Premier League clubs in the first European League knock-out stages

When all six of the Premier League clubs active in the Champions League and the Europa League this season qualified for the respective tournament’s knock-out stages, reactions could be largely divided into two groups: those from a non-fantasy perspective and those from an FPL point of view. The former group felt its excitement about the possibility of a second consecutive all-English Champions League final grow immediately. The latter group though mainly saw the ghosts of even more rotation, injury risk and simply more casino-like unpredictability appear above their already fragile gameweek planning for the coming months tempting some to turn to gaming at playzee casino. So now that the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 and the returns of the Europe League Round of 32 have been played, we are taking a quick look at the current situation of each Premier League club in European football’s most important tournaments and its respective impact on the remainder of the Premier League season.

Manchester City

As it stands at the moment of writing, Manchester City are actually the only one of the four English teams in the Champions League not facing an uphill battle for their return match. The Cityzens were the only EPL side to win their encounter, thanks to two late goals (Gabriel Jesus and a De Bruyne penalty) in Madrid against Real. They already were the favourites to win this tie before the first leg started and those odds will only have increased after Wednesday’s result. At the same time, Pep’s men are still in contention for the two domestic cups as well. They are playing Villa in the League Cup final tomorrow (Sunday March 1st, 16h30 UK time) and visiting Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday, March 3rd (19h45 UK time) in the FA Cup 5th Round. In other words, it looks like rotation galore at what is already the most rotation-prone side in the Premier League. We don’t know exactly what, when or how, but we know to keep City’s cramped schedule in the back of our heads when deciding on our FPL transfers.

Liverpool

Domestically, despite their blip against Watford yesterday, the Reds are displaying a kind of dominance that has rarely been seen in the English top flight. Until yesterday Jurgen Klopp’s side had not dropped a point in the Premier League since drawing 1-1 with Manchester United in October 2019 (18 consecutive victories, equalling Man City’s all-time record from 2017) but could not achieve an unprecedented nineteenth straight win at Watford on Saturday. In Europe , Liverpool lost 1-0 in Madrid to Atletico last week without managing a single attempt on target. They have the return at home to come still (March 11th) and we have all seen crazier comebacks at Anfield. On top of that, considering their 22-point lead in the Premier League, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Atletico return get prioritised by Klopp if needed. Liverpool’s prime focus will be on bringing home the first Premier League trophy in 30 years as soon as possible, which could be as early as end of March if they win all 3 EPL games between now and then. That’s about 2 weeks after the Atletico game at Anfield, so if they manage to eliminate the Spaniards, Jurgen Klopp’s focus could shift to the Champions League entirely. Our advice regarding Liverpool? Wait for upcoming double and blank gameweek news, and triple up on Reds assets at least until the title has been won.

Chelsea

In the Champions League, Chelsea’s situation after the first leg of the Round of 16 looks the worst out of all English contenders. The Blues faced German giants Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge last Tuesday and the Bavarians harshly underlined the home team’s unpredictable form in front of their own fans: 0-3. Chelsea now need a 0-4 win or more to pass through to the quarter-finals, which is not impossible, but honestly, seems very unlikely. This is bad news for Chelsea fans, but better news for FPL managers. Frank Lampard’s men are in the middle of a battle for a top-4 finish with a bunch of strong sides, while this coming Tuesday sees them line up against Liverpool in the 5th Round of the FA Cup. We don’t think that Lampard would prioritise the FA Cup over the PL in any scenario, unless maybe a semi-final or final is concerned, but it could any way well be that the Premier League is all the Blues will have left to play for by the time the game has ended on Tuesday evening. Unless, of course, Chelsea kick Liverpool out of the FA Cup or come up with a legendary comeback against Bayern in Munich.

Spurs

Like Liverpool and Chelsea, Spurs lost the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 encounter, though against much less of a footballing household name. José Mourinho’s men welcomed Red Bull Leipzig to their new stadium and subsequently lost 0-1 to the energetic German outfit, courtesy of a Timo Werner goal. This is, of course, far from game over for Spurs, but it does complicate the matter of reaching the quarter-finals considerably. The North London outfit is far from the form that carried them all the way to the final of Europe’s most prestigious tournament last season and their lack of firepower is a huge concern. Mourinho, coach of the Champions League-winning Porto side in 2003/04, recently claimed that getting a top-4 classification this season would be the biggest achievement of his career, which makes us think that Premier League games will be prioritised at White Hart Lane if needed. More than that though, the real main question is whether you, as an FPL manager, want to invest in Spurs assets at all over the coming weeks.

Arsenal

With Arsenal, we have to what is probably the most disappointing story of a Premier League club in Europe this campaign. The Gunners qualified for the Europa League Round of 32 by finishing first in a group with Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Vitoria de Guimaraes, but were kicked out of the tournament on Thursday by an Olympiakos goal in the very last minute of extra time. As a result, the Gunners have just the Premier League and the FA Cup, in which they face Portsmouth this coming Monday in the 5th Round, to fight for. As projections for next season are a bit bleak when looking at them from Arsenal’s current tenth place in the league (10 points behind 4th-placed Chelsea), it remains to be seen which route to Europe is considered most viable by manager Mikel Arteta: a top-4 Premier League finish or winning the FA Cup. We feel he should probably go all-in on both competitions, with prioritisation possibly taking place if the FA Cup semi-final or final is reached. In any case, their elimination from Europe reduces the rotation risk for the remaining Premier League games. Don’t forget though, that Arteta is generally not afraid to shake it up a bit.

Wolves

Finally, there is Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are having another excellent season, both domestically and internationally. In the Europa League Round of 16, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side faced Spanish outfit Espanyol, who they beat 3-6 on aggregate. In the next round, Arsenal’s Greek heartbreakers Olympiakos are waiting. So far in Europe, Espirito Santo has rotated quite a bit, though he has always stuck to a foundation of first-eleven players, like Boly, Moutinho and Jimenez. Often, he would substitute three starters early on Thursday in preparation for the league game in the weekend. Wolves are one of the more consistent sides in terms of their starting eleven, which has been an FPL manager’s blessing, so we wouldn’t worry about them too much. It’s also worth mentioning that they are no longer active in the FA Cup. This means that they can focus everything on a top-6 finish (they are currently 1 point behind sixth-placed Tottenham) and a good run in the Europa League. Keep an eye on team news during Europa League weeks and your FPL Wolves should be fine.

Fanteam Weekly Monster Early Entry Team – GW28

FISO are starting a new series of weekly articles on Fanteam, Europe’s biggest daily fantasy football provider (and entering the team that we write about!). This series will focus on Fanteam’s Weekly Monster, a weekly fantasy league based on the Premier League games that kick-off on or after Saturday 3pm UK time with €50,000 worth of guaranteed prize money. That’s every gameweek, in case you were wondering. Our article will focus on a Early Entry for this weekly tournament which will help you identify game rules, tactics and the most promising players per gameweek so you can win some of that large prize money. Every gameweek, we will choose a team of eleven players from the selected Premier League matches within a virtual budget of €100 million. In that sense, the Weekly Monster is quite similar to the official Fantasy Premier League game we all know and love.

Our FISO team below will be entered into this week’s €20 entry (€50k prize pool) Weekly Monster, which has a maximum entry limit of 3,000. Every week, we’ll report back on how our team performed in the previous week. A finish in the top 20% of a given week would see us win part of the prize pool of which the winner normally takes home about €4,000. FanTeam also offer a €2 entry Weekly Monster with a lower prize pool (of which the winner normally gets about €500) for those who prefer to play with lower stakes.

Before moving onto our team selection, we want to highlight a couple of Fanteam rules that they apply to their Weekly Monster competition and that represent some of the major differences when comparing the game to the FPL.

Number one is that FanTeam have a rule called the ‘safety net’. The safety net comes into play when a selected player does not start in the Weekly Monster, because the game will then automatically replace this player with the next lowest-priced player from the same position (GK, DEF, MID, FOR) in the same team. By ‘next’ lowest we mean if our player (who doesn’t start) is priced at 7m and two players priced less than him at 6.8m and 6.5m start then our replacement will be the 6.8m player. The automatic replacement is regardless of whether or not your selected player does take to the field later in the game. This rule means people who have entered a team into the Weekly Monster need not worry too much about whether their selected players will start or not, particularly if they know there are cheaper players for that same club in that same position who should start instead.

Number two is that FanTeam also have a ‘stacking penalty’ for the Weekly Monster, which penalises teams that have selected more than one defenders/goalkeeper from the same club. The stacking penalty comes into play when you pick more than one defensive player (defenders or goalkeepers) from a particular club and this club records a clean sheet. The points awarded for this clean sheet will decrease by 1 point for each additional defensive player from the same club that you have selected. The stacking penalty has a maximum of minus 3 points. This rule helps stop multi-entrants from gaining an advantage by submitting block defence teams.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 28’s FanTeam Weekly Monster is set at 3PM (UK time) on Saturday, February 29th, 2020. You can enter a team earlier and make changes right up to the deadline. This means you have an hour to check the starting line-ups  for the 3PM games, so you can change your selections accordingly up until the 3PM deadline, but not after.

Gameweek 28 Weekly Monster matches

29/02/20 Bournemouth Chelsea
29/02/20 Newcastle Burnley
29/02/20 West Ham Southampton
29/02/20 Watford Liverpool
01/03/20 Everton Manchester United
01/03/20 Spurs Wolves

How did our Weekly Monster team fare in gameweek 27?

Formation: 4-4-2|  Budget used:  100m|  GW28 finish: 774/2248|  Prize pool: ///

NAME (club) (opponent) RETURNS POINTS
Schmeichel (LEI) vs Man City (home) Clean sheet, Penalty stopped, 5 saves 8.5
Van Dijk (LIV) vs West Ham (home) Impact +1, Goals conceded -1 2
Taylor (BUR) vs Bournemouth (home) Clean sheet, Impact +1 7
Fernandez (NEW) vs Palace (away) Impact -1 1
Saiss (WOL) vs Norwich (home) Clean sheet, 1 assist, Impact +1 10
Salah (LIV) vs West Ham (home) 1 goal, Impact +1 9
Wijnaldum (LIV) vs West Ham (home) 1 goal, Impact +1 9
Moutinho (WOL) vs Norwich (home) Clean sheet, Impact +1 5
Grealish (AST) vs Southampton (away) 1 yellow, Impact -1 1
Ings (SOU) vs Aston Villa (home) Impact +1 3
Jimenez (WOL) vs Norwich (home) 1 goal, 1 yellow, Impact +1 6

Our team suggestion for the Weekly Monster in gameweek 28

Formation: 3-4-3|  Budget used: 98.6m

General approach

As a result of Manchester City, Aston Villa, Sheffield United and Arsenal blanking this gameweek, and the Norwich vs Leicester Friday night game not being included in this week’s Weekly Monster selection, pickings were considerably slimmer than usual for gameweek 28. Even though this has a negative impact on the number of available potential game-winners, we did find it slightly easier this week to navigate the budget and build our team selection around the teams we consider to have the most favourable fixtures. Having said that, the fixture list for GW28 overall is not great from a fantasy football point of view, with very few clear favourites at first glance.

For our 11-man team selection this week, we have focused on four teams, namely Liverpool (away vs Watford), Wolves (away vs Spurs), Southampton (away vs West Ham), and Burnley (away vs Newcastle). As you can see, all of these teams are travelling this weekend, which is in part what we were referring to earlier when discussing gameweek 28’s hard-to-predict set of fixtures. Let’s move on to our picks for FanTeam’s Weekly Monster in GW28.

