Who are the bargain fantasy football picks for the new season?

With the induction of a new season just around the corner comes another opportunity to test the might of your football knowledge against that of your friends as another EPL Fantasy Football campaign beckons for hundreds of thousands of fans.

As you begin to consider drafting your dream XI, here are four under the radar players that might give you a head-start over your mates.

Gareth McAuley

A key player in the heart of the back line of an overachieving West Brom last season, McAuley’s side managed six clean sheets in the 2016-17 campaign, conceding fewer goals than 11 of their competitors. With Tony Pulis continuing to implement his defensive playing philosophy at the club, don’t underestimate the side’s ability to build upon this figure next season.

The towering Northern Irishman has also proven to be a threat with goals from set pieces, a favourite choice for good returns with bigfreebet.com last term, finishing the season as West Brom’s second highest scorer behind the Venezuelan, Salomón Rondón. This is likely to be a statistic that is undervalued in most defenders – a goal scoring centre back could prove value for money were you looking to make big investments elsewhere in the team.

Charlie Daniels

Bournemouth’s 30-year-old defender has proved to be a great attacking outlet for the South coast team since their arrival in English football’s top flight. With the Cherries achievement’s still be yet to receive the full plaudits that they deserve, the Englishman may prove to be a valuable source of low-budget points.

Whilst the often leaky Bournemouth back line means you’re unlikely to see too many clean sheets come your way, the expressive wingback could win you a fair share of points with his attacking output. Since securing promotion to the Premier League in 2015, the Tottenham academy product has scored seven goals and provided eight assists for his team mates.

Gini Wijnaldum

Although the Dutchman is likely to cost more than the players accompanying him in the list, the midfielder’s relatively low profile could make him a cost effective option when building your team. The £25m signing from Newcastle United has slotted in seamlessly to Jürgen Klopp’s first XI since joining Liverpool and has provided a perfect foil to the attention grabbing exploits of the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.

Scoring six goals and bagging a further nine assists in 36 outings, it is unlikely that you will be able to find a midfielder with this level of output for a similar price.

Josh King

Another member of Eddie Howe’s exciting Bournemouth squad, selecting the Norwegian international will have proven to be one of fantasy football’s biggest coups during the 2016-17 season.

The former Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers man has grown into a key member of the Bournemouth team and may well be set for bigger things at one of English football’s elite clubs.

Sadly for our fantasy football aficionados, the 25-year-old’s season finished with a bang as he ended the campaign with 16 league goals and it is therefore possible that his value may well have sky-rocketed this time around.

Rating The Early Signings For Fantasy Premier League 2017/18

The transfer window might not officially open until the 1st of July, but that hasn’t stopped a number of clubs already revealing some pre-agreed deals. Here, we take a look at some of the already-confirmed names to be joining the Premier League next season, and rating who you need to be snapping up for your team.

Ederson Moraes * GK* Manchester City * 8/10

A new goalkeeper was always going to be top priority for Pep Guardiola after Claudio Bravo’s failures last season. He chose to splash the cash on young Brazilian stopper Ederson – the £35m paid to Benfica a record-breaking fee for a keeper. The 23-year-old kept 17 clean sheets last season, more than Golden Glove winner Thibaut Courtois managed, and conceded just 12 goals in the Portuguese league – less than any other. Due to City’s attacking style, Ederson could be a decent choice for your Fantasy team as he’s likely to be called upon to make saves. His arrival has clearly had an impact on bookies, with City in desperate need of a safe pair of hands, as they’re now chalked up as favourites to win the title next season. You can win money as well as points by following the matchedbets.com method.

Sead Kolasinac * LB* Arsenal * 9/10

At the end of last season, Arsene Wenger experimented with the 3-4-3 formation that worked so well for fellow London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham. The signing of Sead Kolasinac suggests that he’s going to persevere with the new tactic next year. The Bosnian left-back arrives with some impressive stats – he scored three goals last season and assisted five, making him the defender with the highest number of assists in the Bundesliga. That makes him a very smart addition to any fantasy team!

Victor Lindelof * CB * Manchester United * 8/10

Manchester United’s new signing was a crucial part of the Portuguese League’s meanest defence last season. The 22-year-old centre-back is known for bullying strikers with his physical attributes, something he did incredibly effectively last term. He won 94% of tackles, made 54 interceptions and only received one booking. Alongside Erik Bailly, Lindelof could form one of the Premier League’s most effective central defensive pairings.

Bernardo Silva * AM * Manchester City * 7/10

Dubbed the “little Messi”, Bernardo Silva could be the most exciting addition to the Premier League so far. He was electric for Monaco last season, forming a formidable attack that scored the highest number of goals in Europe’s top five leagues. The Portuguese international weighed in with eight goals and nine assists, also scoring two goals in the Champions League. Whilst he’s certainly an exciting addition, City’s riches in attack means he could see game time shared with other stars – making him the riskiest of the four.

Joccki FPL Season 2016/2017 review

FISO member Joccki had an excellent 2016/17 season in Fantasy Premier League. His final stats were:

Overall Points: 2,470
Overall Rank: 55
FISO Forum Rank: 1
Netherlands Rank: 1

Below is a graph showing his progress and his own write up about his season managing his FPL team:

Personal belief
I must say I have had a very enjoyable season. Thanks to the fiso FPL forum and the work I did, I have reached a very impressive – though I say it myself- overall rank of 55. I couldn’t be happier with that, despite just missing out on the top 50 and not being on the first page. I also have made some mistakes along the way which might have cost me an even better rank.

