A Bag Full Of Lemons – Week 21

Whilst I enjoyed my time away in Australia I have to admit the timing of the update which finally broke the Official FPL act on my phone wasn’t perfect. Therefore, with limited chances to update my team I lost some of the momentum I had been building up but, as is usually the case, when I finally got back to a decent internet connection my team didn’t do too badly this week, clocking up an above average 83 points.


The natural selection of my Giraffe of the Week would be Harry Kane, who put in a captain’s performance in getting me 34 points but Marcos Alonso managed to garner an impressive 21 and in doing so wins the award. At the other end I normally hate highlighting defenders for scoring in the wrong net but Gareth McAuley’s own goal, combined with his side’s shambolic defensive display wins McAuley the Lemon of the Week.


After so long away this week’s transfers are more about beginning to get my team back to where they should be so out goes Ramadan to be replaced by Arnie, who I hope after his match winning performance against Sunderland will go on a run of form similar to that of last season’s. In addition, the experiment with Shane Long is over and with West Brom playing a Sunderland team clearly short on confidence I have brought in Salomon Rondon.


November’s Giraffes and Lemons

With Christmas almost upon us the Premier League is beginning to have a familiar feel to it as the usual suspects congregate near the top of the table whilst at the bottom can be found the teams most people suspected would struggle. It is interesting however to see the top two places filled by teams who have no European involvement this season, with European competition shutting down shortly for a couple of months will the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City be able to pull away from Chelsea and Liverpool now their schedules are less crowded?

My Team Giraffe for November goes to the league leaders, Chelsea, who have continued to impress and, for a supporter who likes to revel in the defensive side of the game, who have been miserly at the back. Another way to gauge Chelsea’s recent success is the level of imitation which they have been awarded with a larger number of clubs beginning to dabble with three at the back!

At the other end of the table my Team Lemon for November has to go to Crystal Palace who are currently in freefall and were responsible for probably the worst defensive display I have seen in the last twenty years, and that is saying something if you remember I am a Stoke supporter!

Here then is my updated prediction for the end of the season (and how it has changed since the start of the season):

  1. Manchester City (1st)
  2. Chelsea (2nd)
  3. Liverpool (5th)
  4. Arsenal (4th)
  5. Tottenham Hotspur (6th)
  6. Manchester United (3rd)
  7. Southampton (10th)
  8. Everton (7th)
  9. Watford (14th)
  10. Stoke City (8th)
  11. Bournemouth (16th)
  12. Leicester City (12th)
  13. West Bromwich Albion (13th)
  14. Middlesbrough (11th)
  15. West Ham United (9th)
  16. Burnley (17th)
  17. Swansea (15th)
  18. Crystal Palace (18th)
  19. Hull City (20th)
  20. Sunderland (19th)

Keeping with Crystal Palace my Individual Lemon of the Month goes to Alan Pardew for the sterling work he is doing moulding a group of talented individuals into a team who look like they don’t know what they’re doing and clearly don’t want to play for the manager.

Finishing on a more positive note my Individual Giraffe of the Month also goes to a player who won the respective team award. I thought about giving it to Victor Moses for his transformation into a wing back but instead the award goes to his fellow wing back Marcos Alonso. I for one was not surprised when Conte switched to a back three, partly because it has always been his preferred formation but also because Alonso was one of his first signings. Defensively he is strong but more importantly he is also one of Chelsea’s main attacking outlets and I predict by the end of the season he will have become a Fantasy Football favourite.

A Bag Full Of Lemons – Week 10

As hinted at last week I have decided to play my wildcard this week to freshen up my team, hopefully in a bid to continue rising up the charts.


With Lee Grant now Stoke’s caretaker number one I have decided to bring in the other wonder fantasy football keeper Tom Heaton. This means I have a Stoke City player free and I have gone for the captain, Ryan Shawcross, who I feel is a lucky break away from going on the sort of goal scoring spree that helped Stoke win promotion to the Premiership. Also in defence I have decided to swap Azpilicueta for his Chelsea team mate Marcos Alonso who I expect to be the player most fantasy football managers bring into their team between now and Christmas. Joining Shawcross and Alonso as a newbie and my fifth choice defender is Simon Francis has the dual attributes of playing every week and also being cheap.

In midfield I have further tied my fortunes to Chelsea’s defensive prowess by swapping out Capoue for Victor Moses, who will probably be on my bench most weeks but is almost guaranteed to pick up points if one of my bug guns is not playing. With most of my midfield settled I still had to get rid of Pogba and so I have decided to pair Firmino with Phillipe Coutinho, this season’s second highest point scorer whose Liverpool team have a juicy set of fixtures between now and the end of the year.

After bringing in Moses I am forced, for now, to replace Diego Costa, let’s see if Conte buys another full back in the January transfer window. In deciding who to replace Costa with I am listening to an old adage, Harry Kane never scores at the start of the season but once he does start he never stops. I just hope his goal against Arsenal is the one which kick starts his season.