Goalkeeper

Our defensive set-up contains two Burnley players and the first of those two is our goalkeeper, Nick Pope. After last weekend’s sort of fortunate clean sheet against Bournemouth, the young Englishman is now the highest-scoring goalkeeper in FPL and on Fanteam. As a matter of fact, when looking at points earned per million of his price tag (or Points per million), Pope is the most valuable player in the entire official Fantasy Premier League game. Burnley have booked three clean sheets in their last four games and next up is Newcastle, with 12 goals in 13 home games the second-least prolific team in front of their own fans. The Magpies haven’t scored in three PL games and we see a chance for that number to increase by one this weekend.

Defenders

Seeing as we started with Burnley’s goalkeeper, we’ll cover James Tarkowski as our first defender for this week’s Weekly Monster. The budget allowed us to go for Burnley’s most expensive defender this week, which means we have certain coverage from the Safety Net should the Englishman not start on Saturday. Chances of that are extremely slim though, as he has literally not missed a single minute of Premier League action yet this campaign. He went through a productive phase in gameweeks 12 and 13, scoring a goal and providing 2 assists, but he has had no other attacking returns. He did record 10 clean sheets and we’re hoping for an eleventh against Newcastle this weekend. In case of a clean sheet, the Stacking Penalty will apply with just a 1 point deduction.

Our second defender is a repeat from last weekend, when Wolves defender Romain Saiss brought us a victory, a clean sheet and an assist. The remaining 1.4m of our budget allowed us to pick any Wolves defender we want for our current set-up, but we chose to stick with the Moroccan international after his fine displays of late. From his last three Premier League encounters, he has taken 3 clean sheets, 1 assist and 2 bonus points for a total of 23 FPL points over that period. Considering his budget price tag in FPL and on FanTeam, this average of 7.6 points per game is nothing short of fantastic. Up next is an away game against a depleted and largely uninspired Spurs side. Normally, this fixture would not tempt many fantasy managers to pick a Wolves defender, but as things stand currently for both teams, we feel Saiss and Wolves could get away with something here.

With Trent Alexander-Arnold, we have saved the best for last in the coverage of our defensive picks. By now, it starting to feel kind of pointless to go over TAA’s weekly improving stats, simply because the young right-back can’t stop performing, both for his FPL managers and his real-life manager. With 2 goals and 14 assists to his name after 27 games, he is not only this season’s most prolific defender, but one of the most productive defenders in Premier League history. Add to that his 11 clean sheets and 18 bonus points in FPL, and it’s clear why he is the third-best performing FPL asset overall this season. Our budget allowed us to bring him in for this weekend and we all know what he can do, so we hope that he’ll be doing just that against Watford on Saturday evening.

Midfielders

Especially in weekly tournaments like FanTeam’s Weekly Monster, but even in season-long games such as FPL, one of the most relevant returning questions is “Which of the two should I pick?”. The fact that both of the players in question boast similar price tags, similar positions in the team, and similar stats in the Premier League this season does not make the decision any easier. We are, of course, talking about Liverpool’s African attackers, Mo Salah and Sadio Mané. Sometimes, like against West Ham in GW27, both return points, but sometimes Salah outperforms Mané, and sometimes Mané outperforms Salah. Due to their heavy price tags, the key is picking the right one at the right moment. Or is it?

For this week’s Weekly Monster, we decided that it is not and that we’re not going to play this guessing game. Instead, we started our team selection by selecting both Salah and Mané for their away game at Vicarage Road. Salah has been in great form of late, scoring 4 goals, providing 1 assist and being part of 3 clean sheets in his last four games, but Mané did not take long to re-join the race for the Golden Boot after missing gameweeks 24 and 25 through injury. Both in GW26 and GW27, the Senegalese winger scored, which has resulted in 14 points on Fanteam over that period. In other words, both forwards are coming into Saturday’s game in very good form, so the decision we need to make now is who of the two to captain. We’ve gone with Mané for this one, but as it stands now, you can’t go wrong with either one.

Though far away from the Liverpool duo’s respective price tags, our third midfield pick is a premium one this week as well. Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse is the most expensive Saints midfielder for their encounter with West Ham on Saturday afternoon, which means that we are covered by the Safety Net for this one. The English playmaker is in charge of almost every kind of set-piece imaginable for the Saints, which automatically raises is appeal as a fantasy asset. Add to that the fact that West Ham have conceded more goals (14) and more shots inside the box (63) than any other PL outfit over the past four weeks, and you can see why we have pinned some of our hopes on JWP. His stats this season are not out of this world (4 goals, 3 assists, 6 clean sheets), but not bad for a budget pick (in FPL) either and we can definitely see him improve on these figures this weekend.

Our fourth and final midfielder is also the third Burnley player in our team for gameweek 28, midfielder slash singer Dwight McNeil. To begin with, the young Englishman is a mainstay in Sean Dyche’s starting eleven, having started every single Premier League game so far this season. In a team that is not known for its offensive creativity, McNeil is often looked at to provide the creative spark and not without reason. He has scored 2 goals and provided 6 assists already, which represents a direct involvement in just under 25% of Burnley’s goals. He racked up the best fantasy score of his season last weekend (14 points in FPL, 15 points on FanTeam), courtesy of a goal and an assist, and we’re hoping that he can continue this fine form into coming weekend’s away game at Saint James Park.

Forwards

Due to the scarcity of really convincing premium picks on FanTeam this weekend, and thanks to Southampton’s decent current form and upcoming fixture, our forward line contains not one but two Saints. The first of the two is the inevitable Danny Ings, who, despite blanking last weekend at home to Aston Villa, is still in the thick of the Golden Boot race at the moment. His 15 goals (and 1 assist) are nothing short of impressive and West Ham will want to keep him on a tight leash on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Hammers, that is just the thing at which they have seemed largely incapable this campaign, which is illustrated by the 48 goals they have already conceded so far. Only Norwich and Villa have fared worse. Funnily enough, when Ings went on a rampage during a few months between gameweeks 12 and 22, scoring 10 goals in 11 games, the only two teams against which he did not find the net over that run were Chelsea at the Bridge and… West Ham at home! It’s true that the Hammers have potential and have bee  performing way below it this season, but we see Ings returning points in this one.

Joining Ings in attack is fellow Saint Shane Long, who seems to have conquered a spot in Ralph Hasenhüttl’s starting eleven. In the past six Premier League games, the Irish striker has scored 2 goals and provided 1 assist, and all of his FPL bonus points this season (4) were collected over that period as well. On top of that, he played a minimum of 69 minutes in each of these games, which increases his FanTeam Weekly Monster appeal. As we have already mentioned in the previous paragraph about Danny Ings, up next is a West Ham side with performance issues in front of their own fans. Here is to hoping that our duo of Saints forwards can do some damage.

Our final pick for gameweek 28’s Weekly Monster is a personal favourite, a more than steady FPL performer, and one of the finest additions to the Premier League in recent years. Wolves striker Raul Jimenez has been one of the season’s most consistent performers so far, with his 12 goals and 6 assists spread over 15 different games. What we find more interesting though, is the fact that he has so far returned against Burnley at home, Villa at home and Norwich away, to name a few of the easier fixtures, but also against City at home and away, Liverpool at home and Everton away, for example. At a relatively low price (in FPL, at least), Jimenez offers valuable consistency combined with a kind of fixture-proof quality. He is an extremely skilled player who can score against anyone in the league, including away to a toothless Spurs side coming Sunday.

As we said this team has been entered into the 20 euro FanTeam Weekly Monster and we hope to report back next week that we’ve shared part of the 50,000 euros prize pool. You can also follow discussions about FanTeam games on FISO’s FanTeam Forum. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

FPL Season 2019/2020 – Gameweek 28 Preview

“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left), here posing with two of his Gabon team mates, is one of the premium FPL assets with a blank in gameweek 28” (CC by Public domain). Image by Alhosniomani20.

First things first, in case you hadn’t realised yet (in which case you should probably ramp up your FPL gameweek preparation routine): due to the League Cup final between Manchester Cheaty and Aston Villa taking place on Sunday, March 1st, the Premier League encounters between Man City vs Arsenal and Aston Villa vs Sheffield United were postponed. These four teams will have a blank weekend, which leaves us with a relatively hard to predict and surprisingly premium-less gameweek.

We usually define a premium FPL asset as one priced £10.0m or higher, and currently seven players fall into this category. Of those seven players, four (Auba, De Bruyne, Aguero, Sterling) have a blank gameweek and one (Kane) is injured, leaving us with Salah and Mané. Due to this situation and for the sake of more variation in the future, we are lowering the premium qualification threshold to £9.0m. This adds another seven players to the current list of potential premium picks, including Jamie Vardy (who will feature in this article), Son (out injured) and Firmino. As we wrote before, GW28 feels like a round that could hold some nice surprises, just like slotswise does for casino players, so here are our fantasy picks for this weekend.

Finally, don’t forget that the deadline for gameweek 28 is set at 19h00 (GMT+0) on Friday, February, 28th, 2020.

How did our fantasy picks for the previous gameweek fare?

PICK PLAYER OPPONENT POINTS
Premium Mo Salah West Ham (H) 7
Premium Sadio Mané West Ham (H) 8
Non-premium Danny Ings Aston Villa (H) 2
Non-premium Raul Jimenez Norwich (a) 5
Differential Patrick van Aanholt Newcastle (H) 15
Differential Enda Stevens Brighton (H) 7
Captain Mo Salah West Ham (H) 14

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per February 26th, 2020)

  TRANSFERS OUT TRANSFERS IN POSSIBLE REASONS
GK Henderson (SHE), Ryan (BRI), Button (BRI) Pope (BUR), Schmeichel (LEI), McCarthy (SOU) Sheffield’s blank GW provides an opportunity to swap Henderson for in-form goalies Pope, McCarthy, or Schmeichel.
DEF Lundstram (SHE), Baldock (SHE), Kelly (CRY) Saiss (WOL), Pereira (LEI), Söyüncü (LEI) Lundstram’s and Kelly’s continued benching, in combination with good defensive form for Wolves and good upcoming fixtures for the Foxes.
MID Grealish (AST), De Bruyne (MC), Son (TOT) Fernandes (MU), Richarlison (EVE), Martial (MU) United’s form since the arrival of Fernandes plays a big part here, in combination with Son’s potential season-ending injury.
FOR Aguero (MC), Vardy (LEI), Firmino (LIV) Vardy (LEI), Aubameyang (ARS), Calvert-Lewin (EVE) For Vardy, it’s mediocre form vs good upcoming fixtures, while Auba and DCL are in form and scoring.

Premium fantasy picks

We always try to vary a bit, especially when it comes to our premium fantasy picks, but one of the official game’s best performing assets is in great point-scoring form and has a pretty favourable fixture coming up in a small, but complicated blank gameweek. Mo Salah (£12.8m) is facing Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening in what should be one of the more predictable games this weekend, result-wise. The Reds equalled Man City’s 2017/18 record of 18 successive Premier League wins on Monday by beating West Ham at Anfield, so by beating Watford, they will make this impressive record theirs. They say the records don’t bother them much, which we believe up to a point, but we can’t imagine that this possibility to get themselves into the PL history books does not provide that little bit of extra motivation. As far as Salah goes, he has recorded 40 FPL points over the past four gameweeks, courtesy of 4 goals, 1 assists and 6 bonus points. If the Reds beat the record, their Egyptian talisman will likely have something to do with it.

