The agonizing wait finally comes to an end, with the English Premier League back in action this weekend with some mouth watering fixtures to kick start the new season.
First things first, it’s very important to start with the right formation in mind, before filling up your squad. It’s difficult to anticipate which teams are going to be defensively stable right from the start, so it doesn’t make sense to bring in a couple of high priced defenders, until a few game weeks have passed by. We would suggest to start off with a balanced 3-4-3 formation, which will allow you to evenly distribute your cash while maintaining a more attack minded approach to rake in points through goals and assists.
Our squad picks are based on a combination of decent value, form and fixtures. While it may be really tempting to go for the high priced heavy hitters, keep in mind that it will take a toll on your budget, and you will be left with low performing budget options in case the big guns go dud. We would suggest distributing your squad evenly around the fixtures in order to negate the risk of over dependence on your heavy hitters to rake in the points.
Lets get right into the squad picks:
David De Gea (5.5) – Manchester United
Available for just 5.5 this season, De Gea is a good option to have as your first choice keeper as United have a string of relatively easy fixtures until Gameweek 8, and will be sure to register clean sheets in most of them under the defensively stable Van Gaal regime.
Boaz Myhill (4.0) – West Bromwich Albion
Been a regular starter for West Brom in their preseason friendlies, and a decent cheap backup option to have in case of highly improbable injury concerns for De Gea.
Alternatives: Begovic (5.0) and Lloris (5.5) get a special mention, due to their decent price and a run of kind opening fixtures also lined up for their respective teams.
John Terry (6.5) – Chelsea
Though 6.5 is a steep price tag for a defender, Terry is one exception which you should definitely make, keeping in mind their easy run of fixtures and their strong defensive form in the preseason friendlies. Also doesn’t hurt so much when you know he’s scored twice in those games already.
Ryan Shawcross (5.5) – Stoke City
Since we didn’t draft in Begovic, the next best option is to get Shawcross. Stoke face easy opposition in the first few gameweeks (with the exception of Manchester City in GW3), and can be counted on to keep a few clean sheets along the way.
Calum Chambers (4.5) – Arsenal
With Mertesacker not fit to start the opening match, and Koscielny still shaking off an Achilles’ injury, Chambers offers a cut price entry into Arsenal’s defense. A definite must have for the opening home game against Crystal Palace.
Andre Wisdom (4.0) – West Bromwich Albion
Brought in from Liverpool in the summer, Wisdom offers a cheap backup option for our first 3 picks. He has registered some playing time in their pre-season friendlies, and may nail down a regular starter role.
Micheal Duff (4.0) – Burnley
We’ve drafted Duff in only because he falls in the least priced category, and is a sure starter for newly promoted Burnley. We would advise against playing him though, since their first game is against Chelsea.
Alternatives: Spurs, Liverpool and QPR are the other teams to watch out for with relatively easy fixtures in the opening gameweek. We would suggest Davies (5.0), Lovren (5.5) and Caulker (5.0) as good alternatives to the above picks.
Aaron Ramsey (9.0) – Arsenal
A definite must have for your squad right from Gameweek 1. On the back of a brilliant performance in the Community Shield, he is one player whom we are confident will be firing on all cylinders right from the start. Ignore him at your own risk.
Christian Eriksen (8.0) – Tottenham Hotspurs
The Spurs’ main playmaker is available for a decent 8.0. With set piece duty on his hands, and a run in of easy fixtures in the opening weeks, Eriksen will be sure to match up to last season’s exploits in front of goal.
Ross Barkley (7.0) – Everton
With Mirallas and Lukaku still not up to 100% match fitness, Martinez (and us) will be looking towards Barkley to spearhead the attack. The young midfielder is available for a decent 7.0, and will definitely be good value for money. Expect him to burst onto the scene this season
Raheem Sterling (8.5) – Liverpool
With their star man moving on to greener pastures in La Liga, Liverpool will be counting on the likes of Sterling, Sturridge and Coutinho to bring in the goal this season. With his pacy runs on the right wing, Sterling will definitely be chipping in with goals and assists this season. Also, he is much much cheaper than the rather expensive Sturridge (11.5).
Karim El Ahmadi (4.5) – Aston Villa
A cheap back-up option and a regular starter for Villa. El Ahmadi will mostly be restricted to our bench.
Alternatives: A good cheap alternative to snap up for your team would be United’s Ashley Young (5.5), as Luke Shaw is ruled out for the initial 4 game weeks. Fabregas (9.0) and Lamela (8.0) are the other good alternatives we would suggest based on their form and easy fixtures.
Wayne Rooney (10.5) – Manchester United
The newly appointed captain will be the main source of goals for United (atleast until Van Persie is back to 100% match fitness). With an easy run of fixtures until Gameweek 8, penalty duty, the occasional set-piece duty and a new 3-4-1-2 formation that finds him right up top, expect Rooney to deliver the goods this season.
Diego Costa (10.5) – Chelsea
The Blues’ new summer acquisition has been in blistering form in preseason, banging in a brace within 10 minutes in their last encounter. You can rest assured that he will completely justify his price tag of 10.5 in the opening weeks itself.
Stevan Jovetic (8.0) – Manchester City
While we were extremely tempted to bring in Yaya Toure, we just couldn’t fit in a decent team around him due to his extravagant price tag of 11.0. We think Jovetic is the next best thing! With Aguero not upto 100% match fitness and Negredo set to miss the first 2 months due to injury, Jovetic is a confirmed starter and has already proved himself by scoring 4 times in pre-season friendlies.
Alternatives: Sturridge (11.5), Loic Remy (7.5) and Bojan Krkic (5.5) are the in form alternatives we would suggest, in case you need to fit some other player in your budget.