Before I begin, I wanted to let you all know that if you have any questions regarding any lineup decisions each week to please contact me via twitter @onthelaces for more personalized advice.
With that said, let’s get down to it.
I’ll continue to say it over and over again, there is no such thing as a sure thing this season. Don’t believe me? Ask Chelsea how that one point tastes and you’ll begin to catch my drift. Last season, The Blues dropped points in just 12 games. Take away the draw vs. Liverpool and loss to West Brom since those results happened after all but clinching the title and you realize Chelsea only had been defeated twice in 35 meaningful matches last season. With one loss already to their name, Chelsea kick things off vs. West Brom on Sunday desperate for a win.
The 10AM EST crop of games features a head-to-head vs. the two finest displays of week two where Everton will host Manchester City at Goodison Park. Both these sides have a tremendous amount of talent…we know that. Although some of the potential rumored new transfers won’t be featured, we still get to watch Aguero, Silva, Yaya, Sterling and Kompany (get it?) vs. the red hot young duo of Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku. The Everton pairing have been extraordinary so far notching 4 goals and 2 assists collectively already and if they hope to get anthing out of this one than they’ll have to be stellar.
Of course, the game of the weekend is actually on Monday when Arsenal play host to Liverpool. Personally, this is one of the more interesting matches of the season as I see these sides being pretty similar in ability and expect them to be stacked on top of one another at seasons end. While I fully expect the top three to be City, Chelsea and United; that means this match on Monday, although early in the year, could be a moment we look back on and say those three points made the difference in keeping one of these sides from Champions League next year. It should be an entertaining one with a new look Liverpool having kept two clean sheets, against a slightly uncomfortable looking Arsenal. As I said, three points in this one will be massive and neither side will be okay going home in defeat.
Lock of the Day
David Silva (Manchester City) Midfielder – Salary: $8,500:
Like most of the Man City attack he’s been nothing short of perfect thus far and he’s got a great matchup this weekend. He’s slightly cheaper than some of the other star players and he’ll probably have a hand in at least one of Man City’s goals (yes, that is plural). He already has a goal and three assists, but it’s the 5 crosses, 6 fouls drawn and 3 shots that only add to his value. He’s just ALWAYS on the ball and that’s exactly what I want from my LOTD. Everton locked it down last week in somewhat surprising fashion, but Man City are who we think they are and Everton, last I checked, are still coached by Roberto Martinez. There are a lot of big names this week that I think might play well, which will make things difficult for sure when choosing your lineup. Although Silva is my lock, some of the other names I’ll be recommending below I’d lock in as well. I’d try and take atleast one of the two City options, as well as two of the Chelsea options if at all possible. However, the more guys from these squads you can squeak in the better.
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea) Defender – Salary: $6,300:
For a defender he is so expensive. At the end of the day though you have to imagine one of the EPL’s top point getters from the back last season will get involved and what better day to do so then against a weaker side after a rough start to the year.
Worth Your Buck
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) Forward – Salary: $10,700:
Last week, my worst piece of advice came in the Southampton vs. Everton match where I advised you to take Southampton players and avoid Everton ones. With that said, as much as I love Everton if you don’t think John Stones is having some restless nights worrying about Kun Aguero you’re crazy. Stones has all the tools to be a world class center back one day, but I’m sorry today is not that day. Although last week, Everton foiled my plan by keeping Pelle and Mane off the board; thse guys aren’t even close to the threat Aguero can deliver and we saw it last week in the tightest of spaces to unlock the Chelsea defense and open the scoring. He is the top of the pyramid of EPL strikers and honestly no one else really comes close. I think if he stays healthy he’s got 30 goals in him without question, which means there is really no reason not to take him. Yeah I suppose he’s expensive, but if you passed on Aguero because he’s a lot of money and then he scores multiple goals (which is something he’s capable of pretty much every week) you will find yourself rifling through an empty wallet while the rest of us spend your money happily.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) Midfielder – Salary: $10,100
I’m going to do something a little different this week and strongly advise that you really consider taking both 10K players. Hazard has been kept relatively quiet thus far in comparison to his high standards, but I think based off the law of averages that he’s probably due on Sunday. Chelsea are obviously due for a big performance as well, after struggling in the first two matches and you can bet Mourinho will be looking to his best player for inspiration. West Brom have actually been fairly decent defensively, but still this has the makings for a blowout. Chelsea simply put just don’t drop points in three straight matches, nor do they drop points to West Brom in back-to-back contests (having lost to them at the end of last season) and of course you can guarantee unless your name is Pep Guardiola, Mourinho is not ever allowing you to get the better of him twice in a row. I am the furthest thing from a Chelsea fan you will find, however, I’d advise turning your TV’s on for this one because it’s likely going to see Chelsea put a minimum of three goals past Pulis and company. Hazard is the catalyst and PK taker so he has to score if that’s the case.
