View from the Boot Room | Week Fourteen

Friday, November 29 2019

Matt Nesbitt has queued up all night, survived a shop doorway stampede and had an in-store fistfight over a flat-screen TV to bring you his Black Friday rundown…

Thank flip for Fantasy League. It’s a somewhat less than inspiring fixture list, aside from perhaps Newcastle United v Man City - and that’s being generous.

If it wasn’t for the FPL points on offer, you could be forgiven for ditching the Premier League results in favour of a five-episode binge of Come Dine With Me on Saturday afternoon.

That’s what Pochettino will be doing.

Anyway, eyes down…

Tap ins…

It hasn’t been the season for clean sheets - roughly four a week so far. But we could be treated to some laundry this weekend.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Leicester look handy. And I can see another couple too – but we’ll come on to them in Long Shots.

So, round up the usual suspects – your Robertson’s, your Alexander-Arnold’s; your Pereira’s, your Chilwell’s, and your Soyuncu’s.

Plus, you might even get some value out of those so-far overpriced Chelsea and Tottenham Defenders. At the Bridge, Tomori is the cheapest and best value option. With Azpilicueta up next.

And based on what we’ve seen at Spurs under Jose, I’m going to change tack. I’d already filed Aurier in the ‘Liability’ section – and thought Mourinho would do the same. But I’m wrong.

He’s been relieved of his defensive duties (we agree on that, at least) but instead, he has played in a very advanced right wing-back role, racking up a goal and an assist in his last two (all comps).

Jose likes Alderweireld too.

Long Shots…

I have an inkling there might be another one or two sheets to be snaffled up this weekend too. I could see one at St Mary's. Watford have failed to score in over half their matches this season, and I don’t think Southampton are as bad as their record suggests. Almost. But not quite.

And I’m not the only one among you. Vestergaard features in more teams than Burnley’s Tarkowski – one of the Top Six defensive performers this season – or any Sheffield United defenders (Lundstram aside. Who’s a midfielder in real life).

Speaking of which, I could see clean sheets at both ends in Wolves v Blades. Patricio and Doherty have not yet hit the heights of last season, but are good value at £5.2m and £6.0m.

Wolves are gathering pace. Beaten just once in 14 (all comps), 15pts from a possible 21pts puts them in the Top Four of the form tables. And their quality players are starting to fizz.

And don’t be put off by Sheffield United conceding three last week. They have a tidy run of fixtures betwixt now and Xmas. Cash in on the likes of Henderson, Stevens and – obvs – Lundstram while you can.

Worth a punt…

If you’re looking for goals this weekend, I’m thinking Leicester’s Vardy, Tottenham’s Kane, Burnley’s Barnes and Wood, VAR’s Salah and Mane, Saints’ Ings.

And City’s Jesus has hit seven in his last 8 PL starts. Thankfully, for the Magpies Aguero is out. 15 in 14 v Newcastle.

These are not so obvious: Manchester United’s Martial is due one. Without Tammy pressure mounts on, erm, Mount and Pulisic at Chelsea.

And how about Norwich’s Pukki to end an 8-match barren run – the Finnish finisher has hit 5 in his last 3 for his country, so it’s not like he has lost his scoring touch completely.



What we learned | Week Thirteen

Tuesday, November 26 2019


Well, we’ve lasted in the job longer than Poch – and he was a dodgy decision away from winning the Champions League last season.

So while we congratulate ourselves, let’s see what lessons we can learn from GW 13.

An action reply for Li-VAR-pool…

Remember when Man United used to either win 1-0, Cantona. After a series of miracle saves from Schmeichel. Or 3-2 after being 0-2 until the 70th minute…?

Okay, it wasn’t quite like that. But when they marched in Fergie Time, everything seemed to go for them.

Now, of course, it’s all about Kloppage Time. And Jurgen’s lot pulled another 85th rabbit out of a hat at Palace at the weekend. No team has secured more points in the last five(+) minutes of a match so far. And VAR played its part again.

Name on the trophy and all that. But just two clean sheets from 13 so far – and none at home (they racked up 21 last season). So it’s all about goals – with Sadio the Mane man. And Alexander-Arnold and Robertson will assist your points total, of course.

Next stop Tottenham. All change please, all change.

