September Squad of the Month
Only three rounds of Premier League fixtures in September due to the international break, and with Chelsea drawing a blank in their final match of the month at Manchester City their dominance of the fantasy game has, for the time being, come to an end.
Liverpool may be having a disappointing season, languishing in 16th place in the table, but Steven Gerrard has emerged from the gloom to be the Fantasy Player of the Month with 24 points.
Gerrard weighed in with three goals in September, with two coming at Manchester United and another one in the home draw with Sunderland. The Liverpool skipper does not have a single assist yet this season after being the supply line for seven goals last term. Despite his Player of the Month award, aside from those two matches he has offered little to fantasy managers - with just nine points from the first four fixtures.
Gerrard's total of 30 points places him sixth among midfielders. He needs to continue this rich vein of form to justify a hefty £11 million price tag and with Liverpool entertaining Blackpool this weekend there's every chance he will weigh in with more points. Liverpool's other games in October are away to Everton and Bolton, with Blackburn Rovers to come on home soil.
Joining Gerrard in midfield is Manchester United's Nani, who now appears to be coming of age in the Premier League. The Portuguese now has five assists in his last four games with two goals. September saw him grab one goal and four of those assists. Nani is proving to be a bargain hunter's dream, currently priced at only £6.7 million but that price is certain to rise quickly. He scored 20 points in September, and is now the fourth best midfielder.
Chelsea supply the next two midfielders, Michael Essien and last month's top-scoring player Florent Malouda. Malouda is currently 11 points clear of Didier Drogba for the Player of the Season award - and it was his two goals against Blackpool which ensured another appearance in the monthly team. Essien also netted two goals in September and scored one point less than Malouda, 19.
Stewart Downing has found his goalscoring boots this term, contributing three goals already after netting only twice in an injury-hit 2009-10. Both Downing and West Ham's Scott Parker scored 18 points in September.
Just behind Gerrard for the Player of the Month was Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov, with 22 points. After a slow start with United, Berbatov is finally proving to be a value player at a top club and is only four points behind Drogba as the top-scoring striker. Berbatov scored a hat-trick against Liverpool and bagged another goal in the first game of the month against Everton.
Two players in red and white complete the forward line, with Sunderland's Darren Bent and his former team-mate Kenwyne Jones, of Stoke City, both scoring 18 points with three goals for the month. With Stoke City's aerial style and Jones' ability in the area, he could be an option at just £7 million though the consistent Bent remains a tempting price at £8.5 million.
A surprise name takes the award of Defender of the Month, with few clean sheets around in September. Wigan Athletic's Antolín Alcaraz scored 15 points in the month, which after the Latics' terrible start to the season is the same as his overall total even though he has featured in every league game. The Paraguay international contributed a goal and a clean sheet for the month and with Wigan playing Wolves, Newcastle, Bolton and Fulham in October it could be that their horror run is over.
Only four defenders make the squad because there have been so many goals this month. Man City's Kolo Toure and Robert Huth of Stoke both scored 13 points. The final defender is Christopher Samba of Blackburn Rovers, who only scored 11 points.
Joe Hart joins Malouda in featuring in the Squad of the Month for the second consecutive time, but he doesn't take the Goalkeeper of the Month award on his own with Birmingham City's Ben Foster joining the Manchester City man on 14 points. Hart is the top-scoring goalkeeper with 31 points at just £3.8 million, while Foster's three clean sheets see him move up to third in the 'keeper standings.
The only player to be removed from the squad this time was Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez. Like Bent and Jones he too scored 18 points but proved to be the odd man out due to his £10.8 million cost.