August 17, 2018 By Fabian Odhiambo
Well, it’s yet another Premier League season and with a round of fixtures already played, the Fantasy Premier League bug has well and truly caught most of us. As much as the opening period of the league is laden with excitement, it is also littered with uncertainty bordering trepidation since you just never really know what’s going to happen. Personally my resolve for the first five Gameweeks is to play safe and hope to hit a respectable points’ haul of 50. Yeah, we bare-minimum folks are still around.
This season’s first GW was surprisingly fruitful for whatever reason. The worldwide highest tally was 137 points, with the average at 53. Normally I use this mean figure to determine whether I underwhelmed or not. Gladly though, my team, Calciopoli FC, bettered that figure, bagging 59 – a total not big enough to get me carried away and not small enough to send me into panic mode.
I could have crossed the sixty-point mark were it not for a spate of weird decision making in the transfer market and subsequent team selection. Even before the fixtures were released I had earmarked promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers as the team that could provide Calciopoli with the differential players, and I had two in mind: Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota, both midfielders. Due to budgetary constraints I couldn’t pick both. I ended up opting for Jota (who was actually more expensive) with the belief he would be a bigger attacking threat building on his 17-goal haul in the Championship last season. Of course the football gods are masters of the dark sense of humour: Neves starred with a goal and an assist while Jota could only force an assist (he was fouled for the subsequent free kick which went in) in their game against Everton. As tempted as I am to swap the two for GW2, I’m still going to give Jota another shot.
Speaking of Everton and another disappointment (with self) springs to mind. With the appointment of Marco Silva as manager of course the club’s football was always going to grow more attacking. Thus it was a no brainer when they signed Richarlison, even if at a huge premium, that I had to have him in my team. Somehow as fate would have it, the Brazilian spent the gameweek warming my bench, and effectively denying me his 14 points return thanks to his brace. Curses! Back to my starting XI he walks with immediate effect.
My captain was Mohamed Salah and even though I expected more, I cannot complain as he scored a goal against West Ham United. The biggest disappointment? It’s a close shave between David De Gea and Andre Schürrle. #DaveSaves somehow contrived to concede to Leicester City in the 92nd minute, by when I had considered the clean sheet points sealed. What an idiot! Herr Andre was supposed to sprinkle his World Cup-winning stardust on proceedings in the derby against Palace but instead doled out an anonymous hour’s display to return just two points. These two may not last long in Calciopoli. That said, my biggest delight of GW1 has to be Benjamin Mendy. I’ve always been a fan and his imperious showing against Arsenal (2 assists and a clean sheet) was the stuff of dreams. Keep it up, Ben!
There will be no transfers in for me for this GW2, not for a lack of want, but, you know, budget. My obvious idea for a transfer was to trade Jan Bednarek for everyone’s newly acquired taste, Aaron Wan-Bissaka but I remembered late after the Palace’s man’s price had gone up, rendering a straight swap impossible. Then again I’m yet to wrap my head around this new concept of a clean sheet from a Palace defender. Let’s see just how long that stays in vogue. So yes, I am happy not to twist in GW2. Plus, it means I get to have an extra free transfer for GW3, and I basically live for those.
To whom does the armband go? Honestly I’ve seriously considered Mendy in keeping with the Calciopoli policy of sharing responsibility and also because Manchester City play at home to Huddersfield Town. City are sharks and with that kind of prey coming to town, they should be eating good. Then again there’s also a certain Sergio Agüero in my team and he has been known to harbor the ability of scoring bucket loads of goals especially against potentially meek opposition. Salah and Liverpool go to Palace at Selhurst Park, a ground with a history of being their Waterloo. The Reds are particularly strong this season though, and will probably win that encounter with Salah scoring, but I bet it will be tighter for Liverpool than it will be for City, so Agüero just about wins the race for the armband in a photo finish.
Meanwhile at The Dug Out classic league, battle lines have been drawn alright. Calcipoli FC is nestled in the top half of the 78-strong contingent of teams at the 33rd spot. For now the targets are still modest, so all we are looking at after this GW is a slight move upwards into the top 30. The prestigious top 4 spots are occupied by Manywele fc, Muchi, MST 0900 and Wizard of Özil. Hopefully that’s the last time they get a mention from me. The relegation dogfight as always is on and from the outset it’s looking like it is going to be a grim season for Kunen FC, Gabby-a-Deeney and basement-dweller, Kroos-Control. The three culprits will be exposed to ridicule. Alright then, that’s about it for now. Good luck!