*Editors Note*: Part one of the “Fantasy Premier League Week One Preview can be found here. This part contains the second five games of the weekend.
All reference to draft leagues uses the scoring system of playtogga.com, which has increased scoring options.
Chelsea vs Swansea: 5:30pm BST 08/08/15
Goalkeepers: The Chelsea goalkeeper situation is very easy with Thibaut Courtois the main man. Whilst this isn’t an amazing match-up, Chelsea can keep clean sheets against pretty much anyone, so in draft leagues Courtois is a must play. But his price in SC (salary cap) means I would probably look to use someone else with a better match-up this week. If you can afford him, by all means use him, though. Fabianski was the top scorer for keepers last year and at £5.0m is in a nice group, which can be rotated. Chelsea have struggled this pre-season for goals but they have an amazing team and this is one week I would definitely avoid Fabianski in all formats.
Defenders: The Chelsea defence remains fairly clear with Ivanovic and Terry both studs who will be owned all over the place, and rightly so. Cahill should get the nod to start the season and this week is a lock in draft leagues. However, beware of the Kurt Zouma threat going forward. Azpilicueta is the cheap way into this Chelsea defence and for now should be an every week threat, making him a good option in both formats. The Swansea defence pretty much picks itself as I expect Taylor, Williams, Fernandez and Naughton to start but I am not using any of them this week against Chelsea. Therefore, this week serves as a good opportunity to observe who Swansea are planning to use along that back four.
Midfielders: Eden Hazard is the no-brain number one midfield option this week and should be used heavily in both formats. Fabregas is another must-start player in both formats given his creative ability. Nemanja Matic is a must play in draft leagues with the increased points for his role. The other two spots will go to a combination of Oscar, Willian, Ramires and potentially Moses, making it hard to judge which of those guys to use. Willian and Oscar are worth draft league starts if your league does auto-subs. So, with Swansea we have Siggurdsson, Ki and Shelvey as locks to start. Of those three, Siggy is a must- start in both formats because he can make and score goals out of nowhere, and that leaves Ki an option in draft leagues and Shelvey just on the outside for me. The wild cards are the wings for me with my favourites being Ayew and Montero. If both of those two are playing then both are draft league options with Ayew a #3/4 midfield option and Montero a little lower. In salary cap leagues it’s a little murkier and for now I would avoid Montero but I might be willing to take a flyer on Ayew. Routledge and Dyer are the other two main options, but I wouldn’t use them in any format this week.
Strikers: Costa’s injury doubt throws this wide open, especially with Remy looking lost and a bit useless in the Community Shield. Chuck in Falcao and this situation really is a mess that I might look to avoid if I am not sure Costa is playing. In auto-sub draft leagues all three could be used looking for upside, but in SC leagues Costa is the only man I am starting in the hope he plays. With Gomis seemingly fit he is the man I expect to lead this line but I expect pickings to be slim this week and this might be a week to gamble on someone else.
Question Marks: Diego Costa – Hamstring (50%), Jordi Amat – Foot (50%)
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Arsenal vs West Ham: 1.30pm BST 09/08/15
Goalkeepers: Petr Cech is the undisputed number one option at Arsenal now and against this West Ham team I have him as a top five option in draft leagues. Again, the top end price stops me locking him in for SC, but I would prefer him over other expensive options De Gea and Courtois. Adrian was someone I envisaged myself using regularly, but Slaven Billic doesn’t use the same defensive style that “Big Sam” used to, and that could hurt Adrian’s value. This week against Arsenal I am definitely staying clear and keeping him benched.
Defenders: Arsenal’s defence does have some question marks as we enter the season, but to me it appears that Koscielny and Mertesacker are locked in as first choice centre backs to start the season. Koscielny is my favourite in SC leagues, as I feel he is safer, but both are viable starting options for me this week in draft leagues. Out wide it is a little less clear with Bellerin, Debuchy and Chambers all in the picture at right back and Gibbs and Monreal competing at left back. My opinion is they go Bellerin and Monreal this week, but I would only use Bellerin – and only in draft leagues this week. The West Ham defensive options are going to need to clear themselves up with only Cresswell and Jenkinson locked inserts to start most weeks. Cresswell is the only player from West Ham I would use this week in draft leagues as Jenkinson cannot feature against his parent club. Centrally, I don’t want any part of them this week but if I was desperate and had to guess I would say Ogbonna and Tomkins with Reid questionable.
Midfielders: With Sanchez unlikely this week this picture is a little clearer; Cazorla is the star and the must start option in all formats; Ozil seems to enjoy games against lower opposition but his price means I would only use him in draft leagues; Ramsey is another good option for draft leagues, but again I’d prefer Cazorla who is the same price as both he and Ozil; Coquelin has draft league value but nothing in SC, whilst Ox-Chamberlain looks set to start out on the right and could be a sneaky SC option at just £6.0m this week whilst being a draft league lock. Walcott is also intriguing but I will discuss him with the strikers. The midfield is another area of West Hams team that we would benefit from being cleared up. The stud in this group is Dimitri Payet who is a must-start in draft leagues and at £7.5m in SC is also a decent option. What they do with the other positions is a little up in the air, with my favourite sleepers being Morgan Amalfitano and Manuel Lanzini .But I wouldn’t trust either for sure if I didn’t need to.
