The Premier League is finally back, which means endless hours undecided on who will make the final cut of your fantasy football team.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Kevin de Bruyne in midfield? Do you need a quality goalkeeper? And for goodness sake, will you even chance Olivier Giroud up front?
Not to worry, like Johnny we have you covered ahead of tomorrow’s fixtures.
Here’s the full list of games this weekend.
Goalkeepers: Don’t overspend!
Using the most popular Fantasy Premier League format, the most expensive players are undoubtedly in midfield and attack, so you don’t want to waste any of your precious budget on extortionately-priced ‘keepers.
If you’re looking for bargains but have just £4.5m left, there is no need to look further than West Brom’s Ben Foster. True, the Baggies are not one on the top flight’s superior teams, but Tony Pulis’s teams are notoriously strong defensively.
Elsewhere, if have an additional £500,000 there are several impressive options, most notably Watford’s Heurelho Gomes. The Brazilian made the most saves in the entire league during 2015/16 (122) whilst also keeping eleven clean sheets.
For the same price, Leicester star Kasper Schmeicel is also a viable option. Son of Manchester United legend Peter, the Dane was just one sheet from equalling Petr Cech’s sixteen shut-outs last season, making 100 saves in the Foxes path to the title.
West Ham United’s Adrian and Stoke City’s Jack Butland (both £5m) are also solid contenders.
Spending more than £9.5m on your goalkeepers is rarely a good idea. It makes no sense to have David de Gea in your team with an expensive purchase on the bench. Don’t waste your funds!
For a cheap back-up option, Jordan Pickford of Sunderland (£4m) impressed in cameos last season and could progress. Then the selection of the likes of Hugo Lloris may be a tad more excusable if you can afford the higher range of options after your initial draft.
Defence: Picking the perfect balance
Your men in front of your chosen goalkeeper are often a difficult pick – you need to reserve some finances for the Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s and Sergio Aguero’s later. However, it’s generally a bad move to select a string of cheap defenders who will be almost guaranteed to ship goals.
Hector Bellerin and Toby Alderweireld are the most expensive players in the game for good reason at £6.5m. We suggest just picking just one of them, as £13m on two of your five choices takes a large chunk out of one’s budget.
Bellerin is likely to keep more clean sheets but Alderweireld should score more goals, so it really is personal preference here.
Also, as we hope you are fully aware, choosing individuals from the same team in defence is erroneous to say the least. You should also steer clear of owning a goalkeeper and defender from the same club if at all possible.
Southampton are usually quite solid so Virgil Van Djik would be a smart move at £5.5m. Cedric Soares is also a bargain at £5m, but he and Jose Fonte could be unavailable for the season start following this summer’s European Championship triumph with Portugal.
West Brom’s Gareth McAuley will put his neck on the line for you at £4.5m, whilst Eric Bailly’s terrific pre-season form could see him be a popular choice at £5.5m.
A player from the very bottom of the pile is also a must here. For example, some £4m youngster his own mother has barely heard of. If you’re playing more than three defenders you need to take a hard look at yourself.
Midfield: Goals, Assists, Sleep, Repeat
Granit Xhaka is a wonderful player, but he’s certainly not going to be getting anywhere near the charts in terms of goals scored and provided.
Your selections here are probably already somewhat limited as you jumped the gun and put Sergio Aguero into your fantasy team straight away, didn’t you?
Our advice is to go for goal-scoring midfielders; no surprise there. Andrew Ayew is a wise move at £7.5m, as is Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino for £1m more.
His team-mate Sadio Mane is a slightly more expensive option at £9m, whilst one of last season’s stars in Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne is an expensive yet tempting option at £10.5m. We’ve decided to steer clear for the first week or so on KdB due to questions about his availability.
If you’re confident about Arsenal’s chances of breaking Liverpool down on Sunday, Alexis Sanchez is available for £11m. Bear in mind that his selection would probably mean that you will be forced to opt for only one star quality forward, so choose wisely.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan could prove to be a steal at £9.5m, but if you would prefer a tried and trusted player in the Premier League Anthony Martial is also there for the same price.
Forwards: Aguero, Zlatan and the alternatives
It’s evident who the two most popular players are here: Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero (£13m) and United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (£11.5m).
You’ve been saving up for these two for the entirety of your duration on the fantasy site. Sweat rolls down your cheeks as you cautiously check your remaining budget.
If tears soon arrive, don’t fret. Leicester City are up against Hull this weekend, and by all accounts the defending Premier League champions should have a field day. Curtis Davies is the Tigers’ only fit centre-back so Jake Livermore will partner him in defence.
Step forward Jamie Vardy (£10m) and Ahmed Musa (£8.5m). We’re really liking the look of the Foxes’s club record signing especially after his wonder goal against Barcelona. Back Musa to wow his new fans on his Premier League debut.
Harry Kane’s Tottenham are going up an Everton side without John Stones and potentially new signing Ashley Williams. If you feel the Englishman can shake off a terrible European Championship and enjoy a third successively strong Premier League campaign he’s available for £11m.
For cheaper options, look no further than Odion Ighalo (£7.5m) and Shane Long (£6.5m). Both look to have promising seasons in comfortable teams.
Marcus Rashford (£7m) is a no go with Mourinho likely to favour a 4-2-3-1 in which the 18-year-old is likely to only feature as a substitute.
Hopefully we’ve saved you from a long night of transfer deliberation ahead!
Don’t forget to join our league before tomorrow.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena.
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