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The Scout Preview - Gameweek 1

Four of last season’s top six are on their travels as The Scout casts an eye over the first round of fixtures of the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League season.

Champions Manchester City open their title defence with a testing trip to Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon. Big-spending Chelsea make their way to promoted Burnley, Everton travel to Championship winners Leicester City, while Tottenham Hotspur visit West Ham United in Mauricio Pochettino’s first match in charge.

Elsewhere, Louis van Gaal makes his debut bow as manager of Manchester United with a home clash against Swansea City, last season’s runners-up Liverpool entertain Southampton at Anfield and Arsenal welcome Crystal Palace to the Emirates Stadium in an all-London showdown on Saturday evening.

Talking tactics

Louis Van Gaal’s arrival at Manchester United has seen a new 3-4-1-2 formation introduced at Old Trafford. With injuries curtailing the game time of Luke Shaw, Rafael and Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young has came to prominence as a wing-back for the Red Devils and found the net on three occasions over the summer. Further up the field, Juan Mata has been handed his preferred central role behind a front two, and with Robin van Persie yet to return to action after playing for Holland in the World Cup and Danny Welbeck picking up a knock, Javier Hernandez has partnered Wayne Rooney up front in the last two matches.

Tottenham have also lined up in a new system over the summer. New manager Mauricio Pochettino has rolled out the 4-2-3-1 that helped steer Southampton to eighth place last season and the Argentine has mainly fielded compatriot Erik Lamela in the centre of the attacking midfield three, with Christian Eriksen on the flank. Lamela has subsequently scored three times during the close-season and, with a mere 2% ownership to Eriksen’s 13%, could be a real differential for our initial 15-man squads.

Jose Mourinho has utilised new boy Cesc Fabregas in a variety of roles over Chelsea’s pre-season friendlies. The Spaniard has been fielded in the double-pivot and has also been handed the role in “the hole” behind a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, whilst Mourinho has also trialled a 4-3-3 system with Fabregas as the most advanced central midfielder. The summer signing’s versatility looks vital to Mourinho’s plans for the season ahead with a share of set-pieces and corners, Fabregas now sits in 20% of Fantasy teams ahead of next Monday’s trip to Burnley.

By the numbers

With the pre-season schedule finally coming to an end on Tuesday evening, The Scout assesses the top scoring performers over the course of the close-season.

6 goals - Lukas Jutkiewicz (BUR)

5 goals - Glen Murray (CPL), Stevan Jovetic (MCY)

4 goals - Yaya Sanogo (ARS), Diego Costa (CHE), David Nugent (LEI), Wayne Rooney (MUN), Charlie Austin (QPR)

3 goals – Marvin Sordell (BUR), John Terry (CHE), Marouane Chamakh (CPL), Wes Morgan (LEI), Aleksandar Kolarov (MCY), Ashley Young (MUN), Emmanuel Riviere (NEW), David Hoilett (QPR), Bojan Krkic (STO), Steven Fletcher (SUN), Connor Wickham (SUN), Erik Lamela (TOT), Roberto Soldado (TOT)

Encouragingly, each of the three promoted teams boast a frontman with at least four goals to his name over the summer. Burnley’s Lukas Jutkiewicz – available for 5.0 – has notched six times since arriving from Middlesbrough earlier in the transfer window and looks set to partner the pricier Danny Ings (6.0) for The Clarets.

Leicester City’s David Nugent and Queens Park Rangers’ Charlie Austin have both found the net on four occasions – both set Fantasy managers back 6.0, with Austin set to host Hull City, Sunderland and Stoke City in the first five Gameweeks. The R’s David Hoilett has chipped in with three goals from midfield, though the recent arrival of Jordon Mutch could place question marks over his starting role under Harry Redknapp.

Wayne Rooney ended the summer as Manchester United’s top scorer after netting four times. The England star has quickly found his form under Louis van Gaal and with Van Persie looking likely to miss the home match against Swansea, Rooney currently sits in over 43% of teams – 11% more than any other player in the game.

Chelsea’s Diego Costa has been quick to justify the hefty fee splashed out by Jose Mourinho over the summer. The former Atletico Madrid forward has scored four times ahead of back-to-back matches against promoted pair Burnley and Leicester City, while Blues skipper John Terry has proven a menace in the opposition box and grabbed three goals during the close-season.

Sunderland boast a pair of in-form forwards ahead of the weekend trip to West Bromwich Albion – both Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham have netted three times. Bojan Krkic and Emmanuel Riviere have settled quickly in new surrounds. The former has grabbed three goals for Stoke City, though has mainly been fielded on the right of a 4-2-3-1, whilst Newcastle United’s centre-forward Riviere has also found the net on three occasions.

Ones to Watch

Steven Caulker – snapped up by QPR over the summer, the centre-half’s threat in the opposition box saw him score five times for relegated Cardiff City last season. Caulker fired more shots from inside the box than any defender in the previous campaign and entertains a Hull City side that scored 18 times on the road in 2013/14, making him a strong contender for points at both ends of the pitch.

