Week four has arguably been the most surprising week to date. Big teams struggled to compete against comparatively smaller sides. Red cards were seemingly handed out left, right and centre. Strikers of the highest calibre, and the ones you expect to be scoring on a consistent basis, all continue to be firing blanks while the outstanding performers of previous weeks extend their goal scoring runs.
The list of top goalscorers so far this season says it all about the strange recent events in the opening weeks of the Premier League season. Riyad Mahrez, Callum Wilson and Bafetimbi Gomis are the current top scorers with four goals each, followed by Andre Ayew on three and a whole host of players including the likes of Vincent Kompany, Graziano Pelle, Joel Ward, Jamie Vardy, Jermain Defoe, Scott Sinclair, Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley all on two. Even at this early stage of the season very few would have predicted the top scorers would include a Premier League newcomer and a striker who only managed seven goals in the entirety of last season.
Consequently this season so far has been highly difficult to predict and one where people are rushing to include a whole host of cheaper options in their team rather than the big budget names. For now this seems like the short term answer, but in the long term you fancy the likes of Eden Hazard, Wayne Rooney etc. to find their form sooner rather than later.
What also doesn’t help matters is the current patch of form the big teams find themselves in. Manchester City are the exceptions at the moment with the side experiencing a string of results any team would be envious of. Arsenal are also not doing too badly but their opening day defeat against West Ham was not the best start. Chelsea, meanwhile, are conceding goals consistently and this week lost at Stamford Bridge to Crystal Palace. Liverpool seem to be struggling in the goals department, despite the capture of Christian Benteke, and lost at Anfield to West Ham while Manchester United are also clearly lacking the firepower up front and are struggling to recreate their European form in the Premier League thus far. In the next gameweek Manchester United take on Liverpool at Old Trafford and in their current form signs would be pointing towards a 0-0 draw. Both sides will therefore be hoping to find that little extra something over the international break.
This week was also the week of the red card. Aleksandar Mitrovic got the ball rolling with a red card against Arsenal. This was followed by two red cards in the Liverpool v West Ham game, one for Philippe Coutinho and one for Mark Noble after scoring for his side. The drama continued in the Stoke v West Brom game with the home side having both Ibrahim Afellay and Charlie Adam sent off and on the Sunday Steven Whittaker received a red for Norwich in their game against Southampton. With the likes of Coutinho in particular being a player with fairly high ownership, many players will surely be dipping in to the transfer pool over the international break to find his replacement.
With all this being said here are the players who performed well this week.
- Dusan Tadic (Southampton) 16 points- Tadic was an important member of the Southampton squad last season but had started slowly this season. His two goals, clean sheet and three bonus points this week, however, made him this week’s top performer. The irony was that the midfielder went down in value to £6.9 million prior to the game but those who stuck by him will have reaped the benefits.
- Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa) 14 points- Sinclair is another that has been slow to start the season, but this week the £4.9 million man scored two goals which ultimately earned his team a point. If the midfielder can perform consistently at this kind of level, he is surely undervalued. It is this aspect of Sinclair’s game, however, that cannot be guaranteed.
- Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace) 13 points- At just £5.5 million, Sako is also a player that is arguably undervalued. The midfielder did not appear in the first two gameweeks, but made up for it in the last two. Against Aston Villa and Chelsea he has earned himself ten and thirteen points respectively and Pardew’s decision to play him in an attacking role is clearly paying off thus far.
- Andre Ayew (Swansea) 13 points- Ayew was an unknown quantity in the Premier League just a few weeks ago but now he is already becoming one of the top performers in the league. The midfielder has scored three goals and got an assist, subsequently earning himself a £0.2 million price increase. At £7.2 million he is currently a highly affordable option but one that you suspect will continue to rise in price as the weeks go on.
- Bacary Sagna (Manchester City) 12 points- It seems that the Manchester City defenders are taking turns when it comes to high point scores in the opening few weeks. City have kept clean sheets in all their games so far and therefore all their defenders seem to be great fantasy options. Up until now it has been Vincent Kompany and Aleksandar Kolarov taking centre stage but this week Sagna’s added assist saw him end on a slightly higher point score.
- Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) 12 points- Defensively West Ham could be described as shambolic in their 4-3 defeat against Bournemouth. After that showing and with Liverpool up next, I would imagine that few would back their defence in gameweek four. Those who did, however, will have been laughing when the results came in. West Ham’s 3-0 victory at Anfield and Cresswell’s added assist and bonus points gave him a not too shabby twelve points. Clearly the past two weeks show that the Hammers cannot be relied upon defensively, but with two clean sheets against Arsenal and Liverpool away from home they clearly fancy themselves on the road against the biggest teams. This being said, I still would not back them when they take on Manchester City at the Etihad in gameweek six.
- Tim Howard (Everton) 11 points- Howard was certainly Everton’s key man in their game against Tottenham this week. Thanks to his six saves, the American goalkeeper helped to keep Harry Kane and co. at bay and subsequently earn a point for his side.
- Sadio Mane (Southampton) 11 points- Like many top performers this week, Mane has eased himself into this season somewhat slowly. With a slightly steep starting value of £8 million, his early performances can be described as disappointing and consequently his value fell £0.2 million in the first three weeks. His two assists and clean sheet this week, however, did mean that he finished with over ten points and regained some kind of form. The Mane of this week is what we come to expect from the midfielder but only time will tell to see if he is able to find some kind of consistency.
