It is game week 3 and the first two games of the season have already given some early indications of what we can expect. Manchester United run out 0-4 winners again, this time away to Swansea City and they look like the early favourites.
Chelsea got their season right back on track, as the defending champions beat last year’s runner up 1-2 away to Tottenham Hotspur last week, who still seem to be adjusting to life at Wembley. Elsewhere the other top-4 contenders endured mixed fortunes. Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 1-0, but still have some work to do whilst Arsenal lost 1-0 away to Stoke City. Manchester City and Everton played out a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Monday Night to round off the week 2 fixtures.
Newly-promoted, Huddersfield Town once again impressed, keeping a second consecutive clean sheet, beating Newcastle United 1-0 at home. Fellow promoted-side, Brighton & Hove Albion made the now tough trip to Leicester City and failed to find the net again losing 2-0 to the 2015/16 Premier League Champions.
Two more away wins came in the form of Watford beating Bournemouth 0-2 whilst West Bromwich Albion kept their 100% record and another clean sheet, beating Burnley 0-1.
Southampton remain unbeaten, improving on their 0-0 draw in week 1, beating West Ham United 3-2. The Hammers were down to 10-men after 33 minutes as Marko Arnautovic was given his marching orders, but it was West Ham’s other summer signing, Javier Hernandez who almost saved his blushes. Hernandez scored on the stroke of half-time and scored again in the 74th minute to make it 2-2 before Charlie Austin ruined the afternoon scoring a 90th minute penalty for the home side, their second of the day.
Stand-out performers in Gameweek 2 include striker Hernandez (26.05 points), Sadio Mane (22.1 points), Marcos Alonso (23.6 points) and Jack Butland (19 points).
Mane and Alonso were both mentioned as stud options last week whilst value play, Jonas Lossl scored a very respectable 17.50 points as he kept another clean sheet in the Huddersfield goal.
Onto this week and who you should be putting into your line-ups ahead of Gameweek 3.
Thibaut Courtois (£15)
Thibaut Courtois looks set to busy again this week, as Chelsea welcome Everton to Stamford Bridge and the Belgian will be looking to keep his first clean sheet of the season.
Last week he made six saves and conceded once against Tottenham Hotspur which was enough for him to accrue 11.00 fantasy points.
Should Chelsea tighten up at the back this week and keep their first clean sheet, Courtois could well be the highest scoring keeper this week, as Everton will no doubt get some efforts in on goal even if they can’t score.
At £15 he is available at a discount in comparison to David De Gea (£17), Ederson (£16) and Hugo Lloris (£16) and may well see the most action of the four, increasing his point-scoring potential.
The Value Play:
Lukasz Fabianski (£13)
Swansea travel to London this weekend to play Crystal Palace and whilst they haven’t been in the best form themselves their opponents are really struggling.
Palace got their season off to a terrible start, losing 0-3 at home to Huddersfield before travelling to Anfield where they lost 1-0 to Liverpool. Whilst that is to be expected away to a top-4 contender, it was the manner in which they lost that raises concern.
Wayne Hennessey had to make 12 saves at Anfield to keep the score respectable and going forward they lacked any real quality. They did improve on their showing against Huddersfield, at least defensively but they still only took 4 shots, with 1 on target. Christian Benteke squandered a good chance to score after linking up with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the Belgian is off to a frustrating start to the season.
Whilst I expect Palace to improve on their first home performance, I still think they are getting used to life under Frank De Boer and with the influential Wilfried Zaha still rehabbing from his knee injury, Palace’s attacking problems will continue going forward.
It may be hard to see Swansea keeping a clean sheet after losing 0-4 at home to Manchester United last week but they kept one against Southampton on the opening day and will be hoping for another at Selhurst Park, with Palace still looking for their first league goal of the season.
Both sides won in the cup this week, with Palace securing a 2-1 home victory against Ipswich Town, however Swansea secured a 1-4 win on the road against MK Dons and with both Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham getting on the scoresheet, their confidence should be higher coming into this game. If Swansea can put Palace under pressure, they could get an early goal and then shut up shop, and mark danger-man, Benteke out of the game.
Swansea have lost just one of their last twelve games against Crystal Palace, providing them with a mental edge that may just see them pick up their first win of the season.
Heurelho Gomes (£14)
Heurelho Gomes and Watford have got off to a good start in the league, taking four points from a possible six and he will be looking to keep a clean sheet against a Brighton side who have failed to score a goal in the league so far this season.
With Watford the home side, you would expect them to be on the front foot and unless Brighton really take the game to them, it could be routine for The Hornets, in front of their own fans.
