First Meeting: The Gaffer Effect

Friday, April 3 2020

 

So you think you've got a hernia?! In proud association with 108 Harley Street 

Chapter Three

Co-authors: Johnny Wilson, Ben Dinnery and Stel Stylianou

Photo: Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash


Be careful what you wish for…

Pepper paused before knocking on the Gaffer's door, her heart was racing and palms sweaty. She recalled her meeting with Jock McTopdog during her interview three months earlier. Jock had complemented Pepper on an excellent presentation; he was forthright and brutally honest about the role and the difficulties of transitioning from a hospital environment to working at the coalface of professional football. She remembered, impressing upon him, that she was ready and this is all she ever wanted to do. She told Jock: "I'm sure with time, you will agree that I will become an invaluable member of the staff and an integral part of the team." Jock nodded his head and gave her a knowing smile.

Jock had a fearsome reputation, no quarter was ever asked from him, and indeed, none were given by him either. McTopdog was a man who wanted things done his way. No one was safe. Only last month, three of Town's best players had been sold due to a lack of commitment; they were more interested in self-fulfilment, self-gain than being footballers. No one was bigger than the team. Stories of Jock's ruthless discipline had gained almost mythical status under his tenure. Four years ago, he stormed the DJ booth at a local nightclub when the Under-18s decided to enjoy some post-match celebrations following a hard-fought 5-4 victory: "Defences win titles," he lambasted his players over the mic. "Your defending this afternoon was dogsh*t! Get your arses home now, and I expect to see you in training at 9am tomorrow – sharpish!" A character, who found his vocation in life: a love for football that never once left his heart. A heart, strewn across a battle-hardened no excuse sleeve, for all to see.


And down the rabbit hole she went!

Pepper took a deep breath and rapped on the door… "Come in," boomed a loud voice.

The first thing Pepper noticed when she opened the door was a wall adorned with framed images. A collection of photographs featuring Jock standing next to some of football's biggest names - a who's who from the past and present - former players and world-renowned coaches; Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger, Sir Bobby Robson, George Best, Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff… Pepper's eyes darted around the room. She had heard rumours of the infamous "Wall of Fame" but hadn't believed the hyperbole. Standing in awe, Pepper felt as though she had ingested a shrinking potion and was heading down the rabbit hole. The coaching staff said it was intimidating. Now she knew exactly what they meant!

"Sit down love," Jock said as he took off his glasses and gave them a quick clean. "Hmmm, no eye contact, this must be bad," thought Pepper. Her mind quickly teleported Pepper back to being a child, feelings of vulnerability came flooding back, she held onto her notepad, for comfort, as if it were a teddy and proceeded to take a pew. Pepper felt as Jock was studying her, reading her body language, analysing her from top to toe, until finally, he made eye contact: "How did the boys do today?"


The Handover

Pepper fumbled with the pages of her notebook. She began by regaling the GPS data and commented that there was a lot of high intensity running in the session. Jock seemed happy to hear this.

Pepper went on to say that a couple of the players were reporting DOMS like symptoms in their legs but nothing serious. Jock didn't believe in DOMS and gave her a scornful glance. Pepper had enough emotional intelligence to remember not to mention DOMS again from the glare he gave her.


Pipe Down Jock

She then mentioned Francie's name. Jock leaned back on his chair and muttered: "What's wrong with him now?" Pepper did her best to explain the mechanism of injury, describe his pain and the uncertainty that lay around his diagnosis and prognosis. Jock seemed all too unimpressed with the situation. He started grilling her with questions, some she had already answered: "When will he be back playing? Why did it happen? What were his bodyfat measurements? Did he carry out his off-season conditioning program?" With each question, he became more animated. Pepper thought that he might simply just combust in front of her, such was his increasing rage. Pepper did little to temper his emotions with her replies, and Jock ended the conversation abruptly: "I want him to be the first player through the door, and the last out. I want him on double sessions every day, and I want him in on Sunday too. Pepper nervously nodded in agreement, now was not the time to start discussing "load management" or the importance of psychological rest and recovery. Jock looked at her, shook his head with disappointment and then turned to the tactics board on the wall behind his desk. Pepper sat on the chair, trembling and dejected. She didn't know if the meeting was finished or not; she didn't know if she should just leave. After a few moments, she decided to rise from the chair and make a run for the door, but as soon as her bum lifted, Jock turned around and roared at her: "Get Francie for me now, tell him I want to see him in my office right now!"

