Each week, Sport360 will bring you tips for the English Premier League’s official fantasy football game. Fancy pitting your wits against us? You can join “Sport360 Fans League” using the code 2326997-532303.
And just like that, in the blink of an eye, the Premier League season is back. The fast-approaching new campaign, beginning with Manchester United versus Leicester on Friday, has no doubt prompted plenty of Fantasy Premier League managers to spring into action and scramble to put together their squads.
Hitting the ground running in any FPL season is no mean feat and this summer’s World Cup excursions, coupled with the early conclusion of the transfer window, has served to complicate the whole process exponentially.
Fortunately, we’ve done our homework and here’s a few tips to help you navigate the season opener.
CAPTAIN – MOHAMED SALAH | LIVERPOOL | 13M
Mohamed Salah made FPL history last season, scoring a massive 303 points from midfield – the highest-ever score from a single player in the game. The Egyptian was available for 9m, a reasonable price that proved to be an absolute bargain as he scored 32 times and provided 12 assists in a remarkable debut campaign with Liverpool. It’s no wonder his price has skyrocketed by 4m, taking him to 13m this season.
Despite being the most expensive FPL asset this year, it will take a brave manager to ignore Salah’s capacity to deliver returns on a consistent basis. Indeed, he already boasts a 51.3 per cent (and rising) ownership, and that only increases the risk of omitting him.
The Egyptian’s World Cup campaign with Egypt was short-lived and he has benefited from a full pre-season in which he’s looked incredibly sharp. Liverpool play West Ham in their season opener at Anfield. The chances of Salah flying out of the blocks against the Hammers is quite high, making it difficult to see past him as a candidate for the captaincy.
ALEXIS SANCHEZ (10.5m) until last season, held the record for highest-ever FPL scorer in a single term. After enjoying a first summer off since 2013, the Chilean should be back to his best at the start of this campaign and with Manchester United missing several of their first XI for their first game at home to Leicester City, the onus will be on him to produce the goods.
CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (9.5m) proved to be a consistent performer last season and ended as the fourth-highest scorer among midfielders on 199 points. With Dele Alli and Harry Kane set to miss the start of the season, the in-form Dane, who has continued to impress in pre-season, will have to step up. With Newcastle United almost predictably in disarray, he should relish the away fixture.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (11.0m) has a tough start against Premier League champions Manchester City. However, the Blues will be without some of their key players and others will be somewhat drained by their excursions against Chelsea in the Community Shield on Sunday. The Arsenal striker on the other hand is another who should benefit from a full pre-season, one in which he scored and assisted several goals.
TWO TO WATCH
LUCAS MOURA | TOTTENHAM | 7.0M
When Tottenham signed Lucas Moura in January, it was very much a move looking ahead to this season. The tricky Brazilian made a few decent cameo appearances last term but his performances in pre-season have promised much more. A stunning free-kick against Girona capped the latest of his eye-catching performances and at the reasonable price of 7m, could prove to be great value.
RYAN SESSEGNON | FULHAM | 6.5M
Despite the hype around him ahead of this season that has seen him linked with some of the top Premier League sides, a price tag of 6.5m should not put anyone off Ryan Sessegnon. With 16 goals and eight assists from the Championship Player of the Season last term, the 18-year-old is certainly worth a look.
TWO TO AVOID
ALVARO MORATA | CHELSEA | 9.0M
Despite Maurizio Sarri failing in his efforts to convince Chelsea’s top brass to sign Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata doesn’t seem certain of establishing himself as their No9 – and has recently surrendered the actual shirt number as well, albeit in tribute to his newborn twins. Sarri may opt for Olivier Giroud instead when the Frenchman returns while Morata’s pre-season displays has provided no evidence of a resurgence following a disappointing debut campaign.
CHRISTIAN BENTEKE | CRYSTAL PALACE | 6.5M
A drop in price from 7.5m to 6.5m does little to make Christian Benteke an appealing option. The Belgian scored just three times over the course of last season and Roy Hodgson has preferred to play Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend up front ahead of the out-and-out striker. The duo has impressed in pre-season again, making it even more difficult for Benteke to wrestle back a starting berth.
