– 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
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.
Madrid’s 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.
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.
– CAMBRIDGE UNITED 4/6 (Away v Southend – KO 15:00)
– NEWPORT COUNTY 1/1 (Home v Port Vale – KO 15:00)
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.
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.
OVERVIEW: Football in the Covid era has been pretty desperate. No fans, no atmosphere and with the added frustration of VAR inconsistencies. What could the dogs at Uefa/Fifa possibly do to make this footballing slumber even worse? Persist with the international friendlies and Nations League nonsense of course.🙃
So it is, in the midst of Lockdown 2.0 we have dreaded 2 week break of bollocks. This means our weekly accumulator takes an almighty hit in quality and to be honest, I’m not even sure why I’m bothering this week. To say I’ve researched anything in detail would be downright lie.
If by chance anyone’s bothered, the four selections all play on Saturday and were simply a product of gut feeling. I’m not going to waste anyone’s time writing any spiel of the teams in question but what I will say is at 10/1 it looks a pretty decent shout. The 3 football league sides involved are all competing at the top end of their respective divisions and are up against teams near the bottom. In terms of Spain, you would fancy them in Switzerland with an empty stadium and theres an interesting one for Newcastle United fans, Mikel Merino (remember him) is in the squad and expected to play. He showed some real promise in his short time on Tyneside but left in somewhat mysterious circumstances, it will be interesting to see how how’s getting on if anything.
All in all, I’d say this line is worth a couple of quid if you need something to get you through the pain of San Marino v Gibraltar, a fixture for the ages.
Ending on a positive note, this is the last international nuisance until the arse end of the season and, you never know, A LITTLE DAFT WINNER WOULD BE NICE AS WELL🤞🏻
• CHELSEA 4/11 (Home v Sheffield United. Saturday KO 17:30
• TOTTENHAM 4/9 (Away v West Brom. Sunday KO 12:00)
• ROMA 4/6 (Away v Genoa. Sunday KO 14:00)
ARSENAL 8/13 (Home v Aston Villa. Sunday KO 19:15)
• MILAN 2/5 (Home v Verona. Sunday 19:45)
OVERVIEW: Let down by one Inter goal last week cost us the acca but you know what, we are on the cusp of something great and it will come in the shape of our free £10 returned stake this weekend.
I’ve tried to make a big effort to avoid early kick off’s this time round, especially the Saturday pit of hell ones. You know the score, a trap door banker you think is made of solid oak only for a pile of straw to fall from beneath your feet, blowing your once winning ticket away in the process.
Granted, the Spurs KO is a midday affair but in COVID times it’s hard to completely avoid the early kick offs as most of the matches are so spread out. One plus is it’s not until Sunday meaning we aren’t risking a total wash out early doors and with the form of the Kane/Son partnership we should be looking at a green tick anyway✅ Of the 5 matches in question this week, 4 of them are on Sunday with 2 kicking off after 7pm for a floodlight feel. It’s a long stretch of a weekend acca but..
GOOD THINGS COME TOTHOSE WHO WAIT.
PICKS:Chelsea have won their last 3 games scoring over 3 in each and conceding 0. The omens look good as their opponents Sheffield United sit rock bottom of the Premier League with a measly 1 point from their opening 7 matches. Hakim Ziyech could be a real season turner for The Blues, dangerous from set plays, his return to the team can only be a good thing for our acca cause. HOME WIN.
It’s 3rd top versus 3 bottom at the hawthorns. Tottenham have to be big favourites with form of messrs Kane and Son Min Heung. Bale from the bench is also a brilliant attacking option. Spurs are unbeaten in 6 league games which includes a 6-1 hammering of Man United. West Brom still haven’t won a match. AWAY WIN.
Roma seem to have experienced an indifferent start to the Serie A season but on closer inspection are actually unbeaten in 8 games while the defeat at Verona was actually a defaulted match. They should have too much for an average Genoa side who hover perilously above the drop zone. This is the make break match of the acca but AWAY WIN.
Despite Villa’s good start in the league, they will lose away to Arsenal under the floodlights. The inconsistent gunners 1-0 victory at Old Trafford could be the result that starts a run and the goal for Aubameyang could get his season off an running also. HOME WIN.
Milan’s defeat in the Europa league on Thursday was their first loss in 28, yes 28 matches. They have been Europe’s form side aided by 39 year old Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is the current Serie A leading scorer. They entertain a Verona side who haven’t registered a victory in 13 away matches. HOME WIN late on Sunday evening to WRAP UP THE ACCA.
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.
OUT – Ward 4.4m (Goalkeeper) IN – Forster 4.0m
OUT – Castagne 5.7m IN – Justin 4.8m
OUT – Williams 4.3m IN – Kilman 4.3m
OUT – Barkley 6.0m IN – Ziyech 8.0m
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.