GW1 Lineup Lessons (Part One)

Getting your fantasy football team on the pitch should be your first priority. This is our run through of what we learnt from the opening weekend's starting XIs.

Arsenal (2-1 vs. Crystal Palace)

4-1-4-1: Szczesny, Debuchy, Gibbs (53’ Monreal) , Koscielny, Chambers, Arteta, Wilshire (88’ Oxlade-Chamberlain), Ramsey, Sanchez, Cazorla, Sanogo (62’ Giroud)

Subs not used: Rosicky, Martinez, Campbell, Coquelin

This team is far from Arsenal’s strongest side with Mertesacker and Ozil rested after the World Cup, Walcott injured and Giroud building up some fitness. Expect Giroud back to lead the line soon, Arsenal looked a better side with him on the pitch for the last half an hour. Wegner has stated that he planned to bring the Germans back into contention for Everton, which would presumably end £4.5M defender Chambers brief flirt with the first team. However, it seems Koscienly is struggling with an Achilles injury. It doesn’t look major though; Wegner goes on to say ahead of their midweek game with Besiktas "We will assess Koscielny. If he is capable of playing, I will play him". 

Next game: Everton (away)

Crystal Palace (1-2 vs. Arsenal)

4-4-1-1: Speroni, Kelly, Dann (’75 Delaney), Hangeland, Ward, Puncheon, Jedinak, Ledley, Bolasie (’90 O’Keefe), Chamakh, Campbell (’85 Gayle)

As close to a regular starting XI as you’ll probably get in the Premier League. A real shame for £6M Jason Puncheon to get a red card (two yellows) and miss the next match after looking the most threatening for Palace and grabbing an assist for Hangeland’s goal. New signing Martin Kelly has emerged as the cheapest route in at £4.5M to a defence which appears to have carried on from where it left off last season, even with Pulis gone.

Next match: West Ham (home)

Stoke (0-1 vs. Aston Villa)

4-2-3-1: Begovic, Pieters, Wilson, Shawcross, Bardsley, Whelan (’82 Adam), N’Zonzi, Arnautovic, Ireland, Bojan, Diouf (’71 Crouch)

Subs not used: Walters, Muniesa, Huth, Sidwell, Sorenson

Phil Bardsley (£5M) looks to have poll position at right back ahead of Geoff Cameron and denies FPL managers what was thought to be a popular cheap option in Stoke’s defence. Marc Wilson (£4.5M) could emerge as an alternative but will face competition from Robert Huth once the ex-Chelsea man recovers full fitness. Going forward, Ireland (£5.0M) was the central midfield attacking player with Arnautovic (£6.5M) wide left. Ireland plauyed more of a creative role however with Bojan in particular very central and joining the attack with Diouf.

Next game:  Hull (away)

Aston Villa (1-0 vs. Stoke)

4-2-3-1: Guzan, Cissokho, Senderos, Vlaar, Hutton, Westwood, Delph, N’Zogbia (71 ‘ Grealish), Richardson, Weimann (82’ Bacuna), Agbonglahor

Subs not used: Bent, Clark, Ahmadi, Baker, Given

Perhaps a surprise to see Darren Bent omitted considering a decent pre-season leading the line.  Christian Benteke is the only real player missing from this line-up so it will be interesting to see how Richardson (£5M) and N’Zogbia (£5.5M) fare as cheap midfielders in attacking roles.  Alan Hutton looks an intriguing option for the occasional start in your fantasy team priced at just £4.0M. 

Next game: Newcastle (home)

Leicester (2-2 vs. Everton)

4-4-2: Schmeical, Konchesky, Moore, Morgan, Laet, Knockaert (’64 Schlupp), Drinkwater (’39 Hammond), King, Mahrez, Nugent, Ulloa (’78 Wood)

21 year old Liam Moore made 26 appearances for the Foxes last season and at £4M looks another safe budget defender to sit (mostly) on your bench.  Drinkwter picked up an injury whilst bright spark Knockaert builds up match fitness after an injury in pre-season.

Next match: Chelsea (away)

Everton (2-2 vs. Leicester)

4-2-3-1: Howard, Stones, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Pienaar (’81 Mirallas), Naismith, McGeady (’85 Coleman), Lukaku

Barkley’s injury is a real blow for Everton but perhaps a blessing in disguise for FPL managers – he’s not worth £7M. A possible 5 month lay off certainly opens the door one of forward Naismith or midfielders McGeady and Pienaar to make a case for themselves in fantasy teams. Mirallas and Coleman will no doubt return to the first team very soon and will probably replace McGeady and Stones respectively.

Next game: Arsenal (home)

QPR (0-1 vs. Hull)

3-5-2: Green, Dunne, Ferdinand, Caulker, Traore, Barton, Mutch, Faurlin, Simpson, Austin, Remy

Mutch (£5.5M) and Remy slot straight into the side and are given the full 90 minutes despite no pre-season with QPR - a sure sign of their import to Redknapp’s first team plans. Remy in particular looked lively, as did Austin. Defender Danny Simpson (£4.5M) keeps a slightly out of position role as a right wing back and along with Ferdinand offer the cheapest way into the QPR defence.

Hull (1-0 vs. QPR)

3-4-2-1:  McGregor, Chester, Bruce (’45 McShane), Davies, Elmohandy, Huddlestone, Livermore, Robertson, Ince (’82 Meyler), Snodgrass (’40 Quinn) , Jelvaic

Subs note used: Figueroa, Brady, Aluko, Harper

Unfortunate injuries to Snodgrass and Bruce rob Hull of what looked likely to be a new look team for this season. Bruce went off at half time due to a back complaint. He’s a very popular fantasy player at £4M in FPL. He is likely to be rested for Hull’s midweek Europa game but the injury does seem too serious. Snodgrass however left the ground on crutches and is set for a scan today.

Next match: Stoke (home)

Liverpool (2-1 vs. Southampton)

4-2-3-1: Mignolet, Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Manquillo, Lucas (’63 Allen), Gerrard, Sterling, Coutinho (’76 Lambert), Henderson, Sturridge

Subs not used: Jones, Can, Ibe, Toure, Sakho

Pretty much as expected from Liverpool in terms of the starting XI. Manquillo at £5M looks a great possibility as a cheaper alternative to the very popular Lovren (£5.5M, 35% ownership). Glen Johnson played left-back here though and may well shift to his more familiar right back slot once new boy Moreno is eligible to play. With Lallana injured, Henderson kept the more advanced midfield position that he’s enjoyed in pre-season and regularly got into the penalty box, although not as much of course as Raheem Sterling. Coutinho owners will be disappointed at his early substitution.

Next game: Man City (away)

Southampton (1-2 vs. Liverpool)

4-3-3: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand, Davis (’82 Isgrove), Schneiderlin, Wanayama, Ward-Prowse, Pelle, Tadic (’74 Long)

A great performance from Saints and a few cut-price options for fantasy teams to keep an eye on. Steve Davis and, in particular, James Ward-Prowse stand out as £5M midfield options. New signing Dusan Tadic excelled too but at £7.5M doesn’t come quite so cheap. On this outing Southampton look to be a decent defence again this season. Yoshida (£4.5M) would be the cheap route but transfer rumours suggest a new centre back could soon be on the way to St.Mary’s leaving Clyne, Bertrand and Fonte as better bets at £5M.

Next game: WBA (home)

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