FPL 2018/2019 – Potential bargain players

2015-02-21_Chelsea1

“Stamford Bridge awaiting a new era under Maurizio Sarri” (CC by 4.0) by Ungry Young Man

One of the best indicators of value for FPL managers is the Points per Million ratio, which refers to the number of points a player has scored in relation to his price at that moment. Last season, for example, Watford’s Richarlison scored 4 goals and provided 5 assists over the 12 first gameweeks, despite costing less than £6.5 million. For the amount of money he cost, he was winning his owners a lot of points per game (around 5.5 in that period) and he was considered one of the bargains of the season due to the points return per £m invested in buying him on to your squad. That is, at least until his output kind of dried up in the second half of the season. In this article, we’ll be pointing out a few of the players in the current FPL line-up who have the potential to perform better than their initial price tag suggests in the coming season. And while we’re on the subject of looking out for better returns, if you’d rather play online casino whilst weighing up your team selection options then Casino-Experts.com can help you boost your winnings.

Goalkeepers

Price differences between top and reserve goalkeepers are usually relatively small, no more than around £2.0 million max, but picking the right combination can easily save you a million or more to spend elsewhere, as well as a few selection headaches. As usual, the top goalies this season will be priced between £5.5 and £6.0 million, with De Gea being the most expensive.

There don’t seem to be any nailed-on starters in goal for anything below £4.5 million, but at that price, some decent FPL potential is available, starting with West Ham’s Lukasz Fabianski. The Polish goalkeeper came over from relegated Swansea, where he was one of the few consistent positives over the stretch of last season. He had the third-highest save percentage last year, behind Pope and De Gea, though with the Hammers, each season is a guess in terms of how they’ll turn up at the start.

Other interesting budget goalkeepers might be Wolverhampton’s new man and Portuguese international Rui Patricio, Watford’s former West Brom man and FPL veteran Ben Foster, and Palace’s Spanish signing Vicente Guaita (all at £4.5 million). As with many potential bargains though, keep an eye out on possible signs of a definite starting spot for either of these.

Defenders

In terms of existing price differences, what goes for goalkeepers pretty much goes for defenders as well in FPL. The official game’s top-rated defenders cost £6.5 million, so a bargain could be considered any regular points scorer with a value of no more than £5.0 million, at most.

There seems to be some pre-season hype building up around Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, mainly thanks to his low price of £4.0 million. The 19-year old was Joel Ward’s replacement last season and showed that he was more than deserving of minutes in the first team. The rest of the pre-season will hopefully tell us more about his starting chances, but there is potential for a 4.0-million starter at a mid-table club here.

Another potential bargain could be Bournemouth’s Charlie Daniels for just £4.5 million. The Cherries are not known for their defensive impermeability, but they do get the occasional clean sheet and their wing-backs usually get plenty of time on the ball in the attacking third. Daniels, who’s had fantastic spells as an FPL asset over the past years, likes to get involved, has an excellent delivery, and looks set to be Bournemouth’s first-choice left-back again this season.

Watford’s Jose Holebas is another well-known name to many FPL managers and another potential bargain. The Greek left-back was in and out of the starting eleven during the second half of last season as Watford experienced something of a collective collapse, but he seems to be set for a starting spot again this season. In combination with the odd clean sheet, Holebas’ set-piece duties and fine deliveries from open play can make him an interesting asset early on.

Midfielders

When it comes to midfielders, there are many to choose from and pricing varies a lot. This season’s most expensive midfielder in the official game is Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. His price of £13 million was to be expected, but his positioning as a midfielder less so. He’s followed by Raheem Sterling (£11 million), Eden Hazard (£10.5 million), and Alexis (£10.5) million. For the sake of this article, we’ll consider any player below £7.0 million a potential bargain.

At £5.5 million, Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser might be an interesting addition to squads that need some more funding in other places. The 24-year old midfielder/winger scored 5 goals and gave 3 assists over last year’s Premier League campaign, and he’ll be hoping to be a certain starter for the Cherries this season. He also often takes free-kicks and corners, which adds to his points potential.

With 10 goals and an assist to his name last season, penalty specialist Luka Milivojevic can hardly be called a “hidden gem” or a “great differential”. His price of still just £6.5 million does put him straight into the “potential bargains” category, though. Milivojevic is a fixed starter at Crystal Palace, he’s a central midfielder who’s not afraid to go forward, and most importantly, he’s on penalties (7 goals from the spot in 2017/2018 for the Eagles).

A lot is moving and changing at West Ham, so it remains to be seen how Manuel Pellegrini’s men will line up for their season’s first game, but an interesting name on their team sheet is Jack Wilshere. After a decent season at Bournemouth two years ago, Wilshere’s last season saw him in and out of the Arsenal team that reached the Europa League semi-finals. The 26-year old Englishman usually started the European games (1 goal and 3 assists in 13 games), while he was benched much more often than he would’ve liked in the Prem (1 goal and 3 assists in 20 appearances). Still, West Ham might be the right place for the midfielder to gain some confidence and to get back to the level that saw him hailed as one of Arsenal’s very biggest talents just some years ago. A price of just £5.0 million might make it worth the punt.

Forwards

Unsurprisingly, Harry Kane is this year’s most expensive attacker, with a price of £12.5 million. Following him are Arsenal’s Aubameyang, City’s Kun Aguero, and Man United’s Romelu Lukaku (all three of them priced at £11 million). We’ll use the same benchmark as we did for midfielders (£7.0 million) to decide on which players could be considered potential bargains. The issue with budget strikers in FPL is often that either they don’t get enough minutes at a top-6 club or they play for the smaller clubs where goals (and thus, FPL points) are something of a rare commodity.

The first striker on the list comes with a disclaimer, an injury disclaimer to be exact. If Southampton’s Charlie Austin can start off this season fit and if he can maintain that fitness throughout, at least, longer periods of the season, then the 29-year old Englishman might just turn out to be a huge bargain for just £6.0 million. We know there’s nothing wrong with his scoring prowess, he scored 7 in just 1,000 minutes of Premier League football last season for a less than prolific team, but he has to remain fit. With the Saints not having made any big investments in the front line so far, a fit Austin could mean a starting Austin.