Pepper could see the veins in his forehead pulse with electric anger, they sort of glowed ruby red with a tint of purple. Pepper was distraught as she had to tell Jock that she let him go home at the same time as the other players. Jock was apoplectic at this stage. He sighed, and with a raised eyebrow, replied: "In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary – come again? What do you mean Francie has gone home?" He then roared at her to get out of his office and order Francie to come back to the club immediately. As she tried to escape McTopdog's bollocking continued: "I don't care how you do it, but you get on the blower to Francie and tell him to get his arse back here, and you do your bloody job. Am I clear? "Crystal," replied Pepper. "Good. Now take your My Little Pony notebook and get out of my office."


Dreams never come cheap Pepper

Photo: Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

Pepper limped out of his office down the corridor to the medical room. She was trembling on the verge of tears and felt very lonely. She very gingerly went to get Francie's medical file, to find his number, and advise him to return to the club. However, when she finally did access his notes, she realised that in all the panic, she never even asked him where he lived. What was his date of birth? Did he have an email address? And, most fatally of all: What was his telephone number? "What a sh*t show," she thought. "The first day on the job and I'm probably going to get sacked," she ruminated. Her mind was racing from one catastrophic thought to another. She was unable to control her feelings and burst into tears.


The Greatest Kitman of them All

On his daily rounds, Kev the greatest self-proclaimed "kitman" was on his way, begrudgingly, to the medical room to collect the dirty towels. He wouldn't usually ever "fetch" the kit or the dirty towels after training, that was the duty of the scholars. However, he was still adjusting to the new guidelines from the FA, which stated that scholars were no longer required to carry out such tasks as cleaning boots or collecting laundry from around the club. Anyway, Kev had an ulterior motive for collecting the dirty linen today… He burst into the medical room, in his usual, over-the-top boisterous manner, keen to know everything and anything he could about the new physio in the club.

@StanleyParkSG on Twitter


Be patient: YOU WILL be Fine Pepper

He startled Pepper, who tried to collect herself. Kev was a lovely soul. He could see that she had been crying. He introduced himself and sat down. Kev spoke, and Pepper listened. It was like medicine for Pepper, just to hear a friendly voice talking to her. After five minutes, Kev finally asked Pepper: "What's the matter?" She relayed the events of the day with the Gaffer. Kev smiled, took out his mobile, scrolled through his phonebook and scribbled Francie's number on her notepad. He looked at her, collected the towels and said: "I'll be in the kit room if you need a cuppa and a friendly ear." Pepper mustered a wry smile.


A word from the wise

In that very moment, when Pepper felt she was going to lose everything, a friend appeared unannounced with the one thing she needed most. "The universe is a wonderfully magical place, Pepper, and it is when we are in the midst of our toughest of times, that we must believe that there is a way forward. For if we believe, we can make it happen."


Back to the story

Pepper composed herself, she had a glimmer of hope now, her journey, her dream was still alive. In her mind, she smiled. She made the call…


To find out what happens next, make sure you tune in for next month's chapter. To follow the story from the beginning click here


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FPL Bargain Bucket: Eleven players who cost under £5m

Thursday, March 5 2020

 

The business end of the Premier League season is approaching much quicker than you would think. With some managers having European priorities when selecting their line-ups, it’s time to think carefully about which players to have in your team. Budgeting is always the key when it comes to FPL, so here is a team of players all under £5m, which will leave you with a pocket full of cash to help you load up on premium picks.


