Around the League: Fantasy EPL Roundup

Lukaku celebrates his 4th goal of the season - Michael Steele

A look at all the games played this week and the players with the biggest fantasy implications.

It was a fun weekend of EPL action and we had some surprise players come up big in the clutch and some household names continue their hot streak.

Manchester City vs Everton

This game was oozing with quality players that could have helped your fantasy team this week. Both Manchester City and Everton have dangerous players that can really make a difference for you every week. Chief among them is Everton's must own 20-year-old striker, Romelu Lukaku. It only took sixteen minutes for Lukaku to show us all why I was singing his praises. Phil Jagielka launched a ball forward and Lukaku showed just how intelligent of a footballer he is by holding his run and staying onside. His first touch on the ball was sublime, his second touch was even better as he made Joleon Lescott look like a fool. Lukaku struck the ball and Joe Hart looked like saving it but he let the ball creep under his arm and into the back of the net. Coming into this match questions were asked about Joe Hart's form being shaky and this blunder only intensified them. On the other hand, Lukaku's brilliance simply intensified the praise that has been heaped over him since joining Everton. He now has four goals in three matches for The Toffees. Would you like to know how many goals Chelsea's three strikers have combined for so far this season?

Zero.

In three games, Romelu Lukaku has more goals than all of Chelsea's strikers combined. Seriously, I cannot say this enough, get him on your fantasy team!

It did not take long for Manchester City to even things up. Actually, it only took one minute. Yaya Toure wonderfully slipped the ball in for Alvaro Negredo and Negredo managed to get it past Howard for the equalizer. Negredo is in fine form and is the fifth highest scoring striker so far in fantasy. Manchester City actually have two of the top five highest scoring strikers in fantasy right now. Sergio Aguero is third with 40 total points, Negredo has two more points than Wayne Rooney and is fifth with 35 points.

City's goal seemed to give them more confidence and in the 25th minute, Sergio Aguero had a golden opportunity to put his team in front but his shot went wide. David Silva had done well to set him up for the shot and it proved to be just a taste of what Silva had up his sleeve today. Unfortunately for City, their star central defender and captain, Vincent Kompany, went down with a groin injury and had to be replaced by Matija Nastasic in the 34th minute. This was only Kompany's third game back from a similar groin injury. It's a shame how Kompany's season has started, he just can't get healthy and therefore should not be owned in fantasy until further notice.

As halftime approached, Sergio Aguero should have fired City into the lead several times. Alvaro Negredo put the ball on a platter for Sergio and he completely whiffed it. It was comical and sad at the same time, I wasn't sure what emotions I was feeling. A few minutes after that in the 41st minute, Yaya Toure set up Aguero with a lovely pass but the Argentine could not hit the target with his shot. Yaya Toure, Negredo and David Silva were all having a spectacular half, but Sergio Aguero kept missing his chances and it seemed like it could have been one of those days for him. However, in the 44th minute his luck changed. He showed great awareness to stay onside and latched on to a great David Silva through ball and this time the Argentine confidently smacked the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-1 just before the half.

The second half began with City dominating and creating chance after chance but could not break through Everton's brave defending. In the 55th minute, Alexsandar Kolarov took an elbow to the nose and was bleeding like a boxer in the ring. That vision intensified when Kolarov removed his jersey and had his "ringside" doctor patch him up and spray him down with water. Unfortunately, his bloody nose was bad enough that he was forced off the game completely. City were forced to bring on Gael Clichy for Kolarov which was a real shame because Kolarov was causing havoc all game long for Everton's defenders. He provided City with fantastic width and would continuously get into dangerous positions out wide to swing crosses into the box. Despite losing two key figures to injury, City continued to dominate the game and it was becoming very evident that another goal was coming.

In the 67th minute, Pablo Zabaleta was dragged down and City were awarded a penalty. Sergio Aguero stepped up to take it and his effort managed to hit the inside post, bounce off Tim Howard's head and back into the net for a goal. Fantasy owners of Sergio Aguero and Tim Howard will be annoyed to find out that Aguero was actually charged with a missed penalty and Tim Howard was charged with an own goal. The game ended 3-1 and by the end of it all, City fans were singing the praises of Joe Hart, serenading him to the tune of "England's #1".

Top Fantasy Producers: Alvaro Negredo (9pts), Yaya Toure (7pts), Sergio Aguero (7pts), Romelu Lukaku (6pts), Phil Jagielka (6pts), Tim Howard (6pts), David Silva (4pts).

How Good Are They?

