Do Premier League Shirt Numbers Matter ?
Manchester United Shirt Numbers
When Memphis Depay arrived at Old Trafford huge things were expected – he had scored 22 goals from 30 appearances for PSV Eindhoven in the 2014/15 Eredivisie and was one of the most revered free-kick takers in European football – he was handed the iconic number 7 shirt by Manchester United.
Things didn’t pan out as expected, despite a promising start and the Dutch flyer soon cast a frustrated figure. He only started 16 Premier League games, scoring just two league goals in the process and didn’t seem at all suited by the pedestrian football Louis van Gaal was intent on playing.
Memphis has managed to cling on to the Number 7 shirt, despite some high profile arrivals but whether that is an indication of his chances of featuring in José Mourinho’s starting XI is very much open for debate. Zlatan Ibrahimović has been handed the number 9 shirt, worn by Anthony Martial last season, much to the Frenchman’s annoyance, in what can only be described as a commercial master-stroke. Shirt sales are likely to be astronomical, while parents are now left with the unenviable option of having to replace those now defunct Martial 9 shirts with his new number 11 shirt.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been handed the number 22 shirt, offering a glimmer of hope for Memphis – the Armenian could easily have been assigned the ‘7’ shirt with him being a much more likely starter.
Perhaps Mourinho doesn’t care about shirt numbers but the purists amongst us would still like to think that there is a place for the traditional 1 to 11 in modern day line-ups.
If there is, then it is certainly significant for fantasy football managers who are casting their eyes over all the new arrivals before submitting those FPL squads.
West Ham United Shirt Numbers
It promises to be a really special season for West Ham United, who move to the Olympic Stadium, intent on establishing themselves as one of the Premier League powerhouses.
Slaven Bilić has brought in 6 new faces, 2 of which have been assigned numbers within the traditional 1-11 range. The brilliant Dimitri Payet could easily have been upgraded from his number 27 shirt, suggesting that the West Ham boss might not be overly concerned by such matters and instead the prized number 7 shirt has been handed to Sofiane Feghouli.
The Algerian didn’t pull up too many trees at Valencia, recording a WhoScored average rating of just 6.58 in 2015/16 and he is unlikely to be risked by too many fantasy managers who are still mulling over their FPL picks for the new season but it will be fascinating to see how often he makes the starting XI.
We’ve discussed the role of the number 4 previously but don’t expect Håvard Nordtveit to be dictating matters from a deep-lying play-maker role. He’s more of a traditional centre-back type who has the versatility to play as a defensive midfielder. He did score 4 times for Borussia Mönchengladbach last season and is a threat from set-pieces with his long-range shooting, so he could be an intriguing low-budget option, providing he can force his way into Bilić’s plans.
Keeping an eye on those squad numbers, as they are revealed, might just help to solve some of those fantasy football puzzles!