Whether you play Fantasy Premier League, or any other Premier League fantasy game — and there are plenty of them out there, here are six interesting observations from the first three weeks of the season:
- Chelsea’s stars fail to make fixtures count. One of the strongest assumptions heading into the start of the new season was that Chelsea’s players would mint points over the first three weeks. Playing the humble likes of Stoke, West Brom and Norwich, many saw Malouda, Lampard, Drogba and Torres as obvious picks in their starting line-up. However, a combination of tactical experimentation and poor form put pay to the hopes of fantasy managers banking on the Blues – Drogba started only one of the three games, while between the four mentioned only twice were goals scored. At the back too, pricey stars like John Terry and Ashley Cole failed to live up to pre season hype, keeping only one clean sheet in three games. With the arrival of Juan Mata, Chelsea seem set to improve, though it is still unclear which attacking players will start on a regular basis.
- Swansea turn into defensive kings. Promising to take the role of naïve yet entertaining new boys, Swansea City haven’t managed to fulfill attacking expectations. Three games in, and they are still to get off the mark in the Premier League. A four-nil loss to Manchester City on opening day wasn’t unexpected, though Brendan Rodgers would have hoped for more from consecutive home matches against Wigan and Sunderland. Emerging from those two nil-nil draws, keeper Michel Vorm remains the most impressive performer, making crucial stops in every match as well as saving a penalty against Wigan.
- Ryan Taylor – the next Leighton Baines? Labeling anyone the next ‘insert name here’ is a risky business, but calling a player the next Leighton Baines is quite different from anointing him the heir apparent to Diego Maradona. And anyway, it’s not as though Taylor will have to win the World Cup to emulate Everton’s star left back. Already, he has scored twice from free kicks – once against Sunderland in the Premier League and once in the League Cup against Scunthorpe. As we all know, the importance of a goal scoring defender cannot be overstated, so if Taylor can keep up his set piece accuracy, then there is no reason why he shouldn’t be ranked among the fantasy game’s most valuable defenders.
- N’Zogbia, Downing and Young: The results thus far of a transfer merry-go-round. One of the more interesting aspects of the summer’s transfer activity was the relocation of some of the League’s most exciting wingers. Long standing respective moves by United and Liverpool for Young and Downing both ended in success, while the newly shorn Aston Villa purchased Wigan’s Charles N’Zogbia. All three were expected to excel on the fantasy front, but so far only Young has managed to impress. Downing hit the bar on opening day, but has done little since while N’Zogbia’s performance have been short of inspiration. Meanwhile, Young’s relationship with Wayne Rooney continues to blossom – the pair have already linked up a number of times this season.
- Fergie’s young guns. After the Community Shield, much excitement surrounded the future of Manchester United’s latest generation. Tom Cleverley impressed in that game and has since gone on to record an assist, while Danny Welbeck too has starred. At the back, United’s defensive “crisis” opened the door for Phil Jones and Jonny Evans to step in, with both particularly solid in United’s 3-0 home victory over Tottenham.
- Dzeko is suddenly a weapon. After starring in a league quite similar to England’s, it was surprising that Dzeko struggled so much over the opening period of his Manchester City tenure. Two goals in four months is a poor return for anyone (especially a high profile signing) and Dzeko needed to hit the ground running this year or risk slipping into Premier League oblivion. After having his goal in the Community Shield overshadowed by an inquest into David De Gea’s performance, the Bosnian has netted six times in the league, a run culminated by four away at Tottenham last Sunday. Now a fixture in most fantasy teams, the striker’s performances have made him one of the game’s most important players.