Strikers: So Arsene threw us something of a curve ball last week starting Walcott up front instead of Giroud. I hope this week he goes the other way with Giroud starting and Walcott off the bench in terms of how he can get the best out of each player. But I think he will look to use Walcott’s pace early and he could prove to be a very dangerous fantasy option to ignore. Both are startable in draft leagues where they are dangerous no matter whether they come off the bench or start but in SC I would hesitate with them both this week which is a shame. With West Ham still struggling to sign another striking option it appears the door is wide open for Diafra Sakho to prove he should feature this season for the Hammers. Sakho went through an unbelievable phase last year where he couldn’t stop scoring, and with Valencia and Carroll out at least a couple of months he looks to be getting plenty of chances to try and get on song once again.
Out: Tomas Rosicky – Knee, Danny Welbeck – Knee, Alexis Sanchez – Additional Rest, Jack Wilshere – Ankle, Enner Valencia – Knee, Andy Carroll – Knee, Carl Jenkinson – Parent Club, Joey O’Brien – Knock
Question Marks: Winston Reid – Muscle (75%), Pedro Obiang – Muscle (75%)
Newcastle vs Southampton: 1.30pm BST 09/08/15
Let me prefix this by saying I am insanely high on this Newcastle team after their summer transfers and I feel they could be back in the top half come seasons end.
Goalkeepers: Coming in to this season following a down year, Tim Krul has now started to reach towards bargain level, priced at a measly £4.5m. The Newcastle defence looks strengthened by the arrival of Mbemba which should offer Krul more protection this year. However, having said that, I would still hesitate to use him against a team like Southampton, if I could avoid it. I am a big fan of Stekelenburg but not at the same price as Mignolet, Fabianski and co., so I am unlikely to use him very often. And in SC leagues I would definitely use a different option this week. In draft leagues he is right around the top 10 area for me, so unless you have him paired with a top end option then you could use him.
Defenders: So there now appears to be three players assured of their place in the starting defence this week with the iinjury to Paul Dummett, meaning Haidara takes his place at left back with Mbemba (CB) and Janmaat (RB). Of these three, Janmaat is my favourite in both formats given his ability to get forward and join the attack combined with his relatively low price. I actually like all three of these but I would only use Janmaat this week and maybe look too stash Mbemba in draft and Haidara in SC because I think there is a Newcastle bounce back coming this season. The other centre back could be young Lascelles, but it could equally be Taylor or Williamson making them all impossible to pick until we know more. It is looking more a more likely Bertrand is out this week making Targett an intriguing cheap play (£4.0), given that Southampton look strong once again. At right back Cedric Soares is a player I am high on in both formats given his ability as an attacking full back who can contribute at both ends of the field. In the centre, Fonte and Caulker are expensive compared to their full backs in SC but are both defenders I would look to use in draft leagues this week.
Midfielders: New signing Wijnaldum is the stand out option for Newcastle and is someone I wouldn’t hesitate to use in draft leagues, but I might just hold on a fraction in SC leagues at £7.5m. Other draft league options are Aarons, Sissoko and Colback with Aarons my favourite SC pick of those three at just £5.0m. I think Sadio Mane is locked in to start and so he should be a lock for draft leagues, but maybe not given his price in SC. Dusan Tadic looks fit again and could start in that central role behind the lone striker, making him an intriguing draft league option. Out on the right I expect to see James Ward-Prowse, who is a decent draft option this week – and all season, even if there are some better £6.0m midfielders for SC. Jordy Clasie’s issues mean it looks as though Wanyama and Davis will start, but there value is higher in the draft format.
Strikers: Cisse still being there muddies the picture a little bit because with him gone I wouldn’t hesitate to scream for you to pick Mitrovic, who was a beast for Anderlecht. In draft leagues I still fancy using Mitrovic but in SC leagues I am holding on and getting a similar priced option who will play for sure. Ayoze Perez could potentially have a role just behind the striker, but I wouldn’t bank much on him this week. With Jay Rodriguez only having one senior start under his belt I can see Southampton starting the season with Pelle upfront on his own, and therefore Pelle because a must-use for me in draft leagues. His SC value is a little too high for a number two for me and a little too low to be my number one, so he misses out. Shane Long could pip Tadic to that behind the striker role and if he does he has some intriguing value in both formats but there’s no need to risk it this week.
Out: Sylvain Marveaux – Groin, Paul Dummett – Hamstring, Curtis Good – Hip, Emmanuael Riviere – Knee, Fraser Forster – Knee, Florin Gardos – Knee, Ryan Bertrand – Knee, Gaston Ramirez – Muscle,
Question Marks: Remy Cabella – Thigh (50%), Fabricio Coloccini – Achilles (50%), Jordy Clasie – Hamstring (50%), Shane Long – Illness (75%)
Stoke vs Liverpool: 4.00pm BST 09/08/15
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland is slated to start for Stoke this season and that is something which I quite like from Mark Hughes. This week I would give him a miss in this match-up but at £4.5m he is a cheap option that I think could easily end the year fighting for a top five spot. Simon Mignolet is one of my picks for the season and whilst I think Stoke will be a real force, I think this week is a fraction too early with Bojan not quite there and a few new signings that need to click. Mignolet is an option if you have a rotation going using both he and one of Adrian or Fabianski.