Sport360’s Fantasy Premier League tips are brought to you by McGettigan’s JBR.
Take part in our FPL League using the code using the code 2326997-532303 win exciting prizes.
City romped to the Premier League title by a 19-point margin, setting numerous records along the way, including a points tally of 100.
Pep Guardiola’s appetite for success is undimmed and so too, it seems, is his players’, with Walker outlining the ambition for the forthcoming campaign.
“What we achieved was incredible,” said Walker, who moved from Tottenham 12 months ago.
“My first year there was incredible. You couldn’t write it. To achieve the 100 points, how we did it in the last game.
“We set the bar last year. We set it so high that we have to try to raise it. Everyone in that dressing room is not going to settle for anything less this year and we want to pick up more trophies.
“I know the gaffer wants to win everything he possibly can and so do his players. We need to drive each other on. It’s up to us to achieve those dreams.
“We achieved big things, but we can’t stop there. We have to keep going and trying to improve, that’s individually and collectively.”
It appears ominous for the rest of the Premier League playing catch-up, while the Champions League will again be a target.
There was an obvious gulf between City and Chelsea in Sunday’s Community Shield, decided by two Sergio Aguero goals.
Walker knows City’s rivals will be bidding to dethrone them as Guardiola’s men seek to become the first side to successfully defend the Premier League title in 10 years.
“When you are the top the only way is down and we don’t want to go down,” Walker said.
Intense internal competition and fresh faces mean everyone is kept on their toes. Riyad Mahrez made his City debut at Wembley and 18-year-old Phil Foden impressed.
Much is expected of Foden, but Walker believes it would be too soon to promote the midfielder into the England squad.
“I think he needs to come through and be nurtured the right way,” Walker said.
“We have seen a lot of people being given the opportunity too early, and it kinds of swallows them up.
“So I think let’s just let him keep playing football and leave it up to the other people who have got to make those decisions.”
Walker returned to the City side after just three training sessions following England’s fourth-placed finish at the World Cup.
He insisted he wanted to feature at Wembley and hopes he will not be fatigued by his summer exploits later in the season.
“This is a title, and I have not won many, so to not be a part of this would have been stupid for me to not want to come back,” said Walker, who was given the option by Guardiola to miss the Community Shield.
“Come Christmas I might be saying to you that I’m absolutely knackered, but that is just football.
“I’m not looking into the future, I take every game as it comes, and as long as I am on the pitch and playing football, that is what keeps me happy.”
Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has made an offer to take full ownership of the club in a deal worth £1.8billion.
The American’s company, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, currently owns 67 per cent of the Gunners and has offered to purchase the 30 per cent held by Alisher Usmanov’s Red and White Securities firm.
KSE says it has received an “irrevocable undertaking” from Red and White Securities to accept the offer as soon as possible, and in any event by 3pm on Tuesday.
In a statement published on the London Stock Exchange, Kroenke said: “We at KSE are moving forward with this offer leading to 100 per cent ownership of the club.
“We appreciate Mr Usmanov’s dedication to the Arsenal Football Club and the storied ethos and history the club represents.”
In October last year KSE offered around £525million to buy the 18,695 shares held by Usmanov.
Kroenke believes taking the north London club into private ownership will increase their chances of success in the future.
The Gunners last won the Premier League title in 2004 and last season finished sixth, 37 points behind champions Manchester City.
Unai Emery was appointed manager in May after the club said farewell to Arsene Wenger after 22 years in charge.
The statement continued: “The successful implementation of the offer will result in the opening of a new chapter in the history of the club in bringing 100 per cent private ownership by KSE.
“KSE believes moving to private ownership will bring the benefits of a single owner better able to move quickly in furtherance of the club’s strategy and ambitions. KSE is a committed, long-term owner of the club.”