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2014/15 Fantasy Premier League Preview: Who’s in, who’s out?

The Boot Room

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With the Premier League kickoff only a week away, the time for budding managers to pick their fantasy league sides is in full flow. The time where everyone starts with good intentions, promising themselves they will be loyal to their *insert witty team name* FC, checking up on the squad every week and making suitable changes. We know deep down that for the majority of Fantasy League gaffers, three weeks will go by and fantasy league will be binned for yet another year. Whether you are a budding football coach or a complete football novice, we have some Fantasy League selection tips for you – at least before you throw in the towel (again).

Goalkeepers

Goalkeeping choices can go one of two ways. The majority of points awarded to goalkeepers either come from clean sheets, or total number of saves per game. While most managers go for a goalkeeper playing for a potential top four side, others point to one guaranteed to start for their mid to lower table club. This second option has proved fruitful in the fantasy football era. Not only do you save money to be used on a star striker, but the sheer bulk of saves to make means almost guaranteed points every week. For example, the highest scoring goalkeeper last season was David Marshall of relegated Cardiff City. On the flip side though, you are also running the risk of a top side putting five goals past your number one. Petr Cech was the most widely selected goalkeeper last season despite being one of the most expensive, but finished in the top three highest scoring keepers. With two routes to take, the choice is yours.

Recommended bargain Goalkeepers; Vito Mannone, Tim Krul, Allan McGregor, Kasper Schmeichel, Asmir Begovic

Recommended expensive Goalkeepers; Tim Howard, Hugo Lloris, David De Gea, Joe Hart, Thibaut Courtois

Defenders

The baseline requirement for a defender in fantasy football is one who is playing in a team capable of keeping clean sheets. Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal were the three sides to keep the most clean sheets last season in the Premier League, something which fantasy football points to the respective defenders displayed. As a bonus, the highest point scoring defenders also chip in with the odd assist and headed goal from a corner. Everton’s Seamus Coleman finished the 2013-14 season as the highest scoring Defender in the league, with 6 goals, 2 assists and 15 clean sheets. Since most fantasy league managers look to spend big money on two defenders in a back four, make sure the money is spent wisely on a complete defender who also has a good disciplinary record as yellow and red cards mean penalty points.

Recommended bargain Defenders; Steven Caulker, Ron Vlaar, Jose Fonte, Dejan Lovren, Daryl Janmaat

Recommended expensive Defenders; Gary Cahill, Jan Vertonghen, Leighton Baines, Laurent Koscielny, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany

Midfielders

Midfield is arguably the most important part of a fantasy league side. Goal scoring midfielders/wingers are awarded handsomely per goal, as well as assists and a clean sheet point too. The big money last minute move of Mesut Ozil to Arsenal last summer enticed many fantasy league managers, but the German only just made the top 10 point scoring midfielders. It was Yaya Toure who finished as the highest point scoring Midfielder last season after his incredible season on all fronts for Manchester City. The Ivorian’s value on Fantasy Premier League increased a massive £2.1million during the course of the season. Despite lengthy injury spells, Aaron Ramsey finished as the 7th highest scoring Midfielder in England, and started last season priced only £5.5million. Bargains are there to be had in the midfield department, especially with many new signings coming in from foreign leagues being quite under-priced. Some transferred midfielders with more playing opportunities may surprise too.

Recommended bargain Midfielders; Remy Cabella, Siem De Jong, Emre Can, Dusan Tadic, Jack Rodwell, Nemanja Matic, James Ward-Prows, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Mutch, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley, Jason Puncheon, Jonjo Shelvey, Steven Davis, Moussa Sissokho, Robert Snodgrass, Fabian Delph, Marko Arnautovic

Recommended expensive Midfielders; Erik Lamela, Yaya Toure, Steven Gerrard, Eden Hazard, Samir Nasri, David Silva, Aaron Ramsey, Raheem Sterling, Christian Eriksen, Juan Mata

