Last week was a big one for me, as I am sure it was for most football fans, the return of the best league in the world. As we led up to the kick-off of football porn season I had one thing on my mind … no, not plotting a petition to get Gary Neville off Sky already (that is coming btw), but who to select in Fantasy Football.
Now Fantasy Football has got boring over the past few years, I went off it and only did one team last year which I spent little/no time in selecting. For some reason this season my passion for Fantasy Football was back and I have gone crazy. I am in mini-leagues on multiple sites, I have done a prediction game, and taken a wild punt on www.wildpunt.co.uk for 100k. I have joined so many I have no idea what the passwords and login’s are as they all seem to be different, which has become a proper ball-ache.
But this got me thinking, why am I all of a sudden like a 12 year old waiting for the new Championship Manager to hit the shops? And it struck me, this is the most exciting Premier League season in a few years and, for once, the top players in the world (bar Real & Barca players) are back in the Premier League.
So if I had an endless budget and could pick a Fantasy Team from the Premier League who would be in it? I do love sticking my neck out, especially if it leads to some spotty weenager tweeting me and saying ‘I read your article in August about the fantasy team and you were wrong’ , so I have decided I am giving you every chance to shoot me down. Let’s have a look at who will make the cut:
Contenders: Joe Hart (MCFC) Pepe Reina (LFC) Wojciech Szczesny (AFC)
For me Joe Hart is the Iker Casillas of the Premier League, a keeper who is as comfortable starting attacks as he is stopping them. This season could be a big one for our Joe as he seeks to establish himself as one of the best keepers in the world, playing for one of the best teams in the world. He will no doubt not concede too many and with his distribution, anticipation and agility he will get involved in starting attacks. Reina is another to be seriously considered. My main beef with Reina is that he isn’t English as he is clearly wasted sitting behind Valdes and Casillas for Spain. You know what you get with Pepe and what a keeper for Liverpool to have as they rebuild their team & reputation in world football this year. It is a huge year for young Szczesny, the craziest keeper we have seen since Grobbelaar. He has a lot to prove and a full season will bring him on, but Arsenal are probably at their weakest so no doubt he will get more practice this year and is integral to Arsenal’s success. Cech is boring, Gomes erratic, De Gea will need a season, and the surprise could be Bergovic.
Top pick: Joe Hart
Contenders: Nemanja Vidic (MUFC) Gary Cahill (BWFC) Thomas Vermaelen (AFC) David Luiz (CFC) Vincent Kompany (MCFC) Michael Dawson (THFC)
Some of you out there will probably be thinking ‘what about Terry, Ferdinand, Kolo Toure … blah blah blah’. Well, in my opinion they are turning in to nothing but relics who will ‘do a job’ but they are not the future anymore. Defenders now need a little more agility rather than being a big lump and ball-playing skills both long and short, but more importantly understand how to play against the modern day forward. One big thing I left out is goals. For me a top centre-back will not only save you a fair amount of goals per season, but score a few as well. The minimum acceptable level for me is 5 goals, if you can hit 6 or 7 take a bow. When it comes to fantasy football you need points and I believe the above are the best for points. Vidic is in the top 3 worlds best for me, Cahill is excellent with both head and feet, Vermaelen is quality and versatile, Luiz will have as bigger season as Kompany did last year and will do again, whilst Michael Dawson has slowly crept up to be one of the Prem’s best. Tough choice on this one…
Top Picks: Nemanja Vidic and Gary Cahill
Contenders: Patrice Evra (MUFC) Kyle Walker (THFC) Gael Clichy (MCFC) Leighton Baines (EFC) Branislav Ivanovic (CFC) John-Arne Riise (FFC) Glen Johnson (LFC)
A lot of talent here, and there’s a few that I left off as well, which just proves that one thing we are not short of is full-backs in the Premier League. This horrible lot above made the grade on attacking play, possibility of assists and also potential for goals. The modern day full-back is a thing of beauty and is one of the toughest positions on the pitch. Full-back was the place you would usually stick the duffer in your games lesson at school, but nowadays the roll is something quite different and very demanding. I used to play full-back and like to think I am a pioneer of the new full-back we see today, but it is one of my contenders, John Arne Riise, that was one of the real pioneers. I guess that when he was in his prime at Liverpool 90% of you would have had him down as probably the first pick in your team – it shows how times have changed as he now has stiff competition. The modern full-back supports attacks at any given opportunity, I can now see how Gareth Bale used to run a game in his Southampton days from left back. Assists and goals are the name of the game!
Top Picks: Leighton Baines and Patrice Evra
I’ll be laying out my top picks for midfielders and forwards in Friday’s article, so if you have any suggestions tweet them over @FootballRascal or leave a message on our Facebook wall www.facebook.com/TheRascal .