THE SCOTCH CORNER – SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP FANTASY FOOTBALL TIPS 2020/21
GP said he had a few things to say and that he’d just post it in the chat, and then he emailed me this and asked if it was article worthy. Well, if it looks like an article, reads like an article and is as long as an article, then it probably is an article. Can’t wait to read all about Joel Campbell and so here it is, GP’s Tips.
The Dons have been very coy with their team news in each of their two friendlies so far. They lost 2-1 to St Johnstone with Bruce Anderson (£3.8) scoring (after which manager McInnes said that the youngster would be seeing a lot of first team action this season). Craig Bryson (£3.8) scored the only goal in their 1-1 draw at Hibs on Saturday and the experienced ex-Derby midfielder will play plenty.
Regular first choice striker Sam Cosgrove (£7.0) was bid for by French side Guingamp two weeks ago with Aberdeen turning down the £2.5mln offer.
They probably have the most settled defence in the league with Joe Lewis (£3.2) the first choice keeper and a back four of Shay Logan (£2.8), Scott McKenna (£3.2), Ash Taylor (£3.1) and Andrew Considine (£3.0)
Niall McGinn (£4.8) and Jonny Hayes (£4.5) – returning to Aberdeen after 3 years at Celtic – will be the likely points scorers in midfield.
Update: On Thursday 30th July, Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes confirmed that Sam Cosgrove has a knee injury which will keep him out for 8-10 weeks not, as first feared, four months. Added to this, Curtis Main – his likely back-up – is also injured with a thigh strain so Bruce Anderson (as mentioned above) will be seeing plenty of action indeed. Immediately!
Celtic have beaten Ross County 2-0 and Hibernian 3-1 in two home friendlies across consecutive Saturdays but it is the line-up in the former game which is probably most likely to be near to their starting and strongest XI.
Scott Bain (£3.0) will likely start the season in goal as Fraser Forster looks to stay at Southampton and Craig Gordon has moved back to Hearts.
The obvious defensive options will be Christopher Jullien (£5.5) and Kristoffer Ajer (£4.3) as the full backs are far from assured with a couple on each side still fighting to establish themselves. Jullien scored 4 goals last season and is a huge threat to the opposition goal.
Of the midfielders Ryan Christie (£7.5) and James Forrest (£8.5) will be where the majority of goals come from having 11 and 10 respectively last season but Callum McGregor (£5.5) looks better value being significantly cheaper whilst scoring 9 himself.
The main striker will be Odsonne Edouard (£8.5) who was the top scorer in the curtailed 2019/20 season who had managed to reach an excellent 22 goals and 7 assists by mid-March. Backed up by Leigh Griffiths (£6.0), the amount of goals scored by the Scotland international will still make him a decent option even from the bench. When he is on the pitch he is also the designated direct free-kick and corner taker.
Update: On Thursday 30th July, Celtic signed Greek international goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas from AEK Athens which will be of interest to those with the aforementioned Scott Bain. Barkas has not yet been added to the game.
Attention will be focussed on Scotland international striker Lawrence Shankland (£6.0) and rightly so with 48 goals in his last two seasons in the Scottish Championship. He was called up for the national team last season whilst in the second tier and played two matches against Russia and San Marino – scoring against the latter for his first goal at that level. He’ll be backed up by Nicky Clark but there’s honestly only one option in Dundee United’s attack.
Benjamin Siegrist (£2.4) will be fit to take his place in goal and will start as first choice. The most assured in defence is probably club captain Mark Reynolds (£2.5). Calum Butcher (£3.5) in midfield has assisted two goals so far in pre-season and might be the value but Peter Pawlett (£3.8) is the most assured midfielder hence his higher price. Luke Bolton has just signed on loan from Manchester City but the England Under-20 midfielder has not yet been added to the game.
It’s a standing joke in Scotland that only Hamilton and cockroaches will survive a nuclear war as they consistently avoid relegation year on year despite having by far and away the smallest budget in the league. Even the promoted sides each season usually pay their players way more. The Lanarkshire club share their local rivalry with Motherwell and are just south of the Glasgow orbital hence they don’t get big crowds either to their three-sided, artificial-surfaced stadium.
Their players don’t interest me at all and they’ve had a big turnaround in recruitment in both defence and midfield. So much so that I only know, I think, that Owain-Fon Williams (£2.0) will start in goal and Marios Ogkmpoe (£4.2) in attack. If you’re skimming the names and see Markus Fjortoft (£2.4) and wonder, then yes indeed – he is the son of former Swindon, Sheffield United and Middlesbrough player Jan-Aage.
Sorry but Hamilton are a wide-steer in the Fantasy game.
