WEEK 1 REVIEW
Judging by a crazy Week 1, we’re in for an exhilarating Premier League season. First, Arsenal had to pull out a late comeback to beat an inspired Leicester City 4-3. Then, Liverpool fell behind twice versus Watford on the road and managed to turn the score around, only to see Watford score a rather lucky offside goal at the buzzer. It ended in a 3-3 tie. And as if that weren’t enough, next, Chelsea confirmed the showing against Arsenal in the Community Shield wasn’t a fluke by losing to Burnley at home 2-3, finishing the game with nine men on the field after Cahill and Fabregas were given the marching orders. The first red card, which happened in the 14th minute, was followed by a Sam Vokes goal that completely took the wind out of Chelsea’s sails. It only got worse afterward, with unnerved Burnley adding two more before the break. The Blues went into full on attack mode in the second half, but Fabregas extinguished the fire with a needless challenge that saw him sent off. There was one positive to take from a fantasy perspective. Those who risked with Alvaro Morata in their starting lineups were rewarded with a goal and an assist, despite him coming into the game as a sub. The rest of the matches were calmer in comparison. The Manchester teams cruised to victories, even though City had its troubles breaking Brighton’s eleven-men-behind-the-ball defense. Huddersfield was impressive in a road 0-3 win against Crystal Palace, with sleeper Steve Mounié finding the score sheet on two occasions. Yet, the most impressive performance was Tottenham’s. Dele Alli was possibly the weekend’s best player overall and proved his formidability once more. The final result could’ve been much worse for Newcastle had The Spurs (especially Harry Kane) turned more of their chances into goals. Oh, and Wayne Rooney scored what proved to be the game-winner for Everton, 13 years after he scored in his debut for the team. Yes, it was quiet the weekend.
So, what conclusions can we draw from Week 1?
– Arsenal are the same old team. I wouldn’t roster any of their players, other than Alexis Sanchez (and even that’s arbitrary).
– Leicester is going to have trouble keeping clean sheets, especially on the road.
– Liverpool’s defensive issues linger, as they were particularly vulnerable on set pieces. On the other hand, Mané, Firmino and Salah are a deadly trio up front.
– Avoid Watford defenders, but do take notice of striker Stefano Okaka. He proved difficult to handle for Liverpool defenders and should be rostered in deeper leagues.
– Don’t overreact to Chelsea’s poor start. They’re missing quite a few regular starters, most of all Eden Hazard. Be patient. It might take a few weeks, but Conte will make sure they’re back to their old selves soon. The main thing is that Morata proved capable of replenishing what was lost with Diego Costa, while Marcos Alonso and David Luiz kept providing offensive help, as they did in 2016/17.
– Burnley remains a tough coconut to crack.
– Huddersfield is dangerous. Grab Aaron Mooy and Steve Mounie while you still can.
– Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be the starter at right back, at least until Seamus Coleman recovers from his horrifying injury. He’s 20, fast, offensive-minded, affordable and oozes upside. What are you waiting for?
– Tammy Abraham will start for Swansea while Fernando Llorente recovers.
– Many were probably disappointed by Southampton failing to score. Well, they did have 29 goal attempts and kept a clean sheet. I’d say that’s not a bad start for fantasy purposes.
– As long as he’s healthy, Sergio Aguero is and will be the player to own from Manchester City.
– Tottenham’s Danny Rose will be out until September. That’s plenty of time for Ben Davies to assert himself at left back. Scoring a goal in the first game of the season, on the road, against a highly motivated Newcastle squad is certainly one way to do that.
– Romelu Lukaku is going to be as good as advertised. Those who risked drafting/adding Victor Lindelof were disappointed to see Phil Jones in the starting lineup alongside Eric Bailly.
Week 1 highest fantasy scorers
[the_ad id=”384″]Goalkeepers: Jonas Lössl (Huddersfield), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Ben Foster (WBA) and the rest who kept clean sheets.
Defenders: Ahmed Hegazy (WBA), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Matthias Jorgensen “Zanka” (Huddersfield), Federico Fernandez (Swansea), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton).
Midfielders: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford).
Forwards: Sam Vokes (Burnley), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Steve Mounié (Huddersfield), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Alvaro Morata (Chelsea), Wayne Rooney (Everton), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).
