Robin Van Persie
In his first game at the World Cup after a disappointing season Van Persie reminded us of his goal scoring genius with a brilliant looping header over Casillas. That was Van Persie’s 1st of 4 goals whilst rackng up an impressive 12 shots on target in the tournament to give him an average of 2 Shots on Target per game. Whilst that doesn’t put him on the same level as Suarez last season who managed 2.64 per game, it does put him ahead of his record of 1.65 in the 2012-13 season. Drawing inferences from international tournaments is always difficult due to the small sample size, the different team and system and the difference in style of play, but it was certainly a reminder that he has the potential to be a fantasy option.
The bigger lesson we could perhaps learn from the World Cup is his relationship with new Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal , noting the pair's slightly awkward but revealing high-5 celebration after Van Persie’s first goal. David Moyes never seemed to develop a strong relationship with any player during his reign, but Van Gaal already has a key player in the squad on his side, and could even name Van Persie as his captain. Their relationship might also allay any fears over who will start in the attacking positions; it seems that Van Persie will be the star man, with Rooney having to adapt his game to suit the system. As long as he can stay fit we are sure to see a few more ‘high five’ moments at Old Trafford this season.
After a torrid first season with Man United, best by injury and poor performances within a downbeat team, Fellaini was offered the opportunity to show his talent again with his national team in the biggest showcase on earth. Unfortunately, his tournament was much like his league season and he failed to make any real impact as Belgium whimpered out of the competition without putting in anywhere near the level performance expected of them.
A headed goal in his first game against Algeria did show some promise and was reminiscent of the aerial threat he showed whilst at Goodison Park - but that was the highlight of his tournament. He’ll now have a lot to do to convince Van Gaal of he’s merits and it’s tough to see him as anything other than a squad player this year, especially with the arrival of Anders Herrera. Even if he did find a place in the team, it certainly wouldn’t be in his preferred attacking position, and so he has little chance of reaching the dizzy fantasy heights he did in the 2012/13 season.
Arguably Brazil’s best player of the tournament, and behind the talismanic Neymar and team captain Silva and the only player to really show any ability in the heavy semi-final and playoff defeats. Oscar managed to show the sort of performances we’ve come to expect from him in a Chelsea shirt. 2 goals, 8 shots on target and 9 chances created are impressive numbers and in line with his premier league performances. But we already know about his attacking potential, what particularly stands out about Oscar is he made 20 tackles in the tournament, only Mascherano made more. That’s pretty remarkable for an offensive player, especially one we often perceive as being delicate and skilful rather than physical and powerful.
The defensive work rate he showed perhaps demonstrates Mourinho’s influence over the season. It is for this reason as well that Oscar’s FPL credentials may see a boost this year. Oscar wasn’t a guaranteed starter this season only starting 24 league games, but with Mourinho’s clear dislike of Hazard’s lack of defensively responsibility, Oscar’s willingness to track back could see him land a more regular position in the team. The counterpoint to this of course is that Oscar may be preferred for Champions League’s games as he was last year where his tactical awareness was more needed. If that turned out to be the case then Hazard could again be the Chelsea midfield of choice as he is allowed freedom against smaller teams to dictate play.
Others at Chelsea
Elsewhere, the tournament saw Willian, Ramires, and new signing Fabregas put in average performances. They’ll be no real midfield standout for Mourinho, who will no doubt look to rotate his midfielders weekly, causing frustration for all fantasy managers. The possible exception here is Andrea Schurrle who scored 3 in just 252 minutes (1.07 goals P90) – note though that these did come off the bench against Algeria and the worst Brazil team we’ve seen for quite some time.
A poor tournament from a clearly tired Yaya Toure continued a disappointing summer for the Ivorian following a debacle over ‘Cakegate’. He managed just 1 shot on target in his 3 games, although did create an impressive 10 chances for his team mates, hinting at a more creative role in his future as he moves back down the pitch as we’ve seen Gerrard successfully do. Many veteran mangers took a while to be convinced by his stats last year and would be even more wary of backing him in the new season. Having played 49 games for City last year, the World Cup this summer, ACON the year before and with post and preseason friendlies taking up more time, he won’t have had much time to rest ready for the season. We saw similar last season with Juan Mata who, having strung together a few seasons without a proper break, failed to start well for Chelsea.
Wilfried Bony was the other premier league player of note in the Ivory Coast team as he scored twice as his team failed to progress from the group stage. A move to Liverpool would provide debate amongst fantasy managers as to his potential. On the one hand it’s a move to a better team with better attacking players which will surely to lead to more and higher quality chances. On the other he will no longer be the main man and could even be rotated as Rodgers seeks to balance the demands of domestic and European football. We’ll hold sway on any final verdict of Bony until the his future is cleared up.