The way the Fantasy Football game works is simple. You have a budget and fifteen places to fill with some limitations in place. Players are priced based on the likelihood of their contribution over the season in terms of goals, assists and clean sheets and subsequently many rush to get the £10+ million players into their sides. So far this season, however, it is the £5 million men making an impact on a consistent basis.
The match of the gameweek that I feel epitomises the strange occurrences thus far is Manchester City’s 1-0 win away win against Crystal Palace. Usually opting with a defender is not a wise move, mainly because if they concede a goal it is practically all over but also because the likelihood of them scoring or assisting a goal is naturally less than midfielders or strikers. City so far, however, have kept a clean sheet in every game and subsequently are looking like the best captaining proposition. While playing Palace at home is a difficult venture, City will have been expected to score more than one goal. Many will have captained Sergio Aguero anticipating exactly that. Aguero, however, went off injured in the first-half and instead youngster Kelechi Iheanacho scored the last minute winner for his side. From a football fan perspective close run games like that are exciting. From a fantasy perspective, however, games like that are what are making this season very difficult to predict.
Luck is also playing its part especially when looking at Everton’s 3-1 victory against Chelsea in Saturday’s early kick-off. With Chelsea’s poor form over the beginning period of the season Everton were always in with a shout of taking all three points. Few, however, would have predicted their hat-trick hero especially since had it not been for an early injury he would not have even been on the pitch. Up until this week, Steven Naismith had played a maximum of 27 minutes in a single game and scored a single point in each of the first four gameweeks. His 17 points this week made him this week’s surprise top point-scorer and will have made his small percentage of owners very happy indeed.
With only seven players scoring ten points or over this week, many will be reliant upon a consistently good performance from all eleven members of their squad for a high score. This being said, here are this week’s top point-scorers.
- Steven Naismith (Everton) 17 points– The surprise performance of the week by far. Naismith’s perfect hat-trick earned him the top point score this gameweek and any of the lucky few who had him in their teams this week will be ecstatic. Whether he can earn a place in more teams will entirely depend on whether Roberto Martinez will give him a run in the starting lineup which, based on his most recent performance, he deserves.
- Dimitri Payet (West Ham) 16 points– Payet saved one of the best performances till last this gameweek when his two goals handed West Ham a 2-0 victory against Newcastle on Monday evening. As a Payet owner from week one I may be somewhat biased, but I am surprised about his relatively small ownership percentage. Despite Manchester City being up next, I’m sure he will be transferred into a fair few teams over the next week.
- Wes Hoolahan (Norwich) 13 points– This week was Hoolahan’s best performance to date this season with a goal and an assist to his name. The Norwich midfielder has generally started brightly and has now got a goal and four assists in total. While he is not as prolific as the likes of Mahrez, at only £5 million he already seems to be a player to consider this early on.
- Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) 11 points– Last week Mahrez brought his owners back down to earth with a single point after being taken off at half-time. The Mahrez we have come to know and love, however, returned this week with two assists and three bonus points. Apart from last week, the Leicester midfielder has been awarded three bonus points on each occasion that he has played. This demonstrates the impact that he is already having and the reason why so many are continually rushing to put them in their team.
- Ritchie De Laet (Leicester) 10 points– Defensively Leicester have not been overly impressive so far and have conceded in every game. De Laet, however, made up for it this week with his flicked goal from a Mahrez corner earning him ten points for the gameweek. While his points haul this week will have made his tiny percentage of owners happy, it is unlikely to increase due to unreliability with both Leicester’s defence and De Laet’s personal goalscoring form.
- Daley Blind (Manchester United) 10 points– Due to playing in a deep midfield role, Blind does not usually find himself in a goalscoring position. This week, however, he was able to score one of the three goals against Liverpool. Again it is something that I would not rely on occurring on a weekly basis and therefore probably not worth having in a fantasy team.
- Ryan Mason (Tottenham) 10 points– Mason is another who has had a somewhat disappointing start to the season. His winning goal against Sunderland, however, has already equalled his goal-scoring form of last season. If he continues to be given opportunities in the starting line-up, he has a strike on him that will certainly create chances.
Having two of this week’s top performers definitely helped my team, especially with the poor captaincy choice once again, but it was a strong performance from a fair few of my players. A point score of sixty-nine was enough to move me into the top 100,000 players overall for the first time this season so all in all it was a pretty good gameweek despite the big players failing to turn up again.
