Is everyone ready? It’s taken nearly three months to come around but the new Premier League season is upon us. Last minute tinkering is rife as we all squeeze the very last drops we can out our 100m budget squads with the aim to be crowned champions of our mini leagues come next May.
It’s been no different for All Things FPL. We’ve checked out all the pre-season action, consulted the season ticker, stats and even referred to our publications for inspiration. The net result is a squad made by us from the content published for you. One thing for sure is you can’t say we haven’t endorsed our own tips and picks. Enough with the ramblings. . .
There’s only one place to start and that’s between the sticks as we select our old 4.5m favourite; Ben Foster. Price is a big factor here as we go cheap and cheerful with our glove men but it’s not the sole reason with West Brom’s early fixtures some of the best around. Starting at home to Bournemouth, Foster and co could get out the traps early with their no nonsense brand of football.
Protecting Foster is Jack Stephens of Southampton who has been selected as a makeshift big hitter due to Southampton’s upcoming schedule. Starting with three home games in four, their new man at the helm Mauricio Pellegrino arrives with a reputation for keeping it tight at the back from his Alaves days. Alongside the young Englishman is Ben Davies of Spurs. Originally pencilled to be Kieran Trippier we have simply swapped flanks to get involved with of one the best defence over the last two seasons – 30 clean sheets registered – and at a price point that doesn’t break the bank.
Completing the defence is Bournemouth’s club captain Simon Francis who is one part of our top ranking trio rotation. Away to West Brom a dull goalless draw would suit us down to the ground.
In midfield we begin to spend the money we’ve reserved from our budget friendly defence starting with Kevin De Bruyne. The safest selection from the wealth of talent on show at Manchester City, we’re expecting the ballhawk to push on this season as Manchester City go in search of the Premier League crown, something that with the amount of money spent at the Etihad Stadium is almost a mandatory for Pep Guardiola to call this season successful. Away to new boys Brighton & Hove Albion, it’s hard to see anyone forcing a shut out against the mite of attacking wealth at City’s disposal this campaign and if we are correct in that De Bruyne will be pulling the final third strings, expect the Belgian to pass the 200 point mark.
Sadio Mane before travelling to the African Cup of Nations and subsequently picking up an injury on return to curtail the majority of the second half of last season was showing devastating form in a Liverpool shirt. 13 goals and 7 assists in 27 appearances goes some way in depicting that as Mane’s ability to get inside the opposition box was rewarded. Alongside our two big hitters in the middle of the park is Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace. Home to Huddersfield on the opening weekend, Zaha enjoyed his best season in the top flight last timeout and is expected to push on further under the tutelage of Frank de Boer while completing the starting midfield is Brighton’s summer signing Pascal Gross. The creative dynamo enters the Premier League after registering the most key passes (92) by anyone in the Bundesliga and priced at just 5.5m, if that level of creativity can be replicated, the price looks a bargain to be had.
Hands up if you don’t have Romelu Lukaku in your squad? Nearly half of us do and for good reasons. Goals in pre-season, opportunity expected to grow in a Manchester United shirt, Beastmode’s 22.7% goal conversion in an Everton shirt if replicated will see the forward easily surpass the 25 goal mark. Home to West Ham it’s also encouraging to note that the Hammers are Lukaku’s favourite opposition having scored 9 and setup a further 4 in 12 appearances against the East London club, making our captain selection a rather easy one to begin with.
Hands up if you don’t have Harry Kane in your squad? Ok, his ownership isn’t quite as high as the Manchester United man above but the combination of it and Kane’s track record, makes him a nailed on prospect for us. Away to Newcastle the Spurs forward can break his August goal voodoo with the hosts admitting they are lacking in certain areas due to the lack of transfer activity. Picture this; Kane picks up where he left off and scores a brace? What will non-owners do to find the money? Equally what if Kane fails? Well while it might hurt the overall rankings, it’s much easier downgrading to the hot hand than the other way around.
Completing the starting XI is Southampton’s Manolo Gabbiadini as Southampton host Swansea City. The Italian started life in the Premier League like a train and at 7.0m, we feel there’s value within that price if the former Napoli man can demonstrate his football talents once more.
Following our cheap goalkeeper policy, Rob Elliot is supporting the Baggies’ number one while the second and third parts to our trio rotation is Younes Kaboul of Watford and Kyle Naughton of Swansea City. Finally our fifth midfielder is another Swansea man in Tom Carroll who looks the safest 4.5m option within this season’s market.