THE BIG KICK-OFF is less than 24 hours away.
The Premier League kicks off tomorrow and that in turn means that Fantasy Premier League starts as well. You’ve until 11:30am tomorrow to get those teams in, so we’ll take a look at who might be of value to you between now and then.
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1 – Captain’s choice
There’s likely to be a landslide of Fantasy Premier League managers opting for Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero (main photo) to captain their teams for Gameweek 1. The Argentine, as of Wednesday, had been selected by 39.9 per cent of competitors and City’s fixture – Sunderland at home on Saturday evening at 5:30pm – looks an attractive one.
It’s also a safe option for a lot of managers and considering City have Stoke City away and then West Ham United at home in their second and third fixtures. Under new manager Pep Guardiola, Aguero, who bagged 184 points last season and 216 in 2014/15, is a sensible enough option for starters.
2 – The outside bet
ANDRE GRAY OF Burnley has been mooted as someone who might get himself a senior England cap before too long. Gray scored an impressive 23 goals in 41 outings last season and although is about to undertake a significant step-up in opposition is certainly an appealing option to many managers.
That’s because there’s a natural inclination for many to load their forward line with at least two big names so there can be an element of cost-cutting then to make things fit within budget.
Gray is priced at £6.5m and his teammate Sam Vokes might also be worth considering. Burnley welcome Swansea City on Saturday and are the only team in the entire Premier League who are home four times in their first six fixtures.
3 – Is he on fire?
THERE MAY BE a certain bias in saying that Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long might be an asset for the new Fantasy Premier League season. Long’s club Southampton finished last season in sixth place and the Tipperary native became more of a feature having been in and out of the first team until that juncture.
Like Gray, Long is a very reasonably priced £6.5m the first three game-weeks, where Southampton will face both Watford and Sunderland at home, offer a chance to impress. Graziano Pelle has been sold to Chinese side Shandon Luneng, so Long and Charlie Austin are tipped to start up front.
4 – Closer to home
THE SURPRISE VALUE in purchasing Seamus Coleman (pictured above) has long since gone, with the Killybegs native having collected an incredible 180 points back in the 2013/14 season when he scored six Premier League goals and kept 15 clean sheets. Last year, Everton weren’t as defensively sound under Roberto Martinez and Coleman only managed to get eight shut-outs. He’s rated as only having a 75 per cent chance of playing tomorrow against Spurs – a side he’s traditionally done well against.
Coleman, now 27, captained the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2016 in France and on his return to his club, put in an excellent performance for Everton in Wayne Rooney’s recent testimonial earlier this month. Ronald Koeman turned Southampton into a top-six team and has used Coleman as a right wing-back occasionally in pre-season, which might tempt managers with his competency both in attack and defence.
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5 – And looking ahead
IT’S NOT EXPECTED that West Bromwich Albion are going to set the Premier League on fire this term but the same thing was said about Leicester City in many quarters last season. There’s been some uncertainty over the future at the Hawthorns of Tony Pulis, who has always been known for putting their priority on defence. Northern Irishmen Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley might be worth looking at.
Regardless of who is in charge, from all the 20 teams in the division it’s West Brom’s fixtures that look the least taxing of all. Their first seven outings are – Crystal Palace (a), Everton (h), Middlesbrough (h), Bournemouth (a), West Ham (h), Stoke (a), Sunderland (a).
Fixtures – Saturday, August 13
Hull v Leicester 12:30
Burnley v Swansea 15:00
Crystal Palace v West Brom 15:00
Everton v Tottenham 15:00
Middlesbrough v Stoke 15:00
Southampton v Watford 15:00
Man City v Sunderland 17:30
Sunday, August 14
Bournemouth v Man Utd 13:30
Arsenal v Liverpool 16:00
Monday, August 15
Chelsea v West Ham 20:00Tags: