Fifty Eight

Prior to the midweek games last week I wrote on this blog that I was holding onto Sergio Aguero “for now as he offers a great captaincy option next week at home to Swansea and crucially on MNF v Bournemouth the week after.” This of course was before he was dropped for the West Ham game, City smashed in 4 goals with new kid on the block Gabriel Jesus stealing the show. Having seen the lineups prior to these games I snap transferred Aguero out for Lukaku, as mentioned last week Lukaku was on my radar and was likely to come in for Alexis Sanchez at some stage. The Aguero situation gave me the perfect option to get the big Belgian in early. On the subject of Sergio Aguero, he’s, for now at least, completely redundant as a fantasy option – Jesus has 3 goals in his last 2, and City have clearly clicked into gear – without Aguero. Having seen Aguero again benched against Swansea, it seems the chances of him starting against Bournemouth are slim at best, but then Pep Guardiola does like surprises…
The other midweek games were fairly uneventful, and I ended them in 57th position – exactly where I started, having brought in Dele Alli for Bobby Firmino but getting no immediate rewards.

Onto the weekend, and Saturday offered up a variety of captaincy options, with Zlatan playing Sunday and Alexis Sanchez away at Chelsea there wasn’t a ‘safe’ option to hand the armband to. Personally I considered Dele Alli at home to Boro and Eden Hazard at home to Arsenal, but ultimately I decided my new signing Romelu Lukaku against a Bournemouth defence that was in complete meltdown was the best option. In a gameday where there is no standout captaincy option it’s always nice to hit a big one, and the 58 points that Lukaku managed to haul in certainly felt good. Elsewhere on Saturday I had Alonso 9, Dawson 7, Hazard 13, Arter 13 plus some 2’s. Saturday night predictably gave me a huge surge up the rankings, from 57th to 8th, nosebleed territory.

On Sunday I resisted the lure of bringing in Gabriel Jesus with the pending blanks looming I simply couldn’t afford the transfer surgery. Those that jumped on were duly rewarded though – he looks an exceptional option for after the blanks, and priced at just 10.8m I’m sure he’ll be in thousands of teams. Ibra, my only player on Sunday, delivered a captaincy goal for an uneventful 12 points. So 124 points in the end, and my rank settled at 12th overall, a huge gain for me, relatively speaking. Weeks like this where there is such variance in people’s scores are always the most exciting, particularly if you’re lucky enough to be on the right end of the points spectrum, lets hope there are many more to come.

Gameweek Points: 124
Overall Points: 1794
Overall Position: 12
Transfers Remaining: 12


My Team

From hating my midfield one week, to being pretty happy with it the next – amazing what a few points can do. Harry Arter has hopefully got his spot back in the Bournemouth midfield, and his 13 point return including a goal Tackle, Pass, and SoT bonuses certainly made up for his recent benchings. Dele Alli will score goals, & Robert Snodgrass is now in a solid team who seem to be firing fairly consistently at the moment, he has WBA, wat, CHE, bou, LEI in the next 5 so seems destined to deliver, crucially he won’t face a blank at any stage, I think he’ll prove to be a genuine bargain at 7.7m.

Up front things are looking a little trickier. Lukaku is here to stay for now, and with home games against SUN, WBA & HULL in the next 5 looks a viable captaincy option, he also will not face any blank fixtures. Zlatan and Sanchez on the other hand look set to cause chaos in our teams in the coming weeks. Owned by 33% and 20% respectively, they are 2 of the 3 most owned strikers, both are likely to face 2 blanks in the next 4 gameweeks. Management of these two is going to be crucial, and those who have been cautious with their transfers are likely to reap the benefits.

Captaincy Plan

Saturday offers up a tricky decision for those holding Sanchez & Ibra, Sanchez has a tasty looking home fixture against Hull – on paper he looks the obvious candidate but Hull have 2 clean sheets in the last 2, you’d expect them to sit deep and try to frustrate Arsenal – a tactic which can often prove fruitful at The Emirates. Zlatan is less inclined to deliver big scores than Sanchez, he only has 4 10+ scores in 24 gameweeks, Sanchez has 6. Zlatan probably has the easier fixture in terms of goal potential but I think I’ll still opt for Sanchez, with a much higher ceiling on his potential.

Sunday is an easy one, I’ll back Eden Hazard to outscore Tom Heaton when Burnley host Chelsea. Monday night will be an interesting one, those who have held onto Aguero will be desperate to see him start at Bournemouth, and if he does can surely expect healthy returns against a Bournemouth defence who’ve conceded 16 goals in their last 5. Likewise those who made the Jesus move will be rubbing their hands. I’ll have neither and so will offer Harry Arter the chance to shine again for my team, realistically a few bonus points and I’ll be content.

Good luck with your decisions this week, lets hope there are more century scores on the horizon!

Moving on up

Apologies for the lack of posts in recent weeks, a hectic Christmas period followed by a busy early Jan mixed with a couple of FA cup weekends have meant I’ve not been able to get a post up. The fixtures came thick and fast over that period, and I’m happy to say they went pretty well for me, barring a couple of (in hindsight) terrible transfer moves.

I left the blog a few weeks ago with my team sat in 480th position and carrying 18 transfers (a little short at the time). I’ve managed to move up to 57th spot, using 4 transfers along the way.

Overall Points: 1638
Overall Position: 57
Transfers Remaining: 14


My Team

I haven’t made a lot of changes in the past few weeks, and I’m hoping to keep it that way until at least the end of Feb. My defence remains as is, Jose Holebas is now serving a 2 match ban for 10 yellows, in theory I could replace him with either a cheap Bou defender or even Holgate from Everton – I wouldn’t discourage people from making that move but I’m just going to ride out, often an ultra cheap defender can be a risk of minus points anyway, so maybe playing with 10 men won’t be all that bad.

I’d quite like a new midfield. Eden Hazard has been extremely disappointing in the past few weeks, a return of 2 assists, 0 goals, 0 bonus in the last 4, if it weren’t for the fact Chelsea have a fixture in gameweek 26 I’d be getting rid, but he stays for now almost by default.
Roberto Firmino is also on borrowed time in my side, in fact he may go today for Dele Alli. Captaining Firmino for his two goal show against Swansea was certainly one of my better moves but aside from that game he’s had trouble finding the net. That could all change now that Sadio Mane is back and presumably Firmino will go back to being the false 9.

On the subject of Dele Alli, I’m happy to admit that I made a big mistake selling him before the Watford game, he has 5 goals, 1 assist & 1 MoM since then. To compound my error I took him out for Diego Costa, who got me 1 goal before deciding he quite fancied a move to China…
But part of being a good fantasy manager is admitting your mistakes and correcting them, you can’t be stubborn in this game! Dele Alli is the most in-form player in the league right now, he’s playing as a nominal number 10 but often finding himself ahead of Harry Kane. A brace against a decimated Sunderland defence is a very real possibility. Time to get him back.

Up front I’ve got more issues than Crystal Palace. All 3 of my current strikeforce will have a blank in (Sky) Gameweek 29 (25th Feb), thanks to Man Utd and Southampton reaching the League Cup final. Quite obviously I’m going to need to jiggle things around for that weekend. Sergio Aguero has been an anti-differential, delivering just 1 goal since I got him in 3 gameweeks ago. I’m holding onto him for now as he offers a great captaincy option next week at home to Swansea and crucially on MNF v Bournemouth the week after. Beyond that I’ll be bringing Diego Costa back in, since he seems to have settled down, and Chelsea don’t have the threat of European football hanging over their fantasy players. I’m also looking at Romelu Lukaku for a short period, since Everton are assured to have 0 blank fixtures when Man Utd, City & Arsenal are likely to have 2 in the same period.

In terms of transfer numbers I’m sat with 14 and likely to use 1 today. I’d like to have 8 transfers leading me into the last 9 Premier league fixtures (1st April onwards), since we will encounter some huge double gameweeks where flexibility will be key. That leaves me with 6 (5 after today), to get through the looming blank fixtures.

Captain Plan

Simple one this week, Sanchez at home to Watford, though those with Harry Kane are surely tempted to throw him the armband against that Sunderland defence.

Sunday it has to be Zlatan against Hull, who’ve just lost Curtis Davies to a serious injury. In days gone by I’d probably have gone with Aguero but his form doesn’t allow it.

How’ve the last few weeks been for your teams, let me know below!

Christmas Shopping

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a column out last week but I’m back this week to take a brief look into events to come over the coming weeks, as well as preview the looming Festive fixtures.


