Before we dive into all of the international matches tomorrow, here are my adventures in Fantasy Premier League, gameweek 30 from last weekend.
Fat but effective: Despite the post-Real Madrid transfer rumors, despite Robin van Persie’s (13.7) arrival from Arsenal, and despite Gus Johnson’s harebrained insistence that Danny Welbeck (7.8) is “really good in the air,” Wayne Rooney (12.0) is still starting games and scoring goals in the Premier League. Ultimately, that’s all that matters. Goals. Points. Numbers on screens. Graphs. Data. Microsoft Excel. Rooney is worth the money.
Play your transfer wildcard: If you’re anything like me, you haven’t played your transfer wildcard. You may well have stared at the Play Transfer Wildcard button, but you certainly haven’t worked up the courage to, you know, click on it. Well, unfortunately, we’ve reached the point where judicious wildcard saving becomes self-destructive wildcard procrastination. (Also, if you still think van Persie is going to turn things around, you’re wrong. Sell him before it’s too late.)
Philippe Coutinho: When Coutinho (6.7) played for Inter Milan (and, later, for Espanyol), I thought of him as a lightweight, fragile, wouldn’t-make-a-tackle-even-if-his-life-depended-on-it footballer whose appetite for wet matches in Stoke was probably less than insatiable. Robinho comes to mind. Coutinho, however, has adapted to the English game quickly, and he scored another goal on Saturday. He, Suarez (11.0), Sturridge (7.5) and Gerrard (9.6) form one of the most underrated attacks in the league — assuming Brendan Rodgers doesn’t make yet another transfer-window blunder, Liverpool could be back in the Champions League by the end of 2015 (which I know is a long way away, but still).
A shout-out to Asmir Begovic, who kept a clean sheet against West Brom and is likely to leave Stoke this summer: Some early planning for next year’s Fantasy Premier League: keep an eye on Asmir Begovic (5.1). In January, Stoke signed England U21 international goalkeeper (and Team Great Britain veteran) Jack Butland, so odds are Begovic will leave The Britannia at the end of the season, probably to join one of the league’s elite clubs. Chelsea? I honestly don’t know.
Nikica Jelavic has scored: Click on the little information icon next to Jelavic’s (7.8) name. Look at his gameweek 30 statistics. Minutes played: one. Goals scored: one. Yellow cards: one. That’s efficiency. Before Saturday’s game, Jelavic hadn’t scored a Premier League goal in four months, a dry streak that I’m certain had something to do with The Curse Of Glasgow Rangers, though what else the curse entails, how long it’s going to last, and which of David Moyes’ pinky fingers is possessed by the Devil I don’t pretend to know. Moyes will surely restore Jelavic to Everton’s starting lineup. Bye-bye, Victor Anichebe (4.3).