Prepare for a return to fun and mind games at Tottenham. On me ‘ead Son, Moura and Kane made a play to be the front three - and seem more Mourinho's cup of tea than Danish pastry Eriksen.

I wouldn’t be too quick to do an Alli shuffle though. I’m predicting a lot of second half of the season points at the Dele counter.

Jose tried to take Dier and Alderweireld to Man United too. So, they might be worth a look as Mourinho adjusts his rearview mirrors of the Spurs bus.

First-rate third choice strikers

Your first and second choice are easy… Your Aguero’s, Aubameyang’s, Abraham’s or Vardy’s, et al. Easy. That’s why 92% of you have snapped up the last two mentioned.

But your other choice could make the difference. Norwich’s Pukki was the early season dark horse but now looks to have bolted. But there are still a few thoroughbreds out there.

Lone wolf Hhhhhimenez is 3 for 3, cheaper than the five above him (at £7.4m) and warming up nicely. Burnley’s Barnes and Wood might sound like a firm of solicitors, but better value at £6.3m and £6.2m. Hitting over 40 goals between them in the last two seasons.

And at just £6.0m you could do worse than Southampton’s Ings.

Stats, damn stats and lies

  • Burnley are better than Chelsea at home. Conceded just one more goal than City and Liverpool. Tarkowski is 2pts better and £2.2m cheaper than Alexander-Arnold so far.
  • Wolves and Sheffield United are unbeaten on the road. Only Leicester have conceded fewer goals away. Wolves are unbeaten in eight. Jimenez is 3/5 pts better and £2.0/£3.4m cheaper than Firmino and Kane so far.

Check-in on Black Friday for an exclusive 50% off my free tips and advice, as we tackle week fourteen.



View from the Boot Room | Week Thirteen

Friday, November 22 2019

Matt Nesbitt has been eating stats all week. This is what his breath smells like.

Tap ins…

With clean sheets proving hard going – four apiece in the last three GW’s – let’s go for goals, shall we?

Arsenal can’t be relied on for much these days, but they do score goals at home. Only the Top Three have scored more – and the visit of Southampton should be a gimme, for a couple of reasons…

The Saints have only managed 1pt from their last seven. Plus, Arsenal, to arrest a run four games without a win.

Get Aubameyang onside. And Lacazette could be ready to kick-start his season.

Long shots…

Jamie and Tammy face tough-looking away trips, so I’m tempted to look towards ‘Arry Kane impressing his new gaffer. But it could be a weekend for our third-choice strikers. Wood and Barnes should get a few sniffs at Watford. And Villa’s Wesley is a decent £6.0m spent.

If you insist on rummaging around for clean sheets, having a Toffee in your defensive pick ‘n’ mix wouldn’t hurt. Digne has as many assists as sheets.

Leicester have kept three blanks on the bounce and could well make that four at Brighton. And you know my feelings about Soyuncu. No? Oh, well I’ll tell you.


At £4.8m he’s £1.4m cheaper than Pereira, but only 6pts worse. And £0.9m cheaper than Chilwell, but so far 1pt better.

Worth a punt…

What price Tottenham’s first clean sheet since mid-September? Followed by several more. Jose is trying to reverse away from his reputation from parking the bus, but his teams don’t concede much. And until recently, Spurs didn’t either – only City and Liverpool shipped fewer goals last season.

I can’t see him fancying Aurier. Or Rose. But Davies and Alderweireld are right up his bus lane.

And we can’t go without giving my man John Lundstrum a mention. Sheffield United’s Scandinavian sounding Scouser has got goals in him (composure, John. Composure). One against Man United would make his season.

Check in next Friday for more stats, damn stats and lies.


Mo Salah: A Pharaoh Like No Other

Tuesday, November 19 2019

The Footballing Pharaoh

Mo Salah, the modern age footballing Pharaoh, is in danger of having more mythical stories and legends written about his golden boot, how he conquered Europe and terrified mere mortals far and wide across the globe than the ancient Pharaohs themselves. However, like all mythical characters, there is an Achilles heel.

Salah is no Superman

Now, most of you think at this moment in time that I am going to pen some scholarly words pertaining to his poorly ankle to illustrate the kryptonite which pains him so much. However, I don’t think it’s fair to compare Salah to Superman; he’s got enough pressure as it is. From the outside looking in, it would seem that his ankle injury isn’t as severe as is being speculated in the media. I shouldn’t imagine that it will sideline him for the rest of the season; however, I would imagine that it will now take several weeks, possibly between 4 to 6 to settle to a satisfactory level where Mo feels like he is happy to play again, again this is just a humble opinion. Mo is the central character here, and he will ultimately decide when he feels he is ready.

