The Sky Sports Fantasy Football team provide a team-by-team breakdown ahead of the 2013-14 campaign.
Last Updated: 16/08/13 1:38pm
As we count down the hours to the new Premier League season, Sky Sports Fantasy Football users are in overdrive as they mull and agonise over who to pick in their starting XI.
With some of La Liga's biggest stars such as Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas making the move to England's top flight, there's no shortage of fresh talent on the books.
However, with a budget of £75m, it's impossible to pick 11 superstars, and only the shrewdest of fantasy managers will make the right calls.
To help your cause, the Sky Sports Fantasy Football team provide a team-by-team breakdown of strengths and weaknesses ahead of the 2013-14 campaign.
For all Arsenal's ambitions in the transfer market this summer, they've only made one addition to their squad to date - Yaya Sanogo (£6.3m). However, unlike in previous years, the Gunners have retained their best players and don't look like letting go of any before the deadline. Arsene Wenger's men are likely to amass more points in attack than they are in defence and with Theo Walcott listed as a midfielder he's likely to prove a wise pick should he be given a free role. He's been picked by more Sky Sports Fantasy Football bosses than Santi Cazorla, who is £0.2m more expensive, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the bargain buy at £5.0m. Up front, Lukas Podolski is their most expensive forward at £8.7m, but Olivier Giroud (£8.5) is the man to go with judging by his pre-season form.
Expected XI (based on Sky Sports Fantasy Football valuations) : Szczesny; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Sagna; Walcott, Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla; Podolski, Giroud
Top pick: Theo Walcott (£8.5m)
After flirting with relegation for the majority of last season, Aston Villa fans will be expecting normal service to resume, much like the bookmakers are, with Sky Bet going 7/1 that they drop out of the Premier League for the first time this season. Having convinced star striker Christian Benteke (£9.0m) to sign a new deal, faith has been restored in manager Paul Lambert and all eyes will be on his latest influx of unknowns having unearthed a gem in the Belgian last season. Nicklas Helenius has the potential to turn heads but at £6.6m it might be best to keep tabs on how often he is used rather than selecting him from the off. Meanwhile, Brad Guzan quietly but very efficiently went about his business in Villa's goal last season and could be a steal at £4.6m. What Lambert's regular midfield will be is anyone's guess, but we suspect he may stick with the set-up that saw Villa pull clear of relegation in the latter stages of last season.
Expected XI: Guzan; Luna, Vlaar, Baker, Lowton; Bacuna, Westwood, Delph; Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann
Top Pick: Christian Benteke (£9.0m)
Although only Brighton conceded fewer goals than last season's Championship winners Cardiff, Malky Mackay's men will have to accept the likelihood that they'll concede more often than they'll notch in their new division, so there are only slim pickings to choose from when eyeing up their defence. It's in midfield where the Bluebirds have real potential to produce a Sky Sports Fantasy Football bargain, with Peter Whittingham likely to be a key performer. A fine penalty and set-piece taker, Whittingham promises to rack up a modest amount for a team likely to feature in the bottom half of the table for a meagre £5.0m. Likewise, Craig Noone, the team's top assist maker last season, can offer a similar service at a cheaper rate of £4.5m. New signing Gary Medal brings with him a reputation for getting sent off, which carries a three-point deduction, so it might be best to avoid the man known as 'The Pitbull'.
Expected XI: Marshall; Brayford, Connolly, Hudson, Caulker; Bo-Kyung Kim, Medel, Bellamy, Wittingham; Campbell, Cornelius
Top pick: Peter Whittingham (£5.0m)
Fantasy bosses will be keeping a close eye on the tactics of Jose Mourinho in his opening games back in the Premier League. He earned a reputation as a 1-0 merchant in his highly successful first stint at Stamford Bridge but is the current squad able to operate under such restrictions? Mourinho also relied heavily on the power of Didier Drogba on his way to successive Premier League titles, which could signal promotion to the starting line-up for the muscular Romelu Lukaku, who bagged 17 goals on loan for West Brom last term. Provided he can build on his excellent pre-season form Lukaku (£8.6m) could give real value, given that his supply-lines will be much improved. If Mourinho releases the handbrake expect the goals to flow with the mercurial Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar all capable of finding the net as well as creating plenty for others.