For our second premium pick, we have gone with fixture over form, combined with the player’s undeniable FPL pedigree. Leicester striker Jamie Vardy (£9.7m), though still the current Premier League top scorer (17 goals, tied with Aubameyang), hasn’t scored a goal since gameweek 18. He missed gameweeks 18 and 19 due to injury, but in the six games since then, he recorded just a single assist for a total of 12 FPL points over that run. It should be noted that the last three games were against Chelsea (home), Wolves (away) and City (home), but still, these are not encouraging stats for the Englishman. The upcoming run of fixtures is a lot more appealing though, with Norwich (away), Villa (home), Watford (away) and Brighton (home) in the next four. Leicester are a quality side and Vardy will inevitably start scoring again, so why not coming Friday night at Carrow Road, home of the league’s second-leakiest defence.

Non-premium fantasy picks

Our first non-premium is actually more of a premium asset in terms of price, but considering the lack of quality picks this weekend and with away games being his speciality, we’ve included him for GW28. Roberto Firmino (£9.7m) has scored 8 goals and provided 8 assists so far this season, and all of those goals were scored away from Anfield. He blanked in the last two rounds, though not for a lack of effort or chances, but in the five gameweeks before that, he scored 2 goals and provided 3 assists for a total of 31 FPL points over that run. This weekend’s opponent Watford has improved considerably since the appointment of Nigel Pearson at the end of last year, but we doubt whether the Hornets can withstand Jurgen Klopp’s side on their way to their 19th consecutive PL victory and Liverpool’s first Premier League title in 30 years.

James Maddison (£7.4m) is in a bit of a similar situation to the earlier mentioned Jamie Vardy, in the sense that it’s been a quiet few weeks for him by now. His last return, a goal at Saint James Park, came all the way back in gameweek 21 and the six rounds since then saw him record just 11 FPL points. As goes for Vardy though, Leicester’s difficult run of fixtures has now come to an end and a set of more favourable encounters is on the horizon. Maddison did not  return recently, but that doesn’t mean he had no opportunities to do so against strong opposition: 13 chances created over the past four weeks, a tally only beaten by De Bruyne and Grealish. Leicester are a well-oiled machine and a great team with plenty of offensive outlets, but Maddison is involved in most of the attacking threats, including from set-pieces. We can definitely see him improve on his current 6 goals and 5 assists against Norwich on Friday.

A differential fantasy pick or two

As you probably realised by now, we have faith in Leicester getting back to their more consistent winning ways soon, after a run of difficult fixtures that saw them concede second place to Manchester Cheaty. The return to form should start with a comfortable victory at Vicarage Road, which is why our first differential fantasy pick for gameweek 28 is Jonny Evans (£5.2m). His fellow defenders Pereira, Söyüncü and Chilwell all boast a higher ownership than the Northern Ireland international, but he is actually the second-highest-scoring defender amongst the Foxes with 101 FPL points. Evans already has 8 clean sheets, 1 goal and 2 assists to his name, as well as 10 bonus points, and we believe those tallies could be improved over the coming weeks. First up is Norwich, who have conceded a worrying 26 goals in 13 home games, while scoring just 18. Overall, the Canaries have failed to score in their last three Premier League games and Leicester will be hoping to make that four in a row.

Our final fantasy pick of the week actually combines most of the factors that make a player the perfect differential FPL asset. Southampton’s Shane Long (£4.6m) is very cheap, he has obtained a starting spot in one of the league’s more in-form outfits, he is in decent form, he has a favourable run of fixtures coming up, and his current ownership sits at a mere 2.3%. He has scored just 2 goals so far this season, but these did come in the last five gameweeks. He started all of those games, usually up front with Danny Ings, and recorded a more than decent 22 FPL points over that period. We expect him to line up from the start once again this Saturday, when the Saints are visiting West Ham. Without counting Southampton 0-9 loss against Leicester in GW10, the Hammers boast the second-worst defensive home record in the league, having conceded 25 goals in 13 games. Overall over the past four weeks, they have conceded a league-high 14 goals and 63 shots inside the box, so it looks like the perfect moment to bring in Long.

For further GW28 transfer ideas look at this fiso FPL forum topic.

The captaincy

For gameweek 28, we are basically repeating our armband pick by putting it on Liverpool’s Mo Salah. The Egyptian repaid our trust on Monday with a goal and we are hoping for a similar scenario on Saturday. We expect him to start as part of Jurgen Klopp’s strongest possible eleven and we hope that the possibility of breaking the Premier League record for consecutive victories will give the Reds and Salah in particular just the little nudge needed to turn this one into a goal-scoring bonanza.

If you don’t feel confident about Liverpool’s chances this weekend, Leicester are the clear other stand-out candidate. The Foxes play Norwich away on Friday evening, which, despite the recent downturn in results and FPL output, brings the likes of Jamie Vardy and even James Maddison into the mix. Outside of Liverpool and Leicester, pickings are slim, though. You could take a punt on Ings away to West Ham, or on Newcastle to keep a clean sheet at home against Burnley. The Wolves defence might keep a clean sheet at the New Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday and there might be goals in Everton vs Man United, but if you can go for a decent Fox or Red, that’s our alternative recommendation.

The FISO Forum Captain poll for GW28 shows Salah, Mané and Vardy are the stand out choices.

Finally if you like FPL but want to have a go at a weekly Fantasy Premier League type competition for prizes then have a look at FanTeam’s 50,000 euro Weekly Monster. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

Upcoming Double Gameweeks – Plan Your Chips!

If you’re a veteran of Fantasy Premier League (FPL), you’ll know that the double gameweeks are where mini-league titles can be won and lost. There’s nothing worse than wasting your chips earlier in the season only to see a rival use theirs for a double gameweek and rack up 40+ points from one player as their triple captain. Hopefully, you’ve still got your chips left! If you don’t have at least one bonus chip left, you’re playing it wrong in all honesty. We’ve already had one double gameweek don’t forget! And well done to you if you had Mo Salah as captain for gameweek 25.

Ok, so we know that the League Cup Final is going to be played on the 1st of March this year, which is due to the winter break we’ve had this season in the Premier League. Some FA Cup games are also delayed because of this. This is where the double gameweeks come in. Here’s what we know:

•    Gameweek 31 clashes with the FA Cup, which means that some clubs will have a blank week but a double gameweek further down the line. FPL players won’t know the teams that will miss out until gameweek 29 either, which doesn’t give you long to plan out your transfers!

•    Aston Villa and Manchester City will have a double gameweek after reaching the EFL Cup Final. Or Carabao Cup, whatever you refer to it as. Stay on the lookout for the best betting sites in the UK if you’re looking to back Villa or City in the Final. Make sure you get the best odds you can. Some bookies have the Villans at around 20/1 if you fancy it!

When will the Double Gameweeks Happen?

In past years, the double gameweeks have tended to fall towards the end of the season. They tend to be midweeks too when you don’t have the Champions League or the Europa League going on. Stay alert on the following gameweeks:

•    Gameweek 34

•    Gameweek 37

These look likely to be the two double gameweeks. Plan your chips so that you can use one during each of these. Triple Captain, Free Hit, Bench Boost, whatever you like, just keep two if you still have two. If you have just one, use it the week that looks more favourable for your squad. If you don’t have any bonus chips left, unlucky. You might have already blown your chances of a mini league win or a win in the FPL Cup if you’re still in by gameweek 34.

Annoyingly, the FA Cup semi-finals clash with gameweek 34, so we might see more blanks and doubles for those who make this stage of the competition. Keep your eyes peeled and stay up to date with what’s going on in the FA Cup if you want to stay ahead of your competition. Plan your transfers out if you can ahead of time.

Deciding on Your Chips

There’s no right or wrong in terms of which bonus chip you should play on which double gameweek. However, if you still have your wildcard left, it could be beneficial to play that the week before one of the double gameweeks to give you the best possible chance of some big points the following week. Don’t forget that you can’t wildcard and use a bonus chip in the same gameweek, so don’t make that mistake. Many have.

Statistically, a lot of FPL players tend to use their triple captain bonus chip on the last double gameweek, which looks set to be gameweek 37. If you’re way out in front in your league, it’s probably a worthwhile idea holding onto your triple captain bonus chip until then. If you’re playing catch up, using it earlier could be the way to go. It’s not necessarily the case that a triple captain during a double gameweek will get you the most points when compared to any other point in the season, but note that most will use this chip in GW34 or GW37.

If you’ve got all of your bonus chips left as well as your wildcard, you’re laughing. If you’ve only got one or two left, plan your transfers out well. You’ll thank us later. It might be wise to ensure you have three Liverpool players for the remainder of the season too. Their players are racking up some serious points this year! Liverpool have won the Premier League already, let’s be honest.

However, you’re doing in FPL this year, best of luck for the remaining weeks of the season and here’s hoping for a 100+ points in gameweeks 34 and 37.

Fanteam Weekly Monster Early Entry Team – GW27

FISO are starting a new series of weekly articles on Fanteam, Europe’s biggest daily fantasy football provider (and entering the team that we write about!). This series will focus on Fanteam’s Weekly Monster, a weekly fantasy league based on the Premier League games that kick-off on or after Saturday 3pm UK time with €50,000 worth of guaranteed prize money. That’s every gameweek, in case you were wondering. Our article will focus on a Early Entry for this weekly tournament which will help you identify game rules, tactics and the most promising players per gameweek so you can win some of that large prize money. Every gameweek, we will choose a team of eleven players from the selected Premier League matches within a virtual budget of €100 million. In that sense, the Weekly Monster is quite similar to the official Fantasy Premier League game we all know and love.

Our FISO team below will be entered into this week’s €20 entry (€50k prize pool) Weekly Monster, which has a maximum entry limit of 3,000. Every week, we’ll report back on how our team performed in the previous week. A finish in the top 20% of a given week would see us win part of the prize pool of which the winner normally takes home about €4,000. FanTeam also offer a €2 entry Weekly Monster with a lower prize pool (of which the winner normally gets about €500) for those who prefer to play with lower stakes.

Before moving onto our team selection, we want to highlight a couple of Fanteam rules that they apply to their Weekly Monster competition and that represent some of the major differences when comparing the game to the FPL.

Number one is that FanTeam have a rule called the ‘safety net’. The safety net comes into play when a selected player does not start in the Weekly Monster, because the game will then automatically replace this player with the next lowest-priced player from the same position (GK, DEF, MID, FOR) in the same team. By ‘next’ lowest we mean if our player (who doesn’t start) is priced at 7m and two players priced less than him at 6.8m and 6.5m start then our replacement will be the 6.8m player. The automatic replacement is regardless of whether or not your selected player does take to the field later in the game. This rule means people who have entered a team into the Weekly Monster need not worry too much about whether their selected players will start or not, particularly if they know there are cheaper players for that same club in that same position who should start instead.

Number two is that FanTeam also have a ‘stacking penalty’ for the Weekly Monster, which penalises teams that have selected more than one defenders/goalkeeper from the same club. The stacking penalty comes into play when you pick more than one defensive player (defenders or goalkeepers) from a particular club and this club records a clean sheet. The points awarded for this clean sheet will decrease by 1 point for each additional defensive player from the same club that you have selected. The stacking penalty has a maximum of minus 3 points. This rule helps stop multi-entrants from gaining an advantage by submitting block defence teams.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 27’s Fanteam MidWeek Monster is set at 3PM (UK time) on Saturday, February 22nd, 2020. You can enter a team earlier and make changes right up to the deadline. This means you have an hour to check the starting line-ups  for the 3PM games, so you can change your selections accordingly up until the 3PM deadline, but not after.

