FPL Gameweek 23 Preview

Harry Kane
Tottenham’s main man, Harry Kane” (CC by 4.0) by Brad Tutterow

After last night’s EFL Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Arsenal we can once again fully focus on what’s awaiting us, FPL managers, in the roller coaster ride we call the Premier League. After what for many of us turned out to be disappointing first double gameweek of the season it is now time to get settled for the second half of the 17/18 season. For those of you who triple-captained Harry Kane last time out, we feel for you, but fear not, because this weekend might just offer Kane and company a chance of redemption. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting games and players for the coming Premier League round.

The captain conundrum

Choosing the right captain for your squad can mean the difference between a weekend full of rainbows and butterflies, and another &%@! weekend. It’s a bit like playing the lottery and, if you are, then have you checked the Eurojackpot latest winning numbers? Lining up against Swansea and then West Ham in the first double gameweek of the season catapulted Harry Kane to the top of practically everyone’s captains lists, although some selected Son or Eriksen and received a reasonable payback. A return of only three points for Kane was, to use an understatement, not really what was expected of him, but he might make up for some of the damage against Everton this weekend. The Toffees have become much more defensively stable under Big Sam Allardyce, but they did ship two at home against a Lukaku-less United last weekend. Putting the armband on Kane or Alli, who’s on fire with 2 goals and 4 assists over the last four league games, might not be a bad idea.

Meanwhile, the Red part of Manchester is rejoicing at the return of topscorer Romelu Lukaku. The big Belgian was carried off with a head injury early on versus Southampton, but returned quicker than expected against Derby in the FA Cup, scoring one and assisting another in the process. His next match is against strugglers Stoke (who’ve just sacked their manager of 5 years, Mark Hughes, in the hope of a turn-around), who so far have conceded 47 goals and 118 shots on target, more than any other team in the Prem. Maybe it makes more sense to ask yourself why you would not bet on Lukaku to score on Monday…

Normally we would have reserved a spot here for one or more Man City players, but their starting line-up is somewhat uncertain (even more so than usual) due to their games in both the FA Cup third round and the EFL Cup semi-final of Tuesday night, although if we were to recommend someone it would be Aguero. Instead, we’d like to focus on Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s star player and the one around whom revolves everything that has to do with an attack in Conté’s side. He’s not been very prolific in terms of goals and assists over the past weeks, though he did win a penalty and then converted it last week against Arsenal. In that game, he made 6 attempts at goal, more than any other player that weekend, which leads us to think that more goals, assists and points may be on the horizon for Hazard although he did play 80 minutes last night in the 0-0 cup draw against Arsenal. The opposition in the EPL will be Leicester City, who’ve only won (and not lost) once in the last 5 games, with their victory coming last weekend at home against Huddersfield.

A few differentials

Even though there’s still a long way to go until the end of the season, it’s possible that point gaps have grown in your private leagues over time. A proven way to close a gap is to appoint a high-scoring captain with low ownership in the game. Whether Jesse Lingard can still be called an undiscovered gem is up for debate, his FPL value over the past months definitely isn’t. With 4 goals, 1 assist and 15 shots on target over his last 5 games, the 6.3m-priced midfielder is FPL gold at the moment and he might be racking in the points again on Monday night against a Stoke defense low on confidence but with a point to prove to a new manager.

Newcastle’s home game against Swansea could be littered with differentials, but the Newcastle attack has far from delivered this season. Instead, we’re looking a few hundred miles to the south, where Watford are facing a disappointing Southampton. After a great start to the season the Hornets have been stuttering in the league lately, with 4 out of the 27 last points being won. In that period Watford faced Palace, Huddersfield, Brighton and Swansea, teams against which points were expected. They might not be in the finest form of their lives, but a turn-around has to be on the way and it might just happen against Southampton (4 draws and 5 losses in the last 9 games). Richarlison or André Gray could be differential punts for FPL managers who are feeling edgy this weekend.