Expected XI: Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole; Lampard, Ramires, Oscar, Mata; Hazard, Lukaku
Top pick: Juan Mata (£9.0m)
As with their fellow promoted counterparts, it has to be expected that Crystal Palace's defence will leak their fair share of goals, so Eagles defenders should only make their way into your team if you're really scraping at the barrel. Wales international Jonathan Williams (£4.1m) could prove important for Palace, but he's unlikely to produce many goals hence his low valuation. Palace fans are hoping for big things from summer signing Jose Campana, but the Spain U20 international (£4.5m) may take time to adapt. Up front, Glenn Murray's injury means Palace will look to new striker Dwight Gayle for their goals. The 23-year-old scored 13 for relegated Peterborough in the second tier last term, with Eagles boss Ian Holloway hoping he can replicate that kind of form in the Premier League.
Expected XI: Speroni; Moxey, Gabbidon, Delaney, Ward; Jedinak, Campana, Williams, Dobbie; Gayle, Wilbraham
Top pick: Dwight Gayle (£6.1m)
It's a new era for Everton but already Roberto Martinez is making his mark with four new signings, two of which have come from his old club Wigan. In reality, Arouna Kone carries the most potential of the new boys to collect points, but many have been put off by his £8.4m price tag, with less than three per cent of Sky Sports Fantasy Football users selecting the Ivorian. Martinez deserves credit for so far fending off the lure of Manchester United for key duo Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini. Baines (£7.7m) is the Toffees' most-picked player but Phil Jagielka (£6.9m) and Kevin Mirallas (£6.5m), who is listed as a midfielder, are proving popular with users. Tim Howard, meanwhile, always provides a solid return of points for his value (£5.4m).
Expected XI: Howard; Baines, Jagielka, Heitinga, Coleman; Pienaar, Mirallas, Fellaini, Osman; Jelavic, Kone
Top pick: Marouane Fellaini (£8.3m)
It's all change at Craven Cottage again this year with a series of players seeing out their contracts and notable loan deals coming to an end. Similarly, John Arne Riise is one man who seems to have one foot out of the door yet is the second most selected Fulham player among our users. The man heading that list is towering defender Brede Hangeland which must be purely based on his low price of £5.4m - the Norwegian only amassed 58 points last season. Clearly Fulham's stand out player is Dimitar Berbatov, whose £8.6m valuation will certainly raise eyebrows but the facts speak for themselves - the stylish striker collected 182 points last season. Keep an eye out for Adel Taarabt who could prove to be an astute recruit at £6.2m if he manages a run in the starting XI.
Expected XI: Stekelenburg; Riether, Hangeland, Amorebieta, Richardson; Duff, Boateng, Sidwell, Ruiz; Taarabt; Berbatov.
Top pick: Dimitar Berbatov (£8.6m)
Tigers fans will be hoping Sone Aluko can form a working partnership with new arrival Danny Graham, who has joined on loan after an unsuccessful spell at Sunderland. At £7.6m Graham is a perhaps a little over-priced, with unproven Aluko the better option because of funds you'd save on his £5.6m valuation. Hull's defence is probably best avoided but in midfield they offer a couple of tidy players who can accumulate a reasonable return for their cost. Robbie Brady made 13 assists in the Championship last season and will once again prove pivotal to Hull's attack - he's only £4.6m, making him an excellent stocking filler if you've blown most of your budget on top-drawer players. However, if it's Premier League experience you're after, former West Brom midfielder Robert Koren is available for an extra £0.2m and is likely to grab more goals than Brady.
Expected XI: McGregor; Figueroa, Chester, Davies, Elmohamady; Brady, Chester, Meyler, Koran; Aluko, GrahamTop pick: Robbie Brady (£4.6m)
Liverpool's top-four hopes are likely to be pinned on the future of want-away striker Luis Suarez, who is trying to force a move to direct rivals Arsenal. Whether he stays at Anfield or not, Suarez is suspended for the first six games of the season so he definitely won't be in any starting line-ups until October. Iago Aspas (£8.5) has been impressive in pre-season and Reds fans will be eager to see him in competitive outings, while fellow new signing Simon Mignolet (£4.9m) is by far the most-picked goalkeeper in the game. At the back, Kolo Toure's price tag of £6.6m has convinced plenty of Sky Sports Fantasy Football users to go with the experienced Ivorian - he's Liverpool's most-picked defender ahead of Daniel Agger. Philippe Coutinho is far and away their most popular midfielder, but don't be surprised if captain and penalty-taker Steven Gerrard proves once again why he's their main man.
