Key questions you should look to address ahead of the new Fantasy Premier League season
Now that player valuations have been released in many fantasy football game formats, we imagine that many of you will already be working hard on those FPL squads or looking at how your GW1 daily fantasy football side might line-up. However, it’s important to address a couple of questions before the new season gets under way before you finalise anything.
Specifically, how transfer activity might impact on squad selection and what clues can be gained from pre-season friendlies? These matches are now coming thick and fast so we’ve highlighted a few scenarios that you should keep track of, with an emphasis on set piece taking.
James Milner is Liverpool’s first choice penalty taker, having converted 7 of his 8 spot kicks in 2016/17. He also shared corner kick taking duty with Philippe Coutinho last season and has been reclassified as a defender, adding to his fantasy appeal.
However, Liverpool are reported to be closing in on the capture of Andrew Robertson, with the left-back area seen as one that needs improvement. This does not augur well for Milner’s fantasy prospects and he could easily find himself playing second fiddle to the Hull City full-back.
If that happens, it throws open penalty taking responsibility, so keep a close eye on those pre-season games to see which player is most likely to be given that honour.
Swansea City’s Icelandic international pretty much monopolised dead ball situations for his team last season, making him arguably the most influential set piece taker around.
Sigurdsson was left out of the Swans pre-season tour party, heightening speculation that he may well leave the Liberty Stadium. Everton and Leicester City both seem keen on securing his services and he would certainly shake up their respective set piece departments should he sign for either.
However, if he does leave there will be an opportunity for somebody to step up to the plate for the Swans, so keep tabs on the likes of Tom Carroll between now and the start of the new campaign – you might just unearth a cut-price gem!
Lanzini seemed to benefit from Dimitri Payet’s departure, getting more responsibility and significantly, more game minutes. This was highlighted by his WhoScored player fixture record and its significance should not be under-estimated. He could be in for a terrific season and there probably aren’t too many better options in his price range.
A word of warning, though. Robert Snodgrass is a viable alternative on set pieces and could be the spanner in the works. He underwhelmed following his move to the London Stadium midway through the 2016/17 campaign but if he can establish himself as a first team regular for West Ham United, it could impact on Lanzini’s fantasy output.
Wayne Rooney was Manchester United’s leading corner taker last season. He took 50 of their kicks, a fairly modest amount when you consider that Spurs’ Christian Eriksen took 192. Rooney has taken his fair share of spot kicks down the years as well, something that is also true of Zlatan Ibrahimović.
While a new contract for Ibra has not been entirely ruled out, the big Swede is expected to be out until the end of the year anyway, so it’s a brand new forward line for the Red Devils.
Marcus Rashford was heavily involved in set pieces towards the back-end of the 2016/17 campaign and he is likely to fight it out with the likes of Juan Mata, Daley Blind, Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for dead ball responsibility. Again watch out for any pre-season clues!
Now we’re not expecting you to watch every single friendly but checking out relevant match reports could pay off in spades. This is an exercise that should be completed for every Premier League club but we’ll update our list of set piece takers to make things a bit easier for you, if you simply don’t have the time.
Understanding which players are likely to be the designated set piece takers is one of the key fundamentals to fantasy football success, so make sure you are fully up to speed in this area before a ball is kicked in anger.