FPL Gameweek 14: Review

OK Lads! Don't Let 3 In!!
Hull City” (CC by 4.0) by Dom Fellowes

After a couple of low and medium scoring weeks, gameweek 14 of the Premier League came with points in abundance (in the official game the average score was 50 points). Chelsea confirmed their status as title favourites in the cracker at Man City, while West Brom quietly recorded another win to settle comfortably in sixth place. Also, early season ugly ducklings Stoke and Sunderland seem to have locked down on winning formulas, and we witnessed one for the history books on the English south coast on Sunday.

The contenders, so far

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea faced off with the Man City at the Etihad to kick off the weekend in style. The Citizens dominated in the first half, having more possession and creating more chances, but they still needed an unfortunate own goal by Gary Cahill on the brink of half-time to put one in the back of the net. Chelsea hadn’t really shown up until that point, but in the second half they demonstrated why they are ‘king of the hill’ at the moment which is also the name of an online casino game. Arabic online casino is growing just like the interest in the Premier League after sporting matches like this.

City still had more of the ball, but Chelsea put three past Claudio Bravo, counter style. Diego Costa in particular was excellent, scoring one, assisting one, and producing an overall very complete number 9 display. The game ended on a very dark note after a ridiculous challenge by Argentinian, Aguero, on rival Brazilian, David Luiz, resulted in a mass brawl and red cards for both the Argentinian ace and City’s Fernandinho (although Cesc Fabregas deserved one as well). Fantasy football owners of Aguero have to count the cost of a four-match ban for the striker.

In London, a derby took place between struggling West Ham and Arsenal. Led by this week’s player of the week, an absolutely brilliant Alexis Sanchez, the Gunners took the points back home. The Chilean was a constant nuisance for the Hammers’ defence, scoring three Goal of the Month contenders, Dennis Bergkamp-style. Admittedly, West Ham was, again, far from impressive, but with an injury-free Alexis in this kind of form, Arsenal are a definite title contender.

The game of the week

Despite the magic produced by Alexis at London’s Olympic Stadium, the game of the week unfolded just over a hundred miles to the South, where Bournemouth hosted Liverpool. After two goals within three minutes early in the game (Mané, Origi) it looked like it was going to be a comfortable afternoon for the Reds. Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe thought differently, though. We don’t know what he said to his men during the break, but boy, did it work!

Ten minutes into the second half Wilson converted a spot kick for the home team after a slightly clumsy challenge by James Milner. A game changer so it seemed, giving hope to Howe’s men, but it was 1-3 ten minutes later thanks to a perfect right-foot strike by Liverpool’s Emre Can. With 25 minutes to go, these surely were going to be three points for Liverpool…

Bournemouth refused to give up and bringing on Ryan Fraser in the 55th turned out to be a key decision. The Cherries took one back in the 76th, courtesy of that same Fraser, and they equalised just three minutes later. Goal by central defender Cook (and what a goal it was!), assist by… Ryan Fraser. Liverpool seemingly forgot how to play football, and Bournemouth felt it. In a disciplined all or nothing display the hosts decided to go for the win, pressing and attacking where possible while Liverpool were still wondering what had just happened. The reward came in the 93rd minute. Another Steve Cook effort troubled Liverpool’s doubtful goalkeeper Karius, and Holland’s Nathan Aké was fastest to react, tapping the ball into the back of the net and securing the three points for Bournemouth. There are a lot of weeks to go still this season, but this game is a contender for comeback of the season already.

The relegation candidates, so far

In the battle to avoid relegation Sunderland booked their third victory in three matches by beating reigning champions Leicester 2-1 at home. An own goal by Robert Huth started it, a clinical strike by Defoe (who else, seriously?) finished it. The English striker is now the player with most goals scored in 2016 after Kun Aguero and Harry Kane. Let’s not forget he plays for Sunderland… Meanwhile Leicester should very seriously start worrying about getting dragged into a long struggle against relegation if they don’t fix themselves up very soon.

Finally, red lantern Swansea was thumped by Spurs in London, 5-0 (2x Kane, 2x Eriksen and 1 for Son). Swansea seem to be all over the place for the moment, and if coach Bob Bradly doesn’t find a solution soon the Swans are likely to spend the rest of the season around their current position. On Saturday goalie Fabianski was the only one with a decent performance for the Welsh side, and he still conceded five, so imagine the rest… On the other side the Spurs’ defence impressed once again, with Kyle Walker particularly excelling. We do need to mention though, that the resistance was feeble.

