FPL Season 2018/19 – Gameweek 34 Preview

Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN
“Harry Kane, here seen pressuring City keeper Ederson, could be out of action for the rest of the season” (CC by 2.0 ) by Brad Tutterow

After a blank gameweek of extreme highs (for those trusting in Jamie Vardy and/or Eden Hazard) and lows (for the unprepared/unlucky/unaware ones), we’re immediately moving on to another sequence of potentially impacting rounds. With the season’s second and final major double gameweek coming up next weekend, many FPL manager will be activating their remaining chips over the coming days, with the second Wild Card the most popular. We expect the most popular combination to be a Wild Card for gameweek 34 and then either a Bench Boost or a Triple Captain in gameweek 35, when no less than eight extra games are scheduled.

With Man City and Watford qualifiying for the final of the FA Cup by beating Brighton and Wolves, respectively, we have no more domestic cup football to worry about in terms of our FPL rosters. There is still the small matter of European football though. On Tuesday, Liverpool booked a rather comfortable 2-0 home victory over Porto, while Spurs managed to both beat and shut out Man City, courtesy of a single Son goal. Tottenham’s victory has come at a cost though, as it looks like Harry Kane could be out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury (the same ankle that kept him off the grass for 41 days earlier this season) after a duel with Fabian Delph. As well as keeping up with the latest injury news to help in your fantasy game, if you also play other online games check for the latest jackpotjoy promo code.

Tonight (Wednesday), Man United are facing the mammoth task of overcoming Barcelona in their first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals, while tomorrow (Thursday) both Arsenal and Chelsea will be in action in the Europa League, facing Napoli and Slavia Prague respectively. Considering the increasing importance of the European games, in terms of silverware and prestige (and securing a starting spot in next season’s Champions League in the case of the Gunners and the Blues), it’s essential to keep rotation in the back of your head when making your transfers over the coming weeks. For now, let’s take a look at some of the players that could well stand out in gameweek 34 of the Premier League.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 34 is set on Friday, April 12th, at 19h00 (BST).

Premium picks

Doubt has been soaring through the FPL community since last night after Harry Kane limped off in the Champions League game against City as a result of a nasty coming together with Fabian Delph. Who to replace him with? Are Spurs still a stand-out resource for FPL points until the end of the season? One of our personal favourites, Christian Eriksen, is featuring later on in the captaincy section of this article, so for our first premium pick of the week we’re going with Heung-Min Son (£8.6m). The South Korean forward stepped up in a big way when Kane was injured earlier on this season, which is one of the main reasons why he’s currently still the highest-scoring Spurs asset after Kane himself, both in terms of FPL points (150 vs Kane’s 160) and goals (12 vs Kane’s 17). On top of that, he has provided 7 assists as well. The last game Son featured in was in gameweek 32, when he scored a goal (and a nice 10 FPL points) and completed the 90 minutes for the first time since gameweek 26, when he also scored. You can count on him to complete many more games over the coming period, as well as on him scoring more points and enjoying a price rise in FPL.

As if the positives for Son’s selection aren’t enough yet, there is also the fixtures calendar until the end of the season. With four of the six remaining games played at their brand-new stadium (against Huddersfield, Brighton, West Ham and Everton), as well as a potentially juicy away game against leaky Bournemouth in gameweek 37, it looks delicious, for both attacking and defensive Spurs assets. Keeping in mind Pocchetino’s love for rotating the backline, we’ve gone with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (£5.4m) as our second premium pick for gameweek 34. First up is Huddersfield at home, an already-relegated outfit that has scored just 11 goals in 16 away games this season, followed by a double gameweek consisting of City away (no comments necessary) and Brighton at home (the Seagulls have scored just 15 times in 16 games away from home). The French goalie is the most nailed-on defensive Spurs pick, and though is his price might scare off some managers, we believe he could be more than worth it when looking at their schedule until the end of the season, even when factoring in the Champions League games. Hugo’s confidence should be pretty good after his penalty save last night from Aguero.

Our third premium pick for gameweek 34 has not exactly been putting in premium performances over the past weeks, at least not in terms of FPL, but he could be excellent at home to West Ham this weekend. Paul Pogba (£8.7m) had an amazing start under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but his form seems to have dropped a bit over the past few weeks, as has United’s form overall in the Premier League. The French midfielder has scored 11 goals and provided 10 assists already this season (good for a total of 155 FPL points), but he hasn’t posted any attacking returns since gameweek 29. His upcoming fixtures are a mixed bag, with West Ham at home, a double gameweek 35 of Everton away and City at home, Chelsea at home, Huddersfield away and Cardiff at home, but he has the quality to shine against any kind of opponent. Starting with this weekend’s game against West Ham at Old Trafford, Pogba could well get back onto the score sheet. The Hammers are in mediocre form and have shipped 25 goals in 16 away games. Of those 16 games, they’ve lost 9 and won just 4. At his current price, Pogba could be worth inclusion in your team.

If you are playing your wildcard in GW34 and Bench Boost in GW35 then check out the FPL wildcard templates suggested on this fiso forum topic.

A differential pick or two

Thanks to the rare phenomenon of consecutive double gameweeks coming up for Brighton, we’ve chosen central defender Shane Duffy (£4.7m) as our first differential pick of the week. The Irishman is facing Bournemouth and Cardiff at home this weekend, and Wolves and Spurs (both away) in gameweek 35. Sure, the second double gameweek looks like a zero-pointer for the Seagulls, but it remains to be seen how Wolves handle their elimination from the FA Cup and Spurs have the Champions League return against Man City to worry about as well. This week though, looks a lot better for Chris Hughton’s men. Brighton are currently five points above the relegation zone, but two victories would lift them over direct rivals like Newcastle and Burnley into 12th place. In other words, the Seagulls are not safe yet and have everything to play for still. Besides the encouraging fact that they have conceded just 16 goals in 15 home games, it’s also nice to know that Duffy himself has already been directly involved in 7 goals this season (5 scored, 2 assisted). As a matter of fact, over the past four gameweeks, no Brighton player has had as many attempts on target as the Irishman (2 on target out of a total of 10). Duffy is a real recommendation for gameweek 34 and for those FPL managers who really love the feeling of adrenaline flowing through to their bodies, he could even be considered a candidate for the armband. Yep, Brighton’s Shane Duffy.

Sometimes a player performs so well or shows so much promise that we repeat him as a pick for the  gameweek after that as well. This week, that’s the case for Leicester’s Jamie Vardy (£9.2m). Last weekend against poor Huddersfield, the English striker had a party and scored two goals while also winning the free-kick from which James Maddison scored. His 16-point haul was several things: a gameweek record (shared with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard), a season high for him (on par with his 16 points against Fulham in gameweek 30) and the sixth time in the last eight gameweeks that he brought his FPL owners (currently just 13.2% of players) attacking returns. Over that period of eight games, Vardy scored 60 FPL points, which comes down to an average of 7.5 points per game. Before Leicester’s schedule turns sour in gameweek 36, the Foxes still face Newcastle at home this week and West Ham away next week. Both of those games could see Vardy add to his tallies of 15 goals and 5 assists for the season so far.

Here are more transfer ideas for GW34 from the fiso forum.

The captaincy

As mentioned earlier in this article, our first suggestion for the captain’s armband in gameweek 34 is Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen (£9.2m). Despite a team roster that was deemed “not deep enough to compete” at the start of the season after a transfer-less summer, Spurs manager Pocchetino manages to rotate his team quite a lot. One of the players who seems irreplaceable though, besides Kane, is the Danish midfield maestro. He has started the last 15 Premier League games in a row, and over that period he has scored 5 goals and 5 assists, and recorded 84 FPL points. The upcoming game against Huddersfield looks like a great opportunity for Eriksen to add to those numbers. The Dane is also on most set-pieces and he might be taking over from Kane when it comes to penalty duties. After Huddersfield, Spurs have a double gameweek (City away and Brighton at home), followed by Brighton (home), West Ham (home), Bournemouth (away) and Everton (home). Eriksen could be a “select now and forget about him til the end of the season” kind of pick, and an excellent choice for the captaincy this weekend.

