Another week is done and dusted in the Barclay's Premier League that also saw our first major upset of the season as Manchester City were beaten by a very efficient Cardiff City. But this is really not a surprise result is it? As we have seen in seasons past, many newly promoted sides punch considerably above their weight early in the season (Hull City from a couple seasons back anyone?). This is especially true when these promoted sides are playing at home. This is not to say the bubble doesn't burst (Derby County and the "who's playing Derby" rule from Jeremy/Neal), but what we have seen so far is that no side can be discounted, especially this early into the season. One thing is for sure, we will surely have many more upsets to come!
Onto the Matches:
Fulham v Arsenal: After a horror start on the opening day, Arsenal have steadied the ship and produced a solid performance away to Fulham. Jack Wilshire was dropped to the bench and Cazorla pushed up in support of the striker, his best fantasy producing position. Arsenal were able to put together some well organized attacks and deservedly won 3-1 with Darren Bent netting the consolation for Fulham and reemerging from the shadows back onto our Fantasy radar. Bottom line, Arsenal are not in crisis, but their defense was still suspect and reinforcements are needed. Next week is the North London Derby and we all know what high scoring matches those can be. Oliver Giroud, Theo Walcott (taking all FK's/corners), and Santi Cazorla all look prime to pick up fantasy returns next week. Lucas Podolski should retain his starting birth after bagging a brace.
One to watch for Fulham: Adel Taraabt - he was involved regularly, taking set pieces and shooting from all angles, signs are good he will be a solid fantasy asset again this season.
Aston Villa v Liverpool: Another win, another CS, and another goal for Daniel Sturridge. Have you seen this guy's stats? 12 goals in 13 league appearances for the Reds. One thing is for sure, Sturridge is quality and will be a fantasy "season keeper" candidate if he can keep up this form. Simon Mignolet has been immense between the posts and his confidence is only growing (makes you wonder why Arsenal can't buy a GK). After the disaster that was Joe Hart (-5pts), Mignolet is a real asset in the premium GK bracket, although you may want to wait until after the Utd match to pick him up. Liverpool are playing slick, possession based football and will be full of confidence when Utd travel to Anfield next week. Villa were probably a bit unfortunate not to get something from the match after coming into the 2nd half organized and dangerous. Top goal scorer Christian Benteke was not able to add to his impressive tally.
The big question: To keep or not to keep? - Villa have a blank week 3 so those with Benteke will either have to sell or place him on the bench. For me, the upgraded 150mil budget is enough to cover losing a discount on him for the blank week. I think he wastes a valuable forward slot in a week where you can easily pick 3 solid strikers with good match ups. Needless to say, Benteke will be a top striker choice week in week out.
Stoke City v Crystal Palace: A typical Stoke type match, but they did manage to claw their way back from 0-1 down. Charlie Adam was on the score sheet for the first time this season, but until we see some consistent improvement on the "Pulis system" that has been with Stoke for so long, there really isn't much to get excited about fantasy wise in attack. Crystal Palace new boy Chamakh opened the scoring and it will be interesting to see how he will fair at his new club after his torrid time at Arsenal. I wouldn't be looking around these teams too much this season unless we see them in a double week.
One to watch for Stoke: Asmir Begovic - Stoke are traditionally a very compact and defensive team and with the quality of Begovic in goal, defensive rewards look good for the Stoke stopper.
Hull City Tigers v Norwich City: Back in the Premier League once again, albeit with a new owner and new name. Hull City went ahead thanks to a PK by midfielder Robbie Brady but we down to 10 men as striker Sagbo was given a straight red on 27min. Norwich were frankly poor and started without set piece maestro Robert Snodgrass. Hull City were compact and defensive, venturing out on the counter. Robert Koren and Tom Huddlestone seem to share FK's but with Brady emerging on PK's, given the right match up, we could have a possible differential.
One to watch for Norwich: R. van Wolfswinkle - He is looking more and more like Kevin Davies in the fantasy format, what I mean is, not a lot of production and committing fouls. Amazing he only has 6pts total with a goal to his name. But once Norwich start to click, I can see him having a decent 10+ goal season.
Everton v West Bromwich Albion: It has been a typical slow start for Everton, even with new manager Roberto Martinez. They can feel a bit hard done by the solid defensive display organized by WBA. If Everton can keep Baines and Fellaini, then it won't be long until the team can find their feet and the results will come. Leighton Baines continues to take all FK's, and with the upgraded budget is an easy acquisition. We wait to see if Nikolas Anelka will return to football or walk away from the game, otherwise WBA doesn't have any players I'd be taking week in week out.
