WEEK 5 REVIEW
If you see many Manchester City players in the list below, that’s because they destroyed their third team in a row. The victim was Watford and the number was six. Are The Citizens finally coming together under Pep, or is this just a run of good form? We’ll have to wait and see, but if so, the entire Premiership should be scared. Oh, and be careful, Kun! Usually, when you start playing well and scoring on a regular basis, the injury bug bites you.
After their first stumble, United continued where they left off. Pogba’s absence was barely felt, as a fabulous strike by Valencia opened the scoring early. Three more came late, and Everton was finally down on its knees. Chelsea failed to meet my blowout expectations in a tight fought 0-0 draw at home versus Arsenal. The motivated Gunners didn’t let up and worked very hard to disable Conte’s machine. It was somewhat unusual to see that out of a Wenger team, but at the end, the point was well deserved. David Luiz’s reckless tackle that earned him a send-off didn’t help The Blues either, at a time when they were trying to push forward and make a breakthrough. Burnley also defied the odds by scraping more points out of the best. After Chelsea and Tottenham, it was Liverpool’s turn, and at Anfield, no less. You have to give them credit. The Clarets are a tight-knit bunch. The Spurs failed to win “at home” once more, and are 0-3 in their attempts to ensure a victory at Wembley. This time Swansea, which suffered a home loss to Newcastle in the previous round, managed to steal a point, despite Tottenham possessing the ball 75% of the time and firing 26 shots on goal. Yet again, Harry Kane’s owners were left disappointed. Those of you who for some reason have Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles on your rosters were likely overjoyed when he scored again in The Magpies win over Stoke. All of a sudden a struggling team has collected three consecutive wins. Go figure!
In the rest of the matches, Bournemouth finally found its way to the winning column. They trailed until Jordon Ibe came in as a substitute and provided two assists, one to Surman and one to, yes, you guessed it, Jermain Defoe. An underwhelming Southampton held on to a 0-1 road win against Crystal Palace, which is now the only pointless team left on the table. Unlike Chelsea and Tottenham, WBA and West Ham met my expectations in a scoreless draw, while Huddersfield and Leicester ended up tied as well in an entertaining 1-1 game.
In general, this was the most boring weekend thus far, as three or more goals were scored only in four out of the 10 games played, including three goalless draws. A good weekend for defenders in fantasy, though.
Week 5 highest fantasy scorers
Goalkeepers: Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea), Petr Cech (Arsenal) and all the rest who kept clean sheets.
Defenders: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Winston Reid (West Ham), Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle).
Midfielders: David Silva (Manchester City), Matt Ritchie (Newcastle), Steven Davis (Southampton), Andrew Surman (Bournemouth), Scott Arfield (Burnley), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United), Christian Atsu (Newcastle).
Forwards: Sergio Agüero (Manchester City), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Laurent Depoitre (Huddersfield), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Jermain Defoe (Bournemouth), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City).
WEEK 6 PREVIEW
West Ham vs. Tottenham
– Chicharito’s doubters have been proven right so far. It’s not his fault as much as the entire team’s (especially the coaching staff), but fantasy doesn’t care about that. Harry Kane’s owners will confirm that. Taking the inconsistencies surrounding both squads into consideration, this is a very difficult game to predict. I’d say the most likely scenario is a tactical chess match resulting in a low-scoring affair. The Spurs are good enough to come out on top; however, The Hammers will be motivated. A Christian Eriksen moment of inspiration could be the decider. Generally speaking, I’d rather own defenders than forwards from this matchup.
Burnley vs. Huddersfield
– Chris Wood has been better than advertised and a perfect fit for this team. Burnley have to win matches like this if they want to be taken seriously, even if it is against an always inspired Huddersfield. Mounié missed last weekend’s game as a late scratch and is now set to miss this trip as well. His replacement Depoitre is also questionable, so the blue & whites will be thin up front. If Burnley’s play is up to standard, Chris Wood should profit the most. All their starting defenders are good, cheap options, especially James Tarkowski.