This season really was a new start for me and I hope I can build on that. I will try to summarize my FPL season on the basis of a few important aspects of the game. I hope you will enjoy reading it. Joccki.

How I work (briefly)

In contrast to previous seasons I really have been a planner. Each week I based my transfers on what could happen in the next say three or four weeks. This means I’m setting my team up for the coming gameweeks with players I do already own and I then try to fill the holes with players that fit my squad structure. ‘Holes’ arise when I think I don’t want to play some of my current players or I just prefer to have others in the weeks that come. As a result of that I can see where I think I need something.

Example
GW 16 –
G1
D1 – D2 – D4
M1 – M2 – M5
F2 – F3

GW 17 –
G2
D1 – D3 – D4
M1 – M2 – M3 – M4
F1 – F3

GW 18 –
G2
D2 – D3
M1 – M3 – M4 – M5
F1 – F2

After that I look at the fixtures. I put down a lot of options I have and I start to compare those options fixture-wise. For which fixture could I have a certain player? Does that require a free transfer or a hit? And so on. Yes, I really make calculations. Do I prefer Player X minus four points in GW17 to Player Y in GW18?

This fixture-wise approach also leads to something else: the players I fear. There are so many highly owned (premium) players in the game that you can’t own them all. Which of the players I don’t own do I fear and in which specific gameweek or -weeks? Is there an option for me to get him in and is it really necessary to get him in? Does he fit my squad structure and would I be satisfied with him for more than several weeks? The names of the players I can’t or won’t bring in I write down next to my own team to see who can really cause any damage.

Of course during a season there are a few players that really seem must-haves at some points. Just like everyone else I try to fit those players in the best I can, but in some cases it is almost impossible not to mess a bit with your squad structure or to take a hit to fit certain players in. Those players are mainly, perhaps even exclusively, premium players.

Budget pick

Since you can only play seven of your front eight players, the eighth player you pick is an important one. In previous seasons I didn’t even know what a ‘budget midfielder’ or a ‘budget attacker’ was. I just tried to get decent players and I wouldn’t mind a benching dilemma. This season was very different in that aspect, despite I did try to get away without a budget pick at first.

So, what is my history? Who did I have? When did I play him and what points did he get me?

Budget pick history Weeks of ownership Player benched Player fielded Returns
£5.5 Feghouli GW 1 – 2 2 0 0
£4.5/5.5 Capoue/Snodgrass GW 3 – 8 6 6 25 (avg. 4.16)
£5.0/5.5 Allen/Snodgrass GW 9 – 12 3 5 16 (avg. 3.2)
£5.5 Snodgrass GW 13 – 15 2 1 10 (avg. 10)
£4.5 Diomande GW16 – 21 4 2 3 (avg. 1.5)
£4.5 Barnes GW 21 – 32 6 6 14 (avg. 2.33)
£4.2 Carroll GW 23 – 29 6 1 2 (avg. 2)
£5.7/5.7 Zaha/King GW 33 – 35 2 4 24 (avg. 6)
£4.6 Stanislas GW 36 – 38 1 2 (one BB) 19 (avg. 9.5)

Captaincy decisions

I’ve got 339 points doubled this season due to my captaincy decisions. That is 8.92 points per gameweek. I’d say that’s pretty decent. I always captain a premium player and I never captain a defender or a goalkeeper. Also, the player I put the band on this year has had an average captaincy of 37.12% in the top 10k. That’s a pretty high percentage in my opinion.

Captaincy Player Value Return (C) by (C) top 10k
GW1 Agüero £13.0 9 33.5% 66.8%
GW2 Agüero £13.0 13 29.9% 49.8%
GW3 Agüero £13.1 2 31.9% 60.3%
GW4 Hazard £10.3 1 12.0% 39.2%
GW5 De Bruyne £10.5 14 2.5% 4.0%
GW6 Agüero £13.0 13 18.4% 43.3%
GW7 Sánchez £11.2 3 7.8% 28.2%
GW8 Agüero £13.1 -1 24.2% 35.2%
GW9 Sánchez £11.3 3 11.8% 33.6%
GW10 Sánchez £11.3 13 11.2% 26.3%
GW11 Agüero £13.1 6 32.8% 68.0%
GW12 Agüero £13.2 2 28.9% 35.4%
GW13 Firmino £8.8 3 4.4% 21.4%
GW14 Kane £10.9 13 5.7% 19.7%
GW15 Hazard £10.5 3 8.4% 15.3%
GW16 Kane £11.3 2 9.9% 32.9%
GW17 Kane £11.3 2 10.6% 28.0%
GW18 Ibrahimovic £11.5 15 25.2% 26.5%
GW19 Hazard £10.4 5 6.8% 10.0%
GW20 Ibrahimovic £11.6 8 23.8% 20.8%
GW21 Sánchez £11.9 11 16.5% 46.9%
GW22 Sánchez £11.9 8 18.3% 52.0%
GW23 Sánchez £11.9 4 18.1% 54.5%
GW24 Lukaku £9.6 21 6.0% 14.5%
GW25 Sánchez £11.8 15 13.5% 41.6%
GW26 Lukaku £9.9 6 14.9% 48.7%
GW27 Agüero £12.8 9 15.8% 42.9%
GW28 Lukaku £10.2 12 17.6% 46.9%
GW29 Lukaku £10.4 16 24.7% 78.3%
GW30 Mané £9.7 6 2.7% 6.0%
GW31 Sánchez £11.7 3 10.2% 40.0%
GW32 Agüero £12.8 9 12.6% 33.6%
GW33 Lukaku £10.5 6 20.7% 55.0%
GW34 Benteke £7.3 14 2.3% 10.0%
GW35 Agüero £12.8 12 10.8% 14.6%
GW36 Sánchez £11.5 14 12.1% 54.8%
GW37 Sánchez £11.6 27 11.3% 52.7%
GW38 Kane £11.9 17 11.6% 52.7%
GW AVERAGE £11.38 8.92 15.25% 37.12%

