Eleven games have been played in the English Premier League and there are a lot of surprises so far. For starters, Arsenal are sitting top of the table. Now, we all know that won't last til the end of the season because, well, they're Arsenal! Liverpool are right behind them in 2nd place, just two points behind. If Suarez and Sturridge continue to dissect defenses with surgical precision then a top 4 finish and Champions League football will be waiting for them. The most surprising of all is Southampton who sit in 3rd place just one point behind Liverpool. I cannot sing the praises of Mauricio Pochettino more, but this man has done an absolutely marvelous job putting this team together. He has to be one of the, if not the hottest name in football right now as far as top managers go. It's only a matter of time before a big club comes knocking on his door. Rounding out the top 4, just one point behind Southampton, London's first and London's finest, Chelsea Football Club.
Only five players from top four teams made the All-Star team. Artur Boruc was the leading goalkeeper for quite a while but a combination of Southampton not keeping a clean sheet in three of their last four games and Tim Howard amassing a total of 27 fantasy points in the last three games, has seen the American shove his way (like any good American, right, right?!) into first place. Tim Howard had a 14 point performance against Aston Villa which saw him save a Christian Benteke penalty shot and helped preserve the clean sheet. The top 4 goalkeepers are as follows:
1. Tim Howard - 59 pts
2. Artur Boruc - 55 pts
3. Jussi "Mr. Umlaut" Jääskeläinen - 54 pts
4. Simon Mignolet - 52 pts
As far as value goes, Artur Boruc is the guy you wanted as your starter to begin the season. At the start of the season, Boruc only cost £4.5 - one of the cheapest goalies around - and he is now worth £5.1 and is the 2nd highest scoring goalkeeper in the entire league. That's what you call bang for your buck.
As far as defenders go, there was just one diamond in the rough, and it is another Southampton player. Newly acquired Croatian center-back, Dejan Lovren, has taken the Premier League by storm. I loved this signing for Southampton and I thought Dejan was good enough for a bigger club such as Chelsea, but it was Southampton that scooped him up. The 24 year old defender signed from Lyon for £8.5 million and was one of just a few marquee signings for the Saints in a off-season that saw hard-nosed defensive midfielder, Victor Wanyama join them from Celtic and misfit Johnny Depp/Khal Drago look-a-like, Pablo "call me Dani please" Osvaldo from Roma.
The Top 4 defenders thus far:
1. Leighton Baines - 64 pts
2. Jan Vertonghen - 63 pts
3. Dejan Lovren - 61 pts
4. Phil Jagielka - 59 pts
For the purpose of this exercise, I am choosing the top 3 defenders, because I am going for the optimal offensive formation 3-4-3. Sorry Jagielka, you'll serve as a fantastic option off the bench, though.
Stop me if you've heard this before. There is a Southampton player in the top 4.....for midfielders. They're everywhere! This time it's the underrated, Adam Lallana. Adam graduated from the Southampton Academy and has been with the Saints for pretty much his whole life. It's nice to see a true "home-grown" player blossom the way Lallana has. He has 3 goals and 3 assists to his name so far and is coming off his best game of the year in his teams 4-1 drubbing of Hull City. The top 4 midfielders thus far are as follows:
1. Aaron Ramsey - 76 pts
2. Yaya Toure - 65 pts
3. Adam Lallana - 61 pts
4. Eden Hazard - 60 pts
Aaron Ramsey steals the show as the most valuable player in all of fantasy. His price tag at the start of the season was a measly £5.5 - one of the cheapest midfielders available. His price tag now? £7.3! Yaya Toure has also seen a spike in his value, he started off at £8.5 and is now worth £9.6. As for Lallana, he started the season at £6.0 and is now worth £6.8. Hazard's value has actually gone down, if it wasn't for two games where he exploded for 18 and 13 fantasy points respectively, he would be nowhere near this list. Eden had 2 goals and 1 assist against Cardiff in Chelsea's 4-1 victory which saw him finish with 18 fantasy points for the day. In Chelsea's most recent game against West Bromwich Albion, where they were lucky to escape with a draw, Hazard scored the controversial penalty and provided the assist for the opening goal, giving him a total of 13 fantasy points for the day. Hazard started the season priced at £9.5, at one point we saw him drop all the way down to £9.0, and now he's at £9.2.
Before we get into the top strikers, I would like to praise Luis Suarez. He is a controversial character to say the least, but his skill is undeniable. Put all of his antics aside for a moment and focus on his play on the field (minus the biting and diving). Suarez was banned for the first five games of the season because he decided Branislav Ivanovic's arm looked too good to resist, and took a big bite, like a cheetah attacking its prey. Suarez has now played in six Premier League matches and currently has more fantasy points than the likes of Roberto Soldado, Ricky Lambert, Olivier Giroud, Loic Remy, and Christian Benteke. Perhaps more impressively, he has the exact same amount of points as Robin Van Persie -- IN FIVE LESS GAMES! Oh, and one more thing, Suarez is tied with Sturridge and Aguero for the most goals scored in the Premier League with 8. He has 8 goals in 6 games. He's tied for top scorer and he has played in five less games than everyone else. Luis Suarez is good at football.
1. Sergio Aguero - 84 pts
2. Daniel Sturridge - 71 pts
3. Wayne Rooney - 66 pts
T-4. Luis Suarez - 64 pts
T-4. Robin Van Persie - 64 pts
Aguero has had a fantastic start to the season, to say the least. He has recorded double-digit fantasy points in four out of the eleven matches played so far and has a total of 8 goals and a whopping 7 assists. Sturridge took full advantage of being the go-to guy for the first five matches while Suarez served his ban. He scored a goal in the first four games, was held without one in the fifth game, then started another streak of four straight games with a goal. Unfortunately for Sturridge and his owners alike, he has been held goalless in the past two games. His partner in crime, Luis Suarez, has 5 goals in the past 3 games, including a hat trick against West Bromwich Albion and a brace against Fulham just last week. Wayne Rooney was a hot topic of discussion during the off-season and into the beginning of the season as a possible target for Chelsea. Obviously, things did not fall in place for Chelsea and they instead signed Samuel Eto'o. We are seeing why Mourinho was trying so hard to obtain Rooney's services. Rooney has been instrumental in Manchester United's attack with 5 goals and 6 assists.
Without further adieu, here is your fantasy all-star team in my favorite 3-4-3 formation:
Bench: Artur Boruc, Phil Jagielka, Jose Fonte, Steven Gerrard
That team is awesome. There are only four bench players because that's what the official EPL fantasy site allows you to have. You must have a total of 2 goalkeepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders and 3 strikers. We maximized our 3 strikers by starting them all, so there is no room left for another striker on the bench. We saw Jagielka earlier as the 4th best defender so far, Jose Fonte of Southampton (!) trails him by just one point in 5th. Steven Gerrard is 5 points behind Eden Hazard as the 5th best midfielder in fantasy.
What do you think of this team? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
*Fantasy assists are different than actual assists. For example, fantasy counts a penalty won as an assist, while in official stats, it is not counted as an assist. Assists listed in this article only reflect fantasy assists as shown on the official premier league fantasy website.