The season so far has seen many youngsters ‘shoot out of the blocks’ exceeding some of the wildest expectations. The midfield quartet of Ross Barkley (5.5), Adnan Januzaj (4.7), Aaron Ramsey (6.6) and Ravel Morrison (4.4) have provided delightful value to the budget juggling fantasy manager.
This week it is a former academy youngster from the south coast who is glistening on the radar. Owned by only 2.6% of the competition Southampton captain Adam Lallana is quietly going about his business. We saw a similar approach last season from teammate Rickie Lambert who went on to collaborate an impressive 187-point haul. The giant Englishman bagged a rather impressive 15 goals and 8 assists becoming somewhat of a media darling for his rags to riches climb of the football league pyramid.
The contrast here is that Lallana sat a majority of the season out on the sidelines with a knee injury. If you check the numbers he played in 25 games providing a measly 3 goals and 5 assists over the campaign. What this data hides is how impressive Lallana was before he sustained ligament damage. With 2 goals and 4 assists in the opening 10 gameweeks of the season Lallana was presenting an enticing option.
Southampton also felt the full ‘brunt’ (5.1) of his absence struggling to pick up points and return balance to the team. This dip in team form could have quite possibly been the one that cost Nigel Adkins his job. That thought aside it certainly showed the value of Lallana’s play to his team as they faced difficulty re-adjusting in his absence. Moving onto the current season Southampton sits in 4th spot in the league after a kind run of fixtures during the opening 7 games. Evaluating the clubs position on the fixture list would be an injustice though with the team conceding a mere 3 goals from the opening 7 games. (Look to the value of Boruc 4.7 and Clyne 4.4) This being only the 20th occasion in history an English 1st division team has managed such a feat.
Defensively stable and off to a flyer Southampton could clearly be the Newcastle of a few seasons ago providing fantasy value across the board. The question seemingly is where does Lallana fit in all of this? The answer is right at the heart of it. Lallana has been building towards 90 minute matches over the season as he looks to fully rehabilitate his knee. The gameweek 7 match against Swansea (H) where he scored an excellent goal was his first 90 minute match of the season.
Contributing an assist at Liverpool from the corner flag, another against Palace all capped off with an excellent strike against Swansea sees Lallana priming himself for an assault on the premier league.
Manchester United (A)
Stoke City (A)
Hull City (H)
With Manchester United raring to go up against an organized Southampton side the match is sure to be intriguing. Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 and 2-1 last season but much of the last minute magic has exited along with Ferguson as Southampton have strengthened in key positions. The fixtures to follow fall in Southampton’s favour particularly if the momentum not halted at Old Trafford. With Lallana contributing an assist at Liverpool from the corner flag, another assist against Crystal Palace all capped off with an excellent strike against Swansea sees Lallana priming himself for an assault on the premier league.