Premier League: Monday Morning Midfielder – Matchweek Four

International breaks suck, don’t they?

I know it’s only one weekend without Premier League football, but it feels like an eternity. And then, as if the wait wasn’t bad enough, we have to worry about the health and fitness levels of our favorite players as they return to club action – something that can be especially taxing for us fantasy degenerates.

The break can also leave us with some sluggish play as the returning players often take part of a match – or even a full one – to get their “bearings” back so to speak. However, that didn’t seem to be the case this week as Matchweek four was chalked full of action.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

 

Everton Get Three…Finally!

Lukaku and his subdued celebration after scoring against his former employers, West Brom

Lukaku and his subdued celebration after scoring against his former employers, West Brom/ Photo: Sky Sports

Yes, I’m finally kicking off this column with my Everton thoughts as opposed to burying them at the bottom with all my pain and frustrations. And I can’t help it, because I’ve found the cure for what ails the Toffee’s and their supporters: a match against West Bromwhich Albion.

The team looked somewhat out of sorts for much of the first half, and one could even make the case that, outside of Romelu Lukaku’s beautifuly curled goal, West Brom was the better of the two sides for the first 45 minutes. That all changed in the second half, however, as the club was able to put together a very complete second half of football.

My main takeaway’s from the match: the combination play of Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas was working all day long, and finally resulted in a much deserved goal; it was really good to see John Stones finally get some time at centre back – simply put, he has to be half of that pairing each week; Liverpool lost (okay, not really from the match just always nice to see).

 

Can Anyone Stop Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas?

Costa celebrating one of his three goals on Saturday against Swansea City

Costa celebrating one of his three goals on Saturday against Swansea City

I’m beginning to think the answer to this will be no, but I’ll reserve my final judgement until they face Manchester City for the first time. For the time being, though, there doesn’t appear to be a defense that can stop this pair.

Costa has bagged an astounding seven goals in just four games, and in those four games has taken just 11 shots – giving him a whopping 63.6% shot conversion rate. All of the goals have come inside the area, and he’s scored four with his left foot, two with his right, and one with the good ol’ noggin. He’s the poster boy for poacher strikers, but fantasy owners don’t care. And until proven otherwise, it might be prudent to go ahead and spend the money to have him in your lineups.

Fabregas has been equally impressive, but has done so more in the provider role. He’s created 16 chances, and of those six have gone for assists (four to Costa alone).

At risk of sounding like “Captain Obvious”, it’s safe to say that this is a completely different Chelsea side from last year. Last season they relied heavily on their defense and lived on the counter; often squeaking out 1-0 victories. This season, Jose’s assembled an offensive juggernaut that can seemingly score at will. Oh yeah, they still have that defense, too.

 

Team Of The Weekend: Manchester United?

Yes, I know it was against QPR, but you have to admit that Louis van Gaal and his ever-evolving lineup finally looked like the team we’ve all been expecting to see, or at least like one run by “Daddy Warbucks”, as United seem to be. From the first whistle to the last, United carved up a punchless QPR side. And while you could say that QPR’s marking and positioning should have been better, you have to give the Red Devils the credit they deserve.

Moving away from his traditional 3-5-2 formation (which clearly wasn’t working), van Gaal opted for a somewhat more traditional 4-4-2; keeping four at the back and using a “diamond” midfield, one in which newcomer Daly Blind played the lone defensive midfielder just in front of the back four. And, while it was certainly Angel Di Maria who stole the show – especially for fantasy, it was Blind who gets my game ball.

Blind kept the United attack rolling with his 95% pass accuracy.

Blind kept the United attack rolling with his 95% pass accuracy.

I wasn’t exactly sure where Blind was going to line up, given that he can play multiple positions, but it certainly was a brilliant move to deploy him in defensive midfield. Though it wasn’t flashy and won’t show up on the scoresheet, his play kept the team on schedule and the attack clicking in high gear. His match in numbers: 95% passing, 50% on tackles (2/4), two interceptions, and three clearances. According to my notes, that’s called “putting in a shift”. It’s not going to be sexy and certainly I’m not suggesting you rush out and add him to your fantasy lineups, but Blind could very well be a key cog in the wheel that keeps the Manchester United machine rolling.

 

We Should Probably Cool Our Jets On The “Southampton’s Gonna Be A Dumpster Fire” Talk

I’ll be the first to admit that after their summer fire sale, one in which they sold two of the brightest young talents in the league in Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana – despite insisting they weren’t experiencing financial hardships, I was all in on tossing the Saints under the buss. But, after four matches and seven points totaled, I’m thinking I’ve got a nice crow pie somewhere with my name on it.

No, they’re not going to win the league. No, they may not even finish as high as they did last year. But it’s pretty clear they’ve got a deep talent pool, as well as the personal to develop that talent.

From a fantasy perspective, the solid start is reflected in the fact that they currently have someone in the top five at each position. Most surprisingly, though, might just be Morgan Schneiderlin who, traditionally, has been more of a defensive-minded midfielder. His three goals are tied for the team lead with forward Graziano Pelle.

 

Those are my main takeaway’s from the weekend that was in the Premier League. What were your’s?

 

 

 

 

 

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