To build up to the new Premiership season, we’ll be looking at each team’s chances and highlighting the key players who could help your Fantasy team. Today, we’re previewing Crystal Palace and Everton, who will both look to build on good displays last season.
Palace were arguably the surprise package of last season in the Premier League. When Tony Pulis took over in November they were bottom of the league with just one win to their name but Pulis turned things around and they eventually climbed to 11th in the table. Their success was built on an excellent defense and turning Selhurst Park into a difficult place for visiting teams to visit.
From a fantasy perspective, the Palace defenders were very cheap sources of clean sheet points but the team’s lack of goals meant that their forwards and midfielders had little impact. Pulis has been selective in his transfer dealings looking to strengthen at both ends of the field with the signings of Brede Hangeland and Fraizer Campbell.
Julian Speroni (goalkeeper) – The veteran Argentine had a fantastic impact in the Premier League season and his 118 saves, the second highest in the EPL, were a key reason behind the 12 clean sheets that all occurred after Pulis’ appointment. The Palace goalkeeper is likely to be a popular fantasy pick this time around but he could still offer excellent value especially if used in rotation when Palace are at home.
Jason Puncheon (midfielder) – Puncheon’s exciting wingplay was the attacking highlight for Palace last season with many of his goals coming from cutting in on his strong left foot from his position on the right wing. Many Premier League defenses could be wise to this from Puncheon but if he can repeat his 7 goals from last term then he could be a cheap and valuable fantasy asset.
Brede Hangeland (defender) – The big Norwegian left relegated Fulham under a bit of a cloud over the summer after apparently learning of his release via email but he could be a very good signing for Palace. He will strengthen an already solid defense and may even threaten to add some goals from set-pieces.
Fraizer Campbell (forward) – Former Cardiff man Campbell will strengthen the Palace forward line but he’s hardly been a prolific scorer over his career. I would definitely avoid picking Campbell for your team as he only managed 6 goals for relegated Cardiff last season.
Dwight Gayle (forward) – Young frontman Gayle, notched 7 goals in just 22 apps (8 starts) last term and showed glimpses of exceptional finishing. Gayle needs to work on other areas of his game but if Pulis decides to give the former Peterborough player more gametime then he could score upwards of 15 goals in the Premier League.
Glenn Murray (forward) – Murray missed most of last season through injury and looked short of fitness when he did return towards the end. However, he did score 30 goals in their promotion winning season and having had time to regain that fitness it will be intriguing to see if he can repeat that form in the Premier League. There is no way he can manage another 30 goal season but if he gets off to a good start, both he and Gayle could (and it’s a big could!) be prolific for Palace and your fantasy team.
Marouane Chamakh (forward) – Former Arsenal striker Chamakh continues to make a living as a Premier League striker despite rarely looking like a prolific goal threat. It’s unlikely that he will exceed his poor return of 5 goals from last season and he should be avoided in all fantasy leagues.
Jose Campana (Sampdoria), Neil Alexander (Heart of Midlothian), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Cardiff City), Dean Moxey (Bolton Wanderers), Aaron Wilbraham (Bristol City), Jonathan Parr (Ipswich Town), Danny Gabbidon (released)
Everton came close to breaking into the top 4 last season and will be aiming to make that leap in the coming campaign but it will be tough with a resurgent Man United and improving Spurs. Everton have managed to tie a number of their loan signings to permanent contracts but do not look to have made many more significant strides over the summer.
In fantasy terms, Everton’s squad sit just below the elite, do not offer much value for money but can be relied upon for a consistent level of performance.
Romelu Lukaku (forward) – Roberto Martinez saw more than enough from the young Belgian last term to make him Everton’s record signing over the summer. Lukaku wasn’t prepared to settle for a place on Chelsea’s bench and will be the main man this year at Goodison Park. He found the net 16 times in the league in 2013/14 and could challenge for the top scorer prize this time. Select him in your fantasy team with confidence.
Leighton Baines / Seamus Coleman – There are few better attacking fullbacks in the Premier League than the Everton pair of Baines and Coleman. They managed 13 goals and 7 assists between them while helping Everton to 15 clean sheets. As Everton’s penalty taker, Baines is probably the more reliable fantasy points scorer but neither of them will come cheap and will be high in demand in draft leagues.
Muhamed Besic (midfielder) – The Bosnian midfielder has been a much lauded signing for the Toffeemen but he’s not expected to be fantasy stud this year. The 21-year-old has only 1 career goal and his progress should be watched before adding to any fantasy roster.
Other signings – Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Gareth Barry (Man City)
John Stones (defender) – Stones very nearly made the England squad and will looking to gain a regular starting spot for Everton in the 2014/15 season. If he can displace veteran defenders Distin or Jagielka, Stones could be a decent fantasy add. I would wait and see if he makes the opening day line-up before investing in the young defender.
Arouna Kone (forward) – The Ivorian striker was cruelly ruled out of most of last season through injury but could have a fantasy impact later in 2014/15. Kone is blessed with speed and power and has previously demonstrated goalscoring ability in the Premier League with Wigan. He will start the season on the bench but could be excellent value if he can force his way in, alongside or in place of Lukaku.
Stephen Pienaar (midfielder) – Versatile South African midfielder Pienaar is a deceptive player from a fantasy perspective. Watch any Everton game and he looks very busy and creative but this rarely seems to translate into high fantasy points. Last season, he managed only 1 goal and 3 assists and I would urge caution about selecting him in your fantasy team.
Magaye Gueye (Millwall)