Though at our very price limit, Everton’s Cenk Tosun could be considered a bargain as well if he gets the opportunity in a newly-renovated Everton side. Signed in January of this year for a sum of £22.50 million, this season will be the Turk’s first full season at the club. He left quite a good impression over the second half of last season, coming into a largely struggling side and still managing to score 5. His price in the official game is set at £7.0 million, and with games against Wolves, Southampton, Bournemouth, and Huddersfield to begin with, he could be a differential up front early on.

More of an enabler than a real bargain or differential, at £4.5 million, Hudderfield’s Collin Quaner is probably the official game’s cheapest attacker who’s most likely to get some game time. If you’re looking for a serious budget enabler in attack with some points potential to come off your bench in emergency situations, the quick winger is an option. Last season, he made 26 appearances for the Terriers, in which he provided 4 assists and ended on a total of 44 points in FPL.

PlayOn – Daily Fantasy Sports

PlayON‘s goal is to deliver the ultimate online sports entertainment experience to sports fans across the world.

Background

Traditional Fantasy Sports, where users manage a team over the course of a full season, have been growing in popularity over the past decade. A disruptive new category has now emerged – Daily Fantasy Sports. More intense and entertaining than the traditional season-long format, Daily Fantasy Sports are currently undergoing explosive growth, enabling users to pick fresh fantasy teams every day.

The company

Since going live in 2012, PlayON has registered customers from over 100 countries PlayON differs from other Daily Fantasy Sports operators in that it only offers real-money Daily Fantasy Sports games to customers based in regulated territories. FISO members have been playing PlayOn since 2013 – read more on FISO’s PlayON forum.

Sports

PlayON currently offers Daily Fantasy Games in Football, Basketball, Cricket, Rugby Union, Rugby League, AFL, NFL, Tennis and Golf. More sports are due for release over the coming months.

Regulation

PlayON allows real-money game entries to customers based in the UK, Ireland and Australia. The company is currently in the process of securing additional licenses in a number of other jurisdictions.

Getting started

If you’re new to PlayON, there are lots of Free Entry games with cash prizes on offer. If you don’t know how to play, visit their How to Play section.

Online Betting Tips: Everything You Need To Know

Gambling is not only thrilling but an action-packed experience. Prior to the advent of the internet, people had to go to bricks and mortar casinos or betting shops to gamble. Today, you can wager on your favorite game from the comfort of your home. From Poker and slots to roulette and craps, everything can be done via the internet. Another area of betting that has become popular is sports betting. There are many sports that you can bet on depending on the sport you have knowledge about. Some of the most popular sports you can bet on include football, horseracing, golf, tennis and rugby.

It is recommended to choose a game/sport you are conversant with. This way, your chances of winning will be higher. Here are tips you need to keep in mind when betting online.

Only play at top sites

You need to choose a good site, starting with reputation and credibility. Visit the site to ensure that they are offering your favorite games. Most importantly, the games should work well with your internet connection speed and devices. Fast Payouts is an added advantage.

Research

Researching is important for both beginners and experienced gamblers. Whether it is watching TV, checking head to head statistics of teams/individuals you want to bet on or asking betting pros, you need do some kind of research that will help you to win. Educating yourself about a sport will increase your chances of making correct predictions. If get the right predictions, you will make a profit, which is anyway what you want. Take your time to learn the sport, analyze the odds and choose your teams wisely.

Accept your losses with humility and grace

You cannot win all the time. You may find yourself on a losing streak on bad days. You should always keep in mind that this is statistically normal. So, don’t lose your head and don’t try to get back the amount you’ve lost quickly through high risk bets or bigger wagers. Don’t chase losses and don’t cross your budget boundaries.

Don’t drink and bet

If you are gambling to win real money, then you should avoid drinking. Always be alert and ready to make good choices. Drinking is a fast path to online betting failure. So, always be sober when betting on your favorite games.

Know your strategy

It is often easier to win in slot games with lower jackpots since they are likely to pay out more frequently. If you’re trying to master two games, you will want to choose one low and one high jackpot game to get just the right balance between big wins and smaller bonuses that help you to keep your bankroll healthy. It is important that you master the strategy of each one and calculate the odds of the game and determine how much you can afford to deposit against your winning odds.

Take advantage of offers

Online casinos will often post promotions, offers and gifts to entice players to sample their games. Taking advantage of these offers will only help you to play more and win more money.

There are different types of bonuses offered by online casinos. It is important that you choose the best bonuses and make the most out of them. These bonuses include: welcome bonus, no deposit bonus, deposit bonus, free bonuses, loyalty bonuses and referral bonuses.

A combination of welcome bonus and no deposit bonus can get you up and running with a good bankroll to give you a better feel of the site. With free bankroll, you can try new games and perfect your skills and strategies. Most importantly, you can even win on online casino’s dime.

But it is also important to pay attention to the bonuses so you don’t play in ways that don’t qualify you to get your winnings.

Know your limits

While strategy is very important when it comes to betting online, you may just have a bad day sometimes. When that happens to you, simply accept that it’s not your day and leave it until next time. You need to have a limit for each day, week or month and always stick to it. This way, you won’t use more than the amount you want to use for betting.

Quit when you are ahead

One of the biggest mistakes people make when gambling is not quitting when they are ahead. It can be tempting to try your luck by betting on more games after winning a huge amount of money. However, chances are that you may end up losing your money. So, it is always important to bet wisely and stop playing instead of reinvesting in more games.

Decide between individual and team betting

It is also important to decide if you want to bet for a team or individual. Individual betting is mainly associated with tennis, but you can also bet on teams like hockey and football. Each category has its own risks. For instance, for individual betting, although the odds may be for you, the risk of the individual costing you and being faulty is high. When it comes to teams like hockey, the risk is spread out since every player is contributing his/her skills to the team. That means that chances of any faults are very low for the whole team.

