Telegraph Fantasy Football Preview – Midfielders

With the big kick off drawing ever closer we continue with our build up to the Telegraph Fantasy football season – today focusing on midfielders.

Gareth Bale would have been on everyone’s team sheet despite a lofty pricing that sees him sit at the very top of the midfield selections. However recent developments now see the odds against him staying in England. With the new campaign less than a week away picking Bale now looks a significant risk, particularly given that having to transfer him out early would take some major squad rebalancing – in the process using vital transfers. Of course if he stays he will be indispensable, therefore managers will be keen for the situation to be resolved in the coming weeks.

Chelsea’s midfield offers return potential like no other – although such is their wealth of talent in this area that rotation is likely to prove a real issue. Juan Mata who joins Bale as the highest priced midfielder at 6 looks along with Eden Hazard as safe as a pick can be amongst Jose Mourinho’s talented front line. Both should bring a hefty supply of points, although Hazard at 0.6 lower and being the second in line for penalties after Frank Lampard might just shave that battle. Coming in at a fraction lower are Andre Schurrle and Lampard, whilst the former looks a little overpriced given his lack of guaranteed starts and inexperience at this level, Lampard should still see enough first time action for some hefty returns – whether he can match Hazard and Mata though looks unlikely. The real joker in the Chelsea pack comes in the form of Oscar who finished last season with a real flourish and if he can maintain those standards looks a steal at 4.3.

Champions Manchester United look of real value – although a testing start might deter many. Shinji Kagawa should only improve with a season under his belt and at 4 he could prove a sound pick. Nani has fallen to 4.2 after a poor return last term, however if he can hit the peaks he has in previous campaigns he again could be a strong choice.

Choosing from Manchester City’s now many options looks tough given we as yet don’t know how Manuel Pelegrinni will set up his new side. David Silva is the steepest at 5.6 – a price that will put many of after a sluggish year last term, although if City do fire he will undoubtedly be one of the key contributors and with a tempting early fixture list the Spaniard represents a safe bet. Yaya Toure is as expensive as he has ever been and in truth at 5.2 looks overpriced. New boys Fernandinho and Jesus Navas both represent risks as all new players to the Premier League do – that said at 4.4 and 4.2 respectively they both represent decent value if they find their feet. Navas looks particularly intriguing although he will have to improve considerably on last year’s returns if he is to become a favoured selection.

Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla look to be Arsenal’s main men again and with an appealing opening set of fixtures both represent strong choices. Walcott comes in slightly cheaper and was only slightly bettered by his Spanish team mate last term which perhaps puts him narrowly in front in the head to head. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain comes in at just 3.3 and if he sees regular action he could prove hard to ignore at that price.

Should Gareth Bale move on then new Belgium recruit Nacir Chadli could come to the fore and at just 3.8 he is certainly one to keep an eye on – particularly given the clubs tasty opening fixtures. Paulinho is another new recruit who will attract significant attention, the indication is the box to box man is ideally suited to England and therefore should provide a strong haul. Liverpool’s most popular option thus far is Phillipe Coutinho – unsurprising given his contribution of three goals and five assists in just 12 starts in the second half of last term, whilst taking up a position in the front three will only further enhance his prospects.

Everton under Roberto Martinez might see a hike in attacking returns although Marounne Fellaini’s rise to 5 will put many off – particularly given that it remains to be seen how or where he is deployed. The real stand out midfield choice for the Toffee’s though looks to be Kevin Mirallas, who having been categorised as a striker last season is generously classed as a midfielder this time round – with the talent and potential he possesses and a year of English experience under his belt he is definitely one to keep an eye on.

For those of you looking for more left field options there is as ever plenty of choice. Robert Snodgrass at 3.9 doesn’t appear cheap but having contributed 137 points last season without Norwich possessing any significant threat the Scot will be hopeful of improving his assist count this term – with Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel coming to Carrow Road. Gaston Ramirez was somewhat of a let-down in his debut season but has undoubted ability and at 3.6 he certainly has the potential to be excellent value for money. Kevin Nolan’s goalscoring exploits showed no sign of let up last season and given the style West Ham employ he will always be a threat – whilst a strong opening six only heightens his appeal. Emanuele Giaccherini has the potential to be an excellent signing for Paolo Di Canio and if the Black Cats can settle early he should be at the forefront of their success, as will Stephen Sessegnon – providing he stays with the club.

In terms of real budget options Robert Koren is likely to be involved in the best of what Hull produce. If Mark Hughes can get Stoke playing in a more positive manner then Charlie Adam could defy his low pricing of 3.2, although such a selection is an obvious risk. Jonathon de Guzman is priced at just 3.3 despite a strong showing last term and providing he remains a first team pick he should chip in with a more than handy return.

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