Taking hits/Making multiple transfers

The first few seasons when I was playing FPL I wasn’t really taking it seriously. I was in a cash mini league -just like I was this year- and that’s how I got to know this game. Of course I did read the rules before playing this game, but I wasn’t aware of that hits could break your rank and you needed to control your transfers and so on.

I was ‘punting’ almost every gameweek. I asked myself which players I thought would get the most points that week and I just got them in. This year that particular thing changed. Yes, I still made a lot of transfers: 54 transfers worth of 19 hits. Those transfers have cost me a total of 76 points. But what I can say is that I have had far more patience with players and I ‘punted’ far less than I did in previous seasons.

Punts
How can you describe a ‘punt’? In my opinion it simply is an at the time slightly unpopular player with very favourable fixtures. I have had a few this season. When I go for an unpopular player, I’m hoping for him to get a haul sooner rather than later. My punts along the way haven’t always delivered points on a consistent basis.

Player Weeks of ownership Fixtures Returns
Eriksen GW 14 – 16 SWA/mun/HUL 39 (avg. 13)
Payet GW 16 – 20 BUR/HUL/swa/lei/MUN 15 (avg. 3)
Pogba GW 19 – 20 MID/whu 13 (avg. 6.5)
Tadić GW 30 – 32 BOU/PAL/wba 11 (avg. 3.67)
Van Aanholt GW 34 – 35 liv/TOT/BUR 2 (avg. 1)
Daniels GW 36 – 37 STK/BUR 3 (avg. 1.5)
Stanislas GW 36 – 38 STK/BUR/lei 28 (avg. 9.33)

– I put Eriksen in because he wasn’t really a popular player at the time I bought him. I only counted his first three weeks in my team.
– I picked Daniels over Davies on my wildcard. If the news of Rose’s injury had come out earlier, I would have stuck with Davies. Poor decision.

Bad luck?
Whilst I still had more patience, I also managed to have three premium players at times they performed below their average.

Eden Hazard As an owner As a non-owner
Total games 36 29 7
Total mins 2.985 2.390 595
Total points 224 169 55
Points per game 6.22 5.83 7.86
Points per 90m 6.75 6.36 8.32
Alexis Sánchez As an owner As a non-owner
Total games 38 21 17
Total mins 3.217 1.818 1.399
Total points 264 141 123
Points per game 6.95 6.71 7.24
Points per 90m 7.39 6.98 7.91
Harry Kane As an owner As a non-owner
Total games 30 8 22
Total mins 2.523 687 1.836
Total points 224 69 155
Points per game 7.47 8.63 7.05
Points per 90m 7.99 9.04 7.60

I made this table six or seven weeks ago and just adjusted the numbers. In the final gameweeks Sánchez and Kane turned over completely. At the time I made the first table, both had much worse numbers.

Sánchez when I had him: 5.93 per game and 6.09 per 90 mins.
Sánchez when I didn’t: 7.56 per game and 8.32 per 90 mins.

Kane when I had him: 4.75 per game and 5.04 per 90 mins.
Kane when I didn’t: 7.30 per game and 7.93 per 90 mins.

Especially these Kane stats hurt. Of course owning or not owning those premium players is related to the spread of cash elsewhere in my squad, so it’s hard to translate it into points lost. However…

In gameweek 18 I decided to get rid of Kane after his barren run of two-pointers in games against United, Hull and Burnley. I brought Ibrahimovic in instead, who was in the same price bracket -even a little more expensive- what indicates that there were no other circumstances. I held Ibrahimovic for ten weeks and sold him when he got suspended after the home game against Bournemouth. Accidentally Kane got himself injured in a cup game and both were unavailable for GW28, so I probably would have replaced either of them with Lukaku.

From gameweek 18 up to and including gameweek 27 Ibrahimovic got 49 points. Kane got 86… Had I kept faith in Kane, I would have been 37 points (!) better off. Not to mention it required a hit at the time. Add those points to my tally and I would have been in the top 10 overall.

Backline
I have made nine transfers all season -excluding wildcard- to change my defensive unit (including a final week punt on Matip). I don’t actually know what that means, but I think it is a pretty decent number. Not too high, not too low.

I do however regret getting rid of Walker in gameweek 19 when he had to serve a one-match suspension. After his ban he immediately had a great run of points: 6 – 11 – 6 – 6 – 8.

Thanks to…

This was my first ever season I was continuously busy with FPL. Every week I tried to improve myself -especially during the first weeks of the season- on various aspects of the game and it really helped. Though I wouldn’t have enjoyed it that much without the help and banter on this forum. That’s why I want to say thank you to all FISO members and especially to those who supported and helped me throughout this amazing season.

Shout-out to Ruth and MoSe for our small mini league, to Stem and Mav for keeping The Cave very much alive and to every other cave dweller out there (AR, Notned, Billy, TU, PB, gallus and lots more).

