We’re back! Finally FPL has re-opened for the upcoming season and boy have we been shocked with the introduction of the new ‘chip’ element. To kick off my first article of the pre-season I will analyse the players who have jumped ship to join a rival team in the quest for more game time… Or money… Either or. Today we’ll start with Goalkeepers and Defenders.
Petr Cech (5.5) – 28.6% Ownership
In arguably the biggest move of the pre-season, perhaps excluding Raheem Sterling’s move to Manchester City, Petr Cech made a massive move from the blue side of London to the fierce rivals in red. After a very disappointing 2014/15 campaign where the veteran Cech played second fiddle to Thibaut Courtois, the Czech Republic International handed in a transfer request to his beloved blues, claiming that he still wants first team football and wasn’t quite prepared to warm the pine at this stage of his career. Enter Arsenal. After being strongly linked with Cech since he announced his desire to leave Chelsea, the Gunners snapped up Cech for just short of £11m, a bargain considering his wealth of experience and unequivocal class. Cech will no doubt be Arsenal’s number one option between the sticks, with Szczesny likely to provide back-up while Ospina moves on. Arsenal have a fairly kind opening month, facing West Ham, Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Newcastle. Aside from the Liverpool game these should be routine for Arsenal with the opportunity for a clean sheet well and truly on the cards. Investment in Cech is a solid option, evident in the fact that he is currently the most owned keeper thus far.
Artur Boruc (4.5) – 3.8% Ownership
After signing Fraser Forster last pre-season, Southampton demoted Boruc to back-up early last season before eventually shifting him out on loan to then-Championship side Bournemouth. After a successful league-winning season with the Cherries, Boruc made 37 appearances and kept 16 clean sheets, playing a key role in their success. Over the summer Boruc signed with Bournemouth permanently on a free, with the 35 year old adding some much needed Premier League experience to the squad. Bournemouth also signed Reading keeper Adam Federici over the off-season, adding confusion as to who will be the preferred option in goal – a tough one to call early with both players having experience in the top flight. Bournemouth have been dealt a reasonable opening month, drawing Aston Villa, Liverpool, West Ham and Leicester. Newly promoted teams are never good to rely on for clean sheets thus the selection of Boruc would not be advisable at this stage, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding who the preferred option between the sticks will be. Keep an eye on Bournemouth’s pre-season fixtures to see who is getting the nod if you’re adamant on selecting a Cherry in goal.
Shay Given (4.5) – 1.4% Ownership
Having sold Begovic to Chelsea over the pre-season, Stoke’s goalkeeper stocks were running low, with Butland the only notable option in goal. Having already signed Jakob Haugaard, the Potters invested in Aston Villa’s Shay Given for more depth in the squad. The 39 year old Republic of Ireland international arrived on a free from Aston Villa, having only featured 450 minutes in the past 3 seasons combined. Jack Butland looks primed for the number one role, meaning the acquisition of Given is purely for a back-up and teaching point of view. At 4.5m there are far better options out there and options with stronger job security. Pass.
Asmir Begovic (5.0) – 1.2% Ownership
Having sold Petr Cech to fierce rivals Arsenal, Chelsea were in desperate need of a back up for Thibaut Courtois. Having been linked with a move away from the Britannia for several years, Asmir Begovic finally moved on from the Potters, landing at the Champions from last season for around £8m. This move has frustrated many, with the argument that he will just rot away on the bench and play second fiddle to Courtois. This does seem the most likely outcome, which means investing in the Bosnian is extremely unadvisable. Unless Courtois suffers an injury throughout the season Begovic won’t play regular Premier League football, meaning he will be one to cross off the list of possible ‘keeper options’ heading into the upcoming season.
Nathaniel Clyne (5.5) – 41.1% Ownership
After two successful seasons in the past two years at Southampton, Nathaniel Clyne was always set for a move away from St Mary’s this Summer, with the destination strongly suggested to be in the red side of Manchester. However this wasn’t to be, with the fullback opting to join Liverpool instead, in a deal reportedly in the region of £12.5m. Clyne’s move away from Southampton only ads even more to the list of ex-Southampton turned Liverpool players, joining the likes of Lallana, Lambert, and Lovren. Over the past two seasons Clyne has been a prolific FPL defender, producing 242 points in the last two seasons, with 2 goals, 7 assists and 23 clean sheets during this time. Having moved to a ‘bigger’ club one would only expect this output to continue to exponentially increase no? Not necessarily! Liverpool proved last season to be a very unstable defensive unit, often leaking goals to lesser teams thus ruining their chance of a clean sheet bonus. Nothing has indicated that anything will change so as a result Clyne is personally out of consideration for my team. We shouldn’t rely on his attacking prowess for points returns, especially considering the fact he is a defender, thus there are better options out there in similar or cheaper price brackets. If Liverpool do however prove to be solid defensively then do not hesitate to bring him in. An opening month against Stoke, Bournemouth, Arsenal and West Ham certainly has the potential for a few clean sheets if they can indeed tighten up at the back.
