As the start of the Premier League season approaches, fans up and down the country are enjoying the sporting tradition of Fantasy Football team creation.
Much of this time should obviously be spent on finding a suitably ‘punny’ team name (‘Murder on ZidanesFloor’, ‘Men Behaving Chadli’, etc…), but selecting the right squad is the only way to avoid humiliation at the foot of the office Fantasy Football league table.
Whether you are planning a season-long assault on the title, or an Arsenal-esque collapse in November when you lose both interest and your password, a strong start requires a few canny signings. So from a promising unknown to a star on the rise, here are three players to sign for the 2017/18 season.
The unknown – Sead Kolašinac
Arsene Wenger’s men performed well in the season’s curtain-raiser, the Community Shield, but it was a Bosnian left back who arrived on a free that stole the show for Arsenal. You can find betting tips for all the Gunners’ upcoming matches at www.online-betting.org.
Kolašinac looked robust as a left-sided centre back after replacing the injured Per Mertesacker, but it was his buccaneering runs forward and well-taken equaliser that caught the eye. In an Arsenal team that have long been accused of being too lightweight to mount a title challenge, Kolašinac appeared to be both an immovable object in defence and an unstoppable force going forward during his Arsenal debut.
Importantly for potential (fantasy) managers, he will be expected to start the majority of the Gunners’ games. That is, as long as his ‘combative’ tackling doesn’t land him in hot water with referees. Regardless of the occasional red card, his five assists last season were the highest of any Bundesliga defender and should earn him a place in your team.
With a point to prove – Matt Ritchie
Of the three promoted teams it is Newcastle United who are most likely to achieve Premier League safety, and if they can do so it will be due in no small part to the individual talents of Matt Ritchie. Another stellar season at Championship level yielded 16 goals and nine assists in all competitions for the Scottish international.
Now 27, he is in his prime and should find himself more at home on the big stage than during his first crack at the league with Bournemouth. A tricky winger with more whip than Indiana Jones, his accuracy with the dead ball can trouble even the tightest of defences.
Working under Rafa Benitez at St. James’ Park will help him adapt to life in the Premier League and wrack up some points.
Potential Superstar – Sadio Mané
When Liverpool signed the Senegalese forward for £34 million last summer it seemed like an awful lot of money. But last season, Mané proved himself to be an awful lot of footballer. Quick, strong, skillful, and with the intelligence to bring others into play, he is the perfect Jurgen Klopp-style attacker.
Although playing out wide and suffering injuries throughout the season he finished the season on 13 league goals, just one behind Liverpool’s top scorer Philippe Coutinho. Without a traditional Number 9, the Reds tend to spread the goals around and if he can stay free from injury Mané could help himself to the biggest share this time around.
In fact, this could be the season he goes from dangerous winger to elite forward. Think Gareth Bale in 2012/13, or even Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08. He may not be as cheap as Kolašinac or Ritchie, but as a proven goal-getter in a top team, he is an absolute bargain.