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.

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.

What Does the Future of Slots Sites & Games Look Like?

Have you ever wondered what the future of slots sites and slot games will look like? If you have, we understand you completely — we’re frequently daydreaming about it as well.

Slot games have come a long way since their first appearance as mechanical slot machines at the end of the 19th century. Today, slot machines are still present and very popular among players. However, their more modern cousins — online video slots — are currently dominating the market.

Some video slots and slots sites already look futuristic, and they’ve come a long way since they first became popular at the end of the 20th century (take Prime Slots, a UK slots site as an example).

In this article, we’d like to take a few steps forward and try to predict what we can expect from the slots industry in the near and far future. Let’s dive in.

Will Slot Machines Still Be Around in the Future?

Slot machines are slowly losing popularity in the face of increasingly interesting online video slot games. However, they are still an integral part of land-based casinos and other brick-and-mortar gambling joints. Even though they are no longer the primary choice of slots enthusiasts, there is little chance that they will ever become obsolete.

Slot machines will undoubtedly change, as younger generations need more than what the current format offers. Thus, the slot machines of the future will become more immersive and probably include a social aspect as well. There is a high chance that the slots industry will profit from the current social media hype.

The Future Seems Bright

Online slot games were a big breakthrough when they first appeared. However, it didn’t take the industry long to take them one evolutionary step forward and introduce mobile slot games. Today, all of the most popular online casinos in the world, such as the Mega Casino, offer mobile slot games that players can enjoy on their smartphones.

With the rise of modern technology and the race for primacy between technological giants such as Samsung, Google, and Apple, we cannot expect video slots to be unaffected by the outcome of this war.

Possibilities seem endless, especially with advancements in augmented reality and virtual reality. AR and VR devices are more accessible and more sophisticated than ever. Gaming as a whole, including video slots, is expected to move to the virtual reality platform in the near future.

Therefore, there is a high chance that we will be able to play video slots that are more immersive and more realistic than they have ever been before. Moreover, with advancements in augmented reality, there is a possibility to incorporate slot games into our reality and make them a part of our everyday lives.

Blockchain and the Slots Industry

One of the problems with video slots and online slots is that they rely on microprocessors to ensure fairness and security. Over the years, these high-tech solutions have proved to be a suitable replacement for mechanical systems used in original slot machines. However, some players have a distrust of this technology because there is no easy way to check whether it works properly.

One way to solve this problem is to move the gambling industry to blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized platform controlled by thousands of computers which are part of that same network. Therefore, it is almost impossible to tamper with it or change the outcome of games in any way.

There are already many blockchain-based online casinos that offer not only video slots but other casino chance-based games such as roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and so on.

Conclusion

According to what the experts in the gambling industry predict, the future of slot games and slots sites seems bright. There is no doubt that online slot games will change, but they will most likely change for the better.

Technologies such as VR, AR, and blockchain can only make slot games more engaging, immersive, attractive, and safer to play. Therefore, as long as the gambling industry is concerned, there is nothing to fear when it comes to the future. We’re looking forward to it!

Could Wales Be Set for World Cup Glory Following Six Nations Success?

Prior to the start of the 2019 Six Nations, most pundits had the championship down as a two-horse race.

The defending champions, Ireland, were favourites as they hosted England at their fortress Aviva Stadium home in Dublin.

But Eddie Jones’ side made a mockery of such home-field advantage with a 32-20 win back on February 2 that all but ended Irish hopes of retaining the trophy.  

What wasn’t in the script was the surge by a resurgent Wales, who bested England 21-13 in Cardiff on their way to four wins from as many games.

Coach Warren Gatland looks on with pride. Wales Grand Slam Celebration, Senedd 19 March 2012 / Warren Gatland, yr Hyfforddwr, â balchder ar ei wyneb, Dathliadau Camp Lawn Cymru, Senedd 19 Mawrth 2012
Source: ‘Warren Gatland’ – National Assembly for Wales via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Heading into the final round of matches, Wales are the favourites for the title in that they entertain the Irish on home soil, and victory – aided by the three bonus points from a grand slam triumph – would keep them above England in the league table even if their nearest rivals dish out something of a hammering to injury-hit Scotland.