Toby Alderweireld (5.0) – 13.9% Ownership
After spending last season on loan at Southampton from Atletico Madrid, Alderweireld has made a controversial move to White Heart Lane despite interest from Koeman and the Southampton board to retain his services on a permanent basis for the upcoming season and beyond. In his first season in the Premier League last year, Alderweireld partnered Jose Fonte in central defense in one of the most solid partnerships in the league. Alderweireld played 2261 minutes of Premier League football last season, scoring 1 goal and keeping 9 clean sheets for a grand total of 88 points. Looking ahead to next season, it would seem logical that he will slot straight into the Spurs starting XI alongside Jan Vertonghen but with Vlad Chiriches, Younes Kaboul, Eric Dier and Federico Fazio all capable of playing center half there is too much uncertainty surrounding his job security to consider him a viable option. Tottenham’s defensive record is nothing to write home about either, only producing 9 clean sheets last season. With an opening month producing Manchester United, Stoke, Leicester and Everton it will be a tricky start for the Spurs, so this will at least give us a chance to determine whether Alderweireld will be used as a first team regular.
Micah Richards (4.5) – 7.2% Ownership
After a disappointing 10 year stint at Manchester City, Micah Richards has finally moved on from the Etihad, signing with Aston Villa for four years on a free. The 27 year old struggled to cement a first team gig with the Citizens, with this reflected through his loaning out to Serie A outfit Fiorentina last season. Richards only made a disappointing 10 appearances for Fiorentina last season, failing to make an impact on the Italian side. Having now signed for Aston Villa the promise of regular first team football is seemingly assured for Richards, something he has craved for years. Richards has been priced fairly for the upcoming season, coming in at the 4.5m mark – quite a tasty prospect if Villa can tighten up at the back. That’s a big if however. Villa only managed 9 clean sheets last season but do have a fairly reasonable opening month, facing Bournemouth, Manchester Untied, Crystal Palace and Sunderland. Richards should have no problem with his job security, only facing competition from Leandro Bacuna and Kieran Richardson, both of which he should have the wood over. If Villa show any signs of a solid defense then certainly don’t hesitate to bring in Richards for your team. At the very least he could provide solid bench cover.
Kieran Trippier (5.5) – 3.5% Ownership
As a result of Burnley getting relegated back to the Championship last season, the usual exodus of players resulted in the hope of continuing to play at the highest level. One of these players was right back Kieran Trippier. The Englishman had a successful first stint in the Premier League last season, playing a total of 3415 minutes producing 4 assists and 10 clean sheets for a total of 118 overall points. Having made the move across to Spurs however, his price has risen fairly substantially to 5.5m which instantly makes him fairly easy to forget about considering Spurs’ defensive record and the abundance of better options for the same price. Not to forget the fact he will face stiff competition from Kyle Walker and Eric Dier plus new boy DeAndre Yedlin who will look to impress in his first proper season at the Lane. Not a solid option thus far this pre-season.
Sylvain Distin (4.5) – 3.0% Ownership
After a disappointing 2014/15 campaign with Everton last season, the 37 year old veteran has moved to newly promoted Bournemouth over the pre-season after featuring only 1080 minutes in the league. Figuring his career at Everton is practically over, Distin has joined Bournemouth to solidify their defense and add much needed Premier League experience ahead of a difficult upcoming season. Having moved away from Everton, Distin has been priced fairly at 4.5m for the season ahead – with 3% of the competition deciding that’s a good price. Bournemouth have an interesting start to the season, facing Aston Villa, Liverpool, West Ham and Leicester in the opening month, certainly leaving the opportunity for a clean sheet if they remain solid at the back. Last season the Cherries only conceded 45 goals, second only to Middlesbrough in the Championship last season. If Bournemouth can translate that sort of defending in the Premier League, seemingly a tough task, then Distin looms as a good prospect for our FPL squads – even if it is just as a bench warmer. Keep an eye out.
Glen Johnson (5.0) – 0.7% Ownership
After a campaign hampered by injury last season, or career more to the point, Glen Johnson has moved away from Liverpool, landing at the Britania on a free. The 30 year old has been not much more than a laughing stock in the Premier League over the past few years, overshadowing some of the good work he did during his time at Portsmouth early on in his career. The right back has been plagued by niggling injuries over the past 4 years, only managing an average of 2255 minutes played per season. Now at Stoke, Johnson presents himself in FPL as nothing more than an overpriced fullback in a Stoke side that has been nothing more than ordinary in defense over the past 2 seasons. Stoke only managed 9 clean sheets last campaign, a disappointing effort considering their previous dominance in defense in the past. Johnson should have no problem nailing down a starting XI in the Stoke line-up, but games against Liverpool, Tottenham, Norwich, West Brom and Arsenal in their opening 5 games of the season soon make Johnson’s prospects of a spot in our squads minimal. My advice would be to avoid. Sorry Glen.
Well that wraps up the first part of Transitioned Players for this pre-season. In the next addition I will cover the Midfielders and the Forwards. Also note that I have not included players that have remained at the teams they were at last season, like Robert Huth, Carl Jenkinson and Sebastian Coates, as they have either made their stay permanent (Huth and Coates) or have remained on loan (Jenkinson) I’ll be back for Part 2 soon, cheers!