  • Romelu Lukaku has 31 fantasy points on the season. 29 of those 31 points have come in the past three games. All three of those games were with Everton - the club he has been loaned to for the rest of the season.
  • Yaya Toure is the highest scoring midfielder in all of the EPL with 50 points.
  • At 19 years of age, Ross Barkley is the fifth highest scoring midfielder in the EPL with 36 points.
  • Leighton Baines is the fourth highest scoring defender in the EPL with 43 points.
  • Everton have two defenders in the top 10 of highest scoring defenders - Seamus Coleman is 7th with 34 points.
  • Sergio Aguero is the third highest scoring striker in the EPL with 40 points.
  • Alvaro Negredo is the fifth highest scoring striker in the EPL with 35 points.
  • I just received word that Vincent Kompany will be out for at least 4 weeks with a groin injury. Take him out of your line up accordingly.

Liverpool lined up in a very interesting 3-5-2 formation against Crystal Palace. Playing with three at the back is not very common in the Premier League. Manchester City experimented with it last season under Roberto Mancini and were unsuccessful. Brendan Rodgers took a chance by playing the young Raheem Sterling as a RWB (Right Wing-Back), giving him defensive duties that he is not accustomed to. Victor Moses, a natural right winger, was played in a more central role, behind the two strikers.

In the 13th minute, Liverpool opened up the scoring with a beautiful sequence of fast passes. Victor Moses caused havoc as he danced past three Palace defenders and played the ball wide into the box for Luis Suarez, Suarez tapped it forward for Jose Enrique who gave it right back to Suarez who frantically almost fell flat on his face but before he does -- with two Palace defenders hovering over him -- he manages to amazingly swing and poke the ball past the Palace keeper. Liverpool 1 - 0 Crystal Palace.

Liverpool kept the pressure on as just minutes later, Daniel Sturridge dribbled into the box and fired in a shot that was forced out by Speroni for a corner kick. Minutes after that, Daniel Sturridge is played forward and he takes the ball inside the box from a wide angle. Sturridge takes on a Palace defender 1vs1 showing no fear, dancing inside the box, he cuts the ball onto his left foot and hammers home a powerful shot into the bottom far corner. The Premier League's top scorer and EPL Fantasy's highest scoring player was on the board once again. Liverpool 2 - 0 Crystal Palace.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge showed wonderful chemistry throughout the game and are making a strong case for the most lethal duo in the Premier League. Victor Moses has fit in nicely as well and they still have Coutinho out injured. In the 33rd minute, Suarez and Sturridge illustrated that chemistry with a lovely bit of give and go action. Suarez passed to Sturridge who back-heeled to Suarez but it was defended bravely by Palace as they were able to come in with a challenge to prevent Suarez from shooting. In the 36th minute, another bit of give and go action caused problems for Palace, this time between Sterling and Suarez. Raheem Sterling passed the ball to Suarez, made a darting run into the box, Suarez played the ball forward for Sterling and Raheem was tugged by Moxey for a penalty. Steven Gerrard stepped up to take the penalty and he buried it, sending the keeper the opposite direction. Liverpool 3 - 0 Crystal Palace.

Almost immediately after the penalty, Liverpool almost had another goal. Victor Moses played Suarez out wide, Moses made a run inside the box, Suarez takes on a defender and sends a low cross for Moses who can't make proper contact -- the ball hits his knees and goes off the bar. Liverpool ended the half with a couple more decent chances on goal but Speroni managed to keep the damage at three goals.

Liverpool took their foot off the pedal in the second half and set it at cruise control. They could not keep their clean sheet, however, and conceded from a free kick in the 76th minute. Halftime sub, Dwight Gayle flicked the ball into the back of the net with his head from fellow halftime sub, Jose Campana's free kick. That was all the action either team could muster up for the day and Liverpool disposed of Palace easily 3-1.

Top Fantasy Producers: Steven Gerrard (10pts), Daniel Sturridge (9pts), Mamadou Sakho (9pts), Luis Suarez (6pts), Jose Enrique (5pts), Dwight Gayle (5pts), Raheem Sterling (4pts), Jose Campana (4pts)

How Good Are They?
  • Luis Suarez has only been back for two games and already has piled up 19 fantasy points. He has 3 goals in his first two games back.
  • Daniel Sturridge is the highest scoring player in any position in all of fantasy so far this season with 54 points.
  • Jose Enrique is a very intriguing play for fantasy if Brendan Rodgers continues this 3-5-2 formation. Enrique is a defender but the 3-5-2 will have him play in a much more advanced role. He notched his second assist of the season in this game. It's always a bonus to have a defender on your team that is actually playing in midfield.
  • Enrique currently sits tied with Seamus Coleman, Jan Vertonghen, and Pablo Zabaleta for 6th highest scoring defender in fantasy EPL with 34 points.
  • Steven Gerrard could be hitting a run of form as he has 15 of his 28 total fantasy points scored in the past two games.
  • You should not have any Crystal Palace players on your team for any reason, whatsoever.