Even the Mighty Egyptians Fell

Just like ancient Egypt is a museum of times gone by, so too are millions of playing careers. If you have recently stopped playing for your Saturday or Sunday league team / 5-a-side team or retired as a professional footballer due to injury or increasing age, then you too will know that a playing career disappears almost without warning and what you thought would never end as an 18-year-old, is now gone in what feels like is no more than the blink of an eye. Now imagine that you are rated as one of the Top Three footballers in the world and you can’t shake an injury which is robbing you of folklore. A gift that has been bestowed upon you but now you are unable to perform. A forecast of 4 to 6 weeks may feel like an eternity, especially if you have attempted to join the front line and failed already. Again, there will be no guarantees upon your next return. Imagine the weight of every Red across the globe lying firmly on your ankle. Imagine your teammates and manager asking you every morning how is your ankle? How would you answer it? How would it make you feel? I’m sure you would agree that the constant attention from all in sundry on this injury would surely have an impact on one's mental health.

Forecasting: A Fools Gold

Forecasting a probable return to play date following a serious ankle injury is a treacherous game indeed. The ankle is a fickle mistress and regaining full pain-free movement can be particularly troublesome. In many cases a lot of professional footballers never regain full movement or function of the ankle post-injury which can lead to a sequelae of future injuries due to the inability to accept or generate forces through the joint. My hunch, in this situation is that this will not be the case with Salah and given the scaffold of the sports medicine team around him at Liverpool, I am sure he will make a satisfactory recovery from a physical standpoint. However, injuries can mentally scar and affect our behaviour when it comes to battle.

The Batman Factor

Jürgen Klopp feels it is “nothing serious”, probably a measure of how good he is as a manager rather than his clinical reasoning skills around ankle injuries. And in fairness to the gaffer, he is handling this injury woe very well indeed. Like Batman, Salah has travelled the earth to seek an answer to ease his pain. However, as is the case with Batman, the answer lies within rather than in some distant foreign land. Salah’s real battle lies not with the restoration of his ankle from a physical standpoint but with his ability to cope mentally with this injury. If he so wishes he can take this opportunity to practice patience, improve his mental resilience, and with this, he will come back an even better player. For within adversity lies opportunity in wait. However, this is easier written than done and will require Salah to make a conscientious effort to culture a strong mindset. He will have to pay particular attention to his thoughts and only attend to those which predict a favourable outcome. 

The problem with Mummification

Unlike as is tradition in Egypt, there is no advantage to wrapping Salah up in Linen bandages, for this will bear no fruit in Champions League warfare. From Salah’s posts on social media, it looks like his rehab is well structured and attends to the skillset needed to play for the Mighty Reds again. During the coming few weeks he will be working on balance, landing mechanics, jumping, hopping, changing direction, running, sprinting and kicking. He is in safe hands, and I am sure he will reign red terror again across Europe.

Johnny Wilson

Fantasy Football Physio Columnist


What price Ronaldo in the FPL?

Monday, November 18 2019

A Premier League free weekend, so let’s talk stats. And let’s talk an ex-PL star for a minute. Cristiano Ronaldo.

His hat-trick on Thursday (vs Lithuania) - the 55th of his career – took his international goals tally to 98.

Note: By the time you read this he may well have totted up the round ton in Luxembourg.

This only has Ron second on the all-time list though. And we all know that Cristiano doesn’t enjoy coming second.

Mrs Ronaldo might know different, but from the look of her, he does well to get both legs out his Juventus trackie bottoms…

The current (and surely only temporary) international Top Gun is Ali Daei.

No, not the clown that Graeme Souness signed for Southampton because he claimed to be a mate of George Weah. Whose distinguished 53-minute Saints career consisted of four touches – one left foot, one right foot, both shins. And two substitutions – one on (32nd minute), one-off (87th minute).

That’s Ali Dia. I’m talking about Ali Daei. Iran legend and scorer of 109 goals in 149 matches.