Defenders: My one lock for Stoke a week ago now has fears he could miss a long period of time. Of course I am referencing Ryan Shawcross, whose fantasy stock has plummeted with his back issue. That leaves Erik Peters, but against a Benteke-led Liverpool I think I will give him a miss. I am intrigued to see this week whether Liverpool decide to use a back three or a back four. Either way, I see Clyne and Skrtel being must-start draft options, with Clyne the better option in SC leagues. Lovren should start regularly in either formation and can be used an option in the draft format. In the three at the back formation Sakho will also have draft league value but if they go four at the back then Moreno has draft league value
Midfielders: John Walters is a bargain at just £6.0m and should be owned in virtually every SC team as a low price high upside fourth midfielder as he is a constant goal threat who also takes penalties. Peter Odemwingie looks to have the chance to stamp his authority out wide with Arnautovic injured and I like him as a sneaky cheap player with a nice upside in both formats. Hopefully these two are accompanied by van Ginkel and Adam, who should have really nice draft league value. Moha and Affelay are both players I think will contribute this year but this week may be too early for them. Coutinho is the main man in both formats for Liverpool with Henderson the budget stud option in SC whilst also being a must start in draft leagues. The remaining group of Lallana, Milner, Markovic and Firmino are not locks to start but if they do then they are must start in draft leagues. Jordon Ibe is the budget sleeper option here that I want to have stored on my bench this week to see how Liverpool use him after his dynamite pre-season.
Strikers: If Bojan is healthy then there are not many better options in the game as a cheap third striker, given the way he was performing pre-injury last year. I own a lot of Bojan shares and I will cheer every moment of genius he has for Stoke this year. As for the central guy, I have no faith in any of Joselu, Crouch or Diouf locking it down so I am steering clear of playing any this week with Joselu the one I will gamble on having on the bench, if I’m looking for upside. Benteke is the stud option here who is a must- start in draft leagues, but in that awkward middle ground I have discussed previously in SC leagues. Ings is unlikely to feature from the start and that makes him unusable in both formats. Origi is a sleeper option who could line-up out wide so may be worth a stash in deep leagues.
Out: Jon Flanagan – Knee, Daniel Sturridge – Hip, Joe Allen – Knock
Question Marks: Marko Arnautovic – Thigh (75%), Ryan Shawcross – Back (25%), Marc Wilson – Ankle (75%), Christian Benteke – Fitness (75%), Roberto Firmino – Fitness (25%)
West Brom vs Man City: 8.00pm BST 10/08/15
Goalkeepers: There is not a chance I am using Boaz Myhill this week, so let’s just move on. Joe Hart is the pick of the expensive keepers this weekend in this match-up, but it is close between he and Cech. In draft leagues I would definitely be using him because I thin k he has the golden combination of save potential and clean sheet potential this week.
Defenders: Lescott is the main name here but again not a chance of using him this week. This week Man City are likely to line-up with Sagna, Mangala, Kompany and Kolarov this week and all four have great value in this match-up so should be used in the draft format. Kolarov is the SC high end option with Sagna the budget option.
Midfielders: Chris Brunt’s fantasy value may be damaged this year by the fact that many expect him to line up at full back, which could render him unusable going forward. And the rumours are enough to scare me away this week. Among the rest of the midfield, Craig Gardner has some value as a low-end midfielder in draft leagues, but that’s about it. Silva and Sterling are locked in to start and could have a field day against West Brom on Monday night making both must starts in both formats. Sterling is £1.0m cheaper so would be my preferred option for SC. Who takes up the other attacking midfield option is a straight fight between Navas and Nasri but the uncertainty makes them very hard to use this week. With Delph and Toure injured and Fernandinho taking additional time off after the Copa America, it looks potentially like Nasri could partner Fernando in the centre of midfield but that isn’t something I would be counting on.
Strikers: If West Brom line-up with both Berahino and Lambert upfront then we could be looking at dynamite combination as they feed off each other. I am starting both this week and I could easily be persuaded to use either a cheap number two option in SC leagues as well. With Aguero unlikely to play this week, the path is clear for Wilfried Bony to get his season off to a flyer and try and cement down a place next to Aguero. Bony is a must-start for me this week in draft leagues, but is behind the equally priced Benteke in SC.
Out: Ben Foster – ACL, Fernandinho – Additional Rest, Sergio Aguero – Additional Rest, Martin Demichellis – Additional Rest, Pablo Zabaleta – Additional Rest
Question Marks: Gareth McAuley – Calf (75%), Yaya Toure – Head (75%), Gael Clichy – Muscle (50%), Fabian Delph – Hamstring (50%)
N.B. All injury information correct at the time of writing. Check premierinjuries.com for any further information as the weekend gets closer.