Six teams with opening fixtures packed with potential
The tinkering is in full swing. Fantasy Premier League (FPL) squads have been assembled then quickly disassembled as new ideas appeal more.
Some might be tempted by punts on the likes of new boys Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) and Fabio Borini (Liverpool), but do these lads have the platform to start on fire? I’m not so sure.
Sometimes it’s good to keep things simple and go back to basics. Simply look at the opening fixtures of your fantasy targets.
These aren’t the only teams with good fixtures, but below are six teams we might want to bear in mind.
|1||West Ham (A)|
Aston Villa’s opening fixtures give Paul Lambert a decent platform to start well.
I’d be more inclined to look at Villa’s attacking options, instead of defensive ones.
Villa’s defensive record last season was poor (9 clean sheets and 53 goals conceded), while Paul Lambert’s Norwich played great attacking football but had an even worse defensive record (3 clean sheets and 66 goals conceded).
The likes of Charles N’Zogbia (6.5m), Gabby Agbonlahor (7m), and Darren Bent (8.5m) are considerations, among others, though Agbonlahor and Bent are to miss a couple of weeks of pre-season through injury.
Word of warning though: Lambert rotated his Norwich squad very heavily last season, making it extremely difficult to pick Norwich players with confidence. Unfortunately Villa may go the same way.
|1||Wigan (A) / Reading (H)|
Chelsea’s opening fixtures were already good, but their double gameweek means Chelsea coverage looks essential.
The blank in gameweek 3 is a slight annoyance, but good games before and after this make 2 or 3 Chelsea players a wise plan.
You can always transfer one out before the blank week if you are struggling for a decent team.
The likes of Peter Cech (6.5m), John Terry (7m), Ashley Cole (6.5m), Edin Hazard (9.5m), Juan Mata (9.5m) and Fernando Torres (10m) will surely be in most people’s thoughts.
Some may fancy a punt on Frank Lampard at a reasonable 9m – myself included. We just need to see if he will start games.
|2||Man United (A)|
|3||West Ham (A)|
|4||West Brom (H)|
Fulham face both Manchester clubs in their first 6 games, but aside from that, their first 10 fixtures are pretty amazing.
Coverage at the back comes from old favourites Mark Schwarzer (5m) and Brede Hangeland (5m), while John Arne Riise, who was unlucky not to score more attacking points last season, has taken a small price drop and looks pretty tempting at 5.5m.
Clint Dempsey (9.5m) would normally be a shoo-in for lots of fantasy squads, but his Fulham future is unclear. His fitness is also a worry, with Martin Jol revealing that Dempsey is a few weeks away from full fitness.
New strikers Hugo Rodallega (6m) and Mladen Petric (6m) could be affective third striker punts if they settle into Craven Cottage life fast.
At the time of writing, Petric has already notched 4 pre-season goals, though Rodallega is struggling with injury and is also a few weeks away from fitness.
|2||West Ham (H)|
|4||Aston Villa (A)|
While there’s questions over how Swansea will fare under Michael Laudrup, their opening fixtures look decent, and one or two Swansea players may be worth it.
They also have a couple of home games against Reading and Wigan in Gameweeks 7 and 8.
I’m more inclined to look towards Swansea’s attack than defence, even though Swansea racked up 14 clean sheets last term.
All of Swansea’s defenders have incurred price rises to 5m, while Vorm is up to 5.5m. Can they replicate the solidity of last season and justify that value? The jury is out.
The Swansea squad is ever changing right now, and we’ll have to pick carefully.
Scott Sinclair, even on penalty duties, looks expensive at 7m, while Joe Allen (5.5m), is being linked with a move away from the club.
Last season’s budget favourite Nathan Dyer (5.5m) could well be a bench player this season.
New signings Jonathan de Guzman (6m) and Michu (6.5m) will need monitoring in pre-season, but could offer potential if they settle quickly into English football.
Danny Graham (6m) up front is always an option, but the likes of Pavel Pogrebnyak (5m) and Ricky Lambert (6m) are likely better options for the cheap striker position.
|2||West Brom (H)|
Andre Villas-Boas (AVB) has a dream bunch of fixtures to start banishing the painful memories of his time at Chelsea.
Attacking coverage from Tottenham looks almost essential to me, and Bale (9.5m), Van der Vaart (9m) and even Gylfi Sigurdsson (9m) will be eyed up by many fantasy managers.
Things are looking a little sparse up front, but Emmanuel Adebayor at 9.5m will leap out if he completes a permanent switch from Man City.
Things are a little up in the air at the back. Full backs Kyle Walker (6.5m) and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (6.5m) look a little pricey now, especially as we don’t know how solid Spurs will be under AVB. Both offer lots of attacking potential though.
Brad Friedel (5.5m) is reasonably priced and secure, but Younes Kaboul (5.5m) and Michael Dawson (5m) will likely compete for a place alongside new signing Jan Vertonghen (6.5m), who is a prospect in himself.
|1||Aston Villa (H)|
West Ham’s opening fixtures are the best of the three promoted clubs.
In fact their fixtures continue to flourish right into the first 10 gameweeks, including a home tie against Southampton, and trips to QPR and Wigan.
Sleno’s review on West Ham covers all you need to know about who to pick from their squad.
I’d say there are two or three bargains in there, and one or two West Ham players might not be such a bad idea!