Gameweek 27 Weekly Monster matches

22/02/20 Sheffield United Brighton
22/02/20 Burnley Bournemouth
22/02/20 Crystal Palace Newcastle
22/02/20 Southampton Aston Villa
22/02/20 Leicester Manchester City
23/02/20 Manchester United Watford
23/02/20 Wolves Norwich
23/02/20 Arsenal Everton
24/02/20 Liverpool West Ham

Our team suggestion for the Weekly Monster in gameweek 27

Formation: 4-4-2 |  Budget used: €100m

General approach

It seems like fitting a decent 11-man selection within Fanteam’s Weekly Monster budget is becoming harder every week. For gameweek 27, Liverpool, Wolves and Southampton assets are particularly pricey as they are all playing at home against West Ham, Norwich and Aston Villa, respectively. Besides that, other teams with relatively favourable (home) fixtures don’t provide much budget-enabling fun either, with plenty of Burnley (at home to Bournemouth), Palace (at home to Newcastle) and Man United (at home to Watford) assets priced way above average as well.

As a result of the above, we have chosen to go big on the two teams we feel are the clearest favourites for a victory this weekend (Liverpool and Wolves), spending more than 65% of our budget on 6 players from these two outfits. A good result also seems to be on the cards for Southampton this weekend, but a double or triple-up on Saints assets was stretching the budget too much. Instead, we’ve gone for quality over quantity by selecting their star man for another 11.8% of our total budget. That left us with around 20m for our remaining 4 picks. Selection of these 4 players was based on their certainty of being in the starting eleven this weekend in combination with a decent potential to put down a good individual performance, seeing as these players inevitably had to come from teams who are not favourites to win this gameweek, in theory.

Goalkeeper

One of these 4 players is our goalkeeper this week, Kasper Schmeichel. Due to Leicester’s home game against Manchester Cheaty, the Danish shot stopper is one of the cheapest options in goal this weekend, but when looking at total points in Fanteam’s Weekly Monster this season, he is actually the highest-scoring goalie. He has recorded 9 clean sheets this season, conceding a total of 26 goals in 26 games so far. On Fanteam, this has put him on an average of 5.6 points per game. Against City, we’re not expecting a clean sheet, but we do count on a few save points from this budget-enabler.

Defenders

As a result of our approach this weekend and the general budget restrictions, we have opted for a 4-men defence, consisting of 2 premium picks and 2 budget picks. The big man in our backline is Liverpool’s big man and captain, Virgil van Dijk. The Reds booked a disappointing result mid-week against Atletico in Madrid, but confidence is still high and they will be looking to get back to winning ways against West Ham at Anfield coming Monday. The Hammers have scored just 10 goals in 13 games away from home (only Norwich have scored less on the road), while Liverpool have conceded just 9 goals in front of their own fans (the least of all teams in the league), so if there was ever a moment to bet on a clean sheet, this is it. As far as Van Dijk goes, over the past five games, he recorded an impressive 37 points on Fanteam, which comes down to 7.4 points per game on average.

Our second premium defender is Wolves man Romain Saiss, who is welcoming Norwich to Molineux on Sunday. The Moroccan international has become a nailed-on feature of manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s starting lineup and not just because of his defensive solidity. Besides being part of 4 clean sheets, he also has 2 goals to his name this season and no other defender has had more attempts on target than him (5) over the past 2 gameweeks. This weekend’s opponent Norwich has scored just 6 goals on the road so far this season, while conceding 22 goals in those 13 away games. In other words, chances for returns at both ends of the pitch for Saiss.

Due to a home game against Bournemouth this weekend, Burnley players carry relatively heavy price tags in gameweek 27, but we identified Clarets defender Charlie Taylor as one of the most promising Weekly Monster picks priced at 6m or lower. The English left-back started and completed the 90 minutes for Sean Dyche’s team in the last 9 Premier League games, a run in which they recorded 3 clean sheets, and we see no reason for him not starting against Bournemouth on Saturday. The Cherries are one of the most goal-shy sides when away from the comforts of their own stadium, with only Norwich and West Ham scoring less in away games than their 11 goals in 13 encounters. We didn’t pick Taylor for his attacking potential (he has no goals or assists this season), but we do feel he represents a decent chance of a clean sheet.

Our fourth and final defender, and absolute budget-enabler, is the only player in our backline to have an away game this weekend, namely Newcastle’s Federico Fernandez. The Magpies are visiting Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon in a game that has all the makings of a very low-scoring affair. Palace is the overall lowest-scoring team in the league (23 goals), while Newcastle have scored just one more goal than the Eagles. When looking at home games only, Palace is the least prolific team as well (10 goals in 13 home games), while in away games, just 4 teams have scored less than Newcastle’s 12 goals. Goalless draws don’t occur a lot in the Premier League, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this encounter turns out to be one.

Midfielders

Our midfield is rather Liverpool-heavy, with both Mo Salah and Gini Wijnaldum featuring. With their home encounter versus West Ham in mind, the Egyptian dribbler was one of the first names on our team sheet, while the Dutch all-rounder represented a considerably less expensive option than Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain or Mané. Fabinho cost a bit less, but we figured we choose Wijnaldum and count on Fabinho in case the Safety Net needs to be applied when the Dutchman doesn’t start. In the past six Premier League games, Wijnaldum started every one and completed the 90 minutes on four occasions (he got 81 and 60 minutes in the other two games). Considering he has netted just twice so far in the Premier League this season (no assists), we are not counting on attacking returns here, but we do hope for a clean sheet, the full 3 points for playing 90 minutes and hopefully an impact point for an acceptable 5 points.

That’s not what we’re hoping for from Mo Salah, though! Both on Fanteam and in FPL, we expect the Reds star to be one of this gameweek’s most popular captaincy picks and with good reason. When looking at his stats on Fanteam, he has only recorded a score of less than 4 points once in the past 10 gameweeks. What’s more, over that run, he scored 10+ points on no less than 4 occasions and 9 points in 2 games. His points average from the past 10 games: 9.8 points per game. With the previously discussed leaky Hammers defence up next for the Egyptian, that’s the kind of return we’re hoping for from him. Salah is also our captain for gameweek 27.

Besides these two Liverpool aces, we have further stacked our midfield with Wolves playmaker Joao Moutinho. At 11m, he is extremely expensive this weekend, but there were not many other ways into the Wolves midfield for their home game against Norwich. Traoré was an option, but also 0.6m more expensive, and Ruben Neves was considered as well, but we gave preference to Moutinho’s regular set-piece duties. The Portuguese midfielder has scored just a single goal this season, but he does have 7 assists to his name as well. On paper, Sunday’s game looks perfect for him, as Wolves will surely dominate against a team that has scored just 6 goals and conceded 22 goals in 13 away games.

Our fourth midfielder is a single pick based on form and importance to his team. Jack Grealish is not only Aston Villa’s captain, but their most influential and important attacking asset. The 24-year old already sits on 7 goals and 7 assists this season, which represents a direct involvement in more than 41% of Villa’s goals. The Villans are not favourites in their away game at Saint Mary’s this Saturday, but that doesn’t mean that Grealish can’t perform for us on Fanteam. They have been pretty awful on their travels so far (only Norwich has won less than their 8 points), but that’s mainly due to their defensive fragility. In an attacking sense, actually only 7 teams in the entire league have scored more away goals than Villa’s 16 successful attempts. Southampton are probably winning this one, but we can see Grealish doing something for Villa nonetheless.

Forwards

For our forward line, we have gone with a double-up of premiums from Wolves and Southampton. First up is Wolves number nine Raul Jimenez, who is facing a wobbly Norwich defence at Molineux on Sunday. Where our other striker, Danny Ings, has been surrounded by a certain level of (very well-deserved) hype this season, it has been relatively quiet in regard to Jimenez. Maybe that’s because he is not one for huge hauls or simply because we’re so used already to him performing like a world-class striker on a weekly basis, but the reality is that he has actually been directly involved in more goals than Ings. The Southampton star has scored 15 goals and provided 1 assist, while the Wolves ace has 11 goals and 6 assists to his name. Together with Mo Salah, he was the first name on our team sheet for gameweek 27 and he is also our vice-captain this weekend.

As we wrote at the start of this article, we went big on Liverpool and Wolves, which meant that we could not incorporate another three players from Southampton as they prepare for their home encounter with Aston Villa. Instead, we went for quality over quantity and brought in striker Danny Ings. After scoring 10 goals in 11 games between gameweeks 12 and 22, the Englishman went through a bit of a goalscoring dip between gameweeks 23 and 25 before getting himself back on the score sheet last weekend against Burnley. Up next is the league second-leakiest defence in away games, as Saturday’s rival Aston Villa have already taken 26 goals in 13 encounters. The last thing the Villans will want now is to face a Danny Ings working up to another purple scoring patch.

As we said this team has been entered into the 20 euro FanTeam Weekly Monster and we hope to report back next week that we’ve shared part of the 50,000 euros prize pool. You can also follow discussions about FanTeam games on FISO’s FanTeam Forum. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

FPL Season 2019/2020 – Gameweek 27 Preview

“Are Liverpool bouncing back at Anfied in gameweek 27?” (CC by 4.0). Image by Yurificacion.

With what has felt like the longest gameweek in Fantasy Premier League history ever now behind us, GW27 is now upon us and it’s looking like a potential banger. At first glance, the upcoming gameweek looks to contain a few very favourable fixtures, at least from an FPL point of view, with several good home performers facing some of the more travel-shy teams in the league. There is, of course, Liverpool looking to bounce back against West Ham at Anfield after their rare loss mid-week against Atletico Madrid, but Wolves at home to Norwich, Southampton against Aston Villa, and Sheffield United playing Brighton at Bramall Lane are practically equally appealing.

The amazing thing about this gameweek is that, in combination with the above fixtures surely having considerable impact on FPL preparations this week, we are also up for a few top-of-the-table clashes. The weekend opens on Saturday with a London derby between Chelsea and Spurs, followed by Leicester versus Manchester City later that day. On Sunday then, Arsenal is hosting an improving Everton side in a fight to see which of the two can remain within relative touching distance from the top six. Remember, with City seriously risking exclusion from European football for a few seasons, fifth place in the Premier League could represent a Champions League ticket this season. There are still lots of ifs and maybes connected to that scenario, in great part due to City’s determination to file an appeal in front of the CAS in Geneva, but it’s definitely something for Premier League clubs below the current top 4 to keep in mind.

Finally, don’t forget that the deadline for gameweek 27 is set at 11h30 (GMT+0) on Saturday, February 22nd, 2020.

How did our fantasy picks for the previous gameweek fare?

