premier fantasy

August Squad of the Month

September 8, 2010
By Dale Johnson
(Archive)

Chelsea's blistering start to the Premier League season, which sees the Blues with the only remaining 100% record having scored five more goals than any other side, is reflected in August's Squad of the Month.

Florent Malouda
GettyImagesFlorent Malouda has been one of the stars in the opening weeks as Chelsea have dominated

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Chelsea could have supplied as many as eight players for the 15 man squad, and for the first time ever one club had the top scoring player in all four areas of the pitch. The three players per team rule means five were left out, one of those being Petr Cech despite the three clean sheets he picked up in the month.

Cech is the Goalkeeper of the Month, but the players to be named in the Squad of the Month are Joe Hart of Manchester City and Manchester United's Edwin van der Sar. Hart is going to be one of the steals of the season, having been given a value of £3.5 million in the summer when it was unclear who would be City's first choice goalkeeper. Hart has already begun to rise in value and is likely to do so throughout the season.

The overall Player of the Month is Florent Malouda, who has been transformed from an inconsistent midfielder into a fantasy must-have. With 33 points, Malouda has scored in all three Premier League games - including a brace in the season opener against West Bromwich Albion.

Malouda may be the top-scoring player, but a rejuvenated Theo Walcott has effectively proved to be the player to have this month. With 32 points, and costing £1 million less than Malouda, it's no surprise that Walcott has been one of the most transferred in players from the opening weeks. He didn't even start on the opening weekend against Liverpool, but in his two subsequent performances grabbed a hat-trick against Blackpool and another goal against Blackburn.

His ankle injury picked up on England duty is sure to frustrate fantasy managers, but perhaps it was all a little too predictable for Walcott.

The other midfielders in the squad scored considerably fewer points. Anyone considering bringing in Craig Gardner of Birmingham City should be wary. After the first week of the season, Blackpool's Alex Baptiste was the most signed player. He then shipped six goals at Arsenal. Many managers will have been caught out. And let's not forget the 'Curse of Cohen' from last season, when a couple of Tamir Cohen goals saw the Bolton midfielder become hot property because of his cheap price. He barely scored another attacking point in the whole season.

Gardner, with 22 points, already has three Premier League goals to his name this term. The 23-year-old had only scored a total of six goals in the previous five seasons, which would suggest he is unlikely to continue at such a rate. That said, Gardner has a price of £4.6 million - it has already risen - which makes him a tempting proposition as a bench filler, or a signing for home games and favourable fixtures.

Theo Walcott is stretchered off
PA PhotosTheo Walcott did not last long against Switzerland

Like Walcott, Gardner was benched for the first game but he will now be a sure starter for Blues. They play Liverpool next, but with upcoming matches against West Brom, Wigan, Everton and Blackpool, there is perhaps some scope there.

Arsenal's Andrei Arshavin was left out to balance the budget, but there is a place for Gareth Bale who has been reclassified as a midfielder for this season. At a tempting price of £7.6 million, Bale's dangerous delivery may not yet have produced any assists, but he has two goals to his name.

Also making the squad is Newcastle United's Kevin Nolan, who is playing almost as a second striker this season, and James Milner of Manchester City.

The Defender of the Month is Chelsea's Ashley Cole, a player who must be picked up quickly before he becomes far too expensive. Already at £6.6 million he is the most costly defender to make the squad, and with his new-found ability in the final third of the field it would be a surprise if he doesn't end the season as one of top scoring players at the back.

A surprise name is next in the list, with Luke Young scoring a rare goal for Aston Villa - don't expect that to continue. Micah Richards of Manchester City joins him and while there were five players to score 12 points it's Brede Hangeland of Fulham who makes the squad due to his price.

The Striker of the Month is Didier Drogba, who continues his form from last season when he was the top scorer in the Premier League. Drogba has so far scored four goals and contributed three assists.

Andrew Carroll, who also has four goals to his name, looks to be the bargain striker of the season at almost half the cost of Drogba. Nicolas Anelka, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov are left out to keep within the rules, which leaves Marlon Harewood and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake both on 14 points for the final place. We've decided to give it to Harewood in recognition of Blackpool's amazing opening day win.

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