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester) 1 point– Mignolet against Manchester United was always a no go for me but Schmeichel against Aston Villa was promising. Leicester had not kept a clean sheet prior to this week but against Villa I thought they were capable of doing so. Turns out I was wrong again and Schmeichel did as much as Mignolet and added a single point to my tally.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal) 9 points– Whether it’s the Petr Cech effect, the quality of their opposition or maybe a combination of both, Arsenal have kept clean sheets for the last three gameweeks. Stoke were their opponents this week, a team that received two red cards the week before, and subsequently a clean sheet was a pretty safe bet for the home side. Bellerin picked up an extra three bonus points for his troubles and subsequently brought a nice points haul to my team.
Matteo Darmian (Manchester United) 1 point– I am not afraid to admit that prior to the game I saw the Manchester United v Liverpool game ending as a 0-0 draw or a victory to the home side. Both clubs have recently struggled in front of goal and I do not rate the Liverpool attacking force without Sturridge in the line-up. Darmian and his fellow defenders came very close to keeping a clean sheet but a piece of quality play from Christian Benteke put a stop to that. The Italian defender also picked up another yellow card, his penchant for doing so being something I picked up on a few weeks back, so a suspension edges ever nearer.
Cedric Soares (Southampton) 6 points– Southampton made it three clean sheets on the bounce this gameweek with their 0-0 draw against West Brom. While I think this run will probably be brought to a halt next gameweek when they take on Manchester United, the six points Cedric brought my team this week were more than welcome.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) 6 points– Defensively Manchester City already look unstoppable. Five gameweeks have now been completed and the side have five clean sheets. The side needed a late winner to get all three points from the match and subsequently there were no extra points for Kompany this week. The club take on West Ham next week, a side that I feel could find a goal against the current league leaders, but even so Kompany’s attacking threat is always a selling point.
Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace) 3 points– Sako’s two goals in gameweeks three and four made him difficult to ignore when I was looking for a substitute for Jordon Ibe. In gameweek five, however, he and his Crystal Palace side were unable to create any goals against a strong Manchester City team. Palace take on a Tottenham side that aren’t scoring a lot of goals in recent times in the next gameweek and I am more confident of Sako making an impact then.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) 11 points– As previously mentioned, Mahrez was back to fine form this week and was key to Leicester’s comeback. I’m sure that anyone who has avoided hopping on the bandwagon thus far is suitably peeved but I and all his fellow owners will be hoping his form continues for a long time yet.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham) 16 points– Payet was my star performer this week and I am very happy that I stuck with him since week one. His form to date has not been as prolific as Mahrez but his recent points haul was great for me personally due to his small ownership percentage. Payet is beginning to show everyone what he is capable of and I for one am hoping that those previously opting for the similarly priced Ayew continue in that vein.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) (C) 6 points-Playing at home against a depleted Stoke side, I was pretty confident in my captaincy choice this week. Unluckily for me, however, I could have opted with a number of different people in my squad and done an awful lot better than Sanchez. Arsenal scored two goals but the Chilean was not involved in either. For the last three weeks at least the midfielder has been consistent, but consistently high scores would be much more appreciated.
Odion Ighalo (Watford) 9 points– So once again this week, while I had low scorers like Aguero, Darmian, Sanchez and Sako in my starting line-up I had Ighalo and Jerome on my bench. Now I knew that one of these would come into my team because I had an injured David Silva in my starting team. Having made Ighalo my first substitute I was somewhat relieved as his nine points were greater than Jerome’s six. It is nice, however, to have both my £5 million strikers scoring goals from my bench while my starting £13 million striker plays 24 minutes and does nothing.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) 1 point– Speak of the devil. Aguero’s gameweek this week will have annoyed a large number of owners. With a hefty chunk of the fantasy budget taken up by the striker, people want a return greater than what he is currently offering. Saying this, however, it is difficult this far to predict who exactly will be scoring goals. Aguero is ruled out of City’s mid-week Champions League match so players will be hoping to get him back by the weekend.
- Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) 1 point– as predicted Manchester United were too much for Liverpool and Mignolet conceded three goals.
- David Silva (Manchester City) 0 points– sat out their latest game injured but could play a part in their Champions League game against Juventus.
- Cameron Jerome (Norwich) 6 points– Jerome netted his first goal of the season this week. Happy to see him score, but would have preferred him to be in my starting line-up when doing so.
- Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) 0 points– Currently out injured and potentially one to be transferred out over the next couple of weeks.