PICK PLAYER OPPONENT POINTS
Premium Kun Aguero West Ham (H) 2
Premium Sadio Mané Norwich (a) 5
Non-premium Roberto Firmino Norwich (a) 2
Non-premium Danny Ings Burnley (H) 7
Differential John Fleck Bournemouth (H) 2
Differential Steven Bergwijn Aston Villa (a) 2
Captain Kun Aguero West Ham (H) 4

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per February 20th, 2020)

  TRANSFERS OUT TRANSFERS IN POSSIBLE REASONS
GK Ryan (BRI), Schmeichel (LEI), Gazzaniga (TOT) Henderson (SHE), Pope (BUR), Button (BRI) Henderson and Pope have been in great form all season, Button is a budget-enabling pick, and Gazzaniga has returned to the bench after Lloris recovered from injury.
DEF Kelly (CRY), Lundstram (SHE), Dunk (BRI) Lundstram (SHE), Van Dijk (LIV), Lascelles (NEW) Sheffield United have favourable fixtures coming up, but the doubt surrounding Lundstram’s starting spot remains.
MID Son (TOT), Maddison (LEI), Sterling (MC) Richarlison (EVE), Mané (LIV), Traore (WOL) Son’s potentially season-ending injury have a lot of influence here, as does the return of Mané and the fact that he immediately scored the winner vs Norwich.
FOR Vardy (LEI), Abraham (CHE), Aguero (MC) Ings (SOU), Jimenez (WOL), Calvert-Lewin (EVE) Jimenez, Ings and DCL are all in good to excellent form, Abraham is injured, and Vardy’s point-scoring form has dipped a bit.

Premium fantasy picks

After losing their first game overall since September 17th 2019, last Tuesday (against Atletico in the Champions League Round of 16), neither Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp nor Reds captain Virgil van Dijk seemed particularly downbeat during their post-match interviews. Still, they will be pretty happy with this weekend’s fixture at home to West Ham, which looks like a perfect opportunity for Liverpool to get back to their usual scoring and winning ways. The Hammers are currently in 18th place, which at the end of the season would mean relegation, and they boast the third-leakiest defence overall, with only Norwich and Villa having conceded more than their 45 goals. As far as just their travels go, they have taken 20 goals in 13 games.

These worrying stats (for West Ham, that is), combined with our belief that Jurgen Klopp’s men will be bouncing back in style from their Champions League loss, has us looking at both Mo Salah (£12.8m) and Sadio Mané (£12.2m) as premium fantasy picks for gameweek 27. Their performances against Atletico were definitely not their best of the season, but that also had to do a lot with Diego Simeone’s defensive approach to the game and the at times overly harsh treatment received from the rojiblancos, especially in the case of Mané. The Senegalese forward got booked in the first half and was replaced by Origi at half-time, though that surely had more to do with the fact that he is just returning from injury than with his performance. His Egyptian partner-in-crime left the pitch in the 72nd minute for Oxlade-Chamberlain to enter, so we’re expecting him and Mané to both start against West Ham coming Monday.

In 26 Premier League games so far this season, Salah has scored 14 goals and provided 6 assists, while Mané netted 12 times and gave 8 decisive passes, meaning that each has been directly involved in exactly 20 PL goals. The Reds played the Hammers back in GW24 as well, and with Mané absent due to injury, it was Salah who took the spotlight by scoring a goal, providing an assist and hauling a lovely 14 FPL points. We feel that he is absolutely capable of repeating that feat on Monday and if he doesn’t, Mané probably will. The choice is up to you.

Non-premium fantasy picks

Southampton’s 1-2 home loss against Burnley in gameweek 26 was quite disappointing for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men, as the Saints were finding themselves in a bit of a purple patch, but from an FPL perspective, Danny Ings‘s (£7.1m) goal did a world of good to the 31% of managers who currently own him. The English striker looks finally capable of staying fit for a prolonged period of time and it did not take long for his real potential to start shining through. In 26 Premier League games this season, Ings has already scored 15 goals, provided 1 assist, and recorded an impressive 28 bonus points. No wonder some FPL managers say that an Ings goal is worth 7 points. On Saturday, the Saints are welcoming Aston Villa to Saint Mary’s and at this moment, the Villans are one of the league’s worst travellers. They have taken just 8 points from 13 away games (only Norwich has less with 6 points) and over that run, they conceded a worrying 26 goals. Only Newcastle conceded more away from home (28).

The situation this weekend is very similar for our second non-premium fantasy pick. Raul Jimenez (£7.8m) and his Wolves team mates are playing at home to Norwich, which, on paper, looks like a routine victory for the locals. As we mentioned when discussing Ings, the Canaries are the worst travellers in the league (6 points from 13 games), which is caused by a combination of a seemingly complete fear of scoring goals away from home (just 6 goals so far) and a leaky backline (22 goals conceded). Jimenez, on the other hand, knows no fear in front of goal. He has already netted 11 times and provided another 6 assists on top of that, which means that he has actually been directly involved in one more goal than Danny Ings. One of those 11 goals was scored away at Norwich back in gameweek 18 and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Jimenez on the score sheet again coming Sunday afternoon.

A differential fantasy pick or two

Our first differential fantasy pick for GW27 is a bit expensive, we admit, but Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) could deliver big this weekend. Crystal Palace boast one of the most solid defensive units amongst the English footballing elite, as Roy Hodgson’s men have conceded just 13 goals in 13 home games so far. It’s true that six teams have a better defensive record in front of their own fans, but five of those teams have conceded 12 goals in 13 away games. Add to that the fact that Newcastle, Saturday’s opponent at Selhurst Park, have scored just 3 goals in their past 4 Premier League games (a run that includes blanks against Leicester at home, Norwich at home and Arsenal away) and a defensive Eagles pick suddenly looks a lot more appealing. As far as attacking potential goes for PvA, he already has 2 goals to his name this season and over the past two gameweeks, only Wolves defender Saiss has taken more shots on goal than the Dutchman’s 4. Could there be FPL points at both ends of the pitch for the Palace wingback this weekend?

Our final pick for this weekend is another defender, namely Sheffield United’s Enda Stevens (£5.1m). We also considered fellow Blades Lundstram and Baldock for this final spot, but their current ownership levels (43.3% and 12%, respectively) sort of place them outside of the differential category. Stevens’ ownership sits at 3.2% despite having recorded just 18 FPL points less than Lundstram and 10 less than Baldock (115 vs 107 vs 97 FPL points). Over the past five games, United have booked 2 clean sheets (at home to West Ham and away against Palace) and conceded a total of 3 goals in the other 3 games. That’s a single goal conceded per game, playing Arsenal (away), City (home) and Bournemouth (home). Up next is Graham Potter’s Brighton, who are going through a decent season, but whose scoring record away from home is not fantastic (14 goals in 13 away games). Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder will be counting on a third clean sheet in six games against the Seagulls.

For further GW27 transfer ideas look at this fiso FPL forum topic.

The captaincy

The armband pick is a difficult one this weekend, in the sense that there are quite a few viable candidates, starting with Liverpool’s attacking stars. Personally, we have opted to give the captaincy to Mo Salah for gameweek 27, but in reality, Sadio Mané is just as solid a choice. Both have the potential to haul big against West Ham on Monday. Mané just came back from injury and marked his return with the winning goal against Norwich in GW26, while Salah has brought his owners an impressive 33 points in the last 3 gameweeks, courtest of 3 goals, 1 assist, 1 clean sheet and 6 bonus points. To quote ourselves from earlier in this piece: the choice is up to you.

The FISO Forum Captain poll for GW27 shows Salah and Mané are the main two choices for most.

Finally if you like FPL but want to have a go at a weekly Fantasy Premier League type competition for prizes then have a look at FanTeam’s 50,000 euro Weekly Monster. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

Fanteam Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K – FISO’s Team 2

As expected, with the Champions League knockout phase finally kicking off coming Tuesday, Fanteam has created another big-money tournament called the Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K. Yes, in case you were wondering, that “100K” refers to the total prize pool for this one, with the number one player taking home a whopping €25,000 at the end of this year’s Champions League season. We will briefly go over some of the game’s key characteristics before picking our 15-man squad. Currently there are only less than 600 teams entered (with a maximum 7,500 allowed).

First of all, this tournament is called a “Freeze”, because you will not be able to change anything about your team, once the deadline (set at 20h00 on Tuesday, February 18th) has passed. That means no more transfers, no more captain changes, no more changes to your bench, nothing. Each team consists of 15 players from the 16 teams still active in the Champions League, 11 of which are starters while the remaining 4 players form your bench. Like in FPL, the order of your bench matters when one or more of your players don’t start. Do keep this in mind, because in an ideal scenario, you are selecting players for 7 games (Round of 16 to the Final), spread over a few months time and it’s likely some of your players won’t start every game.

So, in that sense, it’s similar to the FPL approach, but without the possibility of interventions. As far as comparisons to Fanteam’s Weekly Monster go, it is very important to note that neither the Stacking Penalty (when points are deducted from clean sheet returns if you own more than one player from the team in question) nor the Safety Net (which automatically changes a player of yours that doesn’t start for the next-cheapest player in the same position bracket of the same team) are active. Here is a summary of the tournament rules:

As part of the preparation for the Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K, we will be publishing two pieces with recommended picks for a 15-man squad of which this article is the second. For the first piece, we decided to take the odds* of qualifying for the next round of each team as a foundation for our team selection. After all, you want to have as many players that stay in the tournament as long as possible. For this second piece, we will be taking the odds into account as well, but we will be leaning more towards our own predictions and aiming at including more differential picks. To give an example: for the Real Madrid-Manchester City game, the bookies give odds of 17/10 and 5/9, respectively, but in our opinion, in current form, Real Madrid might actually be the slight favourite here. This type of perceptional differences will be reflected in the differences between this article’s team selection and the one elaborated on in the previous article.

*We have used the compounded odds for this market provided by oddschecker.com.

Current odds to qualify for the quarter finals

Team Odds to qualify   Team Odds to qualify
Atletico Madrid 28/11   Liverpool 1/3
Dortmund 14/5   PSG 2/5
Atalanta 11/13   Valencia 21/20
Spurs 21/20   RB Leipzig 5/6
Chelsea 16/5   Bayern 2/7
Napoli 38/11   Barcelona 2/7
Lyon 57/10   Juventus 03/19
Real Madrid 17/10   Manchester City 05/09

This means that the 5 teams most likely to qualify for the quarter finals are, from most to least likely: Juventus, Bayern, Barcelona, Liverpool and PSG. These are relatively closely followed by Manchester City, RB Leipzig and Atalanta. In comparison to our first article for the Fanteam Champions League Freeze, our second selection features 6 repeated picks: goalkeeper Ospina, midfielders Pjanic, Henderson, and Busquets, and forwards Messi and Ronaldo. Much of the team focus has remained the same (i.e. picks from Liverpool, Juventus, Bayern and Barça), but we have also included 2 Real Madrid picks as we feel they could end up eliminating Man City, plus a couple of real differentials that help us cover a potential unexpected Round of 16 upset.

FORWARDS

As we did for our first article, we are again starting this piece with our forward picks, due to the simple reason that just over 32% of our total budget was spent on filling the three forward slots. Two of these picks were no-brainers in our opinion, as Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo  have been so dominant in the Champions League over the past decade or so that it sounds like madness to not include them in this or any CL Freeze team selection. Our third forward pick is Real Madrid number nine Karim Benzema, whose replaces Lewandowski in comparison to our first selection and frees up an additional 3.5m in the process. Seeing as we already covered some of our main reasons for picking Messi and Ronaldo in our first Champions League Freeze article, based on a few irrefutable stats regarding the Champions League and its knockout stages in particular, we will give you another opportunity here to let them sink in.

Both Messi and Ronaldo have been relatively quiet during this campaign’s group stages with two goals a piece, but that doesn’t necessarily say much. They are two of the best, if not the very best, players world football has ever seen and the knockout stages of the Champions League are what they live for. In the history of the Champions League, for example, they occupy positions 1 and 2 when it comes to goals scored in the Round of 16 (Messi with 26 goals and Ronaldo with 23). What’s more, when looking at the most goals scored in the CL knockout stages overall in history, Ronaldo is first (65 goals in 126 games) and Messi is second (41 goals in 112 games). Benzema is actually eight, with 15 goals from 47 games. As a matter of fact, these three living legends take up three of the five spots in the all-time list of UEFA Champions League goalscorers (Ronaldo first with 128 goals, Messi second with 114 goals and Benzema fourth with 64 goals).

