BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 18 – Part 2)

I’m back again. 24 hours after I posted about Gameweek 18, I feel compelled to update on proceedings. Things are changing minute by minute and emotions are running high in the office.

The Premier League have thrown another curve ball into, what was already, the game week 18 madness. They have, as excepted, called off Tottenham’s match at Aston Villa due to Corona virus. But, it gets interesting. Spurs will now be at home to Fulham instead, a match that was knocked on the head a few weeks ago causing one of the worst gameweek’s in our history. What does that mean for us? A chance to make amends from that disastrous gameweek 16 episode for a start. It’s a more favourable fixture than Villa away and takes away some of the selection doubts regarding Son and Kane. They’ll both be in the side now that’s for sure and both will be potential Captain material.

I mentioned yesterday that should the Spurs game go ahead the free hit would still be an option but wouldn’t be a total necessity. However, I want a full starting 11 competing in the 6 matches of gameweek 18 and a strong lineup at that. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was red flagged this morning, supposed hamstring injury with an unknown return date – We need a striker. Our goalkeeper doesn’t have a fixture this week, nor does one of our centre backs. The list keeps growing and we are being pointed down that road.👇🏻

FREE HIT ACTIVATED – let’s do this.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS.

I’m just about there, I think. I’ve used the free hit and it is a new look side, for one week only of course. Now, as I write this (21:00 Monday night) the XI I’m about to reveal is still subject to a sleepless night of change. The free hit will allow me to make as many transfers as I want all the way up to the 16:30 deadline tomorrow (today in reader time.) A plethora of chopping and changing. What I have learned in fantasy Premier League though – never leave it too late to make changes. The site often goes down due to the amount of traffic. I’ve never been caught up in this but I’ve seen hapless colleagues who have and it’s a tough watch. Grown men having a full blown meltdown when they can’t change their captain. Not pretty.

Anyway, where was I? Yeah, the team itself is self explanatory. All the players in it should be involved in game week 18, maximising our scoring capacity despite it not being a full fixture list. In terms of captain I’ve gone with Kane over Bruno simply because Spurs are at home, not an easy decision and one I hope doesn’t cost me.

The final thing to note, and most important, is, another Toon player edges his way back into the squad. GET IN.😌🖤🤍

GET INTO THEM EARLY.

GW18 team – will probably change.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 18)

We needed a reaction. We got a reaction.

After one of the worst fantasy football performances of all time in game week 16, game week 17 produced a more satisfactory 60 points. A result I’m putting down to getting our allotted lucky charm Newcastle United players back into the side and nothing else – The straws you clutch at as a Toon fan. Looking at it, we actually could have been about 15 to 20 points better off had Leicester and Chelsea not conceded very late consolation goals.

I’ve been looking forward to the prospect of game weeks 18 and 19 for months. The shortened fixture set of the former, the long double gamer of the latter. Now that they’ve finally come round, I have a feeling of absolute fear and dread which has been exacerbated by the fact Spurs’ game at Villa is in serious doubt due to the Covid crisis.

There are only 6 fixtures in GW18. Should the Spurs match go ahead, I would have 9 players potentially involved. This means I could get away with making a couple of transfers to make up the usual full 11. Sounds straight forward? It’s not. A big problem would arise if the Spurs match is called off, taking our player involvement down to 6. That won’t be enough to have a meaningful score for the week. I would have to use my free hit and rejig the whole team to suit, what would be, the remaining 5 fixtures. Hopefully we get a decision on this match in good time, giving us enough scope to really use the free hit properly as I’m assuming the match will be bashed on the head. I am actually tempted to use it anyway regardless of any postponement. The conundrum and nightmare scenario being if Tottenham do actually play at Villa as planned, Kane bags a hattrick from 3 Son assists and we miss a massive truck load full of points. ——- All in all the situation is a f**king mine field. I’ve set the Premier League a 17:00 Monday night deadline to make their decision before I’m forced take matters into my own hands and pick a team on pure gut feeling – the worst type of team selection. Yes a certain percentage of your team should involve your gut but you also have to have those important elements of form, stats and certainty.

One plus from these dilemmas is that every fantasy manager in the land will be roughly in the same boat and that is why my question this week is simple.

HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING GW18?

Freehit, wildcard, transfers or even same XI. I want to know. Listening to the excellent fantasy 606 podcast, Statman Dave had, what at the time, sounded like a decent enough solution involving both transfers and the free hit at the same time. Trying to remember it properly without listening to the pod again is proving a difficult one though and would probably complicate matters further anyway.

What I do know is some managers will massively profit this week, some will massively fail and a large portion of what happens will ultimately come down to luck.

Of the 6 fixtures to look out for this week, scoring chance has to come at the Etihad. Man City at home to Brighton. That is providing you’re willing to play Pep Ball with city having played in the cup just 2 days earlier.

Man United away at Burnley could be another double figure Bruno return and, of course, Spurs away at Villa but we know the nonsense surrounding that match, it really is a lottery.

