New boys Southampton get the once over today, along with the lower-mid table specialists in Stoke City. A few fantasy relevant players in each team…. but are they assured of a position?
Manager Nigel Adkins has toyed with a 4-3-2-1 and 4-3-3 formation, with the latter looking the most likely he’ll employ. This utilises the attacking power of Lallana and leaves Lambert as a lone striker… yummy!
The main battleground here is at Right-back, with Richardson really pressing Clyne for a starting spot. Hooiveld and Fonte look relatively unchallenged at CB, but given the Saints’ early rough draw I’d steer clear anyway. Fox looks like he is nailed on at LB.
Here’s where things could change a little. Cork and Davis should walk straight into the lineup. Cork featured prominently last year and Davis joined from Rangers’ where he captained… enough said. The third midfield spot could be taken by either Do Prado or Schneiderlin. Both are different players. Do Prado, a Brazilian winger, offers flair and pace through a midfield which would be distinctly lacking it with Cork and Davis more traditional centre mids. If Adkins doesn’t feel the need for more flair, he will probably anchor Schneiderlin between the two as a safety net. First up, especially away at Man City, this could be the case!
Although he’s listed as a fantasy mid, Lallana will occupy the left wing, and will probably play as a false winger where he drifts inside and plays more as an attacking mid. This is an extreeeemely tasty prospect, as it is essentially the same role Silva and at times Aguero plays at City. He will start, and will score well, but again- wait for the fixtures to clear up. Rodriguez is highly rated at the club, as shown by the 6 mil they splashed out for him. He’ll play further up the pitch, and play off of Lallana when he drifts inside, as he is more typically a forward. He will be solid, but I doubt he’ll outscore this next bloke. Lambert is the biggest lock of any of the teams. I’d bet millions on the fact that he’d start. Set piece taker, penalty taker, and clinical finisher. Again, fixtures are the issue, but don’t hestitate on putting him in the team as the year progresses!
Ok Southampton down, Stoke to go! A few fantasy relevant players are all shoe-ins for a start here.
I’m guessing Pulis will continue with the 4-4-1-1 system used so frequently last year. The team shouldn’t change too much from last campaign, with only a couple of incoming signings that don’t look that close to the first team (yet) .
With the hospitalisation of Huth with meningitis, it opens a door at CB. New signing Cameron would look favourite to take it, but however I’m tipping he won’t til the third week. He hasn’t played a pre-season game with Stoke yet, and has to leave to play for USA in a friendly in a couple of weeks. Therefore I think Upson will get the opportunity, and will essentially warm the spot until Cameron is ready. Wilson looks set to continue at full-back, however it’s on the other side we have a position battle. Shotton , known for his ridiculously long throws-ins, looks set to miss as Wilkinson should probably get the nod here, as he is technically a better defender. If they wan’t to attack more, they’ll pick Shotton, but playing away first week they should opt for Wilko.
Surprisingly little competition for places in the midfield, with Pennant and Etherington looking shoe-ins to continue on the flanks. In the centre, Whitehead and Whelan should maintain their partnership, with Delap and Palacios looking like depth players. The only way I can see this changing is if Walters moves back into the midfield, meaning Pennant would probably lose his spot… but he’s quite irrelevant anyway. Kightly looks like being a secondary winger, but could jump into the side later on in the season as he gains more time- a lack of pre-season with Stoke is enough for me to rule him out of a starting spot.
Anyone game enough to pick Crouch? His record is quite good, and he has played against all types of opponents….Having said that, he’s not for me. Walters is the man though, priced cheaply, and playing OOP (midfielder playing forward) coupled with his penalty duties, he’s very tempting for me right now. He will play, and I’m 90% sure it’ll be as a forward. If Pulis pulls him back to a flank though, expect Jerome or Jones to play in front of Crouch.
Another 2 down. Almost at the end! Just a quick note, there are things that have changed since my first Projected XI’s (i.e. Cazorla signing with Arsenal, Agbonlahor being ruled out with injury) So I will update ALL the teams 2-3 days out from the start of the season, so we have a more up to date look at what’s going on position wise! As always, check me out on twitter (@tseagrim) or follow the FPLaddicts official twitter (@FPLaddicts).