Whilst the transfer window ensures most teams will alter their squads somewhat before the grind of the Premier League really sets in, Gameweek 1 provided us with some great insight into what to expect from certain players this coming season.
Each week, we’ll run through a few of our EPL Fantasy observations for you and provide a few insights in each fantasy position for you to consider heading into the upcoming Premier League fixtures.
Tim Krul had the misfortune of not only facing Manchester City in the opening Gameweek, but he did so with just 9 men protecting his goal thanks to Taylor’s red card. Regardless, not only did Krul show that he is over his niggling shoulder injury, but demonstrated that he is in superb form, making 7 saves, the second-most of any keeper on the opening weekend. The imminent return of Santon and favourable fixtures upcoming make the Newcastle stopper a must-target if you’re looking to make a transfer in goals. Owned by just 2.3% of managers, Krul is bound to be a unique option seeing as he has been transferred out by 600 managers already disgruntled from his 2-point showing against City.
Whilst managers scramble to offload Cech, de Gea and Begovic, we’re keen to oust Arsenal’s Szczesny and West Bromwich’s Ben Foster. Initially seen as the perfect partner for Kolo Toure in defense, Szczesny not only finds himself amidst a difficult run of fixtures, but finds his role as Wenger’s first-choice keeper under threat should the Frenchman succeed in signing a world-class stopper.
Foster meanwhile found himself under significant pressure from Southampton on the weekend and with fixtures against Everton and Swansea to come, our bargain goalkeeper in pre-season seems likely to disappoint. Oust him now for Southampton’s Boruc, Sunderland’s Westwood or Krul for a viable alternative.
Generally considered the most mundane and inconvenient fantasy position, defenders were prolific in Gameweek 1, particularly defenders from teams generally not considered ‘elite’. The potential return of Nastasic from injury this coming week means Joleon Lescott’s selection is a risk and so we strongly encourage you to resist the temptation to select the former England international unless City management rule guarantee him a starting position for this coming weekend.
In terms of player recommendations, Luke Shaw not only performed brilliantly in Gameweek 1, but has courted the interest of David Moyes. A move to Manchester United would greatly increase his fantasy value whilst should he remain at Saints, favourable fixtures ensure he is a viable transfer target regardless.
Despite his goal in Gameweek 1, we recommend letting Branislav Ivanovic go with the Chelsea man facing Manchester United and a break the following round. Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen appears the perfect replacement having shaken off an injury which hindered his pre-season. Assured a rest mid-week, AVB has guaranteed his star defender a start against Swansea next round. To raise his appeal, only 3.9% of managers currently own the fantasy sensation.
Arsenal defensive duo Mertesacker and Koscielny are other players we’re recommending you abandon abandon with the former’s tough schedule and the latter’s suspension significant barriers to point-scoring. Injury to Koscielny sustained in Arsenal’s mid-week European tie also is cause for concern with Wenger cautious of a significant cut to the head of his star defender.
Nacer Chadli was everything we expected in his Spurs debut and should continue to impress given Tottenham’s favourable schedule over coming weeks. Whilst the new signing did sit in a defensive role towards the end of the match, we were encouraged by his attacking raids in the first half and his combination with fellow import Roberto Soldado.
The arrival of Willian at White Hart Lane shouldn’t impact his fantasy value, however expect Aaron Lennon to potentially lose appeal as Sigurdsson is forced wide to accommodate Willian in a central attacking position.
Meanwhile, don’t jump at the prospect of Ross Barkley scoring many goals. Alongside Fulham’s Kasami, these two essentially irrelevant fantasy players will not produce for you again and should be avoided given their defensive tendencies and loan-candidacy issues respectively.
Offloading Santi Carzola and Robert Snodgrass are similarly premature moves with the pair both set for a return to starting line-ups this coming weekend. We will however recommend the selection of Matthew Jarvis and Kevin Mirallas, two of our pre-season favorites. Jarvis has already shown that his form from last season won’t be a concern this campaign, whilst the diving interest in Mirallas following one goalless week means he’s becoming increasingly unique and therefore attractive.
Whilst many will jump at the prospect of Ricky van Wolfswinkel because of his name and debut goal on the weekend, there are concerns that Grant Holt’s replacement is a false icon for your fantasy team. Completing just 6 passes in general play, it has been suggested that van Wolfswinkel will struggle to score consistently this campaign. We disagree with this wholeheartedly and with Hooper and Snodgrass set to return from injury, the value of Norwich’s star import does nothing but increase for this coming weekend.
On the Manchester City front, Manuel Pellegrini’s faith in Dzeko was repaid with a brilliant performance against Newcastle, however don’t jump the gun in selecting the Bosnian. Despite 8 shots and an undeniably high points ceiling, teammate Sergio Aguero is a much safer (even if he is a much more expensive) option. Not only will Aguero start more frequently, but his high price makes the signing of Robin van Persie more convenient when Manchster United’s draw becomes easier after Gameweek 4.
Despite 29,000 managers already abandoning Nicolas Anelka, we were going recommend you stay with the West Bromwich striker after he started in Gameweek 1. Overnight however, the former Chelsea striker walked out of Hawthorns with the media reporting he has retired following some form of personal issue transpiring. It has since emerged that he is likely on compassionate leave and whilst our thoughts are with Anelka, he isn’t a viable fantasy option in the near future. Trade him. Also, look to trade Romelu Lukaku, who despite significant hype in pre-season, looks set for a substitute role for the foreseeable future. Another candidate to oust is Swansea’s Bony who started on the bench and may find himself scoring inconsistently for the first part of the season at least.
Finally, Danny Welbeck offers a cut-price entry into Manchester United’s starting side, however don’t jump the gun with a few difficult fixtures still awaiting David Moyes’ new team before some respite comes after Gameweek 3.
With Chelsea’s travels to Manchester United essentially ruling out both sides as legitimate captaincy options (aside from van Persie), all eyes will be on Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool in their respective fixtures. Arsenal travel to Fulham in what will prove a more difficult encounter than many are predicting meanwhile Liverpool’s fixture against Villa seems problematic for obvious reasons.
Manchester City players therefore seem the most likely option. Many will elect to captain David Silva so if you are looking to differentiate yourself, select Kompany or Dzeko and a risk/reward option.
Don’t forget to check out our English Premier League Predictions for Gameweek 2 to ensure you’re across all of the fixtures relevant to this upcoming weekend!