Thanks to Andrew (Finished top 10k last season) for putting his hand up to write our previews for the year, get around him!
It’s finally here. If you haven’t already, cook the Mrs a nice dinner and give it to her bluntly. Your fantasies belong to something a little different for the next 9 months!
The first gameweek in any season is a little bit of a gamble. No less than a quarter of the Premier League’s clubs have changed managers and some of them are bound to feel the heat! Us fantasy managers have only the pre-season friendlies to draw on when pondering those ever important selections. Just to complicate things a little further, Chelsea and Aston Villa have a Double Gameweek, giving us a lot to think about…
Chelsea vs Hull
Chelsea : Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Ramires, Van Ginkel, Schurlle, Hazard, Oscar, Lukaku
Hull: McGregor, Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Figueroa, Meyler, Koren, Brady, Aluko, Graham, Sagbo
Alright, let’s get down to business. You’re all here because you want to know the best picks for each gameweek. Where better to start, than with Chelsea who have a double gameweek. The return of Mourinho sees the home team take on Hull City at Stamford Bridge. This could means goals galore for the home side, but tread carefully… I see definite clean sheet potential for the Blues and with the rotation nightmares that come with the Stamford Bridge side, Ashley Cole at 6.5 is nailed on. With a DGW, the first name on your teamsheet should be Hazard’s. Give him the armband! I see 2 or 3 goals in this for Chelsea, so Lukaku at 8.0 could be a decent punt if he gets the game time, which I predict him to do.
Hull aren’t known for their attacking prowess and with 61 goals for and 52 against last season, may not be the best defensively either. They do, however, offer some cheap players that we all need to create a squad with some big hitters. McGregor in goals may offer you the opportunity to pick up save points. Robert Koren ended last season as the Tiger’s top scorer with 9 goals. With set pieces in his locker and a possible role in “the hole”, his price tag of 5.0 is appealing.
Liverpool vs Stoke
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Agger, Toure, Enrique, Allen, Gerrard, Lucas, Aspas, Sturridge, Coutinho
Stoke: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters, Walters, Whelan, N’Zonzi, Etherington, Adam, Crouch
Expect a low scoring affair with Liverpool edging it at home. Stoke have very little to speak of in terms of attacking prospects, so Toure at 5.0 looks good value. An excellent preseason puts Coutinho into the mix. At 9.0 he may be a little overpriced, but recent comments from Rodgers suggest he may be shifted to a role “in the hole”. Keep an eye on Sturridge at 9.0. He’s picked up his fitness and should be back in contention.
Arsenal vs Aston Villa
Arsenal: Szczesny, Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Jenkinson, Walcott, Ramsey, Rosicky, Podolski, Wilshere, Giroud
Ason Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Baker, Vlaar, Luna, Westwood, Tonev, Delph, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor
The Gunners should run out victors at home with Giroud (8.5) and Walcott (9.5) leading the attack. Giroud banged in 8 goals during preseason and looks in fine form. He’s on my team sheet. Theo has a little niggle, but should be fine to start. Koscielny and Mertesacker at 5.5 are your best bets in the defence, however I can see Benteke sneaking one past them. Benteke also has the chance to get on the score sheet with a game at Stamford Bridge, so he’s a definite option at 9.0. Cazorla may find himself on the bench after returning late from Spain’s match in Ecuador and Sagna looks a doubt with an ankle problem. My prediction, 2-1 to Arsenal.
Norwich vs Everton
Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, R Bennett, Turner, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Olsson, Hoolahan, van Wolfswinkel
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Barkley, Fellaini, Osman, Mirallas, Jelavic, Pienaar
Norwich suffered a setback in pre-season with the injury to their new recruit Hooper, leaving him unlikely for GW1. This put Ricky van Wolfswinkel in the driving seat for the Norwich attack. My money is on Snodgrass to be the stand out player for the Canaries this season. At 6.5 and the majority of attacking play going through him, he has the opportunity to really stake his claim this season..
Predicting how Everton will do this season could be a bit tricky, with a new manager at the helm, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether they will offer the same value as seasons past. Mirallas is classified as a midfielder this season and if he can avoid the hamstring injury that allowed him only 23 starts last season, could be this season’s Michu. He’s playing out of position as a forward and with 4 goals in the warm up matches, looks to be the inform player for the Toffees. Norwich play well at home, so Baines at 7.5 could be a bit of a luxury. Coleman at 5.0 is perfect. If Martinez rolls out a 3-4-3 formation, the Irishman will feature on the right hand side of the midfield and will offer plenty opportunity to pick up points for assists. Barkley will fill in for the injured Gibson. My prediction, 2-1 to Norwich.
Sunderland vs Fulham
Sunderland: Mannone, O’Shea, Roberge, Cuellar, Colback, Giaccherini, Larsson, Cabral, Johnson, Sessegnon, Altidore
Fulham: Stekelenburg, Rieter, Amorbieta, Hangeland, Richardson, Duff, Sidwell, Boateng, Rodallega, Ruiz, Berbatov
From a fantasy perspective, this may prove to be a dull fixture. Neither side offers too much defensively, although Cuellar at 4.5 may prove to be good value. Should Mannone lock down the keeper position, he could be a nice option at 4.5 as well. Up front, Sessegnon seems to be the best bet. With a price tag of 7.0 and a 5 goal haul in preseason, he’s shown glimpses of the form that saw him as an essential 2 seasons ago. Darren Bent has just signed for Fulham, but it may be a little too late to break into the side for this weekend’s game.