Joccki

Telegraph Fantasy Football Starting XI – wizardoffire

The following is an article contributed by fiso member wizardoffire who came extremely close to winning the 2016/16 TFF best Starting XI prize as well as finishing in the top 200 overall in the season prize:

As per many on this site, I’ve been involved in the Telegraph fantasy cricket and football competitions for a while, back when paper and pen were used to record your weekly points update and having to send in your transfers by phone or snail mail with the password.

I’ve never really had that much success, every now and then I have had a team get high up only to drop off a cliff for one reason or another. Every year at the conclusion of the season, I would look back on my teams and think what could I have done better. Almost always, my low scoring starting XI teams would jump out at me. Obviously this is a huge faux pas in fantasy sports where transfers are like gold dust and you then have to burn them to fix any mistakes that have been made.

I typically enter around 15-20 teams, several are set up for FISO comps (which I highly endorse) others are designed for the golden boot league. The rest are then season long entries. My first approach is to scan the price list for players that are maybe priced lower than they should be or have been miscategorised. Then I pick a pool of players to build a team from ranging from your must haves to your enablers to fit in as many of the super stars as possible.

One team I so nearly nailed the starting XI and this is a recap of that team. It eventually finished 151st overall and 18th in the starting XI. The 151st finish hurts but I neglected the team during the Winter months and missed chaining key events such as Aguero to Lukaku or bringing in Chelsea defenders when they went on that crazy run that ultimately won them the league.

Team “Nova Scotia” 4-5-1
De Gea 132 points (3rd best keeper)

Valencia 137 points (9th best defender)
Bertrand 119 points (19th best defender)
Cook 95 points (40th best defender)
PVA 96 points (39th best defender)

Sanchez 280 points (best midfielder)
Hazard 228 points (4th best midfielder)
Eriksen 230 points (3rd best midfielder)
Mane 144 points ( 13th best midfielder)
Barkley 129 points (20th best midfielder)

Aguero 218 points (3rd best striker)

Selecting De Gea and Antonio Valencia seemed a good combination to have especially with the hiring of the “Special One”. De Gea is already one of the best keepers in the world, adding to the fact that Jose likes a solid defence he would surely rack up the points. Valencia seemed a good pick as well, having been originally a midfielder he has been moved back to a RB so would have an eye for goal plus pick up points from a strong United defence.

Bertrand, solid full back from a Southampton side that despite being raided year on year for their best players
still punch above their weight and rack up the points through strong defensive efforts.

Cook, a regular for Bournemouth and at 2.2 mill was the enabler that I was looking for.

Van Aanholt (PVA), building on Sunderland’s escape last year I figured them to continue where they left off but that wasnt to be. However, PVA is a solid LB that again has attacking potential to combine with the rare defensive clean sheet. This selection was eventually helped by a Winter transfer to Crystal Palace.

Alexis Sanchez was always going to be on everyone of my teams. Any Arsenal attack would flow through him whether he would be playing as a striker or out wide where he can cut in. Ultimately ends up being the highest scoring player in the game.

Hazard, I said at the end of the last year and during the Euros that he was back to his best and was going in everyone of my teams and he ultimately proved that this season, helping Chelsea to the title

Eriksen, another class act; his set pieces are deadly and with the attacking potential in the Spurs lineup especially when feeding Harry Kane, assists are always going to be there for the taking.

Mane, believe it or not this guy finished 13th for points in midfield scoring and thats despite playing the African Cup of Nations and picking up a season ending injury at the start of April. Liverpools offence just seemed to run through him.

Barkley, by far my worst midfield pick. For the same price could have Sigurdsson but chose him for his potential for playing behind Lukaku

Aguero, always going to be a good pick but even more so with Pep coming in. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to fire all cylinders regularly with one red card and also a 4 game suspension. Had it not been for Kane’s nuclear finish, he would have finished second in points.

We pick this story up, a week into the start of April where Nova Scotia had somehow climbed to the heady heights of 8th overall and encouraged by a certain Mr E. Elbows. I started to chart my progress in the Chasing Starting XI Glory fiso forum topic.

This thread proved to be invaluable in keeping track of my teams progress but also figuring out other teams around me and working out the differentials. It also revealed several other FISOers lurking high up which added to the competition. As the season reached its climaxed, at one stage I had reached the heady heights of second as the eventual winner slipped up as Chelsea stumbled over the finishing line. However, heading into the final week of the premier league, I was sitting in third place and all I needed to do was stay there to assure myself of a money finish. Considering that first place had a Chelsea block and was out of sight, everyone else around the top 10 had Sanchez and Hazard so any impact on the standings in the FA Cup final would have been minimal. Unfortunately the wheels fell off in dramatic style. De Gea, Valencia and Bertrand all missed the Carling Cup Final rematch as they played out a 0-0 so a missed chance there and then Harry Kane, eurgh being an Arsenal fan, it just had to be him and Man Utd to put the nails in my starting XI coffin.

To win the Starting XI competition, you need a huge amount of luck, I just happened to run out of it at the crucial moment. For sure this effort has taught me a lot in terms of fantasy management.

Firstly, getting a strong lineup to start, saves on transfers.

Secondly, don’t sit on your hands, try and be proactive with your transfers where necessary. This cost me a higher finish in the overall competition.

Thirdly, keep some transfers back for the end of the season where other teams are dead and you can chain extra games together.