Good numbers. But the vast majority of these matches were against the likes of Qatar… Syria… Bahrain… and the Maldives (are there even 11 blokes on the Maldives?). So well done and everything, Ali. But it doesn’t really compare to what Ronaldo has done during his 16 years at the sharp end for Portugal.

Here’s the breakdown

International Friendlies: 17

World Cup Finals: 7

World Cup Qualifiers: 30

Euro Championships: 9

Euro Qualifiers: 30

UEFA Nations League: 3

Confederations Cup: 2

For a bit of context, number three on the list is Pele (with 77). Yes, Pele. Three-time World Cup winner. Fronting the greatest footballing nation. During their greatest ever period of success.

And probably. Arguably. Still. The greatest footballer. Of all time.

Ronaldo is 30 ahead of Messi… 36 ahead of Zlatan… 47 ahead of Henry… So far. And surely it is only a matter of time before Ali Daei’s 109 haul is reeled in. And then folks, that will be that. And we’ll miss him.

Wanna hear my favourite stat about Ronaldo?

A 7th-minute penalty v Atletico Madrid in his final season at Real meant that he has scored at least once in every minute of a match. Including 22 goals in the 90th.

And the most depressing stat?

The only player with a realistic chance of topping Cristiano’s international goal tally…? Romelu Lukaku. The heavy-first-touched one is currently on 51 from 83. Please no.


What we learned | Week Twelve

Wednesday, November 13 2019


Eyes roll. Here we go again…

Jamie Vardy. Goal, assist, 12pts. You’re welcome. Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham. Goal and goal. Don’t mention it. Ashley Barnes, goal. My pleasure. Salah, Mane. Goal, goal. Standard. Think nothing of it. Youri Tielemans, assist. No problem. Gerard Deulofeu, another goal (flagged up GW 11). Okay, stop it – this is getting embarrassing...

Unless the Sheffield United defender you added on my advice happened to be George Baldock. In which case, get them in. Kronenbourg. No ice.

Right, what other nuggets can we sift from the shenanigans of GW 12?

Look at the state of those sheets

With a weekend off, it’s time for a period of contemplation to plot our course for the next third of the season.

Let’s start at the back, shall we? It hasn’t been a season for clean sheets. The very best Goalkeepers and Defenders on offer have topped at five. And as they would have to play for Man City, Leicester and Sheffield United it’s clear where the bargains are.

You’ll be sick of me banging on about John Lundstram by now, but he’s the best value 70pts that 41.1% of FPL managers have bagged so far. Only Tammy Abraham is a more popular pick.

Tool up with a Blade or two

He’s a midfielder for a start – and has more goals in him than the three so far, trust me. Get him. Just get him. His And teammates Stevens, Baldock and O’Connell all feature in the Top 10 or so (available at £5.1m, £4.5m and £4.6m).

And after Man United, the Blades have a lovely run of fixtures until 2020.

Make room and save wedge for by dropping City Defenders. With their best Defender and Goalkeeper missing they are this season’s Both Teams To Score (BTTS) bankers.

Leicester’s Soyuncu (at £4.8m) is a cheaper option than fellow back four mates Chilwell, Evans and Pereira too.

Get your Villa in order

Just six teams have scored more goals than Aston Villa. And only City, Chelsea and Liverpool have had more shots on target. So McGinn, Grealish and El Ghazi might well be a more effective £5.8m, £5.9m and £5.5m options than your current Midfield passengers.

And as third choice strikers go, Wesley (at £6m) will get better. But I do like the Burnley three – Wood (£6.2m), Barnes (£6.3m) and Rodriguez (£5.7m) in that order. Only five sides have scored more than Burnley and almost all their goal threat comes from that trio.

But their top points scorer is Dwight McNeil thanks to five assists. Only De Bruyne has more. Double in fact. £16.2m for the pair is a nice compromise.

Check in next Friday for more stats, damn stats and lies.


The International Injury Minefield

Monday, November 11 2019


When the international break arrives, we invariably see a sudden glut of players confined to the treatment room. And, as one of the worlds’ most cosmopolitan leagues, injuries can be difficult to track, but, as always, we will endeavour to do our best throughout the build-up to game week thirteen to give an update, and insight, into the latest player withdrawals:

Tom Heaton (Aston Villa and England)

Injury: Calf

Potential return-to-play (RTP): Game week thirteen (Newcastle United)

🗣 Manager Dean Smith confirmed that the goalkeeper would miss Sundays’ midlands derby at Molineux due to a muscular problem: "Tom Heaton's been struggling with a calf, so I knew he was going to pull out of the game.”

