We're eight weeks into the Premier League season, and Liverpool has opened up an eight-point gap at the top of the table following Manchester City's 2-0 loss at home to Wolves on Sunday. That was a defeat that stunned many Premier League fans and fantasy managers, myself included. Still, the title race is far from over. If fact, there are still 30 matchweeks left to play. So, now that we've reached the October international break, it feels like a good time to look back at the 2019-20 season thus far, and take stock of what we've learned.
Here are my five biggest takeaways, from a fantasy perspective:
Liverpool isn't this good
Liverpool continued its perfect start to the season -- eight games, eight wins -- with a 2-1 victory over Leicester City on Saturday. It was well a deserved victory, as Liverpool outshot Leicester 18-2, winning in terms of xG (expected goals) 3.83-0.12. That said, they still needed a penalty in the 95th minute to get the three points. That close call came on the heels of last week's 1-0 win at Sheffield United, where the sole tally came thanks to a goalkeeping howler.
Don't get me wrong, Liverpool is very, very good. However, this is also a team that has gotten a little lucky. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have been solid, if not spectacular, with five and four goals, respectively. Liverpool's top performer this season has arguably been defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is second in the league in chances created with 28, one behind Kevin De Bruyne.
Manchester City isn't that bad
Speaking of De Bruyne, he missed Man City's loss to Wolves due to injury and his team clearly missed him. De Bruyne has been sensational so far this season, with eight assists and 29 chances created in seven games, plus a pair of goals. De Bruyne has twice as many assists as any other player in the league.
There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about Man City defensively. They've already conceded nine goals, and are only sixth-best in the league in terms of xG conceded at 10.58. However, offensively -- especially at full strength -- they remain the best team in the league. The team has scored 27 goals, seven more than anyone else, and sit No. 1 in xG by a wide margin, too. Sergio Aguero is tied for the league lead with eight goals and is also the league-leader in shots with 30. Raheem Sterling is not far behind him, with six goals on 25 shots.
Arsenal and Chelsea are pretty good
Arsenal moved up to third, just one point behind Man City, following their 1-0 win over Bournemouth on Sunday. Chelsea sits in fifth, one point behind Arsenal, after their 4-1 win at Southampton. For fantasy purposes, though, I'm a little more excited about Chelsea.
Chelsea has already scored 18 goals (ranking third behind Man City and Liverpool) and the team is third in xG as well. Tammy Abraham is level with Aguero on eight goals and second behind Aguero in shots with 26. Mason Mount is also just outside the top 10 in terms of fantasy points, but I'm not sold on him just yet. Mount already has four goals this season, but only scored nine in 38 appearances for Derby County in the Championship last year. I need to see more.
As for Arsenal, they've scored 13 goals, with seven of them coming from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has also taken 25 shots. He's the only Arsenal player I'm excited about right now, fantasy-wise.
Tottenham and Manchester United are pretty bad
Tottenham has fallen all the way down to ninth place, following a 3-0 defeat at Brighton on Saturday. Manchester United has been even worse, now in 12th after their 1-0 loss at Newcastle. Yikes! At least Tottenham has scored 14 goals, although they're sixth-worst in the league in xG at 10.69. Harry Kane has five of those goals -- on just 24 shots, which is not bad, but not great, either. He only took one shot against Brighton, the fourth time in eight league games this season that he's taken one shot or fewer.
Manchester United has only scored nine goals. They're actually seventh in the league in xG at 12.78, but that number is inflated by the fact that they've already had four penalty kicks this season. No other team has taken more than two. Marcus Rashford has scored only three goals, and two of them came on the opening weekend. He's also scored just once from open play. The only Manchester United player to crack the top 30 in fantasy points so far this season is defender Harry Maguire -- and barely so.
Is Leicester City best of the rest?
Despite being dominated statistically by Liverpool this past weekend, Leicester City is still fancied by many to break up the "Big Six" this season. Some pundits think that the team could even crack the top four. Leicester is currently in fourth place, level on points with Chelsea. The team has scored 14 goals and conceded just seven, Only Liverpool (6) have seen fewer balls hit the back of the net.
However, if you dig a little deeper, there are some concerns, particularly from a fantasy perspective. Leicester is indeed third-best in xG conceded, so the defense looks legit. Offensively, though, they're second-to-last in xG at 8.92. Only Newcastle (6.35) has fared worse. Jamie Vardy has scored five goals, but only taken 13 shots, an average of 1.6 per game. No other player on the squad has scored more than twice. Leicester has played a relatively tough schedule, with four of their first eight fixtures against "Big Six" clubs. With eight of their next nine games coming outside of that elite set of opponents, let's wait and see if that won't lead to an uptick in offensive production.