Chelsea vs Norwich

Chelsea entered this match without Fernando Torres. Not too long ago, every Chelsea fan would have had absolutely no problem with that. Many Chelsea fans would have rejoiced and probably thrown a party to celebrate. This time around, Chelsea fans were a little sad about Torres' absence. The striker situation at Stamford Bridge is truly a sad one when Fernando Torres is your best option. Samuel Eto'o has found it difficult to acclimate himself with his new team and Demba Ba has not scored a league goal since March. Fernando Torres, on the other hand, has had somewhat of a resurgence under Jose Mourinho. He is working as hard as I have ever seen him work in a Chelsea shirt and is showing some signs of life. Granted, he has yet to score a league goal, but Eto'o and Ba have not scored in the league yet either. Torres is the one showing the most conviction out of the three and has posed the most danger thus far. With Torres out, Mourinho gave Demba Ba a chance to show he is worthy of more playing time and Ba didn't take long to make an impact.

In the 4th minute, Demba Ba's strong hold up play allowed him to out-muscle his defender and set up Oscar nicely for a one time shot. Oscar made no mistake about it and buried his one-timer into the far corner to put the Blues up 1-0 early on. Chelsea dominated the rest of the half and should have added to the scoreline but were unable to capitalize on their hard work.

Chelsea started the second half positively as Ramires tried to find Demba Ba but Ba's touch was simply not good enough. After that, Norwich decided to take the game to the Blues and make a game out of this. They attacked with intent and could have had a penalty but were denied by the referee. Chelsea's defending was far from convincing and with Norwich prodding away, it was clear that an equalizer was on the horizon. In the 68th minute, Anthony Pilkington delivered just that. Ricky van Wolfswinkel beat John Terry to get his head on the end of a cross and directed his header towards the middle where Pilkington was covered rather nonchalantly by David Luiz. Pilkington beat David Luiz rather easily and tied the game up. Jose Mourinho showed just how much he was desperate for the full three points by bringing on Eto'o for Ba and minutes later switching his formation to a very attack-minded 3-6-1 by bringing on Eden Hazard for Ashley Cole. Andre Schurrle and Ramires served as the wingbacks and Chelsea looked dangerous on the attack.

In the 81st minute, Mourinho made his final sub of the day by taking Mata off and gave Willian a chance to shine. At the same time, Chris Hughton brought on explosive young winger Nathan Redmond to try and expose Chelsea's three man back-line. It turned out to be a great substitute as Redmond wreaked havoc on the Chelsea defense and put a scare into the hearts of the Chelsea fans with a couple of terrifying runs. Thankfully for Chelsea, they were able to withstand the pressure and in 85th minute launched a wonderful counter-attack stemming from a Norwich corner kick. Willian knocked the ball with his head to Oscar who launched the ball forward for a galloping Eden Hazard who managed to squeak his effort by John Ruddy despite the goalkeeper's valiant effort. Exactly one minute later, Willian struck a beautiful curling effort worthy of his £30 million price tag to send the Blues home with a 3-1 victory.

Top Fantasy Performers: Oscar (9pts), Anthony Pilkington (9pts), Eden Hazard (8pts), Willian (6pts), Demba Ba (5pts), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (5pts)

How Good Are They?

  • Oscar is Chelsea's leading scorer in the EPL with 3 goals so far.
  • John Terry has been phenomenal so far this season. He has a total of 45 fantasy points and is ranked 2nd amongst all defenders.
  • Oscar is ranked 4th amongst all midfielders with 39 points.
  • Frank Lampard hasn't done much of anything since the first game of the season. He can't be trusted at this point for fantasy purposes.
  • Eto'o, Ba and Torres have COMBINED for a total of 21 fantasy points. That's bad, folks. Stay away from all Chelsea strikers until further notice.
  • Norwich have a few players that could help round out your squad for a minimal cost. Nathan Redmond, Leroy Fer, Anthony Pilkington, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Robert Snodgrass are all reasonably priced if you don't have much money remaining and just need to fill a spot on your roster.