Finally, and for the really adventurous amongst us, Glenn Murray against West Brom deserves a shout-out. The Brighton striker netted once and picked up 3 bonus points against Bournemouth last weekend, and he played a good game overall. West Brom are having a rotten streak at the moment (the Baggies haven’t won since round 2!) and their best defender and captain Jonny Evans will be missing. The situation might just be ideal for Murray to grab another goal.

FA Cup 3rd Round 17/18 Review

Arsène Wenger
Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger” (CC by 4.0) by Ronnie MacDonald

And just like that, the Christmas festival of Premier League football flawlessly transitions into the third round of the FA Cup (or Emirates Cup, as it’s officially called this season). Not even 24 hours after Spurs hosted West Ham to close this season’s first double gameweek, Everton were already preparing to face Liverpool at Anfield to kick off the FA Cup’s third round. No less than 32 games were played over the course of 3 days and in this article we’ll take a look at some of the most interesting games for FPL managers. The FA Cup matches for the EPL teams also count towards points for Telegraph Fantasy Football.

How did the Premier League teams fare?

The beauty of the FA Cup is the chance of success for teams from the lower leagues, but as an FPL manager you’ll mostly be looking at which PL teams were up and what their starting line-ups were, in an attempt to assess the impact of the ties on your FPL squad for coming weekend. Below you can find an overview of the matches involving Premier League teams. Hopefully anyone using a betting site for their FA Cup score predictions had some success as well.

Liverpool – Everton 2-1
Newcastle – Luton 3-1
Norwich – Chelsea 0-0
Man United – Derby 2-0
Exeter – West Brom 0-2
Wolves – Swansea 0-0
Fleetwood – Leicester 0-0
Fulham – Southampton 0-1
Spurs – AFC Wimbledon 3-0
Bournemouth – Wigan 0-0
Man City – Burnley 4-1
Nott. Forest – Arsenal 4-2
Bolton – Huddersfield 1-2
Watford – Bristol City 3-0
Brighton – Crystal Palace 2-1
Coventry – Stoke 2-1
Shrewsbury – West Ham 0-0

Major upsets

As you can see, 5 Premier League outfits were eliminated this round, 3 of which against other Premier League teams. Struggling Stoke continued their bad form by losing away at Coventry, where the Potters converted only one of their total 15 shots that went in the direction of the goal. The team of the recently sacked Mark Hughes actually played the better football and dominated most of the game (as could be expected against a League Two outfit!), but their attack looked toothless once again while the back was again anything but watertight.

Stoke’s woes are known though, which is why Arsenal’s elimination versus Championship mid-table contenders Nottingham Forest can probably be considered this round’s biggest upset. Wenger’s decision to send out a more or less completely new team in comparison to the last league game against Chelsea turned out to be a monumental error of judgment as Forest cut through the feable central block formed by Holding and Mertesacker time and time again. Despite 69% of the possession, the Gunners still allowed for 9 shots on target, a dazzling number when you consider Forest currently stands 28 places below them in English football. With their FA Cup hopes smashed to pieces it looks like it’s going to be a prize-less season for Arsenal, but there is some good news for FPL managers: Wenger will have to do some making up in the next game at Bournemouth and he’ll do so with, most likely, 11 different players.

Some interesting facts for FPL managers

Rotation is a major pain in the back for FPL managers when it comes to Man City this season and their continued involvement in all domestic cups does not make it any easier. What you should know, though, is that, with Jesus out, Kun Aguero is now more or less a guaranteed starter. With a goal in his last game versus Watford and a double strike against Burnley in the FA Cup, the little Argentinian is on fire and also scored a last minute winner in last night’s Carabao semi-final first leg match against Bristol City.

In the red part of Manchester meanwhile, Jesse Lingard keeps on performing and somehow he’s still remained more or less under the FPL radar. After scoring the 0-2 at Everton in the last Premier League game, the reborn quick man also put the opener in the back of the net versus Derby County, one of the clubs United loaned him to a few seasons ago. At a price of just 6.3m, Lingard is turning into a must-have for any FPL team.