Ross Barkley (Chelsea and England)

Injury: Ankle

Potential return-to-play (RTP): Ongoing issue. No definitive timeline.

🗣 Barkley has not featured since suffering an ankle injury in week nine. Speaking ahead of the game with Crystal Palace, Frank Lampard revealed. “Ross has got an ongoing issue, so he’s not in the squad tomorrow." And when asked about Barkley's possible involvement for the Three Lions, he said. "It’s a conversation I’ll have with Gareth [Southgate] Steve [Holland], Ross and everyone to see how it pans out for him over the next ten days.”

Adama Traore (Wolverhampton Wanderers and Spain)

Injury: Undisclosed.

Potential return-to-play (RTP): Game week thirteen (AFC Bournemouth)

🗣 Traore completed 90 minutes against Aston Villa on Sunday but released a statement via his personal Twitter account within hours of the final whistle confirming his withdrawal from the national team. “It is a shame not to be in the call of the Spanish Football Federation. I want to thank the coach and the entire coaching staff for the trust. I will continue to work hard so that, God willing, I have the opportunity to be summoned again in future calls.”

Josip Drmić (Norwich City and Switzerland)

Injury: Hamstring

Potential return-to-play (RTP): Being assessed.

🗣 The Canaries attacker was introduced as a second-half substitute at Carrow Road on Friday but limped through the closing stages of the game as Daniel Farke had already made three substitutions. The Swiss FA confirmed a day later that Drmic would remain in England “for further medical clarifications” on a muscular injury.

Roberto Pereyra (Watford and Argentina)

Injury: Hamstring.

Potential return-to-play (RTP): Being assessed.

🗣 Pereyra pulled up on the half-hour mark at Norwich due to an apparent hamstring problem. The attacker had been called up for the upcoming friendly internationals against Brazil and Uruguay which are due to take place in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea and United States)

Injury: Hip

Potential return-to-play (RTP): Being assessed. Hopeful for week thirteen (Manchester City)

🗣️ USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter confirmed on Monday that Christian Pulisic would not be joining the squad after he picked up a knock during the win over Crystal Palace. “The only frustration is he comes off with a bit of an injury,” Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said on Saturday. “He was going to be subbed before he scored his goal, he’s got a bit of a hip issue, but I’m hoping it’s not too bad because the way he’s in full flow at the moment is great to see.”

Lloyd Kelly (AFC Bournemouth and England Under-21s)

Injury: Thigh

Potential return-to-play (RTP): Being assessed. No timeline.

🗣️ Kelly has been on the fringes of the first-team squad since his arrival from Bristol City in the summer. The Cherries boss confirmed on Saturday that the 21-year-old has a “thigh problem” which was likely to rule him out of the upcoming internationals against Albania and the Netherlands.

Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Republic of Ireland)

Injury: Groin

Potential return-to-play (RTP): Hoping to be ready for week thirteen (Leicester City)

🗣️ The Brighton attacker was forced off during Sundays’ defeat at Old Trafford and was sent for further tests on Monday. Ireland manager Mick McCarthy confirmed his withdrawal later that day. "Our team doctor Alan Byrne has spoken to the Brighton medical team and had a look at the scans. The scans have confirmed the groin injury, and Aaron won't be ready for New Zealand and Denmark."

Scott McTominay (Manchester United and Scotland)

Injury: Ankle

Potential return-to-play (RTP): Assessments continue. Expected to be several weeks.

🗣️ Scott McTominay could be sidelined until mid-December following an initial scan which suggests the United midfielder suffered ligament damage against Brighton. "He went over on his ankle. It's a painful one,” revealed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. "I've had one, and I was out for eight weeks. But then again sometimes you're back in two weeks, so I don't know. It looked painful, and he's not one for rolling around."



View from the Boot Room | Week Twelve

Friday, November 8 2019


Tap ins

Jamie Vardy is in decent nick – he’s hit 10 for the season, including 7 in the last five - and he loves a goal against (artists formerly known as) Top Four teams.

Leicester have won 5 out of 6 – and the other was away at Liverpool. Arsenal look rudderless. No away wins so far and only 2pts from three matches. Plus, the change of shop steward suggests to me that they are teetering on the edge.

