In the first article of our new feature, the Courier Sport team set up their very own fantasy football league for the upcoming Premier League season. Here your new sports team introduce their teams, top picks and wildcards for the new season.
Think you can beat us? Yeah, you’re probably right, follow this link and use the code 8cxyy6 to join our league and compete against us this season.
10pm on a Sunday night, and here I am still tinkering with my fantasy football team. It’s an indecisiveness that’ll go down to the deadline on Friday, so there’s no promises any of the players I mention will stay in my squad…
I’m keeping it cheap in between the sticks. Burnley’s defence are always robust and have favourable fixtures in the first eight weeks, a trip to the Emirates and home clash with Liverpool aside, so it’s Nick Pope to play every week. I’m hoping he holds off competition from Joe Hart, which seems likely as Sean Dyche has preferred Pope in pre-season, whilst any old 4.0 valued goalkeeper will take the other slot.
At the back, Liverpool and Manchester City coverage is a must, so Virgil van Dijk and Oleksandr Zinchenko (who both impressed during Sunday’s Community Shield) make my team. My personal allegiances see Everton’s super Seamus Coleman come in as well as former Toffee, Shane Duffy, now at Brighton. Cheap and playing Martin Kelly is my fifth pick.
In midfield, you’re foolish to go without the prolific Mohamed Salah. Elsewhere, Pep Guardiola looks to be easing Sergio Aguero back into action this season, so Raheem Sterling could lead the Citizens’ firing line. He makes the cut, as does Kevin De Bruyne following his impressive Community Shield showing. Jeffrey Schlupp could be an out-of-position option as he prepares to lead the Eagles strike force up-front with misfiring Christian Benteke, so he is my fourth pick whilst Isaac Hayden will be my bench fodder.
Up front, I haven’t a clue. Normally, I’d always somehow work Sergio Aguero in despite his price, but that doesn’t seem wise going of City’s pre-season. I’ve got Jamie Vardy at the moment, as I see Leicester having their most successful season since 2015/16, although I do fear new signing Ayoze Perez could steal his thunder. That leaves me with little else to spend. Glen Murray, Joelinton, Danny Ings, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Che Adams… who knows who I’ll end up with. Come join The Courier Sport league and watch me rue leaving out Sergio Aguero as he nets a hat-trick against West Ham on Saturday.
I’ve based my team around a spine of some of the game’s most expensive picks, padded out with a few top performers from the league’s ‘best of the rest’ and some cheaper punts.
Almost half of my £100m budget has been spent on proven performers in the form of Aubameyang (£11m), Sterling (£12m), Erikson (£9m), Van Dijk (£6.5m) and Alisson (£6m), all regular starters in settled sides and players that topped the points tables in their respective positions last season. Aubameyang and Erikson have the added bonus of being regular set piece takers for their sides whilst Sterling tends to finish off City’s free flowing moves, floating in at the back post. Van Dijk should contribute a few headed goals and Alisson is one of the few keepers in the league likely to contribute assists with his tremendous passing ability, whilst the pair also form an important part of one of the best defences in the league. Aubameyang wears the captain’s armband for the first game week on account of Arsenal’s relatively easy opening fixture against Newcastle
The lion’s share of the rest of my starting 11 is made up of attacking players from teams with relatively solid defences who will hopefully get points for both clean sheets and attacking contributions. Attacking full backs Chilwell (£5.5m) and Coleman (£5.5m) should be capable of getting a good number of assists and possibly a few goals between them whilst I’m backing Wolves’ Portuguese duo Moutinho (£5.5m) and Jota (£6.5m) to add to the 23 goals they contributed to between them last season having had a year to acclimatise to the Premier League.
Zaha (£7m) and Murray (£6m) are my only first 11 picks to come from teams that are widely predicted to struggle this season, but with Murray having had a remarkable twilight to his career, scoring 25 Premier League goals over the last 2 seasons, and Zaha always capable of a moment of magic the duo will hopefully shine whatever the fortunes of their teams.
My subs bench is filled with cheap punts balancing out my more expensive picks. Brighton keeper Ryan (£4.5m) is the games cheapest regularly starting goalkeeper, making him adequate and cost effective backup to Allison, whilst I’ve picked Dunk (£4.5m) and Ake (£5m) in anticipation of one of them potentially replacing Maguire at Leicester, with their prices of £4.5m and £5m good value if they end up at the Foxes, who had one of the best defensive records outside of the top 4 last season.
My wildcard pick is Callum Robinson (£5.5m) who I’m backing to be a surprise hit in his first Premier League season after an impressive return of 12 goals and 3 assists from 27 games at Preston last season. Chris Wilder’s preferred 343 system should suit Robinson and he has impressed in pre-season scoring 5 goals in 3 games cutting in from the left side of the front 3.