Whatever happens, Wales have emerged as a side to be feared again, and with one eye on proceedings later in the summer, it’s no surprise that they are as short as 9/1 with some firms in the World Cup rugby union betting market.

The Welsh have never won the World Cup – there’s only ever been one winner from the northern hemisphere, and that was England back in 2003, but could this current crop of players create a slice of history for their country?

Gatland Poised for Poignant Farewell

It’s publicly known that Warren Gatland, Wales’ Kiwi head coach, will leave his position after the World Cup in Japan later this year.

A Six Nations grand slam would provide the ultimate send-off, but winning the World Cup would be the rather delicious icing on the cake for a coach who perhaps will go down as the best in Welsh rugby history.

Gatland has once again overseen the development of a fearsome Welsh side, built predominantly on tireless defence and the dual kicking abilities of Gareth Anscombe and Dan Biggar; what a fillip it is to have not one but two world-class kickers in your ranks.

Their ability and, more importantly, willingness to put in the hard yards is evident in the league table. They have only scored nine tries prior to the Ireland clash – that’s as many as hapless Italy – but stout defence means they have conceded just six at the other end.

For all England’s fancy attacking play and point-scoring abilities, they were unable to deliver on a rowdy afternoon in Cardiff; proof positive that this Welsh outfit is packed with big game players.

By that token, there would be no fear for Wales should they find themselves in the latter stages of the World Cup this October, and while they haven’t played flawless rugby in the Six Nations, those defensive abilities will surely stand them in good stead in contests against the likes o New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

Wales reached the Bronze Final of World Cup 2011, losing out to the Aussies, and there are plenty of shrewd judges tipping them to go at least one better in Japan.

The English Championship 2018-19 – The situation at the top with ten games to go

Marcelo Bielsa lors de Olympique de Marseille VS Evian Thonon Gaillard
“Marcelo Bielsa, here pictured as coach of Olympique Marseille, has turned Leeds United into a favourite for the title this season” (CC by 2.0) by Mathieu Lauron

Despite not being the country’s elite football league, the English Championship is one of the most popular, most-watched and competitive leagues in Europe. With gameweek 36 taken care of last weekend, there are ten games to go to the end of the regular season and the start of the play-offs, so we figured this is a good moment to take a look at the current situation at the top of table and at the teams involved in the race for promotion. If you would like to join in discussions on any of the clubs or players involved then go to the fiso forum topic on the 2018/19 Championship.

How does it work at the end of the regular season?

After 46 games, the top two teams get promoted to the Premier League directly. Numbers three to six in the ranking will enter the play-offs to compete for the final promotion spot. Third plays sixth in the first semi-final and fourth plays the fifth in the second semi-final (two legs each). The winner of the final reaps one of European football’s most coveted rewards: promotion to the Premier League. The players will also see a large in increase in their salaries because the average championship salary is much lower than the average Premier League remuneration.

1 Leeds United * 73
2 Norwich City 72
3 Sheffield United * 71
4 West Bromwich Albion 61
5 Middlesbrough* 58
6 Bristol & Derby County 55

The current top six after 36 gameweeks. Note: *Middlesbrough have played 35 games. Leeds & Sheffield Utd have played 37 games.

Leeds United

All the spying aside, Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa has turned the Whites into a prime candidate for direct promotion to the Premier League. Where there was initially a fear that the Chilean’s trademark brand of high-energy football wasn’t going to last in the gruelling Championship, the current second place in the table tells us otherwise. United haven’t played in the Premier League for 15 years, but it looks like they’ll be back amongst the elite for the 2019-20 campaign, if they can keep it up for the business end of the season. On a good day, Bielsa’s Leeds are probably the best team in the league and possibly one of the best collectives to have graced the competition in recent years. A major setback to United’s Premier League aspirations was the injury of club topscorer Kemar Roofe (14 goals in 26 games) a few weeks ago, so ex-Chelsea man Patrick Bamford will be looked at for goals. Assist king Pablo Hernández (11 assists in 29 games) and Polish playmaker Mateusz Klich are other important cogs in Bielsa’s machine, while fitness management is going to be a crucial factor for Leeds. If they can avoid over-exhaustion as a result of their fascinating but high-intensity style of playing, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t clinch direct promotion at the end of the season.