As far as Benzema goes, his start to this season’s Champions League campaign has been decent with 4 goals and 2 assists from 5 group stage games in which he played 90 minutes and one game, the final one, in which he featured just 13 minutes. The French striker is manager Zinedine Zidane´s absolute preferred option up front and any new success in the CL will see plenty of involvement from his side. It wasn’t easy to drop Lewandowski for him, especially not when you consider Benz is playing City and Lewa is playing Chelsea, but it did free up plenty of funds to distribute elsewhere in the team. Plus, we have a feeling that, in part due to the bookies marking City as favourites to win this tie, Benzema might end up with a bit of a differential status in Fanteam’s CL Freeze tournament.

Cristiano Ronaldo is our captain and Lionel Messi our vice-captain.

MIDFIELDERS

The big difference between our midfield in this article and the midfield we selected for our first Champions League Freeze 100K tournament is the presence of a big name and premium asset in this one, namely Liverpool’s Mo Salah. Like Benzema, he sits on 4 goals and 2 assists from 6 group stage game, the main difference being that the Egyptian only missed a single minute of the group games. That’s just one goal short of his total production last season, when the Reds took home club football’s most prestigious prize for the sixth time in their history. The Round of 16 encounter with Atletico is going to be a very tough one as manager Diego Simeone has once again moulded his team into one of the most solid defensive units in the top-5 European competitions. With 15 goals conceded in 23 La Liga games, they are right behind arch rivals Real Madrid (14 in 23) and Premier League leaders Liverpool (15 in 25). We believe the Reds will overcome this hurdle though, especially considering their 22-point domestic lead, and we can only see Salah’s role in the Champions League grow from here.

Our second midfield asset is a repeat from our previous, bookmaker odds-based article, so we will repeat our motivation behind this pick. Miralem Pjanic, has missed just 3 minutes of Champions League group stage football for Juventus and averages 5.2 points on Fanteam this season. He has not scored or assisted yet in Europe this season, but the double encounter with Lyon might be a good chance for him to get off the mark. The Bosnian technician is a crucial key in coach Maurizio Sarri’s midfield, he is on plenty of set-pieces, and he will be instrumental in their push for European glory this season.

The second of our three repeated picks in midfield is Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who has been in outstanding form domestically of late. Over the past three games (not counting this weekend’s encounter with Norwich), the Englishman scored 2 goals, provided 2 assists, helped the Reds get 2 clean sheets, and brought the few FPL managers who own him an impressive 29 points. Like with his team mate Salah, Liverpool currently being 22 points ahead of number two Manchester City in the Premier League has us thinking that Henderson will be starting and completing every single Champions League game until they either get eliminated or consolidate their status as Champions League winners a second year in a row.

As our fourth midfielder, we have gone with Bayern youngster Leon Goretzka. The German attacking midfielder missed out on the first half of the group stage this season due to an ankle injury and he was left out of the starting eleven for Bayern’s last group game (when they had already qualified for the Round of 16). That’s why, when solely looking at his stats this campaign, he might not grab your attention. Goretzka is a part of Bayern coach Hansi Flick’s starting eleven though, and in the two games that he did play during the CL group stage, he scored a goal and was part of 2 clean sheets. In Fanteam, this plus his three minutes in the final group game has resulted in 15 points, which is not bad at all.

Finally, our fifth midfielder is Barça veteran Sergio Busquets, and for the same reasons as those justifying his selection in our previous article. The combination of being a regular starter for one of the favourites in not just this Round of 16 tie, but in the tournament overall, and his absolute bargain price tag makes him the ultimate budget enabler in this Champions League Freeze tournament. True, his performances in the Champions League have not been phenomenal so far this season, with an average of 70 minutes played and just 1.8 points recorded on Fanteam over this campaign’s six group stage games, but as a fifth midfielder on our bench, we could do much worse.

DEFENDERS

In defence, we have gone for a similar structure as in our first article, namely two premium picks, one player from the category just below, and two budget/differential picks.

Starting with the premiums, we have gone with Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson and Bayern left-back Benjamin Pavard, who are facing Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, respectively. The former is a nailed-on starter for Jurgen Klopp, but he did miss playing minutes in games 3 and 4 of the group stage as he was rested a few times in that period. He played 63 minutes and 16 minutes in those games, respectively, but he completed the 90 minutes in the other four group games. Despite missing out on some playing time, Robertson still sits on an average of 3.5 points per game in Fanteam, in part due to 1 goal and 2 clean sheets. Pavard, on the other hand, could not be more nailed-on as part of a starting eleven, having missed not a single minute of Champions League action so far this season. Not only did he help his team bring home 3 clean sheets from 6 games, but he also contributed offensively with 2 assists over that run of games. Up next is Chelsea, and even though we don’t necessarily expect clean sheets for the Frenchman here, we do feel confident that Bayern will qualify. If Pavard can take advantage of Chelsea’s occasional shaky defending, all the better.

Should the Blues surprise and eliminate Bayern instead, Chelsea budget defender Kurt Zouma remains in our team for at least another round of the knockout stages. The French central defender currently finds himself just outside the top-10 highest-scoring defender in Fanteam’s Champions League tournament, which is in big part thanks to his 2 clean sheets and 2 goals. What increases his appeal from a CL Freeze point of view is that he has so far missed just 17 minutes of the 2019-2020 Champions League campaign, in the first group game against Valencia. The harsh reality is that in our current set-up, either Zouma or Pavard will be out of the Champions League after the Round of 16, but the good thing is that one of them will for sure be in quarter finals. We felt this is a calculated risk, considering the fact that we have 5 defenders to fill 3 slots.

In our team, Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal is just in front of Zouma in the picking order though, forming our starting defensive line-up together with Robertson and Pavard. The Spanish defender is Zinedine Zidane’s preferred (and in reality possibly only real) option at right-back and we expect him to start every game in Europe. From a defensive point of view, it’s unlikely that Carvajal will be getting much joy from the Round of 16 encounter with Manchester City, but he is part of our strategy involving the scenario in which Real eliminate City from European football in the coming weeks. During the group stage, he completed the 90 minutes in all but the last game, for which he was rested, and he currently boasts a Fanteam points average of just under 4 points per game. The Spaniard was part of 2 clean sheets and he also provided an assist in the 6-0 home victory over Galatasaray.

Finally, another budget pick and with this one, we wanted to go differential for real. In our opinion, the Spurs versus Leipzig game is probably one of the most difficult to predict in this Round of 16. The combination of Spurs’ so-so form and equal playing style, and Leipzig’s status as serious challenger for the Bundesliga title this year (they are actually leaders at this moment) make this a very interesting game. We can see more than a few scenarios in which the Red Bull team overwhelms Spurs with their energetic, offensive play and probably not many CL Freeze player will be rooting for the Germans to pass this round. This is why Leipzig right-back Lukas Klostermann makes our bench. The young German defender is a mainstay in manager Julian Nagelsmann starting eleven, which is why he has not missed a single minute of 5 out of 6 group games this season. On top of that, he also has a clean sheet and an assist to his name, giving him an average of 3 points per game on Fanteam.

GOALKEEPERS

Finally, our goalkeepers. Due to extreme budget restrictions in this Champions League Freeze tournament, we decided to go with one nailed-on starter, which meant a relatively expensive pick, and one budget-enabling bench fodder kind of pick. Following this approach, we came up with a combination of Juventus shot stopper Wojciech Szczesny and Napoli’s reserve goalie, David Ospina. In our first article, we took a similar approach and ended up with Alisson and Ospina.

On paper, Juventus has one of the easier match-ups in this Round of 16 with a double encounter against French side Olympique Lyon. In the group stages, only PSG conceded less goals than Juventus (2 vs. 4) and only three teams matched Juve’s defensive performance (Man City, Barcelona and Napoli). Domestically, where Szczesny is rested in favour of living legend Gianluigi Buffon from time to time, only Inter and Lazio have so far conceded less than Juve’s 23 goals in 23 games. The Polish goalie played the full 90 minutes in all but one group game (the sixth and last game) and over that run, he recorded a more than decent 28 points on Fanteam, courtesy of 2 clean sheets, 14 saves and 4 impact points. If he can keep up his current average of 5.6 points per game until very late in the tournament, we’ll be more than happy.

Our second goalkeeper Ospina is not expected to play a single minute in this Champions League Freeze 100k tournament. He was the cheapest available keeper and allowed us to save another million or so to spend elsewhere in our team.

This team has been entered into the 25 euro FanTeam Champions League Freeze 100k and we hope to report back that we’ve shared in the 100,000 euros prize pool. You can also follow discussions about FanTeam games on FISO’s FanTeam Forum. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

Fanteam Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K – FISO’s Team 1

As expected, with the Champions League knockout phase finally kicking off coming Tuesday, Fanteam has created another big-money tournament called the Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K. Yes, in case you were wondering, that “100K” refers to the total prize pool for this one, with the number one player taking home a whopping €25,000 at the end of this year’s Champions League season. We will briefly go over some of the game’s key characteristics before picking our 15-man squad.

First of all, this tournament is called a “Freeze”, because you will not be able to change anything about your team, once the deadline (set at 20h00 on Tuesday, February 18th) has passed. That means no more transfers, no more captain changes, no more changes to your bench, nothing. Each team consists of 15 players from the 16 teams still active in the Champions League, 11 of which are starters while the remaining 4 players form your bench. Like in FPL, the order of your bench matters when one or more of your players don’t start. Do keep this in mind, because in an ideal scenario, you are selecting players for 7 games (Round of 16 to the Final), spread over a few months time and it’s likely some of your players won’t start every game.

So, in that sense, it’s similar to the FPL approach, but without the possibility of interventions. As far as comparisons to Fanteam’s Weekly Monster go, it is very important to note that neither the Stacking Penalty (when points are deducted from clean sheet returns if you own more than one player from the team in question) nor the Safety Net (which automatically changes a player of yours that doesn’t start for the next-cheapest player in the same position bracket of the same team) are active. Here is a summary of the tournament rules:

As part of the preparation for the Champions League Knockout Freeze 100K, we will be publishing two pieces with recommended picks for a 15-man squad of which this article is the first and here is a link to the 2nd. For this piece, we have decided to take the odds* of qualifying for the next round of each team as a foundation for our team selection. After all, you want to have as many players that stay in the tournament as long as possible. For the second piece, we will be taking the odds into account as well, but we will be leaning more towards our own predictions and aiming at including more differential picks. To give an example: for the Real Madrid-Manchester City game, the bookies give odds of 17/10 and 5/9, respectively, but in our opinion, in current form, Real Madrid might actually be the slight favourite here. This type of perceptional differences will be reflected in the differences between this article’s team selection and the one for the next article.

*We have used the compounded odds for this market provided by oddschecker.com.

