THE MOST EXCITING FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASON YET?

THE MOST EXCITING PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON YET?

The Premier League is regarded as one of the best elite football leagues in world football. Much of the reasoning behind this comes down to the competitive and fast paced nature of the football being played in England’s top flight.

Leicester City’s rise to prominence last season highlighted once again why millions upon millions of football fans across the globe tune in each week to watch their favourite Premier League stars battle it out and it would seem that interest is continuing to grow rather than slow down.

For the first time ever, Fantasy Premier League has attracted over 4 million players and this is in no small part down to the success of Leicester City FC last season and the fun and excitement that this brought in terms of fantasy football. Whilst the bargain basement players of last season have now shot up in price (the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Dele Alli), the hunt continues for the new cheap hot shots in the 2016/17 season.

Whilst Leicester will perhaps struggle to replicate what they did last season, this season still looks like being one of the most exciting yet – and we are asking the question whether this could be the most exiting Premier League campaign yet? If it is, then surely that transfers to fantasy football and our very own daily fantasy football games.

THE TOP 5 

As it stands, the top 5 clubs in the Premier League are separated by just 3 points. The top three teams are all tied on 23 points and have all played some blistering stuff at times this season. Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool are only split by goal difference and with all three averaging almost 2.5 goals per game it makes for very entertaining viewing. Man City were most people’s guess to run away with the league and it looked that way after the first 5 games, but a stutter since then has opened things up and the free flowing football of Liverpool and Arsenal has caused a few eyebrows to be raised.

Chelsea and Tottenham are close on the heels of the leaders and both carry their own title challenging credentials. The top 5 all have their own strengths and all 5 clubs have top managers who all have slightly different styles.

No one likes a one horse race and this seasons looks like it will be the most open for years. As the season wears on, we may see a 2 or 3 team pull away emerge but we wouldn’t be surprised if all five of these teams are in the mix come the end of the season.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR FANTASY FOOTBALL? 

Aside from just making entertaining viewing for the neutrals, the wide openness of the title race makes for highly engaging and exciting fantasy football. Season long fantasy football games are developing nicely and daily or weekly fantasy football games resemble the excitement of the weekly Premier League heat more than ever.

With 5 teams performing well and around another 5 clubs having decent form beneath them, there are plenty of players to choose from. This breadth of player selection is making for some incredibly exciting pick 6 games and none more so than the big North London derby that takes place on Sunday. Will it be a goal fest or a tactically defensive duel? Do you pick the Spurs defence that has stood up so well so far or opt for the Arsenal attacking flair players like Sanchez?

There is nothing worse than template team boringness and this season is promising to eradicate the template team for good. After all – who wants to play fantasy football when everyone has the same players?

The unpredictability of the Premier League will never disappear and we will always have fixtures where anybody can beat a somebody – but this season looks to have that more than ever and with the goals that several of the big boys are bringing to the table – it looks set to be one of the best Premier League’s in years and an even better fantasy football league.

Pick 6 in our North London derby game on Premier Punt right now.

WHO IS THE BEST TEAM IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE?

THE BEST TEAM IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

With the current Premier League Champions languishing in 12th place in the league table (just 4 points above the relegation zone) and the top four having an all too familiar feel – we are asking the question –

who is the best team in the Premier League?

Depending on results in game week 10, we could see any one of five teams sit at the top of the league by the end of the weekend and unless the team currently sitting at the top drastically improve their form – it could be that we have a new leader come Sunday afternoon.

If this question had been asked a few weeks ago then most people would have told you that Man City were the top team by a long shot, but with no win in three games the gloss certainly seems to have been taken off them. Has Pep lost his way or is the lure of the Premier League showing once again why it is the toughest in Europe to crack?

Unless you support one of the top five teams – and we’re talking Man City, Arsneal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs – then why should you even care who is the best? After all – the league table will tell us won’t it?

Well – there’s a very simple answer to that – Fantasy Football.

Of course we care. In fact, some weeks I think I care more about fantasy football than I do about my actual real life – crazy I know… but I know I’m not alone.

