With the season about to kick off, now is the time to look at who you might want to include in your fantasy team. Here's Alistair Laban to take a look...
Despite a fantastic World Cup, it seems like Premier League football has been away for an eternity. But fear not, the wait is over. Strap in for the nine-month rollercoaster with more thrills, spills and chills than an under-16’s disco at Streatham Ice and Leisure. The transfer window is now shut and I for one feel pretty comfortable about how the £100m has been spent. Don’t worry - you haven’t missed Steve Parish sending some more big cheques up to the red half of Merseyside, I’m talking about the real quiz – Fantasy Premier League.
You may have stopped reading by the time you reached that last sentence, but if not, peruse this article at your leisure (but before 1900 Friday) for my hints and tips about getting your team together, and obviously, who are the must have players from Crystal Palace.
First things first; I’ll make some assumptions that you’ve read the rules of FPL and accept that you can only have three players from each team. This is good news, because the first pitfall of any Premier League fan is to splurge on players from your own club; which I’ve fallen into. Here’s my take on who in red and blue should make your 15-man squad for the start of the new season.
Depending on your overall keeper strategy (one pricey, one cheap or two lower-mid budgets on rotation), Palace would normally be worth a look at. Because we have so many great defensive options, you can easily overload your team with Palace players if you were to pick Guaita, Hennessey or Jules, and given the uncertainty over the starting #1 (albeit likely Wayne), I’d stay clear here. If you need a super-cheap-keep, then Speroni would be an ok option (£4.0 being the lowest price in the game), but that does take up a potentially valuable Palace spot which could prove annoying later on.
Verdict – Nothing to see here.
Apart from some obvious names to be detailed later, this is where the pot of gold is to be found. On the assumption that we start the season significantly better than the last, we have very favourable opening fixtures. With the exception of just Liverpool (H) in gameweek 2, Palace have winnable games for the first nine gameweeks until we hit four of the top six in consecutive games. I wouldn’t worry about looking too far ahead however – our start is probably the best on paper apart from Everton.
The partnership between Sakho and Tomkins was a key part of our turnaround last year and they came out unbeaten in the 13 games they started together since January 2017, winning 10 of them. Both are good options to start with, and with Sakho slightly more pricey (5.0) but with a better chance of bonus points than Tomkins (4.5) either should deliver.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka impressed us all last year with a string of performances that belied his age. Although Ward reclaimed the spot towards the end of the season, our Croydon boy looks a good bet to play more this season, and at just 4.0 (again, cheapest going!) he is at worst a certain bench-rotation option.
My personal FPL gem this year has got to be PVA. His stats at the end of last season were unreal including goals in the last three games, coupled with strikes in pre-season and a nailed-on starter, and owned by just 5% of team. Palace should be keeping a minimum of three clean sheets in the first nine games and with his attacking intent, you won’t go far wrong – likely to be on 40 points before things get sticky at the end of October. He even set up his own FPL mini-league. Get him in. Right now.
I’m not sure there’s much value in the rest of defence due to a relatively settled back four that have been mentioned. Schluppy could have a good run of returns, especially playing out of position in midfield, but is likely to be used sparingly.
Verdict – You should have at least one of our back four (and it should be PVA!)
The tricky bit. Luka was our top point scorer last season, largely thanks to his returns from penalties. Given his relatively defensive positioning, his returns are again likely to be just from the spot (and associated bonus points). With Wilf and Andros likely to again draw penalties this year (we had the most in the league last season ), he has got to be worth a look. Slight concern over his increased price though – he was a meagre 4.5 to start with last season but now is considerably more pricey at 6.5.
Townsend is likely to provide similar point scoring as Luka, but for a little less at 6.0, especially if Benteke can get some form going early on. Meyer is an interesting prospect at 6.5 with most reviews and expectations ranging at total guesses between full flop and the winner of the transfer window. He may not start the first game so probably one to keep an eye on early doors rather than back from the off.
The rest are unlikely to get enough game time (Punch, Kaikai) or too defensive (Kouyaté) to be worth investment, but my soft spot for Jimmy Mac will never wain and could be handy at 5.0, albeit in fits and starts.
Verdict – Best to keep an eagle-eye on Andros, Luka and the Lord Meyer, but hold fire.
– The big news for Palace FPL fans is Zaha being ‘reallocated’ as a forward, as those at FPL towers look to re-balance the disparity between midfield and forward point scoring from last season (no, I don’t know why Salah is still a midfielder). It means that Wilf will get one less point for a goal, but don’t let that put you off. I expect this season to be his best yet and priced at 7.0 as a forward means you can have an effective point-scoring forward on a budget – something FPL players desperately sought-after last year. He is currently in about a third of all teams, so he is likely to be thorn in your mini-league side if you don’t pick him up.
Big Ben. He was terrible last year and it was all a bit depressing, but this is a new season and perhaps missing out on the World Cup will prove a kick up the backside to our benefit. He has looked tidy in pre-season and he’ll still get good service from the wings. Unless we sign a striker in the next 24 hours, he is pretty much nailed on to start and could be incredible value at 6.5. Those of a gambling nature may not be able to resist.
Sørloth and Wickham will hopefully get game time and goals at some point and priced at just 5.0 could be worth a look later in the season depending on how things pan out.
Verdict – Zaha in. Benteke has oodles of differential potential early on.
Regardless of what your overall strategy is for FPL this year, I think Palace players offer some of the best value going, especially if we finally have a consistent season that isn’t riddled with dire and stupendous runs of form. I have picked PVA, Obi Wan-Bissaka and Wilf for my team and in all honesty, can’t see it going that wrong for the first few weeks. It could be that I transfer Wilf out if a better proposition comes along - Arnautović is a logical swap for gameweek 10, but you’ll struggle to find much better value to start with. Be wary of players returning from the World Cup, wait to see who is in Pep’s ‘settled’ midfield and look for value in Fulham, Wolves and West Ham. Probably steer clear of Utd and Chelsea. Br*ghton players are not allowed. You shouldn’t even need to be reminded of that.
I wish you all the best of luck in winning the FYP league.
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