Norwich City

Under German coach Daniel Farke, Norwich have become one of the most attractive outfits in the league in terms of playing style. City tend to play an attacking brand of football, though they don’t shy away from betting on the counter when a game needs it. Their way of playing has made them the most productive team in the Championship this season (72 goals scored in 36 games), but this has come at the cost of defensive stability at times. There are currently eight teams that have conceded less goals than City’s 45. While finishing first in the hugely competitive Championship requires considerable squad depth, players like current league topscorer Teemu Pukki (24 goals in 33 games), Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul, and versatile forward Emiliano Buendía (9 assists in 31 games) are going to be crucial for the Canaries in securing a direct promotion spot. Apart from games against fifth-placed Boro and 9th-placed Aston Villa, Norwich are only facing teams from the current bottom-half of the table. It looks like we’ll be seeing the Canaries in the Premier League next season.

Sheffield United

Under the leadership of up-and-coming English manager Chris Wilder, Sheffield United have become a hard-to-beat side that plays an organised kind of game. The Blades boast the second-best defense in the league (34 goals conceded in 36 games), behind fifth-placed Middlebrough, while their scoring record is excellent as well: only three teams have currently scored more than Sheffield United’s 61 goals. As a result, they’ve been able to stay close to the top two spots behind favourites for promotion Norwich and Leeds. United are just four points off the top, while there is a comfortable 7-point gap between them and fourth-placed West Brom. The team’s ability to grind out good results when games get tough is a quality that could very well bring them promotion, either directly or by winning the play-offs. One of the reasons for United’s defensive stability is the consistent threat of their attacking players. Billy Sharp is the second-most productive player in the Championship at the moment (22 goals in 32 games), fellow striker David McColdrick has made a more than decent 11-goal contribution in 35 games already, and central midfielder Oliver Norwood is on 8 assists as we speak. In the coming four games, United are facing Leeds at home and seventh-placed Bristol City away, so we’ll know a lot more about their chances of promotion in a few weeks time. At the moment, the Blades look like the top two’s main challengers.

West Bromwich Albion

After their relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season, West Brom were one of the favourites to get back up again straight away at the beginning of the 2018-19 Championship campaign, not in the least thanks to the large Premier League parachute payment and the presence of several Premier League-worthy players. From that point of view, the current fourth place could be considered somewhat disappointing, especially when taking into account that the Championship play-offs are some of the hardest, unpredictable games in the top flights of English football. When talking about the Baggies’ direct promotion aspirations, the recent 4-0 drubbing against number two Leeds and their 0-1 home loss versus number three Sheffield United gave those a serious dent. Despite the overall under-performance, Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle have formed quite a formidable partnership up front, scoring 17 goals (in 36 games) and 16 goals (in 29 games) respectively. Everton loanee Mason Holgate has turned out to be an excellent signing at right-back, while midfield veteran Gareth Barry has quickly become the beating heart of this West Brom team. The top two seems out of sight for the Baggies, but anything less than a top six finish would be extremely disappointing, if not unacceptable. The play-offs will show which team’s nerves are made of the strongest steel.