Fourthly, enjoy the roller coaster ride because at the end of the day it’s a game and adds a whole level of excitement to following the games. It has me watching games I wouldn’t normally care about.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing yet also frustrating, had I had Kane over Aguero or Sigurdsson/Son over Barkley or both. Or had Man Utd been knocked out of the Europa, Valencia and De Gea might not have been rotated as much. Or had Harry Kane not exploded in the final 2 games and score 45 points, this article could have a had a completely different tale. Either way roll on next year!

Getting ready for the season 2017/18 – early picks for Fantasy Premier League.

A scintillating Premiership season has drawn to a close and fantasy football fiends are forlornly contemplating a football-free summer, so already thoughts are turning to the 2017-18 campaign. Fantasy football looks only set to grown in popularity and thus become more competitive, so the more research you do the better. Simply picking the best players from this season once more won’t cut it. Success will only come from choosing emerging stars due to enjoy a breakout season, padding out your squad with over-achieving low priced players and choosing a couple of stars to serve as captain week on week. Essentially, you have to pick players that will represent great value for money, and here are some we think could fit the bill:

Goalkeepers

If you want consistency it is hard to look past Hugo Lloris, as Tottenham have emerged as the toughest nut to crack defensively over the past couple of seasons and there is no reason to believe that won’t continue. Lloris is remarkably free of injury and a great points earner. A budget option would be Tom Heaton of Burnley, who made more saves than anyone else last season. Burnley are phenomenal at home, but suspect on the road, so he is a risk. Ben Foster at West Brom is another interesting option, as it pays to opt for keepers at defensive-minded clubs. Jordan Pickford is tipped to sign for a Premiership club and could be a good option too.

Defenders

Michael Keane could be set for a breakout season if he moves to Man Utd. He would be a great fit at the heart of a defence that already yields few chances, and would rack up plenty of clean sheets. He is handy in the other box at corners too. Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal have proved themselves suspect defensively, so Chelsea, Tottenham and Man Utd defenders look more attractive, particularly fullbacks like Kyle Walker that get forward and get assists.

Midfielders

Every fantasy football season has a breakout star that earns an outrageous amount of points for his price tag, from Dele Alli to Sadio Mane. Next season it could be the turn of Tom Davies. Places in the Everton midfield are competitive, but this local lad has supreme confidence, a great eye for goal and strong creativity, so he could earn plenty of points. Jonjo Shelvey at Newcastle is always good for plenty of assists and the odd goal from set pieces. If Arsenal keep up their 3-4-3 formation we could see a rejuvenated Aaron Ramsey playing box to box and getting plenty of goals. Tottenham’s Cristian Eriksen is very effective, as is Gylfi Sigurdsson of Swansea. Anothony Knockaert, Championship Player of the Year at Brighton, looks a great pick.

Strikers

It is impossible to leave out Harry Kane. He has topped the goal scoring charts for the last three seasons and everything at Tottenham goes through him. He looks a great bet for a fourth consecutive Golden Boot next season. We know you like your fantasy football league, but if you also like some betting make sure you do it on a good place. Check out this rating of betting sites, choose one that appeals to you, and you will find Kane around the 7/5 mark to win the Golden Boot next season. Even with much less game time than his rivals this season he won it, and looks unstoppable. Sergio Aguero would be a great pick, but his injury problems rule him out. That could open the door for Gabriel Jesus to take the league by storm. Alexis Sanchez is another essential pick if he is still plying his trade in the Premiership. You will need some budget options to supplement them. Dwight Gayle, who should lead the line at an attack-minded Newcastle Utd, could be your man, or Josh King at Bournemouth. Tammy Abraham, if he completes a move to Brighton, could be another choice.

Bale keen to feature in Cardiff

Gareth Bale has made it clear that he is fit enough to return to action for Real Madrid on Saturday in the Champions League final against Juventus.

The former Tottenham star has not played since suffering a calf injury in the defeat to Barcelona more than five weeks ago.

However, the Wales international is keen to play some part in Saturday’s match, which will be taking place in Cardiff, even if Real boss Zinedine Zidane opts to use him as a substitute.

The 27-year-old said: “I feel very good, I’m fully recovered and I’m ready. I’ve been doing my rehab, the double sessions, all the hard work to be fit for this game and I have to keep going now.

“I would have been disappointed if I could not make it to the final and that’s why I have given everything to get in shape, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if I am not a starter.”

Isco has replaced Bale in the Real side throughout May and may start again this weekend alongside Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo in attack.

“Isco is a fantastic player and in recent weeks has played very well,” Bale added. “I am happy for him and how much he is helping the team in this season finale.

“To be in the final in my home city, where I was born, is an incredible feeling, but there’s one more job to do and that’s to win the Champions League again and make history.”

Real Madrid are 5/6 to win the Champions League final and 11/1 to triumph 2-0. Bale is 12/5 to score at any time in Cardiff while Zidane’s team are available at 7/4 to keep a clean sheet against Juventus.

Content courtesy of Bet365.

Preview of Gameweek 38 in Fantasy Premier League

Preview of Gameweek 38 in Fantasy Premier League, courtesy of Bet365

First a Gameweek 37 Review

Chelsea secured the title with a 1-0 win at West Brom and followed that up with another victory in a 4-3 thriller at home to Watford, a game in which club legend John Terry opened the scoring for the Blues. Tottenham are confirmed as runners up and have had an impressive week, winning 2-1 against Manchester United in their final game at White Hart Lane before travelling to last season’s champions and thumping them 6-1, with Harry Kane now in prime position to win the Golden Boot after his 4-goal showing last night. At the bottom Hull City’s hopes of staying in the league were torn to shreds as they were hammered 4-0 at Crystal Palace, so they join Middlesbrough and Sunderland in next season’s Championship, capping a miserable year for top flight football in the north-east.

