exercise in the art of time wasting – Never again. What’s worse this year is that PS5 users have been experiencing slow down offline too. Why, oh why, Konami.

So why do I keep going back I hear you ask?

Simple, PES does still bring that element of magic on the pitch – where it truly matters. If you can open your mind enough to see past the bullshit and take it for what is it then you can still have a great time – especially on the legendary Master League. Taking a team of duff no hopers, building a weird emotional bond with each player and struggling through division 2 together and beyond still brings a superb sense of achievement. It maybe a bit of a dated format of dodgy cutscenes and cliches and in need of some serious refreshment but it has stopped me ditching football games altogether in the past few years.

Then, theres still that euphoric feeling of volleying a 25 yard cannon ball into the top corner which is one of the features Konami has managed to maintain throughout the franchise’s 26 year existence. The balance of frequency, it not happening all the time but knowing it could at any given time. Make sense? It’s a hard one to describe but it’s just right and it’s that feeling, like scoring a real life goal, you could never replicate with FIFA.

Also, the editing system, especially for PlayStation users, is brilliant and one that helps alleviate those licensing problems.

IF TWO BECAME ONE

The problem with both football games is simple. One offers everything off the pitch and the other on it, put them together and you’d have a pretty solid package but both developers seem content to cash in on the extra added in game purchases without any consideration to the actual game of football. I can understand why they have to do this but that doesn’t help a football purist seek the perfection he needs. In fact, having to lower our own football gaming standards and expectations is where we’re currently at and that’s a shame.

WHERE NEXT

So where does each franchise go from here? For Fifa, it’ll probably be more of the same. Keep churning it out every September, minimal changes and watch the EA bank balance continue to expand. There’s no real need to mix it up it up, the formula has succeeded. It’s dull and samey – will I buy it? Probably. I’m a sucker for football, EA wins.

As for PES, as mentioned earlier, this next 12-18 months do seem critical. By delaying a proper next generation release, they have basically told the footballing world that having an extra year to work on things will help them produce something, the likes of which, we have never had on the virtual pitch before. They have set themselves up for a mighty fall should they not be able to pull it off. As a Pro Evo fan I hope they succeed and I’m eager to see what they come up with – some menu screens that don’t hurt your eyes would be a good start.

SUGGESTION

In terms of what could make either game better, other than the ironing out of the obvious previously stated problems, I would love to see an online multi-player Master League/career mode. The format would be along the lines of Football Manager but in console form. You, along with 2 to 8 players each have your own team and complete as the career moves along, battling it out for signings, leagues, cups etc. Each player would have say a week to play a block of their matches, maybe a virtual month’s worth and arrange to play against each other as and when the fixtures required. How hard would that be for EA or Konami to set up? Surely not so difficult, considering the amount of hours they waste on the Ultimate Team/My Team nonsense. They could even add their money grabbing extras within that format should they so please and it would put a refreshing spin on either career mode. Any chance?

LONGING

For now, I’ll continue to play the Master League with my beloved Tyneside. That is, until I get the by-monthly urge to try FIFA again, play at St.James’ Park – maybe it’s changed a little? A couple of hours, maybe days later, it’s the same and it’s back to Master League or sometimes nothing at all for a period. That’s been the recurring pattern of the last few years but, in truth, I’m desperate for the two games to be great and to get equal satisfaction from both – and not just on one mode. I get the feeling that’s a long way away but one can only yearn for better days ahead for the virtually beautiful game.

BLOGIN BETS 5/12/20

This week’s accumulator selection is £10 @11/1

• TRANMERE 5/4 (Home v Walsall – KO 15:00)

• JUVENTUS 4/11 (Home v Torino – KO 17:00)

MAN. UTD 1/1 (Away v West Ham – KO 17:30)

INTER 2/5 (Home v Bologna – KO 19:45)

BARCELONA 3/10 (Away v. Cadiz – KO 20:00)

CONFIDENCE: 8/10

OVERVIEW: Another week, another accumulator and a great looking one at that. But before we get into the details, I wanted to go over some funny news which emerged out of Italy this week. Who remembers Sinisa Mihajlovic? The former Lazio and Inter nutcase defender with one of the deadliest free kicks in the game. How could anyone forget him. Well, he is now manager of Bologna, who incidentally face one of our acca picks, Inter. In the pre-match press conference, the mental Serb was asked why he tested a new tactical pattern in training and would he be applying it in the match at the San Siro. His response…