Alex McCarthy (Southampton) – Current value £4.4m

McCarthy has been Southampton’s No.1 since November after Angus Gunn lost his place following the 9-0 mauling by Leicester. McCarthy is a competent shot-stopper, and with a decent run of fixtures, Southampton players have some appeal. The Saints next ‘big’ game isn’t until April when City arrive at St Mary’s, but before that, they play Newcastle, Norwich and Watford. There is clean sheet potential here for the 30-year-old, as well as bonus points for saves made.


Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) – Current value £4.3m

Despite some solid performances by Martin Kelly, Ward is Roy Hodgson’s preferred option at right-back when both of them are fit. With Palace’s pragmatic and dogged style, they are never easy to break down, which means they’re not likely to concede many. Ward could be an excellent addition to your squad. The Eagles have some favourable fixtures remaining – Watford and Bournemouth next up - and they may grab some clean sheets.


Chris Basham (Sheffield United) – Current value £4.5m

Any of the Blades’ central defenders are viable selections with John Egan (£4.6m) and Jack O’Connell (£4.7m) representing excellent value. Basham is singled out though, as he is the cheapest starting defender United have at £4.5m and is currently second in the Premier League for headed clearances (72), and these tangible nuances can make the difference when considering the FPL bonus points system. Basham is the least owned United defender at just 1.3% while Chris Wilder’s men will also have a double gameweek coming up.


Jack Stephens (Southampton) – Current value £4.5m

Stephens only started one league match in the first three months of the season, but like teammate Alex McCarthy, he has been a permanent fixture since November. Despite his slow start to the campaign, he has still amassed 62 points, which is joint fourth within the Saints squad. Stephens has one goal and three assists this season, and with Southampton having already played Liverpool, Leicester and Tottenham twice, he will be looking to add to his points tally.


Japhet Tanganga (Tottenham) - Current value £4.1m

Unless you are a Spurs fan, it was highly likely that you had no idea who Tanganga was before Christmas, but Jose Mourinho has spotted something in the 20-year-old. Tanganga is energetic, loves a tackle, is capable in the air, and his versatility across the backline means he will get minutes. Mourinho is known for his tactical nous, and although Tottenham are struggling to keep clean sheets, they did have two shutouts in February which offers a glimmer of hope.


Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa) – Current value £4.4m

Considering he has been introduced from the bench on eight occasions, Luiz has contributed quite well for Villa in his first season with the club. He has three goals and two assists and has rather quietly mustered up 69 FPL points. As Villa continue their fight to beat the drop, expect him to be getting forward and shooting more in the absence of John McGinn.


Todd Cantwell (Norwich) - Current value £4.8m

Cantwell is already owned by 20.5% of FPL managers, but as Norwich’s secondary goal threat, expect more heroics from him despite the Canaries looking destined for relegation. Daniel Farke would do well to hang on to the tough-tackling 22-year old this summer who has six goals and two assists. If he avoids injury, there should be a minimum of three more goal contributions this season, regardless of how many points Norwich pick up.


Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) – Current value 4.5m

Due to fitness concerns over Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney, the winger has had to deputise at left-back on occasions, but this has not halted his output, Mikel Arteta has shown confidence in him and allowed him to express himself. He has already amassed four assists with limited game time. With Arsenal out of the Europa League, he will continue to get more minutes and should leave his owners satisfied.


Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) – Current value £4.3m

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is already waxing lyrical over his teenager, saying that at his young age he is already one of the best natural finishers that he has seen, comparing him to the likes of Robin van Persie. Solskjaer thus far has been careful in the way he has used Greenwood, but with Marcus Rashford out for the rest of the season his playing time will increase. After playing Manchester City and Spurs back-to-back in March (two teams they have already beaten), United then have a nice run of fixtures.


Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal) – Current value £4.6m

The 18-year old Brazilian told Unai Emery when he was in charge of the Gunners that he prefers to play out wide than in the centre. However, he has the instincts of a man who was born to play centrally, and he looks a goal threat whenever he’s on the pitch. His goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge shows that he has maturity beyond his years, and the more he plays, the better his movement will become. Martinelli should see some starts during the season run-in.


Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal) – Current value 4.3m

Some were surprised when Nketiah was called back from his loan spell at Leeds in January. It was not known whether or not he would be loaned out again or sold permanently, but now we know Mikel Arteta has brought him back to North London to use him. Nketiah has started Arsenal’s last two league games and scored against Everton. Still only 20, he could grow into a very good frontman, and a killer when in the penalty box.


Daniel Dwamena

@DubulDee

 

 


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Heung-Min Son speared by “The Spanish Archer”

Wednesday, February 19 2020

 

Heung-Min Son speared by “The Spanish Archer”

 

On form, on Son…..

Six in his last 5, the Champions League quarter-finals just around the corner, Kane hamstrung and no centre-forward signing during the January window, then all of a sudden, Spurs UNDROPPABLE man has been speared by the deadly “Spanish Archer” and given the “El-bow”.


The Perfect Storm:

  • 32 games already this season
  • Previous Elbow Injury
  • Contact with an opponent
  • Fall on an outstretched hand

Surely this is a schoolboy error by Mourinho???

They said he had it all: speed, power, technical attributes and an unerring ability to be in the right place at the right time. And they were right: he is an exceptional player, some would say one of the best in the world. But he’s not Superman. With Kane injured, Jose Mourinho placed all his eggs in one South Korean basket, and under his tutelage, he started every game when not suspended. So there you go, high game load, previous injury and the correct mechanism to inflict a proximal radial fracture. I’m surprised your surprised he got injured!!! Why not plan for the worst and hope for the best? Why did Mourinho not sign a proven goalscorer in the January window? Is this amateurish? I’ll cover this in The Late Fitness Test Podcast with my cohosts Ben and Stel.


How bad is this injury?

Radial fractures are the most common fracture at the elbow. This type of injury was first reported over 80 years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine; it is still a topic for debate on how to best manage this injury. The radius is an extremely important bone of the forearm. If injured it pretty much renders the rest of the arm useless. It provides vital stability and movement at the elbow and governs function at the wrist and hand. Suffice to say, an injury to it can be quite debilitating. An important note to also bear in mind is that radial fractures are often associated with other injuries including ligament and cartilage damage as well as damage to the other bones around the elbow joint. More trauma may lead to a delay in return to play is what I am getting at.


The Surgeon

Mr Alun Yewlett, a recognised expert in the field of shoulder and elbow surgery, reports that an operation is usually required if the bone has been displaced. In an interesting conversation around this type of injury and the need to go under the knife, Alun believes that the key to a successful surgery is to “restore stability at the joint”. Alun also forecasts that “when surgery is involved” and depending on which repair option was chosen, these cases are more likely to need “between 10-12 weeks before returning to play”.

https://www.108harleystreet.co.uk/consultant-list/the-london-sports-orthopaedic-clinic/alun-yewlett/


Where is the proximal radius?

The proximal (closest to the head) part of the radius can be found at the elbow. The radial bone runs the length of the forearm down to the wrist on the side of the thumb and forms two joints at the elbow and one further down at the wrist. The other bone of the forearm is the ulna.


When will he return to play?

Six weeks might be a best-case scenario while some people can take up to three months to recover from such an injury. Obviously, a lot depends on how severe the initial trauma was. The more trauma, the more likely it will take longer to recover.

According to injury analyst Ben Dinnery, Heung-min Son suffered a similar injury (same arm) in the summer of 2017. He returned to play nine weeks later (61 days exactly). Further interrogation of the data by Ben reveals that he is the only attacker to have suffered this injury in the Premier League in the last ten years. Over 63% of players to incur this type of injury or similar were goalkeepers and defenders. And of note his teammate Hugo Lloris recently spent 109 days on the sidelines due to an elbow dislocation.


