After weeks of continuous chopping and changing, gameweek one is now upon us. Teams are set in place and transfers now come at a price (welcome news for some!). Up and down the country there will already be people regretting not putting “x” or “y” in their team despite no fixtures actually taking place yet. Who would have thought a simple game would have the potential to mess with peoples’ heads in such a fashion.
Welcome to the world of Fantasy Football.
I am writing this a day before the first deadline, if only to prevent myself from meddling with my team any further and in a way to attempt to justify to myself that I have made the right choices. I have lost count of the number of players that have graced my starting line-up, but I can safely say there a fair few that slipped by the wayside who I may soon come to reconsider.
Anyone who has been following my Fantasy Football posts may have seen my first one about my initial draft. As predicted, my team has changed a fair bit since then. In fact 9/15 players are now different, and several more may change in the upcoming gameweeks. For now, however, this is how my team looks for the beginning of the season:
Goalkeepers (£9.5 million)
This is an area of the pitch that I haven’t really changed much. I opted against one of the £5.5 million offerings to save a little extra money and instead went with Mignolet (Liverpool) as my main goalkeeper. At £5 million and as one of the top point-scorers from last season he seemed to be a good choice.
My back-up goalkeeper is one that I changed. With £4.5 million as my budget, I wanted to find a goalkeeper that would make consistent appearances for their club. My first choice was Boruc (AFC Bournemouth) but with wavering doubts over Bournemouth’s defence and the competition amongst their goalkeepers, I eventually opted against it. Instead I have gone with Schmeichel (Leicester). With a new manager, Leicester will be hoping to improve this season especially defensively and with Schmeichel as their #1 he should get sufficient game-time to make an impact.
Defenders (£27.5 million)
This was an area which has nearly completely changed and one that I have spent a little more of my budget on. The only defender to remain from my original draft is Bellerin (Arsenal). Still a slightly risky choice due to Debuchy being back in the squad, but he has the potential to be a key player in Arsenal’s campaign.
Defence was an area that I originally didn’t want to spend too much on. After spending far too much time looking at it, however, I soon changed my mind and chose to firm things up a bit. While he is expensive, Ivanovic (Chelsea) was too tempting not to include. If he has a season anywhere as good as the last then he will be a great addition. With his price-tag, however, he may be one of the first to change if I need to free up funds.
Darmian (Manchester United) was the next in my team, in part due to his impressive showing during pre-season. I originally had Clyne, but already having a Liverpool goalkeeper I did not want to be too reliant on the Reds’ defence. With Darmian’s potential to be great going forward and being impressive defensively he seems to be a great choice for only £5.5 million. This is only assuming, however, that he manages to keep Valencia out of the right-back position.
My final spots in the defence have been taken up by Cedric (Southampton) and Ward (Crystal Palace). With an impressive defensive record last season and a promising set of fixtures to begin the season, Southampton defenders seem to be a wise choice. New arrival Cedric is slightly cheaper than the others and should provide a threat going forward. Ward, meanwhile, is one of the best options for £4.5 million and the plan is to use him only in rotation if need be.
If everything goes to plan, my defenders offer both the potential for clean sheets and goals/assists.
Midfielders (£42.5 million)
By far the hardest area to decide on and the area that still has the most potential to change over the season. Two big names have survived the cull: Hazard (Chelsea) and Silva (Manchester City). While leaving Hazard out your team would open up more funds, it is a dangerous move to make. If last season’s top point-scorer does as well this time around he will be vital to any team.
Silva, meanwhile, was an easy choice especially with Sanchez absent for the first gameweek. A slight concern regarding news about a virus cast some doubt for a while and I did consider replacing him with Sterling. Out of the two, however, Silva was the stand-out in the City midfield for me. Manchester City don’t play until Monday so I am optimistic that he will have recovered from his illness and be fighting fit for the start of the season.
After an impressive pre-season and having been handed the #7 shirt, Depay (Manchester United) was one that I wanted to make room for. Despite not being tested in the Premier League, Depay has the potential to contribute on the goal front from the off. At £8.5 million I could have opted with one of the Arsenal midfielders who have already proven their ability and it could soon be a decision I regret in leaving them out, but Depay is a player that I couldn’t ignore.
Another new arrival in the Premier League and one that is already impressing at his new club is Payet (West Ham). Payet has already contributed on the goalscoring and assists front and will provide West Ham with a creative spark they have been missing. The Hammers take on Arsenal in the first game, which will be tough, but Payet has the potential to make an immediate impact.
The riskiest choice, potentially in my whole team, is the inclusion of Ibe (Liverpool). The Reds have an abundance of options in midfield, most of whom cost a lot more than the £5 million value of Ibe. The youngster has had a highly impressive spell in pre-season and manager Brendan Rodgers has said that Ibe is ready to feature prominently. If Rodgers stands by his word then he could be a great value inclusion and subsequently he is worth taking a risk on.
Strikers (£20.5 million)
As Aguero is out for at least the first gameweek it was never going to be wise to include him from the off. The player included in his place, meanwhile, is primed to have an impressive season. Rooney (Manchester United) has had to deal with playing out of position in recent seasons but now will be given the chance to take back the role of main striker. With some decent fixtures ahead and the new additions behind him, Rooney could get off to a great start this season.
My other two strikers have not changed, and with a large amount of money being spent in midfield I opted with two costing £5 million each. While there is some risk involved I am confident that they can make some impact this season. The first is Ighalo (Watford) who I am backing over the slightly more expensive Deeney. Ighalo had an impressive season last year in the Championship and has got off to a great start in pre-season. At £5 million he could be a bargain.
The second is Jerome (Norwich City). Out of the newly promoted teams, Jerome is one of the players that has the most Premiership experience. While he has never been prolific in the league he is fully capable of coming up with a few goals.
So there it is, my team for gameweek one. Like many I will probably be trying to get Sanchez and/or Aguero into my team when they are fit but I’ll get to that when the time comes. For now my team is one that I am relatively happy with and one that should hopefully perform well this weekend. See you on the other side!