Strikers

The most expensive players in fantasy football tend to be strikers, and for good reason too. Strikers generally finish the season with the highest points tallies of all. Luis Suarez’s 31 goals and 21 assists left him as the highest scoring player comfortably last season, but which marquee man will do the business this season? The biggest name striker to come into the Premier League this summer is £32m man Diego Costa. His physical playing style looks perfect for the Premier League as he looks to build on his 27 league goals for Atletico Madrid last season. Despite Swansea’s rocky start to the season, Wilfried Bony finished the season as the best Premier League newcomer. Bony joined Swansea after a terrific goal scoring season for Vitesse in Eredivisie, so could another Eredivise import; Graziano Pelle, do the same thing for Southampton this coming season? Dutchman Robin Van Persie will be hoping to put the disappointment of last season behind him, after being reunited with his former Netherlands manager Louis Van Gaal, and replicate his form of the 2012-13 season where he finished with the most fantasy league points. Another interesting thought is whether players like Charlie Austin and Danny Ings can carry their superb Championship form with them to the new heights of the Premier League. The striker position is another where bargains are available – especially with unpredictable foreign imports.

Recommended bargain Strikers; Bojan Krkic, Mauro Zarate, Graziano Pelle, Danny Ings, Steven Fletcher, Charlie Austin, Loic Remy, Dwight Gayle, Steven Naismith, Shane Long, Fraizer Campbell,

Recommended expensive Strikers; Diego Costa, Stevan Jovetic, Wilfried Bony, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Romelu Lukaku

 

Stats and fantasy league facts via fantasy.premierleague.com. To join the TBR fantasy competition use the following code – 275208-73981!

Stoke City

Is Bojan Krkic the perfect player for Gary Rowett to build Stoke City around?

The 27-year-old has been an outcast at the Bet365 Stadium.

Martyn Cooke

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Bojan
Photo: Getty Images

As Gary Rowett continues to rebuild the Stoke City squad over the summer there will be plenty of speculation regarding who will be arriving and departing the Bet365 Stadium.

The Potters have already dipped into the transfer market by signing Nigerian midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Benik Afobe whilst Egyptian starlet Ramadan Sobhi was sold to Huddersfield Town last week.

Xherdan Shaqiri, who is currently representing Switzerland at the World Cup in Russia, has confirmed that he will be leaving the club whilst, in contrast, Joe Allen has signed a new long-term contract to remain.

There are still plenty of question marks over current players. The likes of Jack Butland and Badou Ndiaye are expected to attract interest from Premier League clubs whilst the expensive pairing of Saido Berahino and Giannelli Imbula may not fit into Rowett’s plans but will be short of offers.

But what about Bojan Krkic?

The diminutive Spaniard was once one of the most promising young forwards in Europe after he rose through Barcelona’s prestigious La Masia academy system and made his first team debut at the age of 17.

He made over 100 appearances for the Catalan’s prior to loan spells with Ajax, AC Milan and Roma before eventually moving to Stoke in the summer of 2014.

Bojan has certainly made an impact at the Bet365 Stadium, particularly during his first two-and-a-half years with the club, but he fell out of favour under Mark Hughes and has spent the last eighteen months on loan in Germany and Spain.

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

At his best, the 27-year-old was a magician who produced moments of sublime skill and was a central creative influence in the team.

He was technically magnificent and would often glide across the pitch, weaving between defenders and was a genuine threat whenever he received the ball in the final third.

Bojan was one of only a handful of Stoke players from the last decade that would bring supporters to the edge of their seats in anticipation and expectation when he was in possession.

For anyone who requires a reminder of what the forward can do, simply look up his solo goal against Tottenham Hotspur form 2014.

Much has been made of his injury in January 2015. The Spaniard suffered severe knee damage in an FA Cup tie at Rochdale that meant that he was out of action for the remainder of the season and the common narrative is that he was never the same upon his return.

However, this storyline is incorrect. In fact, Bojan was at his peak over the Christmas period in 2015 when he was the centre of Stoke’s attacking trident which also included Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic.

Such was the effectiveness of the trio that The Potters picked up the nickname of ‘Stoke-a-lona’ in reference to their attacking brand of football.

So where did it all go wrong for him?

He fell out of favour with Mark Hughes and, after being dropped from the starting line-up, was never able to regain his position as Stoke City’s creative hub.