Our second pick for the captaincy is a bit of a punt, but not as much as our suggestions in a few other gameweeks. Everton are visiting relegated Fulham on Saturday and that could mean a haul for Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m). The Icelandic attacking midfielder is a centrel piece in Marco Silva’s project, as there have only been three gameweeks in which he was not part of the starting eleven. He has scored a goal and provided an assist over the last three gameweeks, while his season totals of 12 goals and 4 assists so far are pretty decent as well. Fulham, on the other hand, haven’t been very decent this season, especially from a defensive point of view. The Cottagers have already conceded 32 goals in 16 home games, an average of 2 goals per game. It looks far from likely that they will manage to shut out a revived Everton side this weekend and when the Toffees score, the possibility of Sigurdsson being directly involved in the process are quite high. After all, he’s been directly involved in 35% of his side’s goals this season. For the daring and the ones in need of serious differential points, consider Gylfy as your captain.

According to the fiso forum Poll on the GW34 Captain, Duffy and Son are leading the way.

FPL Season 2018/19 – Gameweek 33 Review

Eden Hazard / Эден Азар
“Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was in absolute top form against West Ham on Monday” (CC by 2.0 ) by Aleksandr Osipov

Did you have Hazard? Did you captain him?!

Despite Jamie Vardy’s 16-point haul a few days earlier to match the Belgian’s gameweek high score, these two questions were probably asked by millions of FPL managers around the world on Tuesday morning. Hazard is known as an unpredictable magician in the FPL community (though his current 16 goals and 12 assists make him the Premier League’s MVP), but yesterday night was a good night. For those with Hazard in their teams, I mean. For those with Hazard as their captain, even better. His first, Ben Arfa-esque goal gave the Blues the lead after less than half an hour, while his second in the final minute of the game to also give him 16 points was a little present for the FPL managers who kept faith in him and a relief to those like me who’d decided on Hazard for Captain rather than Vardy (48 points from the two players – very nice thank you).

Despite being a depleted gameweek, round 33 probably shook up the FPL world than the double gameweek did before that. As part of the preparation for gameweeks 34 and 35, which are likely to see another spike in chip usage as a result of round 35 being a double gameweek in which no less than eight teams play twice, we’ll take a quick look at last weekend’s games. Talking of games there are a wide variety of Online Casino games from New Zealand such as Lucky Nugget. So if you’re looking for the Lucky Nugget casino login or other New Zealand pokies before the next gameweek starts then good luck to you. Before our review of the last league matches, a simple overview of our picks for gameweek 33.

e PICK PLAYER (Club) POINTS
Premium Sadio Mané (Liverpool) 1
Premium Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) 2
Premium Mo Salah (Liverpool) 6
Differential James Maddison (Leicester) 7
Differential Willian (Chelsea) 0 (no game time)
Captain Jamie Vardy (Leicester) 16
Captain Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 16

The games and results in gameweek 33 were as follows:

HOME TEAM AWAY TEAM RESULT
Southampton Liverpool 1 – 3
Bournemouth Burnley 1 – 3
Huddersfield Leicester 1 – 4
Newcastle Crystal Palace 0 – 1
Everton Arsenal 1 – 0
Chelsea West Ham 2 – 0

Southampton vs Liverpool (1 – 3)

A revitalised Southampton side was never going to be an easy task for Liverpool and things looked even more complicated for Jurgen Klopp’s men when Shane Long put the home team in front after 9 minutes. The Reds are true title contenders though, and few other stats underline this status more than a team’s ability to come back from behind and “kill” games in the final minutes. In the Premier League, Liverpool have so far won 16 points from games in which they first went behind, while 20 of their 75 goals were scored in the final 15 minutes. No other PL outfit beats these stats. Against the Saints, Naby Keita equalised in the 36th minute, leaving it for Salah (80th minute) and Henderson (86th) to bring the three points home. The Reds fought, showed their undeniable quality and kept maximum pressure on Man City. If, on top of that, Salah’s goal (his first since mid-February, 8 gameweeks ago) is a sign of a return to his top shape for the season’s end, the race for the title will be tight until the very end.

Bournemouth vs Burnley (1 – 3)

Bournemouth were gameweek 33’s disappointment of the week. The Cherries were one of the surprise packages of this season’s first half, but they have been mediocre of late, to say the least. The performance against Burnley was easily one of their worst this season and not because Sean Dyche’s men were supposedly easy targets (because they definitely aren’t), but because it looked like Bournemouth had their minds set on their summer holidays already, to use an old football cliché. Looking further back though, the Cherries have only booked one victory in their last nine Premier League games, the kind of run that make relegation talk more than realistic. Sure, Eddie Howe’s won’t go down this season, but make sure you subject Cherries assets you’re interested in for your team to the eye test before clicking the “Confirm Transfer” button.

Burnley, on the other hand, had a dismal start to the 2018-19 campaign, but managed to turn it around step-by-step. The Clarets now find themselves 8 points above the relegation zone and they’ll be happy about that, because the end of their fixtures calendar is far from easy. This coming weekend’s home game against Cardiff is something of a must-win, because after that it’s Chelsea (away), City (home), Everton (away) and Arsenal (home). We don’t want to say that Burnley players should no longer be considered for your FPL rosters, because assets like Heaton, Westwood and Barnes could still be excellent differential budget enablers, but it’s clear that the Clarets are heading for a tough season ending.

Huddersfield vs Leicester (1 – 4)

A few rounds ago, Leicester looked like one of those teams who would have a season ending without anything to play for, meaning their players would become less reliable in terms of FPL. The arrival of Brendan Rodgers seems to have given the Foxes a welcome boost though, as they are now 7th in the league (with Wolves) after winning their last 4 games in a row. At the end of the season, this spot will grant them a place in the Europa League, which, after their exploits in the Champions League a few season ago, should motivate the Foxes to keep performing at a relatively high level in comparison to some of the lower-ranked teams that will soon have nothing left to play for.

Though Leicester left it a bit late against Huddersfield, the Foxes played a decent away game against a positive but already-relegated Huddersfield. Jamie Vardy was the obvious stand-out performer, with 2 goals and an assist (as well as a week-high 16 FPL points), while Tielemans and Maddison, both netting once, looked in fine form as well. Leicester have two more winnable games coming up (Newcastle at home next week and West Ham away after that) before facing Arsenal (home), City (away) and Chelsea (home) in the campaign’s final three games. Despite not having double fixtures in gameweek 35, we strongly suggest to keep considering (attacking) Leicester assets for at least two more weeks.

Newcastle vs Crystal Palace (0 – 1)

After 90 minutes in Newcastle on Sunday, the score sheet gave off a familiar vibe. Palace won an away game with a difference of one goal and that goal came from a penalty by Luka Milivojevic after Wilfried Zaha was fouled. Of their 17 away games so far, Palace have won 8, drawn 2 and lost 7, a record that places them in 7th place in the Premier League ranking for away games. In terms of last Sunday’s only goal: it was Palace’s 11th PL penalty of the season, 10 of which have been converted by captain Milivojevic and 6 of which have been won by… yes, Wilfried Zaha. The Eagles have been steadily improving the quality of their game in the second half of the season, something for which old fox Roy Hodgson should get considerable credit, and they seem safe from relegation after the victory over Newcastle. Up next are City at home and Arsenal away, so Palace assets won’t be the most popular on the FPL market, but their run after that (Everton home, Cardiff away and Bournemouth home) might see interest in the likes of Milivojevic, Zaha and Wan-Bissaka spike one final time before the end of the season.

