Our projected XI series is back! I will be covering the best lineups for all 20 clubs over the next 20 days, starting today with the Gunners. I know I know, AFC Bournemouth are ahead on alphabetical order. I will be leaving the 3 newly promoted teams until the final 3 days as I need to learn more about them during pre-season. Let’s get into it!
REMEMBER. These teams are what I believe to be a teams best line-up. They are by no means 100% accurate, hence they are predicted XI’s. They are not necessarily the XI’s that will line-up in GW1, however I won’t include long-term injuries.
Cech. That’s all you need to know, I can’t see both Ospina and Szczesny staying at the club, neither will get first team football unless Cech gets injured/suspended.
Koscielny is the only Arsenal defender I would confidently select. He is awesome value at 6.0, the Gunners defence will be solid (especially at home). Mertesacker had a shocking season last year, as an Arsenal fan I wouldn’t mind seeing Gabriel start more consistently. Avoid both. Monreal is just ahead of Gibbs in my eyes, but it could go either way. Both are injury prone and should be avoided. Bellerin had the right back role to himself last season, however Debuchy is once again fully fit. It’s another toss up as to who will start, I can see them rotating at the start of the season until one becomes a lock. Once again avoid both!
There’s so much competition in this squad if it’s fully fit! I would be stunned if Wenger refuses to buy a defensive midfielder, it would mean Arteta is second in line. Horrific. Arsenal’s season hangs on Coquelin maintaining his form. At this stage he will get 2 points every week, priced at 4.5. As for the second central mid, it’s a complete guessing game. Cazorla is coming off a brilliant season in 2014/15. Santi formed a formidable partnership in the middle of the park with Coquelin towards the end of last season. There are times in big games when he doesn’t convince me, but this is where he is likely to be played when he starts. This role limits the impact he can make in open play, although he should be on penalty duties. Ramsey and Wilshere (Fit again, but for how long?) will also fight for that central mid position, it’s a toss up at this stage as to who gets it. Cazorla looks to be in front at this stage. One is bound to get injured, at the moment you can’t pick any with total confidence. I’m confident Ozil will be given his preferred central role behind the striker, but depending on the fixture he could be shifted out wide. This would likely see Cazorla play the number 10 role. Ozil is the only player who is guaranteed to start of Arsenal’s central mids and looks decent value at 8.5. Beware, he is priced in that bracket for a reason. Avoid the rest.
On the flanks, I see Oxlade-Chamberlain as a starter if he maintains his form and fitness. Wenger loves his work rate and he was a lock in Arsenal’s starting XI’s last season before his injury. The man who will peak many managers interest is Walcott. He is unbelievable value at 9.0, however I think his role in Arsenal’s best XI is up front. He will be fighting it out against Giroud for the striker role, if Walcott wins out he is an absolute lock. Wenger seems reluctant to start him on the wing so his job security is questionable, although he could be trialed at left wing in Sanchez’s absence to start the season.
Sanchez is your safest Arsenal option, and I can only see him getting better. He will play on the left wing with the ability to cut inside. He can also fill in at striker or drop slightly deeper. He can even play on the right, whatever happens he will start! Alexis is set to miss the opening few games however. My tip is that Ozil will play on the left and Cazorla will play in behind the striker. I’m not sure it helps Walcott start.
Giroud is the only relevant Arsenal forward, Welbeck is just there as back-up. However at 9.0 I’m far from convinced. The battle between himself and Walcott will be fascinating. One thing is for sure, I don’t think Wenger will play Giroud week in week out. My tip is that Walcott will start more often than not, with Giroud being utilised if the Gunners need a physical presence. Keep an eye on how they set-up during pre-season. Either way I’d avoid Oli.
Here are my thoughts on their most relevant players:
50/50 – I wish I could lock in Walcott without hesitation. I think he has matured and is finally ready to fulfil the potential that he has always promised. You only have to look at his 2012/13 season when he scored 14 and assisted 13, scoring 194 points in 32 appearances to know what he’s capable of. I don’t think Giroud is good enough to lead the line, it’s Walcott’s role if he can find form early in the season. Watch list for sure!
Lock – I can’t plan my squad without having a way to get Sanchez in as soon as he’s fit. He can go well beyond the 16 goals and 8 assists that made him the second best midfielder last season. Alexis is more of a forward and 20 goals is certainly on the cards this season. Watch out!
Breakout – The Ox could be an awesome selection if he starts consistently (and stays fit!). He is a risky option due to his job security, but I still have him on my watch list. This is his year to finally step up, at 6.0 he represents good value for his potential.
Avoid: Cazorla had an awesome season last year, however he dropped off at times. With Ramsey and Wilshere both fully fit, he faces stiff competition for his CM position. Even if he does win out, it’s not really an fpl friendly role. He may battle it out with Ozil to play ‘in the hole’, but if Arsenal’s wingers stay fit he will lose that battle. As things stand, he needs to be avoided.
There you have it! One down, nineteen to go… I’ll be back tomorrow with a preview of Aston Villa’s line-up. We’re going to be pumping out the articles from now on, stay tuned for more great info. It’s going to be a massive pre-season, and an even bigger year! See you all tomorrow.