There are so many little internal discussions and arguments leading up to making a selection for your fantasy teams, especially ahead of the opening round of matches for a new season. While some picks are nearly automatic (yes, we're talking about you, Eden Hazard), it's often a real challenge to suss out which other players you should look at to complete your team.
One of the best starting points is taking a look at the fixture list for the week and seeing if there are any matches that stand out as potential opportunities for major returns--whether on the attacking or defending side of the game, or perhaps even both. Some of the staff at Never Manage Alone has done just that for Week 1. Here are their choices and reasons for their selection for best fixture:
Simon (Stall express) - Arsenal v. West Ham United
We often like statistics to back up our instincts and this pick has just that.
Arsenal have lost only 1 of their last 14 opening day fixtures, a Christian Benteke inspired 3-1 defeat home to Aston Villa two years ago. Meanwhile, nobody in Premier League history have lost more opening day games than West Ham with 9 defeats. Just two teams have concede more opening day goals than the Hammers with 26 goals conceded, Newcastle 28 and Everton 35.
Slavin Bilic may have had a few completive preseason games in the Europa Cup qualifiers but nothing like the workout Arsenal had in the Community Shield. Their defending has been porous and they look to have a lack of pace in the center of the park. Arsenal haven't had this much confidence in years and beating Chelsea without Alexis Sanchez will have only increased it further.
Perhaps West Ham's attacking options see's them pinching a goal but this fixture looks as much a home banker as you could wish. I'm saying 4-0 or 4-1 and the Gunners to top the Premier League week 1.
Roberto (RobertoRojas97) - Manchester United v. Tottenham
Two main strikers likely to be on a majority of FPL squads are Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane, who are both looking to score goals to get fantasy managers' squads rolling with points.
It will also be a midfield battle with players such as Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli for Spurs, as well as Bastian Schweinsteiger/Morgan Schneiderlin and Juan Mata for United.
It will be a key battle between two of the best goalkeepers in the league with Hugo Lloris and David De Gea looking for clean sheets and a number of saves, so I think there is a lot of potential for excitement.
Jason (jasonuk17) - Bournemouth v. Aston Villa
Early season matches in the Premier League can often be boring, subdued affairs as clubs try to get off to a positive start. That is what makes Bournemouth v Aston Villa such an intriguing matchup for both fantasy purposes and Premier League implications.
Aston Villa is coming off a season where they narrowly escaped relegation, and now have the unenviable task of replacing their man source of attack, Christian Benteke. It will be a terrific chance to see if Scott Sinclair and new signing Rudy Gestede will be viable fantasy options against less than stellar competition.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth has a chance to get a valuable three points, and that will not be lost on their manager. After scoring a whopping ninety-eight goals in the Championship last season, the newcomers will take on a side that allowed fifty-seven goals in Premier League play last season.It also gives us a chance to see if midfielder Matt Ritchie can be a possible sleeper in the midfield, as he looks to recreate the fifteen goal, seventeen assist haul he had last campaign.
Chris (Chris_Manfredi) - Manchester United v. Tottenham
No I'm not exactly going out on a limb, but is there any other choice? Last year's fourth and fifth place teams, as well as the fourth and fifth-highest scoring teams. That's restaurant quality taste combined with more than a soupcon of salty story lines, too!
Up and coming starlet Harry Kane faces off against longtime superstar--and England national team strike partner--Wayne Rooney in the attempt to conjure up a goal or three and leave the field as hero. If Hugo Lloris is healthy enough to start in net, the Frenchman could be facing off against David De Gea in an audition for the Red Devils should the Spaniard shortly return to his homeland as rumored.
Tottenham returns its core players unlike recent history in which it suffered the departures of Rafael van der Vaart, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey, while Manchester United has undergone a major makeover for the second straight season with the additions of Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger along with the exits of RVP and Falcao.
Level heads and betting lines may suggest a comfortable if hard-fought home victory in the cozy confines of Old Trafford. But we all saw United struggle to gel with the glut of new faces toward the start of last season and if history repeats itself, Spurs might be able to make a game of it and perhaps even steal a vital away win.
Gavin (Gavin Wright) - Stoke City v. Liverpool
I'm sure you all saw this one coming a mile away, but give me a chance to show it's not just my LFC fandom showing through here. For those of you who remember (and trust me, I wish I could forget), Liverpool closed out last season's Premier League campaign against Stoke with a miserable 6-1 capitulation in Steven Gerrard's final game with the club.
With the club's expectations no longer resting on Gerrard's shoulders, Liverpool have the opportunity to start a new era, and what better occasion than a rematch against a team that so thoroughly dismantled them a few short months ago? For those players who took part in the match, they'll be anxious to erase the memories and get revenge against the Potters.
The newcomers, as is usually the case, will be out to prove a point to their manager, teammates and fans that they've been a worthwhile acquisition. Putting all of this together, I expect Liverpool to start the season with a bang (at least in attack), while Stoke should also bring plenty of attacking flair to the table with their own new signings. I expect goals in this one, and think a 4-2 result for the Reds wouldn't be out of the question.
Which fixture do you think will result in the most fantasy points? Where will you be investing for your team? Did we skip your top choice? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!