Newcastle, on the other hand, are in 15th place and 7 points above the relegation zone, but to say they no longer have relegation worries would be naive. Brighton, who are just 2 points behind them, have played 2 games less, while resurgent Southampton in 17th are equal in points with the Seagulls and have played one game less than the Magpies. Rafa Benitez has his men playing a hard-to-beat kind of football, based on defensive solidity and an improving offensive plan centered around the tireless Salomon Rondon and January arrival Miguel Almiron. With five games left to go (Leicester away, Southampton home, Brighton away, Liverpool home and Fulham away), Newcastle will get chances to play themselves safe soon. Two out of those five games are encounters with direct rivals, while the final game of the campaign sees them visit already-relegated Fulham. The likes of Rondón, Lascelles and Dubravka are likely to see their FPL ownership rise in the coming weeks, as managers hope for the Magpies’ desire to confirm their presence in the Premier League for next season as soon as possible.

Everton vs Arsenal (1 – 0)

In their quest for Champions League football next season, Arsenal suffered a tough but deserved defeat at Goodison Park. Especially away games seem to be a real issue for Unai Emery’s men this season, as the Gunners have won just one away game in the Premier League since their 1-2 victory over Bournemouth all the way back on November 25th of last year. To make things a bit worse still, Arsenal haven’t kept a clean sheet in an away game all season. Arsenal was bland against Everton, creating little to nothing and defending without real conviction. Despite 57% of the ball, the Gunners made just five attempts at goal, two of which were on target. Considering this abysmal away form, their end of the season looks tougher than one might think at first glance, as 4 of the remaining 6 games are away from home against teams that are generally no push-overs (Watford, Wolves, Leicester and Burnley). The other two games are at the Emirates against defensively solid sides Palace (who perform well on the road, as discussed earlier) and Brighton.

Everton went through a serious bad patch for a while, but the Toffees are back to winning ways. The scorelines suggests a tighter game for Everton than it was in reality, as they had 17 attempts on goal, 6 of which hit the target. They basically just failed to put more into the back of the net to bring the victory home earlier. Everton largely controlled the game and manager Marco Silva will have been happy with what his players were showcasing on the pitch, in particular his midfield comprising of André Gomes, Bernard and Gueye. It should be noted as well though, that the Everton defence kept a clean sheet for the fifth time in the last six games. Next up are Fulham at Craven Cottage, followed by United at home, Palace away, Burnley at home and Spurs at their brand-new stadium. Being just 1 point behind the seventh spot in the league, more FPL points can be expected from Everton players in the coming weeks.

Chelsea vs West Ham (2 – 0)

Gameweek 33’s final fixture turned out to be a spectacular ending to a rollercoaster blank gameweek. Spectacular, not because of Chelsea or West Ham putting up mesmerizing team performances (far from it), but because of Eden Hazard. With a fantastic display, in which he scored the game’s only two goals, he showed all of us why not just Chelsea fans but Premier League fans all around the world should be enraged if the Blues let him leave to Real Madrid coming summer. At the moment, like during several periods earlier this season, the Belgian wizard is carrying the Blues and he’s carried them all the way into third place for the moment. Chelsea have won three consecutive games in a row after the disheartening 2-0 defeat versus Everton in gameweek 31 and they seem to have tapped into some OK form ahead of the coming away clash with title-chasing Liverpool. If the Blues want to have any chance in that game, they better pass all balls to Hazard and hope for some of that “first goal against West Ham” kind of wizardry.

Meanwhile, West Ham seem to best fit the definition of a team that has nothing left to play for anymore. The Hammers, of course the underdogs for their game at Stamford Bridge, made just 5 attempts at goal in the whole game, 2 of which hit the target, and they appeared a bit lacklustre overall. In truth, Manuel Pellegrini’s men improved a lot over the run of the second half and even created some good chances for Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini towards the final whistle. The individual quality of the West Ham players and the managerial strength of Pellegrini and his staff are undeniable, but it hasn’t really resulted consistent performances of good quality this season. With United (away), Leicester (home), Spurs (away), Southampton (home) and Watford (away) still awaiting before the end of the season, the Hammers have their work cut out for them. We’re not sure investing in West Ham players now represents the best use of your limited FPL resources.

Premier League continues to dominate in Europe

Europe’s premier competitions have now reached the quarter-final stages, and there is little doubt that the Premier league is head and shoulders above any of the others. Both Arsenal and Chelsea look to have strong chances in the Europa league, with Chelsea heading the outright market at around 15/8. Punters have been using many offers to support them, such as check this one out, which is a great bonus offer to build your betting balance. Arsenal on the other hand are around 7/2, and they now have a tough draw against Italian giants Napoli. If they can progress through this, then it would appear very likely we could see an all-England final between the London rivals.

No English club has won the Champions league title since Chelsea back in 2012. Liverpool reached last season’s final before the defeat to the now 13 time winners, Real Madrid. However, there is little doubt that it appears most likely that an English side will lift the trophy this season. Out of the eight sides left in the competition, remarkably four of them are Premier league sides, which shows the current strength of the top flight of English football.

The current Premier league champions Manchester City have been the favourites since a ball was kicked. They started at around 3/1, but following their progression through, are now just 9/4 to lift the title for the first time. Under Pep, they are playing some of the most attractive attacking football ever seen, so must have a very strong chance of lifting the trophy. They have been drawn against Tottenham, so one Premier league side will be playing in the semi-finals. Both sides have grown into the competition, and following their poor start, Tottenham put in a very professional performance over the two legs against Borussia Dortmund. Manchester City are 1/5 to progress through, and it would be a shock were they to fail to do so, considering how strong their squad is.

Last season’s defeated finalists Liverpool are now just 4/1 to lift the trophy this time around. They have been one of the resurgent forces of European football in recent years, that has seen them now challenging Manchester City for the Premier league title. They have been drawn against Porto, and are the overwhelming favourites to progress through. They played the Portuguese side last season resulting in a 5-0 victory, so will be confident of a similar performance this time around.

Finally, Manchester United have progressed through to the final eight. They are coming off the back of one of the greatest comeback victories in the history of the competition, following the late penalty decision through VAR. This saw them progress past one of the favourites in PSG, so can they now do this again against Barcelona? United are 3/1 to reach the final four, with Barcelona one of the outright favourites for the competition.

FPL Season 2018/19 – Gameweek 33 Preview

“Man City’s Bernardo Silva, pictured in action for his national team, was one of gameweek 32’s outstanding performers despite playing just 1 game” (CC by 3.0 ) by soccer.ru

Gameweek 32, supposedly the biggest double gameweek of the 2018-2019 Premier League season, was a mixed bag. Over the past weeks, something of a template had been forming, especially among Free Hitters, and several of these template players ended up recording sub-optimal returns. As usual, Man City’s Pep Guardiola played a large role in the disappointment for many FPL managers, as none of his forwards played more than 90 minutes over their double gameweek. Aguero, the GW’s most-captained player, enjoyed less than an hour of football over that stretch due to an injury. The same went for United’s Marcus Rashford, who failed to feature in United’s second game against Watford. To the relief of many though, both forwards still managed to get their name on the scoresheet (Aguero 10 points and Rashford 7). Other highly-owned players, like Raheem Sterling (3 points), Paul Pogba (4 points) and Harry Kane (4 points) failed to perform in terms of the FPL as well, while slightly more differential picks like Eden Hazard (15 points), Eriksen (20) and Laporte (18) rewarded their owners handsomely. A week average of 73 is quite high, but due to injuries and extreme rotation, GW32 caused less mayhem in the FPL world than many would have expected. Maybe gameweek 33 is more up to the task…

Gameweek 33 is a blank gameweek that brings us just 6 games. We’ll place an overview of this weekend’s fixtures below:

HOME TEAM AWAY TEAM DATE & TIME (BST)
Southampton Liverpool Fri 5 April, 20h00
Bournemouth Burnley Sat 6 April, 15h00
Huddersfield Leicester Sat 6 April, 15h00
Newcastle Crystal Palace Sat 6 April, 15h00
Everton Arsenal Sun 7 April, 14h05
Chelsea West Ham Mon 8 April, 20h00

The teams without a fixture this week are: Man City, Spurs, Man United, Wolves, Watford, Brighton, Cardiff and Fulham

Before we move on to this week’s picks, a quick overview of how our picks for gameweek 32 fared:

PICK PLAYER (Club) POINTS
Premium Raheem Sterling (Man City) 3
Premium Paul Pogba (Man United) 2
Premium Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) 16
Differential Christian Eriksen (Spurs) 20
Differential Jamie Vardy (Leicester) 6
Captain Kun Aguero (Man City) 10
Captain Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 15

Don’t forget that gameweek 33 is already upon us : deadline is tomorrow Friday April 5th, at 20h00 (BST).

