With just over two weeks to go before the new Premiership season kicks off, fantasy league managers across England and beyond have been selecting their initial squad to compete in this years official game.
Here’s an analysis of the current top selected players:
1) Tim Krul
Newcastle’s Tim Krul is currently the top choice as goalkeeper for a number of fantasy league players. Selected by 20.8% of the total managers, last season 24 year old accumulated 156 points in total.
His popularity is probably based on his price. At just £5.5 million, Krul is a very affordable choice in goal, likely to keep a number of clean sheets thanks his great ability and a strong Newcastle defence.
Even when playing against the top teams in the division, he picks up plenty of points purely from the number of saves he makes. In the 2011/2012 season, the Newcastle man played 90 minutes in all 38 matches, earning 15 clean sheets, making 114 saves and preventing 2 goals from penalties.
2) Joe Hart
Joe Hart places in second, thanks to his inclusion in 19.8% of the teams. Last term Hart won 166 fantasy points playing for Manchester City. Obviously people are expecting a similar total this season.
At £7 million, Hart is the most costly option in goal. However, this price is certainly justified. Like Krul, the England number 1 plays behind a strong defence.
Last season Hart only conceded 29 goals, keeping 17 clean sheets in the process. This is very valuable for any fantasy league manager – it’s very common that the defensive players in a team will earn more points than the attackers.
3) Michel Vorm
Vorm is the third most selected goal keeper in the game. The Dutch keeper finished last season with 158 fantasy points, as a result, he’s been selected in 17.5% of all the sides.
He kept 14 clean sheets for Swansea, conceding 49 goals in total.
1) Vincent Kompany
Unsurprisingly Kompany tops the list for most selected defenders. The Manchester City captain has been selected by 23.7% of managers, after collecting 145 points in the previous Premier League season.
The reasons for his high cost, £7.5 million, are clear. But the vast majority of managers are willing to spend this on a player who’s guaranteed to have a high scoring season. City will obviously be looking to defend their title, a strong defence will be vital if this is going to happen.
Last term the Belgian kept 15 clean sheets having conceded just 22 goals in 3330 minutes.
2) Ashley Cole
Despite Chelsea’s poor performance in the league last season, people haven’t shied away from choosing players from Di Matteo’s side.
Ashley Cole is currently the second most popular defender in the game, having been selected by 22.5% of managers.
This year, Cole has been valued at £6.5 million. Chelsea open the season with two matches in Game week one, this could well be the reason for such a high selection percentage.
Last season the left back scored a total of 111 points; this is clearly way off the pace compared to the likes of Kompany. I’m sure Cole will earn many more this time round.
3) Ryan Shawcross
In the 2011/2012 campaign, Shawcross collected 118 points in total. A very valiant effort considering he plays for a team that finished in the bottom half of the table.
The Stoke City defender has been selected in 22.3% of the teams. As club captain he’s guaranteed to start each match and at the cost of £5 million he seems an extremely safe option at the back.
Last season he kept 9 clean sheets, scored 2 goals and earned 13 bonus points.
4) Kyle Walker
Walker had a great season last term. The PFA young player of the year produced some impressive performances for a high flying Tottenham side. Surely he will only build on this success.
Costing £6.5 million, the right back has been selected by 22.3% of managers. In 2011/12 Walker kept 14 clean sheets and scored 2 goals.
For me he seemed an obvious choice in defence for this season’s game – an affordable player who scores a lot of points.
5) Fabricio Colocinni
Colocinni is the 5th most popular defender as it stands. Last season the Newcastle skipper collected 112 points, earning his place in 18% of the total fantasy teams.
At £5 million the centre back is a very cheap option in defence. Similar to Ryan Shawcross, he’s a player that’ll appear in the majority of matches, he also has the ability to score points from any situation.
Last term the Argentine kept 13 clean sheets for the Magpies and earned 8 bonus points in total.
1) Eden Hazard
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard currently tops the list of most popular midfielders. 22.4% of total managers clearly think he’s going to hit the ground running in his debut Premier League season.
Obviously there are in-game stats to comment on from 2011/12. However, in the French Ligue 1 Hazard finished the campaign as player of the season, scoring 20 and assisting 15 goals in the process. That doesn’t sound too bad.
2) Yohan Cabaye
Cabaye capped an impressive finish for Newcastle last season with 129 points. As a result, for the 2012/13 campaign, the Frenchman is valued at £7 million.
Regardless of his price increase, the centre midfielder has been selected by 22.2% of all the fantasy league managers and it’s clear to see why. Cabaye scored 4 goals last season and contributed with 8 assists. On top of this, he picked up 15 bonus points.