As the Hibs defence settles down this season under new manager Jack Ross, I would rely upon, at least to start, the two players who played most minutes last season – Lewis Stevenson (£2.5) and Paul Hanlon (£2.6) are good enough value for a team who will be aiming to challenge for third place this season. Hanlon scored twice last season. Paul McGinn (£2.8) – John at Aston Villa’s brother – will also likely start as he played all games since he moved from St Mirren in January. Adam Jackson (£2.5) with 3 goals from 14 games is in my side as I’m hoping his goals will prove enough to keep the manager’s faith in using him. Josh Doig (£2.0) is a young left back who opened the scoring against Celtic recently so if you’re looking for a filler, I’d punt on him.
Decent enough as they are, I think Stevie Mallan (£6.5) and Martin Boyle (£6.0) are a little overpriced for Hibs midfielders and think I prefer the ex-Celtic player Scott Allan (£3.7) and Daryl Horgan (£4.2) – Horgan scored the goal in a recent 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock. Drey Wright (£4.4) has signed from St Johnstone but is a winger and didn’t score in 36 games last season in his first season in Scotland. I’d be wary of him.
Christin Dodge (£5.8) will be looking to equal or better his 12 goals last season as main striker.
Killie are now under the management of Alex Dyer who took over from new Scotland manager Steve Clarke last season. I expect them to hold their own in most matches and think there is potentially some value to be had here. The defence has seen a lot of upheaval over the summer with players returning to loan clubs, new signings being brought in including a number of loans etc. but the final pre-season game last weekend they lined up with their most experienced – Aaron McGowan (£2.8), Kirk Broadfoot (£2.4), Stuart Findlay £2.8) alongside new signing from Portsmouth Brandon Haunstrup (£2.6)
Mohamed El Makrini (£3.0) and Mitch Pinnock (£2.9) have signed and started the final pre-season friendly but Greg Kiltie (£2.6) has scored two goals off the bench in pre-season. The stand-out attacking choices are Chris Burke (£4.8) with 5 goals and 4 assists last season and main striker Eamon Brophy (£5.8) who scored 12 in his break-out season for the Ayrshiremen.
The Tony Macaroni Stadium (now forever remembered locally as the Spaghettihad), hosts a decent team but a truly awful playing surface which acts as a reducer to most visiting teams. The West Lothian club were the only team outside of Rangers to beat Celtic last season thanks to a momentous display by Lyndon Dykes (£5.8). The Scots-Australian is being tracked by a number of clubs and scored 9 goals last season with 5 assists.
The midfield is still settling by the looks of it but with a good pre-season and a goal to his name in a win over Kilmarnock, Alan Forrest (£3.0) might be brilliant value.
In defence there are a couple of nice options in Jon Guthrie (£2.2) and Nicky Devlin (£2.2). As mentioned already, Livingston have a brilliant home record – 9 clean sheets in 14 games last season – and add to this that Guthrie chipped in with 6 goals last season and Devlin is playing wide right midfield and has assisted already in pre-season, there’s a valid argument to get both.
The goalkeeper will be on-loan Rangers man Robby McCrorie (£2.2) back for his second season with Livi. Keep in mind he won’t be eligible to play in games against the Ibrox side.
The Steelmen will be after finishing in third spot again this season and have some excellent fantasy options which we can take advantage of. Liam Donnelly (£3.1) – the Northern Ireland international – is the most expensive but worth every penny in my view. Declan Gallagher (£3.0) and Ricki Lamie (£2.5) each signed from Livingston in consecutive years will be the preferred centre back pairing.
David Turnbull (£4.8), Liam Polworth (£4.4), Allan Campbell £4.2) and Jake Hastie (£3.8) are all worthy of consideration. Turnbull who failed a medical at Celtic last year after a bad injury is considered the main talent with 15 goals in 36 games for the ‘Well so far. Polworth takes all the team’s corners and Motherwell are renowned for their set-piece scoring prowess. Allan Campbell is the most experienced with 120 games already for the club and 11 goals. He’s also a Scotland Under-21 international and definitely NOT Joel Campbell. Jake Hastie has returned this season on loan from Rangers. Rangers paid about £350,000 for the player who signed a 4-year deal. He’s had a successful spell at Rotherham already and returns to Fir Park where he scored 7 goals in just 15 games in his final season before his switch to Glasgow.
Striking duties look to be rotated by Tony Watt (£4.8), Chris Long (£4.5) and Jordan White (£4.3). Whilst Watt and White are newer signings, ex-Everton man Long scored a respectable 7 goals last season convincing Motherwell to offer him a fresh contract.
Until Sunday I would have been confident in naming:
Tavernier Goldson Edmundson Barisic
Aribo Jack Kamara
Hagi Morelos Kent
As the team Rangers will set out against Aberdeen on opening day. However, Lille are in discussions over the transfer of Alfredo Morelos (£8.5) and now there is the very real possibility that even if the deal isn’t done, Alfie may still be pulled from the game to protect him if a deal looks either likely or imminent.
Morelos was in my original draft but now I am preparing a back-up plan incase I get cold feet due to the above. Jermain Defoe (£5.5) will be asked to step up (if fit – he came off with a hamstring injury two friendlies ago but said himself it wasn’t serious).