Premium picks

Liverpool’s Sadio Mané (£10.0m) blanked in his single gameweek 32 fixture against Spurs at Anfield, but he recorded an impressive 43 FPL points in the four games before that, courtesy of 5 goals and an assist. Looking back even further, the Senegalese forward has brought his FPL owners 80 points since gameweek 23, which represents an average of 8 points per game. What’s more, he hasn’t provided consecutive blanks since gameweeks 21 and 22. In other words, the man’s on fire. This weekend the Reds are rolling up to Saint Mary’s to face Southampton, a team that has won three of its last four Premier League games. The Saints scored 7 goals and conceded 4 over that period, though it should be noted that 3 of those 4 goals were conceded against United at Old Trafford in gameweek 29. Southampton are no push-overs under Ralph Hasenhüttl as he’s turned the side into one that’s capable of fabricating surprise performances and results, but it looks like a Liverpool side chasing the title will be a bit too much for them.

Bournemouth at home to Burnley is one of this weekend’s stand-out fixtures in terms of FPL points potential, so expect the ownership of several Cherries assets to rise in the build-up to the Friday evening deadline. One of the decisions many managers will be looking to make is the one between Joshua King and Callum Wilson (£6.5m), the two equally-priced Bournemouth forwards. Despite the former being on penalties for the Cherries, we’ve gone with early-season favourite Callum Wilson, because the Burnley game at the Vitality this weekend looks like a game in which the Cherries will get several opportunities from open play as well. Wilson’s record until now (11 goals and 9 assists in 24 games) shows that he knows where the goal is this season and with Burnley allowing for 50 attempts on goal over the past four games, he might well be adding to those tallies on Saturday. Bournemouth have scored 28 goals in 16 home games, and the English striker was directly involved in 11 of those goals (5 goals and 6 assists), so he looks like a good investment at a price of £6.5m.

Our final premium pick of the week is based more on his underlying stats and the so-called eye test than on his actual FPL numbers over the past rounds. Mo Salah‘s (£13.2m) price has been dropping quite rapidly over the past month or so, due to his disappointing returns of late. The Egyptian’s last goal came in gameweek 26 in a 3-0 home victory over Bournemouth, while he has recorded just 2 assists since then, good for the underwhelming total of 21 FPL points over that period. Last round, he still took four attempts at goal though, one of which was on target, and he had the most touches in the penalty area of all Liverpool players. As we’ve said in earlier articles, Salah does keep getting into the right positions and he does get the ball a lot in dangerous areas, but he just seems to be missing a bit of sharpness in front of goal at the moment. While the Reds have scored 26 goals in 16 away games, the Saints have conceded 22 goals in 15 home games and they have only kept one clean sheet against a team from the big six: 0-0 at Stamford Bridge back in gameweek 21. No better time than now for Salah to rejoice the 35.9% of FPL managers who still believe in him with a return on the score sheet.

For more Transfer ideas check out the fiso forum GW33 transfers topic

A differential pick or two

With an away game to recently relegated Huddersfield on the cards for Leicester in gameweek 33, our first differential pick is a Fox. Attacking midfielder James Maddison (£6.8m) is a nailed-on starter under Brendan Rodgers and he’s repaid that confidence so far. In the last five Premier League games, the young Englishman scored 1 goal and provided 2 assists, taking on a direct involvement in 3 of the 10 goals scored by Leicester over that period. He’s owned by just 7.1% of FPL managers and he’s facing a Huddersfield side that was officially relegated after their 2-0 loss to Palace last weekend. It remains to be seen in what state the Terriers will show up this weekend in front of their own fans, but the harsh history is that they have lost 12 of the 16 games at home, a run in which they conceded 24 goals. Maddison took for shots on goal and made five key passes in the 2-0 home victory over Bournemouth in GW32, and with a bit more luck he could’ve recorded some attacking returns. This weekend’s game against Huddersfield provides him with the perfect opportunity to make up for lost chances.

Our second differential pick of the week is a differential in terms of FPL ownership (4.2%) and a bit of a punt in terms of playing time. Chelsea’s Willian (£7.1m) is not having the best season of his career, just like Chelsea are not having the most consistent season of their history, but he has still scored 3 goals and provided 7 assists in 1850 minutes of Premier League football. He has started just 3 of the club’s last 8 PL games, but he did provide 2 assists over that period. The Brazilian forward played 90 minutes in Chelsea first fixture of the double gameweek 32 and just 6 minutes in their second game (against Brighton on Wednesday), so a spot in the starting eleven against West Ham at home coming Monday looks like a real possibility. In the last five games that Willian started for the Blues, he brought home a decent 26 points, which averages a bit over 5 points per game. Against a Hammers side who have shipped 23 goals in 15 away games, Willian should get the opportunities to at least maintain that average.

If you are using your Free Hit Chip for this gameweek then have a look at discussions on the fiso forum GW33 Free Hit topic.

The captaincy

Our first suggestion for the captain’s armband is Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy (£9.0m), who, in an under-the-rader kind of way, has been bringing home the bacon recently. New Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers sees the Englishman as the focal point of his attacking plans and the striker has repaid that belief in him with 5 goals and 1 assist in his last 5 Premier League games. As a matter of fact, when looking at the calendar year 2019 so far, only Aguero’s 10 goals trump Vardy’s 7 goals (in 12 games). In terms of considering him as a candidate for the captaincy though, it should be noted that Vardy has recorded just two double-figure hauls this season, namely in gameweek 6 (11 points vs Huddersfield at home) and in gameweek 30 (16 points vs Fulham at home). He doesn’t tend to be the guy that lights up FPL’s Team of the Week selections, but he’s a goalscorer and he’s in form right now. The combination of this form and the away fixture against a possibly very disheartened Huddersfield outfit make Vardy an outstanding choice for the armband. It would be far from a surprise to see him chip in with a goal and who knows, he could even record his third double-figure score of the season.

For a bit over 30% of all FPL managers, Eden Hazard‘s (£11.0m) performance at the closing of gameweek will have caused a sigh of (huge) relief. In a very unpredictable double gameweek in which several big names failed to deliver, the diminutive Belgian stood up and brought home 15 points, courtesy of a goal and an assist versus Brighton at Stamford Bridge. This weekend he’s facing West Ham at home and the Hammers have not only conceded 7 goals in the last 4 away games (and 5 in the last 2 home games), they have also allowed for more big chances than any other team over that period (15). Chelsea have scored 32 goals in 16 home games, and 9 of those goals (as well as 5 assists) came from Hazard. In a truncated gameweek like the upcoming one, he looks like a must-have and an undeniable prime candidate for the armband.

According to the FISO Forum GW33 Captain Poll, Hazard is leading the way for the armband from Salah with Vardy and Mane in a distant 3rd and 4th.