Premier Injuries

If like me, you love your injury stats, then check this out for size:

  • Arm/Elbow account for Five of the Top Six time-loss injuries for the Upper Body
  • On average Goalkeepers spend 75% longer (vs Outfield) on the sidelines after suffering an Upper Body injury.
  • Overall Upper Body injuries count for 12% of those reported by Premier Injuries.


Rehab Like A Pro:

The key to quick and safe recovery is to get the arm moving as soon as possible to limit stiffness, reduce stiffness and minimise muscle loss. The rehab around the elbow itself will focus on:

  • Minimise infection risk
  • Protect the surgical site from re-injury
  • Optimise Bone remodelling
  • Pain reduction
  • Range of Motion - https://youtu.be/CYQmLzEp9ik
  • Grip strength
  • Functional strength

If the fracture site is deemed stable, and surgery is relatively unremarkable, the likelihood is that Son’s elbow will not be placed in a cast, and instead, be placed in a removable splint which will enable early gentle movement to begin as soon as possible. When he returns to train and play, the medical team will need to come up with an innovative solution to not only protect the elbow from future injury but to also ensure that it will not endanger the safety of the other players.

Over the coming few weeks, I will detail the type of rehab that he will undertake in our Rehab Pro Series and you can check out all the exercises he is likely going to do on our YouTube Page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB1DrMOViNEvMATXnUDfBpw


Hope you enjoyed the piece guys. Love to hear your feedback.

Best wishes

 

Johnny Wilson

Clinical Director

108 Harley Street

www.108sem.co.uk


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View from the Boot Room | Week Twenty-five

Friday, January 31 2020

 

It’s a stressful time of year…

Big money changing hands. Fraudulent claims made. Unnecessary risks taken. And the underlying feeling that it could all go horribly wrong…

I’m not talking about Transfer Deadline day. It’s self-assessment income tax declaration time for us freelancers. But the frenzied levels of administrative activity are similar. With many hurriedly drawn up forms, sketchily calculated columns of numbers and 11th hour faxes exchanged.

(Note: For any millennials reading, a fax is like an old fashioned and slightly faded/ smudged email)

Followed by silent prayers that it all works out for the best. Makes this FPL lark seem like a breeze.

I’ll take a look at the Deadline Day movers and shakers next week. But for now, we’re turning the spotlight on the best performing Bonus Points players this season.

The standout heroes that rake in additional points for being their teams’ top man…

 

Player

Club

Price (m)

Selection %

Foster

WAT

£4.9

5%

D

E

F

 

Alexander-Arnold

LIV

£7.6

42.6%

Digne

EVE

£5.8

13.1%

Robertson

LIV

£7.0

20.8%

M

I

D

 

De Bruyne

MCI

£10.7

52.7%

Salah

LIV

£12.6

36.8%

Grealish

AVL

£6.7

21.1%

Willian

CHE

£7.2

5.7%

A

T

T

 

Ings

SOU

£7.0

28.8%

Vardy

LEI

£9.9

41.7%

Aubameyang

ARS

£10.7

15%

S

U

B

 

Pope

BUR

£4.6

13.7%

Maddison

LEI

£7.6

23.9%

Fleck

SHU

£5.0

5.6%

Jimenez

WOL

£7.6

22.3%

Pukki

NOR

£6.5

13.6%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G-men

The latest obsession with playing one-twos with the keeper in your own six-yard box has led to the demise of the clean sheet. Making the area of FPL goalkeepers a bargain bucket.

Foster and Pope are two fine sub-£5m examples. Only Sheffield United’s Henderson has performed better this season (by just a couple of points). But if it’s BPs you want, they’re your men.

D-men

Nothing to say about AA. Most of you are already members. And a fair chunk have invested on his opposite flank too. But if you keep going in that direction – right across Stanley Park, dodging the scallies on the way. You arrive at Everton’s Digne, who is only just outside the Top Ten Defenders this season and worth a £5.8m look.

Middle-men

No point preaching about De Bruyne and Salah either. Around 90% of you are already converted. But there are some (slightly) less likely midfield Bonus Point heroes worthy of note.