Fantasy Football Betting

Fantasy football is growing in popularity across the UK and more and more companies are trying to muscle in by offering tempting free bets offers, so it pays to stay ahead of the game. Many fantasy football managers will have built their teams around the league’s deadliest striker, Sergio Aguero, and will have been dismayed to see him sent off in Man City’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea last weekend. As fantasy football is by far the UK’s most popular fantasy game, this could cost many players and some will be racking their brains in a bid to replace him. Your main striker is probably the most important position to fill as he is often your captain, so we have analysed some options available to you:

Diego Costa

Costa is the most obvious choice as a direct replacement for Aguero to ensure that any free bets offers you take advantage of have the best chance of paying off. He is a cheaper option than Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Harry Kane, and leads the charts this season in terms of points thanks to an impressive haul of goals and assists. Chelsea are the league’s form team, having recorded eight wins on the bounce, and Costa has been at the heart of their resurgence. He is playing with freedom and desire in the new system and is helped by Eden Hazard being freed from defensive duties to buzz around and create space for him. A solid choice who should guarantee points, as long as he doesn’t get sent off.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The second most expensive striker has endured a torrid season and many that put him in teams after cashing in free bets offers to bet on fantasy football will have wished they hadn’t. He suffered a miserable goal drought, and while he has finally found his shooting boots once more, he is not getting great service and is not looking particularly sharp. His points return has not been great, considering his price, and Man Utd’s poor form and lack of goals counts against him. Just like the injury plagued and out of favour Daniel Sturridge and the misfiring Jamie Vardy, he looks a good one to avoid.

Harry Kane

Kane could be a fantastic option. He was many managers’ darling two seasons ago as you could pick him up for a cheap price and his return was phenomenal. He struggled at the start of last season but found his shooting boots pretty quickly and enjoyed a huge points haul. He spent a large part of the start of this season injured and Tottenham suffered in his absence, but he is back now and Spurs look a different side. He has scored eight goals in his last eight games, is the focal point of Tottenham’s attacking play and is looking razor sharp in front of goal, so he could be a great option as Tottenham look forward to home games against the likes of Hull and Burnley.

Other options

Now may be an opportunity to balance your fantasy team out a bit more and not rely on one superstar striker. If you are looking for some good strikers that won’t break the bank, look no further than Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe and Charlie Austin of Southampton. Sunderland look a team reborn after Victor Anichebe came into the side, and that has freed up Defoe to bang in goals, while Austin is the main striker for a very good Saints side. Another option could be Salomon Rondon of high-flying West Brom, or Troy Deeney of Watford, who takes penalties and also gets plenty of assists.

Gameweek 14 preview of FPL

Gameweek 14 preview of Fantasy Premier League, courtesy of Bet365

First a review of Gameweek 13

There were wins for Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal this week, so the top 4 remain in the same positions in the Premier League table. Tottenham fell to their first league defeat of the season so are now 4 points off that top 4, while Manchester United also dropped points and themselves are 4 points adrift of Spurs.

This week’s Fantasy Football Dream Team lined up in a 3-4-3 formation, with Stoke’s clean sheet helping Bruno Martins Indi and Lee Grant to feature at the back. Matt Dawson and Gareth McAuley scored a goal each as Hull drew 1-1 with West Brom, so they also took their places in the defensive third. Four players who were on the scoresheet in the 9-goal thriller between Swansea City and Crystal Palace take up the majority of the attacking positions. Fernando Llorente was the pick of these after scoring twice and assisting another in just 25 minutes on the pitch.

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Gameweek 14 Preview

The weekend starts in spectacular fashion on Saturday lunchtime, with the two title favourites up against each other as Man City host Chelsea at the Etihad. This is such a hard game to call as both teams are in excellent form; Chelsea have won seven successive league games to move to the top of the table, while Manchester City are undefeated in their last 6 in all competitions. They’re also on an unbeaten run of 14 matches at home, so if Chelsea can get a win here they’ll surely be the new favourites for the 2016-17 Premier League crown. City have kept just 2 clean sheets in the league all season, so Chelsea’s attacking players will be confident enough in their ability to bag at least once. Pedro (£7.3m) scored a wonderful goal in their last game against Tottenham and he now has 3 goals and 4 assists from his last 6 league appearances, so he’s definitely worth a look, as is Diego Costa (£10.6m), who has 10 goals in 13 league games this season. He’s joined at the top of the league scoring charts by City’s Sergio Agüero (£13.1m), who opened the scoring in this fixture last season and can never be overlooked.