The last game at Vicarage Road saw them concede three goals in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool, but Liverpool are a potent attacking force whereas Brighton seem to be far from that at this level. Brighton could of course come out all guns blazing, after defending so much against Manchester City and Leicester but it remains to be seen whether they have attacking players who can really perform in the top-flight.
Watford did well to keep a clean sheet when they travelled to Bournemouth last weekend and will be hoping to do the same on home soil this week against what appear to be inferior opposition.
Marcos Alonso (£18)
Until he stops totting up serious points from defence, he is a must-start for me. Whilst a clean sheet may not be expected this week, as Chelsea face a visit from Everton, Alonso should still put points up on the board.
Scoring two goals last week seriously bolstered his points tally but I still think he gives you a safe floor score, even if he doesn’t go near that 20-point mark again this week. He is such a threat in the final-third that he looks a good prospect for a goal or an assist each week, taking the pressure off a good defensive performance, at least in a fantasy sense.
Whilst Everton are a good side and Wayne Rooney has been in good form in front of goal, scoring in each of the first two games, Chelsea are still the superior side and may well welcome Eden Hazard back to the fray this week, which improves them further.
If Hazard does miss out again then like last week, Alonso will be a big feature in the final third once again, thus adding to his scoring potential further.
The Value Play:
Andrew Robertson (£14)
Liverpool kept their first and only clean sheet of the season against Crystal Palace last week and Andrew Robertson started at left-back in that game, playing well on his league debut for his new club.
Alberto Moreno has played the other three games this season, when Liverpool have conceded three against Watford and three goals over their two-legged Championship League qualifier with Hoffenheim.
With Moreno struggling again in mid-week, now is surely the time to implement Robertson into the side on a regular basis. If he starts v Arsenal he will look to get at Hector Bellerin and the rest of the Arsenal defence and get some crosses into the box for the likes of Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino to feast on.
Robertson put up 13.65 fantasy points in Liverpool’s home win v Palace last week and whilst it may be harder to add another clean sheet, he should offer plenty going forward again, in what should be a free-flowing attacking game.
Whilst it is a battle of two unsettled defences and goals are expected, Robertson should have the chance to chalk up some points once again even without a clean sheet. Arsenal are unlikely to go two weeks in a row without scoring, with Stoke frustrating them last week, so a clean sheet isn’t a safe assumption here, but with Robertson likely to be busy all game, his scoring potential is high.
Kieran Trippier (£15)
Kieran Trippier completed his return from injury, playing 89 minutes in Tottenham’s 1-2 loss to Chelsea at Wembley last week and should now become a fantasy favourite once again.
Tottenham are now playing with a back-three in the centre, with Trippier and Ben Davies/Danny Rose in as wing-back’s on the either flank, giving Trippier a license to roam forward.
Trippier has always been known for his crossing ability and as he should now be in the starting line-up every week, thanks to the departure of Kyle Walker, he should continue to grow and impress for the rest of the season.
With the potential up-side of a clean sheet against a Burnley side who don’t travel well, Trippier has a good chance to score some good points both in an attacking and defensive sense this week.
Burnley had an awful away record last season, winning just once and losing a staggering 14 times, and on away form they finished 19th in the table. Their excellent home form ensured they finished 9th in the home table, thanks to their 10 home wins and 3 draws in their 19 games. They finished 16th in the table overall, but this just proves how much better they were at home last season and with a tough away game this week I expect them to revert back to the form of last season as they find themselves on their travels again.
At £15 Trippier is cheaper then Davies (£17) on the other flank and has every chance of being as effective now that he is injury-free.
Christian Eriksen (£27)
Despite rife speculation of a move to Barcelona, Christian Eriksen is still part of this very impressive Tottenham Hotspur side and whilst his side suffered a setback last week against Chelsea, I think they can get back to winning ways against Burnley this weekend.
Tottenham have of course got to get over the Wembley hoodoo but that will come the more they play there and I don’t want to get too hung up on them losing last week. Chelsea always raise their game against Tottenham, such is the rivalry and this week the latter will be hoping to prove they are too good for Sean Dyche’s men.
Burnley of course got that huge win at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the season, beating Chelsea 2-3 but they were however brought back down to earth when they hosted West Brom last week, losing 0-1.
Eriksen played brilliantly on the opening day of the season against Newcastle, setting up two goals, whilst taking five shots of his own (3 on target) and hee can repeat this sort of effort this week against Burnley.
The Danish international scored 12 goals in all competitions last season and he can get off the mark in this new season, in a nice match-up this week.
The Value Play:
Nathaniel Chalobah (£11)
Nathaniel Chalobah was named in Gareth Southgate’s 28-man England squad for the next two games, and will hope to get the nod in one of the fixtures to earn his first England cap.
