The Premier League kicked off in style last weekend, with a number of surprises served up for those who follow the competition on a regular basis. There was disappointment at the Emirates for example, where the home-side seemed to have played to the tune of ‘same old Arsenal’, after going down 2-0 to a strong-looking West Ham side. Other surprises included Chelsea’s inability to overcome Swansea at home, having to settle for a 2-2 draw, with much-publicised controversy caused by team-doctor Eva Carneiro who, against manager Jose Mourinho’s philosophy, decided to treat Eden Hazard by taking him off the pitch when Chelsea had already been down to ten men.
In a Fantasy Football context, there was just as much potential to pick up unfancied players and the points they brought along. Our team from last week picked up a just above-average total of 39 points, with Crystal Palace’s Cabaye and Aston Villa’s Amavi the stand-out choices. As the second week approaches fast, with Manchester United heading to Villa Park on Friday due to their Champions League commitments next week, we put together our top eleven for week two.
Goal: Jack Butland (Stoke)
Stoke had a rather disappointing start to the new season, losing by 1-0 to Liverpool at the Britannia. Nevertheless, the Potters should be able to benefit from some significant euphoria, after signing Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri from Inter Milan for £12million earlier this week. The 23-year old former Bayern Munich man is arguably Stoke’s most high-profile signing yet and will certainly give the whole team a lift. Add to that Stoke’s positive record (two wins) against Spurs from last season, and there is a genuine opportunity for Mark Hughes’ team to make an impression at White Hart Lane. Tottenham have not scored many at home recently, and Stoke normally do not concede too many. As we believe that this looks like a potential goalless draw, Butland is our choice in goal.
Defence: Ashley Williams (Swansea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Vincent Kompany (Man City)
The above choices of Williams and Clyne are partially based on the opposition they face this week. Swansea take on Newcastle at home and Liverpool entertain newcomers Bournemouth at Anfield on Monday. In both cases, a clean sheet looks likely for the respective home side, although Swansea conceded two against Newcastle last season. As for Vincent Kompany, City’s captain looked strong on Monday and even scored against West Bromwich. Of course, Chelsea are a much stronger opponent, but City’s good start, coupled with the distractions caused by Mourinho’s antics at Chelsea, might just be what City need to keep the West Londoners from scoring. Ultimately, we believe that Kompany will go into this game in near perfect condition and will prevent Chelsea’s strikers from scoring.
Midfield: Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham), Jefferson Montero (Swansea), Ross Barkley (Everton), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
As West Ham play Leicester at home, there will arguably be enough opportunities for the Hammers to score. The home side are amongst the strongest set-piece takers, whilst Leicester are weak in areal duels, ultimately meaning that Kouyate might just get another header in from a Payet free-kick. Swansea’s Montero showed Chelsea’s Ivanovic what he can do on a good day, raising concerns about the Serbian’s abilities in the process. With his speed and trickery, the Ecuadorian is likely to have a lot of joy against Leicester full-backs de Laet and Schlupp. England international Ross Barkley had a great first week, despite Everton’s struggles against promoted Watford. The midfielder scored a cracker and is likely to boss the Toffees’ midfield against Southampton. Everton have not scored at Southampton in their last three visits, so if not a victory, at least a Barkley goal is overdue. Arsenal arguably were the biggest disappointment last week, but as always, Cazorla was industrious and composed. The Spaniard will embrace the opportunity to make things right at Crystal Palace on Sunday, and Arsenal’s record at Selhurst Park suggests that Cazorla might have a great game.
Attack: Christian Benteke (Liverpool), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Troy Deeney (Watford)
Liverpool’s new striker was not involved too much in last week’s victory at Stoke, mainly due to a lack of supply from midfield. This is likely to change against promoted Bournemouth who struggled against Villa at home last week. Benteke will probably get more support and will probably contribute with goals to Liverpool’s likely victory. Similarly, Giroud did not have much joy against West Ham last week, but he normally plays well against Palace. With Arsenal needing to improve from last week, a Giroud goal might well happen. As for Troy Deeney, Watford’s captain played well but failed to score last week. With the home side hosting West Bromwich, Deeney is set to play another good game, with a goal very likely.
As the Premier League continues, we look forward to more excitement and more surprises.