At this point on the blog I would usually run through my team for the week, explain my changes, Captain etc. But and it’s a massive but, I haven’t a clue what I’m doing yet and, as mentioned earlier, I’m leaving it till the last possible moment to do what needs to be done. I have the scenarios in my head, we are simply awaiting Premier League clarification now.

So whatever you fellow managers do in game week 18, I wish thee good luck and see you on the other side.

BALLS DOWN THE CHANNELS LADS, EARLY.

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

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.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 8 – Wildcard Weekender)

OVERVIEW: Reach the top and the only way is down. Fellow managers full of hate, envy and jealousy all trying their damndest to knock you off your pedestal and so it was. We had one solitary week at the top of the league as our boys only managed a total of 44 points, 9 below the week’s average. Some would say that’s the added pressure of leading the way, I would say just a bad week at the office. We may be (temporarily) removed from our top spot perch but we’ve had a taste of the big time, the office glitz and glamour of being the top dogs and we’re ready for more. All in all we aren’t too downbeat, our time will come again, only 2 points off the summit and, in fact, only 4 points separate the top 3 in our office. It’s a pressure cooker and one we’re relishing.

So looking ahead, this is the week. The week where boys become men, water turns to wine, Kane squares to Sterling. The WILDCARD is played. Baring in mind you get another one in the 2nd half of the season, I reckon this is the best time for a shake up, about a quarter of the way through the campaign. We know who’s been hot and who has not, the form teams, the injuries and just the general feeling of the league starting to take shape. I would be interested to know when everyone feels is the right time to stick or twist.

When is the ideal time to WILDCARD it?

Obviously, it’s all dependant on the start to the season your squad has, early decisions and predictions on players/teams are key. Should your team have a nightmare start or begin to pick up injuries left right and centre then your hand is forced. Before you know it you’ve used your main chip after gameweek 1 and it can’t be helped, after all, that’s what it’s there for. Getting to game week 7 onwards without having to play it and still having the decision in your own hands can only be a good thing and a huge advantage. Luckily that’s where we’re at.

Fixture wise, gameweek 8 looks a tricky one in terms of point scoring. The big 2, Liverpool and City, collide on Sunday so there is potentional for some big players to cancel each other out. Spurs at West Brom has got to be where the money goes with Kane and Son in superb form collectively.

Again we have Friday night matches to kick off the round, not one but two this time. The the first of which starting with an extremely early slot of 17:30. This could mean big trouble for the gaffers who aren’t privy to this key bit of tactical information. Team sheets must be summited by 16:30, have I disclosed this knowledge to my colleagues and subsequent rivals? Absolutely not.

UP THE WILDCARD.

THIS WEEK’S PICKS: So we’ve played the wildcard this week, but how many changes does that actually equate to? Truth be told we’ve had a pretty decent season so far and I’m happy with the majority of my squad. The idea of the wildcard play was to make my squad more rounded rather than have just a great starting 11. Making a sub rather than having to waste a transfer would be very useful going forward so the transfers made in this wildcard are as follows.

  1. OUT – Ward 4.4m (Goalkeeper) IN – Forster 4.0m
  2. OUT – Castagne 5.7m IN – Justin 4.8m
  3. OUT – Williams 4.3m IN – Kilman 4.3m
  4. OUT – Barkley 6.0m IN – Ziyech 8.0m
  5. OUT – Willian 7.8m IN – Barnes 6.9m

Only 5 changes made with the wildcard but without the chip this would usually enforce a -20 point penalty. As mentioned before, I was still quite content with the vast majority my team but what this wildcard has given us is a bit more strength in depth around the whole squad. Of all the changes, Hakim Ziyech excites me the most and getting him in along side what is already a very strong midfield brings a lot of satisfaction. I think he will be a big player for Chelsea in the coming weeks and his delivery from set pieces could be a huge points scorer in both goals and assists.

It was disappoining to see Castagne of Leicester pick up an injury. He has been very impressive since arriving in the summer and it has forced this change but I have no qualms in his replacement. James Justin, also of Leicester, has potentially been one of the young players of the season in the Premier League so far, long may that continue. The inclusion of another young Leicester player Harvey Barnes is a testament to how well they are doing under Brendon Rodgers.

Elsewhere, my 3 toon players all retain their places which we’re thrilled about, big up the TOON ARMY. What I will be looking for this week is a better return from my captain selection, Mané only delivered 4 points last week, when Harry Kane takes the armband this time round we’ll be looking for at least 10, fingers crossed.

ZIYECH ON CORNERS LADS.

BLOGIN FANTASY FOOTBALL (Gameweek 3)

OVERVIEW: 64 points and up to 2nd in the office league is a decent return from Gameweek 2 but doesn’t really tell the whole story.

It was another case of what could have been had my captain selection been correct. Last week I’d called for Mané and Kane to come to the party and produce the goods, well they arrived with a fully loaded credit card for a free bar and naturally, I’d captained neither. 21 points for Kane, 16 points for Mané. Sod’s law.

