Here are my adventures in the Fantasy Premier League for gameweeks 20 and 21, which includes some tips for gameweek 22.
Ba to Chelsea: Demba Ba (8.5) has signed for Chelsea, which probably means that Newcastle will finish the season in the bottom half. If I were Mike Ashley, I’d fly somewhere secluded and tropical, stay there for a long time, and order my secretary – the same secretary whom I employ in England, not one of those shoddy foreign secretaries – to do whatever it takes to stop me from calling Kevin Keegan, even if whatever it takes is tying me to a mast, Odysseus-style. And then, if I were Ashley, I’d drop Hatem Ben Arfa (7.4) from my fantasy team, because who’s Ben Arfa going to assist now — Cisse (8.8)?
Luis Suarez isn’t banned: And when Luis Suarez (10.4) isn’t banned, Luis Suarez scores goals. A lot of them. Sunderland is a terrible team (this is the part where you laugh at Manchester City), but so are a lot of the teams Suarez will attack between now and the end of the season. After all, we live in a world in which Clint Hill (4.3) and Gus Hooiveld (4.0) are top-flight center backs.
Balotelli fights! As Mario Balotelli (8.6) headlines go, this week’s offering is pretty disappointing. Players and coaches get into training-ground fistfights all the time (probably because they’re so… so passionate about the game), and as far as I can tell, Balotelli vs. Mancini was a relatively tame affair. Still, if you were considering signing Balotelli (and if you’re a rational human being, you weren’t), stop considering it. Sign Edin Dzeko (7.3) instead. Or, better yet, buy RvP (14.0). He’s the most expensive player in the fantasy game, but he’s also the most valuable, and his goal against West Ham was utterly brilliant.
Joe Cole is back: Steven Gerrard (9.4) once claimed that Joe Cole (5.6) can do tricks with a golf ball that most professional players would struggle to perform with a regulation football. In the same interview, Gerrard also claimed that Cole’s better than Lionel Messi, which probably says more about Gerrard than about Cole or Messi. Still, Cole was impressive on Saturday, and Sam Allardyce will give him plenty of match time.
Sergio Aguero’s injury: Last weekend, Sergio Aguero (11.0) tweeted, “I’ve torn a muscle… I’ve travelled to Italy where a specialist is treating me.” Which is fine, I guess, especially if you’re a Manchester United fan, or just someone who kind of hates Manchester City. I’m a Manchester United fan, but I don’t hate City – at least, not in any significant way. And I certainly don’t like seeing players injured. But as a fantasy football manager, I’m delighted that Premier League stars are finally taking injury reports into their own hands. The fantasy football injury alert system is maddeningly unreliable. Next time Michu’s (8.2) listed as doubtful, I’ll just check Twitter.
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