WEEK 2 PREVIEW
Swansea City vs. Manchester United
– This might seem like a simple road trip for The Red Devils on paper; however, Swansea will not be an easy pill to swallow. Lukaku and De Gea are still must-starts. With the lack of firepower for the Welsh side up front, I wouldn’t hesitate to start United’s defenders as well.
[the_ad id=”384″]Bournemouth vs. Watford
– Eddie Howe preferred Benik Afobe to the not fully recovered Jermain Defoe last week. Hopefully, that won’t be the case in Week 2, when Bournemouth supporters will want to see Defoe in the starting eleven. I like both Joshua King and Jermain Defoe this Saturday. I expect Bournemouth to score multiple goals and come out on top in this game. Brazilian Richarlison, who should replace injured Roberto Pereyra, and Nathaniel Chalobah are players to watch from Watford.
Burnley vs. West Bromwich Albion
– This should be a low-scoring affair. Take your pick between Tom Heaton and Ben Foster. One of them should end up with a clean sheet (if not both). Sam Vokes had a great Week 1 against Chelsea and will look for a repeat performance. 24-year old center back James Tarkowski is a player to watch from Burnley. Not only for this game, but for the season in general.
Leicester City vs. Brighton
– This should be a dream game for all who own Leicester players in fantasy. Okazaki was excellent versus Arsenal, so it will be interesting to see whether he or Iheanacho accompany Vardy. Players I’d like to have on my fantasy team from this matchup would be Riyad Mahrez, Marc Albrighton and Christian Fuchs.
Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace
– The Reds could have a field day against a vulnerable Crystal Palace, who will be missing Wilfried Zaha for this one. Jurgen Klopp’s side relieved some of the pressure after defeating Hoffenheim in Germany on Tuesday in the Champions League Playoff qualifier. That, combined with the atmosphere at Anfield, should have Liverpool firing on all cylinders from the get go. Other than their attacking trio, I’d pay attention to Trent Alexander-Arnold. The 18-year-old doesn’t seem to be influenced by the occasion whatsoever. After starting on Saturday in place of the injured Nathaniel Clyne, he did so again versus Hoffenheim and scored the first (game-changing) goal from a long range free-kick.
Southampton vs. West Ham United
– West Ham wasn’t as bad as the final score suggested last week. They do, however, have a problem in midfield. That’s where United won the battle, and that’s where they’ll struggle against most opponents. Marko Arnautovic is the only West Ham player I can foresee having a solid game. As for Southampton’s players, I have this gut feeling that Manolo Gabbiadini will score. The Hammers represent a similar challenge to Swansea, so we’ll see whether Pellegrini will figure it out and which players will step up.
Stoke City vs. Arsenal
– I already mentioned at the beginning of this article that I avoid all Arsenal players. Stoke has been a notoriously difficult opponent for The Gunners through the years, as their rough-and-tough soccer tends to engulf technicians. I’d avoid players from this matchup entirely.
Huddersfield vs. Newcastle United
– Last season’s Championship foes meet in the Premiership now. This game could be this week’s fantasy haven. Plenty of cheap options/free agents to add from both sides. Newcastle’s Christian Atsu really impressed against The Spurs, while Aaron Mooy and Steve Mounié are the ones to own from Huddersfield.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea
– This match couldn’t have come at a worse time for Chelsea. The Spurs looked awfully good in the first round and will look to build on that momentum. It’ll be tough going for The Blues. I can’t see them keeping a clean sheet or scoring more than once. That means I’d take Lloris over Courtois. Alli, Eriksen and Kane remain must-starts, while 20-year-old right back Kyle Walker-Peters (who’s filling in for Trippier) and Ben Davies are also good options.
Manchester City vs. Everton
– Despite a good performance in the first round and the arrival of Gylfi Sigurdsson, I can’t see Everton getting a good result here. I fully expect City to keep a clean sheet and win, making practically the entire team an attractive option. The only problem is you never know who Pep might bring out onto the field on a given day. Ederson, De Bruyne and Aguero are your safest bets.
Links to previous articles:
Fantasy EPL: Latest News and Injury Updates
Fantasy EPL: Transfers Review
EPL Fantasy Sleepers
Fantasy EPL: Top Players by Position
Fantasy EPL: Draft Advice
Fantasy EPL: Top-10 Strategy Tips
EPL Fantasy Strategies
Fantasy Soccer Guide