Whether it was due to injury or due to his transfer to Barcelona being in the final stages of completion, we’re not sure, but even without Coutinho Liverpool managed to advance a round at the cost of Everton. The Reds attacked, pressed and dominated as they’ve been doing most of this season, and it was record signing central back Virgil van Dijk who headed in the winner a few minutes before the end. At 5.4m the Dutch strongman is on the expensive side, but he might just be worth the investment, especially if he continues to play his part in attack. Besides him, keep an eye on game time for, and performances by, Sadio Mané and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as either one or the both of them might benefit from Coutinho’s departure. The former scored the opener in Liverpool’s victory over Burnley in the league last weekend, while the latter provided the assist for Van Dijk’s late winner in the Merseyside derby in the FA Cup last Friday.

Fantasy Premier League 17/18 Gameweek 22 Review

West Ham United Vs Manchester City
West Ham’s Adrián celebrating in goal” (CC by 4.0) by Joshjdss

Round 22 of the Premier League once again provided us with plenty of drama and excitement, not in the last place because the season’s first double gameweek had Fantasy managers fretting over their squads more than usual with some using their triple captain card.

The title race
Looking at the table after gameweek 22 will surely have more than a few people thinking that the title race has been decided already, and even though ancient Premier League wisdom tells us that anything can happen until the end, City’s fortunes don’t seem likely to change any time soon. Punters who took Man City to win the Premier League at the start of the season, perhaps using Free Bets, must be very pleased with themselves. The Citizens are simply too good, too dominant and too free-scoring at the moment. They hosted Watford on Sunday and while the final score might not seem too impressive (a 3-1 victory), the underlying statistics certainly are. The home team recorded 15 shots of which 8 were on target and their average ball possession stood at 78% after 90 minutes of football. Watford managed a single shot on target and scored in the 82nd minute, when the damage had effectively already been done. With Newcastle, West Brom and Burnley after coming weekend’s away game at Liverpool, their 15-point lead is unlikely to shrink by much, if at all.

The chasing pack

The situation behind City is quite different though, with just 8 point seperating second-placed Manchester United from Arsenal in 6th place. Despite considerable injury woes in defence, Mourinho’s men booked a comfortable win at Goodison Park, with magnificent goals coming from Martial (deployed as striker in place of the injured Lukaku) and the on-fire Jesse Lingard (consider him for your FPL squads!). Everton on the other hand, while defensively much improved since Koeman’s departure, will need to work on their attack during the January transfer window. To lose at home against United can be acceptable, but to fail to record a single shot on target never is.

At the Emirates, Arsenal hosted Chelsea and both teams entertained the crowds in what was probably the most attractive 90 minutes of football in this round. Arsenal took the initiative while Chelsea looked for the counter, which resulted in Jack Wilshere’s opening goal in the second half after a nice, free-flowing Arsenal attack. The Blues then reacted twice in quick succession, first through a penalty won and converted by Eden Hazard, who was by all means Chelsea’s star performer, followed by a tap-in by Marcos Alonso after a pass from fellow wingback Zappacosta. Bringing on Welbeck and Walcott, for Lacazette and Chambers, finally resulted in the equaliser for Wenger’s men as Bellerín put a cleared ball from the Blues in the back off the net from distance.

Fourth placed Liverpool, without superstar Mo Salah, managed to take away 3 points from Burnley’s tough Turf Moor after a hard-fought battle, while Spurs, without the ill Harry Kane, booked a victory over at Swansea and then followed that up with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with West Ham on Thursday night. For the Reds, Sadio Mané and central defender Klavan (with the first goal scored by an Estonian in the Premier League ever, in the dying minutes) helped overcome Gudmundsson’s late Burnley goal , while Kane’s stand-in Llorente and the in-form Dele Alli did the job for Tottenham in Wales.

