We review some of the key talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action, with particular focus on Daily Fantasy Football.
City On Cruise Control
With fixtures against Watford, Palace and West Ham to come over the next few weeks, it’s difficult to see any halt in momentum from the streamlined freight train that is Manchester City. Held at bay by a stubborn Everton side for all of an hour before Kolarov broke the deadlock, the sky-blues never compromised their passing style. Raheem Sterling deserves credit for his first really impressive showing of the season and will justifiably warrant increased attention from fantasy managers.
The ex-Liverpool man toiled tirelessly on the left flank, locked in a fascinating battle with Seamus Coleman and provided quality when required – threading the killer ball through to the aforementioned Kolarov to fire home from a tight angle. The England international created three goalscoring opportunities in total and amassed 20 successful passes in the final third of the pitch in Gameweek 3. With Sterling and a revitalized Jesus Navas on the flanks, City have an effective balance of width for perhaps the first time in the Pellegrini era.
The City backline – particularly the Kompany-Mangala partnership – was again impenetrable and should secure a healthy PlayON return over the foreseeable Gameweeks. The real stars of the show however, were again the linchpin midfield duo of David Silva and Yaya Toure. Like some sort of Gimli-Legolas dynamic, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the two were in fact locked in a personal assist contest. Securing three assists apiece as well as a goal across the opening three fixtures, they continue to rank among the league’s outstanding midfield players.
Pedro Has Arrived, Shaqiri Shows Promise and Mahrez Continues His Ascent.
At £12.5m in PlayON, the Spaniard carries a heavy enough outlay, but he could hardly have made a better introduction to Premier League football as he did in Gameweek 3. A well taken goal and an assist underpinned an all-round excellent showing which should see his inclusion rate sky-rocket for a meeting with Crystal Palace next weekend. A midfield attacker with a forward’s mentality, he ranks in a league alongside ex-Barca teammate Alexis Sanchez for midfielders with goal-getting potential. His assist for Diego Costa likewise showcased his talents as a traditional right footed right winger, counting as one of the three opportunities created in his eighty or so minutes on the field. He even managed to coax Eden Hazard – still just three attempts on goal in 2015-16 – to supply him with the assist.
Chelsea have a tricky enough run to contend with – Palace, Everton and Arsenal over the next three weeks – but despite their continued defensive haphazardness, Pedro has provided a vital shot in the arm and should raise the game of their attacking players as a result.
Another Premier League new boy got his career in England off to a similarly impressive start. Xherdan Shaqiri – “The Power Cube” to his fans – arrives after stints with Basel, Bayern and Inter Milan, yet carries with him a tag of largely unrealized potential. Mame Biram Diouf was the first beneficiary of what is sure to be many assists from the Swiss, nodding in his second of the season following a superbly delivered free-kick.
He’s still a very raw player and showed perhaps his lack of sharpness and match practice by losing the ball on four separate occasions – but his willingness to create opportunities for his teammates and energetic endeavours on the field underline his positive contribution. With Stoke facing WBA this coming Saturday, expect the Swiss to follow on from this strong debut.
The story of the season so far is without doubt Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian starlet made it four in three games with a stunning equaliser at home to Spurs on Saturday and has propelled himself into fantasy football royalty. The Foxes wideman has been irrepressible, winning 24 of his 36 duels with opposition defenders. Among midfielders, Mahrez ranks only behind Alexis Sanchez for touches in the box, having found that lethal goal-scoring touch. Expect him to continue against Bournemouth in Gameweek 4.
Can Bournemouth Become Differential Darlings?
At Upton Park on Saturday, the Cherries announced their arrival on the Premier League in exhilarating fashion. The Championship winning side of 2014-15 were renowned for their slick passing and movement at that level and seemingly acclimatised accordingly to the Premier League in Gameweek 3 to showcase those attributes.
Callum Wilson was the outstanding player of the Gameweek 3 weekend and showed his considerable abilities as both a poacher and a opportunist. His first was a classic centre-forward cross and finish, his second demonstrated guile to pounce on slack defending and the third was won through his sheer physical prowess and pace.
It was a game in which things clicked and in truth, for the Cherries and Wilson it was only a matter of time. The striker now leads the pack among his contemporaries for touches in the box with an impressive 32 touches in total, doubling his involvement and threat from the previous two Gameweeks.
Having broken their duck and shown far more cohesion going forward than against Liverpool last week, the Cherries starting line-up- Wilson, Ritchie and Gradel in particular – could prove viable differentials against Leicester this coming weekend.