Middlesbrough

Tony Pulis didn’t take long to turn Boro into a trademark Tony Pulis team. In comparison to the other contenders for promotion, like Leeds, Norwich and Sheffield United, Middlesbrough play a rather conservative type of football, based on a sturdy defence and a very high work ethic. There are only five teams in the entire Championship that have scored less than their 36 goals. This hasn’t always been greeted with cheers from the fans this season, especially because Boro’s home form has been below par. As a matter of fact, in terms of results in home games, Boro sit in a shocking 16th place. Still, the Smoggies currently find themselves in fifth place and look set for the play-offs, though the gap between them and the seventh place is close. In other words, Pulis and his men have their work cut out for them, especially with home games against leaders Norwich and Bristol City coming up in the next five games. Top scorer Britt Assombalonga has scored 10 goals in 31 games, but the real star of the team is ex-Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel. The Nigerian international was signed from Chinese outfit TJ Teda for free and has immediately become one of Boro’s best players. They don’t score enough to have top two aspirations, but the trademark Pulis solidity should end with a spot (and a chance) in the play-offs.

Bristol City

Bristol City is the most surprising name amongst the current top six in the Championship. Under manager Lee Johnson, the Robins have earned themselves the label of “surprise package”, not in the last place due to the outflow of players last summer. Bobby Reid (£10 million to Cardiff), central defender Aden Flint (£7 million to Boro), and left-back Joe Bryan (£6 million to Fulham) were some of the biggest names to leave Ashton Gate last summer. A spot in the play-offs would be a magnificent achievement for City, but they still have a tough run of games coming up in the last ten gameweeks, including encounters with Leeds, Sheffield United, Boro, West Brom and Derby. It’s of course all still in their own hands, but it’s going to take hard work and probably a bit of luck. The Robins are fine on the defensive side of things (only two teams have conceded less than their 38 goals in 36 games), but the attackers will need to raise their game in the coming games (only ten teams have scored less than City’s 45 goals).

Derby County and Nottingham Forest are the two teams currently sitting in seventh and eight place, respectively, with 55 points (the same as Bristol City) and 53 points, respectively. Manager Frank Lampard’s Derby camped in the top six for much of the season, but a recent run of four consecutive losses gave their play-off hopes a serious dent. Still, with loanees Mason Mount (Chelsea) and Harry Wilson (Liverpool) in great form, the Rams could well find a way back into the top six before the end of the season. Forest, on the other hand, have surprised many pundits with their current eighth place and realistic hopes of play-off football after just barely fighting off relegation last season. The Reds are ambitious, as usual, but to be realistic, the play-offs are probably still a bridge too far for them, especially when looking at the quality and/or form of the current top six. Still, they are in the mix and just two points off sixth place, so the experienced manager due of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane might just pull it off and give Forest a fighting chance of reaching the Premier League.

If the above piques your interest in Championship football then have you considered playing Fantasy Telegraph Championship? You can see discussion about the game on this fiso forum.

FPL Season 2018/19 – Gameweek 30 Preview

At the Emirates Stadium
“On Sunday, the highlight of the weekend will take place at the Emirates Stadium when Arsenal host Manchester United” (CC by 2.0) by Jesús Gorriti

When there is a gameweek in which eight of the top ten selected captains blank while the remaining two players record scores of 7 points (Kane, penalty goal) and 6 points (Hazard, assist), it’s better to just forget about that gameweek and move on. The likes of Salah, Aguero and Sterling returned blanks, but Aubameyang and especially Pogba did their FPL owners one worse: -1 point each, mostly courtesy of missed penalties. Instead of a healthy 15-16 points with the armband on, these heavily captained players rewarded their managers with -2 points. But like we said, let’s move on. A shout-out to some of the top performers, like Watford’s Troy Deeney (1 goal, 1 assist, 11 points), West Ham’s Declan Rice (1 goal, clean sheet, 15 points) and Wolves’ Raul Jimenez (1 goal, 1 assist, 12 points), and don’t forget that the deadline for gameweek 30 is set at 11h30 AM (GMT+0) on Saturday, March 9th.

Some observations ahead of gameweek 30

After Man United‘s 0-2 loss to PSG at Old Trafford, more than a few FPL managers will have thought that United getting eliminated from the Champions League wasn’t such a bad scenario, from an FPL point of view. The focus would solely be on finishing as high up in the Premier League table as possible, giving us one more team from the top six with very little risk of rotation. Things turned out differently, though. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men overcame the 0-2 deficit by booking a miraculous 1-3 win in the Stade de Princes, making United the third team to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals (after Ajax and Spurs, and before Porto). This means in no way that you should ditch your United assets, but just keep in mind that their European adventure is continuing. Meanwhile, the unlikely victory over PSG could give them a huge boost of confidence for the weeks to come. And a boost is possible from an online American adventure with casino america for example.