With plenty of double gameweeks it was always going to be a high-scoring total for the Dream Team this week, and the Dream XI racked up a massive 213 points. In goal Sergio Romero scored 16 points in just 1 match after saving a penalty and keeping a clean sheet in Man United’s 15th draw of the season at Southampton. César Azpilicueta was the star defender with 20 points, thanks to a clean sheet and an assist in Chelsea’s first game of the week and a goal in their second. Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez was the standout performer in midfield, with his goal and assist at Stoke followed up by a brace at home to Sunderland, taking him to 27 points for the week. Up front an incredible 31 points for Harry Kane secured him the title of Top Player of the Week, scoring the winner in Tottenham’s game against Man United and bagging 4 times and assisting 1 last night against Leicester.

Gameweek 38 Preview

All games kick off at 3pm on Sunday this week so transfer deadline is 2pm on that day. The final game of the season is always hard to predict as with lots of league positions already confirmed there’s not the intensity of a normal Premier League weekend. It’s the teams who do have a vital position to play for who should be looked to for Fantasy Football picks, and there are a few of those despite the champions already being decided and the relegation spots confirmed.

Arsenal are on the verge of their lowest-ever league finish under Arsène Wenger unless they can record a victory against Everton and other results go their way. They’re sure to be at full strength as they go all out to try to secure Champions League qualification and it could be a shrewd move to bolster your attack with Olivier Giroud (£8.1m). The Frenchman scored a hat-trick on the final day of last season and has 3 goals and an assist from his last 3 appearances. In midfield Alexis Sánchez (£11.6m) and Mesut Özil (£9.5m) are worth consideration, with each thriving in Wenger’s new formation. In fact, in the Gunners’ last three matches Giroud, Sánchez and Özil have scored all 8 of the team’s goals and also claimed 4 of the assists between them.

Liverpool are one of the sides who can prevent Arsenal from that Champions League qualification spot; they head into their game at home to Middlesbrough knowing that a win will mean they’re in European football’s most prestigious competition next year. They were comfortable 3-0 victors in the reverse fixture earlier this season and should be too strong and too motivated for a Middlesbrough team who are already relegated. Philippe Coutinho (£8.6m) is the man in form for Liverpool, scoring 6 goals and assisting 2 in their last 8 matches. Daniel Sturridge (£9.6m) will provide a goalscoring threat up front too and can be expected to start following a goal and impressive all-round performance against West Ham last week. At the back 4 clean sheets in their last 5 matches for the Reds means that their defenders cannot be ignored against the side who’ve scored the fewest goals in the top flight this season. Dejan Lovren (£4.8m) appears to be the best value pick here.

Manchester City know that a draw is enough to guarantee them a top 4 finish and a win would ensure that they can’t be overtaken in third. They’re up against a Watford team who have lost 5 games in a row so should be an ideal opponent in this situation. Gabriel Jesus (£9.0m) has been restricted to just 6 starts since joining the club in January due to injury, but has made a massive impact with 6 goals and 2 assists from those 6 starts. He’ll surely get the nod up front this weekend and will be looking to add to that tally. Kevin De Bruyne (£10.5m) is also in fantastic form for City, getting the maximum 3 Fantasy Football bonus points in 3 of their last 6 games, scoring twice and assisting 6 in those games.

There’s no pressure involved in Chelsea’s home game against Sunderland, but the stage may well be set for John Terry (£5.2m) to score his second goal in a week in his final appearance for the club. The Stamford Bridge faithful will be giving him an emotional send-off and his goal against Watford ensured that he has been on the scoresheet in 17 consecutive seasons. Few defenders have scored more than him in the Premier League and against a torrid Sunderland defence he’ll be a big threat at set pieces. He could well pick up clean sheet points too, with Sunderland’s woes not restricted to defending; they’ve only scored in 2 of their last 13 matches.

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

Burnely v West Ham – Sam Vokes (£5.7m)
Hull v Spurs – Harry Kane (£11.8m)
Leicester v Bournemouth – Josh King (£6.2m)
Man United v Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha (£5.8m)
Southampton v Stoke – Maya Yoshida (£4.5m)
Swansea v West Brom – Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.4m)

Good luck for the final gameweek.

Three Players That Could Light Up Fantasy Premier League

The Premier League season has come and gone, but fear not – there are only ten weeks to go before the teams return to action for the start of the 2017/18 campaign. Chelsea claimed their fifth Premier League crown in Antonio Conte’s first season in charge, but they will become the hunted next term with Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United expected to spend big over the summer.

All of those sides already boast formidable squads, but the addition of further talent will ensure that the Premier League remains the most exciting division in world football. Players such as James Rodriguez, Kylian Mbappe and Marco Reus have been linked with a move to England and would provide a new element to the league, offering serious competition at the top. The Premier League has seen a drain of Europe’s top talent moving to Spain and Germany instead, but a strong influx this summer could allow the division’s best sides make steadfast improvements in the Champions League.

However, it should also provide scintillating matchups in the top flight, especially in the world of Premier League fantasy football with Guts – where the range of high-quality players available will make a thrilling contest week in, week out on their head-to-head fantasy battles. In the league, each player scores points based on goals, assists, clean sheets and minutes played. They can also lose points for conceding goals, missing penalties and picking up red and yellow cards.