The Spaniard subsequently has spent the past eighteen months on loan with Mainz and Las Palmas but has struggled to make any significant impact either in Germany or Spain.

(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

In many respects, Bojan’s stock has never been lower. He has fallen off the radar somewhat in the past year and it appears that any hopes that he may have had of returning to a prominent European club are all but over.

However, this opens up a potential return to Stoke despite their relegation to The Championship.

Last season The Potters were desperately short of creativity and goals – something that Bojan can provide.
The Spaniard man be the perfect figure for Gary Rowett to build his new look team around.

Joe Allen and Oghenekaro Etebo will provide defensive security and energy in the centre of midfield whilst Benik Afobe will make be the focal point in the final third.

Bojan could be the perfect link player if deployed as a number ten and you would imagine that he would be more than capable of causing chaos amongst defences in The Championship.

There is, of course, the question of whether the 27-year-old would be prepared to play in the second tier of English football, although Allen’s decision to sign a new contract and remain at Stoke would suggest that Rowett is capable of being persuasive.

If Stoke are serious about challenging for promotion, then keeping Bojan and reigniting his career at the Bet365 Stadium would be a serious statement of intent.

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West Ham United

Jack Wilshere is West Ham’s most realistic midfield target this summer

The 26-year-old seems the best option for Manuel Pellegrini at the moment.

Jamie Watts

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Manuel Pellegrini has seemingly put signing a new midfielder high on his list of priorities this summer, having been linked with some stellar names, but is Jack Wilshere (Sky Sports) his most realistic target?

The Chilean has expressed his desire to get the Hammers playing attacking and progressive football again next term, and views a quality midfield addition as vital in achieving this.

Initially, the suggestion was made that Pellegrini would attempt to move for two-time Premier League winner Yaya Toure (the Telegraph), before stories broke claiming his interest in Paris Saint-Germain’s Javier Pastore (Sky Sports).

Photo: Getty Images

However, talks for both have stalled, with Toure’s preference to join a top-six side (Sport 24) and Pastore’s reported wage demands of £190,000-a-week (Sky Sports) to leave the French capital, with it now looking more likely Roma will land the 29-year-old’s signature.

Wilshere would employ the tactics Pellegrini is after and would instantly inject technical quality into the current functional midfield trio of Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate and Pedro Obiang. His ability to carry the ball past defensive counterparts and to spot a final pass would add extra dimensions to the Hammers’ play, and at the age of 26 he could still have his best years ahead.

Photo: Getty Images

The ex-Bournemouth man has revealed he will not sign a contract extension at Arsenal with his contract set to expire imminently, meaning Pellegrini could land his signature on a free.

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Leicester City

Tottenham should elevate reported interest in Leicester City protege Demari Gray

The 21-year-old could become a superstar if nurtured properly.

Jamie Watts

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Tottenham Hotspur were reportedly interested in the possibility of signing Leicester City‘s attacking protege Demari Gray a few months back, according to reports from ESPN. And after a fruitless period in the search for attacking reinforcements, Mauricio Pochettino should revive his interest in sorting a deal.

Gray contributed four goals and three assists in 30 Premier League appearances last term, and is currently the captain of the England U21 squad. But he is likely to evaluate his future with the Foxes this summer, due to his lack of regular game-time. And Tottenham seems a great fit for the winger.

Photo: Getty Images

Spurs have pursued multiple attacking targets since the window commenced, without gathering any real traction on any of their targets, and it seems Pochettino – for once – is more concerned with making a marquee signing, than bringing in a player with the scope to develop and grow into a top player at White Hart Lane.

Talks for Anthony Martial, Christian Pulisic and Ivan Perisic have all stalled in recent times, and a move for the Leicester City man could be just the ticket for Spurs. He brings all the attributes they’re currently looking for; blistering pace, exceptional balance, end product, a cool head and notably the ability to hit an absolute cracker if awarded space.

If he reaches his peak under the guidance of Pochettino, which is more likely than not given his immense talent, the player could double in market-value and could become a key player for the Lilywhites for years to come.

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