Upset Of The Week:

Tottenham received a good ol' fashioned butt spanking from West Ham on Sunday. Tottenham has spent the most money out of all EPL teams during the transfer market to completely revamp their team after Bale's departure. They loaded up on fantastic talents such as Erik Lamela, Paulinho, Christian Eriksen, and Roberto Soldado. However, all the money in the world couldn't help them overcome The Hammers. It couldn't even help them score a single goal. As a matter of fact, Tottenham have only scored a total of 6 goals in 7 matches so far this season. That is the lowest amount by any of the current top 6 teams. With the amount of attacking talent at his disposal, Andre Villas Boas really needs to find a solution to this goal drought and he needs to find it fast. Roberto Soldado was supposed to be the cure for that but he has only been able to score twice and both times came from the penalty spot in the first two games of the season. AVB decided to award Defoe the start in this match for his excellent play against Anzhi in Tottenham's mid-week Europa league fixture. Unfortunately, his form did not carry over.

West Ham scored three goals in the span of 13 minutes in the second half. Winston Reid opened up the scoring in the 66th minute, followed by Ricardo Vaz Te in the 72nd minute and capped off by the impressive ex-Manchester United youngster and haunter of Michael Dawson's dreams, Ravel Morrison in the 79th minute.

Top Fantasy Performers: Winston Reid (15pts), Ravel Morrison (10pts), Jussi Jääskeläinen (7pts), Ricardo Vaz Te (7pts), Guy Demel (6pts), Razvan Rat (6pts), James Tomkins (6pts), Kevin Nolan (6pts), Mohamed Diame (6pts).

How Good Are They?

  • Winston Reid played out of his mind tallying up a total of 15 fantasy points against Tottenham. Reid has 38 points on the season, good for 5th amongst all defenders.
  • Jussi now has 34 fantasy points, putting him 5th amongst all goalkeepers, ahead of the likes of Petr Cech (30pts), Hugo Lloris (32pts), and Joe Hart (28pts).
  • Aside from Jussi and Reid, Kevin Nolan is the only other West Ham player I would trust right now. He is holding his own amongst the top midfielders in fantasy with 31 points - tied with Ben Arfa and Michu.Ravel Morrison could soon be a player that we might have to seriously consider, but for now, I need to see him perform well consistently.
  • Jan Vertonghen started the season off strong but only has 2 points from his past 2 games.
  • Listed at £9.4, Roberto Soldado is priced way too high for my liking. I would rather have Lukaku at just £7.6. I think Soldado will come good on that price tag eventually, but as of right now, I'm staying away.

Top Performers From All Other Games:

  • Loic Remy is having a sensational start to his campaign. Coming from QPR on a season-long loan, Remy has banged in 5 goals in the past 3 games for Newcastle. The French international scored both goals in his teams 2-1 victory over Cardiff. He currently has 40 pts, 34 of which came in the past 3 games. It might be time to get Remy in your team.
  • Manchester United went down 1-0 early on to Sunderland and it looked like an upset was in the making. To their relief, 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj came to the rescue with two quick goals in the 55th and 61st minute to salvage three vital points for the defending champions. This kid might be one to watch, he is only £4.7 right now and after his 14 point display against Sunderland, he could very well be in line for a lot more playing time.
  • Southampton shot themselves up into 4th place in the Premier League after dispatching Swansea 2-0. Southampton have been extremely impressive this year thanks to a number of impressive signings and the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino. The most impressive feat has to be their defense. Southampton have only conceded twice so far this season, making Artur Boruc the highest rated goalkeeper in fantasy EPL so far. It has also made Jose Fonte and one of their key new signings, Dejan Lovren tied for best defenders in fantasy EPL with 46 points each. Fun fact: Southampton have not conceded a goal since they lost 1-0 to Norwich on August 31st.
  • Morgan Amalfitano is on a torrid run of form and it continued against Arsenal. West Bromwich Albion fought hard against Arsenal but could only come out with a draw. Amalfitano produced the assist for West Brom's opening goal, setting up the usually goal-shy Claudio Yacob. Amalfitano now has 29 points on the season in only 4 matches. He was on a two match goal scoring streak entering this match and unfortunately could only provide an assist. He still finished with 5 points on the day, a far cry from his previous 10 and 12 point displays. Amalfitano remains at a very affordable £5.1 for those looking to bolster their squad without breaking the bank.

Well, there you have it folks. What were your thoughts on this weeks matches? Who stood out to you?

Get ready for a break from action as the international break is upon us, depriving us from EPL action for 2 weeks. This would be a good time to take a look at your team and try to find ways for improvement. If you have any questions feel free to comment or ask me on twitter @asfarfaketeams.

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