I’ve self-proclaimed myself as the worst fantasy football player in history, which is frustrating given how quietly competitive I am about it. I spent rather a long time on Saturday morning pouring through the choices to build my ideal team, who I hope will ultimately help me to earn office bragging rights eventually.
It’s very important to have a good reliable keeper at the back, so naturally I picked Alisson. An easy choice for me, I think he’s settled well into the Premier League since joining Liverpool and has cut down on the daft mistakes he’s made. The Brazilian won the Golden Glove and kept 21 clean sheets last season.
Regarding defence, you can’t not have Virgil van Dijk in there, he is simply the best defender around at the moment, his clean sheet and tackle success stats will tell you that. With Harry Maguire now the most expensive defender in the world, it’s also seemingly impossible to leave him out as well. To slot in alongside these fellas, I picked James Tarkowski and Aymeric Laporte. An added bonus about my defence is that they’re all more than capable of scoring the odd goal too.
Heading further up the pitch sees more of a cheaper set of players come in, most of whom I’m taking a punt on. I really enjoyed watching Rueben Neves at Wolves last season, and I reckon he’ll have the same sort of year. Plus, Emi Buendia had a scorcher of a year for Norwich, but the only question is how will he adapt to Premier League football? Christian Eriksen was the first player I put in my team; I’ve got such a soft spot for him. The Dane is such a pleasure to watch, whether he’s scoring the goals or setting them up, and I reckon with the transfer speculation around him, he’ll be more determined than ever to put on a performance. Additionally, his Spurs colleague Harry Winks had a good season last year breaking into the team, he can only improve on this.
With goals being the ultimate objective in this game, it would be daft not to invest heavily into the forward line. I’ve put in the two best strikers in the Premier League by a country mile, Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Despite an injury hampering the end of his season, Captain Kane is a consistent goal-scorer for Spurs (well, apart from in August), and will be looking to be a series Golden Boot contender. Looking to retain this title this season is Aubameyang, with 32 goals last season. Both players were impossible to leave out.
On the bench, I’ve got Brighton keeper Matthew Ryan, Chelsea defender César Azpilicueta, West Ham’s Declan Rice in midfield and Burnley’s Ashley Barnes up front.
Picking multiple defenders from the same club may be seen as an unorthodox tactic on FPL, and I must admit it comes with its downsides. However, when looking at the Premier League options for defenders, 2 players who play for the same club stand out in particular: Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. With a joint total of 21 clean sheets last year, 23 assists and an ownership of 35.1% and 26.7% respectively, it seems that these Liverpool fullbacks must be a certainty in your FPL squad. Sure, picking two players from the same club may be a risky tactic, especially given that if they concede a single goal, you’re guaranteed to lose 8 points. However, when the club leads the league in clean sheets, and those two fullbacks have over 10 assists each, you can't go wrong.
A cheap-ish option, and last year's runner up for most Premier League assists, Ryan Fraser may be a class choice within your fantasy midfield. After an impressive 2018/19 campaign, amassing 14 assists, and with both Callum Wilson and Joshua King on the receiving end of Fraser’s crosses, he may be a sure bet to receive points week in, week out. Not only getting assists, Fraser also received 7 goals last season, which isn’t too bad for a player only worth £7.5million on FPL, and only chosen by 20.4% of players.
Being an Everton fan may come with some level of bias, but Moise Kean may be a significant cheap option for a striker. With guaranteed game time and an estimated price tag of £6-6.5million, the Juventus super-star is eager to shine in the upcoming season. With 11 goals and 1 assist last season in the Serie A, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to Premier League football.
However, those looking to splash the cash for an attacking mastermind can look no further than Harry Kane. Coming with a bank busting £11million price tag, the Spurs striker is in the hot-seat to become next seasons golden boot winner, hoping to beat his last season total of 17 goals. With a league high of 125 goals, making him England's 10th most prolific goal scorer in the Prem, he’s almost guaranteed to add some more goals to his tally. Also, with the likes of Eriksen, Son and the new signing Ndombele, Kane won't be in short supply of assists throughout next season.
The departures of Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata, to Juventus and Atletico Madrid respectively, and the inconsistent form of Michy Batshuayi in a Blues shirt has somewhat opened the door for a new Chelsea number 9. Tammy Abraham in my opinion fits the bill exactly as the man to fill this role, for not only this season, but for many more to come.
Prolific scorer last season, Abraham finished a promotion season with Aston Villa with 26 goals in 40 appearances, impressive stuff for a man who is still only 21. Setting you back just £7m, the Englishman is a snip compared to other ‘Top 6’ strikers who will far more likely be costing in the double figure region. The only risk to this signature comes in the form of World Cup-winner Olivier Giroud, whose experience could be invaluable for Frank Lampard’s maiden season in charge of a youthful Chelsea team.