Firstly, Happy New Year one and all!
2016 is now officially upon us and many more unpredictable weeks in the world of fantasy football no doubt awaits. Going into new year, here is what the Premier League table currently looks like and it is certainly not what the majority would have expected at the start of the season.
Leicester came pretty much out of nowhere to fight it out at the top of the table, Arsenal are trying their best to finish higher than their usual fourth place and currently succeeding, while current Champions Chelsea said goodbye to the “Special One” having fallen towards the bottom of the league.
With last year’s fantasy staples such as Eden Hazard, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic no longer being wise choices, and the usually reliable Sergio Aguero disappearing for extended periods through injury, attention has been drawn to many of the consistent scoring cheaper options. As a result, it has been easier for everyone to have the same high-scoring individuals and subsequently difficult to make up ground.
Up until this point in the season it has been relatively straightforward to pick a 50+ point scoring side week in week out. With many individuals being key performers for their sides, and others being comparatively poor, they quickly became staples for many teams. Going into the New Year there is no guarantee that this form, however, will continue. Then again, they may just carry on surprising people.
With a new chapter about to begin in the season, here are some of my personal awards for the last few months.
Biggest Surprise– Riyad Mahrez
At the beginning of the season if you were to say the top point-scorer up until now was selected by 67.2% of people and had a total points haul of 152, many names may have popped into mind. Sergio Aguero? Eden Hazard? Alexis Sanchez? No, instead it was an unknown figure from a team that narrowly avoided relegation last season that was to become the name on everyone’s lips. Riyad Mahrez has already scored 13 goals, got 7 assists and risen £1.6 million and counting. Together with Jamie Vardy, this Leicester strike-force is one to be scared of- something that no one saw coming back in the summer. While Mahrez’s inclusion in fantasy teams is no longer a big deal, his emergence as one of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers is and his journey this far has been a thoroughly enjoyable one to follow.
Biggest Disappointment– Chelsea
As last season’s Champions, choosing what three Chelsea players to put in your team at the beginning of the season would have been the difficult decision to make. How far the mighty have fallen though when including a single one of their players would be deemed a risk. The London club’s form was so bad that even Jose Mourinho couldn’t hold onto his job any longer. You feel that the only way is up for the club, especially considering the calibre of players they have at their disposal. As the season has demonstrated so far, however, nothing is guaranteed.
MVP– Mesut Ozil
It is pretty clear to see that Ozil is a special player and a key one at that for Arsenal. The Gunners currently find themselves at the top of the Premier League, despite the untimely injury to Alexis Sanchez, and a large part of that is down to the weekly masterclasses from Ozil. The German has already accumulated 16 assists and even managed to get on the score-sheet on three occasions. It is safe to say if Arsenal are going to score, Ozil will be involved in one way or another. The German’s value has risen from £8.5 million to £10 million and if he continues to perform as expected, it will only continue to rise as the weeks go on.
Biggest Casualty– Dimitri Payet
From the very beginning, I felt the signing of Payet would be huge for West Ham. The midfielder would prove to be hugely influential for the Hammers especially when going forward. When he got injured in gameweek 12, therefore, it was always going to be a blow for the London club. Having been absent ever since, West Ham haven’t been the same and goals have been hard to come by- summed up by their three 0-0 draws in a row in recent weeks. The midfielder is expected to return fairly soon and based on recent results, it cannot be soon enough.
My Team Favourite– Odion Ighalo
When I first opted to include Ighalo in my team back in gameweek one, after much deliberation and painstaking research, I was unsure what to expect. Here was a player that had performed well in Watford’s previous season in the Championship and who carried this form into their pre-season games. Starting at the value of only £5 million, I thought that Ighalo would be great value if he was able to make the transition to the Premier League. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this season has been watching Ighalo acclimatise to life in the top division in style. Having now increased to £6.2 million and to 36.5% ownership, the striker has continuously scored against some of the division’s biggest teams. As a result he has been incredible value so far and long may his impressive run continue.
Best Personal Gameweek To Date– Gameweek 17
Despite sitting just over the overall 50k rank, I have yet to reach the 100+ point mark in a single gameweek. My best score to date, therefore, is 83 points as achieved in gameweek 17- the week of Watford’s surprise victory against Liverpool, Manchester United’s shock defeat to Norwich and the exciting 3-2 win for Leicester away to Everton. While choosing the best captain continues to be a problem for me, it definitely leaves room for improvement in the new year!
Potential To Impress In 2016– N’Golo Kante
As has already been discussed, Leicester have made a highly impressive start to the season. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have made most of the headlines and rightfully so considering their goalscoring form. It is more difficult than ever to find a player that others don’t have but who also has the potential to score points week after week. If Leicester are able to continue their form, one player who I will be keeping an eye on is Kante. Currently the midfielder has only scored one goal and made two assists but he is a hugely influential member of the Leicester squad. Defensively there is arguably no one better right now especially in terms of interceptions and he simply doesn’t stop working for his team. There is no doubt that Kante is an exceptional player and having shown that he is capable of finding the goal, I am backing him to make a bigger impression in the second half of the season.
With many a week still to go there is massive potential for change in the remainder of the Premier League season. Will Chelsea make a comeback? Will Leicester go off the boil? Will Manchester United ever sack Louis Van Gaal? Only time will tell!