In the 3pm kick-offs Tottenham are strong favourites at White Hart Lane against Swansea. The visitors got their first league win since the opening day when they beat Crystal Palace in a 9-goal thriller last weekend, but a defence that concedes 4 goals at home to Crystal Palace is there for the taking in an away game to a side with as much firepower as Tottenham. The Swans have never beaten Tottenham in a Premier League game, with 8 wins and 2 draws for Spurs from the 10 matches they’ve played. With this in mind Harry Kane (£10.9m) is an obvious captain choice; the England striker has scored 5 times in his last 5 league games and has scored over 20 league goals in each of the last 2 seasons.

Another game that should bring a comfortable home victory is Stoke v Burnley. Despite a defeat in their last home game against Bournemouth Stoke are actually one of the form sides in the country, having lost just once in their last 8 and winning 4 of their last 6. Saturday’s visitors have a terrible away record this season, losing 5 and drawing 1 of their 6 away games in all competitions and scoring just one goal (a penalty when they were already 3-0 down at Southampton). Stoke’s Lee Grant (£4.1m) and Bruno Martins Indi (£4.9m) could be value picks at the back for this encounter.

The Monday night game is another that has the promise of clean sheet points for the home side. Middlesbrough may not have set the world alight since the return to the Premier League, but they’re solid enough at the back, conceding the least goals out of anyone in the bottom half. They’re up against the league’s lowest scorers in Hull City and having kept clean sheets against Arsenal and Bournemouth recently, as well as conceding just one each to Chelsea and Man City, their defence should be able to keep the likes of Adama Diomande at bay. Calum Chambers (£4.4m) and Antonio Barragán (£4.5m) are sure starters and both good value at low prices.

To finish off, one Fantasy Football pick from each of the remaining fixtures:

Crystal Palace v Southampton – Joshua Sims (£4.5m)
Sunderland v Leicester – Patrick van Aanholt (£5.0m)
West Brom v Watford – Nacer Chadli (£6.3m)
West Ham v Arsenal – Mesut Özil (£9.6m)
Bournemouth v Liverpool – Divock Origi (£6.5m)
Everton v Man United – Zlatan Ibrahimovic (£11.1m)

Best of luck for this weekend, and we’ll bring you another update next week.

El Clásico – live streaming in UK

The first El Clasico of the 2016/17 season kicks off this Saturday at 15.15 UK time. Given current broadcasting rules this means the game will not be live on television for the UK but fear not though as the live action will be available to stream with bet365!

Real Madrid take the trip to Camp Nou in a bid to further extend their current 6 point lead to a 9 point lead with a win against Luis Enrique’s team. On the other hand, reigning La Liga champions, Barcelona will be looking to take advantage of home soil and in turn keep their title aspirations alive by closing in the gap between the two top-table teams despite only winning 3 of their last 6.

It’s with no doubt that Barcelona haven’t been at their best form in recent weeks and Madrid will be hoping this continues as they enter the fixture without Bale, after he suffered a bad ankle injury in last week’s Champions League game against Sporting Lisbon. Despite this, Barça are set to take the win at 17/20 with Madrid penned as outsiders currently at 11/4.

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Gameweek 13: Which players are worth your consideration?

Coutinho-o-o
Coutinho in action for Liverpool” (CC by 4.0) by Steve Boulton

After a low-scoring gameweek 12, in which the point average in the official Fantasy game stood at a mere 40 points, we now have another interesting Premier League weekend to look forward to. As several clubs took care of European duties this week, which always brings up the deservedly feared rotation risk in the Fantasy community, we’ll have a look at a few players who might be raking in the points coming weekend. If after setting up your Fantasy Football team for the weekend you’re considering where to place your bets then find the best online sportsbook on Casino Papa’s sportsbook reviews.

