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 14/11/20 (International Break Bollocks)

This week’s accumulator is £10 @10/1

CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1/1 (Home v Barrow. KO 15:00)

PETERBOROUGH 11/10 (Away v Crewe. KO 15:00)

HULL CITY 1/3 (Home v Burton. KO 15:00)

SPAIN 5/6 (Away v Switzerland. KO 19:45)

CONFIDENCE: 5/10

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🤞🏻

BLOGIN BETS 7/11/20

This week’s accumulator selection is £10 @7/1

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)

CONFIDENCE: 7/10

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 TO THOSE 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.

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 BETS 31/10/20

This week’s accumulator pick is £10 @6/1

– DORTMUND 4/11 (Away v Arminia Bielefeld. Saturday KO 14:30)

– CHELSEA 8/15 (Away v Burnley. Saturday KO 15:00)

INTER 3/10 (Home v Parma. Saturday KO 17:00)

LIVERPOOL 4/11 (Home v West Ham. Saturday KO 17:30)

MILAN 4/6 (Away v Udinese. Sunday KO 11:30)

CONFIDENCE: 7/10

OVERVIEW: There’s a real European Super League feel about this week’s accumulator. 5 top sides, all strong favourites, selected from Europe’s best divisions. What could possibly go wrong this Halloween?!

It’s the first time in a while I’ve picked matches spread over Saturday and Sunday, we haven’t had much luck sticking to Saturdays so we are mixing it up again. One thing to note is the line would actually be wrapped up very early on Sunday, the Milan kick off time has an insane 11:30AM slot. Granted we were undone by an early start last time out but, hey-ho, we are a glutton for punishment and Milan are one of the world’s form sides.

So here we go.

PICKS: Dortmund have quietly gone about their business in the Bundesliga since defeat at Augsburg early on, winning their last 4 matches. They travel to struggling Bielefeld who have only won one of their opening 5 games, losing their last 3. AWAY WIN

Chelsea have been a mixed bag so far this season, either inspired or indifferent. We hope for the former as they go to Burnley, a team who haven’t won in the Premier League since January, losing 4 of their opening 5 matches this campaign. The return of Hakim Ziyech for Chelsea should give the blues a big lift. AWAY WIN.

Inter have started this seasons Serie A campaign with 3 wins from 5 with their only defeat coming in the derby against in form Milan. Parma on the other hand have only picked up 1 solitary victory, losing 3 of their matches. Home advantage and general gulf in class should be the difference here. HOME WIN.

Other than the freak 7-2 reverse at Aston Villa, Liverpool’s form has been pretty ominous. Despite not being at their best, they have been pretty ruthless results wise and I would expect that to continue at home to West Ham. The hammers have had some decent results of late but travelling to Anfield is different kettle of fish. HOME WIN.

Milan are now a mighty 30 matches unbeaten in all competitions which stretches back to March, 22 of which have been victories. They are undoubtedly Europe’s form side and will look to cement their place at the top of Serie A with a win at Udinese. The hosts have only managed 1 win in their 5 games, losing the other 4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to do the business, currently the league’s top goalscorer at 39 years of age. Fancy him to WRAP UP THE ACCA early Sunday.