English Premier League: Jockeying for Position
With the Premier League season firmly under way and the top of the table carrying a look about it that many would assume will stay broadly the same until the end of the season (or at least the first three places), things are very much going according to plan.
However, further down the table, a number of teams are showing signs of defying pre-season relegation prediction and storming up the table. Swansea, in particular, have had a great start, as have Newcastle, but will it last?
A quick glance at the Sky Sports Free Fantasy Football table gives more of an insight into the matter. It's easy to look at the league table and see that certain teams are performing well, but the forensic break down of fantasy league points offers a much more detailed view.
As one would imagine, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea dominate the top of the rankings for each position, but in evidence in all cases are Swansea players, particularly the goalkeeper, Vorm, who has been outstanding so far this season.
However, Swansea's strong start seems to owe much to the form of a few key players, Scott Sinclair, Ashley Williams and the aforementioned goalkeeper Vorm. Tellingly, though, they don't have a striker inside the top twenty, and that could be a key indicator of the way things are going to go.
Without a striker who will consistently score when given the opportunity stirkes, it's unlikely that Swansea can sustain their current league position, and an over-reliance on certain key performers will pose problems as injuries and suspensions most likely set in later in the season.
For Newcastle, the other team who are enjoying a particularly strong start, the points are spread more evenly amongst the goalkeeper, the two Taylors at the back, several midfielders and (importantly) two decent strikers. This bodes well for the rest of Newcastle's campaign as they evidently have a strong group who are performing well, rather than one or two outstanding players.
As a final note, the tables throw up one other particularly interesting stat: Even with the likes of Aguero, Jones and De Gea racking up the points, the best value for money of any signing this year is probably, so far, Seb Larsson at Sunderland.
Larsson is sitting comfortably inside the top ten midfielders with some of the best players on the planet and Larsson costs absolutely nothing, and his performances are all the more remarkable for the fact that Sunderland are struggling at the moment.
Of course, it all has to be taken with a pinch of salt, as even the most detailed Fantasy League can only carry so much information. All the same it's a good way of getting a different perspective on things in the top flight.