Originally featured on TheFiveGuide
As the saying goes, if you fail to prepare you prepare to fail but in Premier League Fantasy Football, well in my experience at least, it appears to be the exact opposite. Year upon year, the usual pre-season enthusiasm coupled with a lengthy process of elimination and carefully yet optimistically drafting players with what I then perceive to offer the perfect blend of firepower, depth and wildcard choices, is soon exposed to be once again, nothing more than excessive expectation and overconfidence. Whilst managers can look to the past and analyse detailed statistics, injury records and extensive information before making an educated choice, one is simply unable to predict the present and previously inspired squad selections made prior to the start of the Premier League season later amuse game-players with the benefit of hindsight. For example this time last year you may have perhaps risked selecting Chelsea’s Radamel Falcao with the faint hope he could recapture his goalscoring exploits at AS Monaco. Likewise opting for an Aston Villa defender could in every way have been seen as a shrewd business as a suitable squad filler, Tim Howard was back then the guaranteed first-choice goalkeeper for Everton, Memphis Depay had the potential to earn plenty of points through goals, assists and man of the match performances and given the widely reported concerns over the continued fitness of Daniel Sturridge and Sergio Aguero, Christian Benteke and Wilfried Bony were viewed as both more than adequate and affordable options to guarantee Fantasy Football points. Oh how wrong we were.
In simple terms, nobody quite knows from one gameweek to the next which twists and turns will take place 900 minutes (plus added time) later. Yet no matter which gameweek, one thing that seasoned players can always guarantee is that failing to keep on top of injuries, suspensions and latest transfers can have wide-reaching consequences and seriously impede your chances of Fantasy Football success as in most if not all leagues, you can always count on a certain type of individual. Firstly there’s the prepared player who makes no hesitation getting their weekly transfers in with more than enough time to spare. Then there’s the magician, often with what they are confident is a trick up their sleeve which nobody has sussed out and a player nobody has selected.
After that there’s the lucky few who often by chance, or what they will attempt to convince you was footballing intelligence more so than beginner’s luck, who shoot to the top of the table and prove difficult to topple throughout the course of the season. And of course, it would be a disservice on my part to not mention those (often myself) who start with good intentions but consequently continue to miss the transfer deadline each week and quickly plummet to the bottom of the table. I mean let’s face it, nobody enjoys rushing to the official website, hungover, 5 minutes before the transfer deadline to find that you can’t swap Jack Rodwell for Cork, revert Sergio Aguero back to captain because Charlie Austin was simply never going to work and to play your bench boost as you are desperate for the points, to find the website has crashed.
In an attempt to try and reverse such fortunes, @ASelbyInfo once again takes a look at five transfers that may possibly help you to keep up the pace on your rivals this gameweek, taking into account injuries, suspensions and the current form of individual players to increase your chances of scoring big this weekend.
Please note: All views are my own and the selections made below are merely educated, personal predictions with who I feel has the greatest potential to earn points during Gameweek 3.
1) Michy Batshuayi
Although Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has so far opted for Diego Costa as a lone striker in the opening games of the season, the effect of super substitute Michy Batshuayi will certainly have not gone unnoticed. Viewed widely as one for the future after his transfer move from Ligue 1’s Olympique Marseille this Summer, the Belgian international has come off the bench in the first two league games of the season and provided a vital goal and assist so far. After netting twice in midweek, albeit against lower league opposition Bristol Rovers in the League Cup, Batshuayi appears to be in fine form and enjoying his start to life in the Premier League. Chelsea may look to learn from Liverpool’s defeat against rivals Burnley last weekend as they gear up to face Sean Dyche’s men and a tactical adjustment accommodating Batshuayi alongside Diego Costa may well prove to be the answer to stop a repeat of Liverpool’s shock defeat.