Erik Lamela – handed the number 10 position in new manager Mauricio Pochettino’s 4-2-3-1, the Argentine netted three times over the summer; more than any team-mate. After spending much of last season on the periphery, Lamela looks poised to play a prominent part in Tottenham’s attack this term and will be hoping to take advantage of a West Ham defence that conceded at least twice in five of their seven summer friendlies.

Philippe Coutinho – the star of the show in Liverpool’s weekend destruction of Borussia Dortmund. Fielded in “the hole” behind Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho’s inspirational display suggested he could finally be set to play a major role for the Reds this term. At home to a new-look Southampton, he currently sits in just 8% of midfields ahead of the weekend deadline.

Ashley Young – a spate of injuries looks set to hand the midfielder a starting role for Manchester United’s home clash with Swansea on Saturday. Young has impressed as a wing-back over the summer period – only Wayne Rooney scored more – and with a price tag of 5.5, offers Fantasy managers a budget-friendly option against a defence that managed just two clean sheets in 14 matches under Garry Monk last term.

Stevan Jovetic – with Alvaro Negredo injured and Sergio Aguero yet to feature this summer, the Montenegro international has grabbed his chance to impress. Jovetic has netted five times for the champions and looks poised to retain his starting role for Sunday’s trip to Newcastle – bearing in mind the Magpies managed just six clean sheets last term, Jovetic’s 5% owners will be confident the 8.0-priced forward can keep his form ticking over.

  • Lukas Jutkiewicz
  • Erik Lamela
  • Stevan Jovetic

Fantasy Premier League Scout review – Gameweek 1

Manchester United 1-2 Swansea City

Midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson gained maximum Bonus Points (BP) after a match winning performance in Swansea City’s opening day triumph over Manchester United. As well as scoring the winning goal, Sigurdsson supplied the assist for the opening goal of the Barclays Premier League season.

Ki Sung-Yueng picked up two BP for his efforts at Old Trafford. Swansea’s midfielder scored the opening goal of the game, as well as completing 89% of his passes. Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney, gained the final BP. Rooney scored the home side’s only goal of the game, but missed out on more bonus points due to being tackled three times and missing the target twice.

Leicester City 2-2 Everton

Scotland forward Steven Naismith secured three BP for his display in Everton’s draw against newly promoted Leicester City. Naismith was given maximum BP after a hard-working 90-minute display resulted in the Scot deservedly grabbing himself a goal.

Leicester midfielder Andy King, who created an assist, completed 96% of his passes and made eight recoveries, collected a couple of BP. A single BP was given to Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar for his assist in the match at the King Power Stadium.

Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Hull City

Hull City defender James Chester was the star of the show as he collected 48 points on the Bonus Points System (BPS). Chester scored the winning goal, completed 32 of his 35 attempted passes and made 20 clearances, blocks and interceptions (CBI) to earn all three BP.

Allan McGregor produced five saves, including a penalty save, to keep a clean sheet at Loftus Road and bag himself two BP. The final BP was awarded to Hull defender Andrew Robertson and QPR centre back Rio Ferdinand. Robertson’s clean sheet was helped by nine recoveries in an error-less 90-minute display, which also produced a key pass. Ferdinand completed 91% of passes, made 11 CBI and successfully tackled his opponents six times to earn his BP.

Stoke City 0-1 Aston Villa

Austria forward Andreas Weimann produced a solid performance to give Aston Villa victory on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season. Weimann’s winning goal was enough to secure him all three BP.

Villa defender Ron Vlaar continued his World Cup form by making nine CBI on his way to keeping a clean sheet and receiving a couple of BP. Stoke City’s defender Erik Pieters also collected two BP by completing 83% of his attempted passes, making 14 CBI and successfully tackling his opponents five times.

Goalkeeper Bradley Guzan narrowly missed out on BP, despite making two saves and keeping a clean sheet.

West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Sunderland

Saido Berahino’s brace was not enough to give West Bromwich Albion a home victory, but it was enough to take all three BP. The England U21 international forward equalised with a penalty in the first half before giving West Brom the lead in the second half.

Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson scored the equalising goal and completed 30 of his 36 attempted passes on his way to registering two BP. West Brom’s Craig Gardner and Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole both received a BP each. Gardner helped assist one of Berahino’s goals, while Cattermole scored the first goal of the game.

West Ham United 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

New Tottenham Hotspur signing Eric Dier scored a late winning goal and kept a clean sheet to bag himself maximum BP on his Barclays Premier League debut. The centre back also completed 38 of 43 attempted passes.

West Ham United defender Joey O’Brien completed 94% of his passes and made four recoveries on his way to a couple of BP. Tottenham centre back Younes Kaboul registered a BP following a clean sheet, which was helped by ten CBI.

If Mark Noble had scored from the penalty spot for West Ham then he would have bagged at least one BP, while Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris narrowly missed out on BP despite eight recoveries and four saves.

Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace

Aaron Ramsey’s late winning goal for Arsenal helped the Welshman collect three BP on the opening weekend of the Barclays Premier League season. The Welsh international completed 92 of 106 attempted passes and made ten recoveries.