We’ll now look at three players that could light up the Premier League next term.

James Rodriguez

Source: Bayern & Germany via Twitter

The 25-year-old has been linked with a move to Manchester United to revitalise his career. Rodriguez was a standout for Colombia in the 2014 World Cup, winning the Golden Boot along with being named in the Dream and All-Star Teams. As a result of his fine performances, he secured a move to Real Madrid. Rodriguez enjoyed a fine debut season in La Liga, scoring 13 goals.

However, since then, his playing time has been drastically reduced, prompting his desire for a move away from the Bernabeu. United have been his strongest suitors thus far, but whether he would be able to thrive under Jose Mourinho and replicate his 2014/15 season in his restrained system would be another matter.

Kylian Mbappe

Source: Squawka News via Twitter

The 18-year-old has been a sensation for Monaco this season, bringing comparisons between his game and that of the great Thierry Henry. His 14 goals in Ligue 1 have helped drive Leonardo Jardim’s men towards the Ligue 1 crown, while his form in front of goal propelled his team towards the Champions League semi-finals where they were beaten only by Juventus.

The frightening aspect of the forward’s talent is that he will only improve. Arsenal have been touted with a move for Mbappe and pairing him with Alexis Sanchez could make them an unstoppable force in the final third – to perhaps finally end their league title drought.

Marco Reus

Source: Bundesliga DE via Twitter

Reus is another goal and an assist getter that will benefit a new team along with fantasy owners. When the German is on the field, he is always extremely productive as proven during his five seasons with Borussia Dortmund. The 27-year-old has reached double figures three times in that time span, but injuries have limited to break into the upper echelons of players across the globe.

A move to Manchester City could allow him to thrive even further under Pep Guardiola, with Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane opening up space in the final third. Reus could take his game to the next level with such a switch, which would light up the Premier League and make him a must-purchase for fantasy football fans next term.

FPL Gameweek 37: Review

Eden Hazard jogs over to the corner

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard” (CC by 4.0) by Ben Sutherland

The much-anticipated double gameweek 37 finally arrived, and with just one more week left after this it promised to be one with impact for Premier League teams and FPL managers alike. ‎This review was written on Tuesday the 16th of May, just after the Chelsea-Watford game, so some of the gameweek 37 games are still to be played.

Obviously the game that stood out this weekend took place at the Hawthorns, where a Chelsea victory over the home side would crown the Blues officially champions of the Premier League season 16/17. But there’s more. Second-placed Spurs hosted a United team focused on Europa League glory for their last ever game at White Hart Lane, while Liverpool, City and Arsenal are all still contending for Champions League football.

Crowned
September 24th, 2016. Chelsea have just lost to Arsenal, 3-0, which leaves them 8 points from first place. A repeat of last season’s horrors is on the horizon, so Antonio Conte sleeps very little. He was brought in to get Abramovich the title, after all. He should try another formation, maybe an accordeon-like 3-4-3…

Fast forward to 8 months later. Chelsea are a victory away from crowning themselves champions of the Premier League season 16/17. No club has been able to find a proper and sustainable answer to Conte’s hard-pressing 3-4-3-machine. The only thing standing between them and glory is a West Brom side that seems to have switched off after reaching the 40-point mark remarkably early in the season.

The Blues dominate, the Baggies don’t fail to create some danger themselves, but in minute 75 the match is still scoreless. Conte brings on Willian and Batshuayi for Pedro and star man Eden Hazard. People frown. Minute 82, the excellent Azpilicueta has yet again boomed forward, he produces a low center and Batshuayi finishes. As Chelsea play down the clock it’s clearer than ever: the players are champions, and Conte is the champion-maker.

And as far as FPL in concernded, don’t expect too much from your Chelsea assets for the rest of the season. For the Watford match on Monday night, Conte changed his team almost completely leaving only Azpilicueta (who is the only player to have played every single minute of every game this season) and Hazard as the only two players retaining their starting position. The match against Watford was a humdinger resulting in a 4-3 win, Chelsea not surprisingly being vunerable at the back after all the changes but will probably be back to full strength for their final Premier League match of the season on Sunday.

Champions League tension

On Sunday, second-placed Spurs welcomed a United side that has set its sight on winning the Europa League as their entry ticket into the Champions League. Possible? Yes. Risky? Probably. In their last game at White Hart Lane before construction of the new stadium starts, the Spurs dominated most of the game. The likes of Eriksen, Alli and Kane caused United all kinds of trouble, while Vertonghen and co. kept it tight at the back. A header by Wanyama (after an ideal cross by left-back Davies) and a subtle touch by Kane (after an Eriksen corner) gave Rooney’s unexpected, and probably quite undeserved, goal in a 2-1 Spurs victory a merely statistical value. What remains for Spurs this week is an away game at reigning and reinvigorated Leicester and an away game at Hull in the final gameweek.