Don’t underestimate underdogs

Make sure that you research so that you can know the underdogs. Many people are often carried away by the wave of everyone going with the alphas, and not paying attention to the underdogs. The truth is that underdogs can win unexpectedly, especially when they are playing at home. You need to think outside the box to maximise your chances of winning.

FPL 2018-2019 – our very first preview

Waiting game

“The new FPL season is coming…” (CC by 4.0) by Matthew Wilkinson

August 10th, 2018, at 20h00 (GMT+1). That’s when Manchester United will be kicking off the new Premier League season against Leicester City. To provide the millions of FPL managers around the world with enough time to explore the teams, analyse the players, and finally form a first squad of 15, the Fantasy Premier League website has opened for business just a few days ago.

We will soon publish a series of articles with a specific team-by-team focus to get you started and help you form your first squad from scratch but today we’re starting with a very first broad overview of the 2018-2019 FPL season as it stands right now. We’ll take a look at some of last season’s top performers and we’ll highlight some of the players that look promising for the coming season.

What about last season’s top FPL assets?

Many Premier League fans, and Liverpool fans in particular, will remember the 2017/18 FPL season as Momo Salah‘s season. The Egyptian winger returned to the Premier League like a one-man hurricane, scoring 44 goals and assisting 16 in 52 games overall, and one of the big questions on many minds will be whether he’s capable of repeating such a stellar performance this year. Despite a disappointing World Cup, Salah is priced at £13.0, making him this season’s most expensive player. He’s still listed as a midfielder, though, and at the time of writing, he’s the most selected player overall as well (47.8%).

In Salah’s shadow, Man City’s Raheem Sterling had the best season of his career last season. With 23 goals and 17 assists, the young Englishman played a considerable role in City’s title-winning and record-breaking 2017/18 season. This fantastic performance is also reflected by his price this season (£11.0), though it should be noted that he’s still listed as a midfielder in the official game. As we speak, Sterling is still active at the World Cup, where England will be facing Croatia in a few days time to decide who reaches the final. No matter the outcome, you can expect his current ownership of 4.7% to rise considerably before the start of the season, although will he miss the start of the season to give him time to rest after his World Cup exploits?

Harry Kane is the man usually posted next to Sterling in attack for the Three Lions and with good reason: the Spurs striker is currently the World Cup’s top scorer with 6 goals. When it comes to FPL, Kane is somewhat of a guarantee for goals and, thus, points. With 30, 29, and 25 goals in the Prem in his last three seasons, his price tag of £12.5 (the second-most expensive player in the official game) isn’t hard to justify. There is the strange statistic of Kane never having scored a goal in the month of August (and maybe he will start slowly again after a long over due rest from the World Cup?), so take that into account if you’re the more superstitious type, but it’s likely he’ll be steady raking in the points again in 2018/19.

Man City’s Kevin de Bruyne would probably have been last season’s Player of the Year, hadn’t it been for Salah’s extraordinary numbers. With his 8 goals and 16 assists (the most of any player last season) in 37 Premier League games, De Bruyne was crucial to City’s success, but more than that, he was the engine of Pep Guardiola’s footballing machine. His role is equally important at the Belgian national team, who are facing France next week in the World Cup semi-finals, and 23.1% of FPL managers believe that the midfielder (priced at £10.0) will take his exceptionally high level of play into the start of the 2018/19 season. Again there must be a slight doubt over whether he’ll be fully fit for the opening match after his delayed holiday like the England players.

Some other potentially interesting players for the 2018/19 season

Rumour goes that Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has rejected a renewed contract offer and is set to join one of the league’s top outfits, while German giants Borussia Dortmund have also been mentioned. Should the quick winger stay in the Premier League, then he’s definitely worth considering for your FPL team. Classified as an attacker and priced at just £7.0, Zaha might just prove to be one of the very early-season differentials (though his ownership stands at 32.2% already) as well as enablers for your squad. It’ll all depend on where he chooses to go next.

Considering Salah’s high price, some FPL managers will be opting for a Liverpool alternative in order to have more funds available for other players and positions. One of those alternatives is Roberto Firmino, the hard-working number 9 in Klopp’s attacking formation. With 27 goals and 17 assists in 54 games last season, the Brazilian striker was one of Klopp’s most-used players and a key component of the team as they reached the Champions League final. For the new season, Firmino is priced at £9.5 and he’s already owned by 37.6% of FPL managers. After his quarter final exit with Brazil at the World Cup, the hope is that he’ll again be forming a lethal attacking unit up front for the Reds with Salah, Sadio Mané, and whichever other players Liverpool will undoubtedly be bringing in this summer.

In the summer of 2017, Wolverhampton Wolves surprised the world of football by splashing a cool £16 million on Ruben Neves, a young central midfielder from FC Porto and one of the Portuguese giant’s most-promising talents. Less than a year later, it looks like not a cent of those millions was wasted, as Neves played a crucial role in leading Wolves to promotion to the Premier League. The still only 21 year old midfielder recently signed a contract extension with the club, making it more than likely that he’ll play a major role in Wolverhampton’s fight for Premier League survival in 2018/19. Due to his slightly deeper position, he scored just 6 and assisted 1 in the Championship last season, but his price of £5.0 nonetheless makes him an interesting asset to consider (current ownership: 21.2%).

Currently, the most-owned defender plays in red and goes by the name of Trent Alexander-Arnold. The young English right-back got his chance last season in the absence of Nathaniel Clyne and he grabbed it with both hands, resulting in a successful season for Liverpool and a call-up for the English World Cup squad. His current ownership of 21% shows that many FPL managers believe him to keep his place in Jurgen Klopp’s in 2018/19 and at a price of £5.0, he might turn out to be one of the bargains so early in the season. We recommend you keep an eye on him, as well as on any developments around Clyne and potential incoming transfers for the Reds’ defence.

Casinos: From Offline to Online

With a road yet to be traveled, the online gambling industry has gained its reputation through the years. Nowadays, playing online allows you to discover a plethora of things you cannot find in a land-based casino. Come across a diversity of slot machines and table games, discover the relaxing experience of lying in your bed while having fun and unwrap a huge variety of online casino bonus codes to enhance your gambling experience.

