The Knee Jerk returns in a new, digestible format. An instant response to the matches or matches of the day, offering a quick appraisal of the protagonists and dilemmas posed.
Day one, and already Fantasy managers find themselves re-addressing their “big decision”. Conveniently, a precocious talent on Merseyside may just offer a ready-made solution.
The Game Changer
It was clear that the decision on Robin Van Persie would again split Fantasy Football managers down the middle. Owned by 43% of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, there were vast waves of support for the argument that his huge 14.0 price tag was too much of an obstacle, that value could be found elsewhere to compensate for his undoubted consistency.
That might still be the case, as Christian Benteke and Danny Welbeck demonstrated, but Van Persie’s superb brace at the Liberty this evening will have prompted early doubts.
Those without Van Persie must now decide whether to remain firm and back their initial policy or consider extensive emergency surgery to acquire him. Should Van Persie return again at home to Chelsea, then big investment could arrive over the international break ahead of the delicious Old Trafford clash with Crystal Palace in Gameweek 4.
If 14.0 looked too much this morning, we can only imagine where Van Persie will be in a few weeks if he shows that acclaimed consistency.
Van Persie really is the biggest test of the “jerky knee”.
There was every chance that Ross Barkley would benefit from Darron Gibson’s likely absence in the Everton midfield, and so it proved.
The 19-year-old capped what was described by Roberto Martinez as an “outstanding performance” with a sweetly struck goal to hand the Toffees the advantage at Carrow Road. While that was eventually surrendered to a debut strike from Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Barkley had done more than enough to have us Fantasy Managers take notice.
Barkley is owned by less than 2% of FPL managers and yet, at just 4.5, offers obvious appeal as a fifth midfielder for those now frantically looking for a route to recruit Van Persie.
Can he retain his starting role? It’s perhaps doubtful but in Martinez he’s playing under a manager who will give young talent a stage to impress. Barkley will surely start at home to West Brom next weekend and that might just be good enough for plenty of Fantasy managers.
The Selection Poser
The absence of Robert Snodgrass in today’s Norwich lineup was a bitter blow. According to Chris Hughton, a groin problem kept him out of the reckoning and allowed new signing Nathan Redmond to sparkle. Hughton did indicate that Snodgrass’ problem is minor, having been “touch and go” for today’s clash. The Norwich boss also stated that the Scot would have started over Elliot Bennett, offering some reassurance that Redmond’s performance will not be a cause for further doubt for Snodgrass owners.
The Norwich City lineup does create further issues, however. Steven Whittaker’s strike underlines his case to retain his start at right-back, although we can surely expect Seb Bassong to earn a recall once fully fit. It remains to be seen if club captain Russell Martin will oust Whittaker at full-back, or whether Michael Turner will eventually come under threat.
Arsene Wenger would love such options. With injuries to Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna, coupled with Laurent Koscielny’s dismissal, the Gunners rearguard is now in tatters. Already deprived of Thomas Vermaelen, Wenger looks set to a patched up back four to face Fulham next weekend. Those who invested in Per Mertesacker and Wojciech Szczęsny will already be considering an exit route.