Let’s keep our fingers crossed that no one gets hurt in Champions League play. Maybe it won’t be this week, but someone on your squad will injure themselves in one of these weekday matches. It’s almost a guarantee, so keep your eyes peeled.
As for the Premier League, there actually wasn’t anything that was too surprising over the past weekend. You didn’t have to double-take when looking at any of the scores. Maybe for the Aston Villa game, but Swansea has never been great on the road. Maybe for the Fulham match, but they’re a different team at Craven Cottage. Maybe for the Chelsea draw at QPR, but we have constantly seen these types of games from them throughout the years. So like I said, nothing out of the ordinary.
FIVE TOP CLUBS
It hasn’t taken long for the top five clubs to separate themselves in the early season. While Tottenham is sitting at 10th, I am giving them a pass for now as they have made a lot of key changes within their lineup including Clint Dempsey and Emmanuel Adebayor (both tied for the fourth most goals in Premier League last season) who weren’t even on their roster in Gameweek 1.
I’m talking about Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham.
These five are hands down the best teams in the League. And when you know a club is better than others, you capitalize on it. A couple weeks ago, I suggested that you have to have at least two strong forwards on your squad or else you would fail. Pretty much all strong forwards are on the top clubs.
I’m expanding that suggestion to having at least five players (hopefully more) from these five clubs. Obviously, all of their players are more expensive, but you’ll have to work around that because they are more expensive for a reason.
Of course, there are always a certain few that are cheaper that get playing time due to injuries. Arsenal defenders Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson come to mind. Per Mertesacker can even be included in that group. While I think Thomas Vermaelen is still Arsenal’s best defender, you don’t always have 7.1m to spend on a defender.
What about Yaya Toure (he looked great against Real Madrid on Tuesday) sitting at 8.2m? He plays a ton of minutes for Man City and isn’t as expensive as teammate David Silva or any Man United midfielders. Speaking of United, Rio Ferdinand is a full million less than Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic. He’s not the same type of attacking player as the other two, but as long as he’s starting, there’s nothing to hate.
As for Spurs, neither Williams Gallas nor Moussa Dembele has missed a game and each of them is rather cheap.
If you are pressed for money, those are some good guys to look at, but no matter what, half of your squad needs to be filled with players from the top clubs. Even if you’re QPR fan, you can’t deny it.
West Brom (vs. Reading, at Aston Villa, vs. QPR)
They may have just lost 3-0, but that was at Fulham. These next three matches could easily be three wins for the Baggies. Shane Long will be their top forward, but I’d look at their defensive players first. The WBA midfielders and forwards have been very inconsistent in terms of scoring and playing time. James Morrison looks to be in the best form though having a goal, assist and starting every match in mid. Goalkeeper Ben Foster and defenders Liam Ridgewell and Gareth McAuley should all see an increase in additions this week.
Swansea (vs. Everton, at Stoke City, vs. Reading, vs. Wigan)
After their fast start, things have slowed down for the Swans, most recently losing at Aston Villa. Never fear, they may not lose in their next four fixtures, with the hardest one being at Stoke City. Michu has already seen a price increase of 0.9m and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him at 8.0m by the end of this stretch. Danny Graham had 12 goals last year for Swansea and will likely grab one or two in these games. They have some injuries on defense, but Angel Rangel and Ashley Williams still have some upside along with goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sunderland (at West Ham, vs. Wigan)
If you want quick points, Sunderland is a good place to look. They haven’t lost yet and that streak will continue in the next couple gameweeks. Newcomer Steven Fletcher has notched three goals in just two matches, which happen to be the only goals Sunderland has scored. Simon Mignolet is a nice buy at 5.0m while John O’Shea is the only consistent Black Cat defender. Midfielders Danny Rose and Craig Gardner have been forced to play back because of injuries to the usual defenders.
Here are some of my top players at each position for Gameweek 5. Most of them aren’t big names, but they are in for big games.
Ben Foster, GK vs. Reading
He could be in line for his third clean sheet in five matches.
Kyle Naughton, DEF vs. QPR
Naughton is getting time for the injured Benoit Assou-Ekotto and playing with something to prove.
Hatem Ben Arfa, MID vs. Norwich
A great match up for HBA and the Newcastle forwards.
Richie Lambert, FOR vs. Aston Villa
A good game for the pure scorer to get his third goal of the campaign.
Don’t forget to check out the weekly podcast of Premier League Plus. Each Friday at 3 pm EST, Matt Mariconi, the Footie Phantom and I review and preview every Fantasy situation you can think of from the Barclays Premier League.
*Stats up-to-date as of Sept. 18