The African Cup of Nations is almost upon us and FIFA rules state that players must be released by clubs no later than the 2nd January. In previous years PL clubs have been able to negotiate and delay release until after fixtures on the 2nd January. It remains to be seen if this is the case again this year. We risk losing players from out Sky teams for up to 5 PL games as a result of the AFCON, so you should now be planning an exit strategy if you have any of the below ‘popular’ players:

Sadio Mane, Idrissa Gueye, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Daniel Amartey, Sofianne Boufal, Wilf Bony, Lamine Kone, Papy Djilobdji, Andre Ayew, Cheik Kouyate

This list is not exhaustive and squads are not announced yet so some may or may not feature. Sadio Mane and Idrissa Gueye are certain to be departing though and this will affect a lot of teams. My top picks budget price picks for replacing Gueye in particular are below.


The beauty of the bonus point system in Sky means cheap midfielders will almost always offer better points returns than similarly priced defenders, even without the potential of clean sheets. Consider that the 3 midfielders below have all scored more points so far than similarly priced defenders: Baines (38 pts -7.3m), McCauley (46 pts – 6.7m), Pieters (50 pts – 6.8m), C Daniels (51 pts – 6.8m), Van Aanholt (46pts -7.3m) to name just a few.

Harry Arter 6.6m – Arter has scored a solid 70 points so far, offering great value at just 6.6m. He’s managed to pick up bonus points on 11 separate occasions, along with a couple of assists and 2 MoM awards. Arter is a nailed on 90 minute man and looks a prime candidate for the enabler role to allow us to squeeze 3 of the heavy-hitting forwards into our teams.

Oriel Romeu 7.4m – Priced at 7.4m Romeu comes in at 0.8 more expensive than Harry Arter, and has scored 5 points less overall (65). Romeu has managed to pick up 14 bonus point awards and a single MoM award. Romeu has proved to be a key player for Southampton and is a key part of their lean defensive shape. Romeu is another who is nailed on and offers consistent bonus returns along with the occasional chance at a MoM award.

Adam Forshaw 6.3m – Forshaw is another cheap and cheerful midfield option who guarantees you security of starts and bonus potential. Forshaw has so far returned bonus points on 10 occasions, and thrown in 2 assists and a MoM award too. 61 points at just 6.3m, Forshaw is clearly a value option.

My Team

Gameweek Points: 57
Overall Points: 1201
Overall Position: 480


Those who follow this column will note my team looks slightly different than it did a couple of weeks ago, as does the transfer count! After a rocky couple of weeks where I’ve been forced into making a number of transfers I’m now sat on 18. This is probably 2 less than I’d like at this stage, but given the events of the past couple of months I’m not too upset with my transfer situation. I’ll be revising my January 1st target down from 20 (!) to 16. I’m going to be spending a transfer to replace Idrissa Gueye, as reliable as he’s been for me I can’t realistically carry him throughout AFCON.

I’m likely to bring in Harry Arter, and use the cash to bring in Diego Costa & Aguero. Once Costa has the ban out of the way he looks formidable, he’s producing that beautiful combination of goals, assists and MoM awards like nobody else at the moment. There seems to be a trend with the MoM awards at the moment going to single goal match winners (Rose v Burnley, Sterling v Arsenal, Mane v Everton) – how many Costa match-winners can we expect in the coming months, 4 or 5 at least.

My other big move will be to bring Sergio Aguero back in. Aguero has somehow managed to miss 7 matches this season through suspension, and yet has managed 10 goals in 11 starts, comparatively Diego Costa has 13 in 17, and Ibrahimovic has 11 in 16. Aguero will be back for City’s visit to Liverpool on 31st December but it’s the home fixture against Burnley (2/1/17) that looks the optimal moment to draft Aguero back in, security of starts should be assure since he’s going to have had almost 4 weeks of rest. Going forward Aguero offers a number of captaincy opportunities, particularly Swansea on 5th Feb, and Bournemouth away on the 13th Feb – the only fixture that day. Other than these moves I’ll be trying desperately to conserve transfers, because come March thru May, it will be essential to have flexibility, especially when the multiple DGWs hit.

