Leicester and Arsenal, the top two teams last year, both only taking one point from a possible six, Liverpool were defeated 2-0 at Burnley after enjoying 81% of possession, Diego Costa has scored two game winning goals and possibly should've been sent off an equal number of times.
A number of the top teams seem to be in a state of flux which could rattle the nerves of many fantasy managers. The two Manchester clubs are the only ones at the moment that seem to have any semblance of stability and form. Yet it's important to remember, the fantasy season is a marathon not a sprint. Let's check out some teams and players to avoid and some to fit into your lineup for week 3.
Week 3 Fixtures
Tottenham Hotspur v. Liverpool
Chelsea v. Burnley
Watford FC v. Arsenal
West Bromwich Albion v. Middlesbrough
So, who to Pass (avoid) and Shoot (pick up)?
Tigers Face Extinction
If you can believe it, Hull City are currently sitting third in the premier league after taking six points from their first two games. After only conceding one goal in the first two games, managers might figure they can get a number of Hull players on the cheap to free up space for more expensive players from the bigger clubs. Don't do this. Though Hull have been a bit of a fairytale so far, it's not going to continue against a Manchester United team who has scored five goals in two games. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is looking like he's played in the Premier League his entire career and with the attacking talent of Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, and Henrik Mkhitaryan, I'd expect United to put multiple past Hull City.
What's Going on with West Ham?
Last Campaign, West Ham were a bit of a revelation following a phenomenal season from wide man Dimitri Payet and strong, assured coaching from Slaven Bilic. So far this season, they look a tamer version of the side that qualified for European football. Largely dominated for long stretches of the game against Chelsea, they were lucky to pull level off a set piece goal until they ultimately were defeated by a last minute Diego Costa goal. They won with a late goal against Bournemouth but even against a team that on paper is weaker than West Ham, they failed to control the game. Though they registered sixteen shots, only two of those were on goal while Bournemouth had five shots on goal against Adrian. On top of that, they only slightly edged Bournemouth in possession by retaining 53% of the ball. You'd have to expect these rather limp performances to continue against a possession hungry Manchester City side that seem to be strong favorites for the title under Guardiola. I'd expect City to be camped in the West Ham side for most of the match and it might be a good idea for fantasy managers to bench both their defensive and offensive Hammers players.
Red with Embarrassment
Jurgen Klopp cut a frustrated figure after Liverpool's 2-0 loss to Burnley. It makes sense too, how can they score four against a weakened Arsenal side and then go on a drought against newly promoted Burnley. Liverpool seem to be a Jekyll and Hyde team and no one, perhaps not even Klopp, will know who will show up on any given match day. Against a Tottenham team that like Liverpool enjoys playing a high press, I'd expect an open and attacking match and this might be a problem for Liverpool. Their defense has looked shaky at best and with renaissance man James Milner currently the preferred left back, they look like a hastily put together science project. Though Spurs haven't necessarily impressed yet, I'd expect Pochettino to put Eric Lamela on the right wing to terrorize Milner and possibly see Harry Kane open his account against a rather dreadful Reds backline.
The Manchester Clubs (Again)
We try to mix it up here at Never Manage Alone but sometimes facts are facts and the strength of the Manchester clubs cannot be ignored. United have been a real threat going forward and look to play slick, attacking football at every opportunity. Ibrahimovic so far has been an inspired signing and not only poses an aerial threat but has been keen to participate in link-up play as well. As referenced above, combining his talent with the other attack minded players at United, Mourinho's new squad will be ready to make it nine points from nine. On the blue side of Manchester, footballing maestro Pep Guardiola has started his tactical revolution that has seen his side scoring for fun. Even though they left it late against Sunderland on the opening weekend, they went on to put five past Steaua Bucharest and then scored four against Stoke City the same week. Sergio Aguero has already scored six goals this season in all competitions and looks ready to win the Premier League Golden Boot for the second time. I'd expect both sides to be defensively solid as well this weekend, with both teams' fullbacks being great fantasy choices.
Startup on the South Coast?
Southampton have had a rather unfortunate start to their campaign. After being held by a stingy Watford defense they had to face the intense firepower of Manchester United at Old Trafford. Southampton did manage to create some fine opportunities against both teams though and I'd expect the same against a so-far hapless Sunderland side. Dusan Tadic, Shane Long, James Ward-Prowse, or Nathan Redmond might be shrewd pickups this week. Though it hasn't exactly shown so far, The Potters have a relatively solid back line. Virgil Van Dijk and Jose Fonte are two great center backs, and Matt Targett can be expected to contribute to both the defensive and offensive phases of play. I'd expect Southampton to potentially keep a clean sheet this weekend if they can keep a lid on Adnan Januzaj and Jermaine Defoe.
Sean Dyche Will Have the Blues
Similar situation to Hull City this week. Burnley held a talented Liverpool side for 90 minutes not allowing a goal even though they conceded a vast majority of possession. Mangers cannot expect this to continue against Chelsea. Even though the West London side's offense hasn't seemed to have started firing on all cylinders quite yet, they've still managed 4 goals in two games (though two of those have come very late in the game). If Conte decides to field his 4-2-4 against an admittedly weaker premier league side, expect Chelsea to fashion a number of chances especially with Eden Hazard looking like he's back in top form and the menacing Diego Costa seemingly ready to produce the twenty goals his manager challenged him to net. Even if Conte goes with the 4-3-3 formation we've seen in the first two matches, the creative energy of Oscar and/or Fabregas might be too much for Burnley to handle.
Where are you planning on investing your funds for week 3?