So let’s take a look at the teams in a little more detail and see if we can gleam any pointers from them for our fantasy football selections.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Having conceded only 4 goals in the opening 9 games of the season Spurs have the meanest defence by a very long shot indeed. They have lacked a bit of bite over the last couple of games and have looked quite toothless without Harry Kane at times but a team that is hard to beat is always going to do well. Filling your team with Spurs defenders may not be a bad idea.

CHELSEA

Still early days for Antonio Conte but the new formation he has adopted in recent weeks with the three at the back seems to have given him the stability he needed defensively put is also fluid enough to offer a threat going forwards. A 4-0 hammering of Man Utd last week has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons and exciting times might be coming back to the Bridge.

The key man so far has been Diego Costa of course and now you can add Chelsea defenders to your shopping list too. Matic has been weighing in with assists week after week now too – differential anyone?

LIVERPOOL

Alex Ferguson this week described Klopp’s Liverpool side as ‘the real deal’ and that must have been quite difficult for a man who was so proud to have ‘knocked Liverpool off their fu#$ing perch’. What Liverpool may lack defensively, they more than make up for in an attacking sense. The midfield options are excellent and offer plenty of options for our daily fantasy football punters.

The real strength of this Liverpool is that unlike all the other teams around them, they are not relying on just one person to score the goals – this could be their season!

ARSENAL

Arsenal have been consistently buzzing around the top of the Premier League season after season and the law of averages would indicate that at least once they will get it right – whether that will be whilst Wenger is still there remains to be seen.

They seem to be ticking along nicely without a proven goal scorer playing up front and the resurgence of the likes of Theo Walcott has certainly helped them. You can’t help but think that the lack of a real top quality goalscorer might bite them on the bum again – but if it is good enough for Liverpool then why can’t it work for the Gunners? Time will tell – but so far so good.

MAN CITY

There are not many managers in work right now who have a better record than Pep Guardiola and although he is currently enduring his worst ever run as a manager he is still sitting at the top of the Premier League and you can’t help but think that when all of their players are available, this City side has the best starting 11 in the league.

The weaknesses seem to lie at the back for City just like they do for Liverpool – but with so many goal scoring options up front it is hard to see them not being in the mix at the end of the season.

Peps men are the joint top scorers in the league (with Liverpool) but they do have more reliance on that one player than their North West rivals with Sergio Aguero being so integral to their success. It is no coincidence that they have failed to win the last three league games when he hasn’t scored and an injury to the Argentine could cause some tears in the blue half of Manchester.

THE VERDICT 

The fact that it is so tight at the top of the league gives a good indication to how the season will go. It is hard to see anyone from outside the 5 teams we have highlighted as having a chance at winning the league and the competitiveness is good for the game and also good for fantasy football betting. After all, it wouldn’t be much fun if everyone had the same players in their teams.

For the league – I’m going to keep my neck firmly in and sit on the fence and gleefully watch from afar. Instead, I’ll be putting my wagers on a daily premier punt.

CHELSEA VS. MAN UTD PICK SIX

PREMIER PUNT GAME OF THE WEEK: CHELSEA VS. MANCHESTER UNITED

Many of us settled down for an evening of brilliant blistering entertainment in the form of North West rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool on Monday evening only to be left feeling somewhat cheated… but like an ever faithful puppy dog we have already moved on from the boredom of Jose Mourinho’s negative football as we look forward to another set of Premier League fixtures for game week 9.

The Premier Punt game of the week for GW9 looks set to revolve around another tactical showdown with the Chelsea Vs. Man Utd fixture already holding down our biggest prize pool – despite the fixture not taking place until Super Sunday.

It is new vs. old as Mourinho heads to Chelsea not much less than a year after his infamous sacking to take on his successor Antonio Conte who has already found himself under pressure and speculation at the Bridge earlier this month was suggesting his tenure is already far from secured.

Both teams head in to this game in decent form and although Manchester United might have had a midweek European fixture, the attacking performance (particularly of Paul Pogba) might mean that having played in the week will actually work in their favour.

The question is who to choose in your pick 6 team if you are entering our big fantasy football pick 6 game?

