Fantasy Premier League: Who are the players to choose for GW2?
When the squads were initially being selected, broadly speaking we found a stream of those managers who would play a premium keeper with a scrub on the bench and another of those who would rotate two mid-to lower range keepers based upon fixtures. The premium keepers speak for themselves but thirty minutes in to the season Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris tweaked a hamstring and was forced to be replaced, leaving some of you looking already at spending your first transfer on a goalkeeper.
If this is you, and even if it isn’t, there are a couple of goalkeepers who have stood out after Game-week 1. At £4.5m Ben Foster of West Bromwich Albion rewarded his owners with a magnificent TEN points in the opening round. This awesome score which included three Bonus Points can be added to with a lovely run of games ahead including an immediate home double header against Everton and Middlesbrough where the England international will hope to catch Big Sam – England manager’s eye.
If you didn’t go with him, it’s not too late. Another goalkeeper who warrants your attention is Maarten Stekelenburg of Everton. He had no chance with the Tottenham goal last weekend, but managed a couple of brilliant saves to help earn the Toffees a point in the opener. West Brom, Stoke, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth and Palace now stretch out in the next six so providing Ronald Koeman doesn’t buy an obvious first team goalkeeper, value could be had in the Dutchman particularly for those looking at a side move from Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel.
Although we feel that the above two keepers are the early eye-catchers, elsewhere much will depend on who Pep Guardiola picks for Manchester City in Europe this week as to whether Willy Caballero is worth taking on in FPL. Also we note that Lloris has been ruled out for around four weeks. Michel Vorm may have a few games ahead but with both Caballero and Vorm being £5mln, we feel there is too much uncertainty there and we’ll go with Foster and Stekelenburg.
With only two clean sheets in the opening weekend, from Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion somewhat surprisingly, it’s no huge issue yet if your premium priced defenders sit with just two points against their name. So I would like to focus on the holy grail of FPL and those life-saving, deal-breaking £4m defenders who play. There appear to be one or two (three actually) for you to draft in if you feel that way inclined to use your early transfer on this spot in your squad.
Donald Love of Sunderland is a Scots-English, striker-defender who came from Manchester United to make his debut against Manchester City at right back. David Moyes knows him and parted with a combined £5.5m to capture him and Paddy McNair from United last week. With DeAndre Yedlin returned to Tottenham and Billy Jones injured, Love may just have a chance to make that right-back spot his. Four of the Black Cats’ next six matches are at home, Middlesbrough in the Wear-Tees derby, Everton, Palace and West Brom interspersed with trips to Spurs and Southampton so not the worst in the world and bear in mind it was only an own goal that cost them against City in the opener.
More obvious perhaps is the Swansea pair of Jordi Amat and Stephen Kinglsey, each also at bargain basement price. Amat played in central defence in the clean sheet win over Burnley with new signing Mike van der Hoorn on the bench and Kingsley played left back in the absence of Neil Taylor. Now some managers are very reluctant to alter a successful defence so that may mean time yet for this duo but time will tell. Despite Kingsley collecting two Bonus Points, it’s the flexibility of Amat to play anywhere across the backline that just favours him for us although he was booked in the match at the weekend blotting his copybook slightly.
Of the premium defenders mentioned earlier we think that Antonio Valencia, Kyle Walker and Nathaniel Clyne deserve a mention here. Valencia linked up superbly with Mata in the win at Bournemouth and was very close to claiming an assist yet again (he had three in one match pre-season). Meanwhile, both Walker and Clyne did collect assists.
Walker played a lovely cross in for Lamela’s goal and it was only one of these hopefully-flighted direct free kicks which denied Tottenham the clean sheet. Clyne to us looks like he will be in on the Liverpool attack all season and although they lost three goals – one in his area of the pitch – he looks like he is in a team who could feasibly put three or four past any team on their day so once they tighten up defensively, we think Clyne becomes a really good alternative. Although the fixtures aren’t as kind to Liverpool as they are Tottenham, Clyne has almost half the ownership rate of Walker (9.8% vs 18.9%).
We noted in Middlesbrough’s draw with Stoke City that the pre-season darling of the drafts, George Friend, was played on the left of the back four and made one very good first half run in to the penalty box where he was eventually blocked and then cleared danger under his own crossbar with a brilliant header in the last action of the match. At £4.5m and only 6.4% ownership, the newly re-signed club captain could be a nice pick-up if you require ‘Boro coverage or if they are in the rotation pairing you seek.
Since Liverpool swept Arsenal aside in that blistering 15 minute second half spell at the Emirates, Roberto Firmino owners have felt a little sorry for themselves, in that the Brazilian attacker came away with just two points, a huge 13 points less than compatriot Phillipe Coutinho and five behind new signing Sadio Mane.
The Liverpool trio have grabbed the headlines with Jurgen Klopp appearing to have an embarrassment of riches in the attacking third (this is without considering the out and out strikers he has) and it looks like the key to covering Liverpool this season will be patience.
We’re convinced the Reds could very well be in the running for top league scorers this season and the likelihood is that the points will be spread nicely amongst the players already mentioned. Our tip though would be Firmino based purely on his mid-range price – he sits perfectly in the middle of both Mane (£9m) and Coutinho (£8m) at £8.5 and his ownership is 10.9%, which is the smallest of the three and so presenting a differential amongst the others.
A point to note here is the start made by Adam Lallana, if and it’s a big if, the England player can nail down a spot in this team he could be a great way in at 7m. Klopp loves him and he is in his own right a really good footballer who could feed off the quality surrounding him. We advise that he’s one for your watchlist for the weeks ahead.