When Did the First Online Casino Appear?

The online gambling industry marked its beginning in 1994 in Antigua and Barbuda, when a law empowered the operators to apply for a license. Microgaming was the pioneer in gambling software development, launching its first product in the same year. Meanwhile, online transactions began to be considered safe, so online casinos suffered an ascension in the 90’s.

Intercasino was the first money wagering online casino.

However, the boom happened in 2000’s, when more states began to offer licenses for online betting and gambling platforms. By 2010, over 860 online casinos had been opened.

Technology has got us to a point where we can gamble using any device, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes games greater every day.

Check some of the advantages of online casinos below:

  1. Variety of Games and Slots

A greater number of casino products is to be found in an online casino than in an offline one. In addition, they are very diversified, letting you choose from a plethora of categories: 3D slots, jackpot slots, vintage slots, bonus slots, roulettes, live table games, different types of poker and many more.

Most land-based casinos only have 200-300 games, while some online casinos provide their users with over 1000.

  1. Lower Stakes

How many times did you want to enter a land-based casino, but you didn’t have enough money? In the online world, this is not an issue anymore. While talking about the first category, the minimum amount you have to spend for a spin is 1 or 2 EUR/GBP/USD. In online casinos, this amount reduces by more than a half.

  1. Bonuses and Promotions

Get huge match bonuses when you deposit a minimum sum of money. Even better, you can register and win no deposit bonuses! Or…how about winning when you lose? Yes, these are all possible in online casinos, and everything is designed to make you spend some high-quality time on the games you like the most.

  1. Convenience

There are a lot of steps to take if you want to visit an offline casino, so a lot of time is literally lost. You could rather take a sip of coffee, turn the TV on and listen to some old-fashioned music while enjoying your favourite gambling products on your laptop.

If you have a lazy morning, keep your pajamas on and play on your mobile device.

  1. Privacy

Enjoy the gambling world from the intimacy of your own room. By doing this, you don’t have to see anyone you don’t want to, and you can be assured that all your private data is safe.

  1. No Need to Travel

Sure, taking a trip to one of the best cities in the world for an enhanced casino experience is a great thing to do. However, this implies a lot of inconvenience, due to the packing, the lack of sleep and the stress occurred.

By gambling on online casinos, you make the process a lot easier and less stressful. Moreover, keep in mind that the costs are significantly reduced.

  1. Demo Versions of the Games

If you want to test a certain game without taking the risk of losing money, in online casinos you can try most of them in a demo version. If you don’t like the game, you can simply exit it and try another one.

  1. More and Bigger Jackpots

Huge progressive jackpots are a common thing both in online and offline casinos. However, the amounts tend to be bigger in the first category and the offer of games suffers more variation.

Are you a fan of traditional, land-based casinos or you enjoy online casinos at least as much as the offline ones?

Relegated teams pay the price for Premier League stagnation

Over the last few years, it’s fair to say that there have been few Premier League teams as unremarkable as Stoke, West Brom and Swansea. Is there any football fan who would have looked at an upcoming fixture against one of those three clubs and been remotely excited? As the weeks went by this season, and the defeats mounted, all three of these clubs sagged under the increasing strain of underachievement, cracking and crumbling like a warm Magnum on a sunny bank holiday. As the season drew to a close, odds for Premier League survival for Stoke, West Brom and Swansea were so long that it was hard to believe that these sides had been such mainstays over the last eight years.

There’s a sense of refreshment to the fact that all three promoted sides survived relegation this season, for only the third time in Premier League history. Huddersfield, Brighton and Newcastle have each brought their own unique gifts to the Premier League party, and through hard work and astute management deservedly maintained their position among the elite. It’s worth noting too that all three sides stood by their managers through thick and thin, perhaps proof that there is still something to be said for managerial stability and longevity in modern football.

For the three that did go down, it seemed that panic had set in once it became clear that Huddersfield and Brighton were not going to assume the role of relegation fodder. Suddenly, there was a very real chance that these three long time Premier League institutions could be cast back into the fires of the Football League. Managers were sacked left right and centre, unproven, ageing, or injury-prone players were hurried through the doors in the January transfer window in a desperate bid to avoid the potential pitfalls of relegation as evidenced by Sunderland.

While Swansea have flirted with relegation for a few years now, the panic was perhaps more tangible at Stoke and West Brom, two sides who have harboured in the plush comfort of mid-table finishes in recent seasons. The two clubs are perennial inbetweeners, content to mingle with the other also-rans and take their share of the ever increasing spoils of Premier League survival.

But stagnation can only take a club so far before the plug is pulled, and the swirling waters of relegation engulf those who have tarried while other clubs have grown stronger, or created identities for their own success and improvement. This is where Stoke and West Brom have been outstripped.

There was a time when the Potters were among the most feared sides in the league—a trip to the freezing, soulless Britannia Stadium the ultimate test of a top team’s fortitude. Their football was ugly, direct, but it was wholly effective. Recent seasons though have seen a complete departure from that kind of steely grit. The arrival of many failed youngsters from bigger clubs have seen Stoke become toothless in their Premier League old age, a side with no clear style or substance, a team merely existing in no-man’s land, failing to realise that the walls were slowly crumbling around them.

West Brom are guilty of a similar crime, but where Stoke had become a team with no clear footballing plan, the Baggies’ was so predictable that they became caricatures of themselves, each Chris Brunt corner whipped towards the head of McAuley, Evans or Dawson a further sign of West Brom’s outdated approach. Alan Pardew did nothing to change the way West Brom played, and did nothing to address their shortcomings. By the time Darren Moore sparked their outstanding mini-revival, the dross who sat in the hot seat before him had consigned West Brom to their fate.

Swansea are another side who simply abandoned the style and philosophy which had served them so well in their maiden years as a Premier League side. It seemed that after the sacking of Garry Monk, all logic flew out the window. Bizarre managerial appointments left the club seemingly stuck in the Premier League’s nether regions.