Like United, though in a slightly less surprising fashion, Tottenham have also qualified for the quarter-finals stage of the UEFA Champions League. The Spurs beat Dortmund 0-1 in Germany, courtesy of a Harry Kane goal, which was more than enough after their 3-0 victory in London. Mauricio Pocchetino’s men seem to have dropped out of the battle for the Premier League, but they’ll still be aiming to qualify for the Champions League again next year. On top of that, after their convincing 4-0 aggregate win over Dortmund and with several big name teams already out of the competition, the Londoners will be looking at advancing in Europe as well. In other words, it’s busy times ahead for Pocchetino’s relatively stretched squad.

At that other London side battling for a top-four finish, a new interesting FPL prospect has come onto our radar. Well, “new” and “prospect” are maybe not the best words to describe a player who joined Arsenal from Man United about a year ago, and who was at the time considered one of the finest attacking midfielders in Europe. Henrik Mkhitaryan has been mostly disappointing this season, which is illustrated by his current ownership (6.1%), but he’s been on fire of late. His 2 goals, 3 assists and 31 FPL points over the last three rounds have made him the highest-scoring Arsenal midfielder this season (85 points). With a price tag of just £6.8m, the Armenian could become a popular player in the final nine gameweeks of the season. He did however play for the full 90 minutes in Arsenal’s 1-3 away loss tonight to Rennes in France in the UEFA Europa League. Arsenal’s Europa Cup title betting odds have widened greatly with that 3-1 loss but a 2-0 win at home will still take them through so someone betting online could still place a bet on Arsenal to take the title.

Elsewhere in London, it seems that Crystal Palace have finally found a way to relieve star man Wilfried Zaha of some of the burden of carrying the entire team’s attacking hopes. The Ivory Coast international is exceptional by any standard, but too often Palace were too dependent on his creativity and goals. With the arrival of Belgian international and Chelsea loanee Michi Batshuayi, Eagles coach Roy Hodgson can let Zaha play with a bit more freedom, which usually benefits a player of his style. Since his arrival in gameweek 25, Batshuayi has scored 2 goals and provided 1 assist, while Zaha scored 4 of his 8 Premier League goals over that period. Defensively, the Eagles are decent (only seven teams have let in more goals this season), so if the reinvigorated attack can keep hold, they should have no problem to avoid the relegation zone during the business end of the season.

Premium picks

Our first premium pick of the week is one of the more disappointing players of the past weeks, namely Liverpool’s Mo Salah (£13.4m). The Egyptian’s last goal in the Premier League came as part of a 3-0 home victory over Bournemouth in gameweek 26 and he hasn’t brought his FPL owners any attacking returns since. Still, over the last six gameweeks, Salah has fired more shots on goal (9) than any other FPL midfielder and only Leicester’s Harvey Barnes has taken more total shots than him (20 vs. 21) over that same period. In other words, it’s not like Salah is playing particularly horrendous lately, it just seems like his finishing is a bit off (like it was at the start of the season). Sunday’s opponents Burnley have conceded 8 goals in the last five games, which included encounters against low-scoring outfits like Southampton, Brighton and Newcastle, and only four teams have allowed for more shots in the box (31) than the Clarets since gameweek 24. It looks like a great opportunity for Salah to get back to scoring ways.