‘No, it was just a feint to know which players gave the news to the journalists. If I find out the player who spoke, I stick him to the wall and he won’t play football again. When I find the player who switched, it’s going to be his f**king problem. If he does this to get a better score on other teams you never know anything. On ours, everyone knows everything. I swear if I find him, I don’t know what I’m gunna do, but I’ll find it’

GOOD OLD SINISA. – Let’s hope he finds the culprit and it sends their match preparations into meltdown.

Anyway, now for more pressing matters. I Love the look of this week’s accumulator pick. 5 teams all bang in form and all playing on Saturday at varying times. I’m hoping this maybe the gem we’ve been crying out for all season, 11/1 represents great value. The plan was to deliberately select kick off times that stagger right across Saturday giving the avid viewer the chance to watch and have the extra vested interest. What’s also worth noting is that there aren’t any early starts which usually catches us with our pants down. It’s all set up for a couple of Saturday night beers watching Messi put on a show to wrap up the acca. Imagine that, bloody lovely.

PICKS: You may be raising an eyebrow at Tranmere being first up for the line and although they only sit mid-table in League 2 they have recorded 8 victories in a row in all competitions and are the leagues form side. 5/4 represents unbelievable value. HOME WIN.

Juventus go into the Derby Della Mole unbeaten in 7 and they would expect to beat their city rivals who are situated in Serie A’s relegation zone. Ronaldo is still scoring goals. Routine HOME WIN.

Since defeat at home to Arsenal earlier in the season, Man United have gone about their business relatively quietly winning each of their last 3 Premier League matches. This is in part due to the form of Bruno Fernandes, the Portuguese playmaker has been flying. Opponents West Ham have been going along nicely this season themselves but the Manc’s should be too strong here. I fancy Cavani to bag another goal. AWAY WIN.

Inter have really started to put a run together in Serie A. 4 wins in a row to be precise which has seen them rise to 2nd place in the table. We’ve already heard from the Bologna camp. Utter Chaos. HOME WIN.

There’s a running theme here, teams finally putting runs together and Barcelona are no different. 3 on the bounce for them and maybe Koeman is starting to get a grip at the Camp Nou. Messi to STAMP THE SLIP Saturday night.

MOVE THE BALL QUICKLY, DOWN AND PLAY

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 11)

OVERVIEW: Hello one and all. Only one place to start this week and yet again it’s the CURSE OF THE CAPTAIN. For what seems like the 20th week running the captain’s selection has cost our lads a big score. Rewinding back to Game Week 9, Mané only returned the basic numbers as did Calvert-Lewin last time out, both with favourable home fixtures at their feet. What is going on? When will we get it right? Only explanation – CURSED. As a result, we’ve slipped down to 3rd in the office league, our lowest position of the season and now have a forty point deficit to make up. Are we downbeat? Absolutely not, the enthusiasm is as strong as it was in gameweek 1, we go again.

Other than the captain catastrophe, we actually scored ok last week. 48 points in total, 4 above the average but it’s certainly a case of what could of been. Noble mentions must be given to my beloved TOON ARMY lads, clean sheet points for Federico Fernandez and match winning goal points for Calum Wilson – That’s Bruce ball. The problem we now have is those boys will have to be removed from the lineup this week with Newcastle’s match at Villa postponed due to COVID.

Looking ahead to this week, Man City home to Fulham has to be in every fantasy manager’s thoughts. It’s just who’s going to risk the pep selection roulette and who will play. Chelsea v Leeds and Liverpool v wolves are also notable matches.

But, it’s the North London derby that intrigues me this week and it shifts some questions from the back of my mind to the front. Recently, I’ve been thinking that both Kane and Son shouldn’t be in my lineup at the same time, especially with Spurs’ current fixture set. If Tottenham have an off day that’s two big players not contributing rather than just the one. What I want to know is, Is playing them both worth the risk? Should managers now remove one of them? And is there better value elsewhere? I know a lot of managers have a similar situation when it comes to Chelsea defenders. Let me know what you think.