The notion of a ‘mid-table club’ seems to be becoming more and more obsolete in modern Premier League football. The windfall each club receives from television money is so great that there is less of a financial gap between teams outside of the top six. Each club can afford to pay the transfer fees and the wages to attract European talent. Premier League longevity is no longer much of a factor when it comes to attracting new players, and so the likes of Stoke and West Brom have lost something that in years gone by would have given them an edge over some of the ‘smaller’ clubs in the league.

It is perhaps a worrying sign for a lot of clubs who would consider themselves established in the Premier League. Indeed, Southampton, who have been consistent top-half finishers before this season, came so close to slipping down through the relegation trapdoor themselves. Everton too were forced to call on the fortifying figure of Sam Allardyce to stave off the threat of dropping into the Championship for the first time since the Premier League was created.

This is now a league where, outside of the top six, no one is safe. Perhaps the more intangible factors so often applied to football are slowly fading into irrelevance—those of experience, of Premier League knowhow, and the recognition, justified or otherwise, that some clubs are bigger than others, that some clubs are ‘too big to go down.’ This season has proved that through hard work and well-followed methods, those mental pitfalls can be washed away, and the likes of Huddersfield and Brighton can prove Premier League tips from Betfair wrong, that they can sit deservedly in the seats where West Brom, Stoke and Swansea have reclined in smugness for the last number of years.

For those three relegated clubs, the future is unpredictable. It’s difficult to see how at least one of them won’t bounce straight back up next season, but then again the Championship is an increasingly competitive marathon, full of stumbling blocks and ambushes, a league that provides no easy rides or free passes. Could it be that these clubs continue to stagnate at Championship level, such is the mentality instilled at these institutions that tenth place is the goal and that anything beyond that is an unattainable fantasy?


This is where the role of the manager comes in. Darren Moore has already proven that he has the potential to guide West Brom out of the obscurity. For Stoke and Swansea, who both parted with their managers at the end of the season, their next appointments will be the most important either club has made in year, more crucial than those panicked appointments to try and avoid the drop in the first place. While Stoke have signed Gary Rowett as their new manager, Swansea look set to sign Ostersund’s manager Graham Potter in a bid to steady the ship. Their new managers will need a cool head, a measured approach, an antidote to the sense that everyone else around them is losing their minds.

World Cup 2018 – Review of the 1st Matches


Iranian fans during the 2018 World Cup game against Morocco” (CC by Wikimedia) by Tasnim News Agency

GROUP A   GROUP B   GROUP C   GROUP D  
Russia – Saudi Arabia 5 – 0 Morocco – Iran 0 – 1 France – Australia 2 –1 Argentina – Iceland 1 – 1
Egypt – Uruguay 0 – 1 Portugal – Spain 3 –3 Peru – Denmark 0 – 1 Croatia – Nigeria 2 – 0
               
GROUP E   GROUP F   GROUP G   GROUP H  
Costa Rica – Serbia 0 – 1 Germany – Mexico 0 – 1 Belgium – Panama 3 – 0 Colombia – Japan 1 – 2
Brazil – Switzerland 1 – 1 Sweden – S. Korea 1 – 0 Tunisia – England 1 – 2 Poland – Senegal 1 – 2

 
It might not feel that way but, with Senegal’s impressive win over Poland on June 19th, the first match day of the 2018 World Cup has already finished. The first 16 matches of the tournament have offered us plenty of interesting football, some closely contested encounters, and a few seriously surprising results. Below we’ll take a closer look at some of the matches and results that particularly stood out as well as highlighting how some of the World Cup Bad Boys have got on.

Russia – Saudi Arabia
In a preview of the Russian team in another article, we were sceptical of Russia’s chances of success during the World Cup. Their 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia in the opening game has shown that the team might have more potential than previously expected, though (especially considering the Russians also booked a second victory, over Egypt, yesterday). Truth be told, the Saudis put up little to no resistance, but Russia still grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Denis Cherishev lived up to the hope of millions of Russians as he scored two and led his team to a more than meaningful opening result, while his fellow midfielder Aleksandr Golovin scored a lovely free kick in the added time and provided two assists earlier on in the game. Knowing yesterday’s result against Egypt already, Russia looks like they should slowly start preparing for the knock-out stage.

Portugal – Spain
After 48 hours of internal chaos following the firing of Spain’s national team coach just two days before their opening match against Portugal, it was going to be interesting to see how to Spaniards were going to turn up against Ronaldo and the rest of the reigning European champions. The Iberian encounter turned out to be one of match day 1’s most entertaining games. As usual, Ronaldo managed to take the spotlight by scoring all three of Portugal’s goals: a penalty in the 4th minute, taking advantage of a De Gea howler in the 45th, and scoring a magnificent free kick in the 88th. For Spain, arguably the King of the Bad Boys, Diego Costa scored a double, while Real Madrid’s Nacho scored what probably is the most beautiful goal in his career so far, a crossed drop-kick from about 25 meters out. If both teams can keep up what they showed in their first game, then neither of them should have much trouble passing the group stage.

France – Australia
On the 16th of June, one of the tournament’s top favourites started their campaign with a match against the Australia. The depth of the French squad is quite baffling and the Socceroos are considered to be among this World Cup’s weaker teams, in theory, but the game was far from a walk-over for the French. The game saw two penalties being awarded, one to each side, with Griezmann slotting the game’s first goal and Australia’s (and Crystal Palace’s) Mile Jedinak equalising from the spot just 4 minutes later in the 62nd minute. An own goal after a Paul Pogba effort settled the game in the 80th minute, but the Australians could definitely leave the pitch with their heads held up high. Midfielders Jedinak and especially Aaron Mooy (who we mentioned in an earlier preview article) played an excellent game, giving the lauded French midfielders a run for their money. Goalkeeper Mat Ryan shone as well, despite letting in two, one of which a penalty and the other a heavy deflection to give Les Bleus the victory.