FPL Season 2018/19 Gameweek 32 Preview

“Man City’s Sergio Aguero, here pictured in action for the Argentinian national team, will be one of the most popular captaincy options for gameweek 32” (CC by 4.0 ) by Voltmetro

After a minor blank gameweek six rounds ago and a major blank gameweek just before the international break, FPL is now fully immersed in this season’s business end. Gameweek 32 is the first major double gameweek of the season and it’s going to have an impact, be sure of it. No less than ten teams are playing twice this week, including Man City, Man United and Chelsea, and many double match-ups look more than favourable, on paper at least. It should therefore come as no surprise that the large majority of our picks this week focus on assets from the top-six clubs with a double gameweek. The schedule for this week (as shown below) will also seduce many FPL managers into activating one of their chips, so take that into account when making your decisions. Another decision you should consider before betting online is to check your-promotional-code.co.uk website and see if that will help you out.

The transfer deadline for gameweek 32 is set at (11:30am GMT) on Saturday, March 30th.

TEAM OPPONENT 1 OPPONENT 2
Brighton Southampton (home) Chelsea (away)
Cardiff Chelsea (home) Man City (away)
Manchester City Fulham (away) Cardiff (home)
Tottenham Hotspur Liverpool (away) Crystal Palace (home)
Manchester United Watford (home) Wolves (away)
Wolves Burnley (away) Man United (home)
Watford Man United (away) Fulham (home)
Fulham Man City (home) Watford (away)
Chelsea Cardiff (away) Brighton (home)
Crystal Palace Huddersfield (home) Spurs (away)
Southampton Brighton (away) /
Arsenal Newcastle (home) /
Newcastle Arsenal (away) /
Liverpool Spurs (home) /
West Ham Everton (home) /
Leicester Bournemouth (home) /
Everton West Ham (away) /
Bournemouth Leicester (away) /
Burnley Wolves (home) /
Huddersfield Crystal Palace (away) /

Premium picks

When Man City are trailing the leaders by two points with a game more to play, eight games left until the end of the season, and a double gameweek coming up in which they are facing Fulham (away) and Cardiff (home), you know what you have to do. Exactly, ignore the rotation risk and get as many of those City big hitters as you can. Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) is therefore our first premium pick of the week, partly because we’ve picked Aguero as a captaincy candidate later on and partly because Raz is on fire. The young Englishman has had an international break to remember, scoring 3 goals and winning a penalty against the Czech Republic, and then scoring and assisting again a few days later against Montenegro. Rotation could be a worry for him, considering he played 70 and 90 minutes respectively in the previously mentioned games, but he’ll have had four full days of rest and preparation for the away game at Craven Cottage on Saturday. Fulham have conceded 30 goals in 15 home games this season, while Pep’s men have put 26 in the back of the net in 14 away games. After that, Sterling is up against Cardiff at the Etihad, where the Cityzens have scored an incredible 53 goals in 16 games. The Bluebirds, on the other hand, have conceded 26 goals in 14 away games so far, and like Fulham, a clean sheet looks, let’s say, unlikely for them. Raheem Sterling could haul BIG this week.

Our second premium pick of the week has a double gameweek as well, though at first sight his fixtures look tougher than City’s. Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (£8.9m) will be facing Watford (home) and Wolves (away) in gameweek 32, both of which are serious candidates for the “Best of the Rest” title this Premier League campaign. There is, or could be, more here than meets the eye, though. Both Watford and Wolves have made it to the semi-finals of the FA Cup (in which they face each other on April 7th), which means that both teams could very well prioritise the upcoming cup games over this week’s Premier League encounters, especially considering their excellent positions in the league. In terms of Pogba, this means that he could be facing two teams that won’t start with their strongest starting eleven and with one eye on the FA Cup already. United, on the other hand, are in full-on battle with Spurs (3 points ahead), Arsenal (2 points ahead) and Chelsea (1 point behind) for a top-four finish, which means Champions League football next season. The French midfielder has been a bit disappointing from an FPL point of view lately, with just 8 points from his last 4 games, but he was bound to experience a drop in point-scoring form at some point after a spectacular start under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He still made 8 attempts on goal over that period, of which 4 were on target, and created another 4 big chances for his team mates. Lukaku’s return to the starting line-up did result in Pogba playing a deeper role but Lukaku is an injury doubt at the moment with a foot problem. Pogba is fit, a guaranteed starter and should still be in charge of the penalties for the Red Devils, while his magnificent assist for national team-mate Griezmann last week showed an abundance of confidence. Add to that his GW32 fixtures and his reasonable price tag, and picking him becomes something of a no-brainer.

With so many interesting attacking options this week, our final premium pick might surprise some. We recommend the inclusion of Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.3m), who is facing Cardiff (away) and Brighton (home) in gameweek 32. The Blues go into both games as heavy favourites, which is partly thanks to the difficulty both opponents have at times when it comes to scoring goals. The Bluebirds have scored 18 goals in 16 home games (and 3 in the last 4), while the Seagulls have scored just 15 goals in 15 away games. Chelsea, on the other hand, though erratic at times as far as their performances and results go, have already kept 12 clean sheets this season. Add to that Azpilicueta’s 5 assists and the fact that, as captain, he barely misses a minute of Premier League action, and it becomes clear how the Spaniard has become one of this season’s highest-scoring defenders. Against Cardiff and Brighton, he’s likely to get plenty of chances to bomb forward and add to his assist tally, so serious FPL points could be on the cards at both ends of the pitch for him this week.

A differential pick or two

Even though it’s not the first time we’re recommending Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen (£9.2m) as a differential, it still feels strange to consider one of the very best players in the Premier League as one. He is though, in the most literal sense of the word, with an ownership of just 5.4%. The abundance of (cheaper) midfield alternatives probably plays a role in this, as does his decent-but-not-dazzling output this season. Still, 5 goals and 9 assists is far from a bad balance after 30 games. Eriksen hasn’t posted an attacking return since gameweek 26, when he scored a goal and provided an assist for a 13-point haul, but he has a double gameweek with fixtures against Liverpool (away) and Palace (home) coming up. Neither of those teams are push-overs in defence, with the Reds especially having conceded just 9 goals in 15 home games (the Eagles conceded 24 goals in 15 away games). Still, Spurs are fighting for a spot in the top three and the return of Dele Alli will surely boost their spirits, as well as their goal-scoring potential. Eriksen takes charge of plenty of set-pieces and when Spurs threaten, he’s usually involved. Add to that the fact that the Palace game will be the first game Pocchetino’s men will play in their brand-new stadium, and the Danish maestro looks like a powerful differential pick for this double gameweek.

Our other differential pick of the week is the only player in this list without a double gameweek. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy (£9.1m) is facing Bournemouth at home in gameweek 32, an outfit that has conceded 35 goals in 15 away games, while the Englishman himself has found himself in a bit of a purple patch since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers at the Leicester helm. Vardy has scored 5 goals and provided a single assist in his last 6 Premier League games, rewarding the 9.1% of FPL managers that own him with 38 points. Due to the many enticing-looking double fixtures this week, many FPL managers might overlook Vardy as a transfer target, which only adds to his differential potential this week. On top of that, Leicester are facing a kind run of fixtures after the Bournemouth game this weekend: Huddersfield (away), Newcastle (home) and West Ham (away). Getting Vardy now could pay off both this week and over the longer term.

For more transfers ideas for GW32 have a look at the fiso forum GW32 transfers topic and, as many managers will have saved their Free Hit Chip for this gameweek, also check out the fiso forum GW32 Free Hit topic.