Villa’s Grealish scores high on price appeal (a mere £6.7m) and FPL pts. Rubbing shoulders with the much more exotically valued Maddison, Richarlison and Mahrez. And only one big game away from reeling in Raheem. Bostin’.

Willian is another low-balling BP merchant. But perhaps pricey at £7.2m.

The men

For that, you could get Ings and change. Danny is tearing up at St Mary's – with 10 in his last 13. Doing a lot of the heavy lifting that has dragged Southampton out of the mire that look stuck in. He is an essential 3rd, perhaps even 2nd choice Attacker.

Vardy and Aubameyang are more expensive options. Rat Boy has gone off the boil a bit, and Pierre-Emerick has a certain Arsenalness about him that makes me wonder sometimes. But Bonus Points are Bonus Points and he makes the Top Ten. So, who am I to quibble?

Answers by midnight tonight by fax, please.


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Rashford: This is just the tip of the Iceberg

Monday, January 20 2020

 

A new Era for the Type of Injuries Seen in the Premier League

Not so long ago the expectation on professional footballers was to be able to “play week in week out” now it's every three days. The rising intensity of the physical demands of the sport and the frequency of games are toxic ingredients when combined. The outcome of this venom could signal the onset of a new era for the type of injury seen in the Premier League. A Pars stress fracture (spondylolysis) is an injury to the vertebrae in the spine. It is thought to be an overuse injury in which the lumbar spine is exposed to repetitive stresses which over time exceed its physiological limits and cause the bones of the spine to fracture, and, in extreme cases can cause a segment of the spine to slip from its position and significantly increase the chance of suffering from degenerative back conditions, disc herniations, and nerve impingement.


A Strange Occurrence

This type of injury is traditionally seen in youth athletes in and around their pubertal years when they undergo rapid increases in height when their bones have not fully developed to tolerate the demands of playing so much football at such a volatile age for growth and development. However, Rashford is far from pubertal. At 22 years of age, he is a young man, commanding a first-team position at Manchester United. He has started every game this season and is undeniably integral to United’s success. So how could this happen to him?


Practice makes perfect, but it can also fracture

I won’t bore you with the details of how a Pars Stress Fractures occur in general; you can google it. But I will speculate on how it might have reared its venomous head for Marcus Rashford. It is well documented in the media and by Rashford himself that he has had a longstanding history of low back pain, dating right back to his early teen years. Rashford is an explosive athlete, who week after week, month after month and year upon year, since the age of 13, has been making the same repetitive runs into the box to hone his craft of scoring goals for one of the greatest teams on the planet: Manchester United. Practice makes perfect they say, but it can also lead to a stress fracture of the lumbar spine. The repetitive action of turning, sprinting, kicking, jumping and landing hundreds of thousands of times during training and playing can cause a stress reaction in one of the vertebrae of the spine, usually the lowest lumbar segment, commonly known as L5.


The stealth-like qualities of a Pars Stress Fracture

This stress reaction has James Bond-like qualities; it can develop for months on end without being detected. It is stealth in its infancy. As Rashford continued to pursue his dream of playing for United and rise from prospect to hero, so too did his stress reaction; it fractured. And just like Rashford learned how to make clever raiding runs into the opponent's box to fracture their defence by attacking areas where they were most vulnerable, so too did the stress reaction: it learned where best it could become a fracture. It learned to strike the part of the spinal segment where it is most vulnerable: the pars interarticularis (pars for short), a known weak spot.


Where now for Rashford?

Now that the spy-like stress fracture has been detected and diagnosed, the return to play stopwatch has already begun. Twelve weeks is a general rule of thumb to allow pain to subside, the bone to heal, physical activity to be resumed and progressed to a standard where he can start banging them in for club and country again. The rehab journey is by no means a simple walk in the park, setbacks can be potentially pretty serious and, in some instances, may require surgery. Along his rehab travels, Rashford is likely to undertake work on the Wattbike, engage in hydrotherapy and aim to restore function on an anti-gravity treadmill to ensure he returns to play as quickly and as safely as possible. Core strength, endurance and control play a significant role in the recovery process, and his rehab progress will be based on his ability to carry out tasks in a pain-free manner. If he reports pain on a particular task, let's say jogging for example, then the rehab journey will not progress to running until he is able to jog pain-free.


