With under a week to go until the start of the new Premier League campaign, Goal examines the selection options which could turn out to be shrewd choices
Usually in Fantasy Football, the difference between a good and a great team is defined by a manager’s ability to ensure a potentially risky selection pays off.
Last season, those who knew about Swansea City’s Michu from the outset or had Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke in their side from the start would have reaped the rewards from what would have originally been an unproven choice.
But even those who are not new to the Premier League are open to being classed as a risky option due to a number of factors which hamper consistent selection including squad rotation and injury proneness.
Of the existing Premier League candidates, Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko (7.5) is one player who suits this tag more than most ahead of the new campaign. The Bosnian ended up as City’s highest league scorer with 14 goals last season but he started just 16 games under Roberto Mancini.
This summer, new City manager Manuel Pellegrini has given encouraging signs which suggest Dzeko is a major part of his attacking plans this season, but with the arrival of Alvaro Negredo (8), who scored 25 goals in La Liga last term, and Sergio Aguero (10.5) still in contention, it’s likely that the 27-year-old could still face rotation.
Staying with City, Jesus Navas (8) and Stevan Jovetic (8) both have the potential to bolster a team’s tally with assists and goals this season. Navas registered just six assists and scored none in La Liga with Sevilla last season, but the Spaniard has the pace and end product to improve that record with his new club in a role wide of the striker.
Jovetic fared better in Serie A after scoring 13 times for Fiorentina but the Montenegrin was far from prolific and he faces a battle for consistent selection in Pellegrini’s attack.
Squad rotation also threatens to derail several options from Chelsea’s squad. In attack, Romelu Lukaku (7.5) is a bargain compared with more seasoned Premier League strikers, but the 20-year-old, who scored 17 goals on loan at West Brom last term, will need to muscle Fernando Torres (8) and Demba Ba (7.5) out of contention every week in order to justify selection.
It’s a similar case in midfield as Andre Schurrle (7.5) scored 11 goals and registered seven assists in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen last term, but he faces competition in Jose Mourinho’s side with Eden Hazard (9.5), Juan Mata (10) and Oscar (8), among others. Kevin De Bruyne (6.5) has also impressed in pre-season but the Belgian could also fall prey to Mourinho’s selection-juggling.
Injuries also hinder otherwise-sound choices and last season, Shinji Kagawa (8) struggled with fitness problems which restricted him to just 20 appearances for Manchester United.
Fulfilling international obligations with Japan also mean the midfielder travels more than the rest of his team-mates and although his return of six goals and three assists wasn’t poor, given the circumstances, Kagawa could once again fall short of the heights he reached with Borussia Dortmund.
Another player who was hampered by injuries last season was Newcastle United’s Hatem Ben Arfa (6.5). The France international managed 1458 minutes under Alan Pardew last term but he still registered two assists along with four goals. If Ben Arfa can maintain his fitness this season, he could become one of Fantasy Football’s best budget options.
Nikica Jelavic (7) has netted four goals in Everton’s pre-season campaign and should he find the form he showed during his first campaign at Goodison Park where he scored nine goals in 13 games, the risk of selection the Croatian will pay off.
Olivier Giroud (7.5) has been another striker whose impressive pre-season performances have sparked interest among many Fantasy Football managers. The France international has scored eight goals this summer and while he offers good value, if Arsene Wenger opts to sign another forward, Giroud could fall victim to squad rotation if he does not hit the ground running early on.
Following Michu’s (8.5) goalscoring exploits as a midfielder last season, the onus has been shifted onto summer signing Wilfried Bony (7.5) ahead of the new campaign. The Ivorian struck an impressive 31 goals in 30 Eredivisie games for Vitesse last term but whether the 24-year-old can replicate similar form for Swansea remains to be seen.
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