Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 1 Review, Gameweek 2 Preview
By Alex Fairchild
After Gameweek 1, some owners are singing the praises of their fantasy teams, while others are blaming managers for not playing stars like Romelu Lukaku.
Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet blanked Stoke City and saved a penalty in his Anfield debut. He has since become a hot item on the fantasy transfer market. In the opening hours of player purchase for Gameweek 2, over 65,000 have opted for the man who stopped Jonathan Walters from the spot. Liverpool face a prolific goalscoring squad in Aston Villa at the weekend, so while a shutout may be asking too much from Mignolet, he may have to make a few saves, which will salvage owners a couple of points.
Petr Cech will be a solid option throughout the year if you have the money, but Asmir Begovic may do the job as well. If you are looking for a quick fix in net this weekend, swapping your keeper for Joe Hart would not be a bad idea, as the promoted Cardiff City, who managed a mere five shots at the weekend, face a dangerous team in Manchester City.
How many people can jump on the Steven Whittaker bandwagon you ask? 96,789 as of 12:50 EST on Thursday.
Whittaker, who plays right back for Norwich City, provided owners with 11 points after having a goal and assist against Everton. Had his side not allowed Seamus Coleman to put the Toffies 2-1 up, it would have been 12 points. The 29 year-old Scot has a favorable list of fixtures looming against Hull City and Southampton, so he may be worthy of your one free transfer this week.
Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic put on a strong showing with a goal and shutout over two matches against the Villains and Tigers.
Opt for the likes of Robert Huth and Kolo Toure, who put themselves in the area, if you need to save some cash. Both defenders can put themselves in the position to score on sets. Huth hit the bar with a steaming volley and totaled more attempts than any of his Stoke teammates. But the Stoke defender could be a troublesome selection if the Potters begin to slump. Their physical playing style may harm your point total if the German collects some cards. Nevertheless, any Stoke defender is a solid pick, especially with Asmir Begovic backing them up in between the pipes. His Anfield counterpart, Toure, is keen to produce consistent defensive performances after hiatuses galore at Manchester City.
On the injury list is Vincent Kompany, who, according to reports, faces three weeks out of the squad due to a groin problem. David Luiz is rumored to have a hamstring knack as well. In addition, the Brazilian may not be what Jose Mourinho is looking for in a center back - or at least he may not be until the Portuguese can mold Luiz into a tactically disciplined defender. Despite chatter that the central defender would be headed out of Stamford Bridge, Mourinho has said that David Luiz is not for sale.
Laurent Koscielny will have to be replaced due to his suspension. The Arsenal man was sent off against Aston Villa and will not return to the side until September 1.
The most disappointing performance this week came from Eden Hazard. While the talisman did produce an assist via Antonio Luna's own goal, many thought he would overrun Hull City and Aston Villa with his sublime skill. With a match coming up against Manchester United, Hazard may be limited by the opposition's defensive stature, but be sure to stick with the playmaker, as he is sure to be a threat throughout the season.
David Silva was excellent for City against Newcastle. The only issue with the Spaniard, and the rest of City's attackers, is whether or not they will see weekly action. Manuel Pellegrini has a plethora of forward players in his arsenal and the tactician will not be afraid to rotate the squad. City's rearguard appears the only part of the team set in stone, while the front six are in question. Nevertheless, Silva was top once again and should be a mainstay in the team's attacking force.
Ross Barkley scored a stunner against Norwich and has been signed more than any other player between Gameweeks 1 and 2. Priced generously at £4.6 million, over 175,000 have purchased the 19 year-old, who is slotted to have a breakout campaign, during the past few days. He could be a useful signing to have come off the bench, if necessary.
Gareth Bale, the subject of much transfer speculation, sat against Crystal Palace and looks sure to be benched come the North London outfit's matchup with Swansea City, if he has not already shipped out to Madrid. Bale's sale clears up space to bring in someone like Juan Mata or Hazard.
Alexander Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered an injury that will see him out for several weeks, so it would be wise to sell the midfielder if he is in your team. Nathan Dyer, who will sit Swansea's Europa League matchup this week, is 50/50 for the team's duel with Spurs.
Robin van Persie is back at it again. The Dutchman's brace at Liberty Stadium saw him return to rich form. A hit with fantasy owners over the past few years, he is in nearly half of all teams on the Barclays Premier League's official fantasy game.
Aston Villa's Christian Benteke, who notched two goals against Arsenal and an additional strike versus Chelsea, showed the world last season was no fluke. Those who captained the Villa man cleaned up, gaining a whopping 36 points.
Wilfried Bony started his Premier League career on the bench, due to his lengthy trip to the USA and back, but he scored against United moments from time and once his relationship with Michu gels, the Ivorian should score bags of goals.
Jose Mourinho appears set on sitting Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian attacker came off the bench in both Chelsea matches, ceding his place to Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. Without the confidence he can achieve through consistent playing time, Lukaku may be ineffective until a change is made. Lukaku has been sold by more than 130,000 fantasy owners this week.
My team for Gameweek 2 is below:
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic, Leighton Baines, Pablo Zabelta
Midfielders: Eden Hazard, Emanuele Giaccherini, David Silva, Kevin Mirallas
Strikers: Wilfried Bony, Iago Aspas, Edin Dzeko
Discuss your Fantasy Premier League picks for Gameweek 2 in our comments section below, as well as on our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages.
Follow Alex on Twitter: @alex_f_football