Captain Plan

On Monday I’ll look to Alexis Sanchez to deliver some late Christmas presents, he’s in pretty sensational form, delivering returns in each of the last 5. The other obvious option for Saturday is Eden Hazard but he’s been disappointing of late and will be without his partner in crime Diego Costa so doesn’t really appeal. Those of you with Zlatan Ibrahimovic will surely throw him the armband given his recent scoring form, looks the smart bet of the week.

Tuesday is simple, I’ll captain Roberto Firmino since he’s my only player involved. There’s likely to be a slight doubt on his start given the busy festive period but no more than usual. Firmino has failed to deliver a goal or assist in the last 6 – incredibly frustrating considering the attacking positions he finds himself in. The goals will surely come though, he was incredibly unlucky against Everton on Monday, having forced a great save out of Robles and then having a late chance blocked on the line. Sadio Mane meanwhile pounced for a tap-in and somehow walked away with the MoM despite offering very little throughout – those are the margins that we can so easily find ourselves on the wrong side of!

Wednesday I’ll be moving the armband to Harry Kane, more through obligation than anything else. Southampton are excellent at the back and Kane has been desperately poor in the last two. He’s certainly on the way out for me, with Costa and Aguero looming. Last chance saloon!

It’s unlikely I’ll have a chance to put out another column between fixtures next week so for the rest of the week my plan will be as follows:

Friday – Snodgrass (EVE)
Saturday – Hazard (or potentially Costa) (STO)
Sunday – Sanchez (CPL)
Monday – Aguero (likely to come in for Kane) BUR
Tues – Sanchez (bou)
Wed – Hazard (tot)

Fixtures will come thick and fast for the next 2 weeks so it’s the time to be as on-the-ball as possible, you can never account for rotation but keeping on top of starting lineups and getting captains right is essential.

Good luck over the festive period! Have a great holiday, see you on the other side!

Transfers Transfers Transfers

Thank goodness for that. It was looking like been yet another plummet in the rankings after the 3pm Saturday matches, but along came Alexis Sanchez to save mine & I imagine many other’s gameweeks. Sanchez’s haul of 3 goals, SOT bonus, an assist & MoM returned a ridiculous 27 points for 54 as captain – the PL performance of the season so far from any individual player, surely. Elsewhere on Saturday I decided to bring in Dele Alli (for Coutinho) for Spurs’ excellent run of fixtures and he duly returned a couple of assists in a high-scoring Spurs game. Alli grabbed another assist and a goal on Wednesday night in the Champions League so hopefully he can keep the run going in the next few weeks – he’ll be a huge differential for me.

After Aguero’s red card on Saturday I went into Sunday with a bit of a dilemma, my options were:

A. Play safe and wait to get Kane or Costa
B. Take a risk and get Ibrahimovic and (c)
C. Take a big gamble on an out of form player (Lukaku), captain him, spend an extra transfer over option A, on the rationale that Lukaku would play 3 games versus Kane’s 1 vs United.

As you may probably have guessed I went with option C, in hindsight probably a bit of a reckless gamble in a limited transfers game, but the lure of 2 extra games for Lukaku over Kane was too strong! Cue a goal for Ibrahimovic and a completely anonymous performance from Lukaku, aside from the brief prospect of him taking the penalty there was nothing else to get excited about. I’m now lumbered with him for Everton’s trip to Watford on Saturday and their home game versus Arsenal next Tuesday before I can ship him out for Harry Kane for Spurs’ home fixture versus Hull.

Monday was another disappointing gameday with my captain Robert Snodgrass (who I brought in specifically for this fixture a few weeks ago), delivering just a tackle bonus. In truth Hull never looked like scoring. Overall though, a positive move up the rankings from me, 553rd up to 377th. Hopefully I can smash a few more captains over the coming double gameweek to get back up near where I was earlier in the season.