Argentina – Iceland

The draw between favourites Argentina and tiny island nation Iceland was probably one of this round’s biggest upsets. A wonderful Kun Aguero strike in the 19th minute (his first ever World Cup goal) looked like the Icelanders were in for a long day, but instead, it just took them 4 minutes to pull one back as Alfred Finnbogason tapped in the equaliser from close range (the first World Cup goal in history for Iceland) despite Man City bad boy Otamendi’s defensive presence. After that, Iceland seemed to cope reasonably with Argentina, who gave a rather underwhelming performance. Lionel Messi, who hadn’t been standing out up until that point, got the perfect opportunity to put the Albiceleste ahead in the 64th minute, but his mediocre penalty was saved by Iceland’s Halldorsson, who had already shown his worth on different occasions before that. The Icelandic defence managed to remain solid, which resulted in the first World Cup point ever for the islanders and in a big disappointment for football-crazy Argentinians all over the world. Argentina is expected to pass the group stage, but they’ll have to work hard for it now, while Iceland will be hoping for points against Croatia and Nigeria to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Brazil – Switzerland
A day later, Brazil, another top favourite for World Cup glory kicked off their campaign against Switzerland. All eyes were, of course, on Neymar, as he’d been spending the past months recuperating from an injury and getting in top shape for the World Cup. The Brazilians, though without really impressing, got off to a great start as Liverpool’s Coutinho curled in what is already considered one of the goals of the tournament. The Swiss saw much of the ball in the first half due to some typical tackling from Arsenal ‘bad boy’ Xhaka, but they rarely managed to truly worry Brazilian goalkeeper Allison. That is, until the 50th minute, when midfielder Steven Zuber popped up at a few meters from the Brazilian goal and forcefully headed in a corner from the right side. Chances for Firmino and Miranda came late on in the game, but Switzerland goalkeeper Sommer didn’t concede any more to give his country a surprising, but nonetheless more-than-deserved point from the encounter.

Germany – Mexico
Mexico’s one to nothing victory over favourites and current World Champions Germany is one of the biggest surprises on the first match day, and probably in the entire tournament. In an earlier review of this group, we stated that “Germany will most likely be out of their league, but Mexico should be able to keep Sweden and South Korea at bay”. As it turns out, Germany wasn’t out of their league, far from it. El Tri were concentrated from minute one, displaying a strong tactical discipline and a patience to wait for the Germans to lose the ball in attack before countering at lightning speed. Germany’s Boateng could only just keep Hirving Lozano from scoring on the break at the very start of the game, but he came too late as Lozano (who we highlighted as the star player in our preview of Mexico) scored the game’s only goal in the 35th minute, again on the counter. The Mexican attack, consisting of West Ham’s Chicharito, PSV’s sensation Lozano (who also has a reputation as a bit of a bad boy with 7 career red cards to his name already at age 22 and showed a glimpse of this with a rash challenge shortly before being substituted), and Carlos Vela offered a constant threat, while Guardado and Herrera ruled the midfield for large periods of the game. The Germans looked like they hadn’t completely woken up yet, and they’ll need to do much better for the games against South Korea and Sweden if they want to keep their World Cup dreams alive.

Tunisia – England
On the 18th of June, England kicked off their 2018 World Cup adventure against one of the tournament’s weaker teams, Tunisia. Many of the England fans will have expected a slightly more comfortable victory against the Eagles of Carthage, instead of a last-minute winner by captain Kane. The Three Lions started furiously in the Volgograd Arena, with big chances for Maguire, Lingard and Henderson before Kane volleying in the opener in the 11th minute. The English kept at it, but were shocked by a harsh judgement of a foul by Walker, resulting in a penalty for Tunisia which was converted into the equaliser by Sassi. By this time, Tunisia’s first goalkeeper Mouez Hassen, who’d been outstanding up until that point, had already been replaced as a result of an injury. As most FPL managers know (or should know!), Harry Kane is dangerous until the final whistle, and he proved this again by slotting home from short distance after Maguire flicked on a corner by Kieran Trippier, who stood out during the whole 90 minutes.

Colombia – Japan
Both first match day results in Group H could be called surprising, but Japan’s victory over slight group favourites Colombia stands out. Many consider Colombia a potential outsider for success in Russia and believe that they could go far, but Los Cafeteros didn’t live up to those expectations against Japan. It’s not that the Colombians played badly, but due to a Carlos Sanchez’ red card in the 3rd minute, getting a favourable result from the game looked complicated from the start. The red card came accompanied by a penalty, which was converted by Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa. Colombia refused to give up, though, and they fought themselves back into the game, resulting in the equalising free-kick that could’ve been kept out by Eiji Kawashima. Japan took control in the second half and Colombia appeared less and less on the opponent’s half. Japanese striker Osako played a great game and kept testing Colombia’s Ospina, culminating in his effective header from a corner in the 73rd minute. Colombia managed to limit the damage from then onwards and will be desperately looking for points in the coming games against Senegal and Poland. Japan, on the other hand, got off to a dream start and will be looking to extend their stay in Russia to beyond the group stages.

Keep up to date with the latest insights and comments on the Fantasy World Cup competitions on our Fantasy Football forums.

World Cup 2018 Preview – Group H

HONDA KEISUKE 本田圭佑
“Japan’s Keisuke Honda celebrating with his national team mates” (CC by 4.0) by Clark Tanaka

Over the last two weeks building up to the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia on Thursday June 14th, we’ve published a series of previews on each of the 8 Groups with a special focus on each team’s best players and any details that might be of interest to FPL managers. Today the final instalment in our 8 article series is Group H with Colombia, Japan, Poland and Senegal. On June 19th, Colombia are playing Japan and Poland are facing off against Senegal. Finally World Cup madness is here! And here is thousands of ways to have even more fun!

If you’re still not sure what Fantasy World Cup competition to enter then have a look at TFF World Cup 2018 or Dream Team World Cup 2018 or the official McDonalds FIFA World Cup Fantasy game.