The captaincy

As we mentioned earlier in this article, Sergio “Kun” Aguero (£11.8m) is one of our captaincy picks for gameweek 32. With a double gameweek coming up in which City are first visiting Fulham and then hosting Cardiff, there is simply no getting around the Argentinian striker. He has scored 10 goals and provided 2 assists in his last 11 Premier League games, and he’s going to come into GW32 fully rested, courtesy of not being called up for national team duty during the international break. As a matter of fact, Kun has posted attacking returns in each home game for which he started this season, boasting an average of 11.6 points per game. His two hat-tricks, against Arsenal at home in GW25 and against Chelsea at home in GW26, have contributed to that enormously. As far as rotation worries go, his main rival for the spot up top, Gabriel Jesus, hasn’t started a league game since gameweek 22 and the Brazilian also featured in both of the games his national team disputed over the international break. Still not convinced Aguero should get the armband? We’ve covered the defensive highlights of both of City’s gameweek 32 opponents earlier in this article when making the case for Raheem Sterling. Just captain one of the two.

Our second suggestion for the captain’s armband and our final pick of the week is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (£10.9m). The talismanic Belgian spent a successful week with his national team, as he scored twice against Russia (one penalty) and once a few days later versus Cyprus. In gameweek 32 he’s facing Cardiff in Wales and Brighton at Stamford Bridge, who have conceded 31 goals (in 16 homes games) and 27 goals (in 15 away games) respectively. What’s also interesting in terms of Hazard as designated penalty-taker for the Blues, is that Brighton have conceded most penalties this season (9), while Cardiff have caused the second-most penalties (7). Both teams are expected to employ a defensive approach to their encounters with Chelsea, but that didn’t deter Hazard from ripping them apart earlier in the season. In gameweek 5, the Belgian forward scored a hat-trick against Cardiff in London, while he scored a goal and provided an assist against Brighton at the AMEX in gameweek 17. Hazard is notorious for delivering frustrating performances at times, at least from an FPL point of view, but his current form, his central role in his team and his double gameweek fixtures make him a stand-out candidate for the armband.

As you can see from the fiso forum GW32 Captain Poll, Aguero and Sterling are really the only captain picks being considered.

TFF Action on 16 & 17 March 2019

The Telegraph Fantasy Football (TFF) season is getting closer to its climax. The current leader has an enviable record in TFF having won the 2010/11 season (and helped his father, Roy, win TFF in 2015/16). The current top 5 overall season leaderboard looks like this:

PosManagerTeamPts
1Adrian FrostLive mix1910
2David ParkerENABLE1894
3Mark LemmerLem’s 11889
4Bryan O’RourkeWillie Pettigrew1877
5Andrew ClaytonRadius1876

A round-up of the weekend TFF action:

SATURDAY 16TH MARCH

Watford 2 Crystal Palace 1 – FA CUP

The first match of the weekend was an FA Cup clash between two Premier League sides. Watford were the home team and sit in upper mid EPL table safety so are wise to give the Cup a good go this season although Manager Javi Gracia made eight changes to the side which were beaten at the Etihad last weekend with Kiko Femenia, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue the only players to retain their starting berths. Attacking quartet Roberto Pereyra, Gerard Deulofeu, Will Hughes and skipper Troy Deeney all returned. Talking of returns, whilst TFF has a break due to the International matches, the online casinos such as https://www.bestusaonlinecasinos.com/ will be open for play and may provide alternative entertainment.

Palace are only 5 points clear of the relegation zone were less likely to be focussed on the FA Cup and Manager Roy Hodgson made three changes to the side which lost to Brighton last Saturday, as Martin Kelly, Cheikhou Kouyate and Max Meyer all come into the starting XI. Scott Dann, Patrick van Aanholt and Wilfried Zaha (injury) missed out completely. Fit again Hennessey only on bench as substitute goalkeeper.

Bournemouth 2 Newcastle 2 – PREM

The first of the 3pm EPL matches featured the Cherries versus the Magpies. The two teams are separated by just 3 points so a late equaliser for Newcastle still kept them neck-and-neck with Bournemouth. Josh King scored twice for the home side (including a penalty) whilst another goal from Rondon and a screamer from Ritchie rescued a point for the visitors. If that wasn’t exciting enough for the fans then check out the best online pokies during the International break.

Burnley 1 Leicester 2 – PREM

Burnley are on a poor run of results and Leicester took full advantage as they are still seeing the positive effects of a new manager bounce despite a red card for Maguire. A return to the free-kick goal scoring charts for Maddison combined with a header from Maguire’s replacement Wes Morgan meant Leicester took the 3 points.

West Ham 4 Huddersfield 3 – PREM

The Ammers v Uddersfield was a thriller. West Ham lost away to Cardiff last weekend but bounced back with a come-from-behind win thanks to two late goals from sub Hernandez. Uddersfield were as good as down already but the players like Grant and Bacuna did enough to impress the new manager as he plans for life in the Championship.

Swansea 2 Man City 3 – FA CUP

The last two Saturday games were both Cup ties. First up were the original Welsh Wizards from Wales up against a Manchester City side who scored 7 in the Champion’s League in midweek. Will Pep rested Sterling and Aguero but paid for that by falling 2 – 0 down which was still the position with just over 20 minutes left. His big guns came off the bench and a goal for Aguero plus one in off the goalkeeper after his penalty and 1 for Bernando Silva were enough to put them into the semi-finals where they remain the hot favourites.

Wolves 2 Man Utd 1 – FA CUP

The late, late match saw two Premier League teams in action. Wolves have been a revelation this season and treated the FA Cup with the respect it deserves. Jimenez has been in and around the goals and got the first for Wolves with his attacking support Jota getting the 2nd. OGS fielded a strong side but only had a very late Rashford goal to show.

SUNDAY 17TH MARCH

Millwall 2 Brighton 2 – FA CUP

The first of the three Sunday games was a Cup match between Millwall of the Championship and the Prem’s Brighton. Millwall have slipped into relegation trouble since the turn of the year but should have beaten Brighton and only two late goals by substitutes Locadia and a lucky one from March took the game to penalties which Brighton scraped through 5-4.

Fulham 1 Liverpool 2 – PREM

Fifteen minutes later saw the first of Sunday’s two Prem fixtures kick off. Fulham were at home and are being cut adrift at the foot of the table but somehow found an equaliser to on-form Mane’s opener via ex-Liverpool player Babel. A late penalty by Milner making up for his earlier error for Babel’s goal, took the 3 points for Liverpool advancing their title charge..

Everton 2 Chelsea 0 – PREM

And finally, Everton against Chelsea. Everton have little to play for this season but bested Chelsea who were looking for a chance to climb the table. Richarlison was a threat throughout getting on the scoresheet and Everton’s defenders thwarted all that Chelsea through at them.

The FA Cup semi-final draw was subsequently made and the matches on 6 and 7 April are:
Watford v Wolves 
Man City v Brighton

Join in the TFF discussion on our Telegraph Fantasy Football forum.

Irish Dominance at the Grand National

It is no secret that Ireland lead the way when it comes to Grand National winners. In the last 28 meetings, 15 races have been won by an Irish-bred horse, while nine winners were trained in Ireland (including six in the last 13 years). Interestingly, two horses were winners ridden by Irish Ruby Walsh, who holds the best record of current jockeys. However, in the history of the race, Cheltenham-born George Stevens is the most successful jockey with five wins.

Last year’s race alone provided a great day for Irish horseracing, with Tiger Roll winning (ridden and trained by Irishmen Davy Russell and Gordon Elliott) and Irish-bred Pleasant Company (ridden by Willie Mullins’ nephew, David) losing by a head in a photo finish. In fact, the top six either featured an Irish-bred or Irish-trained horse, with Bless the Wings in third, AJ Martin’s French-bred Anibale Fly in fourth, Milansbar taking fifth and Road To Riches completing the top six. There’s no doubt about it, the dominance of Ireland is set to take over this year’s Grand National too.