Defenders
When speaking about defenders naturally we need to mention Chelsea first. The Blues recorded their sixth win and their sixth clean sheet in a row last weekend with a hardfought victory away at Boro. This weekend they’re facing a Spurs side that has been energised by the return of Harry Kane, but nonetheless the Chelsea defenders are worth having a look at. Players like Marcos Alonso, his wingback counterpart, Moses, and central defender Cahill (serious setpiece threat!) might be enjoying decent returns at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Virgil van Dijk and Southampton will be welcoming an Everton side that has been a bit inconsistent of late. Despite the presence of Lukaku, Barkley and Bolasie the goals haven’t been flowing, and don’t count on it to be a festival when Van Dijk steps up. In London, Arsenal are hosting a Bournemouth outfit that have only scored four goals away from home this season. Koscielny and Monreal are solid premium picks, while Carl Jenkinson could be a more budget-friendly short-term pick as he replaces the injured Bellerín.

Midfielders
In midfield the Gunners could be due some points as well, with Alexis and, to a lesser extent this season in terms of fantasy points, Ozil the usual suspects. Don’t overlook the potential of players like Walcott, whose terrific run early in the season seems to have calmed down a bit, and Aaron Ramsey, who seems to be battling with Iwobi for a starting berth. Meanwhile at Old Trafford on Sunday Mata could be a differential after his valuable goal against Arsenal last weekend. With West Ham defending this week, he’ll be looking to add to his tally with either a goal or an assist.

The sure pick in midfield this weekend though, looks to be any of those in the Liverpool starting line-up. Coutinho is fully match fit again and the most-owned midfielder of the official game at this moment will surely look to score against a fragile Sunderland defence. Sadio Mané and Firmino come recommended as well, while midfielder-turned-leftback James Milner is on penalty duties for the Reds.

Attackers
We open with Diego Costa. He’s the current topscorer and a certainty in Antonio Conte’s pressing machine called Chelsea. It’s true that he’s on four yellow cards as we speak, meaning a next yellow equals a one match ban, but we’re prepared to look past that. If there’s one man who could break down the Spurs defense, it’s the Spanish striker-in-form, so if you’ve got the means, put him at the top of your list.

We briefly mentioned Everton’s recent inconsistency and despite not letting in boat loads of goals either, their defence is far from a clean sheet certainty of late. Facing Southampton’s Charlie Austin makes us think that the Toffees might have to wait another week for their next clean sheet. Elsewhere Hull are hosting a West Brom side that put on something of a football show last weekend by beating Burnley by 4 to none. If they’re to have any hope of staying in the Prem, Hull will have to look for the three points here and WBA‘s Rondón might just be the man to benefit from this necessity. Keep an eye on him.

Gameweek 13 preview of FPL

Gameweek 13 preview of Fantasy Premier League, courtesy of Bet365

First a review of Gameweek 12

It was a strange week in the Premier League, with only 3 of the top 7 winning. Chelsea have climbed to the top of the table following a run of 6 consecutive wins, with Liverpool dropping to second after a goalless draw with Southampton. Manchester City are up to third after beating Crystal Palace while Arsenal drop to fourth despite somehow salvaging a draw at Manchester United. Tottenham needed two late goals to turn defeat into victory against West Ham and they’re in fifth position, but just 4 points from first.

This weeks’ Fantasy Football Dream Team features four Sunderland players after their 3-0 win against Hull lifted them off the bottom of the table. Jordan Pickford, Patrick van Aanholt, Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe all played big parts in the win, and they’re joined in the Dream Team by two from West Brom, one from Watford, one from Bournemouth and perhaps more predictably one each from Tottenham, Man United and Man City. Yaya Touré and Nathan Aké were the standout performers of the week – both were making their first Premier League starts of the season and both picked up 15 points.

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Gameweek 13 Preview

The first fixture of the weekend pits title favourites Manchester City against Burnley. If City are at their best they’ll be too strong for the hosts, but they’ll need to be wary of a Clarets side who are capable of upsetting bigger teams, as proved by their victories over Everton and Liverpool and draw against Manchester United this season. Burnley have only lost one of their last 6 home games, and that was an undeserved defeat to Arsenal when they were stunned by a controversial injury time winner. City have failed to score in just one of their twelve league games so far this season though, and against a Burnley defence that conceded 4 against West Brom on Monday night you have to fancy their attacking players to shine. Sergio Agüero (£13.2m) has 3 goals from his last 3 league matches and Kevin De Bruyne (£10.8m) has claimed an assist in each of his last 3. Both are viable captain choices this week.

