DEFENDER: ANTONIO VALENCIA, MANCHESTER UNITED
In Jurassic Park, there’s an iconic scene where the precocious children remember that if you stay still, the T-Rex can’t see you and will leave you alone. I’m pretty sure Antonio Valencia has applied the same tactics upon Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Old Trafford. On the surface, Valencia is no more a United player than Eric Djemba-Djemba or David Bellion but on closer inspection, he has upcycled himself into a starting Premier League right back without much resistance from 3 separate managers. He has played all 90 minutes in two opening games and with Mourinho not in the market for a full back it seems, Antonio will carry on in that role for the foreseeable future. He has a modest 8 points from 2 games, but hasn’t yet added assists, which we know he has in his repertoire and United have a huge 3 games coming up. Hull, City and Watford represent 3 games that could be the making of Man U as legitimate title contenders this season and there’s a real possibility of serious points.
MIDFIELDER: RAHEEM STERLING, MANCHESTER CITY
Pitching Raheem Sterling as a pick last season would’ve been questionable to say the least but Pep Guardiola is playing father figure to the £50 million midfielder. 9 points from 2 games is a decent start, and all the more valuable given that Sterling now only costs 8.0m. That’s less than Ozil, Mkhitaryan and Wijnaldum among others and his renaissance may well be worth jumping on board with early doors. Guardiola has a track record improving young wide players and Sterling has undoubted talent. Even without a finished product he scored a clistering 158 points in that incredible Liverpool season and there’s no reason he can’t slot into your midfield while you still afford the two main men up front.
FORWARD: CHRISTIAN BENTEKE, CRYSTAL PALACE
We will discuss the Zlatan-Aguero Algorithm later, but for now everyone is in need of suggestions for a third striker slot. We have discussed Rondon and Long this season, and given the fixtures I still think they are extremely viable options but I can’t just stand here repeating myself or I will sound like Arsene Wenger discussing transfer policy. (Speaking of which, Arsenal are getting dangerously close to actually signing someone with Lucas Pérez of Deportivo inching towards completing a transfer to the club.)
So, I think it’s time we all stopped and considered Christian Benteke. Make no mistake, Crystal Palace are going to have a difficult season. I’m not saying they will be in a relegation scrap necessarily but despite the huge money coming in and going out in transfers, I think Palace will have a tricky time of it this year. Conor Wickham, while industrious, doesn’t represent a Premier League striker capable of 15 goals. Benteke, on his Villa form, is more than capable and with a team playing to suit him he could find that form again easily. Hell hath no fury…
CAPTAIN: SERGIO AGUERO, MANCHESTER CITY
Well for a fortnight I claimed you didn’t need Ibrahimovic and that he didn’t represent value for money if you also had Aguero. That is why I have plummeted down the league as others have capitalised. I’m not saying you need both players in your side for the whole season but until further notice it would seem that if you do not, you run the risk of losing ground. The make or break part of your gameweek could already be which one of them to skipper. Looking into a crystal ball, this week it looks like Aguero. West Ham had a tough Thursday night tie, in which they just got through whereas City played so many second stringers even Joe Hart got a game. The Hammers could have a tough year with a new stadium, added expectation and European competition and Aguero will do what he does best.
OUTSIDER: NOLITO, MANCHESTER CITY
To rub salt into the wounds, there could also be some points for Nolito. Sure he sounds like a cocktail and has only played 80 minutes across both games but he is the 4th highest scoring midfielder in the game. He comes on in a very advanced role for a midfield pick and it is only a matter of time that he gets starts with his goals to minute ratio at the moment. I don’t profess to know much about Nolito but those stats at 4% picked mean he has to be looked at.
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