Everton vs. Bournemouth
– Now that all the fuss surrounding Rooney is over, we’ll see the real Everton, for better or for worse. At the moment, it appears as if it’s the latter. After four straight defeats (3 in the EPL and 1 in Europe), they received a refreshing dose of self-confidence on Wednesday in the league cup. Youngster Calvert-Lewin scored twice in a 3-0 home win versus Sunderland. That bodes well for their chances on Saturday. They look far more threatening with Calvert-Lewin in the lineup, and he should be given more first-team opportunities. Joshua King let me down, so I’m not picking him to have a good game this time around. It could be a nice fantasy game for Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Gylfi Sigurdsson. As for Bournemouth, I highly doubt they’ll keep a clean sheet.
Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace
– Exactly what City needed: A matchup against the Premier League’s worst, at home, while they’re on fire. My first thoughts are 10-0, but then after taking a deep breath, saying it’s going to be an easy win is a much safer prediction. I actually think Palace could find a way to the net. Regardless of that, owning any Manchester City player is nothing other than logical.
Southampton vs. Manchester United
– In my opinion, here’s a game in which United not only could, but should, lose points. The Saints are a notoriously difficult opponent on their home field, especially when playing England’s best. I look for Tadic and Redmond to raise their performance levels for this one, and I sincerely hope Gabbiadini will be the focal point of the attack (not Shane Long like in the last game). One thing Mourinho has shown is that he will rotate his wingers, so despite the fact Rashford’s and Martial’s forms suggest they should be playing together, that is unlikely to happen. Therefore, Lukaku remains the safest bet.
Stoke vs. Chelsea
– It’s Chelsea’s turn to feel the wrath of the Britannia Stadium. Arsenal and United failed to come away with all three points. Will The Blues show how it’s done? I believe they will. After all, winning games like this is how they came away with the trophy last season. Cahill is back, but now Luiz is suspended, so either Rudiger or Christensen will get the start. I actually like Bakayoko (if he starts) in this game, as well as Eden (also if he starts). If not, then Pedro and/or Willian could be the difference makers.
Swansea vs. Watford
– Swansea is excellent at the back. Fabianski being a top-five fantasy goalkeeper is proof of that. Fernandez and Mawson make a great pairing. They, along with some defensive-minded midfielders, keep Lukasz safe. What they’re lacking is a creator, a midfield organizer who connects all the dots. That’s exactly what Roque Mesa was for Las Palmas, the glue that kept the team together. For some reason, he hasn’t received the opportunity he deserves yet. Renato Sanches was a bit better his second time out, and his performances will grow as his confidence grows. Don’t give up on him! Watford has been better on the road, as both of their wins have come in away ties. I personally think Gray and Deeney would be a scary duo. Whether and when we’ll see it is uncertain. This is a take a pick – make a guess type of fantasy matchup. My picks are Tammy Abraham, Jordan Ayew and Martin Olsson.
Leicester vs. Liverpool
– A potentially high-scoring game if ever there was one. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends 0-0, but I extremely doubt it. They actually just played a cup game on Tuesday, which The Reds should have won. They were by far and away the better team, especially in the first half. However, they were made to rue their missed chances and will now seek revenge in a rematch only four days later. Okazaki was the X factor, so it’ll be interesting to see whether it was enough to earn him a start over Iheanacho. I fully expect Klopp’s men to rise to the challenge. Despite playing attractive soccer, they haven’t felt victory since the qualifications break. At this point, you should already know what I’ll write next – Salah, Mané, Firmino. Only Mané is suspended, so I’ll go with Coutinho. Two under-the-radar sneaky contributors could be Marc Albrighton and Joel Matip.
Brighton vs. Newcastle
– A rematch of last season’s Championship championship battle. Newcastle stole the title, so Brighton’s players will be all hyped up. Newcastle is improving, and they’re the better team at the moment … it smells like a draw. By this point, you should be aware that nothing happens in Brighton without Pascal Gross’ involvement, while Ritchie and Atsu are pulling the strings for Newcastle. Can Lascalles find the score sheet again? Stranger things have happened.
Arsenal vs. West Browmich
– Arsenal followed up a rather impressive showing against Chelsea with a rather unimpressive showing against Doncaster on Wednesday. Alexis Sanchez started there, but didn’t versus Chelsea. It’s pretty obvious that the fact he wants to leave doesn’t sit well with Wenger. They’re both trying to be professional about it, but sooner or later it’s going to boil over. The atmosphere in the locker room is clearly affected. As if Arsenal’s typical inconsistent performances aren’t enough, it’s only making matters worse. That’s why, despite a potentially “juicy” matchup, I issue a hands-off warning (at the very least to myself).