Moving onto the 3pm kick-offs, and another team whose fixture looks very inviting in terms of captaincy decisions this week. Second-place Liverpool host second-from-bottom Sunderland, and this is a game that sees currently the Premier League’s best attack against one of its worst defences. The Reds have scored an average of 2.5 goals per game in the league this season and this increases to 3.2 for their home games. Sunderland have kept just one clean sheet in their last 18 away league games, so it would be a massive shock if they can keep Sadio Mané (£9.1m), Roberto Firmino (£8.8m) and Philippe Coutinho (£8.7m) quiet in this one. Liverpool do have a habit of conceding goals though, and it could be a good move to get Jermain Defoe (£7.5m) into your team this week. He’s in red-hot form, scoring 3 and assisting 2 in his last 3 games and after this game Sunderland do look to have some inviting upcoming fixtures.

The late game on Saturday is the big one of the weekend. Leaders Chelsea host Tottenham, who are the only undefeated side in the league. Chelsea are now on an amazing run of 6 consecutive league victories without conceding a goal and will be fresh for this one coming off the back of a week’s rest. Spurs on the other hand faced a tough Champions League trip to Monaco in midweek for a defeat that knocked them out of the competition, and have now won only 1 of their last 9 matches in all competitions (and they needed two late goals to turn a 2-1 defeat into a 3-2 victory in that one). On top of this, Spurs have a horrendous record at Stamford Bridge; they haven’t won on any of their last 28 visits, a run that stretches back to 1990. Form and history is on Chelsea’s side, and Pedro (£7.2m) could be an interesting pick in this one. While Hazard (£10.2m) and Costa (£10.6m) have been grabbing the headlines Pedro has played a key role in Chelsea’s resurgence and has 4 assists and 2 goals from their last 5 matches.

Sunday’s standout fixture is Southampton v Everton. Southampton have lost just one of their last fifteen home games in all competitions and Everton are in a poor run of form, having won just one of their last eight matches. A home win looks on the cards here, and considering Southampton’s strong defensive record it’s worth looking at the likes of Virgil Van Dijk (£5.5m) and Jose Fonte (£5.4m) in this one.

To finish off, one Fantasy Football pick from each of the remaining fixtures:

Hull v West Brom – Allan-Roméo Nyom (£4.3m)
Leicester v Middlesbrough – Marten de Roon (£4.3m)
Swansea v Crystal Palace – Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.2m)
Watford v Stoke – Roberto Pereyra (£6.0m)
Arsenal v Bournemouth – Olivier Giroud (£8.8m)
Man United v West Ham – Juan Mata (£7.4m)

Best of luck for this weekend, and we’ll bring you another update next week.

Another week, another leader: A Gameweek 12 review

The revamped Main Stand Anfield
The new Main Stand at Anfield” (CC by 4.0) by Ruaraidh Gillies

The weekend opened with the cracker between Man United and Arsenal, while it was going to be interesting to see how free-scoring Liverpool would come out of the international break. Plus, we had Chelsea aiming to extend their impressive run. In other words, plenty to look forward to, and here’s our round-up of some of the most important games. Or you could have a look at Insta Casino if you wanted more than Fantasy Football.

Lights on Old Trafford

On Saturday the Red Devils were hosting Arsenal in what was the clash of the weekend. Mourinho’s men were without Ibrahimovic, who sat out a suspension for yellow card accumulation, and therefore appeared with supertalent Marcus Rashford at number nine, supported by Martial, Pogba in a more advanced role than usual, and Mata. Skipper Rooney was exiled to the bench yet again.

Besides Bellerín’s absence, Wenger could count on star player Alexis Sanchez who had just come back from Chili’s international break obligations. The Gunners started with him up front, supported by Ramsey, Ozil and Walcott. Carl Jenkinson replaced Bellerín on right back.

Man United, possibly a bit unexpectedly, dominated the game for most parts. Olivier Giroud’s equalising goal in the 89th minute was actually Arsenal’s first attempt on target. For much of the game, Arsenal could not show why they are title contenders. Ozil was largely invisible, while Alexis was likely still feeling the international games and the travels. In defense the Gunners were decent, though they were lucky when United wasn’t awarded a penalty after a Monreal foul on the excellent Antonio Valencia returning from injury.