Having said all that, I can’t grumble too much. To get 64 points after 2 of my players scored zero and another 2 only scoring 1 a piece it is pretty pleasing. The REAL disappointment was the poor scoring of my Newcastle players but we’ll try and deal with that issue later.

Looking ahead to game week 3, the fixtures look a total nightmare and it’s a week I’m not looking forward to. Not only are they tough fixtures but the timings of the matches aren’t great either. Not that this matters too much but psychologically you like to get your points on the board early in the weekend rather than playing pressurised catch up late Sunday going into Monday. Damage limitation, digging deep and asking my players to go that extra yard will be the message this week. If we can get through it par for the course I’ll be over the moon with better weekends ahead.

PICKS: The first thing to note is we only have one player playing in Saturday’s round of fixtures so a super Sunday or mad Monday is required. like I touched on before psychologically it’s not great when you don’t have many players playing in the early games of the round and your competitors can steal a march. A clean sheet for Maguire wouldn’t go a miss but going off his performance last week, i’m not expecting much. In fact he would have been out had I not needed more important changes else where.

There are two transfers again this week and with it another -4. Out comes Hernandez of Leeds and in comes his team mate Klich. This is simply because the Spaniard is an injury doubt so it’s pretty enforced. Klich has made a flying start to the season so I’m relatively happy with this one anyway.

The second change is De Bruyne for Aubameyang. This is a big change but pretty necessary because of the fixtures, Arsenal away to Liverpool is as tough as it gets for Auba whilst City at home to Leicester should be a bit more forgiving for KDB. Ideally the 2 players will be in same side in the coming weeks.

Kane, at home to Newcastle, will be captain whilst the afore mentioned De Bruyne will be Vice. Speaking of Newcastle, my 3 toon lads all retain their places but I must say not by choice, it was simply the fact I had to prioritise changes elsewhere. They were all shambolic last week so I’m looking for a big reaction from them at Spurs and whilst Saint-Maximin has a slight injury, he is expected to play. SEE THIS ONE THROUGH LADS.

Gameweek 3 team selection

PIF’d OFF – ASHLEY, AMANDA AND PREMIER LEAGUE INCOMPETENCE

Congratulations to Liverpool on winning the Premier League. And to do so with such a meagre budget, I sincerely doth my cap. Only spending £56 million on a goalkeeper, £75 million on a centre half and £96 million combined on a lethal front three – which, by the way, was excellent value. Five of their key, title winning players, costing in excess of £200 million, mega money in man-on-the-street terms. Put it into context, 5 Liverpool players are worth nearly the total valuation of Newcastle United Football Club – a fellow Premier League member. I have no problem with these facts, it’s the way of football.

Here, however, is where I do have a problem. It’s ok for Liverpool to spend that sort of money, win Champions Leagues, Premier Leagues and add to their already massive, worldwide reputation, gained from their equally big spending glory periods of the 1970’s and 1980’s but it’s not ok, according to them, for a fellow Premier League side to want to able to or have the chance to do the same. If reports are to be believed, it’s claimed that the main stumbling block of the failed Newcastle United takeover wasn’t the appalling human rights record of Saudi Arabia or the ongoing TV piracy debacle but objections to the Premier League from various top 6 sides, namely Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. If true, this stinks of the highest hypocrisy.

It appears to be a case of the Premier League’s elite throwing the toys out of the pram, saying they aren’t playing anymore and Premier League trying to pine to their every whim. Had this been a bid for Man United, one feels the takeover would have been pushed through months ago. Elitism in the elitist conservative state that is England.

Tottenham Hotspur, in fact, have went in the other direction. Not so much spending on players but forking out £850 million, yes, close to £1 billion on a new stadium. I say not so much on players, they could still afford £55 million on Tanguy Ndombele, who, incidentally, seems to be just a bit part player. Eye watering sums. But again, I reiterate, this isn’t the problem as long as other clubs in the Premier League, or any league for that matter, are allowed to be able to do the same.

Quite clearly, Newcastle United don’t have that sort of spending power. Under Mike Ashley, the club has been relegated from the Premier League twice in his 13 year tenure. Again to add some context, the club had only previously been relegated twice in the previous 115 years of it’s existence and have never been lower than now championship level. Newcastle have drifted along, happy with just maintaining Premier League status and the TV riches that come with it. Minimum investment in the team, no investment in the training ground or stadium (other than a lick of paint) and the ever increasing gulf in relations between supporters and those that control the club, widening by the day. The fans are ambitious, the owner is not. That is a poisonous concoction, especially when there’s nothing more important than the football club to the fans in Newcastle, many put through mental turmoil while the Premier League dithered on a decision, adding to the extreme pressures of the ongoing Covid crisis. Newcastle could have been the richest club in the world with a chance to compete with the best and that’s the important thing here, not trophies and winning everything, just a chance to compete and having a club to be proud of once again. This failed takeover feels like a real sliding doors moment.

Should another relegation occur in the coming seasons and it is quite likely, there may not be a return for one of the country’s great clubs but as long as status quo is maintained at the top end of the Premier League, who cares eh???