Who’s to blame?

I’ve read all the speculation in relation to the performance of the Manchester United Sports Medicine Team on social media; however, he is in fact in the very best of hands. From the outside looking in, it is very easy to criticise and let’s face it everyone has a PHD in “hindsight”. Not knowing all the facts pertaining to this specific case, I do not doubt that the medical team at United always acted in the best interests of the player. Injuries happen and if one were to lay blame anywhere, then the rising nature of fixture overload would be a reasonable place to start.


I hope you enjoyed this short piece. I will write a more in-depth review on the rehab process for this type of injury over the coming few weeks.

 

Johnny Wilson


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What we learned | Week Twenty-three

Monday, January 20 2020

 

Another curious weekend in the Premier League. Glad I’m not a tipster (anymore). Only the most optimistic – or maybe just mystic – Palace fans would’ve backed their team before kick-off. And not even the bench would’ve fancied it at 2-1 down in the 87th minute.

Likewise, Sheffield United and Newcastle pulled late – and really late – rabbits out of the hat. Goal scorers Fleck and Hayden feature in just 3.4% and 3.8% of FPL teams. But that’s Fleck’s 5th in 11. Better than Son (TOT), Willian, Mount (CHE) and Silva (MCL) among others.

And Wolves didn’t look like ending their 3-match winless run – and Saints’ 5-match unbeaten one – after 35 mins. Not being 2-0 down so much, but when Shane Long scores against you, the omens can’t be good. Remarkably 1.9% of you have on the books.

Even more remarkably, only double that figure have Liverpool’s now nailed-on central defensive stalwart Gomez in their team. At £5.2m he looks a snip. Act accordingly. It’s only a matter of time before he completes the clean sweep in the Form XI.

And after that seamless segue (that’s Segway to you), here’s the rest…

Player

Club

Price

Selection %

Alisson

LIV

£6.1m

9.6%

D

E

F

 

Alexander-Arnold

LIV

£7.5m

39.6%

Robertson

LIV

£7.0m

20.1%

Van Dijk

LIV

£6.4m

40.7%

Azpilicueta

CHE

£5.8m

5.7%

M

I

D

 

Grealish

AVL

£6.5m

20.2%

Mahrez

MCL

£8.5m

9.2%

Mane

LIV

£12.4m

40.5%

A

T

T

 

Aguero

MCL

£11.9m

39.6%

Ings

SOU

£6.9m

27.9%

Jimenez

WOL

£7.5m

16.7%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Back shufflers…

There’s only so much champions-elect Liverpool to be spread through the team, of course. And there are cut-price alternatives on offer in Enda Stephens (SHU) at £4.4m and Digne (EVE) at £5.7m. And his mate Holgate (EVE) is developing into a sub £4.5m bargain.


Middle-men…

A little gentleman’s Grealish (AVL) is essential these days. And Duda (NOR) is no dud. Despite the fact that currently NONE of the FPL universe has taken the plunge. I appeal to the 3.1% of you that still have Ceballos (ARS) in your team to have a little word with yourselves.


Forward thinkers…

So, what to do in the absence of Kane (TOT), Rashford (MUN) and Aubameyang (ARS) for a couple, perhaps several weeks and the rest of season (in reverse order)…? Jimenez (WOL) is the obvious pick. But outside him, it’s tricky. Jesus (MCI) and Firmino (LIV) don’t deliver the minutes or end product they should. So then you’re in the straw-clutching territory of Calvert-Lewin (EVE) and Ayew (CRY). Let’s just hope rat boy Vardy (LEI) gets through his sticky patch sharpish.