The bottom of the table

Crystal Palace and Roy Hodgson deserve a shout-out. After the Eagles lost their first 7 games of the season under Frank de Boer, failing to score a single goal, they are now comfortably placed at 12th after a decent win away at struggling Southampton. Long brought the Saints the lead early on, but James McArthur, in the 67th, and Milivojevic in the 80th turned the result around. Especially for the latter this must’ve been a great relief, after failing to score what likely would’ve been a late winner from the spot at the Etihad a few days earlier.

Fellow early-season strugglers West Ham also seem on the way back, as the Hammers booked a well-deserved victory over a largely toothless West Brom Albion side. It turned out to be the night of Andy Carroll as he single-handedly undid the effects of James McClean’s first half opener, the last of his two goals coming in the 90th minute after a nice Arnautovic assist (for the FPL’ers: 4 goals and 1 assist so far).

Finally, Newcastle took away a crucial 3 points from the Bet365 Stadium as they beat Stoke 0-1, courtesy of Ayoze Perez in the 73rd minute. Seeing as the Toons had only won once in the 12 games preceeding the battle at Stoke, the points were more than welcome. They are out of the relegation zone for now, but far they’ll need to start delivering more goals if they want to stay safe. Opponents Stoke meanwhile have dropped to 18th place, but points might be on the way with Huddersfield, Watford, Bournemouth and Brighton on the calendar over the coming five rounds.

Premier League News 27 December 2017

Aguero starts again

Manchester City line-up tonight v Newcastle has a front 3 of Sterling, Aguero and Bernardo Silva (with Sane and Jesus on the bench). David Silva is still missing from the squad.

Southampton agree to sell Van Dijk for £75m to Liverpool on 1 January 2018

The sale announced today follows Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino saying he will continue to do what he thinks is right for his team, having left Virgil van Dijk out of the side in in recent weeks.

Van Dijk had not featured in the last fortnight, sitting out the games against Chelsea and Huddersfield Town, as well as the 5-2 Boxing Day mauling at Tottenham. Pellegrino remained adamant that he is doing the right thing by utilising other options. Not surprisingly a deal to sell him was being discussed.

Leicester’s Danny Simpson hamstring injury

Full-back Danny Simpson will miss the match against Liverpool this weekend after injuring a hamstring during the 2-2 draw with Manchester United. The muscle strain is likely to keep Simpson out for a few weeks.

Arsenal have 3 injuries

Arsene Wenger lists just Monreal, Giroud and Ramsey on the Arsenal treatment table.

West Brom striker Saloman Rondon an injury worry

Struggling West Brom are hoping that the injury sustained by striker Salomon Rondon in the goalless draw with Everton on Boxing Day proves to not be too serious.

The 28-year-old Venezuela International had to be replaced early in the 2nd half of the Hawthorns clash with the Toffees, having grabbed his hamstring after lashing a shot high and wide of target.

Southampton Striker suffers injury and 3 match ban

Charlie Austin is to miss Southampton’s Christmas fixtures because of a hamstring injury and he has also been hit with a 3 match ban after a violent conduct charge.

Benteke is a force to be reckoned with

Roy Hodgson is delighted to have Christian Benteke back for Thursday’s visit of Arsenal because he adds a ‘physical presence’ to his side.

The Eagles chief has masterminded a major turnaround in fortunes for the club since taking charge from the sacked Frank de Boer in September with the side bottom of the table on zero points and without a goal at the time.

3 Common Types Of Betting In Football You Should Know About

Football is one of the most watched sports in the world and is said to be played in almost every country. However, it is said to be the most popular in the US, where they play a different type of ‘football’ game to the rest of the world. The ‘football’ the rest of the world play is known in the USA as ‘soccer’.

Here’s what Statista, has to say about Football in the U.S:

“Football in the U.S generated only $6 billion in 2004 but the revenue generated by the sport kept increasing every year. In 2015, the revenue doubled and hit $12 billion.”