Gameweek Points: 100
Season Points: 1036
Position: 377 (Up from 553)
Transfers remaining: 21


My Team

I think every week in this post I state that I’m happy with my team and will be trying to restrict transfers but then each gameweek something seems to throw a spanner in the works. This week it was Sergio Aguero who decided to lunge into a ridiculous tackle and get himself a nice 4 match ban. Aguero’s ban has certainly opened the game up again – those who have reserved transfers are rewarded as moves can be made to cover & spend the cash elsewhere. As I mentioned I took a punt on Lukaku for 3 games but am using the Aguero ban as an opportunity to get Harry Kane into my team. Those two fixtures at home to Hull and Burnley are just too good to miss, and both Kane and Spurs have hit goal-scoring form. My team will hopefully stay settled heading into Christmas once Kane is on board. You’ll note that I have no plans to get Diego Costa in – it’s going to cost me points but I would always captain Eden Hazard ahead of Costa if I had both, due to much higher MoM potential, so feel I can ‘cover’ Costa in this way. Having Alonso at the back means I simply can’t afford a Sanchez – Costa – Kane front line.

Whilst the injuries and suspensions to big guns like Coutinho and Aguero have been frustrating over the past few weeks, anybody with 20+ transfers and a decent enough rank should be in good shape, considering those who’ve burned through their transfers early will now be scraping around to replace Aguero et al, or even contemplating keeping them in and riding out the storm.

How are you going to be replacing Sergio Aguero in your team?

Captain Plan

Saturday the obvious choice for the armband is Alexis Sanchez and he will be my captain. Sanchez was given a half an hour rest on Tuesday night with Arsenal winning comfortably in Basel so he should be raring to go on Saturday afternoon, if he can get anywhere near matching the performance he put in last week there will be some more satisfied captainers this week!

On Sunday I’ll move the armband to Eden Hazard for their home fixture against West Brom. I’ll be watching this from behind the sofa though, expecting thousands to have handed Costa the armband.

All being well the armband will move back to Sanchez for Arsenal’s trip to Everton on Tuesday night. Everton are in awful form at the moment so imagine most will back Sanchez again here.

On Wednesday I’ll kiss goodbye to Lukaku (hopefully he’ll do something in the mean time), and bring in Harry Kane as captain against Hull. Otherwise I would’ve backed Hazard at Sunderland in what is a decent looking fixture for Chelsea.

A double gameweek which most of us will find pretty easy to navigate I think, as long as you have some cover from Arsenal & Chelsea you’re laughing.

Let me know your plans in the comments below, and good luck for the week!


Another week, another Saturday captain fail – this one was harder to see coming though. Many of us will have suffered the same despair as me on Saturday afternoon, hearing that Coutinho had been stretchered off in the first half of what looked a plum fixture. The pain of a 1 point captain was worsened by a couple of things,  A. I’d just transferred in Coutinho for Theo Walcott. B. I’d sat and watched Sergio Aguero run riot in what looked on paper to be a tough fixture away at a solid (at home) Burnley, knowing that many would still have handed him the captaincy!

My other two new signings, Alonso & Snodgrass didn’t return anything but I’m still happy to have them on board. So a very modest 30 points on Saturday saw me plummet down the rankings.

Sunday was brighter though, mainly thanks to a 2 goal & MoM display from my captain, Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez is the main man for Arsenal at the moment and performances like this make it difficult to think about selling him for Harry Kane.

Gameweek Points: 66
Overall Points: 936
Overall Rank: 553
Transfers Remaining: 23


My Team

Once again, I had a sense of calm around my team heading into Saturday. After bringing in Alonso, Snodgrass and Coutinho I thought things were looking up, and the only thing really missing was a Spurs asset. That was obviously blown out of the water 30 minutes into the 3pm games when Coutinho was stretchered off. There’ve been a variety of reports coming out, but best case on his return looks like 4-6 weeks, another transfer required then!

I took the decision to bring in Alonso based on watching 2/3 of Chelsea’s recent matches, as mentioned last week he just looks like a forward when they are in possession, he missed another couple of good chances on Saturday. So I’m happy to have him on board, especially for Chelsea’s favourable run over Xmas. I wouldn’t normally have a defender at 7.5m+ but at 7.9 I think Alonso is a genuine bargain, especially if you compare him with similarly price midfielders.

So on to Coutinho then. The obvious replacements for me are listed in the poll below, of those I’m leaning towards Dele Alli. Alli has picked up 3 goals and 4 bonus in 10 starts this season, not exactly amazing figures but given Spurs were without Harry Kane for much of that period they’re not too bad. Last season Alli came alive in December thru January, and the fixtures in December – SWA, mun, HULL, BURNLEY, sot, could hardly be any better. Alli isn’t someone I would trust with the captaincy, but he does give me an option on 28th December with Sot v Spurs being the only fixture. The rest of Spurs fixtures can be covered well throughout December with the use of Aguero, Firmino & Sanchez as captains.

