For my first article of the new season, I have decided to do a “Player vs Player” study based on my own thoughts and opinions while trying to select my own squad for the forthcoming season. In an ideal world, you’d be able to pick all six of the following players. But FPL is not ideal. Some managers will try though. Be warned – you’ll end up with a defence weaker than wet tissue paper if you do!
Sanchez vs Hazard
· Listed as a midfielder in FPL
· Good World Cup
· Signed from Barca
· 34 league games – 19 goals / 10 assists
· High price for an unproven FPL player (£10.5m)
· Possible fatigue – played in World Cup round of 16
· Will Wenger ease him in gently?
· Will he take time to adjust to the pace of the PL?
· 28.0% FPL ownership stat (as at 5 Aug.)
· Proven quality FPL player with over 200 points last season
· Plays for an attack minded team with a better target man this season
· A bonus point magnet
· 35 league games – 14 goals / 10 assists
· Poor World Cup
· Will probably see less of the ball this season due to Chelsea’s new signings
· Was the talisman of the team last season and this inspired his performances; this will not be the case this year
· Will have to act on Mourinho’s criticism that he neglected his defensive duties
· 22.2% FPL ownership stat (as at 5 Aug.)
Sanchez is unproven in England, yet has proven pedigree. Arguably moving from Barcelona to Arsenal is a step down career wise; but this may mean he is hungry to prove people wrong? He is Arsenal’s marquee signing, so it would be crazy for Wenger not to start him on his home debut. But Wenger has a way of frustrating FPL managers as he has proved in the past. Sanchez may struggle initially to adapt to the pace and power of the premier league.
Hazard was the third highest scoring FPL midfielder last year, behind Yaya Toure and Steven Gerrard. Although Belgium did well in the World Cup, Hazard did not exactly set the tournament alight as many predicted he would. The arrival of Fabregas may stifle his attacking prowess this season. Possibly a rotation risk, and don’t forget about Mourinho’s open criticism of him towards the end of last season.
A tricky one this. Personally I am reluctant to include brand new arrivals to the premier league in my own squad until I’ve had chance to judge how quickly they adapt to the pace. The fixtures for both Arsenal and Chelsea are similar in terms of difficulty for the first 10 game weeks. It’s a bit of a coin toss this one. My head says to vote for the proven record of Hazard, but my gut feeling says Sanchez will hit the ground running – therefore it is Sanchez that gets my Flybuy recommendation.
Fabregas vs Ramsey
· Proven FPL player (albeit with Arsenal!)
· Used sparingly during the world cup (2 sub appearances)
· will probably settle quickly into the Chelsea style of play
· FPL assist machine – averaging 11 a season during his 5 years with Arsenal – and continued this during his 3 years at barca
· Where will Jose Mourinho play him?
· Rotation risk?
· If Costa struggles, the assists could dry up
· 18.9% FPL ownership stat (as at 5 Aug.)
· Stunning first half of 2013/14 season
· No World Cup
· Proven PL player
· 23 league games – 10 goals / 9 assists
· Took 3 months to recover from a thigh strain
· Will Wenger change his role in the attacking strategy?
· Arsenal midfield options – rotation risk?
· match fitness?
· 21.4% FPL ownership stat (as at 5 Aug.)
Both players already have high FPL ownership; nearly one in 5 managers have selected one (or both) of these players. Both are proven in the PL and there is nothing to suggest they will not hit the ground running from Gameweek 1. It may take time for Fabregas to develop an understanding with his team mates (particularly Costa) but this will be a similar situation for Ramsey (with Sanchez).
There is very little to choose between these two truth be told. Fabregas seems to be playing well in pre-season, and he is genuine quality. It may take time to form a partnership with Matic and Hazard, but he is intelligent enough to get to grips with this quickly. However, on this occasion Ramsey gets my vote; he has had a good rest over the summer – not including the time out due to injury between Jan and Mar, which means he should be fresher. However, i would advise including both in your FPL team. You won’t, because you’ve already gone for Sanchez for your Arsenal midfield representation haven’t you?
Costa vs Rooney
· Chelsea’s only “real” striking option
· Stunning season for Atletico Madrid last year
· Perfect “robust” physique for a PL forward?
· Quality midfield at Chelsea will provide plenty of ammo
· 35 league games – 27 goals
· High price for an unproven FPL player (£10.5m)
· Poor World Cup for Spain
· Rushed back from hamstring injury for the UCL final, and hasn’t looked right since - possibly carrying some extra weight?
· Replaced by Torres during ineffective performances for Spain – Deja vu?
· 25.6% FPL ownership stat (as at 5 Aug.)
· Second highest scoring FPL forward last season in a poor team
· Will rise to the challenge of proving he is the main man at Old Trafford
· Proven PL quality averaging 174.5 FPL points per season (since 2006/7)
· Hasn’t failed to break into double figures for goals in each of the last 8 PL seasons (average 16 goals)
· No European distractions for Manchester United this season
· New manager, new ideas. Manchester United undergoing a period of transition
· RvP is evidently an LvG golden boy and is a strong contender for the captaincy. If Rooney decides to sulk, his form could suffer
· Poor World Cup could have affected confidence
· 34.8% FPL ownership stat (as at 5 Aug.)
Both players again have high ownership percentage, especially the unproven Diego Costa. He looks to have all of the attributes associated with a successful premier league forward; robust physique, tall, eye for goal. However, his record before last season’s exceptional success for Atletico Madrid has been average at best. Is he the real deal? Rooney on the other hand definitely is the real deal. His Premier League record speaks for itself. He will be eager to impress his new manager and he desperately wants that Captain’s armband from LvG.
Costa is proving to be a popular FPL pick for many people. His ownership stats are very high for a player coming to a new league off the back of one exceptionally good season. Rooney on the other hand is FPL’s “Mr Consistency”. Risk taking is the way to climb the FPL leader board; however it’s not necessary from Gameweek 1. Remember; it’s a marathon not a sprint. And there is no better long term bet than Wayne Rooney to guarantee consistent points week after week. With no European distraction, I predict he will be a “must have”. The only risk is being outscored by his own team mate, RvP. Squeezing them both in to your FPL team will be nigh on impossible, so make your choice wisely.