Giraffes and Lemons – A Third of the Season Gone

Although not quite a third of the way through the season, the recent international break gives us a chance to look back at the matches which have been played so far and highlight some of the players who have stood out for each club. Here are my thoughts on who has stood tall so far this season, based on the matches I have watched and a couple who have perhaps not done as well as may have been expected.

As always let me know your thoughts and feel free to tell me if you think I have got your club’s star player wrong:



Adam Smith – An attacking full back who is surely destined for a bigger club as more and more begin to flirt with playing three at the back.



Alexis Sanchez – Has been the reason for much of Arsenal’s good play this season but a word of warning, the Chilean does run hot and cold


Arsene Wenger – Another transfer window where he failed to deliver that world class player, Xhaka may turn out to be a star turn but Arsenal need help for Sanchez and Co more than they need defensive minded reinforcements



Tom Heaton – If Burnley are to survive it will be because of their shot stopper



Marcos Alonso – Brought to the club so that Conte can play the system he wants to. With three at the back the Spaniard has the freedom to roam forward and is one of Chelsea’s most unheralded attacking options.


Gary Cahill – Calamity waiting to happen at times and it sums up his season so far when David Luiz isn’t winning this award

Crystal Palace


Steve Mandanda – Looks to be a class act and could end up being one of the best bits of business done by any club in the last transfer window.



Yannick Bolaise – Although Lukaku has stolen the headlines with his goals the Congolese international has been the one to provide most of the big Belgian’s bullets.

Hull City


Curtis Davies – I have a feeling by the end of the season Hull will be relegated and Michael Dawson will be winning this award but Davies was immense in August and is largely responsible for the club having the points they have.


The Board – There prevaricating over the appointment of Mike Phelan as their new manager was nothing short of a fiasco and, even though as a result they may have saved themselves some money in the short term, their dithering cost them the chance to bring in the players they needed to give them a chance of staying up.

Leicester City


Islam Slimani – With Vardy misfiring the Algerian has looked at times the only likely source of goals.


Riyad Mahrez – Should Leicester have sold him in the summer? Surely the longer he takes to recover last season’s form the more his value drops. I would be tempted to get what I could for the Algerian in the January transfer window.



Roberto Firmino – Whilst many would argue this should have gone to his fellow Brazilian midfielder I feel Firmino produces more consistently and is a greater threat


Daniel Sturridge – Perhaps more a statement of England’s place in the international game when one of their star strikers shouldn’t really be on his club’s bench based on his Liverpool showings this season.

Manchester City


Fernandinho – With both his centre halves and his goalkeeper being real contenders for the Lemon of the year Fernandinho’s contribution cannot be underestimated. Sitting in front of a disaster waiting to happen the Brazilian has been City’s real foundation.

Nolito – Could have gone to any of City’s back line but the Spanish winger gets the nod simply for the stupidity he regularly shows when over reacting to tackles. Expect at least one more red card this season.

Manchester United


Zlatan – Might have gone through a goal drought but his hard work and all round game brings out the best in those around him. A consummate professional.


Marcus Rashford – After bursting onto the scene has been less than average ever since the Stoke game. Fans will need to remember he is young and not get angry when Jose takes him out of the firing line for his own good. Could still be one for the future though.



Aitor Karanka – Has overseen Middlesbrough’s return to the Premiership with quiet efficiency


Alvaro Negrado – After a goal scoring debut against Stoke, naturally, has failed to produce consistently enough and would be surprised if his loan is made permanent



Virgil Van Dijk – I expect the Dutchman to be the next to head through the door marked exit. Truly good all round defender

Stoke City


Geoff Cameron – Has Clumsy finally found his position? Could he be the long term answer to Glenda? His move to central defensive midfielder has been one of the main reasons for Stoke’s upturn in fortune


Erik Pieters – Showed signs against West Ham that he may be returning to his best form but has been responsible for too many goals this season



Jordan Pickford – Everybody’s fantasy football goalkeeper. Has been putting in man of the match performances every week and has had to.


Jack Rodwell – Once the future of the English game, now looks out of his depth in a team destined for relegation.

Tottenham Hotspur


Victor Wanyama – A tank of a man who shields probably the best back four in the Premiership with consummate ease.


Vincent Janssen – A flop since his big money summer transfer



Jose Holebas – Has been a revelation this season under Mazzari and even scored a stunner against Middlesbrough


The Pozzo Family – Whilst Mazzari looks like keeping the Hornets in the Premiership will this be enough for the owners who seem to expect the club to be challenging for honours. The debacle over allegedly forged bank letters could also come back to haunt the club.

West Bromwich Albion


Nacer Chadli – Tony Pulis buying an out and out flair player and playing him regularly, stranger things have happened in football but not often. The Belgian clearly had a point to prove and at the moment is proving it.


Saido Berahino – Is he still playing football? Apparently overweight and unfit I still fear Hughes will try and sign the England player when the transfer window opens in January.

West Ham United


Michail Antonio – Already scored five goals this season and looks a threat no matter where he plays, and he has played almost everywhere. What chance ninety minutes in goal before the end of the season?


Simone Zaza – The best bit of transfer business West Ham could do in January would be to persuade someone to buy the Italian flop before they are forced to fork out for overrated striker.