Elsewhere in London the two champions of irregularity West Ham and Liverpool faced off, with the Hammers having nothing left to play for and the Reds fighting to keep hold of third place. A double by Coutinho (as well as an assist), and goals by Sturridge and Origi sealed the easy deal for Liverpool, and with a home game versus relegated Boro on the agenda next week it seems that the likes of Coutinho, Wijnaldum (two assists against West Ham) and Nathaniel Clyne could be popular. Some Fantasy Football managers also find online casino games popular and the latest promotion we’ve seen this year is the Fruity King Promo Code 2017

Up North, Man City hosted Leicester as the Citizens still have their eye on Liverpool’s third spot, especially knowing that they have one game in hand (this week’s home game versus West Brom). City dominated large parts of the game which resulted in a 2-1 lead at half-time, courtesy of a Silva goal, a Gabigol penalty (he started instead of the not entirely match-fit Aguero), and an astonishing Shinji Okazaki (you read that right) volley. Leroy Sané assisted both City goals. The tempo dropped in the second half, though Riyad Mahrez kind of clumsily missed a penalty around the 77th minute mark to grant City the three points.

Finally, number 5 Arsenal faced the traditionally difficult task of winning at the Britannia, which turned out not to be such a difficult one this time. The Potters are safe and have nothing to play for anymore, while Arsenal can still make the top four if Liverpool or City slip up in their final games. The Gunners played a serious and concentrated match resulting in a 1-4 victory, courtesy of Giroud (twice), Alexis and Mesut Özil goals. The reinstated right back Bellerin provided for two of the four goals. FPL captaincy favorite Alexis produced the points, but also went off injured right after his goal in the 76th minute. Though Wenger stated afterwards that his star player is probably fine for the next match against Sunderland many FPL managers will still be crossing their fingers until Tuesday hoping his thigh injury was just from a kick and not a more serious strain.

FPL Gameweek 37: Preview

Eden Hazard / Эден Азар

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard” (CC by 4.0) by Aleksandr Osipov

The Premier League 2016/2017 season is coming to its end in an almost disturbingly fast manner, but not before another double gameweek, and this one could be big. As Antonio Conte prepares his Chelsea machine for the potential league-winning away game at the Hawthorns, the battle for Europe has yet to be decided. After two consecutive victories (over United and Southampton) Arsenal are back in the mix, together with Liverpool, Man City and Man United, and back in the fight for one of the coveted top four spots.

The League title games

Yes, Chelsea still needs to win, and yes, West Brom have had a more than decent season so far, but does anyone really doubt this one still? It’s true that the Premier League is the most unpredictable football league in the world, but looking at current form and what each team is playing for in this game, a Chelsea victory looks more than likely. Ever since reaching the 40-point mark West Brom have seemingly taken their feet off the gas, while Chelsea is steaming on relentlessly. Last weekend a motivated and well-organised Boro outfit was simply no match for them. In terms of FPL assets, look at Alonso, Cahill, and Hazard, as well as Costa and Pedro. Anything can happen in 90 minutes, and until they actually win it the championship is still undecided, but expect a match-winning performance from Conte’s men.

The remaining three spots

That give access to Champions League football, that is. With the first place most likely to be taken by the Blues, and with Spurs comfortably (though in their own eyes probably a bit disappointingly at this moment) in second place, the final two spots will be for any two teams out of Liverpool (3rd), City (4th), Arsenal (5th) and United (6th). Liverpool and City are in the driver’s seat at the moment, with respectively 4 and 3 points more than fifth-placed Arsenal, especially considering the fact that there are no more direct clashes between these four teams.

Of the four though, Liverpool is the only team without a double gameweek. The Reds face West Ham in London on Sunday and come off a decent streak, taking 10 points from the last 5 games, and conceding only 3 goals (two of which on a total off-day home to Palace). The Hammers meanwhile have recorded 4 clean sheets in their last 5 games, including last weekend’s home win over Spurs, and won 9 points in the process. With Liverpool’s Mané still out injured, and with West Ham’s Antonio and Carroll (doubtful) absent as well, this might turn out to be a game in which goals are scarce.

Manchester City seems to be the team to go for this weekend for FPL managers. They have a double gameweek (home games against Leicester and West Brom) and they’re in the midst of the battle for the Champions League, so signs of slowing down are unlikely to appear for City. Rotation, Pep Guardiola’s favorite hobby, is a risk for FPL assets, but the likes of Caballero, De Bruyne, Kompany and Gabigol (if Aguero is deemed unfit, keep an eye on the news!) seem like solid investments and potentially even armband material. For goals Man City have the best boots of the season and ones to watch out for next season are Gabriel Jesus, Sane and Aguero if he stays.

Meanwhile the looming civil war at Arsenal seems to have subsided somewhat after solid victories over United and Southampton, resulting in 4 goals scored and none conceded. The Gunners are back in the race for the Champions League, and it looks like star man Alexis has found back his mojo just in time for this crucial gameweek in which Arsenal play Stoke away and then Sunderland at home. If you have the capital, Alexis Sanchez is a strong recommendation for both your FPL team and the captaincy, while the likes of Cech, Oxlade and Koscielny (the latter two face fitness tests) could very likely be raking in the points as well this weekend. If your players don’t come up trumps then you could try other games at Royal Vegas online casino instead.

Finally, there is sixth placed Manchester United. The Red Devils reached the finals of the Europa League on Thursday evening, in which they will face Ajax Amsterdam on May 24th. The strain of the semi-final versus Celta de Vigo might affect Mourinho’s man as they go into a double gameweek in which they face Spurs and Southampton (both away from home). In other words, it’s not going to be easy for them, especially without Zlatan. The United defense looks like a solid investment, think of Bailly (who’s suspended for the Europa League final), Valencia and Blind, but the attacking bit of the team remains unpredictable. Rashford seems assured of playing minutes, as do Pogba (back from injury) and Herrera, though none of these players have been bringing home loads of FPL points this season.