Colombia

Colombian football has been developing at a spectacular rate over the past decade or two, something that was emphasised by their World Cup quarter final in 2014. With the mix of arrived top players and exciting young talents present in the 2018 squad, Los Cafeteros might become of this summer’s surprise packages.

Probably the best player that coach Jose Pekerman has at his disposal in Russia is Bayern Munich’s James Rodriguez. The ex-Real Madrid man managed to score 8 goals and provide 14 assists in 39 games, including 1 goal and 2 assists in 12 Champions League games. The 26-year old attacking midfielder combines a great vision of the game with an extraordinary left foot, making him Colombia’s creative engine.

Up front, the Colombians will be counting on Radamel Falcao‘s trademark killer instinct to supply them with goals. The Chelsea striker was loaned to his old club Monaco last season and he didn’t disappoint: 24 goals and 5 assists in 36 games, including 3 goals in 5 Champions League games. At 32 years of age, one would say that Falcao has reached the final stretch of his career, but he’s still performing at the highest level and he’ll be a key asset to Colombia during the World Cup.

With Milan’s Cristian Zapata, PSV’s Santiago Arias, and Barcelona’s Yerry Mina, the Colombian defence has plenty of names worth mentioning, but the one currently standing out is central defender Davinson Sanchez. The Spurs strong man, who came to Spurs from Ajax Amsterdam for a club-record fee of £36 million, is one football’s most exciting defensive prospects. He combines a seemingly endless energy with great tackling and superior aerial ability. His powerful physique at times hides his speed and acceleration, especially when tracking back in defence, and he’s very good at the 1v1. At still just 21 years of age, the occasional mistake slips into his game, but he’s Colombia’s future nonetheless.

Los Cafeteros can count on a combination of quality, talent, and experience to guide them through the group stage. How far they go next will depend on their defensive solidity and the form of their players up front.

Japan

After a more than disappointing 2014 World Cup, in which they quietly were sent home in the group stage, this Summer will most likely be the last chance for some of Japan’s most experienced players to put down a good performance with the national team.

Despite seemingly having stepped down a level or two by joining Mexican club Pachuca last summer, Keisuke Honda remains one of the best footballers the Land of the Rising Sun has ever produced. The creative midfielder left the European continent after quite successful stints at AC Milan and CSKA Moscow, and is still considered to be a key piece for Akira Nishino and the National team. With his international experience (36 goals in 95 games for Japan), his excellent vision of the game, and his ability to both score and set up a team mate, he’ll be invaluable on and off the pitch.

Honda will be joined on the midfield by Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who scored 6 goals and assisted 7 in 27 games last season, including 2 assists in 5 Champions League encounters. Like Honda, Kagawa is a very silky attacking player who loves to have the ball in his feet and control the direction of the game. Add to this his physical development in the Bundesliga and his experience in playing for the National team (29 goals in 91 games), and his importance to Japan becomes even more understandable.

Where Shinji Okazaki might not be known as the prolific goalscorer for Leicester, things look a whole lot different for the striker when it comes to his national team. He’s scored 50 in no less than 112 games for Japan and it’s very likely that, despite his 32 years of age, he’ll be starting up top in Russia this summer. With his incredible work rate, and if he can count on his goal instinct, he’ll be invaluable to the Japanese.

The Japanese squad boasts some serious, though ageing, quality that should give them a shot at qualifying for the knock-out stages. The same goes for Poland and Senegal though, so we expect it’ll be a closely contested rivalry for second place behind Colombia.

Poland

The Polish can count on a world class attack, and a decent midfield and defence, but whether or not it’s enough to give some shine to their first World Cup participation since 2006 remains to be seen. It could go both ways.

The absolute superstar of the Polish national team is Robert Lewandowski, the Bayern Munich striker who is widely considered as one of the best in the world at what he does, which is scoring goals. This is underlined by his 41 goals (and 5 assists) in 48 games for Bayern last season, including 5 goals and 2 assists in the Champions League, and his 52 goals in 93 games for Poland. Lewandowski is a complete attacker who can combine as easily as he can put balls in the back of the net, who can finish with both feet, and who can occupy entire defences in order for his team mates to slip through. Poland’s form will depend on his form.

Another key asset for National team coach Adam Nawalka is standing in goal, namely Wojciech Szczesny, the ex-Arsenal and current reserve Juventus goalkeeper who is seen by the Italian giants as the natural heir to living legend Gianluigi Buffon. The Polish goalie, who is still only 28 years old, has steadily grown into a very experienced and reliable pair of hands, and he’ll be raring to show that he’s ready to pick up the gloves in the Juve goal after the World Cup. Should he fail to make an impression, then Nawalka can still call on second goalkeeper, and one of Swansea’s few bright spots last season, Lukasz Fabianski.

In the Polish midfield, it’ll probably be Grzegorz Krychowiak who’ll be protecting the team’s balance from in front of the defensive unit. The undoubtedly very talented defensive midfielder earned a transfer to PSG after excelling at La Liga side Sevilla for years. Despite his failure to make a mark in Paris (and in West Bromwich during last season’s loan spell), Krychowiak will be hoping to impress in Russia. And why not? He breaks up an attack as easily as he puts a team mate alone in front of goal, he reads games well, and his technique with the ball is more than most players on his position could dream of.

Though Poland came out of Pot 1 during the sorting of the World Cup groups, they’re likely to be fighting for second place in the group with Japan and Senegal. A lot will depend on Robert Lewandowski’s form in Russia.

Senegal

The World Cup in Russia is only the second World Cup the Lions of the Teranga have ever been part of, the first one being in 2002 when they amazingly reached the quarter finals. Senegal reaching that far again this time seems unlikely, but the Group H contenders should definitely not discard them.

The star of the team is Sadio Mané, the tricky winger who usually starts up front for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, forming one of Europe’s most-feared attacks together with Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino. The powerful attacker has had a fantastic year at Anfield last season, scoring 20 and assisting 9 for Liverpool as they reached the Champions League final. With 10 goals and an assist in the Champions League alone, Mané was actually one of tournament’s MVPs last season. He’s very quick, has an abundance of energy, and can both finish and assist in the final third. He has the potential to become one of the stars in Russia.