Current odds to qualify for the quarter finals

Team Odds to qualify   Team Odds to qualify
Atletico Madrid 28/11   Liverpool 1/3
Dortmund 14/5   PSG 2/5
Atalanta 11/13   Valencia 21/20
Spurs 21/20   RB Leipzig 5/6
Chelsea 16/5   Bayern 2/7
Napoli 38/11   Barcelona 2/7
Lyon 57/10   Juventus 03/19
Real Madrid 17/10   Manchester City 05/09

This means that the 5 teams most likely to qualify for the quarter finals are, from most to least likely, Juventus, Bayern, Barcelona, Liverpool and PSG. Staying true to our chosen approach for our first team selection for the Champions League Freeze, we managed to squeeze in 12 players from these teams. Seeing as the favourites for qualification generally also boost the most expensive players, we have based our choices largely on two parameters, namely that the player needs to be a sure starter on a team that is heavy favourite to go through. In combination with our choice to go all-in on forwards, this approach can give you a more than decent 11, 12 players, but a relatively more fodder-like selection on the bench.

FORWARDS

We usually start with our goalkeeper pick and work our way up the pitch, so to say, but seeing as just under 35% of our total 108m budget was spent on this line, we are starting with it this time. By picking Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski, we have gone with proven track records, to put it mildly. As a matter of fact, these three living legends take up three of the five spots in the all-time list of UEFA Champions League goalscorers (Ronaldo first with 128 goals, Messi second with 114 goals and Lewandowski fifth with 63 goals).

As far as this Champions League season goes, Lewandowski is top of the list with 10 goals in 6 games. Just like last year, he has the most goals behind his name after the tournament’s group stage. His next opponent is Chelsea, who have been generally good this season, but lacking defensive solidity from time to time. To give you an idea of their current situation: the Blues are placed fourth in the Premier League, but they have already conceded 34 goals in 25 games. Only one team in the top half of the table has conceded more so far (Everton, 38 goals).

Both Messi and Ronaldo have been relatively quiet during this campaign’s group stages with two goals a piece, but basically, that doesn’t necessarily say much. They are two of the best, if not the very best, players world football has ever seen and the knockout stages of the Champions League are what they live for. In the history of the Champions League, for example, they occupy positions 1 and 2 when it comes to goals scored in the Round of 16 (Messi with 26 goals and Ronaldo with 23). What’s more, when looking at the most goals scored in the CL knockout stages overall in history, Ronaldo is first (65 goals in 126 games) and Messi is second (41 goals in 112 games). Lewandowski is actually fourth, with 19 goals in 53 games.

What we are trying to say is that this is the type of player teams look to in the biggest games, because they know how to deliver and usually do so. With Messi facing Napoli, Ronaldo facing Lyon and Lewa facing Chelsea, we are not only hoping that they will return big for our team during the Round of 16, but until (much) later in the tournament as well.

Cristiano Ronaldo is our captain and Lewandowski our vice-captain.

DEFENDERS

It might feel a bit strange to start with our forwards and then continue with our defensive picks, but there is (some) logic to the madness. Picking Messi, Ronaldo and Lewandowski put some serious pressure on our budget, as it has left us with 70.5m to bring in 12 more players, with as many of those picks as possible coming from the previously mentioned bookies’ favourites. That’s an average of 5.8m  budget per pick, which is not a lot.

Considering the relatively lower prices of defenders, we figured it would be necessary to pick a few defenders first, before moving on the midfield and the goalkeepers. We were planning to play with a 3-men defence, consisting of 2 premium picks, 2 from the category just below, and 1 cheap, but starting defender on the bench.

As premiums, we have gone with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich, who are facing Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, respectively. The former is the reigning European champion’s captain and as nailed-on as they come, while the latter is versatile nailed-on starter who generally plays right-back, but is also posted on the midfield at times. In addition to that, he gets some set-piece duties as well. Atletico Madrid are struggling more than a bit in front of goal, which is underlined by the fact that only seven teams in the entire Spanish Primera Division have scored less than their 25 goals so far this season. Bayern opponent Chelsea finds the net a lot easier, but they also leave the back a lot more open and we expect Bayern to eliminate Lampard’s men over two games. Both Van Dijk and Kimmich should bring in some points this round and qualify for the quarter finals as well.

We were pleasantly surprised about Leonardo Bonucci‘s price tag, which placed him in the category just under the premium picks. In the long-term absence of Chiellini, the Italian veteran leads the Old Lady’s defensive line, which assures him of starts and usually 90 minutes of playing time. He was only left out of one group stage game, the last one against Leverkusen when Juve had already qualified for the knockout stages, and he played 90 minutes in the other five games. In those games, he recorded 2 clean sheets and received 1 yellow card, bringing him to 20 points on Fanteam and an average of 4 points per game played. Juventus are facing Lyon in the Round of 16 and we are hoping for another shut-out (or two!) for the reigning Italian champions.

Our final two defensive picks are PSG’s Marquinhos, who also plays in midfield at times, and our budget pick, Napoli defender Manolas. The former only missed 20 minutes of the group stage this season as he was taken off after 70 minutes in the first group game, while the latter missed 2 group games due to fitness issues, but played the full 90 minutes in the other 4 games. In other words, they are both nailed-on starters for their teams. Both are facing teams, Dortmund and Barcelona respectively, that on a good day can score a bunch of goals against any team in Europe, but the bookmakers feel PSG are favourites against Dortmund. They don’t in the case of Manolas and Napoli versus Barcelona, but when he was playing for AS Roma during the 2017/2018 season, it was the Greek’s header that sealed a historic comeback for the Italians and a dramatic exit for the Catalans. Who knows, maybe Napoli surprises the bookies and Manolas scores another winner. In any case, he is our fifth defender.

MIDFIELDERS

As a result of our approach so far, we needed to make some important concessions in midfield in order to make the budget fit. This has given us a very decent lineup consisting of starting eleven players from the favourites to qualify for the quarter finals, but not all of them are directly involved in their teams’ goals on a regular basis. Most of them are playmaking central midfielders, some of them with set-piece duties.

We’re starting with Miralem Pjanic, who missed just 3 minutes of Champions League group stage football for Juventus and averages 5.2 points on Fanteam this season. He has not scored or assisted yet in Europe this season, but the double encounter with Lyon might be a good chance for him to get off the mark. He is a crucial key in coach Maurizio Sarri’s midfield, he is on plenty of set-pieces, and he will be instrumental in their push for European glory this season.

From FC Barcelona, we have chosen two midfielders who should be assured of a starting spot in the games of the CL knockout stages. In a season full of turmoil for Barcelona at an executive level, to such an extent that the performances on the pitch seem to have suffered at times, new arrival Frenkie de Jong is a regular ray of light. The ex-Ajax man needed little to no time to convince everyone at the club that he is the present and future of their first team, but the question remains when the coach (first Valverde, now Sétien) stops moving him throughout the team and installs him in his preferred central midfield position. He has probably been Barcelona’s best player so far this season, behind Messi of course, and his protagonism in the team will only keep growing. Frenkie is mostly the playmaking midfielder, the man providing the pre-assist, but with the likes of Messi and Griezmann in front of you, he could be directly involved in a goal at any moment. Just check out his recent goal against Real Betis after a combination with Messi.

Our second Barça midfielder is Sergio Busquets, due to the combination of being a starting player at one of the favourites for not just their Round of 16 tie, but for the final victory, and his absolute bargain price tag. True, his performances in the Champions League have not been phenomenal so far this season, with an average of 70 minutes played and just 1.8 points recorded on Fanteam over this campaign’s six group stage games, but as a fifth midfielder on our bench, we could do much worse.

The remaining two spots in our midfield are being occupied by PSG’s Marco Verratti and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson. With the Italian midfielder, we have selected another player who played 90 minutes in all but one group game (the last one, when PSG was already qualified). He has no direct goal involvements to his name so far, but he did record 4 clean sheets and an average of 3.7 points on Fanteam over 6 games. With Henderson then, we have gone for another team captain and one who has been in extraordinary form domestically of late. In FPL, he has scored an incredible 29 points over the past three gameweeks, courtesy of a probably unprecedented 2 goals, 2 assists and 2 clean sheets in three games. With the Reds currently 22 points ahead of number two Man City in the Premier League, we can see Henderson starting and completing every single Champions League game until they either get eliminated or consolidate their status as Champions League winners a second year in a row.

GOALKEEPERS

Finally, our goalkeepers. Due to extreme budget restrictions, we decided to go with one nailed-on starter, which meant an expensive pick, and one budget-enabling bench fodder kind of pick. Following this approach, we came up with a combination of Liverpool’s Alisson and Napoli’s reserve goalie, David Ospina.

The reasoning behind Alisson’s selection is very similar to that of Virgil van Dijk, in the sense that the Reds are facing an Atletico side with very little attacking threat in them. Besides that, he is the unchallenged number one between the posts and in case a situation occurs in this second half of the season in which Jurgen Klopp needs to pick a game to rest the Brazilian, the 22-point lead in the Premier League should lead to that game being a domestic one, not a European one. In other words, the Premier League’s best goalkeeper and one of the best goalkeepers in the world overall should be starting every CL knockout stage game as part of one of the most solid defensive units in European football.

As a result of that certainty (though nothing is ever completely sure in football), our second goalkeeper Ospina is not expected to play a single minute in this Champions League Freeze 100k tournament. He was the cheapest available keeper and allowed us to save another million or so to spend elsewhere in our team.

This team has been entered into the 25 euro FanTeam Champions League Freeze 100k and we hope to report back that we’ve shared in the 100,000 euros prize pool. You can also follow discussions about FanTeam games on FISO’s FanTeam Forum. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

Fanteam Weekly Monster Early Entry Team – GW26 Part 2

FISO are starting a new series of weekly articles on Fanteam, Europe’s biggest daily fantasy football provider (and entering the team that we write about!). This series will focus on Fanteam’s Weekly Monster, a weekly fantasy league based on the weekend Premier League games. Our article will focus on a Early Entry for this weekly tournament which will help you identify game rules, tactics and the most promising players per gameweek so you can win some of that large prize money.

This gameweek round, due to the winter break, is split up into two weekends. As a result, the classic Fanteam Weekly Monster format with a 50,000 euro prize pool based on nine Premier League games was replaced last weekend by the Weekend Big Four 15k and for this weekend by the Weekend Big Five 20k . The concept is identical, but it involves only the five games of GW26 that are being played this weekend and the prize pool sits at 20,000 euros.

Before moving onto our team selection, we want to highlight a couple of Fanteam rules that they apply to their Weekly Monster competition and that represent some of the major differences when comparing the game to the FPL.

Number one is that FanTeam have a rule called the ‘safety net’. The safety net comes into play when a selected player does not start in the Weekly Monster, because the game will then automatically replace this player with the next lowest-priced player from the same position (GK, DEF, MID, FOR) in the same team. By ‘next’ lowest we mean if our player (who doesn’t start) is priced at 7m and two players priced less than him at 6.8m and 6.5m start then our replacement will be the 6.8m player. The automatic replacement is regardless of whether or not your selected player does take to the field later in the game. This rule means people who have entered a team into the Weekly Monster need not worry too much about whether their selected players will start or not, particularly if they know there are cheaper players for that same club in that same position who should start instead.

Number two is that FanTeam also have a ‘stacking penalty’ for the Weekly Monster, which penalises teams that have selected more than one defenders/goalkeeper from the same club. The stacking penalty comes into play when you pick more than one defensive player (defenders or goalkeepers) from a particular club and this club records a clean sheet. The points awarded for this clean sheet will decrease by 1 point for each additional defensive player from the same club that you have selected. The stacking penalty has a maximum of minus 3 points. This rule helps stop multi-entrants from gaining an advantage by submitting block defence teams.

The deadline for this gameweek is set at 12h30 (UK time) on Saturday, February 15th, 2020.