As per other reports, Dallas Cowboys are at the top of the line when it comes to being the most revenue generating team. They have a market value of about $4.2 billion in the football world. The 4 other teams that are just below the Dallas Cowboys are:

● New York Yankees
● New England Patriots
● New York Knicks
● New York Giants

The numbers are a proof indicating that football in the U.S is one of the most preferred sports.

People do not only watch and play football, but they also bet on it as it can change their fortunes, and thanks to the huge interest in sports, the opportunities to bet are also endless with websites offering bettors an opportunity to bet and win online, without any trouble.

Now let us get to know about the 3 ways you can bet on football:

Moneyline Betting
This is how it works:

Choose a player or an entire team that you think has better odds at winning or performing than others. Now, you decide how much to bet on them. Here’s where moneyline odds come into play. The amount you wager on a team or a player will decide the amount of money you’ll make if that team wins.

If you visit an online football betting website, you’ll come across negative and positive signs associated with numbers along the team names. Negative sign means that the team is a favorite to win the game and will most likely win. Now, let’s say a team has a negative sign with the number 200 next to it, it means that particular team has better odds at winning and if you want to bet on it, you’ll have to bet $200 and if the team wins, you’ll get your $200 plus an additional $100. If a team’s score say +150 then it indicates that the team is less likely to win. If you bet on this team then you’ll get $150 for every time you bet a $100 on this team.

Spreading
This type of betting requires a bettor to predict a bit more than just who’s going to win. Here, you need to predict the margin from which a team will win.

For instance, a team will have to score two points if they are on a runline by -1.5. If they fail to make two points that you lose the bet even if the team wins. However, the rewards are bigger if you win the bet.

Total Betting
This type of betting involves predicting the total score for both the teams. It’s done before the game commences; you win if you predict it right.

Verdict
Many betting platforms have other betting systems as well, it is important that you do some research before you put any real money on the line.

Fantasy Sports and How It Became a Money Spinner

Part of the massive appeal of sports is the fact that there is so much more to it than the games being played on the field. Television rights are worth billions viewing numbers for the biggest games run into similar numbers and the wages for the top players can be astronomical. The financial perspective for observers often comes down to sports betting but fantasy sports has been running alongside for just about as long and the heightened sense of involvement and interest has long appealed to players around the world. It has now become one of the biggest money-spinners in the sporting world, enjoyed by millions of players every single week.

It All Began with Golf

While we are staying on the fence with this one, for some observers no sport requires a bit of added excitement and interest while the contests are playing out than golf! Surprisingly, yet justifiably, the sport is widely considered as being the first to involve fantasy sports. Oakland businessman Bill Winkenbach first devised fantasy golf back in the 1950s with participants choosing a team of golfers each and the one with the lowest total score based on strokes throughout the tournament would win. It makes sense as while fantasy football and other sports have evolved into all sorts of different kinds of statistics, when you’re literally just keeping score there can be little room for any arguments!

Baseball Came Next

Winkenbach reportedly formed the first fantasy football league in 1962, but progress from golf was first achieved by baseball in 1960 where William Gamson started the Baseball Seminar. The aforementioned increase in the use of statistics began to take hold here with batting averages, RBI, ERA and wins all coming into play – so it was a good job that this all went down at Harvard!

However, perhaps the biggest development and influence that baseball had in fantasy sports was the founding of Rotisserie League Baseball in 1980. Editor Daniel Okrent is the man who is regarded as being the first to come up with the concept and he named the style after a local restaurant. It was perhaps a happy coincidence that Okrent worked in the media, as his style of fantasy sports soon spread and by 1988 there were an estimated half a million players getting involved.

And Then Came the Internet

Fantasy sports were around for a long time before the internet caught on but real growth in the sector both in its ‘home’ market of the US and around the world really started to kick on thanks to unparalleled connectivity.

