Manchester City aren’t invincible, Watford are condemned to a life of 1-0s and Newcastle aren’t completely incapable of scoring. Here are 5 other things we learnt this week:
It was perfectly rational to think that after another prolonged absence, Daniel Sturridge would still be a step out of rhythm. It turned out that his famous dancing celebration was the only aspect of his individual performance that looked rusty. The team as a whole still didn’t look entirely on the same page yet, as Liverpool have often had to do over the years under Rodgers, they fashioned a win despite conceding on more than one occasion.
Sturridge will struggle to replicate his exact goalscoring form of 2013/14 but it was refreshing to see him leading the line again for a floundering Liverpool team. If he can stay fit, he’s a top 5 striker in the league and the club’s best player. A string of games reminiscent of his prolific nature two seasons ago may be Rodgers last hope to stay in his job.
Slowly everyone has figured out that Leicester City, once you can bear to take your eyes off Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy for a second, take a casual approach to the defensive side to the game. Sanchez certainly picked up on it and opened his account in some style by notching 3 against leaky Leicester.
The third goal to top it off was the type of goal Sanchez showcased all of last season – cutting in off the left and driving it home from distance. Premium players have struggled in Fantasy Football thus far but Sanchez looks to be the first off the mark after enduring a quiet spell similar to what we saw at the start of the last campaign.
Watching the 3 goals scored at Old Trafford on Sunday one could be tempted into seeing a reinvigorated attack with Wayne Rooney finally snagging a goal. Further inspection reveals otherwise, for one thing Rooney’s goal came via his knee and a handy Lee Cattermole shove. The only way United will mount a title challenge this year is based on what they’ll perform at their own end of the pitch.
Handily Louis van Gaal seems to have built the most defensively sound team in the league this season. Chris Smalling is showing his current level of play is trustworthy and not just prolonged form. A midfield involving Carrick and Schneiderlin might not jump off the team sheet – and its employment could be questioned vs Sunderland at home – but the protection it provides for Smalling and Co. is outstanding. The football might not be carved straight from van Gaal’s ‘philosophy’ but it will lead to cold, hard points.
A staple of any fantasy lineup, budget options playing for mid-table prestige will provide points at a rate often matching that of premium players. Every year one budget midfielder explodes into fantasy fame: Michu in 2011/12 who was widely listed as a midfielder, Gylfi Sigurdsson last year and now Mahrez-mania. Finding such consistency can rarely be found from these cheap Eden Hazard alternatives.
Take Southampton, who secured a 3-1 win at the weekend over another mid-table challenger in Swansea City. The Saints’ attack has often been the definition of streaky, while their defence remained reliable. Now without Schneiderlin to protect the backline, Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane must be counted on and in all fairness they have. Don’t expect it to be the same situation in 6 weeks time when picking that weekend’s team.
In truth, Chelsea have problems all over that need resolving urgently. One main one Eden Hazard has played sluggishly and as one of their few creators it’s had a ripple effect to the rest of the team. However it’s the switching and ditching that Mourinho has engaged in that leaves the club in 15th place.
Many criticised the Chelsea manager last Spring when his side limped to a title, blaming his lack of rotation for a fatigued squad. So we should be patient with his more flexible approach this time around. Conceding two at St James’ Park is practically an acheivement right now. Kurt Zouma and John Terry are both useful in their own ways yet have polar opposites with their athleticism and effect on the rest of the team’s defensive shape. Rotating the pair led to Chelsea claiming that acheivement, so Mourinho needs to find a preference and stay faithful to it. It would be unsurprising to see John Terry starting in the coming weeks.
Harry Wallace is a Leicester City fan and Fantasy Football enthusiast. Both have been known to be unsuccessful at times. Keep track of his football related thoughts on Twitter.