So many things have come clear in the crystal ball, yet so much remains shrouded in mystery, a riddle wrapped in an enigma set inside of a fortune cookie where the lettering is really smudged, and I can’t find my reading glasses anyway. Wait, what are we talking about here? Oh, right, the super exciting start of the Premier League... while there are still a few weeks to go until the transfer window closes. Who doesn’t love mixing elation with indigestion?
Will They Stay or Will They Go?
Flush with cash thanks to Neymar’s exit, Barcelona has its sights set on Liverpool’s peerless playmaker Philippe Coutinho. Rumors surround the Spanish side’s interest in Tottenham Hotspur’s homegrown wonder Dele Alli as well.
Arsenal’s seemingly want-away superstar Alexis Sanchez is sidelined with an “injury.” This as the Gunners welcome Leicester City, whose Riyad Mahrez is again the subject of rampant transfer speculation elsewhere in Europe, a mere summer after fellow Foxes midfielder N’Golo Kante left for Chelsea and was named Player of the Year in winning a league title for the second straight season.
One of fantasy’s biggest fish, Gylfi Sigurdsson, has long been on the precipice of jumping from the small pond of Swansea to the wider Merseyside waters of Everton. Speaking of the Toffees, is Ross Barkley headed to Spurs or will he stay put?
Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk is angling for an exit, but the spiteful Saints seem not to want him to end up at his preferred destination of Liverpool.
Similarly, the Diego Costa saga at Chelsea goes on...and on...and on, like the Energizer bunny crossed with Chucky.
Going, Going, Gone
Amidst all the rumors, we’ve seen a severe shortage of notable moves that have actually been confirmed recently. A couple of days ago, Burnley bust Andre Gray (falling from 23 Championship goals in 2015/16 to eight Premier League scores in 2016/17) officially moved over to one of last season’s biggest disappointments, Watford FC (sliding from mid-table and a -10 goal differential to relegation flirters at -28). Now can the Clarets spend the cash to strengthen a defense weakened by the departure of stalwart Michael Keane (shipped to the recently mentioned Toffees)?
Speaking of bummers, Leicester fell off the wagon last season in serious title hangover mode, but a week ago they signed Kelechi Iheanacho from Manchester City to bolster the offense.
Questionable or Unquestionably Out for the Friday Opener
Sanchez is confirmed absent along with Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and Skhodran Mustafi, who are out injured, suspended and short on fitness, respectively, for Arsenal. On top of that, the Gunners have their usual assortment of training table issues with Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere listed as injury doubts. Fans will not mind turning to Community Shield hero Sead Kolasinac along with fellow newcomer Alexandre Lacazette, but this is surely not how Arsene Wenger wanted to start off the season following last year’s turmoil.
Queries for the Rest of the Weekend
Naturally there’s plenty of curiosity surrounding line-ups, too. With Manchester City’s embarrassment of riches in midfield along with plenty of options in back, who are the Citizens going to start to begin the season? After adding Marko Arnautovic and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who will be the regulars in a crowded West Ham offense? Can Iheanacho sneak into the S11 for Leicester City, or does today’s game come too soon? Will Spanish import Alvaro Morata, last year’s signing Michy Batshuayi, or perhaps even Costa lead the line for the defending champs at Stamford Bridge?
Where Does That Leave Everything?
Amidst all the recent activity and uncertainty, I’ve changed my teams about 89 times each in the past few days. I’m going with my gut while also going against much of my own advice from recent posts. Somehow I have only one player who is in both of my teams. Yes, folks, this is what the absolute insanity of the fantasy season kickoff looks like!
My Official FPL team:
Alonso / Baines / Holgate / Milner
Alli (V) / De Bruyne (C) / Eriksen / Zaha
Chicharito / Defoe
BENCH: Hart, Loftus-Cheek, Daniels, Vokes
Salary remaining £0.0
My Fantrax team:
Alexander-Arnold / Stones / Tarkowski
De Bruyne / Fabregas / Milivojevic / Willian
Aguero / Jesus / Lukaku
Salary remaining £0.19
Will those survive the next few hours? Who knows?!
What do your teams look like? Which hunches are you mixing in with old standbys? What has you biting your nails? Let us know in the comments and please be sure to share any late-breaking news that happens between publication and the Arsenal/Leicester game!