Aleksandar Kolarov opens his account for the season as City see off Everton at Goodison. Pedro and Diego Costa both grab a goal and assist apiece as Chelsea squeeze past West Brom at the Hawthorns. James Morrison nets twice for the defeated Baggies, whilst Watford and Southampton play out a goalless draw at Vicarage Road.
Pedro Off the Mark
Chelsea’s ten men held off West Brom’s late barrage of attacks to secure their first win of the campaign. Handed a role on the right flank, the former Barcelona winger Pedro (9.5) made an instant impression on his debut, grabbing a goal, an assist and maximum bonus points to underline his potential as a premium priced midfield option. With Oscar still sidelined through injury, it remains to be seen where the likes of Willian fits into Jose Mourinho’s first-team plans after the latter was fielded in the central support role at the Hawthorns.
Eden Hazard scored his first points of the new campaign, serving up an assist in the first half. That being said, the Belgium international recorded just one (wayward) attempt at goal and has fashioned only three shots across his trio of appearances. In light of Hazard’s hefty 11.5 price tag, his 44% ownership will be demanding a much more potent goal threat in the coming weeks, particularly when the similarly priced Alexis Sanchez is firing off all cylinders and City are preparing for a superb run of fixtures. Indeed, Hazard has been subject to over 42,000 sales over the weekend, more than any midfielder.
Diego Costa (11.0) – who’s currently sat at a modest 10% ownership – reaffirmed his capacity to deliver strong Fantasy returns with a ten-point haul (goal, assist and one bonus point). The marquee forward could well evolve into an essential pick when the champions hit top form, yet most Sergio Aguero owners will struggle to accommodate the pair in their three-man strike force.
Thibaut Courtois compensated for Chelsea’s absence of a clean sheet by claiming five points for saving James Morrison’s early spot-kick. Elsewhere in the defence, Cesar Azpilicueta (6.0) came back to haunt the 30,000 Fantasy managers that shipped him out leading up to Gameweek 3, netting his debut goal for the London club.
Amid speculation that John Terry would be dropped after Jose Mourinho subbed him at half time against Manchester City, the Blues skipper started alongside Kurt Zouma in central defence. Terry had another torrid afternoon, earning a second yellow card for pulling at the shirt of West Brom striker Salomon Rondo, ruling him out of a home tie against Crystal Palace.
Morrison Brace not Enough for Baggies
James Morrison had a mixed afternoon at the The Hawthorns, making amends for his penalty miss with a well-taken brace. In spite of the 4.9-priced midfielder’s goal scoring heroics, the fact he’s never tallied more than five goals in any of the eight previous campaigns suggest he’ll be hard-pushed to repeat the feat.
West Brom had failed to net in their opening two Gameweeks but offered a much more consistent presence in the final third following a switch from a 4-4-2 to 4-1-4-1 set-up. With Saido Berahino not included in the matchday squad amid growing speculation that he’s nearing a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur, Salomon spearheaded the Baggies’ attack and scooped an assist for his troubles. Callum McManaman also notched an assist in his first start of the campaign.
Kolarov in the Points Again
Aleksandar Kolarov (5.6) registered a mammoth 15-point haul courtesy of a goal, three bonus points and the Sky Blues’ third successive shut-out. The Serbian left-back has been a veritable powerhouse at the start of the term, ranking top among defenders for attempts (four) and key passes (seven). Although Gael Clichy – who wasn’t in the squad at Goodison Park – heightens the risk of rotation, Manuel Pellegrini surely won’t be tempted to tinker while Kolarov is in such fine form.
Samir Nasri – who entered the fray after 74 minutes – bagged the visitors’ second goal, with Yaya Toure (8.7) claiming the assist. While the former will struggle for pitch time in the wake of Raheem Sterling’s arrival, the latter has recorded two goals and as many assists in three outings and looks back to his best following a disappointing output last season.
Whilst Sergio Aguero disappointed with a Goodison blank, Sterling picked up the points with the assist for Kolarov’s opener, encouraging his 13.7% ownership to hold tight ahead of City’s excellent run of fixtures. Considering that Pellegrini’s troops embark on four favourable home ties (WAT, WHU, NEW, BOU) across the next six Gameweeks, pursuing triple City coverage could be on many Fantasy managers’ agendas.
Toffees Come Unstuck against Rampant City
The Premier League’s form side proved too hot for Everton to handle as they carded their first defeat of the campaign. Roberto Martinez’ men were outclassed in the centre of the park and consequently failed to carve out many chances of note, mustering just one shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.
The Toffees now face a brutal schedule leading up to Gameweek 10, which includes three challenging road trips (tot, swa, ars) and home ties (CHE, LIV, MUN). Having witnessed the Belgian frontman excel in Southampton’s backyard, however, Romelu Lukaku’s 16.9% ownership might not be deterred by the unfavourable match-ups.
Another Shut-Out for Watford
The Hornets played out a drab stalemate at Vicarage Road, marking the second consecutive goalless draw in front of their own supporters. Heurelho Gomes and right-back Allan Nyom were awarded three bonus points each for their defensive efforts, rendering them the top two scorers among Watford’s squad this term. While their potential for further cleans sheets looks bleak over the next couple of Gameweeks (mci, SWA), a trio of encounters from Gameweek 6 (new, CRY, bou) are far more encouraging. Watford and Bournemouth rotate well home/away for those eyeing up a rotation pairing.
Defender Miguel Layun – who netted in the first Gameweek and piqued our interest by virtue of his deployment in midfield – dropped to the bench for this match-up, with Jose Holebas starting at left-back and Ikechi Anya shifted onto the right flank. Anya later displaced Holebas in the second half, proving that Quique Sanchez Flores is still not certain on his first-choice rearguard.
Tactical Tweak Earns Saints a Clean Sheet
Ronald Koeman rolled out a 3-5-2 formation for the Saints’ trip to Watford, fielding Maya Yoshida, Jose Fonte and Steven Caulker as the three centre-backs. Sadio Mane was deployed up front alongside Graziano Pelle but was afforded little time to exhibit his out-of-position potential as he left the field of play following a kick to the hip at the 24-minute mark. The Senegalese forward later revealed that he was “alright”, while Koeman is hopeful he’ll be fit for their midweek Europa League clash.
The south coast club enjoy a strong pair of upcoming fixtures (NOR, wba), before their schedule takes a turn for the worse from Gameweek 6 (MUN, SWA, che). Those in possession of Pelle or Mane will likely be torn between recruiting players with superior form or keeping faith ahead of an alluring home tie against the Canaries. Cedric Soares owners will be tempted to hold, though, with the clean sheet –allied with his wing-back berth – boosting his appeal.