Gameweek 26 Weekend Big Five matches

15/02/20 12:30 Southampton Burnley
15/02/20 17:30 Norwich Liverpool
16/02/20 14:00 Aston Villa Spurs
16/02/20 16:30 Arsenal Newcastle
17/02/20 20:00 Chelsea Manchester United

Our team for the Weekend Big Five 20K in gameweek 26 – part 2

Formation: 2-2-2 |  Budget used: €54.9m (budget 55m)

Goalkeeper

Instead of recommending a goalkeeper here, as we would usually do, we’re using this space instead to elaborate a bit on this week’s Big Five game, starting with why we haven’t selected a goalkeeper this week. In the second weekend of gameweek 26 of Fanteam’s Weekly Monster, called the Weekend Big Five, the number of available matches to pick players from was reduced to five and instead of selecting 11 players, we had to select just 6. We could do so in any formation we wanted (a 0-3-3, for example), there was no limit on the number of picks from a specific team, and there was no possibility to select a goalkeeper this week.

The second part of this gameweek provides us with a bit more variation when it comes to favourable fixtures, with Liverpool visiting Norwich, Southampton hosting Burnley, Arsenal welcoming Newcastle to the Emirates and Spurs going to Villa Park. The clash of the weekend is the Monday night encounter between Chelsea and Man United. On paper, the Southampton home game and the Liverpool away game are probably the most appealing fixtures this weekend, but due to the high prices of Liverpool assets and the relatively heavy price tags of Saints players, it was quite hard to load our team with potentially big-hitters from just those two teams. We have ended up going for three Reds, two Saints and one part differential, part punt, part budget-enabler in a 2-2-2 formation. We will also have a chance to see the starting line-ups for Southampton but it’s only their match v Burnley that fantasy managers can see the starting line-ups for this weekend before the entry deadline. Fingers crossed that neither the Liverpool or Southampton matches are postponed (for more than 48 hours) as the Man City v West Ham match was last weekend which meant the Man City players on our team scored no points.

Defenders

After 9 clean sheets in the last 10 Premier League games, it was kind of hard not to start off our defensive picks for the Weekend Big Five with a Liverpool player. Out of budget considerations, we have gone with Joe Gomez. Coincidence or not, Liverpool’s previously mentioned run of clean sheets started in gameweek 16, when Gomez got his first full 90 minutes since gameweek 1. Contrary to his fellow Reds defenders, the young Englishman has not recorded any attacking return over that period, which explains his lower price in the Big Five this weekend as well, but he did total 58 points in the official Fantasy Premier League game (9 clean sheets, 5 bonus points). In the Big Five this weekend, only Matip and Williams are cheaper defenders than Gomez, which largely removes the safety net for this pick in case he doesn’t start at Carrow Road. That is, unless Matip starts in his place, but we expect Gomez to be in the starting lineup on Sunday.

Our second defender this weekend is Southampton left-back Ryan Bertrand, who is facing Burnley at Saint Mary’s. The Saints have been improving defensively of late, with all of their three clean sheets this season coming in the last 8 games (Chelsea away, Spurs home, Palace away), while only Norwich, Watford, Bournemouth and West Ham have netted fewer times on their travels than Burnley’s 12 goals. In other words, this could turn out to be a low-scoring affair, though with the Premier League you never quite know. As far as Bertrand himself goes, his season has been relatively quiet this season, with 3 clean sheets, a goal and an assist from 25 games to his name so far. He does play on the far left of manager Ralph Hasenhüttl’s five-men defence, which sees him positioned higher up the pitch for large parts of their games. We are hoping that Burnley manager Sean Dyche will have a defensive approach to this game that allows Southampton’s defenders to have possession closer to the Burnley goal, and that Bertrand will benefit from this in terms of returns at both ends of the pitch.

Midfielders

Seeing as we have gone heaviest in attack this weekend, our midfield consists of Jordan Henderson and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial. The former is in great form with 2 goals, 2 assists and 2 clean sheets from his last 3 Premier League games, while the latter is not in great form with just a single goal over his last 4 PL games.

Henderson is not only a sure starter in Jurgen Klopp’s ideal eleven, but the captain of the Reds as well. The England international has been going through something of purple patch lately, as he is not generally known as a fantasy asset that provides regular attacking returns. After 25 games this season, he sits on 3 goals and 4 assists, of which, like we wrote earlier, 2 goals and 2 assists came since gameweek 24. Up next for the Reds is Norwich and no team has conceded more at home than the Canaries 25 goals in 12 games (if we are ignoring the 0-9 result from the Soton-Leicester game in GW10). At the same time, Liverpool has already scored 25 times away from home and 9 of those goals were scored in their last 4 away games. With Leicester, Spurs, Wolves and West Ham the opponents in those games, we are hoping that Norwich won’t be too much of an obstacle to scoring a few more on Sunday.

Then there is Anthony Martial, largely struggling out-of-position striker at a largely struggling Manchester United side. The Frenchman’s price tag in the Weekend Big Five played a big role in this pick, because looks like one of the picks with most (differential) potential after having loading up on Liverpool and Southampton players. There is a bit more to it though, because Chelsea have actually been far from stable in front of their own fans this season.

  TOTAL HOME  (% of total) AWAY
GOALS SCORED 43 16  (37%) 27
GOALS CONCEDED 34 12  (35%) 22
POINTS 41 18  (44%) 23
PL RANKING 4th 10th 3rd

We are not saying that United are favourites here, the Red Devils have their own issues to deal with after all, but we can see them being successful on the counter in this one, despite Rashford’s absence. Martial and co have shown this season that they are more comfortable when the other team dominates possession and seeing as that is what we expect from Chelsea in this game, there might be something in it here for the Frenchman on Monday. After three consecutive blanks, he will be desperate to return to the form he displayed between gameweeks 19 and 22 (4 goals in 4 games).

Forwards

Most of our budget for the Weekend Big Five has been spent on forwards, starting with Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino. As basically every season since arriving from Hoffenheim in June of 2015, the Brazilian attacker is proving a key cog in Jurgen Klopp’s highly successful formation. He has scored 8 goals and provided the same number of assists so far this season, and the first of those returns (an assist in GW1) actually came at Anfield against Sunday’s opponents, Norwich. Apart from the fact that Bobby is as nailed-on a starter as they come in the Premier League, there is another, statistically viable reason for splashing the cash on him this weekend, namely his away record this season: all of his goals and 1 of his assists was recorded away from Anfield. The Canaries boast the Leagues leakiest defence in total (47 goals conceded, joint with Villa) and in home games (25 conceded, joint with West Ham and not counting Southampton’s 0-9 defeat). We figured that the combination of Firmino’s excellent away form and Norwich’ general defensive issues has all of the makings of a big haul. He is also our captain.

In attack, the Liverpool man is joined by Southampton striker Danny Ings, who is having the most prolific campaign of his Premier League career this season. It’s true that he hasn’t recorded an attacking return since gameweek 22, but it should be noted that the three games since then saw him face Wolves at home (completed the 90 minutes), Palace away (played 20 minutes) and Liverpool away (played 69 minutes). Between GW7 and GW22 though, the English forward scored an impressive 13 goals to bring his season tallies to 14 goals and 1 assist. The first game of the Weekend Big Five is Southampton’s encounter with Burnley at Saint Mary’s and we’re hoping that this is the one in which Ings finds his scoring boots once again to go on another goal-scoring run of game-changing proportions. As far as the Clarets go, they are having a decent mid-table season overall, but the 20 goals conceded in just 12 away games will probably be worrying manages Sean Dyche a bit, especially now that his men are preparing to face one of this season’s most lethal strikers. Ings is also our vice-captain this weekend.

This team has been entered into the 20 euro FanTeam Big Five 20k and we hope to report back next week that we’ve shared part of the 15,000 euros prize pool. You can also follow discussions about FanTeam games on FISO’s FanTeam Forum. FISO members could win free ‘Weekly Monster’ entries (worth 20 euros) via the FISO FanTeam forum. There are freerolls for new entrants if registered within the last 8 weeks. Read all about a fiso member who won 30,000 euros on FanTeam from just a 2 euro entry fee. FanTeam have also just launched a 500,000 euro Fantasy Premier League game.

Yes, You Can Go to Jail for Playing Fantasy Sports

Many people across the United States play fantasy sports. It is fun and can add excitement to a sport’s season. On top of that, it can also be a way to make money through sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings, which are the two premier Fantasy Sports websites.

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However, it may be illegal for you to play Fantasy Sports. That might sound weird, but it’s true. If the league that a player participates in has a fee for entry or has prizes given out, it may be an activity that is an illegal one.

The Legality of Fantasy Sports in the USA

The issue of the legality of Fantasy Sports in the US, especially online, is one that is complicated. The basic issue is how the states classify games – are they based on chance or skill?

For Fantasy Sports, there is some skill that is involved, especially for being successful. However, on the other side of the coin, there is also luck involved. So, as you can see, the issue is not one that is cut and dry.

For example, the states of Arizona, Washington, Montana and Louisiana have never offered Fantasy Sports, because all of them have laws that classify any game that has any chance to it as gambling. There are other states where the laws they have are not as clear, and it is up to the online operator if they want to offer their services in that state.

A majority of the operators online are in tune with what market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings do as far as where to offer their services. As of January 2020, those two Fantasy Sports websites block players from Arizona, Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington State.

There are now 19 states that have Fantasy Sports being a game that is one involving skill, and there are many others that will likely do the same in the not-to-distant future.

Crossing State Lines

One of the trickier aspects of the legality of Fantasy Sports is the issue of state lines. When you play in a Fantasy Sports league, you are not only dealing with the laws of the state you reside in but all of the other states where members of that league reside as well.

The state line issue brings federal racketeering laws into the equation, and those consequences can be serious.

In terms of the consequences when playing Fantasy Sports illegally, they mainly are due to taxes. Any type of income for a US Citizen, which does include any winnings from playing Fantasy Sports, has to be reported to the IRS, and failure to do so is seen as tax evasion.

In the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, it also states that you have to report winnings even if it is the case that you won them in an illegal manner in terms of the state you reside in. If a Fantasy Sports player reports winnings on the federal level, they are fine, but there are still the state laws to deal with in terms of gambling.

Jail, Really?

While playing Fantasy Sports in some states is illegal, jail time can be a consequence that is highly unlikely. All in all, state authorities do not view playing in fantasy leagues as a high priority and do not go after those that take part in them.

For example, offshore gambling is illegal, yet those who take part in that are rarely, if ever, prosecuted. Still, playing in illegal fantasy leagues is against the law and can be punishable by fines and/or jail time, but, again, those laws are rarely enforced.

The police will not raid your fantasy league night, but it is always a good idea to find out if playing Fantasy Sports is legal in your state.

An Attorney Can Help

If you really want to be on the safe side when playing Fantasy Sports or are looking to set up a fantasy league, a local attorney can help. They can look into the legality of those things in the state you are in and make sure you are playing in a legal manner.

They can also help if you have players that are taking part in the league and reside in another state. On top of the legality of Fantasy Sports and playing in leagues, a local attorney can also help you with any winnings to make sure you are reporting them in the right manner.

So What to Do?

Millions of Americans take part in Fantasy Sports, and it can be very exciting and even profitable to do so. However, you have to be aware that it can be illegal, and there are consequences.

As stated before, enforcement is minimal, but you still want to make sure that you are taking part in a legal venture when playing Fantasy Sports, as it all depends on the laws in your state.