Towards the end of the season he became much more involved for the Magpies and hopefully he’ll carry this form into the opening games of the new campaign. For me, Cabaye is another safe choice, especially based on the vast number of talented midfielders to choose from. He’s a player always capable of scoring points from a goal or assist.
3) Yaya Toure
Toure has always been an extremely solid player for City. Last season he scored a grand total of 139 points, an incredible result for a defensive midfielder.
The Ivorian scored 6 goals and created 9 goals throughout the season, as his club went on to lift the league trophy. It’s unsurprising that he’s been included in 19.6% of all teams; he’s an important player for his club.
4) David Silva
I’m slightly surprised that Silva isn’t higher in the midfield popularity charts. In the 2011/12 season, he accumulated a huge 184 points after playing 2801 minutes for City.
This campaign the Spanish midfielder has been priced at £10 million – this high value may be the reason behind his lower selection percentage.
The majority of Silva’s points last season came from his 17 assists and 6 goals. However, he ended the campaign with 21 bonuses.
If he repeats the same form this time round, he’ll definitely be worth the initial £10 million outlay.
5) Gareth Bale
Bale has been selected by 17.8% of all the managers. Last season he scored the second highest point value from midfield, with 195 in total. This is a massive total considering Tottenham fell off the pace halfway through the season.
The Welshman scored a respectable 10 goals and created 14 more. Like David Silva, he earned 21 bonus points by the end of the campaign.
Tottenham should be up at the top of the table again by the end of the season, giving Bale plenty of opportunity to score points.
1) Sergio Aguero
It’s no shock that Aguero tops the leader board for most selected striker; in fact, he’s the most popular player throughout the whole game. Having been chosen in 34.9% of the teams, Fantasy League managers are clearly expecting big things again this season.
Last year the Argentine came third in terms of points scored with a total of 211. 23 goals and 9 assists doesn’t even reflect his worth to City. I’m sure he’ll score many more this season.
Ideally, I’m sure everyone would choose Aguero as the first player in their team; however his hefty price tag of £11.5 million is definitely something to evaluate.
On top of this, Mancini’s squad rotation policy at the club may reduce the number of points he’s able to score. With the likes of Balotelli and Carlos Tevez still at the Etihad, unless the Italian coach swaps to a 442 formation, Aguero probably won’t see as many minutes on the pitch relative to his rival strikers at other clubs.
2) Wayne Rooney
Valued at £12 million, Rooney is one of the more costly players in this season’s game. Although, he’s very likely to be a contender for top goal scorer, meaning points galore.
Last season the United striker accumulated 230 fantasy points, finishing second in the total leader board, just behind Robin Van Persie. He’s a very popular choice amongst managers this time round, featuring in 26.2% of the teams.
Rooney finished 2011/12 with 27 goals and 8 assists. He and many fantasy league players will be hoping for similar stats this campaign.
3) Demba Ba
Ba had a great start to the 2011/2012 scoring an abundance of goals. But following the arrival of Cisse at the Sports Direct Arena he seemed to stop hitting the back of the net.
Valued at £7.5 million, the Senegal striker seems to be a popular choice in attack, having been included in 25.3% of all the sides.
He scored 16 goals in total last campaign, providing a further 5 assists. He ended his impressive season with 165 points, this included 25 from match bonuses.
4) Fernando Torres
Torres could prove a brave choice for fantasy managers this season. He ended a poor 2011/12 campaign with a Champions League winner’s medal. On top of this, he won the Euro’s with Spain, finishing as the tournament’s top scorer.
If he’s able to carry his end of season form into the new campaign, Torres could prove very dangerous to opposition defences.
Last season the Spaniard finished on just 92 points, having scored just 6 goals. I’m sure the situation will be very different come the end of the 2012/13 campaign.
5) Pavel Pogrebnyak
Pogrebnyak is this year’s cheap option in attack. At £5 million it’s obvious to see his price has attracted a number of fantasy league managers. This explains his selection in 18.4% of all the teams.
Despite the low value, we know from last season that the Russian has lots to give in the Premier League. In his short spell at Fulham, I felt he was highly impressive.
In just 943 minutes Pogrebnyak scored 54 fantasy points, this included 6 goals. Fairly impressive considering 2011/12 was his first season in England.
Newly promoted Reading have snapped him up on a free transfer. They’ll be hoping he can score the goals to keep them in the Premier League for a second season.
If you’re playing the Official Fantasy League this season and want to get involved in our competition, you can find the details here.