Expected XI: Mignolet; Enrique, Agger, Toure, Johnson; Henderson, Leiva, Gerrard, Coutinho; Aspas, Sturridge
Top pick: Steven Gerrard (£8.1m)
Manchester City certainly sent out a statement of intent to the rest of the Premier League by splashing £100m on four new prized assets this summer. But with that said, scepticism surrounding the mystery of the starting line-up has left the majority airing on the side of caution around such a competitive squad. Will Negredo be the main man after bagging 25 league goals in La Liga last term? The £8.6m price tag seems a little steep bearing in mind Edin Dzeko has dominated the front line during pre-season. At the back, skipper Vincent Kompany looks to be the ever present and at £8.0m is proving one of the most popular selections throughout the game. Fans' favourite Matija Nastasic might be worth a mention; although he'll miss the first few weeks through injury but at £6.9m he could prove to be a shrewd transfer on his return.
Expected XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Silva, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Navas; Aguero, Dzeko
Top pick: Sergio Aguero (£9.8)
Manchester United boss David Moyes has managed to endure a baptism of fire at Old Trafford despite not playing a competitive game yet. The lack of fresh blood in the Old Trafford dressing room coupled with the Wayne Rooney transfer saga has caused a frenzy of Twitter fury from United supporters, but makes things much simpler for Fantasy Football managers. Robin van Persie is guaranteed to start every league game he is fit for, and Shinji Kagawa - often maligned last season and marooned out wide on either flank, should feature in his preferred central role. David De Gea was in great form, but his hefty price tag should put off most bosses as United face a tough start and there are other 'keepers out there who will perform for much less.
Expected XI: De Gea; Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Rafael, Carrrick, Valencia, Zaha, Cleverly, Kagawa; Van Persie
Top pick: Robin van Persie (£10.0m)
After a turbulent beginning to the summer, Newcastle fans will be relieved that they've quietly gone about their transfer business ever since, with the loan signing of Loic Remy promising to be a major coup. The France international scored six goals in 14 games for QPR after signing in January and is available for a reasonable £7.8m in Sky Sports Fantasy Football. Remy is £0.6m cheaper than his team-mate Papiss Cisse and should prove worthy of his value. At the back, Fabricio Coloccini is cheap at just £5.2m - the Argentine centre-half can score goals but it's been a long time since Newcastle benefitted from a reliable defence. French midfield duo Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye should provide a good return for £5.9m and £6.6m respectively.
Expected XI: Krul; Santon, Coloccini, Taylor, Debuchy; Gutierrez, Cabaye, Tiote, Ben Arfa; Remy, Cisse
Top pick: Loic Remy (£7.8m)
The Canaries have replaced former captain Grant Holt with significant firepower this summer in Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Based on pre-season, manager Chris Hughton seems to have decided it's one or the other up top as both frontmen possess similar qualities, the former Celtic man seemingly edging it at the moment. With that being said, Van Wolfswinkel is proving slightly more popular throughout the game with users preferring to take the gamble on the slightly unknown quantity. However, the value seems to be in midfield with Scotsman Robert Snodgrass. The former Leeds midfielder gathered 175 points last campaign, outscoring the likes of Yaya Toure and Frank Lampard; £7.3m could be a real coup.
Expected XI: Ruddy; Martin, Bennett, Turner, Garrido; Snodgrass, Fer, Tettey, Pilkington, Hoolahan; Van Wolfswinkel
Top pick: Robert Snodgrass (£7.3m)
The Saints will look to build on last year's success and the fans will be hoping marquee signing Victor Wanyama can prove to be the difference. Despite this, the Kenyan midfield enforcer is second down the pecking order in the Southampton camp according to our users, with highly sought-after full-back Luke Shaw proving to be one of the most popular defenders throughout the game at £5.3m despite only scoring 63 points last season. Potentially though, value can be found in midfield in the form of player of the season Morgan Schneiderlin. The epitome of an 'unsung hero' Schneiderlin is valued at £6.2m and amassed an impressive 137 points in the last campaign.
Expected XI: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Lallana, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Cork, Rodriguez; Lambert.