So, load up on Leicester defenders too. And if you’ve got Youri Tielemans in the ranks, pat him on the back and tell him he’s doing a great job.

Long Shots

Manchester City haven’t enjoyed going to Anfield much in recent years.

They’ve only managed one clean sheet since Rodri’s hamstring ping on Champions League duty. And he was hardly the answer at Centre Back. The mobility, pace and poise of Salah and Mane will cause headaches, and Firmino could run amok. Any and all are recommended.

The Ox – or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to his friends – is worth a nibble at £6.2m too. He looks full of it since his return, hitting 4 in his last five.

Chelsea should push past Palace. Christian Pulisic has forced his feet under the table of late – and his presence might help Tammy Abraham out of his dry spell (just 1 in his previous five). At £7.9m and with Chelsea full of goals (29 so far), he’s worth persisting with.

Speculative Lobs from distance

I’m also tempted to go back in on Anthony Martial. Man United’s No.9 ranked as a midfielder in days gone by would’ve been a stick-on – van Persie… Nistelrooy… Cole… oof! I should coco. But even so, Le Sulk could prove his worth at £7.7m v Brighton.

Burnley should get back to winning ways v West Ham too. Yes, they’ve lost their last three, but they punch their weight at home. And the Hammers are five without a win.

Rodriguez and Barnes are both reasonably priced third choice frontmen (at £5.7m and £6.3m).

Yer man, Jimenez (Wolves) tickles my fancy v Villa too. He’s a bit streaky – currently four in 5, after a run of seven blanks, four in 4 before that. So, might be in an upswing although it’s got 1-1 written all over it.

As has Tottenham v Sheffield United. Blades are unbeaten on t’ road and Spurs haven’t tasted victory in 4. Could easily be five so keep Lundstram on side at the very least.

And with one bloodshot eye on the next couple of months, you could do worse than stock up with another Sheffield United defender. Or two. After Tottenham and Man United, they have a tidy looking run of Wolves, Newcastle, Norwich… then Villa, Brighton and Watford.

More clean sheets than a Chinese laundry. Is that racist? I don’t think so.


Andre Gomes: 'Full Recovery' or Return to Play

Tuesday, November 5 2019


The Club, The Player, The Person. They’re not the same!!!

Everything is great until it isn’t

It’s impossible to truly define what football is. Sure you can referee it and score it, but can you really define it? It has the ability to help us forget the mundane of the 9 to 5, stir up hopes, dreams, aspirations and creativity. It can simultaneously tear apart and bring together families, neighbours, communities, cities and countries. It is the matriarch of a Friday night in the pub with your mates when speculating your starting XI for your fantasy team. But the name on everyone’s tongue at the moment is that of Andre Gomes, the Everton midfielder who suffered a fracture-dislocation of his ankle at the weekend and had surgery on Monday. Thankfully, Everton FC have stated that the procedure was a success and Andre is expected to make a “full recovery”. In this piece I’m going to discuss the nuance between making a full recovery and returning to play and how the two are not necessarily the same. I’ll touch upon what success looks like for club and player and what the duty of care Everton and their medical staff have for Gomes.

Return to Play Speculation from the “Experts”

A fracture-dislocation of the ankle can certainly cause chaos within the joint. There are plenty of so-called “medical experts” touting on social media their expected return to play timeframes, what damage the ligaments, cartilage and bones may be subjected to and the contents and legitimacy of surgical intervention to maximise Gomes chances of making a speedy return to play. A lot of nonsensical speculation: something I’m not going to cover. I’ll let the “experts” take the lead on this aspect rather than adding my own “mystic meg” return to play predictions into the mix.

Return to play is possible, but is full recovery a reality?

Injury analyst Ben Dinnery posted return to play timeframes for this type of injury. Firstly, this data proves that this injury is not always career-ending and that it is possible to return from a fracture-dislocation within as little as 138 days (Aymeric Laporte). However, when you analyse the data a little more, it would appear that this number is an optimistic outlier and that it is more likely that Gomes will return next season rather than this, as the average return to play timeframe is 225 days. Be warned though; this data is merely a documentation of when players have returned from this type of injury in the past, that does not mean that it was the right, it also doesn’t mean it was wrong either. It is a return to play date not a definitive indicator that any of these players had made a full recovery following injury.

