Good day to you. How’s that Fantasy Football team looking? Maybe you are keeping your powder dry and waiting until the last moment to select your FPL team. I wish I was. Instead, there’s an itch I have to scratch and it involves chopping and changing this damn team by the hour. It passes the time, if nothing else.
With just two weeks to go, here’s my ramblings by position. The World Cup continues to cloud matters, so this is very much a short-term team in places. I just don’t see the point in taking a risk on the likes of Lukaku and Kane at this stage when they’ve had about 10 days holiday so far. It might all change, so keep an eye on manager comments over the rest of pre-season.
My preferred strategy last season for goalkeepers was to have one premium priced goalkeeper coupled with one of the cheapest on offer. That system is fine if one of the £4m priced goalkeepers is going to play, so we all loved Rob Elliot last year. I also had David de Gea all season, who was priced at £5.5m. He’s increased to £6m this season whilst there are no £4m-rated goalkeepers expected to start. I’m therefore leaning towards a £4.5m and a £5m goalkeeper, which gives far more options. At the moment I’m on Jordan Pickford (£5m) and Lukasz Fabianski (£4.5m).
I’m expecting Pickford to still be on a high after a strong World Cup showing despite a late return to pre-season, I don’t think that’s as important to goalkeepers. Everton start at Wolves before heading for 3 home games in 4 against non-elite teams so that seems like a sound investment. I don’t associate West Ham with defensive solidarity but with a new manager, things might change. Fabianski picked up lots of save points at Swansea and I expect more of the same here. There’s literally dozens of options in the £4.5m bracket which ideally, you’ll be able to dovetail home & away with your other goalkeeper. I’m particularly interested in seeing who starts in goal for Southampton, as all three of their options are £4.5m. This one will change many times.
As I alluded to at the end of the goalkeeper section, I’m not a big fan of having goalkeepers and defenders from the same team. Maybe I’m overly cautious but I feel like clean sheets are becoming a rare commodity so if my defenders have an outside chance of an attacking return too, then that would be just splendid. My first pick is risky but if Mourinho has had enough of bullying him, Luke Shaw at £5m could be a bargain. Ashley Young (£6m) is likely to displace him at some point but due to his England commitments, I expect he’ll be eased back in.
Alongside Shaw is Trent Alexander-Arnold, again a bit of a gamble as he was away with England though he barely played. At just £5m though, his attacking talents were there for all to see as he forced his way into the England squad. If it turns out he is getting a prolonged rest, both Clyne and Joe Gomez are £5m, so an easy switch if you can get news before the season starts. Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) is my next pick. Brighton don’t have the easiest start but at £4.5m he’s a threat from set pieces so as long as he cuts out the own goals, we’re laughing. Alongside him is Cedric (£4.5m) of Southampton. Mark Hughes’ men have a good run of fixtures to start with and if it’s not Cedric it might be one of the keepers, but that’s a good price for an International full-back. I like to have one of the cheapest defenders on offer to round off my back line, so on this occasion, I’ve chosen Scott Malone of Huddersfield (£4m). It was him or Wann-Bisaka of Crystal Palace. Neither are guaranteed a start but they will be 5th choice so hopefully never used. See Chancel Mbemba last season.
I’ve gone big in midfield due to the uncertainty surrounding Kane and Lukaku plus Arsenal’s horror start. I’m also not sure who will even be in Chelsea’s colours come August so I’ve opted for a slightly lighter front line with a beefy midfield. Mo Salah (£13m) is my first choice. There’s a lot to be said about whether he will hit the heights of last season but frankly, his first four games look quite tasty. Although Egypt disappointed in the summer, he still scored in both games he played which really sums him up – he seems to always find a way to score. I am tempted to go with Mane who is cheaper at £9.5m but he’s patchier than Salah and doesn’t take the penalties. Next up is Alexis Sanchez at £10.5m. I don’t even like him that much but with Rashford and Lukaku doubts, he’ll very probably start up front at home to Leicester, so let’s take a risk and hope his feet are now under the table at Old Trafford.
The big names keep coming. Leroy Sane at £9.5m had a great end to last season and was unfortunate to miss out on a World Cup spot, but Germany’s loss is our gain as the young man should be raring to go now. Man City obviously have a glut of attacking options but with many of them having a staggered return to training, Sane should be a sure thing. The three big hitters are backed up by Tom Cairney (£5m) and Aron Gunnarsson (£4.5m). Cairney was a class above for Fulham in the Championship whilst Gunnarsson is cheap but also has a mighty long throw-in which Neil Warnock will love. Arthur Masuaku is also £4.5m and worth considering. Neves (£5m) of Wolves also seems like a good option but I need to see how Wolves fit everybody into their lineup.
I’ve gone with Sergio Aguero at £11m. Man City start at Arsenal which isn’t easy by any means but the following 4 are a bit easier. Aguero tends to start a season well so if he’s fit and selected, it’ll all be fine. Obviously, the Pep rotation game is a worry with Gabriel Jesus waiting in the wings but Pep played the pair of them at the start of last season, so don’t rule that out either. He’s supported by Cenk Tosun and Wilfried Zaha (both £7m).
Tosun should start for Everton and with Richarlison arriving to support the front man, he may benefit from Marco Silva’s more attacking style. Then again, everything is more attacking compared to Big Sam. Zaha does everything for Palace and with a reasonable run of games to start off with, starting at Fulham, I think he’ll be good value. Firmino (£9.5m) is a good price for a premium striker whereas Lukaku (£11m) and Kane (£12.5m) are pricier if you want to get them regardless.
Looking at the line-ups of a lot of the Premier League teams in pre-season right now, things are going to get more complicated over the next few weeks. Just look at the team Man City played against Liverpool last night to see the extent of the problems. I’ll be back before the start of the season with an update but until then, keep on tinkering. Good luck.