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial went quietly about his business in Sunday’s hors d’oeuvre with two assists from the left hand side of the Red Devil’s attack. After a wonderful debut season, the Frenchman has laid down his marker to Jose Mourinho with this performance in the win over Bournemouth. As well as his two assists, he had three shots in the match and now faces Southampton and Hull in his next two games where his confidence will be high. For those expecting Mkhitaryan to come in and were surprised to see Juan Mata, Martial could be the perfect antidote meantime.
“Sterling was amazing. That is what we need. People to play wide and have the quality to go one on one, on the outside, inside, right, left. That is important. He is a fighter”. The words of one Josep Guardiola, considered by many to be the best manager in Europe. Could he be seeing something we don’t about Raheem Sterling?
On Saturday, Sterling won the penalty which was converted by Sergio Aguero which meant the £50m England man opened his assist count for the season. Priced at £8m (a huge £2.5m less than Kevin De Bruyne) we think Sterling could offer a relatively cheap doubler with Aguero. If City line up with Sterling De Bruyne and Nolito behind the main striker with Silva running it all from behind, Sterling could rediscover his touch and get those points flowing for you.
Three mid-range picks now and we begin with Ross Barkley of Everton. Obviously he caught the eye with his free-kick goal against Tottenham, but it was the commanding figure behind most of the other free kicks which caught our eye, and a hope that he’ll flourish for the new manager playing centrally behind the striker. Everton have a fair run of games where Barkley could find his way on to the scoresheet again.
Nathan Redmond of Southampton is partnering Shane Long in attack for the Saints, making him a lovely ‘out of position’ pick for your teams. He comes in at a neat £6m as well which could be the deal of the season. Assuming Claude Puel is willing to let the ex-Norwich man develop in to this position, there could be many more chances to add to his opening volley against Watford. It may be that come Friday’s game at Old Trafford, the tactics will be tweaked to try to contain the home side but we hope that Redmond will still play and even if he doesn’t play from the start or play in attack, he will not disappear off the radar we’re confident of that.
At £5.5m the options are a little slim but if you find yourself wanting to spend that without stretching to £6m or dropping back to bench fodder, then Scotland international and excellent beard-wearer Robert Snodgrass of Hull City could be your man. Far from just his goal on Saturday, the guy is a wizard with free kicks and corners and should get another few goals and a fair few assists by the season’s end for the Champions League contending Tigers (got to use that now or it’s gone for ever).
If you already have found yourself with a seemingly dud £4.5m midfielder on your bench and you want to rectify that now then get Etienne Capoue of Watford who seems to be able to roam a little more freely with the ballast Valon Behrami behind him. As shown on Saturday with Troy Deeney, the strikers (Deeney and Odion Ighalo) may be knocking down a few more crosses or long balls and the Frenchman will fancy himself to be on the end of a couple more we feel.
Yeah, so hardly a left-field tip this one but for the hard of understanding, if you are going without either of Sergio Aguero or Zlatan Ibrahimovic then you’re the kind of guy/girl who returns to a lit firework. Lucky for you, if you are, then this one didn’t blow up in your face, merely singed your eyebrows. Zlaguero sounded mere friendly warnings of their intentions this past weekend with a goal apiece. Oh yeah, Kun for definite is on penalties for City. What’s not to love?
Harry Kane was selected for the opening match so if Pochettino thinks he’s ready and raring to go then he must be. We were interested to see how he looked and indeed if he started the season so maybe know we know this we may fancy him to open his 2016/17 account against either Palace, Liverpool or Sunderland, who he faces at home in three of the next four or during trips to Stoke and Middlesbrough. The fixtures appear to be aligning for England’s star man. Decent corner kick taker as well, so I hear. . .
The three mid-priced forwards we have identified for this early stage of the season are Jermain Defoe, Jose Salomon Rondon and Alvaro Negredo. If for some reason you are looking to move one of your forwards on and are searching for a replacement then Defoe at £7m is buying you Premier League goals.
His finish against Manchester City was predatory and silky in equal measure and he is the man David Moyes must keep fit to have any hope of not being involved in a relegation battle yet again. As touched on earlier, Sunderland now have more winnable games ahead in the next couple of months so Jermain could be one being overlooked here. He’s well worth considering we think.
Meanwhile, West Brom’s Venezuelan striker looks like making a decent partnership with ‘will-he won’t-he’ attacker Saido Berahino. That being said, Salomon Rondon looked decent even without Berahino at the end of last season so he can do it on his own and his finishing, especially his heading, is superb. The supply line to him may cause some of you concern but this is a man who is his club’s first choice striker and seems to be adapting to the English game more and more with each passing match. The Baggies have hardly been tarred and feathered when it comes to fixtures either with six games in which he could easily score in any of them (Everton, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth, West Ham, Stoke, Sunderland).
Ex-Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo, who incidentally notched a quarter century of goals the last time he was in this league, finds himself the big fish in the pond now at the lesser lights of Middlesbrough. The Teesiders have made some big signings this season and there appears to be some decent creators in the supply line to Negredo in Gaston Ramirez, Albert Adomah and Stewart Downing, which might mean the big Spaniard could add to his 209 club career goals quite easily.
Despite bundling in with his shoulder against Stoke, it meant he had scored on his debut for Middlesbrough just as head done for Manchester City in 2013/14 where he went on to collect a league winner’s medal. I’ll confidently say it won’t happen this time though. If it does, I’ll do the first Tips article of next season in my pants. Just like this one.
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