With the England news the youngster should be in a buoyant mood as his side host Brighton, who have failed to make an impact on the Premier League so far this season.
Watford have secured 4 points in the first two league games, with Chalobah playing a large part in both games. Whilst he only managed to put up 2.45 points against Liverpool in 90 minutes he did enough to secure 6.50 points against in Bournemouth in the 89 minutes he played and he can greatly surpass that this week.
Chalobah took 5 shots against Bournemouth, two of which were on target and it would have been more had Harry Arter not shouted “leave it”, leading Chalobah to believe one of his team-mates wanted the ball when he was just about to pull the trigger himself.
A home game against Brighton should give Chalobah a license to get more involved in the final-third and if he can’t get on the scoresheet himself, hopefully he will be able to provide an assist. At £11 he can certainly secure you some vital points for a bargain price.
Henrik Mkhitaryan (£25)
Despite showing flashes of brilliance last season, it was by no means plain sailing for Henrik Mkhitaryan in his debut season with Manchester United but the early signs this season are largely positive.
Often played out wide last season, a positional change in the opening two games has seen him play in the No.10 role behind Romelu Lukaku, as he did behind Pierre Emerick Aubameyang when playing for Borussia Dortmund. Although we are still just two games in the new season, it looks as though the Armenian is flourishing in his new role for his current club so it is time to take notice of him from a fantasy perspective.
In their opening two Premier League games this season, United have run out 4-0 winners both home and away and Mkhitaryan has been a big part of that. He has provided four assists (two in each game) so far this season, so it looks like he will be heavily involved in Manchester United’s attacking-play in his second season with the club.
He will be hoping to turn from provider to scorer this week and get himself off the mark against Leicester City, as he looks to improve on the four goals he scored last year. Primarily the focus though will still remain on his creative side, as he looks to supply £75m-man, Lukaku.
Leicester are United’s toughest test this season, with the 2015/16 season champions bouncing back from their narrow 4-3 opening day defeat to Arsenal, with a 2-0 home win against Brighton last weekend, so the home side will need to be on top of their game to ensure a third straight league victory.
With the opponents in mind, Mkhitaryan will hopefully find another gear from his opening two games and improve again, making him a valuable fantasy option.
Javier Hernandez (£25)
West Ham’s biggest signing this window got off the mark last week, scoring two against Southampton and he can do the same this week when they visit Newcastle.
Newcastle have got off to a dismal start this season, conceding three goals over the first two games without scoring and they also lost 2-3 in extra-time to Championship side, Nottingham Forest in the week.
With such a leaky defence on show at the moment, Hernandez should be able to exploit this weakness and ensure he keeps his goal-scoring efforts, on this tough away run for West Ham. The Hammers have not played at home yet this season due to the athletics at the London Stadium and won’t play there now until they welcome Huddersfield on 11/09.
West Ham desperately need to steady the ship and get a result before the club becomes more unsettled and calls for Slaven Bilic’s sacking ring around East London again.
Hernandez gives West Ham that spark they have been lacking for so long and he is genuinely one of the best strikers in the division, when in-form and should show that against a very fragile Newcastle side.
The Value Play:
Shinji Okazaki (£15)
Shinji Okazaki has been a nuisance for defenders since he arrived in the Premier League and he has got off to a good start the campaign, scoring against in both games against Arsenal and Brighton.
Whilst Okazaki has been subbed off in both games and aside from his goal in each game hasn’t offered much fantasy-wise, he is worth chancing this week at a bargain price.
The Japanese forward has scored with both his shots on target this season and has only taken four shots in total. If he can get some more efforts on goal, he could rack up a decent points tally, especially if he adds a third goal of the season.
At the lower-end of the salary cap there are not many striking options this week, but Okazaki at least provides you with a player who has found the net twice this season, even with limited chances.
Anthony Martial (£22)
Just like Okazaki, Anthony Martial has taken advantage of his limited shots on goal, the difference being Martial has only been on the pitch for 25 minutes over the first two games.
Martial came on for the last ten minutes against West Ham in week one and provided a goal and an assist in that time, as he looked to force his way into the starting XI. A week later, the Frenchman found himself on the bench again, with Jose Mourinho opting for Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata in the wide areas instead.
Despite finding himself on the bench again, Martial came on as a sub and in the 15 minutes he was on the pitch once again found the net for his second goal of the season.
He is making Mourinho’s life very difficult at the moment, almost forcing his manager to give him the nod from the off this week and if he does get handed a start, it would provide him with a chance to prove his worth once again.