At the other end of the pitch, Senegal can also count on a player of world-class. Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly has quickly developed into one of the most-wanted defenders in Europe and Senegal will be hoping that he can bring his excellent club form to Russia this summer. Thanks to his size and athletic build, Koulibaly possesses superior aerial abilities, both in defence and attack, while his time in Italy has taught him tactical awareness and discipline. He’ll be leading the Senegalese defense in Russia.

Much of the energy needed in midfield will be provided by Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, who is what some call an enforcer, and one of the best in Premier League at that. Gueye can usually be found all over the midfield, recuperating balls and closing gaps. He combines superior tackling with extremely accurate passing and a good tactical discipline. In combination with West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyaté, Gueye will be forming a solid defensive block on the midfield this summer.

Not many people are talking about Senegal in the run-up to the World Cup, but the African side might turn into one of the surprises this summer. Passing their group isn’t easy, but if they manage it, they’ll most likely present a very tough task to opponents in the knock-out stages.

Why Fantasy Sports is good for you


Fantasy sports have been growing leaps and bounds over the past few years. It is estimated that by the year 2020 the Fantasy League market around the world could be worth $20 bn. Fantasy sports’ popularity is increasing every day and they’ve been a massive hit in the developing countries too.

Fantasy football is beneficial for the players in multiple ways. Of course you win prizes. But its benefits are far greater than cash prize. It helps you grow as a person. Don’t believe us, then keep reading.

It helps you at the workplace
One of the major advantages of playing daily fantasy sports is that you get plenty of experience in team building. In fantasy sports you choose players after a thorough evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses. Then you pick the player best suited to do the job for you.

Once you learn this process of evaluation you can easily apply the same at your workplace. An efficient team works for each other. Every member will be good at something. And if you know their strengths, their skills, etc you could assign them work best suited for them.

The analysis that you do on players could also be useful in sports betting. If you haven’t ventured into sports betting yet, the best way to try it is through free bets available at all reputed bookmakers. With the knowledge that you already possess you could maximize your winnings with free bets. This is crucial because for all that you may possess the kind of knowledge of the game required to make the smartest bets imaginable but because the ins and outs of sports betting can be rather complicated newcomers would do well to familiarize themselves with the technicalities of betting before putting their hard-earned cash down. As for the more seasoned pundits, well, they get some free bets and there’s nothing wrong with that!

You get better at making decisions

Being decisive is one of the most important traits of successful people. Ability to make precise decisions is a quality that will help you a lot. Fantasy sports demand accurate decision making. You have to analyse a given situation and then decide. When you lose, you get to learn the mistake you made in your team selection. Knowing more about how our brain works can also help in making good decisions.

This could help you in real life too. You will be much adept at analyzing a situation and then quickly making a choice.

You become a better planner
Your fantasy team can never perform consistently if you don’t make regular changes to the team. Unlike in real sports here the stability does not come by picking the same team all the time. You have to consider a lot of factors. For e.g. keeping a young skillful player in your team all the time is not a safe option, because young players are often inconsistent. Injury to a player also challenges you to take necessary steps. It doesn’t need telling that there are dedicated columns in newspapers which you can refer to plan your team.

In this way you learn to react to circumstances quickly and plan for the future.

You get better at research
Winning in virtual games is not easy. Take for e.g. in Football Fantasy sports you must have a thorough knowledge of each and every player in the league. It is humanly impossible for anyone to watch all the matches. Therefore fantasy sports players have to rely on researching. They have look up the facts and figures and make judgements based on them.

2018 World Cup Updates

A Sneak Peak

With just a few days left until we get to see the first exciting games of the 2018 World Cup, anticipation is mounting, and lots of antsy fans are tired of waiting. If you are one of those fans don’t worry, we have plenty of insider scoops and updates to keep you satisfied until the matches finally start. Lanzini has already been ruled out with injury and there have been injury scares for Fred of Brazil and Mbappe of France.

The World Cup groups have been formed, the stadiums are being prepared, the ticket scalpers are polishing their, well, they have tickets. All in all, there is a lot of excitement, fans are flocking from all over the world to witness what is going to be one of the best football showings in some time.

Left Out

Some World Cup news that might shock you was the news that Leroy Sane was left out of the Germany squad. Germany is an intimidating team this year. Already holding a different trophy, they are a strong pick for the overall winners of this year’s cup, right up there with Brazil. So it may be quite a surprise that Leroy Sane did not make the cut this year to go to the World Cup and help Germany reign supreme. Sane would almost certainly make the squad in every other team (maybe barring Brazil and Spain) so it just shows what a strong squad Germany have and why they are defending champions.

Sane is an excellent winger, performing very well for City in the Premier League, so many Leroy fans may be questioning the sanity of the coaches in Germany, especially considering Leroy scored 14 goals and made 19 assists during the 2017-2018 season. It was a very close pick between Sane and Brandt, but Brandt won out in the end, even with less impressive stats.

Penny for Your Thoughts?

There is a lot of different news circulating, some pure speculation, other solid facts. Each one plays an important factor though in what will ultimately be the end results of this year’s World Cup. We want to know though, what do you think? Have you studied the players, looked at the coaches, crunched the numbers and compared and contrasted the lineups? Who makes the cut in your eyes and who falls short.

There is plenty of room for upsets this year which makes betting predictions even harder to place than usual. The strongest runners seem to be Germany and Brazil, but Spain has a great chance this year as well. And with strange and unusual coaching picks for the lineups, it has become ever more of a toss up to see who will be the big winner and get to take home the cup for their country.

He Was Number 1

Another interesting bit of news this time comes from the England squad and is that goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will wear the number one jersey for the summer World Cup. While England isn’t most people’s first pick for the big winner this year, you shouldn’t necessarily count them out just yet either.

The team has a fresh new style and a good blend of talent for their squad that will hopefully breathe some life and promise back into the team. While it is hard to bet in their favour against juggernauts like the Brazil team, England usually put up a good fight.