With the hype and madness that the opening week of fixtures in the Premier League normally brings, it will come as a relief to many that a return to relative normality ensues ahead of gameweek two. There are plenty of talking points going into the weekend of football too. Can Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United bounce back from opening day defeat to Swansea? Also to the game between two potential top four contenders between Everton and Arsenal. However, the fixture of the week without question is on Monday night. The teams who finished second and first last season, Liverpool and Manchester City, face off at the Etihad. Shrewd fantasy managers will look at the players at their disposal, as well as the weekend fixtures before selecting their starting XI and Captain. One last tip too; unless the majority of your fantasy football squad is injured, DO NOT play your Wildcard.
The Harry Redknapp’s of the fantasy football world will fully utilise the one free transfer that they have available every week. While it may be too early to decide upon some players, Glyfi Sigurdsson was the most commonly signed player during the week, brought in by no fewer than 257,000 managers ahead of Swansea’s game at home to Burnley.
Despite costing a hefty £9.1m, Cesc Fabregas would be another great addition to your fantasy league side. Fabregas, who was brought in by 158,000 fantasy managers during the week, got two assists in Chelsea’s opening victory over Burnley, and will look to add to his tally against another newly promoted side Leicester.
The joint highest scoring players of week one; Eric Dier and James Chester were nabbed by many teams after such an impressive first game, but Chester especially faces a tough task to keep another clean sheet against the impressive in defeat Stoke City.
A player who I believe you should look to bring in is Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle. You can rarely predict a Jose Mourinho starting XI before the league season begins as shown last season with how Juan Mata spent months on the bench before moving to Manchester United. Despite many of his German counterparts at Arsenal being deemed not fit enough to play in the opening week; Mourinho started Schurrle against Burnley – potentially showing a glimpse of things to come. Schurrle scores goals wherever he plays, and will be handsomely rewarded with 5 points for a goal in fantasy football from the midfield quarter.
There has also been a large outflow of players due to a mixture of injuries and bad early season form. Mid to long term injuries for Luke Shaw and Ross Barkley have naturally seen the pair being the most commonly removed players. Luke Shaw’s mild hamstring tear will see him miss up to six weeks of the new season, with Ross Barkley’s still undetermined knee injury potentially putting him out for up to four months according to Roberto Martinez.
After Manchester United’s disappointing start to the season, surprisingly it is Juan Mata who finds himself as a bit of a fantasy league scapegoat – being disposed of by many. With Cesc Fabregas being available for roughly the same price as Mata however, it is no real surprise to see this trend.
Despite Olivier Giroud not being fit enough to start against Crystal Palace in the opening game of the season (according to Arsene Wenger), I can only imagine that fantasy managers took that as he would be second choice for the most part of the season – with 68,000 gaffers giving Giroud the early boot.
One commonly selected player I would ditch ahead of gameweek two is Aston Villa Centre Back Ron Vlaar. Despite Villa looking defensively strong against Stoke in the first week, the pace Newcastle showed against Manchester City could cause the sluggish pairing of Vlaar and Senderos a lot of trouble at Villa Park on Saturday.
Weekly wheeling and dealing is critical to being a successful fantasy football manager. I will repeat myself however in saying that despite the temptation after a poor gameweek you may or may not have had, save your Wildcard to later in the season and do not use it after only one week of football.
Who is going to be shipped out the door of your Fantasy League side, and who will you be spending your last dime on to bring into the squad? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .
Stats and fantasy league facts via fantasy.premierleague.com. Use code 275208-73981 to join the TBR Fantasy League.
Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week
The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.
With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.
Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.
In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.
Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.
The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.
Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.
This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.
If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.
It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.
Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.
Despite improvement, Everton should not rekindle Thomas Vermaelen interest
The Belgian defender has been in better form for Barcelona this season.
Rumours have emerged today suggesting Everton could be back in for Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen.
Catalan newspaper Sport has reported that the 32-year-old could be offered a new deal by Barcelona, with a team from the Premier League interested in signing him.
Sport Witness has openly hypothesised that Everton could be that team. Whilst there is no confirmation or substantiated report that is the case, the boot certainly fits.
Last summer Everton tried to sign Vermaelen.
As reported by the Liverpool Echo, at the time Barcelona vetoed a loan move to Everton as they felt the defender could be a useful asset.
The Belgian certainly has. After struggling with injuries and form throughout most of his Barcelona tenure the former Arsenal man has enjoyed a good season.
The 32-year-old has been a genuine asset to the Catalans, despite still being used sparingly, and such form has even seen him win back a place in Roberto Martinez’s national selection for Belgium.
If it is Everton interested in Vermaelen it is easy to see why. Centre-back has been a major problem for the club this season.
However, Vermaelen, or a player of his ilk, is not the answer to the Toffees’ woes.
The Belgian is obviously a talented player with plenty of experience, but Everton need to freshen up their back-line.
Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka’s age has shown in recent months.
The pair have been, at the best, inconsistent for the past 18 months and Everton need fresh young talent in the heart of defence if they are to succeed.
Vermaelen is not only 32 but also immensely injury prone. Everton need reliable figures to plug their leaky defences and the Belgian can simply not be relied upon.
Whilst on paper it seems a good deal, and one Everton could certainly turn to their benefit.
The truth is supporters of the Goodison Park outfit will hope they are not the club reportedly keen on bringing Vermaelen back to the Premier League.
Have West Ham United found the next Mark Noble in Alfie Lewis?
The 18-year-old put in a fine performance against Dagenham and Redbridge this week.
West Ham United took on Dagenham and Redbridge in a friendly yesterday, in a match to raise funds for the National League side.
It was no surprise to see West Ham come out victorious. They won 3-1, with Michail Antonio at the double and Jordan Hugill scoring his first goal for the club.
It was, however, a Hammers team depleted by international selection.
With that in mind, David Moyes’ side fielded some of their younger players. Plenty of them caught the eye, but none more so than central midfielder Alfie Lewis.
The 18-year-old put in a fine display for 90 minutes which left West Ham fans very excited on social media.
It was an even more special achievement given Lewis spent most of last year on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.
Lewis himself told the official West Ham website after the game: “I’m delighted.
“It was a good experience for me tonight, to play with the likes of Patrice Evra, and Mark Noble in midfield. It was a good challenge and a good test for us as well, and I think I did well.”
He spoke of it being an honour playing alongside Mark Noble, but is he the successor to the throne?
Whilst Noble has had his critics in recent times there is no doubt he has been a long-term hero at West Ham.
Fans of the club have often wondered why Noble has never received England recognition given his consistent form in the Premier League.
Noble has gone on to play over 400 games for West Ham since his debut for the club back in 2004.
Lewis certainly has the ability to follow in his footsteps. An energetic midfield creator, West Ham look to have another midfield gem in their ranks and one that can hopefully progress into the first-team soon.
The Hammers have a fine record of bringing through young players.
Noble is one current example and Lewis could not be at a better club if he is to find his way into the West Ham first-team.
This season, with a relegation battle raging, might come a little too soon for the teenager.
Nonetheless, in 2018-19 it will not be a surprise if Lewis finds himself playing alongside Noble in the West Ham midfield once again.
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