Laurent Koscielny needed one more point on the BPS to join Ramsey on three BP. The Arsenal defender’s goal was not enough to give the Frenchman maximum points, but he was rewarded with two BP. Mikel Arteta collected the final BP from the fixture following a fine display that saw him rack up a 95% pass completion rate and two key passes.

Liverpool 2-1 Southampton

Liverpool midfielder Raheem Sterling produced a scintillating display at Anfield to help the home team to victory. Sterling bagged the opening goal of the match, produced an assist, and recorded five completed dribbles and two key passes to register maximum BP.

Slovakia international Martin Skrtel bagged himself two BP alongside Southampton defender Nathaniel Clyne. Skrtel got Liverpool out of trouble 23 times with CBI, while Clyne scored for the Saints in the second half.

Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City

The defending Barclays Premier League champions bagged all three points at St James’ Park, with defender Gael Clichy putting in a fine performance on the opening weekend of the season. Clichy made ten CBI, eight recoveries and successfully tackled his opponent eight times on his way to registering three BP.

Manchester City midfielder David Silva, who ultimately scored the winning goal, completed 88% of attempted passes and made two key passes, grabbed two BP. Second-half substitute Sergio Aguero sealed the match with a late goal to sneak a BP ahead of central defensive pair Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis, who were just one point from Aguero on the BPS.

Burnley 1-3 Chelsea

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas produced a superb performance on his return to the Barclays Premier League to take all three BP. Fabregas helped himself to a couple of assists, an 87% pass completion rate and three key passes in a stunning 90-minute display.

Branislav Ivanovic's solid performance, which included six recoveries, three successful tackles and 84% pass success rate, gave him 2 BP. Debutant Diego Costa and Germany midfielder Andre Schurrle both received one BP each. Costa scored Chelsea's first goal of the season, while Schurrle bagged the winning goal of the match.

  • James Chester
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson
  • Saido Berahino
  • Raheem Sterling

The Scout Surgery - Gameweek 1

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Eric Smith - Eric Fc

Prognosis: Eric is on the lookout for two new players after a couple of his squad fell foul to injury. At the back, Manchester United new boy Luke Shaw was ruled out for four weeks with a hamstring problem, whilst in midfield, Everton’s Ross Barkley could be set for an extended spell on the sidelines with possible knee ligament damage.

Treatment: Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson offers Eric a ready-made alternative to the stricken Barkley. Available for just 6.1, the playmaker was handed a central role behind Wilfried Bony in last weekend’s win over United and produced a goal and assist in the 2-1 win. Eric could turn to another weekend goal scorer, Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne, to take the place of Shaw. The right-back looks to have been handed license to attack by new manager Ronald Koeman and fired his side’s consolation in a 2-1 loss at Anfield last Sunday.

Chances of Recovery: Crucially, both Eric’s new additions have the schedules to maintain their recent impressive form. Sigurdsson has three home fixtures in the next four Gameweeks as Burnley, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton arrive at the Liberty Stadium, whilst Clyne faces just one of last season’s top eight in the next 11 matches. Furthermore, the trades also free up 2.0 of Eric’s budget, allowing him to scour the market for further alternatives and boost his chances of a climb up the rankings.

Colin Webb - Webbswinners

Prognosis: Colin is looking to rebalance his squad after an opening return of 26 points in Gameweek 1. Midfielders Tomas Rosicky and Paulinho failed to feature last weekend and with Rickie Lambert handed a brief substitute appearance in Liverpool’s win over Southampton, there are question marks over a handful of Colin’s 15-man squad already.

Treatment: Again, it’s impossible to overlook Swansea’s Sigurdsson here. The Icelandic international averaged 5.7 points per game in his previous stint with the Welsh club back in 2011/12 and looks tailor-made for the support role in a 4-2-3-1 formation under Garry Monk. By drafting Sigurdsson in for Paulinho, Colin would free up 0.9 of his budget and could then swap out Rosicky for Hull City’s Thomas Ince, who is similarly priced at 5.0. The latter was handed a berth alongside Nikica Jelavic up front last weekend and with Robert Snodgrass potentially set for a spell on the sidelines, Ince could be poised for a regular run in the Tigers’ first XI. Colin also needs to plan an exit route for Lambert. First, he could swap out Michel Vorm for Brad Guzan in goal – the latter offers a home/away rotation with current goalkeeper Ben Foster – and subsequently free up enough cash to draft in Tottenham Hotspur’s Emmanuel Adebayor.

Chances of Recovery: Like Sigurdsson, Ince has a favourable run of fixtures to help improve Colin’s fortunes. The Tigers entertain Stoke City, West Ham United and Crystal Palace in the next six fixtures and with trips to Aston Villa and Newcastle United also on their agenda, could be set to build upon their opening day win at Queens Park Rangers. Up front, Adebayor seems to have secured the lone frontman role for Mauricio Pochettino’s team and has three home matches in the next four Gameweeks.

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