Every week this season, two West Ham fans will compete at Fantasy Football to win money for their chosen charities.
DEF: Saliba, Mitchell, Tarkowski
MID: Palmer, De Bruyne (c), Kudus, Bowen
FW: Watkins, Alvarez, Haaland
I am writing this post from a remote hill-top retreat in Sri Lanka which literally sits above the clouds – so acute was my need to take myself as far away from civilisation as humanly possible when my captain last week Bukayo Saka managed to play 90 minutes in a 5-0 victory without a single goal or assist.
The rest of my team performed admirably including new signings Cole Palmer and Kevin De Bruyne whose 22 points between then was nearly half my overall 48.
But Saka’s incompetence meant I scored nine less than James and thanks to my four point additional transfer deduction I now sit 16 points behind him overall on 1,154 points.
My patience is wearing thin with the Arsenal winger so he drops to the bench. And I think he will be the man to make way for Mo Salah’s return next week.
Just one transfer this week with Wolves’ Matheus Cunha making room for the returning Erling Haaland. It was a tough call between Cunha and Julian Alvarez but Wolves have Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham in their next four games while I don’t think Haaland’s return automatically means Alvarez gets dropped or stops bagging points.
There is no guarantee Haaland starts at home to Burnley but he has scored five goals in two games against them and I would not be surprised to see him double that tally if he does play 90 minutes.
Despite that, Pep Guardiola has hinted at easing him back in so De Bruyne gets the armband instead with the Belgian more likely to play the full game in an almost certain rout.
I am sweating a little over starting West Ham’s Mohammed Kudus only a week after his return from AFCON. But he has scored as a starter and from the bench for David Moyes this season and Bournemouth at home screams big haul with the Ghanaian registering 34 points in his last three London Stadium showings.
I feel another bad luck week coming on, but then, that’s the only way James Jones is going to beat me so at least it keeps our battle interesting I guess.
DEF: Estupinan, Porro, Walker
MID: Richarlison, Foden (V), Odegaard, Palmer
FW: Darwin, Haaland (C), Joao Pedro
As wildcards go, that was neither brilliant nor terrible.
I ended GW21 with 57 points – nine points more than Will – to end the week with a 16-point lead. Normally I’d be a bit annoyed with 57 points from a wildcard, especially as it was coupled of with yet another blank from my captain pick.
But it also ended a run of three consecutive weeks of going down in the overall rankings. Just 10 weeks ago, though, I was ranked 227k in the world. Now I’m ranked 1.23m. Nightmare.
So, on to GW22 and while my players’ fixtures all look relatively good, the only change I’m tempted to make is scrapping Ollie Watkins, who has scored one goal in his last seven appearances. I captained him last week, thinking he was a shoo-in for points away at struggling Everton. Instead, all he did was get booked.
I’m wary though, of spending too much on a replacement as I’m keen to keep the £5.2m I have in the bank for the return of both Mohamed Salah and Heung-min Son once their international duties are done with.
Therefore, it’s Darwin Nunez who comes in for Watkins. He’s returned three goals, one assist and four bonus points in his last three outings for Liverpool. He faces Chelsea at Anfield this weekend, which also presents a good opportunity for attacking returns. At £1.2m difference in price, that also gives me more in the kitty (£6.4m) to make upgrades to areas of my team in future.
The rest of my squad picks itself. I’m sticking with Erling Haaland as he edges closer to fitness. David Raya (Nottingham Forest, A) stays in goal, Pervis Estupinan (Luton, A), Pedro Porro (Brentford, H) and Kyle Walker (Burnley, H) all face struggling teams and make up my back three.
In midfield, Richarlison, Phil Foden, Martin Odegaard and Cole Palmer look good for decent points returns.
Joao Pedro, Nunez and Haaland lead the line in attack. Should Haaland not play, Alejandro Garnacho (Wolves, A) occupies the first sub position to deputise.
My captain. I’m gambling with Haaland because, if he does play, he’s playing against the second worst defence in the Premier League. At home. Banker, surely? My vice is Foden, just in case!