Monday Manager: Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 19 Talking Points

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Marko Arnautovic (2nd L) of Stoke City celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Manchester City at Britannia Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Stoke on Trent, England.

Every Monday, we review some of the key talking points from the previous round of Premier League action. 

Mahrez magic keeps Leicester City on top

With most of the footballing world focused on Jamie Vardy’s goal scoring exploits it can be easy to forget that another Leicester City player is having an equally sensational season. In Riyad Mahrez, whose rise from the French second tier is almost as good a story as Vardy’s, the Foxes have one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League.

After three goals at the weekend against Swansea, Mahrez now leads all midfielders with ten on the season and trails only Vardy for the golden boot. He has also managed the second most assists(6) behind only Mesut Ozil, while creating 31 chances for team-mates.

At just 24 years of age and in only his second season of top flight football in England, Mahrez still has plenty of room for growth and would likely be a better purchase for the league’s upper echelon than the more talked about Vardy. While they may only be catching on now, any fantasy manager worth their salt will have long since realised that having the Algerian in their side is vital to their title hopes.

Liverpool come crashing back to earth with defeat at Newcastle

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool tenure has so far consisted of a series of promising results, followed up by disappointing performances that undercut at the current of optimism swirling around Merseyside these days. Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, yesterday was the latter as lowly Newcastle continued their rather strange habit of shining on Sky Sports by beating Klopp’s side 2-0 at St.James’s Park.

A deflected Georginio Wijnaldum shot gave Newcastle a deserved lead after an hour, and the Dutchman sealed it with a clinical finish following a delicious through ball from Mohamed Sissoko. In between, Liverpool wrongly had an Alberto Moreno goal disallowed for offside, but few would argue they deserved a point from the game. Such schizophrenic performances are the bane of a fantasy manger’s life, but going forward one would expect performances like this to become more the exception than the rule.

Stokecelona suddenly becoming a fantasy force

Things have changed at the Brittania Stadium. These aren’t your parents Stoke City. On Saturday, we saw a footballing juggernaut capable of destroying any Premier League team on its day through an attack comprised from discarded European talent, and a ruggedly British back four.

Stoke destroyed Manchester City in the lunch time kick off, with their attacking trio of Marko Arnautovic (formerly Inter Milan), Bojan (formerly Barcelona) and Xherdan Shaquiri (formerly Bayern Munich) cutting their more illustrious opponents apart for two goals and countless other chances.

At the other end, they barely gave City a sniff and have now kept six clean sheets in eight games. Suddenly, Stoke look like the number one defensive option for fantasy and have a litany of attacking talent to choose from. Between them and Leicester, the gap between the big six clubs and the rest has never looked smaller.