One to watch for Everton: Ross Barkley - With Fellaini not pushing as far forward as last season, Barkley has been released from more defensive midfield duties and getting himself involved in the attack. He again played the full 90 and if it weren't for a YC, would have been 7+ pts for an outlay of 1.99mil at BD price. We may be considering him as more of a starting 11 option and not just a bench option if he continues to impress going forward.
Southampton v Sunderland: Southampton left it late to pull out the 1-1 draw after Sunderland's new midfielder Giaccherini opened the scoring on 3min. We are still waiting for United States international Jozy Altidore to announce himself with a goal, but both sides should be out of any relegation fight this season.
One to watch from Southampton: P. Osvaldo - Only afforded 45min and picked up a YC, but the record signing from Roma is a natural goal scorer. It won't be long until he starts regularly and goals will surely follow.
Newcastle v West Ham: What a miss by Gouffran in the final seconds that could have won the match for Newcastle after being dismantled by Man City opening day. Stuart Downing started for WHU and played decently putting in some dangerous crosses. Kevin Nolan had one of his off weeks, I wouldn't expect him to score in away matches. As in last season, Nolan is probably good value for 5-7 goals in front of his own fans.
Talking point: Yohan Cabaye - One thing that seems apparent is the unsettling affect that the Yohan Cabaye transfer saga is having upon Newcastle. Cabaye is a player with the quality to turn these 0-0 games into wins with his midfield distribution and set pieces. It is obvious Newcastle are lacking without him in the side.
Tottenham v Swansea City: Another 1-0 win for Spurs via a Robert Soldado penalty. Spurs looked dangerous throughout the match with Hugo Lloris coming up huge to stop Swansea on the counter. Michu was preferred to Bony up top, but both were unable to help the Swans get anything out of the match. Paulinho looks a dangerous asset in Spur's attacking arsenal, constantly getting into the right positions and taking shots at goal. Another Spurs new boy, Chadli, looked impressive as well. Next week looks good for Spur's attack when they visit Arsenal.
One to watch for Spurs: Andros Townsend - Was a constant thorn in Swansea's side. Making mazing runs, distributing the ball well, and looking dangerous in front of goal. The new YFF format has increased FW to 1pt, and a player like Townsend is a highly fouled player as he will dart in and out of the opposition's defense. With some direct FK's in his locker as well, Townsend is certainly on my radar as a fantasy prospect.
Cardiff v Manchester City: Well, what a result that was for the newly promoted side? This will be a huge missed opportunity for City, but the good news it is a long season and we are still very early. I don't think you can really point to any one particular player for the loss because Cardiff were absolutely ready for this match. They pressed, harried, and continued to attack City all match long. Two beautiful set pieces allowed former Utd forward Frazier Campbell to score the match winning brace. I don't see Cardiff making waves this season, but out of all the newly promoted clubs, they seem most capable of staying up. City on the other hand, cannot afford to drop these games or fair no better than last season then they gave up the title rather weakly.
Talking Point: City strikers - This result wont damage City as it is still early, but at least Aguero and Dzeko seem to be the first choice pairing making selection easier. Jovetic has yet to feature all season, and has yet to even make the bench as he builds up match fitness. Next week is another good match up for City, but with Negredo off the mark, I'd worry he starts to split time more and more with Dzeko, so picking a City forward will be problematic down the line.
Manchester United v Chelsea: The finale of the weekend and a major early clash between title contenders, but all the hype lead to a rather unspectacular 0-0 draw. Probably a fair result on the night, but Utd can feel aggrieved they did not have a penalty as Lampard clearly handled in the box. Not a lot of points to be had for either side in terms of fantasy, but Wayne Rooney was handed a start and regardless of where he ends up, is back on my fantasy radar. Remember Chelsea have a blank week coming up so those with players at discount will have to make the same decision as Benteke mentioned above. Like I said previously, at this point we have so much cash, I wouldn't do more than bench your most prized Chelsea player and dump the rest.
Talking Point: The cash to splash - I think it is important to note, just because we have the cash to buy RvP/Suarez/Bale etc each week, is it wise to do so? There were plenty of great striker options this week, and really Utd v Chelsea matches don't produce a lot of goals. I couldn't justify buying RvP because I had the cash because the match up just wasn't great for fantasy production. I think we are going to see discounts aren't going to be as effective as in the old format now that we have 50mil extra to spend and 4 bench slots. This will be something to consider as we make teams week to week and who we decide is a "season keeper" regardless of price.
Alright folks, we will be back with our normal weekly posts with no midweek games on hand. Next game week sees another big weekend with the Arsenal v Spurs derby and Liverpool v Utd. I expect Man City to easily brush aside Hull City at home, so City players will get another chance to provide fantasy gold. What were the biggest talking points for this weekend? What are your feelings so far on the new season?