With none of these players featuring in my squad, my gameweek has been somewhat disappointing once more. Captaincy again was an issue, my choice of defenders seemed to have saved me (despite having a goalscoring Joel Ward on my bench AGAIN) and I did just about manage to finish on a point score above average.
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester) 2 points- Having Payet in my team and playing against Liverpool, opting with Schmeichel in goal instead of Mignolet was a decision made based more on optimism than anything. Playing against Bournemouth, I also felt that Leicester were more likely to keep a clean sheet anyway. Ultimately, however, it was a decision that didn’t make an awful lot of difference.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal) 6 points- Having only managed to score two goals in all their games so far, Newcastle seemed to be odds on to fire another blank in their game against Arsenal. The game finished 1-0 to the Gunners and Bellerin picked up his second clean sheet in two weeks. A pretty straightforward six points.
Matteo Darmian (Manchester United) 1 point- United have hardly been prolific in front of goal so far this season but defensively they have been pretty solid. Up against a Swansea side that have been consistently finding the back of the net, starting Darmian was always going to be a risk but a lesser one I felt than starting the likes of Ward against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Turns out I was wrong again.
Cedric Soares (Southampton) 7 points- In the first two weeks, Southampton were under much scrutiny due to their defensive performances. I stuck with Cedric this far (mainly due to my priorities transfer wise lying elsewhere in my squad) and the past two weeks have shown that Southampton, at least against the newly promoted teams, are able to keep a clean sheet.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) 5 points- At this early point in the season having a Manchester City defender in your team seems to be highly logical. City are yet to concede a goal and are scoring at the other end in abundance. Kompany’s booking was the only downside to this week but his consistency is a definite plus point in my team.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) 1 point- Mahrez has been almost superhuman up until this point, scoring at least ten points in each of the first three weeks. This week, however, all those hoping to capitalise on his herculean efforts by jumping on the bandwagon were found wanting as his short appearance ended with a single point. With a slight injury scare, Ranieri clearly felt that it wasn’t worth risking him and fantasy players subsequently will be hoping it will not worsen over the international break.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham) 3 points- My hopes were high for Payet going into this week. Liverpool were not looking the strongest of teams defensively and I was optimistic of a West Ham victory. I was right in that sense but sadly for me Payet was not involved in any of the three goals his side scored. Every week I come a little closer to changing him out for Ayew, but with Newcastle up next I will continue to champion Payet for at least the next week or so.
David Silva (Manchester City) 6 points- Last week I expressed my disappointment when it comes to the number of points Silva picks up. He has clearly been one of the outstanding performers thus far in the Premier League but his points tally does not reflect that due to his lack of goals or assists. This week, however, he was able to pick up an assist but was still not awarded any bonus points. I may be somewhat biased in saying the bonus points system is flawed as Silva is in my team (and may still be somewhat aggrieved that he was not awarded the goal in gameweek one) but I am still happy that I opted to keep him in my team over Hazard the other week.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) 3 points- I had high hopes regarding Sanchez this week as well but he was another that let me down. Arsenal only managed a single goal against Newcastle and Sanchez was not involved in it. The Gunners’ clean sheet did mean that he ended up with an extra point, but I would prefer it if he could start contributing on the goal front sooner rather than later.
Cameron Jerome (Norwich) 2 points- Jerome has been living on my bench for the last few weeks and rightfully so considering his point scores. This week, with Ighalo’s Watford taking on Manchester City, I chose to give Jerome his big chance against Southampton. In a way I was happy since it meant Cedric kept his clean sheet points, but in hindsight it would have been better to opt with neither Jerome or Ighalo and put Ward into my starting lineup. Norwich take on Bournemouth next week and if there was any chance for Jerome to score a goal this season I feel that would be it.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) (C) 4 points- With Manchester City taking on Watford at the Etihad the result could only go one way. As a result I, among with many others, opted to captain Aguero. Expecting this to be the striker’s big moment, it would have been stupid not to. In hindsight, however, it was a move that did not really benefit me as he was not involved in either of City’s two goals. It would seem that Aguero is still warming up this season but as I continue to say (if only to reassure myself) it is only a matter of time before we see the Aguero we know and love.
- Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) 1 point- as expected, Liverpool struggled defensively and Mignolet could not prevent three goals going into his net.
- Odion Ighalo (Watford) 2 points- Ighalo continued to struggle in front of goal but against the calibre of City it was inevitable.
- Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) 8 points- As expected, Ward was unable to keep a clean sheet against Chelsea. Once again, however, he popped up and scored another goal while sitting on my bench. Wonderful.
- Jordon Ibe (Liverpool) 1 point- With Roberto Firmino increasing his game time, Ibe seems to now be playing second fiddle. As a result he came on as a sub against West Ham and did very little other than turn up. As one of my cheapest players it is difficult to come up with an effective replacement but it may be worth doing.
With the international break now upon us there is plenty of time to reconsider our options for gameweek five. This is also the moment for us to be tempted into transferring players into our fantasy sides based on their international performances. I may have somewhat stupidly transferred someone into my team long before the gameweek deadline so I will be praying that no major injuries befall my team members when playing for their country.