TOP 6 PICKS – CHELSEA VS. MAN UTD

The top scorers from the Liverpool game last week were of course the defenders and with no defenders or goalkeepers having star player status you could have your pick of any. It’s a tough call though as a single goal can wipe out a load of your points so what is the likelihood of another 0-0 draw? Not to mention it feels a bit boring choosing a team full of defenders!

Two of the last six games between these two in the Premier League have resulted in 0-0 draws and only one of those fixtures has enjoyed more than two goals! There have been two red cards in that time both times going to the away side in the fixture.

If we look at the last 6 games when Chelsea have played United at home there have actually been no goalless draws and just 2 clean sheets – both coming for Chelsea.

It’s a difficult pick 6 for this game but it does look like the game will revolve around defence and midfield. That being said, Diego Costa is the real in form attacking player in this fixture and will probably make most teams – he has the best chance of breaking down a resolute United side. At the back, Luke Shaw might want to be avoided as Mourinho may well start with the same back four that played Liverpool.

It is hard to predict but perhaps a mix of Chelsea and United defenders mixed with one or two attacking players is the way to go in this game. With home advantage to Chelsea and the extra preparation time you would have to be swayed towards the Blues in this game and Marcos Alonso is a defender who has really impressed in recent games. He bombs forward and supports the attack and it might need a player of his type to provide the width in a game that could be tight.

Whoever you decide to pick in this game, there are a range of prize pots and challenges to choose from including a £500 progressive pot that is not to be missed – so what are you waiting for – play our daily fantasy football here.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A TOP FOOTBALL MANAGER

WHAT MAKES A TOP FOOTBALL MANAGER?

Football management is a tricky old game – and that is when playing it at the fantasy level. Real life football management seems to be one of the most precarious professions you could enter in to (although it’s pretty well paid at the highest level) and the run up to Christmas will no doubt throw more top level managers in to the spotlight as speculation mounts on sackings and appointments.

The role of the football manager is in the spotlight once again – and with the Sam Allardyce debacle now starting to simmer down thanks to the headline making dropping of one of England’s most successful players (clever that) – the focus of the press has turned to the fate of a whole host of Premier League and Championship managers. This weekend sees the introduction of three new managers in the Championship and the Premier League sees its first American manager taking the helm at Swansea. In fact in the last 2 weeks there have been 7 new appointments in the football league from top to bottom.

The reappointment of Steve McLaren at Derby is perhaps the oddest appointment in a long time and it seems neither the pundits or the fans agree that the return of the umbrella wielding ex-England manager makes sense. With Steve Bruce (who appeared to be in the frame for the England job) taking on the exciting but daunting task of trying to steer Aston Villa back to the Premier League, we are left asking the question – what does it take to be a successful manager in modern football?

THE MAKING OF A TOP FOOTBALL MANAGER

The longest serving manager in the Premier League (and in fact all professional English leagues) is Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. The Frenchman has just celebrated 20 years at the North London club and in that time has won 3 Premier League titles and 6 FA Cups. The vultures have been circling on him in the last few seasons but his record stands up better than any other current Premier League manager in terms of success in England.

So, is longevity the key or has Arsene gone stale?

What about the cultured and well travelled Pep Guardiola? His management career started with the Barcelona B side where he enjoyed much success prior to gaining promotion to the senior side. He won pretty much everything with Barcelona as he clinched back to back league titles, 2 Champions League titles, 2 UEFA Super Cup titles and 2 World Club Cup titles. He then went to Bayern Munich where he again won back to back leagues but was unable to win the Champions League. Pep is of course now at Man City and suffered his first defeat at Spurs last time out following a stuttering performance at Celtic that ended in a draw.

Is this his biggest test yet and is he as good as everyone thinks?

The Premier League is well represented in terms of cultural diversity but we do also have some successful English managers. In fact, Eddie Howe (who is revered as being a potentially top manager in the future) is the second longest serving Premier League manager at a day over 4 years. Only 8 managers in the whole of the football league have served their clubs for longer and none of those are in the Championship – a sign of the times indeed – but also a pointer as to the treacherous nature of the job of a manager.

Tony Pulis is another manager who is usually brought in to steady a ship as is Sam Allardyce – oh hang on – scrap that. Alan Pardew has a decent Premier League record and seems to be on one of his good runs right now and is another who makes the frame as having some good management skills.