We don’t have too many options in the Fulham side either. Berbatov up front will always keep us guessing as to whether he’ll be consistent or not. If you have him on a good day, you’ll be smiling. At 7.5 it’s quite tricky finding a slot for him with all the other alternatives in the same price range. My prediction, 1-1.
West Brom vs Southampton
West Brom; Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Dorrans, Yacob, Mulumbu, Morrison, Long, Anelka
Southampton: Boruc, Chambers, Hooiveld, Lovren, Shaw, Do Prado, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert
Again, not too much to write home about here. West Brom have brought in the 34 year old Nicolas Anelka in the off season and at 5.5, could worm his way into our thinking should we opt to go with the likes of RVP and need to make up the extra budget somewhere. Wait and see on the defence.
Southampton offer us a few more options. Kind opening fixtures should see Lambert on the scoresheet. With set pieces and penalties in his locker, he may well prove to be as valuable as he was last season. For those looking for a cheaper alternative into the Saints attack, Rodriguez and Lallana at 6.0 are excellent options. Both Shaw and Clyne are at risk of not being fit for the opener. My prediction, 1-1 draw.
West ham vs Cardiff
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Collins, Reid, Rat, Morrison, Nolan, Noble, Cole, Vaz Te, Jarvis
Cardiff: Marshall, Connolly, Caulker, Turner, John, Whittingham, Medel, Kim Bo-Kyung, Smith, Campbell, Bellamy
The Hammers should be too strong at home for Cardiff. Andy Carroll is in a race against time to be fit for the opening fixture. He looks a major doubt with a heel problem so we need to look at the likes of Nolan and Jarvis for attacking alternatives. Nolan at 7.0 has shown that he can be explosive at times and Jarvis will be hoping to regain a bit of form that saw him as a favourite with Wolves 2 seasons ago.
Cardiff make their way into England’s top-flight for the first time in 50 years. Kim in the midfield offers us a nice cut price option at 5.0. Bellamy’s experience and fair share of corners and free kicks may also prove to be enticing should the new comers hit the ground running. I can see a clean sheet for the Hammers and at least 1 goal.
Swansea vs Man United
Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies, Routledge, Britton, Shelvey, Hernandez, Michu, Bony
Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Zaha, Cleverley, Carrick, Giggs, Welbeck, van Persie
This could prove to be an extremely tricky opening fixture for the former champions. A trip to the Liberty Stadium is never easy and the Swans have made some good signings. I can see a 1-1 draw here. Last season’s Dutch player of the year, Wilfried Bony comes in at 8.0 and with 31 goals from 30 league matches last year, will be the one to watch. Partnering with Michu upfront, his appeal will take a bit of a knock due to the tough start handed to the Welsh side. At 9.0, Michu still offers value playing in “the hole” and may become essential once his fixtures ease up from GW8.
United don’t exactly have kind fixtures either. Robin Van Persie will take a huge chunk of your budget at 14.0. It’s up to you to decide whether you can do without him and spread the wealth. I wouldn’t bother too much with the United defence at this stage.
Crystal Palace vs Tottenham
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Dobbie, Garvan, Jedinak, Grandin, Gayle, Williams
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose, Lennon, Paulinho, Dembele, Chadli, Sigurdsson, Soldado
With Bale’s absence, we may just find some other gems in the Spurs side. New signing, Soldado joins the Spur’s attack at 9.5. The Spurs side has been crying out for a decent forward signing and the Spanish striker could be exactly what you’re looking for. A fairly kind run of opening fixtures will definitely tempt me. Siggurdsson at 7.0 could be an interesting selection. Should the former Swansea signing find himself playing in “the hole” with set pieces in his locker, he may be an excellent alternative. I think this may be the upset of the weekend though, with Palace holding Spurs to a draw. If you’re keen to take a chance on the Eagle’s defence, stick in Gabbidon at 4.0.
Man City vs Newcastle
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Navas, Y Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Jovetic, Dzeko
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon, Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Sissoko, Cisse
City have been offered the perfect start to the season, although picking the best players to include in your side is a nightmare! Dzeko has been in sublime preseason form, netting 4 times. At 7.5 he is very appealing and may be the best way into City’s attack. Pellegrini however, has brought in Alvaro Negredo and Steven Jovetic to add to the already impressive strikeforce. The newcomers come in at 9.5 and will give you some serious rotation headaches. Silva may be the best attacking option for the Citizens. His game time is more assured and should he replicate the form he showed 2 seasons ago, will be a steal at 9.0. Zabaleta’s attacking potential will see him as a favourite at 6.0, provided Micah Richards doesn’t start stealing his game time. City should walk this one in, at least 3-0.
Chelsea v Aston Villa
Finally the mid week clash featuring the two teams playing double. I’ll update the predicted line-ups and predictions once the first 10 games have been completed and injury/fitness concerns are updated. Just note that Azpilicueta should be ready for the Blues at RB by this stage, whilst guys like Luiz and Mata will hopefully be fully fit. Aston Villa shouldn’t change things too much.
So that’s it for our first preview of the year! A massive thanks to Andrew for putting this together, we’re glad to have him on board! Keep an eye out for Nick’s final news wrap of the press conferences tomorrow morning before we close in on the forever anticipated first deadline! Beware that the site has crashed in the last 24 hours before deadline previously, so make sure you have you’re teams ready ASAP! Cheers.