Previous winners and runners-up

Including last year’s winner, Tiger Roll, six of the last 10 National champions were Irish-bred. In addition to this, eight of the 10 runners-up during those years were also Irish-bred, including Comply or Die who won the race in 2008 and The Last Samuri who was recently retired at the age of 11:

2018 – Tiger Roll (IRE) beat Pleasant Company (IRE)

2017 – One For Arthur (IRE) beat Cause of Causes (USA)

2016 – Rule the World (GB) beat The Last Samuri (IRE)

2015 – Many Clouds (IRE) beat Saint Are (FR)

2014 – Pineau De Re (FR) beat Balthazar King (IRE)

2013 – Aurora Encore (IRE) beat Cappa Bleu (IRE)

2012 – Neptune Collonges (FR) beat Sunnyhillboy (IRE)

2011 – BallaBriggs (IRE) beat Oscar Time (IRE)

2010 – Don’t Push It (IRE) beat Black Apalachi (IRE)

2009 – Mon Mome (IRE) beat Comply or Die (IRE)

Grand National 2019

Just a quick look over the Grand National 2019 runners and you’ll see Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins dominate the entries again, while Jonjo O’Neill is also likely to feature. But when seeing the odds for the race winner, the favourites are all Irish-bred. In fact, nine of the top 10 horses are Irish, with Tiger Roll leading the way at 10/1, closely followed by Rathvinden and Vintage Clouds, both priced at 12/1. Minella Rocco and Elegant Escape complete the top-five at 14/1 apiece.

Davy Russell looks set to ride Tiger Roll again this year and Elliott will be hinging his best hopes on last year’s winner. He recently said:  

“Tiger Roll is in very good form and I couldn’t be happier with him. I think he’ll love the National.

It’s the Grand National, and you need a lot of luck and for everything to go right, but I think the race will suit him. The one worry would be the weather and what sort of ground they get. The better the ground at Aintree, the better his chance”.

Research finds that there is more skill than luck involved in fantasy success

When fantasy football arrived in the UK in the early 90s, it was as symbolic of Cool Britannia as Tony Blair, The Spice Girls and Frank Skinner. Over the subsequent quarter of a century, fantasy sport has grown up and evolved in step with the internet, and is now a monstrous industry worth billions in annual revenue.

Fantasy sport became popular at around the same time as doing the football pools was on the wane. The latter’s demise was actually as much to do with the National Lottery as anything else, but nevertheless, for many, the association stuck and fantasy football fans were seen as doing little more than their parents who had “selected their weekly numbers” in the 1970s and 80s. Recent research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, however, says that for the best fantasy players, luck has nothing to do with it.

Where skill is rewarded

The MIT study did not examine specific qualities that make one player more successful than another, so if you are looking for tips to hone your skills, you will be disappointed. What it did find, however, was that fantasy football is a game that, in the long term, rewards skill among players.

The researchers assessed the win/lose records for thousands of fantasy players across a period of several seasons. Some used skill in their picks, for example assessing form, injuries, weather conditions and so on, while others took a “football pools” approach. Anette Hosoi, who led the study, said: “In our analysis, the signal for skill in the data is very clear.”

As far as football is concerned, that might not come as a major surprise. However, Hosoi’s study went further, and established the same pattern with other fantasy sports, such as baseball, basketball, cricket and even horse racing. The latter is particularly surprising, as even in the real world, this is one sport where the outcomes are often linked to chance, possibly due to the immense amounts that are wagered on the outcomes.

What are the implications?   

It might be a stretch to suggest that the study by MIT will help players to assemble better teams, but it will certainly give those who top the fantasy leagues bragging rights that they really do understand their game. It will also inspire those who want to succeed at fantasy football to put in the hours of research and keeping track of form, whether it is on the football field, the racetrack or the cricket pitch.

Over in America where the research took place, there are potentially bigger implications, though. Different states have been arguing for years about whether fantasy sports are a form of online gambling. Given that this is largely prohibited under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), the distinction is an important one. According to the US definition, gambling is “a money-exchanging activity that depends mostly on chance.” Credible research that confirms fantasy sports to be a contest of skill could, therefore, open the pastime up to whole new audiences.

Grand National: Remembering Many Clouds’ win in 2015

With just weeks to go until the greatest steeplechase in the world, racing fans will be casting an eye over all the entrants ahead of the 2019 Grand National. As ever, there’ll be 40 runners lining up come race day and it really is the highlight of the British racing calendar.

Some of the most iconic moments from racing have come via the Grand National, with jockeys, owners and trainers all revelling in the glory of winning the National Hunt event. One of those jockeys is Leighton Aspell, who tasted success in 2015 with Many Clouds. Here, we take a look back at Many Clouds’ win which was widely considered the best of his career.

Build up to Aintree

At the start of the National Hunt season, Many Clouds got off to the best possible start by winning the Colin Parker Memorial Chase at Carlisle in November. He and Eduard had an intense battle to the finish, with Many Clouds edging out his challenger by 1 ¼. Another fine win was to come later in the month as Many Clouds won the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury.

A third consecutive victory was soon to follow, with a victory in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham at the start of 2015 before a rather timid effort in the Gold Cup in March saw Many Clouds end up in sixth place. It’s fair to say the eight-year-old was running very well as Aintree approached, but his disappointing effort in the big one at Cheltenham Festival cast doubts amongst fans.

The day of the race

Many Clouds entered the race with a starting price of 25/1, and he was also carrying the second-highest weight (11st, 9 lbs). His trainer Oliver Sherwood had originally wanted to run him the following year, but his requests were quashed by Aspell and owner Trevor Hemmings.

As the race began, Many Clouds kept up a good pace, was never far off the leading pack and was clearing the fences with minimal fuss. When Druids Nephew fell at the 26th, Many Clouds began to exert himself and took the lead and managed to fend off the challenge of Saint Are by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

Reaction

It goes without saying that Many Clouds’ victory was the highlight of his career and the same can be said about Aspell, who was celebrating back-to-back Grand National wins after steering Pineau de Re to victory in 2014. Many Clouds’ win was made all the more special as he is still the only horse to win both the Hennessey Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season, and he also carried the highest weight of a winner since Red Rum in 1974.

Of the win, Aspell explained: “It was wonderful and we will certainly celebrate tonight. I asked some big questions, but he dug deep.

“We really refreshed and recharged his battery and I tried to conserve energy. He is all heart. All season, he has had hard races. Win lose or draw, that’s the best ride I have had in the National. I just hoped his battery life lasted out and it did.”

Think you can pick this year’s winner? Check out all the prices with Grand National 2019 betting on Betfair.

FPL Season 2018/19 – Gameweek 31 Preview

Jamie-Vardy-Lưeicester-City
“Leicester’s Jamie Vardy was one of gameweek 30’s stand-out performers with 16 points” (Source: public domain) by Tieu Vu

Gameweek 31 brings us this season’s second (and probably biggest) blank gameweek, and from what it looks like, it could be carnage. No less than five games have been postponed as a result of the FA Cup quarter-finals, which will take place this weekend as well. Add to that the ongoing European obligations for Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal, and this week might end up being one of the most challenging gameweeks in terms of squad selection. Though as a number of fiso members have been doing with GW31 in mind it’s probably wise to keep an eye on the upcoming run of fixtures when deciding on your FPL transfers for this gameweek (or using your free hit chip), we’ll be focusing on the games taking place in gameweek 31. If you prefer your chips to be Casino chips then the Genting Bet Promo Code for Online Casino is a gamble you might want to take.

Which games are taking place in gameweek 31?

HOME TEAM AWAY TEAM DATE & TIME
Bournemouth Newcastle Saturday March 16th (15h00)
Burnley Leicester Saturday March 16th (15h00)
West Ham Huddersfield Saturday March 16th (15h00)
Fulham Liverpool Sunday March 17th (14h15)
Everton Chelsea Sunday March 17th (16h30)

Which FA Cup quarter-finals are taking place this weekend?

