For those who have followed closely, the first two weeks have not disappointed. Only two teams haven’t managed a victory, Sunderland and Bournemouth. While the latter, remains just one of two teams along with West Brom to be kept off the score sheet; as these three teams round out the bottom three.
I think the most interesting part of the table is in the group of teams with just one point, sitting right above the drop. Tottenham 13th, Stoke 14th, Chelsea 16th and Southampton 17th all have just one measly point. While it’s early and so there’s no need for panic, all these sides will surely be disappointed with their poor starts.
I think all the teams sitting 12th and above will feel good about their starts, as the only squad to have not yet claimed victory is Watford (two draws), who will surely be satisfied escaping with points from their first two matches. Arsenal would probably be the most disappointed of this group, while Norwich have to be the most thrilled after a dominating performance vs. Sunderland this past weekend.
At the top of the table, we separate the men from the boys as the top six are the only squads left undefeated. Everton and Swansea sit 5th and 6th respectively after following up gritty draws in week one with outstanding statement wins in week two, will likely be pleased at their current start to the year.
At the top, we have three familiar names helping to round out a top four of unblemished sides; Manchester City, Leicester City, Liverpool and Manchester United. While City certainly stole the show with a dominating performance over Chelsea, Leicester City has to be the most impressive squad thus far. After a horrific first half last season, Leicester seemed all but destined for relegation until a heroic revival helped stave off relegation. After a wacky summer, in which manager Nigel Pearson departed, a ton of uncertainty swirled around the side causing some to question whether they would have enough to compete.
Can Leicester keep their run going? Will the undefeated fall this week?
Plenty of story lines every week around the EPL so stay tuned in to find out.
Lock of the Day
Bafetimbi Gomis (Swansea) Forward – Salary: $6,900:
If you aren’t playing Bafetimbi Gomis, I don’t know what you are doing. While Andre Ayew is certainly a close second; at just $6,900 you can get a striker capable of multiple goals, taking PK’s and playing the worst defense in the league thus far. Even if he has a bad night (and by that I mean he doesn’t score), Swansea will win this game and they will pepper Sunderland all night long allowing Gomis to rack up points regardless. Honestly, I normally write a deeper explanation, but this seems so obvious I’m not sure what else to say. However, if I have to sum it up he’s scored in both of the first two contests, Swansea have looked fantastic, he’s got unbelievable service coming from Montero, Ayew, Shelvey and Sigurdsson and he’s actually playing a team that looks incapable of stopping anyone.
Mame Diouf (Stoke City) Forward – Salary: $6,000:
Stoke have had the hardest draw thus far; facing Liverpool and Tottenham. However, Diouf managed to find the back of the net last week and has looked a constant goal threat with excellent service coming in from a new look Stoke City (that dare I say are maintaining some lengthy spells of possession!). I like this matchup and think he’s got tremendous value. Go with him and Gomis and you’ll be rewarded with top talent in Midfield.
Worth Your Buck
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) Forward – Salary: $8,900:
Maybe Tottenham have been suspect out of the gate, but one man who hasn’t is Christian Eriksen. While being dealt one of the tougher schedules thus far, Eriksen has shined, dominating the match against United and providing an assist vs. Stoke. He’s a huge portion of the offensive engine in the side and tends to provide most of the creativity. If you’re still not sold, understand that this is a trap game for Leicester City. Without taking anything away from Leicester’s impressive road victory vs. a strong West Ham side, Tottenham will be the first test against a perennial European qualifying squad. It’s another level of play that Leicester hasn’t seen yet and I expect them to come out a little bit over confident. This game will likely be wide open as Leicester will look to put a show on for the home fans, while Tottenham search for their first three points of the season and a return to winning ways. This game is going to be the Kane and Eriksen show and I’m thinking we might see four or five goals find the back of the net in this one. Considering Eriksen’s role and abilities you got to believe that if it is going to be a high scoring affair than Eriksen will likely be highly involved.
Luke Shaw (Man United) Defender – Salary: $5,000
I think we might see a big week from Luke Shaw. After a disappointing first season at Old Trafford where the youngster struggled with fitness and injury issues, the former Southampton youngster has begun to show flashes of the player United paid for. First and foremost, United have a favorable matchup hosting a bottom half side in Newcastle so it’s reasonable to think they can grab a shutout. Regardless, Shaw is a great play because I fully expect United to dominate the possession in this match. What this will mean for Shaw is that he’ll have the opportunity to bomb up the wing all game long, looking to overlap and get service in frequently. During a week where you can honestly choose some cheaper end forwards, why not take this opportunity to grab some more expensive backs and see what happens.