Top pick: Morgan Schneiderlin (£6.2m)
While Fantasy bosses are unlikely to be looking at their midfield and attack given their lack of goals last season, the Potters' backline offers appeal. They kept 12 clean sheets last season, which saw Asmir Begovic (£5.2m) collect the fourth most points of all goalkeepers, while Ryan Shawcross (£6.4m) racked up 118 with the help of five Sky Sports man-of-the-match awards. It remains to be seen whether Mark Hughes will instil such defensive discipline to his new side, but Holland international left-back Erik Pieters (£6.1m) looks a good addition.
Expected XI: Begovic; Shawcross, Pieters, Cameron, Huth; Whelan, Nzonzi, Adam, Etherington; Walters, Crouch
Top pick: Ryan Shawcross (£6.4m)
The Black Cats' fortunes are likely to heavily depend on whether Stephane Sessegnon (£6.7m) and Adam Johnson (£7.4m) can find better consistency than last season. The talented attacking midfielders have goals and assists aplenty in them but only just cleared the 100-point mark last season. Steven Fletcher is a solid option up top and at £8.0m can balance the books somewhat with a more expensive strike partner.
Expected XI: Mannone, O'Shea, Cuellar, Brown, Bardsley; Gardner, Larsson, Giaccherini, Sessegnon, Johnson; Fletcher
Top pick: Stephane Sessegnon (£6.7m)
Michu was one of the bargains of last season after netting 18 goals and racking up 182 points as a 'midfielder' costing a mere £5.5m. However, he has now been updated accordingly to a striker and is priced at £8.8m. Whether the addition of an out-an-out striker in Wilfried Bony will prevent him repeating such a haul remains to be seen. Bony is an interesting option, having netted 31 goals for Vitesse last season and then bagging a brace on his competitive debut in the Europa League. At the back, captain Ashley Williams (£6.2m) is the most appealing having racked up eight Sky Sports man-of-the-match awards and helped the Swans keep 10 clean sheets, while also picking up passing bonus points on seven occasions.
Expected XI: Vorm; Williams, Rangel, Chico, Davies; Hernandez, Routledge, de Guzman, Britton; Michu, Bony
Top pick: Wilfried Bony (£8m)
Real Madrid are certainly are not alone in wanting to sign up Gareth Bale, with the Welshman the most popular pick in the game to date after racking up 238 points last season. However, Bale's valuation has also been cranked up, although not quite to Daniel Levy standards, with his price tag £8.9m, making him the second most expensive midfielder in the game. Summer signing Roberto Soldado looks better value at £8.1m, having netted 24 times for Valencia last season, but it is somewhat difficult to foresee anyone else scoring freely. Spurs' backline struggled to rack up the points last season, having kept just nine clean sheets, but Jan Vertonghen (£7.3m) has the ability to pick up additional points with goals and assists.
Expected XI: Lloris; Walker, Vertonghen, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Paulinho, Dembele, Sando, Lennon, Bale; Soldado
Top pick: Roberto Soldado (£8.1m)
The Baggies may have enjoyed a fine campaign last season as they finished eighth, but the man who racked up the majority of goals for them, Romelu Lukaku, has now returned to Chelsea. His replacement Nicolas Anelka (£8.1m) looks unlikely to have the same impact at the age of 34, after failing to make the desired impression at Shanghai Shenhua and then Juventus. Having kept a modest nine clean sheets last season, their backline hardly offers huge appeal, while James Morrison (£6.7m), who does not exactly leap off the page, is their most prolific midfielder with five goals last term.
Expected XI: Foster; McAuley, Ridgewell, Olsson, Jones; Dorrans, Mulumbu, Brunt, Morrison; Long, Anelka
Top pick: James Morrison (£6.7m)
A haul of 11 clean sheets last season represented a solid reward for those who put faith in the Hammers' inexpensive backline and, with the likes of Winston Reid available at £5.6m, decent value is still there to be had. At the other end of the pitch, Andy Carroll is available at £1.5m less than last year. The powerful frontman looks set to be central to Sam Allardyce's plans so should improve on his 104 points haul from last term, while Kevin Nolan looks to be well worth his price tag of £6.8m if he can repeat his tally of 10 goals.
Expected XI: Jaaskelainen; O'Brien, Collins, Reid, Demel; Nolan, Diame, Jarvis, Noble; Van Te, Carroll
Top pick: Kevin Nolan (£6.8m)
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