I’d love to be able to get Harry Kane into my XI, and as I said on this blog last week he’s certainly in my thoughts, but aside from selling Aguero or Sanchez I can’t see any other way of getting him in. A frontline of Aguero, Sanchez, Kane would set you back 38.2m, add in the (pretty much essential) Hazard and you’re looking at 49.4m, almost half of your whole budget on just 4 players. If you’ve found a way to fit those 4 into your side, please let me know how in the comments below! As things stand then, I won’t be able to squeeze Kane into my team – there are going to be a few games watched from behind the sofa throughout December.

How will you replace Coutinho in your team?


Captain Plan

Saturday looks like a straight flip between Aguero & Sanchez for me, both coming off the back of a brace and MoM performance. At the moment I’m leaning towards Sanchez, I expect City v Chelsea to be pretty tight and Chelsea’s defensive record in recent weeks is insane, West Ham meanwhile aren’t exactly known for their solidity. Sanchez is carrying Arsenal at the moment and if they win he will be heavily involved. This one could go either way, and for those of us who don’t own Harry Kane, it’s sure to be a decision that goes to the wire.

Sunday is a bit more clear cut, my options are Gueye at home to Man Utd or Firmino away at Bournemouth. Firmino will get the armband, assuming he’s starting – we will know before the deadline.

Monday rolls round and Robert Snodgrass has his moment to shine! This fixture is basically the reason I got him in, and it would ideal if he could reward those of us who’ve picked a player from the league’s worst team.

Treading Water

Another week, another drop down the rankings. Whilst it wasn’t as disastrous as the week prior, it was still another week of frustration for myself & many others.

Saturday was pretty much a non-event, it got off to a bad start with both Sanchez & Walcott blanking in the early fixture -never good. A Charlie Daniels clean sheet was pretty much the highlight, with captain Aguero offering nothing. I decided to hold off on bringing Coutinho in last week, with the uncertainty about him starting. Luckily enough he blanked for the first time in a while, he’ll be coming in this week for the plum fixture against Sunderland. 

Sunday was another disappointment and another captain fail. Eden Hazard played well & registered his most key passes of the season but returned the minimum of 4 as captain. It was tough viewing watching Costa score again, my reluctantce to bring him in whilst on 4 yellows has cost me more goals than I care to think about. Elsewhere in that game Alonso looked incredible, he’s basically playing as a LW/Left forward, and Chelsea are solid as a rock. I won’t shift from my ultra cheap defence but I wouldn’t put anyone off getting him in, goals are surely on the way.

Monday’s fixture brought a bit more cheer to proceedings, with Craig Dawson showing Aguero & Hazard how it’s done bringing home a nice clean sheet & 14 points as captain. Unfortunately I seem to have cursed Tom Heaton since bringing him in last week, and he’s now on an ugly -2 for the 2 games I’ve owned him. 

Overall Points: 870

Position: 491

Transfers: 26

My Team

A no show from Dusan Tadic last week confirmed his fate for me, he’s out this week. Similarly another blank from Walcott has put him over the edge. Arsenal simply aren’t playing well enough, creating enough or scoring enough goals to warrant having Walcott & Sanchez. I’ll keep Sanchez for now, at home to Bournemouth but given Harry Kane’s fixtures throughout December, Sanchez’s days are numbered.

I’ll be bringing in Coutinho (finally) for Walcott, and at the moment I’m likely to bring in Snodgrass for Tadic. I’m not exactly excited to be bringing in a Hull player at the moment but Snodgrass is the main man up there & offers a couple of captaincy options in the coming weeks. Aside from that my team is pretty settled, I’m going to be rocking a midfield of Hazard, Firmino, Coutinho, Snoddy & Gueye. Aguero is safe for now & as above I’ll likely use one more transfer in next week or two to bring in Kane for Sanchez.

Captain Plan

My new recruit Coutinho will be my captain on Saturday, if nothing else his ownership makes him a ‘safe’ pick. He’s also good at picking up cheap assists from corners & SOT bonus.

Sunday I’ll be on Sanchez at home to Bournemouth, whilst Bournemouth are generally defending well at the moment I can’t see a better option than the Chilean.