Yup I’m telling you that you can’t go wrong with Rooney or Kane. By far the two most expensive players, I think both deliver points this week. Favorable matchups and anger at being kept off the score sheet over the first two weeks will lead to more production in week 3. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice another position just to take one of them (as a precaution)…be sensible.
Jack Butland (Stoke City) Goalie – Salary: $3,800:
He’s the second cheapest starting goalie available and he’s got a decent matchup vs. Norwich. Stoke have impressed me in the early going even if they have only found one point thus far and I think they have a real shot at their first shutout this weekend. Stoke are known for being a stingy defensive side that can grind out points in whatever means are necessary. Although unable to hold a clean sheet to this point, I don’t think you’d call either performance against Liverpool or Tottenham poor defensive efforts by any means. They have terrific makeup this season and I believe they will take this opportunity to jump on an inferior side to get their first win of the season. Butland in goal seems like a solid selection for a win bonus, and hopefully a shutout bonus too.
Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City) Midfielder – Salary: $3,500:
$3,500 for the former Bayern Munich man, are you freaking kidding me! In what could potentially be the greatest bargain of the season, if Shaqiri gets the start he is hands down the most talented player you’ll ever find for this price. I understand he struggled at Bayern and I’m fully aware of his hardships at Inter; but Xherdan Shaqiri is a world class talent that Stoke should be ecstatic to have. He stormed onto the scene with Basel where he tormented far bigger Champions League sides with his agility, close control and powerful frame. Although short, Shaqiri is physical enough to fight through a challenge and power home finishes with the best of them. I like Stoke in this one and I love Shaqiri’s matchup against a backline that has not been tested by anyone of his caliber yet.
Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham) Midfielder – Salary: $4,900:
He’s just an extremely well rounded midfielder. There is nothing exceptional about his play, however week in and week out he seems to pop up and provide meaningful plays. He’s an incredible athlete and in a favorable matchup I can see him causing problems.
Traps to Avoid
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) Midfielder – Salary: $7,900:
When a player’s value jumps dramatically, that’s usually a sign to stay away. Of course it’s possible that Mahrez has transformed himself into one of the EPL’s top attacking midfielders (after all Kane did it last season at striker), however it’s far more likely that this has been nothing more than good form. Mahrez is an excellent player that I personally love to watch. His game is intelligent and active; containing a bit of flair that you just don’t normally see from sides like Leicester. So although he’s been outstanding thus far, I’m going to encourage you to avoid Mahrez this week. As I said earlier, I really don’t love the matchup and even though Tottenham are fragile defensively across the board, I think the Leicester striker force of Okazaki and Vardy have better odds on this day now that Mahrez has become the guy to lock in on. Top this off with the fact that Eric Dier has been fantastic as a defensive mid and I think Tottenham will have a successful defensive effort on Mahrez.
Papiss Cisse (Newcastle) Forward – Salary: $8,000:
I know I chose him last week as a second choice guy to avoid, but as long as he is valued at this level he’s going to be a candidate every week. As unbelievable as his entrance into the EPL was a few seasons back, he’s essentially become obsolete at this juncture and I don’t see that changing. If he isn’t available for low $6K by seasons end I will be shocked. Newcastle are a mediocre side at best, traveling on the road to United who have yet to concede a goal. I’m not expecting any surprises in this one, so stay away from Newcastle players. Cisse will be provided with little service and be the obvious goal threat up front, which I know sounds tempting, but in actuality will just make his job harder. When placed in situations such as this, it’s more likely that a Newcastle goal comes from a midfielder in the run of play or a defender on a set piece because United will be tough for Newcastle to score a traditional goal on.
Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) Goalie – Salary: $3,300:
As the cheapest goalie he will likely be a tempting play for some. However, I’d advise avoiding him against Crystal Palace on the road. Although Aston Villa have been formidable in defense thus far, I think Palace will score at least once and likely win the game too. If you have no money left, do what you got to do, but otherwise find another solution.