With just about anyone able to set up a fantasy sport and to connect with like-minded people around the world, there soon were fantasy leagues based on just about everything. Understandably, the biggest sports remained the most popular with football, baseball and soccer leading the way and, along with specialist companies, even some big names of the late 1990s got involved with Yahoo even famously offering its own free fantasy sports section.

How it Became a Money Spinner

In the online age, fantasy sports have just about always been a money spinner, at least for the sites that provided the services! At some stages fantasy sports companies were charging as much as $300 to participate in a fantasy league although Yahoo changed the game somewhat in that regard and virtually forced the rest of the industry to follow suit with cheap or even free gaming opportunities. That’s certainly not to say that there is no money left in the fantasy sports industry – it is estimated to be worth as much as $2 billion in the US alone and with millions of players around the world, all vying for some great prizes, there is always going to be plenty of cash flying around!

How You Can Get a Piece of the Action

One of the genuine benefits for players, especially since the internet boom is that you really can enter fantasy leagues on just about any sport imaginable and a bit of knowledge and passion for your game of choice can always be a helpful as you only win big for being right, after all!

There are many pay to play options out there and it goes without saying that the biggest prizes you can win have been contributed to by numerous players. However, if you like to play as cheaply as possible, then you will be pleased to know that virtually every major, reliable operator is more than happy to entice players in with some free money. The codes for this and the operators that offer them are not hard to find either, and all you’ll need to do is head on over to a leading no deposit bonus portal to see the top picks of welcome offers. There are no deposit bonus codes for UK players and plenty of options for players around the world too, so no matter what you want to play and where, you can always get a feel for fantasy sports with no strings attached.

Once you’re in, you have a choice not only between the various sports offered among the biggest providers but specialist leagues, fantasy drafts that run for the entire season and now even fantasy sports leagues that operate daily! This is where insightful players can really get into the action and make the most of their knowledge as the leagues and competitions are short and take much of the guesswork out of the trials and tribulations of a regular season.

Essentially, if you know a thing or two about your sport of choice and want to make some extra cash with it you can get involved with absolutely no commitment and if you’re as good as you think you are, could well come out ahead before putting out any cash of your own!

Fantasy Sports: Between Gambling and Skill

How do you define “gambling”? Well, if you look it up in the dictionary, the first definition to pop into your eyesight is “play games of chance for money”. “Games of chance” translate to completely random games, like the slot machines at All Jackpots, for example, that are completely random (and have the papers to prove it). This is how they are supposed to be. Those who join the fun with this action-packed cricket game called Cricket Star or choose any other slots game at All Jackpots can expect to play a game that’s absolutely random, with nothing they (or the All Jackpots, for that matter) can do to influence its outcome.

Things are different in the case of other similar activities, like sports bets, and fantasy sports. These are seen as “gambling” by regulators and policymakers because they involve spending money on “activities with an uncertain outcome”. Note that the term used is “uncertain”, not completely random – which is a term that best describes sports and fantasy sports alike.

Fantasy sports, in special, have been compared to stocks trading, not because of the uncertainty factored in (even though stocks trading can be a surprising endeavor at times) but because of the manner, they are practiced. Originally, stock trading was a long-term investment based on skill, focused on compound earnings over a long time – until day trading came along, shifting focus toward the “exciting and immediate” practice of taking short-term financial risks. Similarly, fantasy sports was originally a season-long game based on the actual performance of players – and daily fantasy sports turned it into a short-term activity with the results coming in at the end of the day. As such, the risk is higher – and so is the excitement.

But is daily fantasy sports a form of gambling?

Well, from a regulatory point of view, it is – and it isn’t, depending on who you ask. In some US states, DFS is considered a game of skill, without the need of regulation. Sports leagues also embrace it, as opposed to sports betting, which most of them are against to this day. The federal legislation of the US also considers DFS not to qualify as gambling, even if some states require DFS operators to obtain a license from their gambling regulators to be able to offer their services to the locals.

When FanDuel, one of the biggest DFS operators in the US, entered the UK market, it had to obtain a license from the UK Gambling Commission first. Which, considering that the UK has one of the biggest gambling markets in Europe, says a thing or two about the nature of the activity.