What exactly do Everton mean by a “full recovery?"

Were Everton FC referring to Gomes’ ankle joint? Is the club stating that his ankle will function the same as the other one? Or are Everton FC commenting on his psychological status? Does it mean that psychologically, Gomes will contest every ball in the same manner as he did before this injury for the Toffees? Are the club stating that this injury will not cut short his career in professional football? Are they stating that his ankle joint will be able to tolerate the toll of training and playing week in week out in the Premier League for the next ten years? Does a “full recovery” mean that he won't suffer from post-traumatic osteoarthritis of his ankle joint in 15 to 20 years time (still a young man) and need further surgical intervention to manage pain, stiffness and decreasing function? Or are they speaking out to the Everton fans that Gomes will make a “full recovery” to play for the club again? There are many factors which can influence whether a player makes a “full recovery” or not. The figure below from the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine depicts beautifully the complexity of return to play decisions.

We are not the only ones playing Fantasy Football

The reality of playing professional sport is that players are a commodity; they are the product on the pitch in which the club have invested. In terms of Everton and Gomes, or any other player for that manner: will the primary concern be with the long term health and well-being of the player or is the outcome measure for success how many days it takes for Gomes to return to play?. Let’s say he returns in 225 days, the average for this type of injury, and this is recognised as a successful return to play by the club. However, let’s play devil's advocate for a moment and fast forward five years and imagine that Gomes is forced to retire due to ongoing ankle issues. Should this be defined as a “full recovery” just because he played football again or is it more factual that we term it a “return to play” date?

The Duty of Care

The duty of care is on the surgeon and the medical staff to keep in mind the long term sequelae of such an injury rather than focusing on a return to play date. Injuries of this nature (joint-related especially) shouldn’t be rushed. We shouldn’t be looking to put in place an accelerated protocol to hasten a return to play. The ankle joint and the player need time to recover from this traumatic event. The expectations of the player, manager, stakeholders and fans need to be addressed early on, and the big picture needs to be taken into consideration. What might look like a successful return to play for Everton FC might be far removed from what success looks like for Andre Gomes as a person.

I Doff My Hat

The consequences of serious injury in sport are far-reaching and complex. And although it is encouraging that surgery went well, the real work begins now with the medical team. The months ahead in the gym, on the bike, in the pool, on the treatment table, one to one with the physio will be the true determinant of what success looks like for Gomes and Everton. In fairness to Everton FC they stated that Gomes is expected to make a “full recovery”, they never commented on a return to play date, therefore, it would be reasonable to suggest that the club is ensuring everything is done so that Gomes’ health and well-being is at the foremost rather than when he will next play for the Toffees. I would expect nothing less from a such great club with a super bunch of fans. With that said I doff my hat to Everton Football Club: Take a bow.

Best wishes


Johnny Wilson

Football Physio Columnist


What we learned | Week Eleven

Monday, November 4 2019


You might think this FPL business is all ‘…I’ve seen the keeper off his line, had a go and lucky enough it’s gone in…’. But no. Every round leaves us a trail of breadcrumbs that lead us to better decisions next time.

This is where GW 11 led us…

Liverpool really DO have the look of champions

And maybe the luck too. I’ve said it before, and I daresay I will again. But the stars are aligning for the Kloppites this season.

Coming from behind to snatch the points from a spirited Villa in front of their raucous home support had all the hallmarks of champions.

Sadio was again the Mane man. Assisting and scoring his way to another 12pts. Hitting his third – count ‘em, third! - 90+ minute goal of the year. Andy Robertson also reminded anyone that needed reminding that he is arguably the best full-back in the Premier League. And the only argument is coming from his opposite flank.

Liverpool have now started the season better than any team since Jimmy Greaves’ double-winning Tottenham in 1960/61. It’s a funny old game.

Man City can come from behind though

Long way to go, of course. City’s 2-1 win followed a similar path to that of their title rivals. But it’s becoming clear that any success they enjoy this season will be down to their front players.

Their defence and midfield look as soft-centred as it has done for a couple of seasons, so don’t expect any clean sheets from their next couple. Liverpool, then Chelsea will fancy they can hurt them.

Sharp Blades = clean sheets

If it’s clean sheets you want, restock your backline with some Sheffield steel.