HOME TEAM AWAY TEAM DATE & TIME
Watford Crystal Palace Saturday March 16th (13h15)
Swansea City Manchester City Saturday March 16th (18h20)
Wolves Manchester United Saturday March 16th (20h55)
Millwall Brighton Sunday March 17th (15h00)

The FA Cup quarter-finals not only affect the upcoming gameweek, but the blank gameweek 33 as well. Simply put, the Premier League clubs that qualify for the FA Cup semi-finals will have a blank in week 33. We’ll place a simplified scenario table below, but for more detailed information you should definitely consult Ben Crellin’s Twitter account.

If this team wins… …this GW33 fixture will be postponed
Watford Watford – Fulham
Crystal Palace Newcastle – Crystal Palace
Manchester City Manchester City – Cardiff
Brighton Tottenham – Brighton

*Man United and Wolves face each other in gameweek 33, so this fixture is automatically postponed

Before we move on to our premium, differential and captaincy picks of the week, a quick overview of how our picks for gameweek 30 fared last weekend:

PICK PLAYER (Club) FPL POINTS
Premium pick Mo Salah (Liverpool) 5
Premium pick Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) 2
Premium pick Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) 13
Differential Jamie Vardy (Leicester) 16
Differential Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham) 2
Captain Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 5
Captain Sadio Mané (Liverpool) 14

Premium picks

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the points potential of a player rises considerably when Fulham are the opponents. The Cottagers have conceded 68 goals in 30 games, 28 of which were conceded in 14 home games. This coming weekend, Liverpool are visiting Craven Cottage, so the Reds’ attacking assets are going to be in high demand in the build-up to gameweek 31. Our first premium pick of the week is Mo Salah (£13.4m), who has been more than disappointing for his owners in terms of FPL returns. One goal and one assist in the last seven gameweeks is way too little for his price tag, but the Egyptian still was the midfielder with most attempts on goal (25) and attempts on target (10) in the game. In other words, he’s been getting into the right positions, but he hasn’t been delivering much of an end product. Salah and Liverpool have been less productive in away games (24 goals in 15 away games versus 44 goals in 15 home games), so this should be taken into account, but any game against Fulham is the perfect opportunity for them to add to their respective goal tallies. Added bonus: Liverpool have an away game against Southampton in blank gameweek 33.

Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) is known for a few things, including his natural goalscoring abilities, his passion for having parties, and the fact that he loves impressing a new manager. Since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers at the King Power in gameweek 28, the 32-year old striker has scored four goals and provided one assist, totalling 31 FPL points. This weekend, the Foxes are rolling up to Turf Moor in Burnley to face the local FC. The Clarets have drastically improved their form in comparison to the start of the season, but they have still conceded five goals in the last three home games. Leicester haven’t been spectacular away from home, as illustrated by their 23 goals scored and 18 points won from 15 away games, but the general impression is that the Foxes have been underperforming under previous manager Claude Puel. They possess plenty of firing power and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Vardy score his fifth goal in the last four matches on Saturday.

After a gruelling run of fixtures against Liverpool (away), Wolves (home), Arsenal (away) and City (home), Bournemouth got back to winning ways against Huddersfield last weekend. One of the stand-out performers in that game was FPL favourite Ryan Fraser (£6.2m). The Scottish winger hadn’t recorded an attacking return since gameweek 22, but he never lost his offensive threat. The away game against the Terriers finally saw him back on the score sheet and he also provided an assist, with 13 FPL points as a result. Next up is Newcastle at home and the Cherries, boosted by the return of topscorer Callum Wilson, will be looking forward to add to the 18 goals the Magpies have conceded in 14 games on the road. Bournemouth love playing at home (only six teams have performed better in home games so far this season) and Fraser is often on set-pieces for the Cherries, so a second consecutive gameweek of attacking returns could be on the cards for the little dribbler.

For more GW31 transfer ideas please have a look through the discussions on our FPL GW31 transfers forum topic on the subject.

A differential pick or two

Sometimes it’s better to just be straight with people: our first differential pick of the week is not in FPL-point scoring form and he hasn’t been for a while. Brazilian winger Felipe Anderson (£7.2m) is the most-owned Hammers asset (16.2%), but he hasn’t posted attacking returns since his assist against Liverpool in gameweek 25. In all honesty, if this weekend’s opponent hadn’t been Huddersfield, Anderson probably wouldn’t have made this list, but with his form from earlier this season in mind (7 goals and 2 assists between gameweeks 11 and 19), he gets a (final?) chance. Also, pickings are kind of slim this week. On the positive side, for the Hammers that is, Huddersfield have allowed 43 shots inside the box in the last four gameweeks, a total only exceeded by Fulham. Felipe Anderson takes care of the some of the set-pieces for the Hammers as well, especially the (indirect) free kicks on the right side of the final attacking third, so hopefully he’ll be able to bring some joy to the 16.2% of FPL managers that currently own him.

Our second differential pick of the week is a whole other story. Burnley’s Ashley Barnes (£5.7m) is currently probably one of the most under-rated and under-appreciated attacking assets in the official game. The budget forward has scored 5 goals and gave 1 assist over the last seven gameweeks, a run that included four consecutive games in which he found the net (between gameweek 24 and 27). Barnes has brought home 39 points for his owners since gameweek 24, which equals an average of almost 6 FPL points per game. Combine that recent consistency with his price tag and his current 3.5% ownership becomes somewhat hard to understand. In gameweek 31, the Clarets are facing Leicester at home and the Foxes have conceded 10 goals in their last four away games. What’s more, Burnley have not failed to score in a game at Turf Moor since gameweek 10 and they have a game in blank gameweek 33 as well, away to Bournemouth.

The captaincy

Recommending Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (£10.9m) for the captain’s armband is a notoriously risky move, but we’re doing it anyway. The Belgian superstar has been in a decent bit of form recently with a goal and an assist in his last two Premier League games, rewarding the 29% of FPL managers who have selected him with 16 FPL points. In the nine games that he played in 2019, Hazard scored five goals and provided two assists for a total of 64 FPL points. He has also attempted 21 assists over that period, the fourth-most of all players. Despite the many troll-related comments regarding the Chelsea forward, he’s still the third-highest scoring player in the official game (182 points), just behind Salah (203) and Sterling (198). The Blues are facing an Everton side at Goodison Park this Sunday that has been up and down this season. The Toffees have lost five of their 15 home games and conceded 21 goals in those 15 games, while Chelsea have won 8 of their 14 away games and scored a total of 21 goals. It’s not at all sure that this will become a high-scoring affair, though it could be, but Hazard’s arm is a pretty safe place for the band this weekend.

For our second captaincy suggestion of the week, it was between Mo Salah and Sadio Mané (£9.9m), and we’ve gone with the latter, courtesy of his recent form in comparison to his Egyptian team mate (including two more goals in the Champions League last night). In the shadow of Salah, the Senegalese winger has become the fourth-highest scoring player in the game (!), not in the last thanks to the 8 goals he scored in his last 8 Premier League games. As a matter of fact, Mané is currently fifth on the topscorers list with 16 goals, just 1 goal behind his team mate Salah in second place and 2 goals behind leader Kun Aguero. Practically the only potential downside to captaining the powerful winger is that away from home he tends to be (much) less productive in terms of goals, as are Liverpool as a whole. He has scored just 3 goals in away games this season, but what’s possibly more telling is that his last away goal came all the way back in gameweek 4 against Leicester. Then again, the Reds are visiting Fulham this weekend…

For more Captaincy ideas check out the FISO forum GW31 FPL Captain Poll where Salah and Mané are leading the votes by some distance.