PICKS: Ok, so the all important team news. I’ve made 2 transfers this week (both free) and I tell you what, it’s made my team look very strong – in my biased, yet humble opinion of course.

I’ve been try to get Bruno Fernandez signed for weeks now and I’ve finally succeeded, T’s crossed and I’s dotted, get in. It’s took the removal of Son (as deliberated earlier) and Newcastle’s Postponement at Villa to manage it with Wilson also making way, hopefully on a temporary basis. Welbeck, who’s shown some form at Brighton of late comes in for him.

De Bruyne and Fernandez in the same midfield is a mouth watering fantasy football prospect the only thing left is to rid the Captain pick curse to which I’ve gone with KDB. Reason being that his match is at home and nothing else. It’s now set up for Pep to leave him out but fingers crossed. Bruno takes the vice.

It’s the first time in 2 seasons we haven’t had a Newcastle United player in our starting line up and, I’m not going to lie, it’s heartbreaking. BIG SCORE THEREFORE REQUIRED.

KEEP HIM ON HIS LEFT, LADS.

GW11 starting XI

BLOGIN BETS 28/11/20

This week’s accumulator selection is £10 @5/1.

BOLTON 1/2 (Home v Southend. Saturday – 15:00)

JUVENTUS 4/11 (Away v Benevento. Saturday – 17:00)

REAL MADRID 1/3 (Home v Alaves. Saturday – 20:00)

AC MILAN 4/6 (Home v Fiorentina. Sunday – 14:00)

MONACO 1/3 (Home v Nimes. Sunday – 14:00

CONFIDENCE: 7/10

OVERVIEW: Welcome again one and all, this week’s accumulator selection is a weekend whistle stop tour of the great European hotspots – Starting in Bolton and heading 5 star to Turin, Madrid, Milan, finishing in Monte Carlo for a little casino dabble with our winnings. All during lockdown, what a belter.

The set up is simple, £10, 5 teams, all to win, spread across Saturday and Sunday. We are due a winner and this could be the one.

PICKS: Bolton have started to pick up in League 2 after a difficult opening period. They’ve won their last four matches in all competitions and face a Southend side rock bottom of the football league. The visitors have been the whipping boys so far and have lost 4 of their last 5. HOME WIN

Juventus are starting to do what Juventus do, win games. Although not at their very best in Serie A thus far, they travel to a Benevento side who lost 4 of their last 5 league games and by some by decent margins. ROUTINE AWAY WIN.

Madrids league form has been a bit scratchy so far this season however, they welcome Alaves to the Bernabeu, A team they have beaten by at least 2 goals in their last 8 meetings. More of the same. HOME WIN.

Table Toppers AC Milan welcome 15th place Fiorentina to the San Siro where they haven’t lost for 13 league matches. In form Zlatan Ibrahimovic to continue his rich vein of form in this HOME WIN.

Monaco have won their last 3 Ligue 1 matches including a Cesc Fabregas inspired 3-2 win over PSG last time out. Opponents Nimes have lost 4 of their last 5. The equation suggests a Monaco win to WRAP UP THE ACCA.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 10)

OVERVIEW: Welcome again one and all. What can you say about game week 9? Own goals, a flawed captain pick and a general mixed bag just about sums it up. When Federico Fernandez knocked into his own net for great a -1 start it was a case of here’s away. But with a few average 2’s across the park backed up by good returns from Calvert-Lewin and Son we rallied to post a decent enough score. After all, I did predict a tough week.

The Captain selection was typically key again and only yielded 6 points. I have to say, the form of Mané is a little worrying. You need to be getting big weekly points from your premium priced players and that’s several weeks now where he hasn’t delivered. It’s quite possible it’s not so much a reflection on him but in fact, the Liverpool injury situation and an unsettled side affecting his game. Saint-Maximin at Newcastle maybe also a big case in point here, underperforming because of the team’s inadequacies. Or are of they as much to blame for their team not playing well. This begs the question..

Do you keep a player in your fantasy side if their team is struggling collectively?

