The first Digest of the season finds us purring over Chelsea’s new Belgian, throwing admiring glances in the direction of the Liberty Stadium and daring to question Fantasy royalty…
Eden Hazard is proving impossible to ignore. His first Premier League from the spot against Newcastle represented a milestone and yet Hazard had already cemented a place on our watchlists with a string of assists amidst two dazzling displays prior to Saturday’s game. Six assists in total have lifted Hazard to the top of the points rankings across the games and have left us in little doubt that the Belgian is a rare talent with Fantasy points simply spilling from him.
Hazard always had the potential to establish himself as a Fantasy darling. He arrived at Stamford Bridge off the back of a season for Lille which had seem him fetch 20 goals and 15 assists; clearly that signposted him as a player who could deliver returns on all fronts.
Few will have anticipated the impact that Hazard has made, however. So much is made of the pace and power of the Premier League and yet Hazard’s transition from Ligue 1 has been seamless – his productivity in England similarly spectacular.
Despite facing a blank in Gameweek 3, Hazard goes on attracting new suitors – Fantasy managers intent on benching their new capture, rather than risk his price escalating beyond affordable levels. Those without Hazard at this moment in time will be looking at their budget with some concern, knowing full well that he has become the first player to emerge as an “essential”.
While Fernando Torres does all he can to present an alternative option amongst Chelsea’s new attacking verve, Hazard looks to be the real prize, freeing up a precious forward slot in the process.
Eight goals scored, none conceded. Against that backdrop, Michael Laudrup’s Swansea are maintaining their expansive football of last season and have added a cutting edge. The goals are flowing at one end, while Michel Vorm remains a formidable barrier in front of a settled and assured back four at the other.
Laudrup’s side have surprised me. I saw a transition phase, a period of settling in while Laudrup’s new signings gelled and the hangover from the departure of Joe Allen and Gylfi Sigurdsson subsided. Neither have surfaced; instead Laudrup appears to have injected new spirit and conjured tactical tweaks that have allowed both Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge to become key figures, rather than peripheral touchline huggers.
Elsewhere, Angel Rangel scored his first Premier League goal on Saturday, helping him to the top scoring mantle in the Gameweek. A polished and skillful full-back, we’ve long backed his potential as a Fantasy asset and the weekend showing may well, at last, be evidence of that materialising. Again, we perhaps only have to look to the belief and systems implemented by Laudrup to find the catalyst for such an upturn.
The Talking Point
It’s ironic that, over the past twelve months, Robin Van Persie has presented Fantasy managers with security, an assurance that, above all others, he’s the best source of returns in a given Gameweek. And yet, Saturday’s first start in United colours, capped by his fine strike after just 10 minutes, has now created uncertainty and insecurity. Fantasy managers will be processing their thoughts, pondering if they can afford to get him or, indeed, afford to be without him.
Van Persie’s price tag is, without question, inflated to the extent that his value – points per million – is a concern. Personally I’ve no argument that Van Persie is overpriced given that his chances of replicating the form that earned him such a price tag look remote.
Having said that, the true value of Van Persie is that he solves the Captaincy conundrum week after week. Certainly, looking at Gameweek 3 ahead, with Chelsea’s Hazard and Torres out of the equation, Van Persie’s appeal and potential impact as an unlikely differential captain, is strong.
Thankfully, for those looking to bide their time, Carlos Tevez has the fixture and the form to present a solution but Van Persie proved last season that his return rate away from home can surpass all others – even an in-form Tevez. That consideration, together with the fact that Van Persie will likely assume spot-kick duties with Wayne Rooney sidelined, could well tip the balance. Indeed, those questioning the merits of Van Persie only have to ponder just how many of those with Wildcards active are set to go forward without the United striker. We’d wager not too many.
Commenting is now closed for this post.
For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
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“We have dynamic players with good movement, so if he can link with them fine. He can play a bit higher because his timing getting into the box is very good.”Rafa Benitez talks up the role that Frank Lampard can play in his Chelsea revolution