There were eight games yesterday and two today, in what was one of the best opening weekends in recent memory. Unfortunately I was moving home so I didn't get too see much live, hence the lack of updates throughout the day. Hopefully, I will be around for some live diaries in the coming weeks. Below are a few thoughts and observations on the weekend's games as well as the fantasy impact they will have:
Chelsea 2-1 Hull
I did manage to see this one and Hull were unlucky to miss out on any of the spoils. It did have a sense of inevitability about it though and Drogba, who had lots of chances throughout got the winner and his second of the game. I have said before that I like the Chelsea target man and I think he could be in for a big season. His picked up all 3 bonus points along with his two goals, giving him a 12 point haul for the day. Lampard didn't look overly threatening at the head of the diamond and he will have more success in the future for sure. Mikel started in the holding role but struggled and was replaced by Ballack at half time, pushing Essien back into a defensive position. I think this will the most used team and Mikel's value looks gone now, and Essien's is diminished.
Stephen Hunt's debut goal showed that he might have a better eye for goal than I had predicted and might be worth monitoring in the coming games.
Aston Villa 0-2 Wigan
I didn't have high expectations for Villa but they were awful in this game, with the talented pair of Young and Agbonlahor being all but non-existent. The defense looked all over the show and the loss of Laursen looks like a real blow for O'Neil's side. Young and Agbonlahor will bounce back but I would avoid the Villa defense for now until it is either strengthened or they can demonstrate they can get organised.
Wigan on the other hand look like a very useful unit and kept possession well throughout the game. N'Zogbia (5.5m) played quite well forward and enjoyed a good game, getting an assist for Koumas' goal. Koumas himself looked very useful and due to the fact he seems to take all corners and free kicks might be one for the shortlist. Rodallega grabbed the headlines with his excellent goal, and was a threat throughout. For anyone employing a rotation based attacking line, he should definitely be in consideration based on his matchup.
Blackburn 0-2 Man City
Mark Hughes couldn't have wished for a better start to his City career, getting a solid victory in week one, over his former team as an added bonus. New arrival Adebayor grabbed the three bonus points but as usual I though that Ireland was the pick of the midfielders and he confirmed my thoughts that even at 9m, he is a bargain. Shaun Wright Phillips, who I personally did not think would play, looked very good and grabbed both assists. Gareth Barry played the holding role I had expected De Jong or Kompany to occupy thus limiting his value as a fantasy player. The defense looked pretty shaky and was lucky to walk away with a clean sheet, with Dunne looking particularly troubled. City get a bye in week 2 and then face Wolves and Portsmouth so are worth holding for now. The next four of Arsenal, United, West Ham and Villa look a bit tougher so I wouldn't go all out and grab three City players just yet.
Blackburn looked okay but were quite blunt up front and need new arrival Kalinic to get fit as soon as possible in order for them to threaten any of the tougher teams. Warnock, who is a potential midfielder-listed-as-a-defender played in the back line and was limited in attacking options. This may change when captain Nelsen returns and Givet can shift to left back.
Bolton 0-1 Sunderland
Bent (aka the truth) grabbed the headlines here wit his debut goal, but it was strike partner Kenwyne Jones who was awarded the 3 bonus points. The midfield pairing of Malbranque and Richardson looked very threatening, with Malbranque getting the assist from a free kick for the first goal. On this performance, I would happily field Bent or Jones up front as well as Malbranque or Richardson. The defence also looked pretty solid limiting an anemic Bolton side to just a couple of shots.
Bolton offered very little of fantasy interest, though Ricketts get the start at right back may provide a good 4m option for future weeks.
Portsmouth 0-1 Fulham
There were no Pompey players I liked before kick off, and not much has changed. New arrival Piquionne had a decent game and might still warrant rotation consideration but until he can prove to be a Premier League scorer I will personally stay away. Kranjcar was very quiet and is overpriced at 7m right now.
Fulham didn't play all that well either, but showed that their defence is still one to reckoned with and Murphy (despite only picking up 1 bonus point) showed that he is the conductor in this team and is worth everyweek starter status for a bargain price. Zamora was given the 3 points probably as the pundits saw that he scored the winner, and Hangeland was given 2 probably because, if Arsenal are interested he must be good.
