Verdicts on the pre-season form players – part one


Pre-season is coming to an end and we have a plethora of players who’ve quickly left the beach behind to hit some early form. The question is: should this form sway us to select them in our teams? In part one of this two-part series, I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and delivered my verdict on each of these teases.

Edin Dzeko

The lanky Bosnian scored 4 goals in his last 4 games, including a brace against AC Milan.

Dzeko has a new lease of life under Manuel Pellegrini, to such an extent that the new boss recently hinted that Dzeko is his first choice striker.

“We could have signed other players but I consider [Dzeko] the main striker of the team and I’m sure his performance along the season will be really good.”

With Sergio Aguero struggling for fitness and having not featured in pre-season yet, the main threat to Dzeko right now is from Alvaro Negredo, whose game rivals that of Dzeko’s to lead the line in City’s 4-2-3-1 formation.

Pellegrini trialled a 4-4-2 in the weekend’s friendly defeat to Arsenal, with Dzeko and Negredo leading the line. But it was soon abandoned at half-time, with Dzeko making way for Navas, a sure sign that a Dzeko-Negredo pairing may not happen that often.

Many Fantasy managers will give both Dzeko and Negredo a wide berth, certainly until we know who really is first choice, but Dzeko is firmly on my watchlist, particularly after Pellegrini’s comments. His valuation of just 7.5 makes him hard to ignore.

Let’s be realistic, though: rotation with Negrado and co is inevitable. But Dzeko showed last season that he doesn’t need a full 90 minutes to make an impact.

Many Fantasy managers will gamble on Dzeko starting the opening games, particularly with Newcastle and Hull at home and Cardiff away in the first three.

For now, I’m just weighing up whether the potential for early goals outweighs the inevitable frustration of seeing him on the bench from time to time.

lago Aspas

Liverpool’s new number 9 from Celta Vigo notched 4 goals whilst leading the line in the absence of Sturridge and Suarez.

With Sturridge just returning and only having 45 minutes of pre-season action, it’s debatable whether he’ll start the opener against Stoke, particularly considering that Rodgers has shown caution in the past with Sturridge’s fitness.

Aspas could continue in the central role for the opener then, but despite playing centrally for Celta Vigo last season, the Spaniard is equally adept at playing wide, a position he’ll surely move to when Sturridge returns.

At a reasonable 7.0, the Spaniard looks great value for Liverpool’s opening fixture at home to Stoke, particularly if you can’t afford the talents of Coutinho or Gerrard.

Talk of a move for Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid’s explosive striker, could put Aspas’s place in danger when (or if) Suarez returns, but he looks a shrewd pick in the meantime.

Michu

Last season’s phenomenon netted 5 pre-season goals, including a competitive strike against Malmo in the Europa League qualifying round.

Michu’s opening fixtures do put me off though, with Swansea’s first 6 games including home clashes against Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal and tricky trips to Spurs and West Brom.

The Spaniard opens up against Man United, a side he scored against home and away last season, so he’s fixture proof to a certain extent.

At 9.0, though, and with those fixtures, I’d want to think long and hard before drafting Michu into my initial line-up.

Christian Benteke

The giant Belgian returned to action with 7 goals in 4 games since withdrawing his transfer request.

While trips to Arsenal and Chelsea and the visit of Liverpool would usually have us running a mile, the double Gameweek 1 against the two London clubs sways me back towards Aston Villa’s marksman.

The striker market in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is littered with players who aren’t guaranteed starters for their clubs, so opting for Benteke, a nailed on starter, over the likes of Dzeko, Negredo and Lukaku is a hassle-free prospect.

I’ve always been a fixtures man, but add in Benteke’s spot-kick duties and we have someone who is pushing hard for a place in my team.

With a blank Gameweek 3, though, an exit strategy on Benteke may be required. Man City host Hull that Gameweek and West Ham host Stoke. A switch to Andy Carroll (if fit) may work. Or maybe by then we’ll know who is first choice for Man City, allowing a switch to Dzeko or Negredo.