Whether or not DFS is a form of gambling is still something left to be decided. It is different from what the textbook definition of gambling looks like, that’s for sure. And the rest depends on the regulators on one hand, and the players on the other.

Pogba to miss Derby showdown

Manchester United will be without midfield ace Paul Pogba for the derby clash with City at Old Trafford next weekend after he was sent off in the 3-1 win at Arsenal.

Pogba was shown a straight red card 16 minutes from time at the Emirates Stadium, as his mistimed tackle saw him end up stamping on the leg of Gunners defender Hector Bellerin.

A three-match suspension is certain to follow, meaning that Pogba will have to sit out the crunch clash with the Citizens next weekend, having only recently returned to the United side after injury.

Boss Jose Mourinho was left a little disappointed in the decision to dismiss Pogba, telling MUTV: “I just know Paul is frustrated and a bit disappointed with his colleague Laurent Koscielny for his reaction. Everybody knows he is a clean player and it was not his intention, not at all, to be close to a red card.”

United are 23/10 to defeat Premier League leaders City next Sunday and are 11/1 to claim a 1-0 victory on home turf, with the Red Devils 10/1 to be crowned champions come the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Mourinho also heaped praised on goalkeeper David de Gea after he made a string of superb saves to ensure that the Red Devils left the capital with all three points.

The Portuguese added: “I told him after the match that what I saw today was the best goalkeeper in the world. You need the goalkeeper to be there for you when the team needs him.”

United are back in action on Tuesday evening when they play host to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

Premier League news courtesy of Bet365.

Five NFL hot shots you need to jettison from your fantasy squad

NFL Referees
NFL Referees (CC by 4.0) by Keith Allison

It came as something of a surprise this weekend to see that week eleven of the NFL was already upon us – where have those weeks gone? Of course, for anyone with a fantasy team, the playoffs are even closer than in real life. With a couple of weeks to go, many of us are in that all too familiar “all or nothing” struggle to make it over the line and into the postseason.

It is tempting at this stage to become superstitious and adopt the “don’t touch anything now” approach, but to stand the best chance, this is really the moment when you need to step back and reassess what is going to work best to get instant results.

Gambling it all on a playoff berth

When we get to this point in the season, it becomes a tunnel-visioned quest to make the playoffs. What came before is forgotten, and what will come afterwards is to be considered later. While fans study the odds at online sports betting and casino sites like the ones at http://www.casinosinuk.co.uk, team owners and head coaches are making tough decisions based on the here and now.

You need to do the same with your fantasy team. Remember, that playoff berth is all that matters, so it is time to get ruthless and cull some big names. Here are some stars who might have been logical choices at the start of the season, and might become so again next year, but will only be dragging you down right now.

1) Theo Riddick

A perfect example of a player that fantasy owners hang on to because he is “sure to come good.” The fact is, the Lions running back has only really come up with the goods once in the past nine weeks. It is time to make space.

2) CJ Anderson

Another RB who always promises much but in fantasy terms is something of a liability. Sure, he scored a great touchdown last week against the Bengals, but when was the last time he was in the end zone before that? Answer – it was back in week 3.

3) Hunter Henry

A good tight end can pay great dividends in a fantasy league. Make no mistake, Henry has talent by the ton, and is a favourite among fantasy owners. The truth is, though, he’s just not produced this year, and now is the time to admit he’s not going to.

4) Jordy Nelson

A controversial choice, perhaps. He’s certainly a receiver of rare quality, but from the moment Aaron Rogers was sidelined with a broken collarbone, the writing was on the wall. Five weeks on, it is painfully clear that Hundley / Nelson is never going to be Montana / Rice.

5) Jordan Matthews

The Bills are quietly imploding, but even if the quarterback situation had never happened, Matthews has slipped ever further down the pecking order over the past few weeks. Question marks over his fitness mean he could spend even more time on the bench in forthcoming games.