There’s always the danger of the form is temporary, class is permanent thing biting you on the arse end should you transfer out said player. The flip-side being the player carrying on his poor run for another month or so which, in fantasy football terms, is too long to be not scoring good points and especially for those players who are premium priced. One to think about and certainly a dilemma yours truly is going through this week.

Anyway, was I happy with the overall points return for the week? On the whole, yes. 51 with the week average at 55 we were expecting a lot worse. I did say if we could get through game week 9 in or around the average score we would take it and it’s actually the first time this season we’ve been below the average total. We remain in 2nd place and the leader has gained around 20 points but, as I said, it could have been a lot worse and we live to fight another gameweek.

Looking ahead to this weekend, the potential point scoring fixtures that stand out are Man City v Burnley and Leicester v Fulham with arguments also to be had for Everton v Leeds. I mentioned last week about City having a favourable fixture set for the next month or so. The problem we have which has been mentioned so many times in past, is Guardiola’s rotation policy. Only once in the last 3 years has he gone with the same line up back to back, a fantasy football manager’s living nightmare. Also their form has been scratchy, are City players worth taking the risk? Find out later.

We open up with another early Friday night fixture. Silent treatment in full effect. You know the score, keeping quiet in hope that our rivals are unaware of the early start and thus, causing them to miss the team sheet deadline – Any marginal gains welcome in this cut throat game. The trouble is, most of my colleagues have now cottoned on to the hush hush tactics and have downloaded the app which sends alert notifications. Marcelo Bielsa covert cover blown!!

Anyway, here’s hoping for big points weekend.

PICKS: You may recall we didn’t use a transfer last time out in order to gain an extra swap this week. Well believe it or not, I’ve actually only used one of the changes which basically renders last week’s main tactic utterly pointless. I mentioned the worrying form of Mané earlier so I’ve taken him out and replaced with Kevin De Bruyne. This has risk written on both sides of the paper.

1. Mané could quite easily bag a hattrick at Brighton. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

2. De Bruyne didn’t even make the bench in City’s champions league win midweek. Is he injured? Or was he rested for Burnley? One prays it’s the latter, that’s my gut feeling and fortune favours the brave.

Elsewhere, Saint-Maximin has also had a dip in form and I was thinking of changing him. However his value is so cheap, I couldn’t find a worthy replacement and not forgetting, he’s a TOON man still tugging on the old heartstrings. Wilson remains on the bench as Harvey Barnes will have a great scoring chance at home to Fulham and we’re hoping Calvert-Lewin continues his rich vein when he wears this week’s armband.

FINAL THOUGHTS – How many fantasy points would Diego Maradona have racked up in Naples during his title winning Serie A seasons? A TRUE GREAT AND A REAL LIFE FANTASY FOOTBALLER.

GAMEWEEK 10 line-up

BLOGIN BETS 21/11/20 (League 2 Special)

This week’s accumulator is £10 @10/1

CHELTENHAM 8/11 (Home v Walsall – KO 15:00)

EXETER 4/6 (Home v Oldham – KO 15:00)

CAMBRIDGE UNITED 4/6 (Away v Southend – KO 15:00)

NEWPORT COUNTY 1/1 (Home v Port Vale – KO 15:00)

CONFIDENCE: 7/10

OVERVIEW: I’ve scowled the usual leagues across Europe in search of something to get excited about and it’s either shortest of short odds or risky risky. Quite often you get weekends where the fixture list is not worth wiping your backside with. It’s a shame seeing as we finally made to the arse end of the naff international break.

Anyway, I had a little look at the lower leagues and realised most of the top teams are playing sides quite low down. Delving a bit deeper into form, odds etc I’ve managed to get a canny looking line from League 2. So here we have it, a League 2 special. Yes I know, there’s nowt special about it, same carry on, £10, 4 teams, all to win. 10/1 is cracking odds in my opinion and here’s why.

PICKS: Cheltenham sit 3rd in the league and have only lost once at home in their last 8 games which includes 6 wins. They entertain a 13th placed Walsall side who have lost their last 3 matches including a defeat to bottom side Southend. HOME WIN.

Exeter are now 13 games unbeaten and sit nicely in the playoff places. They welcome an Oldham side who have to make 500 mile round trip and sit perilously above the professional football relegation zone. HOME WIN.