Their almost stainless recent record (four shutouts from six) could in the next two – Spurs, then Man United. But after that, they have a very tidy looking run of fixtures - Wolves, Norwich, Villa, Brighton and Watford - which should take them into 2020 comfortably in the Top Half.

And provides you with a low-cost pre-Christmas shopping list. The top of which should be John Lundstram. If you’re not one of the 37% (and growing) already.

For starters, he’s a midfielder listed as a defender. So he’ll bag you clean sheet points. Plus, he’s got goals in him - two (should’ve been three) at the weekend, with more to come. And he’s trading at £4.8m. Do it, brothers and sisters. Unless there’s a gift horse, you know about with a gob you’d rather be staring at.

Stick with me, and you’ll be wearing diamonds

But if there’s only one lesson we can collectively learn this weekend, let it be this one: you need to make reading this column part of your pre-match ritual.

In Friday’s View From the Boot Room, I gave you goal scorers Pulisic, Aubameyang and Deulofeu… I pulled a 21pt Blade on you – Lundstram’s brace, sheet and star player bonus… And even cooked up a baker’s dozen (13pts) from Lys Mousset.

His two assists were either brilliantly flukey, or fooking brilliant depending on your viewpoint. But either way – you’re welcome.

That one was free. But remember where you got it.

Check in next Friday for more of that good stuff.


View from the Boot Room | Week 11

Friday, November 1 2019


Matt Nesbitt has dusted off his crystal balls and gazes into the immediate future…

Tap ins…

The value of Sterling remains high this week as City host Southampton. Don’t expect another 9-0 drubbing (although you never know…), but they’ll be plenty of points to share in the Etihad home dressing room.

De Bruyne leads the list of usual suspects - Aguero, Jesus, the Silva’s et al. - with nine assists in 10.

I’m sticking with Pascal Gross too. If my PG tip was your cup of tea last week, this week’s home fixture with Norwich wouldn’t put you off. He’s the leading dead ball chance provider in the Premier League and could double up with a clean sheet too.

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic has earned a recall with his hat-trick at Burnley. Captain America has not made a £58m impact so far – or a £7.2m one, to be Frank. But if Lamps is ready to cut him loose, he could be a valuable Winter Soldier.

And £4.7m bargain Blade of the season John Lundstram stays. Sheffield United have blunted better teams than Burnley this term. And 35m of us can’t be wrong.

Long shots

That Man United have had their best couple of weeks for a while. For me (there’s only) Wan Bissaka is the pick, especially if he keeps the wing-back role. Can’t cross a road, but a game boy.

Unlike Ben Chilwell. He’s up there with Liverpool’s full-back pairing for assists since Brendan has been at the wheel at Leicester. They won’t hit 9 but should be okay at Palace.

Aubameyang is due one too. Don’t be lured in by Arsenal’s flakiness – at home they are decent. Six wins and two draws from eight, scoring 22 along the way.

Speculative lob from a distance…

Three goals from seven league appearances mean that Sheffield United’s Lys Mousset has suddenly become a player? It was three goals from 58 career Premier League matches previously. Might be worth a £4.9m punt.

And I’ve got a sneaky one for Watford’s Gerard Deulofeu (v Chelsea). Had a bit of a shocker so far, but he’s a player. And isn’t afraid of a big occasion.


Ben Dinnery

Ben Dinnery


Ben is football’s leading injury specialist. The ‘go-to’ guru for big hitters like Sky Sports, ESPN and NBC Sports when they need data. Or the BBC, talkSPORT and the broadsheets when a quote is required. His unique insight has helped provide a better understanding of what is really happening in the treatment rooms.

Johnny Wilson

Johnny Wilson


Johnny is a respected physiotherapist and sports scientist, specialising in football injuries and rehab. Johnny has headed up the medical departments at Chesterfield, Scunthorpe and Notts County. Overseeing everything from player-specific training loads to pre-signing medicals. He has a proven record working with elite athletes in Private Practice and is regularly called upon throughout Europe to deliver presentations on the latest rehab innovations.

Matt Nesbitt

Matt Nesbitt On TipTV


Matt's short, unremarkable football career was ended by his own bad driving. His long, distinguished career as a football tipster was ended by his own good advice. Because bookmakers don’t like a winner. First, they closed his accounts. Then his members’ accounts. Then his tipping service. And now they employ him as a consultant. Funny old game.


February 2020
January 2020