2) Jordan Pickford
A narrow defeat to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in a game where many argued that Sunderland perhaps deserved a point was compounded seven days later after Premier League new boys Middlesbrough heaped the pressure on new manager David Moyes with only two games played following Boro’s deserved 2-1 away victory over their local rivals. To further increase the early pessimism around the Stadium of Light after Moyes’ brash comments preparing Sunderland fans to expect a relegation battle once again, it was today announced that the club’s preferred shot stopper Vito Mannone has been ruled out for ‘a minimum of three months’ with reported elbow ligament damage. Yet with an away trip to a Southampton who have looked a shadow of their former self thus far, Sunderland will be hoping for a fresh start (part two) and to kick start their season once again. To replace the injured Mannone, in steps the promising Jordan Pickford who at £4m is joint cheapest goalkeeper on the game. Get in quickly before his stock increases and value rises after a solid few months in between the sticks at the Black Cats.
3) Stephen Kingsley
Club: Swansea City
With 180 minutes, 2 clean sheets and 9 points scored already this season, opting for 22 year old left-back Stephen Kingsley could prove to be a wise piece of business if budgeting in other areas of the pitch. Despite recent attempts to improve his fitness in order to regain his starting position in the Swansea starting XI as well as ahead of Wales’ World Cup qualifier against Moldova, Neil Taylor has once again been ruled out of contention meaning that barring any late injuries that Kingsley should once again feature for Francesco Guidolin’s side. Whilst it is unclear whether the reliable Taylor will return after the international break for Gameweek 4 following playing time for both his country and also club with the Under-23s, at a mere £4.1m Stephen Kingsley offers great value for money and a realistic chance of gaining fantasy football points this gameweek with Swansea City pitted against a much weaker Leicester City than of the last league campaign. If Kingsley and co can keep the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez at bay, Taylor could may well find it difficult to force his way back into Guidolin’s future plans.
4) Jason Puncheon
Club: Crystal Palace
The pressure is certainly on for boss Alan Pardew to make things right both at home and on the road with a struggling Crystal Palace side achieving only two league wins in their last 23 league games. Yet with all the attention and spotlight focused on new summer signing Christian Benteke who has this week completed a move to Palace for a reported £32m, it could be those positioned behind the Belgian striker who in fact make the difference for Pardew’s men. Although many would suggest new boy Andros Townsend or perhaps even Wilfried Zaha who himself has this week been linked with a £15m move across London to Tottenham Hotspur, I feel a much careful selection would be Jason Puncheon priced at only £5.5m. With two league starts, a pass success of over 80% in both games and the much more potent threat of Benteke to link up with in attack, Puncheon may well be a much safer option than both Townsend who is yet to fully settle into life at Crystal Palace and also Zaha who may have a potential move to White Hart Lane on his mind, or even worse still, could in the worst case scenario be rested due to any planned transfer plans.
5) Salomón Rondón
Club: West Bromwich Albion
Of all the teams competing throughout the 2015/16 season, despite finishing six points clear of the dreaded drop it may surprise you that only Aston Villa (27) scored fewer goals than West Bromwich Albion (38) during the last league campaign. Admittedly one may point the finger at The Baggies style of play under Tony Pulis; a man renowned in English Football for a solid defence and making life hard for the opposition yet in a season with very few goals it was Venezuelan forward Salomón Rondón who netted 23% of the club’s league goals. Likewise in a similar fashion to the end of last season, Rondón has continued to grow into life at West Bromwich Albion and has this season already proved to be an important outlet as the club’s main attacking threat. Not only has the 26 year old international played 180 minutes, been involved in 19 aerial battles in both league games and struck 8 shots at goal already but his headed goal against mid-table rivals Crystal Palace in their season opener ultimately led Pulis’ side to their first three points of the season. Additionally when taking into account West Brom’s upcoming fixtures including this week at home against Middlesbrough, Bournemouth (Away – Gameweek 4), West Ham (Home – Gameweek 5) and then Stoke City (Away – Gameweek 6), Rondón may well provide the points for your team both short and long-term if he can continue his promising form of late and could therefore be a fantastic and affordable investment at £6.5m