Newport County are top of the tree and have won their last 6 league matches at home. Although opponents Port Vale sit just outside the playoffs, they are leaking as many goals as they are scoring. 7 home wins in a row incoming for County.

although Southend won their last match against Walsall, they hadn’t won for the previous 16. They sit rock bottom of the table, an ideal fixture for Cambridge who are flying high in 2nd. They have amassed 25 goals in their 12 matches so far only conceding 9. Go on you university toffs, WRAP UP THE ACCA FOR US.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 9)

OVERVIEW: It’s tight at the top, joint top in fact with a real title race beginning to develop in the office. It was 60 points for the boys in black and white in game week 8 which is another decent return, the average being 55. Captain Kane once again came up with the goods bagging a tasty 18 points but it was a player I focused on last time round which gave the most satisfaction. Hakim Ziyech supplied 11 points and I noted that his return from injury could be massive for Chelsea, a wicked left foot and the taker of most of the blues’ set pieces. It’s a great feeling when you spot a little opening and it comes off. I think I was the only manager in our league to bring him in but the problem we have now is that others may now sit up and take notice. They don’t stay hidden gems for long.

Looking ahead to game week 9, it’s going to be one of those weeks. The type of week you deliberate, change, re-change and then change again. The type of week you look at the fixture list and wonder what to do for the best. Even at this time of writing, I’m still not quite sure if my line up will remain as it is. What’s worse, we are coming off the back of the international break, hoping and praying star players have returned unscathed. The flip side of this of course is that sometimes injuries do actually help your thought process. They force your hand when it comes to changes and take you away from the limbo you can find yourself in of not knowing what strategy to play. Fortunately, but Unfortunately for me, there doesn’t appear to be any serious injury doubts so we have the full roster to choose from, this is where selection dilemma/headache comes in, Do we stick with what we’ve got or twist a transfer or two? The questions to be asked are..

Why fix something that isn’t broken? Or try and change things to match it up with more favourable fixtures?

Admittedly, there have been little doubts creeping in. Is this the pressure of a title race? Or just a bad fixture week? The way I see it, a slight the element of doubt isn’t a bad quality to have as manager as long as it doesn’t consume his or her thought process. It shows they’ve accounted for every eventuality but ultimately, the manager will be judged on his convictions and I have made a bold decision this week, one which I will allude to in more detail later.

Fixture wise, Tottenham playing Man City doesn’t help things in terms of my squad. Liverpool – Leicester is just as bad. In fact, If someone offered me the average points total for the week right now I’d snap their hand off, knowing there’s better weeks ahead.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS.

Somebody hold me. I’ve done what I never thought I would. I have not, I repeat, HAVE NOT made any transfers this week. For the first time this season I haven’t brought in a new player. Hey, I mean that’s not a bad thing, some of us managers are just Tinker-men. Look at Pep, just last month he named a unchanged team……. for the first time in 3 years and who’s going to argue with his success. Anyway, there’s a good reason for no transfers this week and it’s to make an extra free change next week. Looking ahead, Man City’s fixtures after this week look quite favourable so being able to bring in a couple of their lads for nowt would be decent.

Ideally though, I wanted to bring Bruno Fernandez this week with Man United at home to West Brom but firstly, I didn’t have the funds available. Secondly, I would have had to seriously rejig the pack, taking various minus points to do so. And thirdly, I didn’t know who to replace. In the end, not worth it and we move on. UNCHANGED SQUAD.

In terms of team news, I’ve brought in Harvey Barnes off the bench for Callum Wilson. Sounds like a weird move but, here me out, Wilson is carrying a slight injury and faces a fitness test whereas Barnes, although away to Liverpool, could have a good point scoring chance. Liverpool are without all their senior defensive line so there maybe goals to be had. This also changes the shape for the first time in months from 3-4-3 to 3-5-2 but look, we are a well drilled side and the lads know their roles, after all we are settled side now.

Mané is captain with Ziyech as vice. And what seems like a week full of firsts, it has dawned on me that with Wilson’s exclusion, it’s the first time this season I haven’t named 3 TOON players in the starting line up, Bruce ball really is taking its toll.

FIRST TACKLE, HIT THEM HARD LADS.