Manchester City fear Stones lay-off plus more EPL Injury News

Manchester City are worried they could be without defender John Stones for around six weeks after he limped out of the win at Leicester with a hamstring injury.

The Citizens made it 11 wins from 12 matches in the Premier League as they saw off the Foxes 2-0 at the King Power Stadium but the gloss was somewhat taken off the win by the sight of Stones limping off after 31 minutes.

Boss Pep Guardiola revealed after the game that an initial assessment suggested the England international would be out of action for between four and six weeks, much to his disappointment.

“It is unfortunate for us and for John and I think he might be out for six weeks with that type of injury,” Guardiola said.

“We don’t have a lot of central defenders, but the spirit in the team – and with all the players – is good so we are going to find a solution.

“It is tough because the calendar is so demanding.”

Guardiola has had defensive injury problems all season, losing left-back Benjamin Mendy to a serious knee problem early on, while Vincent Kompany has missed a large chunk of the campaign with a calf injury.

The Belgian centre-half played just his fourth game of the season against Leicester at the weekend and looked rusty early on when diving in to a challenge on Jamie Vardy.

Foxes boss Claude Puel felt Kompany should have been sent off but Guardiola was full of praise for his performance, claiming he was impressed given how little action he has seen recently.

“I am really impressed because he’s had more than two months injured and had one international game against Gibraltar, and to play at that level shows how strong he is in his mind,” said Guardiola.

“In the last part of last season he came in and helped us a lot. Vince is a little mystery and hopefully he can be fit for the coming games.”

With Stones now sidelined, Eliaquim Mangala made a rare start for City alongside Otamendi when they beat Feyenoord 1-0 in the Champions League last night.

Abraham injury adds to Swansea woes

Swansea face an anxious wait to discover the extent of Tammy Abraham’s back injury after he was stretchered off during the 2-0 loss at Burnley.

The 20-year-old struggled during the course of the second half and eventually had to be replaced on after the problem became too much to overcome.

The sight of the on-loan Chelsea striker leaving the field only made a bad day for manager Paul Clement and the travelling fans worse after they went down to defeat for the sixth time in seven matches Premier League matches.

The Welsh outfit are one from bottom in the standings, two points from safety, and are 4/9 to be relegated.

Abraham had been the one bright spark in a difficult campaign for the Swans, scoring four of the club’s seven Premier League goals this season.

Clement will be desperate to have his star striker available as soon as possible given their struggles in front of goal, the former Derby boss admitting they need to break their current losing habit as soon as possible.

“As a side, we are playing under our potential and I have to find a way to break this cycle. We have to find a way to grind out a win and get the best out of our players,” said Clement.

“We’re not getting the results at the moment but they’re not far away and I see no reason why those results won’t come against Bournemouth next week.”

Clement is a man under pressure after recent results and is in desperate need of a win when fellow struggles Bournemouth come to town.

Swansea are 13/8 to get the better of the Cherries next Saturday, while Eddie Howe’s men are 17/10 to come out on top at the Liberty Stadium. The draw is 11/5.

Chadli injury leaves Pulis fuming

West Brom are set to be without Nacer Chadli for the foreseeable future after he picked up a thigh injury on his return from international duty.

Chadli has barely featured for the Baggies in the Premier League this season but started both of Belgium’s friendlies against Mexico and Japan earlier this month.

Former Tottenham star Chadli suffered the injury in training on Thursday 16 November and he is very unhappy that the midfielder was so heavily involved in Belgium’s two matches.

The WBA Managaer said that “We’re very disappointed that Chadli’s come back, having played two games for Belgium,” he said. “He missed pre-season, we played him in a couple of games, but he didn’t feel 100 per cent fit.

“I think him going off to play for Belgium, and to play in the two games for the full 90 minutes in a short period of time, has unfortunately caught him out. He’s had a scan and he’s got a tear.”

Premier League injury news courtesy of Bet365.