FPL Countdown – Risk vs Reward
2017/18 Fantasy Premier League squad unveiled
If you are a regular follower of this column, you may recall that we highlighted some of the common traps that FPL managers fall into throughout the course of a campaign, some of which we were guilty of ourselves, so our intention, as we embark on a new season is to avoid as many of these as possible.
Having said that, even though it is desirable to stack a side with ‘nailed on’ starters, we feel that a degree of risk might be acceptable if the rewards on offer are tangible.
So where do we start? With that early wildcard available, it makes sense to focus the initial squad on upcoming fixtures, so our planning takes in the first few gameweeks. If things don’t work out to our liking during this period, we can play that aforementioned ‘chip’ early to try to get back on track.
Our intention is to to field a 3-4-3 formation, ensuring that we have coverage from all of the Big 6 clubs, with the bulk of the squad being made up of players that are guaranteed game minutes, although we will take a couple of calculated risks along the way.
Budget FPL Goalkeepers
This is one area of your squad where you can really economize, with ‘busy’ keepers seemingly more than capable of holding their own against shot-stoppers from the bigger clubs that might record more clean sheets, so we are not prepared to spend more than £4.5m on a single goalkeeper.
West Bromwich Albion don’t face any of the top clubs until GW6, so Ben Foster will do for us. Newcastle United’s Robert Elliot is included as back-up keeper.
The 3-man defence
Like many managers, we had planned to include Keiran Trippier but his unfortunate injury in Spurs’ final pre-season friendly with Juventus sees him excluded, for the time being at least!
Antonio Valencia and Kyle Walker get the nod, in the hope that both Manchester clubs make the most of some favourable early season fixtures, while Arsenal new boy Sead Kolašinac, a much riskier proposition, is also included. However, if the Bosnian international can cement his place in the Gunners’ line-up early on, he could turn into one of the fantasy finds of the season.
Brighton’s Lewis Dunk and the Baggies’ Ahmed Hagazy complete the bench.
The Engine Room
Spurs’ Christian Eriksen is a confident choice, while Kevin de Bruyne is expected to provide much of the ammunition for Manchester City’s potent attack. Cesc Fàbregas gives us some Chelsea coverage and looks good for some game minutes, with Eden Hazard and Tiémoué Bakayoko both currently unavailable.
With an early season injury crisis enveloping the Emirates, we are happy to take a chance on Alex Iwobi as our 4th midfielder. Game minutes are far from guaranteed but his pre-season performances really caught the eye.
Swansea’s Tom Carroll looks good value as the budget midfielder and is also a threat from set-piece situations in the continued absence of the Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Choosing who to start with up top, wasn’t easy and we toyed with the idea of including a Chelsea forward. However, neither Michy Batshuayi or Álvaro Morata convinced in last Sunday’s Community Shield, so we are happy to pass them over.
Romelu Lukaku is included and gets the GW1 armband, while Roberto Firmino gives us a bit of Liverpool coverage. The Brazilian international, who was classified as a midfielder last season, has been taking penalties in pre-season, so that would certainly be a welcome bonus should it prove to be the case going forward.
Southampton are another side that have some attractive early fixtures but their starting line-up under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino is far from clear. Manolo Gabbiadini would, however, appear to be favourite to lead their attack in GW1 so he gets the nod.
Gabbiadini and Iwobi are certainly risky inclusions but the rest of the side looks solid, so let’s see if we can get off to a flying start and reap some early season rewards!
And on a final note, remember that Arsenal, who are expected to be among the goals, get the new season under way on Friday evening when Leicester City visit the Emirates, so that means an early gameweek deadline! The FPL countdown is well and truly on!