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Fantasy football 2017/18 is underway - Looking at the big six teams opening games.

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The countdown starts and we can start planning for 2017/18 season.

France v England - International Friendly
Still scoring for fun in the summer months
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

While some are enjoying a well-deserved summer break, many a fantasy football fan returned to pre-season today with the announcement today of the 2017/18 Premier League fixtures.

The normal temptation when selecting you side is to load up with players from the title challengers holding with the nicest early run of fixtures. Let’s take a look at who that maybe in 2017/18

Chelsea

Burnley – Home

Tottenham – Away

Everton – Home

Leicester City – Away

Arsenal – Home

FPL squad thoughts

The champions have a mixed bag in their opening five games. On paper a great opening fixture, facing Burnley side who may have a new manager if rumours are to believed and travelled poorly in the last two seasons. The trip's to Spurs and Leicester are testing and while they normally beat Arsenal it’s not a great fixture on paper. Chelsea provided the most clean sheets in 2016/17 but there is difficulty in them providing many in the opening 5 games.

Romelu Lukaku is expected to rejoin the blues and with Diego Costa moving on and Eden Hazard likely lacking match fitness, its the big Belgium forward who will get our attention. Lukaku has a reputation for beating up on the weaker sides but finding it tougher against the bigger boys. That pattern could continue, but he will now be playing in a formidable Chelsea side who seem likely to create more chances for him than he received at Everton. If Lukaku can open his account in week 1 then it lifts some pressure off him and we may seem our view of him change against the tougher sides to come. Lukaku's price will rise after his success last season and had he stayed and despite a plumb week 1 game I'm thinking a watching brief may be my move.

If Marcos Alonso remains classified as a defender then he can return points at both ends of the pitch in week 1. With last year’s points total his 2017/18 price may become too expensive considering the fixtures to follow, but he is a player with so much fantasy points potential. I suspect we will see his attacking stats from last year turn into more consistent attacking points this year.

Opening weekend Fantrax temptations

In a one week sho,t Lukaku will tempt many of us. Burnley are from water tight and may have lost star central defender Michael Keane by then. It’s hard not to have Lukaku in any opening week Fantrax side.

Elsewhere the clean sheet shot also looks good so any of the three central defenders may tempt but for their price you may not get a great points return. Fantrax annoyed many players last season with the decision to classify players as defender/midfield depending on the role they performed during the game. Whilst we learnt to know they view Alonso as a midfield player and James Milner a defender, there were times where managers changes shape between games and we lost clean sheet points because of it. Aaron Cresswell for example late last season swapped from full back to wing back sometimes during games. The key word is back, both roles are predominantly defensive roles first. If Fantrax can correct this then I would say Alonso is a must week 1, if not or if we simply do not know how they view him or their rules then he will likely be too expensive.

Tottenham Hotspur

Newcastle – Away

Chelsea – Home

Burnley – Home

Everton – Away

Swansea City – Home

FPL squad thoughts

Spurs played some of the best football last season and will head into this season looking to turn their runner up spot into Champions. The opening 5 fixtures have 3 tricky games. Newcastle under Rafa are a handful and on the opening day of the season the crowd will be rocking. The Magpies hammered Spurs in the final game of 2015/16 and Spurs will be tested for sure. Chelsea proved themselves stronger last season but did lose at White Hart Lane. Burnley and Swansea at home are nice and while Everton away will be tough it’s possible the timing will be good with the toffees having really hard opening set of games and no Lukaku.

Harry Kane and Dele Alli are the big hitters. Kane’s price may be as high as around 13m which is big even for him. Alli will surely be around the 10m mark. For both we will want big returns and with Kane in particular showing a pattern of taking him time getting into his goal scoring exploits he is a little risky. You can add the problems the side faced last season when playing at Wembley.

Much will depend on his cost and the influence that has on the remainder of the squad. I think I’m already too scared not to have him but assuming he is 13m and with the tricky 3 games in the opening five I could see the sense in the wait and see approach.

Should Karl Walker move on then Kieran Trippier will become one of those players we all consider. His price won’t be too high considering he spent most of last season on the bench. We saw in the closing weeks his ability in attacking areas and with Spurs having such a solid defence "Trips" is an all-round points scorer. Prices at 5m or less, I’m in.

Opening weekend Fantrax temptations

Kane, obviously. In Fantrax there are few if any that can racking up the point like he does. Even if priced over 20m many players will still choose him.

Trippier again was super cheap at the seasons end in Fantrax and unless they adjust to reflect his true value he is a must.

Manchester City

Brighton – Away

Everton– Home

Bournemouth – Away

Liverpool – Home

Watford – Away

FPL squad thoughts

Last years pre seasons favourites made the opening weekends look easy. Once again they have fixtures that favour them. The toughest two opponents Everton and Liverpool will be at home and you would fancy them in all 3 away games.

Gabriel Jesus is already in many fantasy players thoughts being a cheaper way into the City attack than Kun. We wait to see what those starting prices are, but we can guess at a 2m gap between values of teh two players. For most of the second half of last season, Kun was expected to move on in the summer. The situation seems to be different now with Kun expected to be an option open to Pep next season. That option add to Sane, Silva, KDB, Sterling and maybe more who can all allow Pep to change shape or personnel. Perhaps this is one of those situation good for City but not good for the fantasy players as we cannot be sure who starts and in what position.