That’s how it looks from here.

Matt


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View from the Boot Room

Monday, January 13 2020

 

Old skoolers like me will say the Premier League table doesn’t mean a thing until after Christmas. And it has certainly taken shape over the holiday period.

Liverpool are now permitted a ‘meep meep’ stretching their advantage to 14pts and it looks a straight fight between loving it Leicester and mithering Man City for second place. And then there is a skip full of oiled-up beauties ready to wrestle for the last Champions League spot.

Chelsea have looked a bit young and exposed in the last couple of months, but their grubby Russian money could talk in January. Mourinho’s transition at Tottenham hasn’t been a smooth as his talking. And Kane’s pinged hamstring won’t make them any more able.

Ole is still struggling to get to grips with that big, stiff steering wheel at Man United. The backseat drivers probably don’t help either.

And what about them Blades, eh? Personally, I think they’re starting to look a bit leggy. But I’ve been wrong before. So, let’s see what you think shall we?

Here’s the Most Selected XI…

Player

Club

Price

Selection %

Ryan

BHA

£4.8m

17.6%

D

E

F

 

Alexander-Arnold

LIV

£7.5m

38.4%

Van Dijk

LIV

£6.4m

40%

Kelly (DEF)

CRY

£4.4m

31.5%

Lundstram (SHU)

SHU

£5.1m

47.2%

M

I

D

 

Mane

LIV

£12.3m

40%

De Bruyne

MCI

£10.6m

51.7%

Maddison

LEI

£7.7m

27%

A

T

T

 

Abraham

CHE

£7.8m

33.7%

Rashford

MUN

£9.2m

29.9%

Vardy

LEI

£10.m

50%

S

U

B

 

Soyuncu (DEF)

LEI

£5.1m

19.9%

Cantwell (MID)

NOR

£4.9m

23.9%

Salah (MID)

LIV

£12.3m

25.1%

Ings (FOR)

SOU

£6.7m

21.2%

Jimenez (FOR)

WOL

£7.5m

19.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the back…

There is a glut full of decent keepers available in the January sales – even though 19.9% of you are sticking with Brighton’s second choice Button. Eyes roll. Schmeichel heads the list, but Foster (WAT), Guaita (CRY), Henderson (SHU) and Ramsdale (BOU) are all Top Six performers for around £5.0m.

Half the back four has a predictable look. No reason to end your membership of the T-A-A. and VVD is hard to get rid of. But there are also bargains to be had…

Don’t ditch your Sheffield United steel just yet. Equal cases can be made for Baldock and Lundstram. And Arsenal defenders are suddenly back in the frame. Sokratis and Luiz have shot up the form and at £4.9m and £5.7m might be worth a look.

In the middle…

Alli has shuffled his way into reckoning – and could be a major player in the efforts to overcome the loss of Kane. You might also want to consider Man United’s moody Martial. He’s 4 in four starts, allows you £0.8m more leverage and plays upfront. Sterling has lost some ground to teammate De Bruyne – featuring in 22.6% of teams v 51.7%. But it’s not impossible to cater for both, if you box clever…

Midlander’s Grealish (AVL) and Traore (WOL) can be snapped up for £6.5m and £5.5m respectively. There’s Willian (CHE) if you’re feeling flush. Or Fleck (SHU) if you’re not.

Up top…

Three Englishmen lead the way at the sharp end. Faith in Vardy has wobbled a tad. Rashford is approaching undroppable status – 9 in eleven must be his best run ever. And Abraham (CHE) is back in favour – offering value and threat in equal measures.

Elsewhere, at £6.6m Ings is the outstanding third choice (10 in eleven by the way).

Keep Aubameyang (ARS) on ice following his dismissal. And Jimenez (WOL), Jesus (MCI) and Calvert-Lewin (EVE) head the form table.

That’s how it looks from here.


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Ben Dinnery

Ben Dinnery

@BenDinnery

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_wilson5

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

@MattNesbitt16

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.


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