We’re sticking with Liverpool for our second premium pick of the week, partly because of the match-up at home to Burnley, partly because Liverpool have no blanks this season, and partly because Trent Alexander-Arnold (£5.5m) is just very good. The young English right-back was largely absent from gameweek 23 to gameweek 27 as a result of an injury in combination with some rotation, but he’s back now and it looks like he’s here to stay until the end of the season. Over the last two gameweeks, Liverpool faced Watford at home and Everton away, which resulted in two clean sheets for TAA and the rest of his team mate’s. On top of that, the right-back provided three assists over that period, all of which came in the game against Watford, and brought home a fantastic 27 FPL points for his FPL owners. With a mostly kind run of fixtures leading up to the end of the season, more hauls are on the cards for Alexander-Arnold.

The third premium pick for gameweek 30 isn’t so much premium in terms of his price tag (£6.1m), but he definitely is in terms of his ownership (19.9%) and potential over the coming weeks (Huddersfield away, Newcastle home, Leicester away, Burnley home, Brighton away, Fulham home and Southampton away in the next seven games). Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser was a big FPL favourite and absolute bargain in the first half of the 2018-19 campaign (4 goals and 8 assists in 19 games), but as the Cherries started losing form and consistency, Fraser’s output diminished as well. His last attacking returns came in gameweek 21, when the Scottish winger scored a goal and provided an assist in the 3-3 draw at home to Watford. The Cherries have had a difficult run since then, including games against City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, and an away game to Huddersfield coming Saturday could be the perfect chance to kick off a run of good results for Fraser and the rest of Eddie Howe’s men.

A differential pick or two

Our first differential pick for gameweek 30 is a shameless repetition of last week’s first differential pick. Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy (£8.9m), though seemingly not yet in red hot form, has scored three goals in his last four Premier League games, rewarding the 5.7% of FPL managers that own him with 20 FPL points. He looks set to be a nailed-on starter under new boss Brendan Rogers and with a nice run of winnable fixtures coming up, Vardy could be a shrewd investment. Even shrewder when you realise that Leicester are not blanking this season: the Foxes face Burnley away in gameweek 31 and Huddersfield away in gameweek 33. On Saturday, Leicester are facing Fulham at the King Power and we’re betting on Vardy to make his owners proud.

West Ham’s Lukasz Fabianski (£4.7m) is the second differential pick of the week. The Polish goalkeeper isn’t so much a differential in terms of ownership (17.4%), but we feel that it’s a pretty “differential move” to name him in this list for gameweek 30. Fabianski is something of an FPL favourite for many managers, not in the last place thanks to his regular save points, and he could be a decent source of points over the coming weeks. As matter of fact, only United, City and Liverpool have conceded less goals than the Hammers over the past five weeks, and gameweek 30 sees Fabianski facing a rather toothless Cardiff offense. The Bluebirds have scored just six goals so far in 2019, which is explained by some of the underlying stats: both their shots on target (22) and their attempts from inside the box (46) are the lowest of any Premier League outfit this calendar year. Following the Cardiff game are blank gameweek 31 and double gameweek 32, in which Fabianski is playing two home games, against Huddersfield and Everton respectively. If you’ve already got Fabianski and are looking for a change up front then consider Romelu Lukaku (£10.7m) instead who’s caught fire at Man United but is only owned by 4.8% of FPL managers.

For more GW30 transfer ideas have a look through this FPL GW 30 fiso forum thread.

The captaincy

When Man City play a home game, Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) is a prime candidate for the captain’s armband. It’s that simple. City have scored 50 goals in 15 home games in the Prem so far, and 15 of those goals were netted by the Argentinian striker. Though Saturday’s opponents Watford are far from pushovers, it’s kind of hard to see the Hornets keeping a clean sheet after having already conceded 22 goals in 15 away games this season. As a matter of fact, Kun hasn’t blanked yet this season in a home game in which he was part of the starting eleven and his points-per-game average for home games he’s started is close to ridiculous: 11.6 points, in part thanks to 3 (three!) hattricks. In the reverse fixture played on December 4th of last year, Watford put up a good fight but eventually lost 1-2 to a dominant City, courtesy of goals by Sané and Mahrez. With an overall ownership of 40.3%, captaining Aguero this weekend is as much a wise choice as it is rank protection, despite the slight worry that fit again Jesus may replace him (at least at some point during the match) due to Champions League commitments on Tuesday next week at home to Schalke where City already lead 3-2 (with 3 away goals in the bank).

