With their opening day demolition of West Brom, Chelsea sent out an ominous message to the rest of the Premier League. Although the 6-0 scoreline suggests the champions carried on as if they’d never been away, Carlo Ancelotti’s side never really got into top gear, as the promoted side were given an cruel lesson in the harsh realities of top-flight football.
A reported ankle knock on Friday cast doubts over Frank Lampard’s starting chances, causing many a Fantasy manager to tinker with their starting line-ups, and for those who opted for Florent Malouda as an alternative, the gamble certainly paid off.
Whilst the Frenchman and Didier Drogba quite rightly made the headlines, there’s no denying the importance of Ashley Cole to this system. Playing at times virtually as a left-winger, Cole gives Chelsea the width that allows Malouda to drift into central positions closer to goal.
With Cole playing so high, it seemed to have a knock-on effect on Frank Lampard as the left-sided central midfielder. Perhaps the aforementioned injury plagued Lampard’s mobility at the weekend or maybe it was simply to compensate for the full-back’s runs, but Lampard sat deep and only occasionally ventured forward as his team mates racked up the goals. As this chalkboard (illustrating the 64 mins Lampard was on the pitch) shows, Michael Essien at right centre midfield saw much more of the pitch as whilst playing on the same flank as the less-attacking full-backs, Paulo Ferreira, then Branislav Ivanovic.
Although Lampard grabbed a goal in the end, what is becoming clear is that, within this system, he could be pushed hard this season by Malouda in the race for Fantasy points. With the England man priced at £13m in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) and Malouda priced at £9.5m in comparison, there’s no question it offers more balance to start-of-season squads to plump for Malouda.
Up front, with Drogba already in lethal form and an obvious captain choice for those without Lampard, the decision is a tricky one. Although Lampard set a personal best FPL score last term, this is not to suggest he won’t replicate that feat this term; it is simply possible that, on the evidence of Saturday’s game as a continuation of Chelsea’s title-winning scores towards the back end of last season, both Malouda and Drogba may also do so, too.