Stoke 2-0 Burnley
Bit gutted on this one, as I had Shawcross in the team up until 11am on Saturday morning then cut him for Scharner at the last minute. Anyway, Stoke's defense is for real and Sorensen could be the most undervalued player in the game right now. The fact that Shawcross was given the bonus points suggests he could be the darling of the Stoke line, given the points for a clean sheet in the same way that Vidic and Terry always get them for their respective teams. At 4.5m he is a real bargain and bench worthy in any team. Liam Lawrence took all free kicks and corners, while Delap's throw ins caused problems once more. I don't think either player is great value but if the matchup is right they might have value. Beattie was quiet on Saturday and we must monitor his form to check he can continue the kind of goalscoring he demonstrated last term.
I fear for Burnley this season and I am struggling to find a bright spot in this side. No one justifies fantasy consideration right now.
Wolves 0-2 West Ham
Much like Martinez is trying to do in Wigan, Zola has transformed the mentality of this team, who now look like a really good unit who can threaten the upper half of the league. My favourite arrival Jimenez picked up a single bonus point, while Noble's cracking goal, assist and 3 bonus points made him the player of the game. Cole looked good again and has really turned into a class act in the last 18 months. He is very good value at 7m as he looks to improve on his goalscoring and approach 15 goals for the year.
Wolves looked alot better than Burnley and threatened the West Ham goal for decent periods of the game. Milijas as the focal point of this and he tested Green with 3 decent efforts in the game. He also slipped in Ebanks-Blake (who was very quiet) but the young striker could not finish with any precision.
Everton 1-6 Arsenal
Really disappointed I missed this one, as Arsenal in full flow are a total joy to behold. Fabregas reminded us that he should be included in the discussion of the top fantasy players, adding a mammoth 22 points this week (2 goals, 2 assists, 3 bonus). Eduardo, Denilson, Gallas and Vermaelen all added goals while my favourite breakout player Arshavin added an assist and a bonus point. The defense looked decent and should be good for a few clean sheets in the coming weeks while all attacking options aside from Bendtner were able to contribute to your score this week. After week 5, Arsenal have a GREAT fixture list and it may be worth getting at least 2 gunners in your side from that period until week 14 when they next play a red light game.
Everton are in a bit of turmoil, with the Lescott saga clearing having an effect on the team (as well as injuries to Jagielka, Arteta and Yakubu). I wouldn't abandon them just yet as the fixtures are still good after the week 2 bye, but it might be worth removing the Everton defence from the top echelon of fantasy teams.
Man Utd 1-0 Birmingham
Fabio got the surprise start at right back today, who at 5m is an absolute steal if he continues to get minutes. Ferdinand looks set to miss a couple of games, so Evans might be a good play over the next few weeks. Foster took his place in goal and should continue to deputise for the injured van der Sar and is therefore great value for now. The midfield was solid but unspectacular and no one has even begun to challenge for Ronaldo's crown yet. Rooney added a goal and 3 bonus points and might be worth a look though I still rate Torres and Drogba as better value.
Birmingham defended solidly but never threatened the United goal and look set to struggle to find the net this year. They should keep some clean sheets against lesser team though and Stephen Carr at 4m looks to be a good bench man.
Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool
A great strike from Assou Ekotto and a debut header from Bassong gave Spurs a great opening day win. Modric played fairly well, picking up an assist and should still be considered an undervalued midfielder for now. Up front Defoe looked lively though Keane and Crouch both failed to have a significant impact on the game. Spurs should keep plenty of clean sheets again this year and for 5m, their defenders look to be good value.
Liverpool really struggled without Xabi, with Mascherano andLucas lacking the passing skills required to free up Gerrard to push forward. Gerrard therefore kept coming short, leaving Torres stranded at times. Benayoun filled that void somewhat and I can see him becoming the first choice midfield/forward over Babel in the coming weeks. Torres himself did okay, while Gerrard converted his penalty to edge Lampard in the early quest to be fantasy king. Check back in a couple of days for the injury status of Skrtel, who went off with a head injury (sadly after both goals were conceded).
Overall it was a great weekend, with no draws and plenty of goals. The team selections were largely in line with expectations, though I will comment on the success of my predictions vs The Guardian and Telegraph in a couple of days. Hope your teams had good opening days and that you aren't in a hole already. I got 45 points which is average so I'm not too down (for now).
Congrats to Rodi O'Leart who top scored in the blog league this week with a very impressive 75, after captaining Drogba and scoring solid points throughout his team.