Our final pick of the week is Liverpool’s Sadio Mané (£9.8m), who we’ve preferred over his team mate Salah as a recommendation for the armband due to the latter’s current dip in (point-scoring) form. The Senegalese forward is in fine form in the build-up to the blank and double gameweeks (Liverpool have neither this season), which is underlined by his six goals in the last seven Premier League games he played in. Over that period, he’s brought home 51 FPL points for the 26.1% of managers who have him in their teams. The fixture at Anfield against Burnley this weekend is followed by an away game versus Fulham in gameweek 31 and a visit to Saint Mary’s in the blank gameweek 33, both of which are games in which Mané could record a haul.

The weekly FPL Captain Poll on the FISO forum has Aguero and Salah leading the popularity stakes for GW30.

FPL Season 2018/19 – Gameweek 29 Preview


“Courtesy of a clean sheet and two goals, Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk (pictured representing the Dutch national team) recorded a massive 20-point haul in gameweek 28” (CC by 3.0) by Ailura

While a weekly average of 53 points made gameweek 28 look like a high-scoring week, there were plenty of FPL managers who’d like to forget about the past gameweek sooner rather than later. Those managers who had their hopes set on Wolverhampton and Man City especially, as the Wolves succumbed to a single Huddersfield goal in extra time and the Cityzens recorded a narrow 1-0 home win over fragile West Ham. Both games were a real let down for many managers banking on a Wolves clean sheet and a ton of goals from City attackers which would have seen their points increase substantially just like a Profit Accumulator. Still, we don’t have much time to dwell on the past as gameweek 29 will be kicking off in less than 24 hours. Before moving on to the best player picks for gameweek 29, we’ll take a quick look at how our picks for gameweek 28 fared.

PICK PLAYER OPPONENT in GW28 POINTS
Premium Mo Salah Watford (home) 3
Premium Kun Aguero West Ham (home) 9
Premium Matt Doherty Huddersfield (away) 2
Differential James Ward-Prowse Fulham (home) 9
Differential Jamie Vardy Brighton (home) 7
Captain Leroy Sané West Ham (home) 1
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Bournemouth (away) 7

* Average of 5.43 points per player

Premium picks for gameweek 29

We’re starting this week off with a defender who has rather quietly been performing outstandingly this calendar year. Man United’s Luke Shaw (£5.1m) was far from being on best terms with José Mourinho during the first half of the season, but the young English left-back has reclaimed his spot under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He has recorded five clean sheets in the last seven Premier League games and he provided his first attacking return, a fine assist against Crystal Palace, in gameweek 28. Sometimes criticized for his lack of involvement in the final third of the pitch, Shaw provided width against Palace, as well as a threat from set-pieces. The United man is still part of less than 10% of the teams in FPL, despite bringing home 36 points over the last seven gameweeks. At home against Southampton this weekend, his and United’s current form could result in more points for him, at both ends of the pitch.

For our second premium pick of the week we’re sticking with the red team from Manchester by (once again, we know) naming Paul Pogba (£8.9m). With 8 goals and 7 assists in his last eleven Premier League games, and a home game against notoriously bad travellers Southampton coming up, Pogba is kind of a no-brainer. The Red Devils have scored 11 goals in 5 home games under OGS, while the Saints have conceded 25 goals in 14 games on the road since the start of the season. The home team is going through a bit of an injury crisis, so the speedy return of the other in-form man Marcus Rashford will boost their confidence, as will the excellent performance of Romelu Lukaku against Palace. The more quality outlets Pogba has up front, the better.