United on the hand, though not spectacular either, came out of the international break seemingly untouched.
They looked solid in the back, while Zlatan’s absence was largely masked by the attacking four. Rashford and Martial caused trouble with their pace, while Mata and Pogba were dangerous with their splitting passes and shots from distance.

Mata finished a nice pass from Herrera in the 68th, before substitute Giroud, with his third goal in three matches and 61 minutes of playing time, equalised with a trademark header after an excellent centre from another sub, Oxlade-Chamberlain. Completely deserved? We’ll leave that to the professionals…

Middlesbrough – Chelsea
Conte’s men continued where they left off a few weeks ago: pressing, winning and not conceding. The 1-0 victory over Boro meant the sixth consecutive win (and clean sheet!) for the Blues. The result: top position in the Premier League, and a bunch of rivals who are starting to doubt how to exactly stop the bulldozer called Conte’s Chelsea.

In defense, Chelsea were solid (suprise surprise…) with wing backs Moses and Alonso causing plenty of attacking danger at the same time. Hazard was lightning fast and elusive as usual, though he didn’t see his name on the score sheet. Diego Costa did though, with his 10th goal of the season (in 12 games). Love him or hate him, but he’s probably the best striker in the Premier League at this moment. Kanté and Matic functioned perfectly as the double lock on the door in midfield, and especially Kanté was notably involved in the early build-up.

Boro were not bad, but just not good enough to cause Chelsea any real problems. They defended as a team, with Gibson shining centrally in the back, but the difference in quality was simply too much. In terms of budget options for your FPL squad, defender Gibson and attacking midfielder Gastón might be worth considering, though.

Southampton – Liverpool
The Reds went into this gameweek as leaders of the Premier League, after the Southampton game they now share the second spot with City. It was a one-sided affair at Saint Mary’s though, where Liverpool attacked as usual, but missed the necessary sharpness to take home the three points. Statistically, Klopp’s men showed champions pedigree: 13 shots at goal, 4 on target, 65% ball possession, and 8 corners, at a difficult away ground.

The Saints have a team that can make it difficult for any team in the League. Fraser Forster was excellent again in goal, while Virgil van Dijk keeps showing everyone why he’ll be playing Champion’s League next season. Attacking, Southampton had little to offer on Saturday, with no registered shots on target, and only 371 passes compared to Liverpool’s 663. They’ll be confident going into the next game at home versus Everton though, as well as for the away game against Palace and the home game against Boro that follow. After all, they won a point against a serious title contender this weekend.

Navigating Injuries in your Fantasy Football Squad

Conway Injury
Conway Injury” (CC BY-SA 4.0) by joncandy

As fantasy football managers prepare to enter the jam-packed festive fixture schedule, veterans of the game know all too well how injuries to a few key players can decimate a team and kill off a fantasy season. Well-prepared managers keep their ears to the ground on fitness news, have contingency plans, and act swiftly and decisively. There is simply nothing worse than having a player in your squad who is depriving you of precious points.

Many fantasy managers were sweating when they heard the news that Alexis Sanchez had limped off in a training session with Chile during the international break. The prolific Arsenal forward has been such a key player since his arrival at the Emirates, and is now an almost essential fantasy asset. Arsenal are 3/1 in the football betting to win the title, but a Sanchez injury would be likely to cause these odds to ease, as he is currently the Gunners’ main attacking threat.

Although a Sanchez absence would cause Arsene Wenger all sorts of problems, fantasy managers would be able to deal with it quite easily. Because he is one of the highest-priced players in the game, he could simply be swapped for any other midfielder. Switching to teammate Mesut Ozil would probably be the best option, but Kevin De Bruyne or Eden Hazard could also be acquired with one transfer. Thankfully, for now, the Chilean has been passed fit and should start against Manchester United at the weekend.