Elsewhere, despite strong competition in pre-season from Jon McLaughlin (£2.4), Allan McGregor (£3.0) will start the season as first choice goalkeeper. I’m watching that one however I don’t think I’d waste a Rangers spot on a keeper rather I’d look to a defence housing the best two full backs in the country. James Tavernier (£5.5) is the right back and the season before last he scored 14 goals and produced SIXTEEN assists! He shared penalty duties last season with Morelos and Defoe but if either isn’t playing and he gets them back, he could be dynamite yet again. Even last season without them he still scored 3 goals and had 7 assists. With 7 assists last season too (and 2 goals) Borna Barisic (£4.2) is the left back who is on his fair share of direct free kicks. I have him currently as so far in pre-season he has been very far advanced in every game and producing some excellent crosses.
Connor Goldson (£3.0) is assured to play and has scored 3 goals in each of his two seasons at the club. Although only coming back to fitness, Filip Helander (£3.5) will eventually take the place of George Edmundson (£2.7).
The midfield trio of Ianis Hagi (£6.2), Ryan Kent (£6.0) and Joe Aribo (£5.0) look the best bets for attacking returns in that area and will be joined by the less attacking steady-eddie’s of Ryan Jack (£4.4) and Glen Kamara (£4.4). The aging Scott Arfield (£5.8) and Steven Davis (£5.0) will be vital during the season but the first three named here are your targets.
The Gers have won all four pre-season games – Lyon (2-0), Nice (2-0), Motherwell (4-0) and Coventry City (2-0) – and looked in great shape doing so.
The Dingwall side until a few weeks ago were under co-manager leadership. Remember Roy Evans & Gerard Houllier? Well that but with two guys you’ve never heard of. Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson took charge with the former taking sole charge for the coming campaign.
The eye is drawn to the attackers in this team. Ross Stewart (£5.2) and Billy McKay (£4.6) usually play as a forward two and were rested for the friendly defeat to Celtic which indicates they are being saved for the league opener. Each scored 7 league goals this season so it’s a fair partnership. The fact that McKay got 5 league assists to Stewart’s two might sway you towards him. That and being £0.6mln cheaper I suppose.
In midfield two new signings might be expected to have big seasons – Regan Charles-Cook (£2.9) was signed from Gillingham having scored 6 goals in his two seasons with them and Stephen Kelly (£3.0) has arrived on loan from Rangers having had a brilliant season with Championship Ayr United last time out where he scored 5 goals in 27 games from deep midfield position. He is a dead-ball specialist so if he gets the responsibility at County and I don’t doubt he will, I’m interested.
The Perth Saints are now under the management of Callum Davidson after Tommy Wright relinquished being the league’s longest serving manger (7 years when he left during the lockdown).
The defence has been shored up with the arrivals of Shaun Rooney (£2.5) from Inverness Caledonian Thistle and for whom he scored 8 goals in 56 games from centre back and Danny McNamara (£2.4) on-loan from Millwall and who was very attacking in the friendly win over Aberdeen. The goals that day were scored by Scott Tanser (£2.4) – one penalty and one free-kick.
The main strikers are Stevie May (£5.2), Callum Hendry (£5.0) and Chris Kane (£4.8) [no relation to Harry]. In fact if you combine all three’s goals in all competitions last season it still doesn’t beat Harry Kane’s league only tally – 18 versus 18.
Isaac Olaofe (£4.1) who also arrived on loan from Millwall last month caught the eye in the Aberdeen match and in fact won the penalty, is very cheap if he plays regularly.
The Paisley Saints are not messing around this season – they’ve signed a new goalkeeper and defence in a matter of weeks and it looks like it will be boom or bust for them. They’ve signed undoubted experience from fellow Scottish Premiership teams in goalkeeper Jak Alnwick (£2.5) and defenders Joe Shaughnessy (£2.7), Richard Tait (£2.6) and Marcus Fraser (not yet added) so although I won’t be jumping right in, it may be one that I’ll come back to.
Elsewhere there is only really one more name and that is Jonathan Obika (£4.2) the striker. With his club-best eight goals and two assists last season, I see him as the first choice with not a lot of strong competition for his place.
There’s not much in midfield that has either the track record or the certainty to play so I guess for the Buddies, I’m only really tipping one guy.
As far as fixtures go, with a combination of differing training regimes, uneven number of friendlies played, games being played behind closed doors and players arriving new to their clubs and the league, I have absolutely no idea who can be considered to have a ‘good’ run of fixtures to start with.
Setting aside Rangers and Celtic – who should have the muscle or guile to oust everyone in their path until they meet each other in October – I honestly don’t know who is going to adapt best and quickest to the uniqueness of this situation and the resumption of football after four and a half months.
Perhaps games-on-paper aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
Good luck to absolutely everyone for Gameweek 1 from all at FF247!