Diego Costa (Chelsea) Forward – Salary: $9,400
You’re notes for this selection are above. Obviously you won’t have enough money for Costa, Hazard and Aguero so take two of them and you’re probably going to get at least two goals out of that. Oh…I almost forgot, David Silva has a goal and three assists already so he’d be a decent option as well.
Salomon Rondon (West Brom) Forward – Salary: $3,000:
Please check the lineups before freely selecting this player. I apologize is he doesn’t play with wasting your time on this selection, however if I’m recommending you play the most expensive guys out there than you will need very cheap players to balance the books and he is the most talented $3,000 player by a million miles. I know a lot of you might not know a ton about the Venezuelan striker, but Rondon is a proven goal threat across multiple leagues in Europe. Maybe he hasn’t always had the best run of health or proven himself consistently all the time, but since 2010 he’s almost averaged a goal every other game at Malaga, Rubin Kazan and Zenit. The big thing for me is that he’s got Champions League experience and has matched up against the best Europe has to offer many times before. Chelsea won’t intimidate him is ultimately my point and West Brom have enough talent around him that it’s not unreasonable to think that he might get the service needed to pop one in the back of the net. Chelsea have given up five goals already and if this one really has the makings of a blowout then Rondon has a great chance of finding a stat stuff once Chelsea have already wrapped things up.
Jose Manuel Jurado (Watford) Midfielder – Salary: $4,000:
He’s got 0 goals and 0 assists thus far, but the Watford attacking midfielder still has managed a respectable 11 fantasy points anyway. He’s really a joy to watch with a skill set similar to a lot of other Spanish midfielders – close control, soft touch and the vision to find the right option to break open a defense. He’s a former Real Madrid youth product and once feature a healthy 18 times for the U-21 Spanish side. After 88 games with Atletico, 35 with Mallorca, 46 with Schalke and 66 with Spartak Moscow he’s a seasoned veteran with Champions League experience that comes out each week with the same approach. Southampton are obviously the favorites to win this one, but after back to back shaky performances and two impressive draws from newcomers Watford nothing is a sure thing. I like several guys on Watford and think you wouldn’t be crazy to look at Layun, Behrami or whichever striker gets the start, but Jurado would be the safest pick of the lot is my guess if you’re looking to snag some cheap points.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City) Defender – Salary: $3,900:
The reality is every team is eventually going to get scored on, so on the road against Everton that might be the case for Man City on Sunday. However, when arguably the best center back in the league has started his season with two goals scored, no goals conceded and is valued at $3,900 I say play the man. He’s clearly in fantastic form and is at least $1,500 cheaper than any of the defensive options on the first page.
Traps to Avoid
Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) Arsenal – Salary: $4,600:
He’s currently one of the top point getters at the back, but I hate him in this matchup. Arsenal will probably control the majority of this game and may even get the win, but I don’t think they can keep Liverpool off the board for 90 minutes taking the all-important shutout bonus off the table. I absolutely hate his individual defending and regardless of who starts on that wing he’s going to be dealing with a dribble first pacy winger. I think Sunday is probably not a great day to choose big name wingbacks (except for maybe with Chelsea), as I see tactics discouraging guys from getting forward as freely as they normally would like. Anything is possible, but I think with shutouts not very likely from most of these teams you should really look toward some of the cheaper options as the bulk of your points will come in midfield and forward where you’ll want to spend your bucks.
Willian (Chelsea) Midfielder – Salary: $6,200:
It’s possible I’m blinded by my own bias, but Pedro was brought in to start. However, Mourinho loves Willian and in all honesty I don’t blame him because the Brazilian is fantastic at both ends of the field. With both of these statements in mind, the job is going to be remain Willian’s until either he gives it up or Pedro earns it. While the two have very similar styles, especially when it comes to work rate and in providing a team first unselfish approach each week. Pedro will provide Chelsea with more of a goal threat and a slightly more direct approach than his new teammate. With the pressure of the new acquisition looming on the sideline I can see Willian forcing things against an inferior side, allowing for us to get our first glimpse of Pedro early in the second half. Typically, when I’m predicting a blowout I’d recommend anyone from the winning side, but someone isn’t going to score and I think that guy is Willian. Their isn’t too many unbelievable options around his price range in midfield, but depending on who’s starting Milner, Navas, Lallana, Nasri, Anya, Can, Abdi, Ramirez or Jurado might be slightly cheaper options that could work out in your favor.
Petr Cech (Arsenal) Goalie – Salary: $5,300:
I understand he’s the big name goalie you want to select, but he’s got a bad matchup and he’s soooooooo much money. He hasn’t had a shutout yet and likely won’t have to many this season with the way Arsenal defend…go with anyone else.