Adam Lallana’s injury is an example of one that may pose a few problems. The Liverpool playmaker has been in excellent form this season and a large proportion of fantasy managers have chosen the player as a cheap way into the potent Liverpool attack. The England attacker limped off with a groin strain in the Three Lions’ match against Spain, though, and has been ruled out of the Southampton clash in Gameweek 12. The predicament for fantasy managers is in deciding whether they should hold on to the player until there is further news on the extent of the injury, or swap now so they have a fit starter for the next round of fixtures.
Liverpool FC Vs Arsenal Dec 21st 2014 (2-2)-210012
Liverpool FC Vs Arsenal Dec 21st 2014” (CC BY-SA 4.0) by johnrobjones

Lallana has had lengthy layoffs through injury in the past, and in this season, where there are so many good value options in midfield, it may be best to swap to a cheaper player for now. Managers could then plan to bring Lallana back in again for Liverpool’s highly favourable schedule if he turns out to be fit.

There are a few cheap midfielders that have been outperforming their price tags this term. Lallana owners could swap to Junior Stanislas, Joe Allen, Ilkay Gundogan, Victor Moses, or Robert Snodgrass. Unfortunately, swapping Lallana for one of his Liverpool teammates like Roberto Firmino or Philippe Coutinho would require managers to use two transfers or have cash in reserve.

Injuries are something that fantasy managers must pay close attention to and deal with efficiently. But it is also important not to rush into knee-jerk reactions. Diego Costa and Hazard have been flagged as doubts for the weekend, but there is still a chance they could play. Don’t transfer out heavy-hitters like them until you are 100% certain they will be laid off for a lengthy run of fixtures.

International break: Spain

¡Viva España!
Jersey of the Spanish National Team” (CC by 4.0) by Stella Yodo

After dominating international football on a worldwide level for six years between 2008 and 2012, and winning back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and the 2010 World Cup in the process, the performances of La Furia Roja haven’t been as impressive over the past few years. The 2014 World Cup only lasted for three games in the group stage for the Spanish, while the Round of 16 was the end of the line for them during the 2016 Euro Cup.

By now the qualifiers for the 2018 World in Russia have begun, and Spain started as everyone expected: 4 games, 3 victories (against Liechtenstein, Albania and Macedonia) and 1 draw versus Italy. Both Southern European superpowers have 10 points at the moment, and the fight for first place in Group Q will be between them two. Spain currently leads by goal difference, having scored 15 so far, and conceding only one. If you like scoring for yourself then have check out best casino bonuses.

Spain – Macedonia
For the World Cup qualifiers Spain hosted Macedonia in Granada on November 12th. Beforehand, very few people expected any serious problems for La Furia here, and with reason. Macedonia had almost caused an upset in their previous match versus Italy and this thought gave them visible confidence. The visitors started in a compact formation, but without fear to venture out in attack from time to time. As a matter of fact, while Spain had the ball (as usual), the Macedonians had three fine opportunities from headers to go ahead in the first half.

The Spanish on the other hand didn’t panic from the lack of fluidity in their game at times, and ten minutes before half-time this paid off. Real Madrid rightback Carvajal produced a decent center into the Macedonian area and Velkovski clumsily headed it into his own net. Unfortunate and maybe even undeserved, but it counted just the same: Spain were leading at half time.

In the second half it looked like Spain was going to be content with a victory one way or another, while Macedonia couldn’t overcome the considerable difference in quality between the two teams. After a bit more than an hour the Sevilla energetic winger Vitolo promoted a fine centre by Man City midfield magician David Silva to a goal. In the final ten minutes Arsenal’s Monreal and Bilbao’s veteran striker Aduriz made it four for Spain, both goals being served up, again, by Carvajal. Fun fact: with his late strike Aduriz became the oldest player to score in the history of La Furia Roja.

England – Spain
Three days later Spain paid a visit to Wembley for a friendly against The Three Lions. The starting line-ups showed that the English took this fixture a bit more serious than the Spanish, who, in part because of injuries, turned up with a plenty of players that usually don’t start for the national team, such as striker Aduriz, defenders Nacho and Inigo Martinez, and goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Still a more than competitive team, though.

The English got off to a flying start, with Lallana greatful to convert a penalty in the 9th minute, provoked by his own wonderful through pass. Jamie Vardy had a party just after halftime to make it two with an excellent diving header, and it looked like England was going to have an easier night than expected. Between the 46th and the 65th Spain’s Lopetegui substituted five times, which included bringing in Madrid ace Isco and his team mate Morata. Once Southgate started changing players and tactics as well the game got a bit more chaotic, and it was the Spanish who dealt with it best. First, Morata provided the assist for a nice Aspas goal in the 89th, while a minute later Dani Carvajal enabled Isco to equalise not a minute later. It wasn’t Spain’s best performance of the year, but with the development and showcasing of players like Vitolo, Nacho and Aduriz it was an overall positive night.