In the run in, Pep played Jesus and Kun together and should this continue to be the pattern, my initial thought is betting against Kun is the wrong move. That maybe due to almost everytime I have done it, I have been burnt. Its certain to be a talking point thorough all preseason and into the opening weeks.

Nobody provided more assists in the City squad than KDB. He was great early in the season and great at the end, it was just the middle that went wrong. New signing Silva plays the best football of his season on the right of the Monaco attack and should he play there for City it will allow KDB to play more central where he often looks more comfortable. With other big hitters in your squad KDB maybe too expensive to fit in. KDB remains a player of potentially explosive fantasy potential. Cold he become the player who is most reliable of providing both goals and assists in 2017/18?

City will buy new full backs and whoever there are they will play more likely wingers than full backs in Peps system. Even if priced at 5.5m they will provide great value.

Opening weekend Fantrax temptations

It’s going to be very hard to decide which of the City attackers we go with and you could argue the all in method is the best one. Still, this is cup final day for Brighton. It is true they could freeze and get demolished, but more likely they will see the fixture for what it is, a no lose scenario. Teams can be dangerous and very stubborn in this situation. Brighton were a strong defensive side at home last season and while City are like nothing they faced they may hold City to just a goal or two.

Liverpool

Watford – Away

Crystal Palace- Home

Arsenal – Home

Manchester City – Away

Burnley – Home

FPL squad thoughts

Liverpool will have Champions League qualifiers to muddy the waters, but Klopps side started so fast last season they have their merits. They also were better against the better opponent they faced so playing Arsenal and City early will hold no fears. When you add both Arsenal and City's lack of convincing defending and playing very high lines, then the pool attack interests.

Sadio Mane was a brilliant signing for Klopp last year and is one of those players who frightens the opposition. Under Klopps management he also improved as a team player and if fit is a safe starter.

Assuming he doesn’t join Barcelona in the summer Phillipe Countino may become the league’s best fantasy player. We all know his talent but being made the captain of Brazil shows us how he acts and influences behind the cameras and how he has matured.

Both Mane and Coutinho will be very expensive and to afford them probably will mean choosing cheaper, better value, but riskier front men.

Opening weekend Fantrax temptations

Countinho is the player than match stay with Harry Kane in the Fantrax system and for that reason I will have him in my short list. In general though I don’t like picking players playing against sides with new managers. Often you see a step up in their performance and Silva has a reputation of building sides who proposer in home games.

Arsenal

Leicester City – Home

Stoke City – Away

Liverpool – Away

Bournemouth – Home

Chelsea – Away

FPL squad thoughts

There is a pile of pressure on the manager and a number of unhappy Gunners fans coming into the season. Its a sign of the times that the FA Cup winner in 2015/16 got sacked and the 2016/17 winner, Mr Wenger didn't have the full support of his own fans. Not to sound like a grumpy old man but winning the FA Cup was once a great achievement. Wenger has won 3 in 4 years which is even more incredible and yet many Arsenal fans want him out. Arsenal will need a good start to bring some calm to the stands. Trips to Liverpool and Chelsea are not what they wanted, nor is a trip to Stoke despite their recent success in the fixture.

Just two players interest me today. First, Alexis Sanchez obviously should he remain as a midfield choice and more unlikely remain as an Arsenal player. Second, Aaron Ramsey has shown he can be a good fantasy player playing in his correct position. At his best behind the forward I’d really like him in my FPL team but Ozil holds that spot in the Arsenal starting 11. Playing slightly deeper but in a central midfield position isn’t too bad either. Should he come in at around 7-7.5m I could be tempted.

Opening weekend Fantrax temptations

Leicester’s counter attack and well orgainsed defence will always make life difficult for Wengers men. Even Sanchez doesn’t thrill me for his price in this fixture. There should be a couple new Arsenal signings and they may capture my interest. Of course should Riyad Mahrez join I could also go with the player facing his old club.

Manchester United

West Ham United – Home

Swansea City – Away

Leicester – Home

Stoke – Away

WBA – Away

FPL squad thoughts

Jose does like a moan, but it’s hard to accept a moan about these opening game, he must being very pleased. United’s defenders will be in my thoughts and I may even double up on them.

In attack we will see some new arrivals at the club and many fantasy players will jump on signing them. For me I like the idea of Paul Pogba playing further forward this season. If fit I see no rotation concerns for him which I do see with Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, Micki and whoever arrives.

I’d also like to see in preseason just who is the penalty taker post Zlatan. Should that become Pogba I will be very tempted.

Opening weekend Fantrax temptations

The new attacking signings will start at a price that will make them impossible to refuse but do remind yourself they will be playing at a new club in a new league and under differing pressures.

Too many choices

One things for sure it’s not going to be easy to pick an FPL squad or a Fantrax opening day side without feeling we are missing out on someone. All six sides have most of their summer signings to be confirmed and we have a whole host of preseason games to read too much into.

On paper the two Manchester Clubs have the best run of games for me but they may be the two sides with the biggest expectations to cope with. City attack and United defence seem the sensible starting points for me and I bet I'm too scared not to put faith in Harry Kane.

When it comes to the league top six sides, how do the fixtures influence your pre game launch thoughts to your opening day sides?

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