WEEK 3 REVIEW
The World Cup qualifications break is over, which means the English Premier League resumes this weekend. Therefore, a long overdue Week 3 review is first on the agenda. The derby turned into a “massacre” as Liverpool demolished Arsenal, demonstrating once more how vulnerable Wenger’s side is. Alexis Sanchez’s return had no influence whatsoever, while Klopp’s deadly trio up front gave a glimpse of what might be a season to remember for The Reds. Burnley is taking on the spoiler role West Ham had claimed a couple of seasons ago, with newly signed Chris Wood rescuing a late draw against the odds-on favorite Tottenham Spurs. Pochettino’s men, on the other hand, showed why there are so few believers out there who realistically think they can challenge for the title. My prediction came true, as Morata did score (and provided an assist) in Chelsea’s rather routine home victory versus Everton. I mentioned that games between defensive teams such as West Bromwich and Stoke should be low-scoring affairs, but they often end up with neither keeping a clean sheet. Well, that was the case here, as it finished in a 1-1 draw. Manchester United continued their perfect start by defeating the always entertaining Leicester City. However, Lukaku owners were left disappointed after he missed a penalty. Marcus Rashford came in as a sub and made the difference, while another sub, Fellaini, secured the win.
As for the rest of the games, Swansea was a surprise winner on the road against Crystal Palace, as Tammy Abraham found the net. He’s already rewarding fantasy owners who took a chance on him. Huddersfield and Southampton played a goalless draw in what was supposed to be a high-scoring contest. Newcastle dominated West Ham, which is more of a reflection of how bad The Hammers looked before the break than how good The Magpies are. Watford failed to break through Brighton’s defense (Britos’ expulsion in the 24th minute had a lot to do with that). Lastly, Manchester City needed a 97th-minute goal by Raheem Sterling to defeat a spirited Bournemouth side. It was hardly deserved, as Pep’s men continue to struggle with performance at the beginning of the campaign.
Week 3 highest fantasy scorers
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester) and all the rest who didn’t concede.
Defenders: Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kyle Naughton (Swansea), Joe Gomez (Liverpool).
Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Robbie Brady (Burnley), Sadio Mané (Liverpool).
Forwards: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Tammy Abraham (Swansea).
So, what to expect next? Well, for starters, make sure you’re caught up on all the deals that were made before the transfer deadline, and then, read this:
WEEK 3 PREVIEW
Manchester City vs. Liverpool
– We are restarting with a bang in what should be a cracking soccer match. This matchup is all about picking the right players because there are going to be ones who give you fantasy points. Joe Gomez has looked very capable and should start at right back for The Reds, while Benjamin Mendy made his debut and will now be the starter at left back for The Citizens. In general, I’d avoid all defenders from this game (unless you’re convinced a certain one will score). Gabriel Jesus has been the most consistent player for City, while Salah, Mané and Firmino are must-starts for the time being, regardless of Liverpool’s opponents.
Arsenal vs. Bournemouth
– The Gunners are a team in disarray. They are battered, bruised and in pain. A wounded lion is always hungry, so despite everything I’ve written about them, I do think this game will be a show of force. They typically have at least two or three such games every season (after which they quickly come back down to Earth). Oxlade-Chamberlain’s departure and Alexis Sanchez’s low morale (he really wanted to leave) don’t stop me from making this prediction. If I have to pick one player to own, it would be Alexandre Lacazette.
Brighton vs. West Bromwich
– Two things are clear about Brighton. They are prepared to try to claw their way even through the thickest of thorns in order to avoid relegation, and they have no fantasy relevant players. The only one with potential is Davy Propper. WBA have been surprisingly good, and even brought PSG’s Krychowiak on a loan to solidify what is an already difficult defense to penetrate. Everything I wrote about the game they played against Stoke last time out applies here – it should be a low-scoring game, yet both teams might end up scoring. I have a feeling a defender will score. Who could it be?
Everton vs. Tottenham
– This will be a true battle between two very tough teams. A draw could be in the cards, but I do expect both teams to score. Eriksen, Alli and Kane (despite his poor start) remain must-starts, while Sigurdsson has looked great in a blue shirt in both of his appearances.
Leicester vs. Chelsea
– Mahrez has stayed with The Foxes and will now play with the extra incentive of earning himself that transfer that never came to life. On the other side, Hazard featured for Belgium during the qualifiers, so it’s expected he’ll be back on the pitch. Conte likely savored this break and a consolidated Chelsea should be hard to overcome. I would advise you against starting the goalkeepers from this match, and I’d also add that Willian scored for Brazil and is on a high, making him a sneaky sleeper pick.
Southampton vs. Watford
– I don’t know what to make of Watford. The coach has potential and the players have potential. There are times during games when they appear, but the dominoes have yet to fall into place. The Saints have been just as inconsistent. What happens with Deeney remains to be seen. The start of the season has left his fantasy owners frustrated. He’s back to full strength; however, a strained relationship with the manager doesn’t do him any good. I’d single out Cedric Soares, Dusko Tadic and Manolo Gabbiadini as players who should have a fantasy worthy game.
Stoke vs. Manchester United
– Is this the team to keep United off the score sheet? All they’ve done during the summer is buy defenders (other than Jesé), so it only logical to expect them to have a chance. And while the focus might be on whether ManU will score, my attention is on whether they’ll concede. I’d say it’s safer to start their defenders and/or De Gea, than Lukaku or any of the attackers.
Burnley vs. Crystal Palace
– Frank de Boer is already on the hot seat. A defeat here could mean doom. This smells like a draw, yet Crystal Palace is not a team I can trust at the moment. Perhaps Mamadou Sakho will bring some stability at the back, and then they can go and build from there. I’d like to see how Vokes and Wood would do up front together, but that is unlikely to happen for now. I like whoever gets the start (likely Vokes). Jason Puncheon could also have a good game.
Swansea vs. Newcastle
– Renato Sanches is here, Wilfried Bony is back, Tammy Abraham is better than advertised, Roque Mesa is as good as advertised, and suddenly Swansea has hope. Newcastle is moving in the opposite direction, as friction between Rafa Benitez and management has led to speculations that he wants to leave the club. This game should be a coming out party for Sanches. I also anticipate that Abraham will find the net again, so mark it as my prediction for this weekend. Kyle Naughton and Jordan Ayew could also be valuable. As for Newcastle, well, I think my comment above says it all.
West Ham vs. Huddersfield
– Slaven Bilic is another manager who’s future is hanging in the balance. A bad result here and the fans will be waving bye-bye. Huddersfield has been the feel-good story of this campaign thus far. However, there is one such story pretty much every year and it usually (Leicester) doesn’t last long. The extra preparation time is what the doctor ordered for the Croat, and although I do think he’ll get sacked eventually, this particular match belongs to West Ham. After convincing Diafra Sakho to stay, he’ll expect to start here, as do I. He, Michail Antonio, Javier Hernandez and Lanzini (questionable to play at the moment) are all West Ham squad members I like for fantasy purposes from this Monday matchup.