It seems the modern manager has to have personality. Some have bags of passion and enthusiasm like Antonio Conte – another manager who was rumoured to be losing his job this week. In reality, it seems no matter what the credentials are and no matter how high the quality of the work the manager puts in away from match day – it is a results business and if they don’t get the results then it is curtains for them.

One thing is for sure though, the modern manager has to have a thick skin and they all have perseverance – after all, they keep coming back time after time for new pay packets…. Sorry, I mean challenges.

Whatever it takes to be a successful football manager I’m not too fussed… I will be sticking with the fantasy football management – and I’ll be starting with a Premier Punt daily fantasy football bet today.

 

SOUTHGATE STEPS UP

Gareth Southgate has done the unthinkable and dropped Wayne Rooney. It’s taken a stand-in manager to do a man’s job and fair play to him. He’s stood up and done what many of Rooney’s critics have been baying for and dropped England’s captain and top goal scorer. There’s a fair chance that with this decision alone Southgate has secured the England job on a permanent basis.
Rooney has become the story for every England, and Manchester United, team selection this season. Mourinho has dropped him from his team at Old Trafford and almost inevitably Southgate has followed suit. But has he bowed to public opinion and made a populist decision to show that he’s the big man who can make big decisions?
I remember Steve McLaren’s first press conference where he made a similar decision and jettisoned England’s then captain, David Beckham. Unfortunately for McLaren, Beckham was still playing for England long after he had been removed from his post.
Rooney was booed by the Wembley crowd on Saturday against Malta. This is not a rare occurrence for England players to receive such treatment. Gary Neville and his brother, Phil, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard all received similar treatment for various reasons and bear in mind that Cole and Neville (Gary) could claim to be England’s best ever full-backs.
I watched Rooney closely on Saturday against Malta and he was alright, not great, not poor, just alright as he has been for too many games of late. I genuinely believe if Rooney had been injured on Saturday and Eric Dier had played in the same position, he would have done a similar job and the focus would have been on the team’s failure to score in the second half at Wembley against a team 176th in the FIFA rankings. This has been forgotten in the rush to slaughter Rooney and, although he was part of the problem, there were ten others on the pitch who failed to score against Malta in the second half.
Rooney’s wife took to Twitter to defend him on Saturday evening. One of the people she was defending him against was Match of the Day presenter, Gary Lineker, who tweeted that he could have played in a midfield holding role against Malta even at his age.
Well, from what I can remember of Lineker’s career he didn’t get involved in any play outside the penalty area. Nowadays, there are very few players in the modern game whose sole purpose is to finish off moves from within the six yard box. This is something at which Lineker was, admittedly, a master.
Lineker made a documentary earlier in the year when Rooney surpassed Bobby Charlton’s England goal scoring record in which he visited the Rooney’s home. I bet he won’t be getting invited back any time soon.
I watched the press conference Southgate and Rooney gave when they arrived in Slovenia for tonight’s World Cup qualifier. I think Rooney was excellent, the consummate professional. Here is a man who was once bracketed alongside Ronaldo and Messi and who has perhaps not matched up to their achievements, but who else has? Or will in the future? Not many I’d bet.
He accepts he is not the player he was and let’s not forget, he was a proper footballer. His public perception has probably never been lower than it is today, which is saying something considering some of the episodes he went through in his youth. He doesn’t appear to get too down with the relentless criticism he gets from the public and he doesn’t seem to get too carried away with the support he receives from the majority of former and current professionals.
I believe a lot of the public and professional criticism he gets today is based on jealousy. He earns an absolute fortune and that annoys a lot of people and, yes, there are a lot of supporters, particularly Manchester United supporters, who are not happy with his approach to making a lot of that money but I say good luck to him. He’s a working class boy from a working class area and he’s now one of the richest people in the UK. He doesn’t need to be sitting on the bench for England but he says he will continue to do that if he is selected to be part of the squad and, for that alone, I admire him. There aren’t many footballers today that would do that at this stage of their career. He may need to do it for Manchester United, but he certainly doesn’t need to do it for England…..well done, Wayne!
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CHEEKY PUNT