Log In

Reset Password

Fantasy Football: early season lessons

Healthy dose of realism: Moyes has already tipped his side to be in the thick of the relegation battle this season. Not something the fans want to hear in August (Photograph by Richard Sellers/PA/AP)

Two games in and it’s hard to come to any definitive conclusions ... or is it?

Here’s a brief wrap-up of what we’ve learnt so far:

1. Big transfer fees are overrated. All you need are 13 fit players, an assistant manager and a club in limbo as it’s sold off. Don’t believe me? Ask Hull City.

2. Happiness is also overrated. Tony Pulis looks like he’d rather be in China than have to answer to his new Chinese owners.

3. Arsène Wenger is still tighter than a duck’s ... anyway. Call it careful, prudent, whatever, for most fans it reeks of staleness. Is change coming?

4. Possession stats are for statos and hipsters only. Burnley had 19 per cent and still beat Liverpool 2-0, which, of course, is the only stat that matters.

5. Being England’s No 1 doesn’t necessarily mean you’re all that. Joe Hart is a good goalkeeper but not that good, according to Pep Guardiola.

6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, if we didn’t know already, are man beasts. Southampton players literally bounced off them.

7. David Moyes is depressing. Being “realistic” is not what fans want to hear. Remember David, Sunderland folk pay good money to watch your team.

8. If Diego Costa can’t get himself sent off, he scores the winner. If only he tried it the other way around for once.

9. Something is stirring at Middlesbrough. It seems that having a manager spectacularly fall out with the dressing room does less harm than first thought.

10. I miss up Upton Park (sorry hipsters, The Boleyn Ground) already. Yeah, the new one is swanky, but where are the overhanging high-rises, and the nostalgic sense of decay?

11am kick offs unless stated
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool


Tottenham have been steady if unspectacular so far, while Liverpool have been erratic. Sadio Mané should return which will give Jürgen Klopp’s men some spark, but Tottenham, even as they build up a head of steam, are a well-drilled outfit.

Prediction: 1-1

Chelsea v Burnley

Burnley may have outwitted Liverpool last weekend but it’s hard to see them doing the same in London. Costa looks leaner and hungrier than last season as does Eden Hazard. Home win.

Prediction: 2-0

Crystal Palace v Bournemouth

This game has an air of importance already. Bournemouth need to silence critics pointing to second-season syndrome, while Alan Pardew needs to address the unmistakable pattern of diminishing returns at every club he’s been to. I see a stalemate.

Prediction: 1-1

Everton v Stoke City

Worse teams look set to get demolished by Manchester City this season so Stoke should be able to brush off their 4-1 humbling. That said, Everton appear galvanised by Ronald Koeman’s management and with Yannick Bolasie eager to start justifying his eye-watering transfer fee, Goodison should be rocking.

Prediction: 2-1

Leicester City v Swansea City

Claudio Ranieri was even happier than usual after the drab 0-0 with Arsenal, probably because he saw a return of the defensive solidity that won them the title last season. With players’ futures secure, expect them to click into gear soon. This looks like the ideal opportunity.

Prediction: 2-0

Southampton v Sunderland

Southampton appear worryingly flat so far, almost as flat as Moyes. Sunderland may have a poor squad, but the new manager has to start picking up points. A cautious away side should get a point here.

Prediction: 1-1

Watford v Arsenal

The stuttering start can’t last for ever — Wenger has too much talent at his disposal. Watford are still taking shape under Walter Mazzarri and Arsenal can capitalise.

Prediction: 1-2

Hull City v Manchester United

Hull have shown the value of togetherness and perhaps not having many choices to make. The fairytale start to the season should end, however, when Zlatan and Co cross the Humber Bridge.

Prediction: 0-2

West Brom v Middlesbrough

The Hawthorns is an odd place right now. New owners but no notable signings. It’s hard not to think that the momentum is all with Middlesbrough after their North East derby win at Sunderland.

Prediction: 1-2

Man City v West Ham United

The ‘Ammers were far from fluent in beating Bournemouth but should have Dimitri Payet back. City have so much talent that anything other than a home win would be a surprise.

Prediction: 3-1