It seems like only yesterday that Hugo Lloris lifted the world cup after a tantalizing summer of football. And yet here we are, already contemplating our GW2 fixtures and pondering over the performances of our early fantasy draft picks.
GW1 threw up few surprises. Man City looked as good as ever, Liverpool are still scoring goals, Man United continue to be horrible to watch, and Arsenal are still rubbish (sorry Arsenal fans). Chelsea fans will take some optimism from their performance, while fans of the newly promoted sides will be seeking a vast improvement on what proved to be a less than warm welcome for them.
Cardiff’s long awaited return to Premier League football was a disappointing one for bluebird fans as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat away to Bournemouth. They’ll be hoping that this week’s home fixture will be a more successful affair. Their big summer signings of Bobby Reid and Josh Murphy aren’t going to strike fear into the hearts of many opponents at this level, but at least they were willing to spend more than £10m on a player.
Newcastle fans on the other hand would love to have access to that size of war chest. Despite only a narrow defeat to Spurs, their priority seems to be taking back control of the club from owner Mike Ashley. Could off-the-field troubles hinder their performances on the pitch? This weekend will be good barometer for that.
Harry Kane can’t score in August! Okay, we may only be one week into the new season, but the myth remains. England’s captain will be as eager as anyone to remove this proverbial monkey from his back and should have plenty of chances against the Premier League’s most recent London addition.
Fulham have spent big this summer, acquiring a good mixture of youth and experience. A home defeat in GW1 one to Crystal Palace wasn’t quite the return on investment they were looking for though. That being said, they played some attractive football, just as they did in the championship, and the longer the new players have to gel with each other, the more productive they should be going forward.
West Ham were another team to spend big this summer and defy expectations with a lackluster GW1 performance. The fact that it was one of the title favorites that swept them aside may provide them with a little comfort, but it does add pressure for them to come away with some points this weekend. Bournemouth will looking to build on their solid win over Cardiff.
Although they failed to take anything away from their opening fixture at Old Trafford, Leicester looked lively throughout. New signing James Maddison was excellent in possession and could be the catalyst for the team going forward this season, particularly with Mahrez no longer there.
Wolves may have taken a point from Everton but against 10 men they probably feel they could have done better. Ruben Neves’ two goals will have fantasy owners purring about what sort of value they’re going to get from a player who has a Fantrax ADP of 82.85. Anyone pick up Neves this week?
Everton v Southampton
The general consensus is that Everton have spent well this summer, even if there were criticisms about Richarlison’s £50m price tag. If there’s one way of silencing your critics though: Score two goals on your competitive debut! Richarlison’s best moments at Watford last season came when Silva was still in charge of the club, so this reunion at Everton could provide some excellent returns for both Everton and fantasy owners alike.
Southampton sold their play-maker Tadic in the summer, but new signing Elyounoussi could fill the gap that the Serbian international left behind. He only appeared in the second half against Burnley last week but demonstrated enough talent to suggest that he’ll be a regular in this Southampton side this season and a potential fantasy sleeper.
Chelsea v Arsenal
In theory, this should be a mouth-watering match-up between two of the Premier League’s biggest teams. The reality will likely be another example of why Arsenal have failed to compete in the league in the past two seasons. Against Man City they looked uncomfortable and disorganized at the back, a condition that players like Hazard, Willian and Pedro will relish. Emery needs time to build a team, and this fixture may have come too early.
Huddersfield may have survived relegation last season, but their form towards the end left much to be desired. One win in their last ten games may have been enough for them to play Premier League football again but they will need to vastly improve on that form if they want to make it three seasons in a row in England's top flight. It’s perhaps a tad unfair to judge their GW1 performance against a Chelsea side equipped with some of the world’s best players, but it will only get harder against an established City team that remains favored to win back to back titles… even if they will be missing KDB.
Burnley v Watford
With European fixtures now a part of their season’s calendar, Burnley will have to manage their squad carefully. Thankfully, the second leg of their tie against Istanbul Basaksehir was played at Turf Moor on Thursday so they didn’t have the burden of travel, but they could still have some tired legs come Sunday. Watford will be looking to capitalise on that and follow up on their opening week win against Brighton.
By giving Pogba the captaincy, Jose Mourinho tried to dispel the rumors of a riff between himself and the recent world cup winner. Sadly for him, this hasn’t stopped the press from printing further rumors of a broken down relationship and the potential of Pogba being sold during this transfer window (Though purchases are closed, sales out of the EPL are still possible throughout August). A good performance against Brighton may help though, and the return of Lukaku to first team action will be seen as a positive. However, a loss of points may add further fuel to a fire that is already burning rather vigorously.
Crystal Palace v Liverpool
What Roy Hodgson has done at Palace since taking charge is beyond remarkable. The fact he has been able to hold onto key players (including signing Zaha to a further four years) has provided the Selhurst Park home support with some optimism for the season ahead. While he has made the team much more difficult to breakdown, the ultimate test will come against Liverpool who look unstoppable going forward. Liverpool takes this one for me, but I expect it to be close.
Which game(s) are you watching? How are your fantasy assets doing in each format? Whom do you need to drop and/or claim before the next price update? Join us for the live chat in the comments!