Gonzalo Higuain (£9.5m) hasn’t quite made the impact on Chelsea and the Premier League in general as many were expecting. The Argentinian striker has scored 2 goals in 327 minutes of Premier League football, though it should be noted that he played 64 minutes in his debut game against Bournemouth (4-0 loss), 90 minutes against Huddersfield (2 goals) and Man City (6-0 loss), and 83 minutes last gameweek against Spurs (2-0 win). Against Fulham on Sunday, Pipita will be looking to start adding to his goal tally again as the Cottagers have conceded a whopping 63 goals in 28 games so far this season. Of those goals, 26 have come in 13 home games. Higuain had a somewhat rough start to his Chelsea career, not in a small part due to his new team’s inconsistent form, but it’s hard to imagine him not recording attacking returns this weekend.

A differential pick or two

Leicester City started the post-Claude Puel era with a decent victory over Brighton at the King Power, where newly appointed head coach Brendan Rogers will have seen plenty of positives to kick off his tenure at the Foxes with. What he’ll also have seen though, is that there is still plenty of work to do in defence, as the Seagulls created 15 attempts on goal (3 of which were on target) and won 8 corners. That’s why our first differential pick of the week is Watford’s Troy Deeney (£5.8m) who will be facing the Leicester defence on Saturday. He had a hard time at Anfield in gameweek 28, but recorded a 15-point haul away against Cardiff the week before (2 goals, 1 assist). The Hornets are quite productive at home, having scored 18 goals in 13 home games, while Leicester have shipped 21 goals in 14 away games. With a price tag of £5.8m and ownership of just 4.8%, Deeney could be worth a punt this weekend.

In the previously mentioned gameweek 28 encounter between Leicester and Brighton, Seagulls striker Glenn Murray (£6.3m) in particular was uncharacteristically wasteful, including blazing one over the bar from six yards out. Still, the 35-year old Brighton man was active and involved in most of the danger his team created, and he could have easily notched one or two on another day. We believe that other day might be this weekend, when Brighton are taking on Huddersfield at the AMEX. The Terriers have shipped 28 goals in 13 away games, which sounds like a perfect opportunity for Murray to redeem himself. The Seagulls have not been in great form lately: they haven’t yet booked a victory in 2019 and the relegation zone is coming uncomfortably close, so the game on Saturday will be of huge importance. Glenn Murray could well be the one to mark the difference for Chris Hughton’s side.

For more GW29 transfer ideas have a look through this fiso forum topic discussions.

The captaincy

Over the past few weeks and months, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (£10.8m) has been exceedingly frustrating for FPL managers, even more so than usual. On a good day, the Belgian forward is the best player in the Premier League, but somehow his often outstanding performances on the pitch have been resulting in rather inconsistent FPL returns lately. He scored two against Huddersfield in gameweek 26, good for a 15-point haul, but he brought his owners just 15 points over the period between gameweeks 20 and 24. In the four gameweeks prior to that period though, Hazard scored 3 goals, provided 3 assists, and recorded 29 points. This week, he’s facing Fulham at Craven Cottage and we believe a big score could be on the cards. Chelsea were more than decent in their lost League Cup final against Man City, with Hazard a major threat, and their victory over Spurs in gameweek 28 will have provided Maurizio Sarri’s team with some much-needed confidence. Oh, and Fulham have conceded 26 goals in just 13 home games.

Our second recommendation for the captain’s armband is Man City’s Raheem Sterling (£11.3m). Despite completing the 120 minutes in the League Cup final against Chelsea and blanking as a substitute (he came on just before the hour mark) against West Ham in gameweek 28, the speedy English dribbler looks likely to start against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday. In the game before West Ham, Sterling added to the 6-0 thrashing of Chelsea with 2 goals and an assist, which resulted in a big 18-point haul for 12.4% of FPL managers who have him. With direct rivals for his position Mahrez and Sané seemingly going through a bit of a dip in form and confidence, he looks like one of the more nailed-on starters in Pep’s starting eleven, though rotation remains a risk. Bournemouth are placed seventh in the ranking for home games in the Prem this season, with 25 points taken from 14 home games, but a clean sheet looks unlikely against Sterling and his team mates.

The weekly FPL gameweek captain Poll on fiso suggests that most FPL Managers will be captaining Pogba, Aguero or Sterling for GW 29 although Salah and Hazard also have some votes.