With all the anxieties and anticipation of Gameweek 1 concluded, we look forward to GW 2 and outline some of our thoughts.
Strikers: Firmino, Lukaku (c), Lacazette. Firstly, RomCom. We came into the season abuzz with high expectations for Romelu under the pretense that he would see an increase in supply from a stronger midfield lineup. We were not disappointed. 5 shots, 2 goals, 90 minutes, no cards, and a 4-0 win was not a bad debut to start the season.
United looked dangerous, dominating set pieces (11 corners vs. 1 by WHU), shots (21 vs 9), and the entirety of the games momentum. We were a little surprised to see Mata in the lineup, but it was clear that it didn’t matter. United seem to have found a clean set of attacking options rotating between Lukaku up front and any combination of Mata / Mkhi / Rashford / Martial / Lingard directly behind him followed by Matic / Pogba who are forming a solid partnership. Heading into GW2, we still think he’s worthy (read: deserving) of the armband against a Swansea team away. To be fair, Swansea look like they are in potential disarray having lost key assets over the summer without replacement.
Lacazette also managed to put away a goal in his first debut for Arsenal. In a match that can only be described as an emotional rollercoaster, we probably changed our minds about Arsenal 4 times and went through the highs and lows of “Wenger In, Wenger Out”. Things we liked: 1) Lacazette probably doesn’t have any near term threat of being benched and will operate as the lone striker. 2) he has additional upside for when Alexis returns, given ‘in theory’, the side should benefit. Things we didn’t like: 1) Giroud scored. Wenger loves Giroud. Might be his hair, good looks, or simply the French Connection-UK. Whatever it is, Giroud is not good enough to start, but he’s always good enough to come in at the 75th minute, put away a game winning goal, and still manage to keep himself relevant. Too good to sell, not good enough to start. In any case, there is a risk that in the future Lacazette could come off early for Giroud. We aren’t there yet, but we will be keeping an eye on it.
Firmino. We’re dropping Benteke for Firmino this week given how poorly Palace showed. 0-3 loss to a recently promoted side. Zaha injured. All reasons pointing to the demise of Benteke. For 0.5MM more, we’d rather rotate into Bobby Firm. It’s clear that Liverpool has given up on defending and / or keeping a clean sheet. Clyne still injured. Klopp has gone with the score first and ask questions later approach, relying on the 3 horsemen of Salah / Mane / Firmino to put up enough goals such that they don’t need to rely on their defenders. A draw vs Watford is pretty sad but a 3-3 event spells well for fantasy situations. Liverpool plays Palace at home. Buy LIV, Sell CRY is an easy switch.
Midfield: Salah, Tadic, Mkhitaryan, Alli. We’ve covered United / Liverpool thus far. At 8.0MM and 9.0MM (at time of writing) both Salah and Mkhi look underpriced. Salah should probably be classified as a striker and Mkhi should probably be a 9.0MM or above given his positioning / team.Alli managed to score last week vs. Newcastle but we are less positive on his outlook this week against Chelsea. Additionally, in the event Eriksen potentially gets poached by Barca, we worry that Alli will suffer. Spurs look less impressive versus last season and appear less competitive compared to other majors which have had the cash to put to work on off season signings.
Tadic. Willing to give him another week given the ease of fixtures. Redmond might be the better choice from a goal scoring perspective but we think Tadic will more likely to feed balls to Gabbiadini in attacking situations. It was disappointing not to see Southampton open up against a squad like West Ham.
In defense. No changes. de Gea, Bertrand, Cedric, Dawson. Ease of fixtures for Southampton are too tempting not to double up on their defenders. United’s fixture against Swansea should be a breeze. We are still positive on WBA for the first couple weeks of the season given relatively easy fixtures.
One last note on City. We didn’t feature any City players last week given that we thought the rotation risk among midfielders was too high and that we were unsure how Aguero / Jesus would be used up top. We still think KDB is the most nailed / staple choice of midfielders and would be the only player we would look to add. Aguero / Jesus were probably priced appropriately but if Jesus manages to maintain a regular starting spot, a 10.5MM price tag looks like a bargain.