Monday, 25 July 2016

Early thoughts on squad selection for 2016/17

The FPL General, a two-time top 400 FPL manager, gives us some initial insight on his pre-season tinkering. Have a read at his ideas for team selection.

As August approaches, I have started to draft my FPL team for the season ahead. My most recent take (as shown below) will no doubt change many times before 13th August. This article will touch on some of my early thoughts on the season ahead and I will mention some players who are attracting my interest.

Before I discuss my current draft team, I should mention that I will most likely use my wildcard early this season, between gameweeks three and four which is the two-week international break. With so many managerial changes and doubts over the fitness of many players after this summer's international tournaments, I intend to set up my team with the first three gameweeks in mind. By the time the international break comes around, I will have a lot more knowledge regarding how each team is set up and which teams/players have hit the ground running. I will continue with my usual strategy of deploying a 3-4-3 formation.

Current draft

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Forwards

The million dollar question for me in picking my initial squad this season is whether or not to include Zlatan Ibrahimovic alongside Sergio Aguero in my front three. Aguero is FPL gold in my opinion and he will always be in my team whenever fit. Of course, including Zlatan alongside him puts a serious strain on my budget. It weakens the rest of my squad but at present I believe he is worth it. United’s first three fixtures are very favourable and I expect the big Swede to come out of the blocks firing. With Zlatan and Aguero taking up two of my front three positions, I had to look for a budget option for the third striker's berth. Currently, I'm on Alvaro Negredo, but it's a toss up between him, Callum Wilson and Andre Gray. This position in my team is likely to chop and change quite a few times before the start of the season. Charlie Austin is another who I will be monitoring in the early weeks of the season. I see a lot of managers including Shane Long in their drafts but I'm not convinced. I'd much prefer a fully fit Austin.

Midfielders

Initially, I included Kevin De Bruyne in my first draft. He could well end up back in my team before August 13th. I opted to change him for Eden Hazard as I want some Chelsea coverage for the first couple of weeks. It's difficult to see how Conte is going to set up but I expect the Belgian to come back with a bang this season after his disappointing campaign in 2015/16. The Chelsea midfield offers some very good value this season with Cesc Fabregas, Willian and Pedro all priced at 7.5m. I don't plan to include any of these options in my Gameweek one squad but I will be keeping a close eye on them in the opening few weeks of the season.

Kevin Mirallas is a player I have big hopes for this season. He fell out of favour under Roberto Martinez but could well be rejuvenated under new coach Ronald Koeman. If he can force his way back into the starting eleven at Everton, he could be a steal at 6.5m. I will be keeping a close eye on Everton's pre season fixtures to gauge whether or not Mirallas is worth taking a punt on for Gameweek one.

Andros Townsend was an important part of my team at the back end of last season. He is a player I rate highly and I expect him to continue from where he left off last season. Townsend is one player I'm pretty sure will be in my squad for the first three Gameweek’s of the season.

My fourth midfield spot is currently taken up by Andre Ayew. He is a player I didn't own at any point last season. Ayew finished on 12 league goals last season and I expect him to improve on this. It looks as though he could be the main striker at Swansea which makes him very attractive being listed as a midfielder (out of position, potentially). I'm a big fan of Sigurdsson as well and it's a close call between the two of them. Ayew is shading it for now.

My fifth and final midfield spot will go to a 4.5m priced player who will warm my bench. I currently have Leko from West Brom who is showing promise in pre season but this position won't be finalised until closer to the start of the season.

Bojan is a player I have watchlisted. Listed as a midfielder he could play a lot further forward and I expect a better season from him after his injury problems last season. 6m for him could turn out to be great value but I won't invest in him initially. I can say the same about Jay Rodriguez who I will also monitor in the early weeks. I am intrigued to see what role Juan Mata will play for Man United under Mourinho. If  Jose sees him as a key member of his squad he would offer serious value at 7.5m.

I'm willing to go without the likes of Mkhitaryan, Sanchez, Firmino, Mahrez, Payet, Ozil and Alli for the opening three gameweek’s and then reassess my options while playing my wildcard during the international break. At the same time, any one of these guys could be in my Gameweek one squad.

Defenders

Ronald Koeman's Southampton were solid defensively. This bodes well for Leighton Baines. Everton leaked goals under Martinez last season and Koeman's appointment should shore things up at the back. In addition, If Baines can get his fair share of set pieces, he is a no brainer at 5.5m. If Baines isn't on any set pieces, I prefer Seamus Coleman as an attacking threat from play at the same price. I expect Everton to start the season strongly with a decent run of fixtures in the early part of the season.

Antonio Conte is Italian. It goes without saying, Italians have a masterful knack for defending. This is why I will include a Chelsea defender in my team from gameweek one. With Kurt Zouma set to miss the start of the season I'm pinning my hopes on John Terry being a key member of Conte's Chelsea. I expect Chelsea to be very hard to break down this season and Terry is always a threat from set pieces.

I have seen few defenders who are as threatening as Virgil Van Dijk in the opposition's penalty area. I owned him for a period last season and he has a very good chance of keeping his place in my team for Gameweek one.

With Crystal Palace signing Steve Mandanda and James Tompkins, they should improve defensively on last season. Pape Souare offers good value at 4.5m and is a player who likes to attack. Palace's opening three fixtures are decent.

My fifth and final defender will be a 4m priced player who will be bench fodder. Currently it's Lenihan of Hull City mainly due to the fact that they have only 13 fit players at the moment so he has a good chance of getting game time. This position won't be finalised until closer to the start of the season.

If Charlie Daniels is still on penalties at Bournemouth he will find his way into my team at some point. He was a hero for me towards the end of last season. Patrick Van Aanholt is another player who is in my thoughts. I'm a big fan of Alberto Moreno but will avoid him for the time being with Liverpool's tough start. Manchester United should be solid defensively under Jose Mourinho and I have my eye on Luke Shaw but I will wait to see how he returns from such a long lay-off first.

Goalkeepers

If there is one area I feel I can improve on from last season it's my goalkeepers. In the past two seasons I've gone with one playing goalkeeper and played him every week. This season I will have two playing goalkeepers who I can rotate. I'm pretty sure I'll start the season with my current duo of Ben Foster and Tom Heaton at 4.5m each. Both keepers have proven themselves in previous seasons as worthy FPL options. I also expect West Brom and Burnley to be solid defensively.

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