International break: The Netherlands

Netherlands v Scotland
Arjen Robben for Holland (CC by 4.0) by Ryu Voelkel

October 13th, 2015 – the disbelief was palpable when they realised what had happened. In a group with Iceland, Turkey and the Czech Republic, the Dutch had failed to qualify for the 2016 Euro Cup in France. The runner-up from the 2010 World Cup and third in the last World Cup ended fourth behind the previously mentioned teams. No Orange brigade in France as a result of a series of below-par performances by the Dutch.

The Dutch national team currently finds itself in a moment of transition, with a generation including the likes of Sneijder, Van Persie en Robben slowly moving out of the way for a new one. Combine this with the fact that the Dutch simply cannot miss another tournament, and the pressure is on for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. If you have a betting opinion of the 2018 World Cup winner then have a look at bestbettingwebsites.org.uk

In Group A Holland currently trailing France, having won 2, drawn 1 and lost 1 of the first four matches in a group that also includes Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg.

Holland – Belgium
On the 9th of November, Holland and Belgium played the 126th (!) edition of the “Derby of the Low Lands” in Amsterdam, so the expectation was that this was only going to be a friendly match on paper. While the Dutch are a team in transition, the Belgian Red Devils are considered as one of the most talented and star-studded squads in the world. In other words, the ingredients for an interesting encounter were present.

The reality unfortunately was a bit less interesting. Belgium’s Roberto Martinez (yes, that one) decided to experiment with Napoli’s Dries Mertens playing as a kind of “false number 9”, but to no avail. The Dutch center halves Bruma and most of all Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk had little to no trouble keeping the Belgians away from their area. The Belgians lacked creativity and intensity, which allowed the Dutch to string together a few decent attacks in the first. In the 38th minute this resulted in a penalty for Oranje, caused by a rather obvious Vertonghen infraction on ex-Sunderland player Jermaine Lens. Ajax-midfielder Klaassen did not hesitate, and Holland went into the halftime break ahead.

The second half initially wasn’t much different from the first one. The Belgians seemed to lack motivation and a clear tactic, while the Dutch tried what they could after seeing three of their best players leaving the pitch injured. Tottenham’s Vincent Janssen, Bayern’s Robben and midfielder maestro Sneijder all had to be replaced. Once Martinez brought on Romelu Lukaku the game changed though. The Belgian geniuses in midfield and the wings finally had a point of reference in attack, and it resulted in a deflected 82nd-minute equaliser by Atletico’s man-in-form Yannick Carrasco. Lukaku missed two more than decent chances, under the watching eye of his Everton-coach Ronald Koeman, but a 1-1 draw was an acceptable result for all parties involved in the end.

Luxembourg – Holland
A few days later the Dutch had to visit tiny Luxembourg as part of their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup. Victory by some margin was expected, but the pitch for one was not going to collaborate: it looked like a mud field with some patches of grass here and there. The Dutch started as expected, dominating the game and creating a handful of opportunities for Robben and co, while the orange defense had an easy 45 minutes. Luxemburg defended as a unit, keeping many players behind the ball, but their wall was broken down after half an hour by none other than Arjen Robben, from a Davy Klaassen pass.

It looked like it was going to be smooth sailing for the men in orange, but a less-than-acceptable defensive effort by PSV rightback Brenet, followed by a foul in the box, just before the break gave Luxembourg the chance to get back into the game. Penalty, Chanot sent Everton’s Stekelenburg the other way, 1-1.

Oranje coach Danny Blind brought on ex-Watford player, Berghuis, and Man United outcast, Depay, on after the break, for Sneijder and Robben, and it paid off. Luxemburg started the second half full of confidence, but the difference in quality was simply too significant. At the hour mark Depay headed home a perfect center from leftback Blind, while he subtly curled in a free-kick five minutes before the end to make it 1-3. It hadn’t been a mesmerising display in the Luxemburg mud, but the Dutch took home the points. And who knows, maybe it’ll turn out to be start of a spectacular Memphis Depay resurrection at United as well.