It’s time to put the finishing touches to your fantasy football plans for the 2013/14 Premier League season.
All too often players pick a Fantasy Premier League team without first consulting the fixtures. If you want to get ahead of your mates, then take a look at the following players, who are crucial to your chances of topping your private league by the end of September.
We’ve avoided the Manchester clubs, due to United’s tricky start and the vast size of City’s squad, but here are four players who’ll help you jump the gun.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Chelsea, £6.5 million)
Chelsea play twice in the opening week due to their Super Cup commitments, so a nice set of blue shirts in your starting XI is crucial to success.
The problem is, we’re none-the-wiser over who will nail down a regular spot in Jose Mourinho’s side.
The safe bet, therefore, is to put Cech in goal. Chelsea look like one of a handful of teams who won’t leak goals next season and, with not much difference in price, opting for the most expensive option shouldn’t be too detrimental.
The more-daring players among you should also include Eden Hazard, who’s been in scintillating form in preseason—but be aware that rotation looks likely.
Midfielder: Theo Walcott (Arsenal, £9.5 million)
The winger has probably let you down in previous seasons and, with a hefty price tag, might be deemed too risky to make the team.
Superb finish from Giroud. Arsenal 3-0 Man City. Walcott has a goal and two assists. To quote NBA Jam, he's on fire.— Tom (@FourFourTom) August 10, 2013
But Arsenal have a fantastic set of opening fixtures, including home matches against Aston Villa, Tottenham and Stoke. Don’t be put off by them playing in a North London derby—there are always goals and Walcott is often among the scorers.
Walcott stated his desire to be deployed as a striker last season and, with only Olivier Giroud to rival him, the Englishman should get opportunities to excel both as a frontman and on the wing.
Striker: Rickie Lambert (Southampton, £7.5 million)
Southampton’s run of opening fixtures is ridiculous. Aside from a trip to Anfield, their first six games can be deemed winnable.
Lambert enjoyed a brilliant debut season in the top flight. Under an exciting manager in Mauricio Pochettino, who seems intent on attacking football, he looks set to continue banging in the goals.
The striker can now use his recent call-up to the England squad as a catalyst after struggling slightly in preseason—and, at an affordable price, is an option to hold onto throughout the season.
Striker: Nicolas Anelka (West Brom, £5.5 million)
Anelka is this year’s Fantasy Premier League bargain striker. Given his love for moving clubs, he might only stay until January, but don’t be surprised to see him in double figures in the goals tally by then.
The Baggies’ opening five fixtures see them face Southampton, Swansea and Sunderland at home and it’s hard to see how Anelka would fail to score in those fixtures, given how freely he has found the net in preseason.
The going gets tough for West Brom at the end of September, with a run of tricky fixtures, but until then Anelka is a must.