Fantasy Football – Six of the Best: Game Week 1

Another season looms large on the horizon and with it comes another exciting cohort of talents from overseas.

Who can forget new Liverpool star Firmino’s first day at Melwood? Is Christian Benteke’s stunner against Swindon a sign of things to come? Can world cup cult hero Sergio Romero tighten United’s defence and bring the title back to Old Trafford?

Football fans have seen some inspired signings this summer, along with an array of gut wrenching exits that have put paid to the lineup of many a fantasy team.

Last season, there were some exceptional performers, and it would be a no brainer to include the holy trinity of Alexis Sanchez, David Silva and Diego Costa from the off – provided that you don’t mind the other eight players in your side being utter garbage of course!

Results in the first week of the season are seldom an indication as to where you will be ranked come May – for this reason, these six players have been selected based on their short-term effectiveness.

  1. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal vs West Ham)

Koscielny has enjoyed a purposeful pre-season which has already seen Arsenal win three pieces of silverware.

By contrast, West Ham is a team that should be ripe for the taking on day one. Even with a marquee signing in Dimitri Payet, the Hammers remain one of the blunter top flight teams, and they will doubtless be feeling some fatigue as a result of their summer-long Europa League exploits.

Speaking of the Europa League, West Ham’s performances have given little cause for encouragement, with one of those resulting in a 1-0 defeat to Maltese minnows Birkirkara.

Koscielny should begin the season with a clean sheet.

  1. Jeffrey Schlupp (Leicester vs Sunderland)

The jet-heeled Schlupp is a wise, but uncommon, pick for this weekend. His presence in your starting XI will give you the jump on your rivals from the very beginning.

Sunderland often struggled for pace last season and the Ghanaian wingback could be on for an assist or two, especially if the Foxes’ form continues in the fashion it did over the final ten games of 2014/15.

  1. Santi Cazorla (Arsenal vs West Ham)

If you want a balanced squad then, in all likelihood, Sanchez is too rich for your blood. This leaves Cazorla as your next-best bet to carve into the Hammers.

  1. Harry Kane (Tottenham at Man Utd)

Manchester United’s defence crumbled at times last season, and they remain susceptible to poor results at home to lesser opposition, albeit to a lesser extent than under previous manager David Moyes.

Armed with a fully matured Harry Kane, this is easily the strongest Spurs side for five years, and a result at Old Trafford is certainly possible.

After their trip to Old Trafford, Spurs host Stoke City at White Hart Lane – Kane MUST be your captain in Week 2 so it is worth including him now.

  1. Andre Ayew (Swansea at Chelsea)

Ayew’s debut couldn’t be tougher – making his first competitive appearance for Swansea at the home of the reigning champions. However, the son of the great Abedi Pele is unlikely to be daunted by the star-studded West Londoners.

Costa may yet miss the game, and it was his form in the early part of last season that set the ball rolling. Without Costa, Chelsea are a mortal side, so Ayew could make an impact – however, he is a player that will almost certainly deliver in the three games following the Stamford Bridge opener.

For that reason, it is worth including him now, as a home debut against Newcastle ought to be Christmas for the Swansea new boy.

  1. Sadio Mané (Southampton at Newcastle)

Mané’s arrival at Southampton was just one of many standout moments in an impressive 2014/15 season for the Saints, with the Senegalese winger instantly adapting to Ronald Koeman’s version of ‘Total Football’.

Newcastle manager Steve McLaren has made several signings that indicate things may be again moving in the right direction on Tyneside, but there remains a distinct lack of on-pitch leadership.

Southampton ought to take at least a point back to the south coast, and Mané is set to be the standout player at St James Park on Saturday.

The opening home game against Everton (a side bereft of victory in Southampton since 2002) and the trip to Watford complete a favourable trio of opening games that provide much opportunity for Mané to strut his stuff.

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