10 days until Premier League kick-off and our rapid fire team and player previews will debut this weekend.
But first, it’s the 2012 FA Community Shield – between Chelsea and Manchester City at Villa Park this weekend. The Olympics are taking over Wembley so Villa Park gets a moment in the spotlight.
Let’s preview this fixture, and take a look at a projected Chelsea first XI, just as we previewed Manchester City’s most fantasy friendly assets earlier this week.
Eden Hazard (21), Marko Marin (23) and Oscar (20, who won’t play in the Community Shield) are core summer acquisitions that make up the youth movement at Stamford Bridge and all classify as midfielders.
Hazard, priced at 9.5m in the Fantasy Premier League, is the most relevant from a fantasy football perspective – notching 22 goals and 16 assists last season in France. He won’t reach those heights in his first year in the Premier League, and he may not even outscore his own teammate – Juan Mata – also priced at 9.5m, but he is one to watch this weekend.
Oscar (8.5m) and Marin (7m) will be less likely to earn starts right from the get-go at Chelsea, so their production will be closely tied to their playing time. Oscar is the brighter prospect – but neither should rival Hazard or Mata in terms of minutes played this season.
Now, what to make about Frank Lampard? One of the greatest Fantasy Premier League assets of the past decade. He comes in priced at 9 million. It will be interesting to see how he is deployed on Sunday against Manchester City. Fantasy managers may be tempted by the oldie but goodie – he is a penalty kick specialist after all, but he could suffer from serious rotation due to his age, and could come back to haunt those who select him this season…
Ramires (7m) impressed me last season in stretches and could be a bargain at 7m, but like Lampard, his preferred position and the potential for rotation, leaves him as a question mark heading into the season. Mikel and Meireles look like decent holding options but not the most exciting fantasy prospects.
At the back it should be a pretty standard Ivanovic – Cahill – Terry – Cole look. All experienced veterans. Solid if not spectacular, and all priced at 6.5m in the FPL other than Terry – who comes in priced at 7m.
And up front the £50M question mark Fernando Torres should be the main man despite his horrific form for Chelsea since moving over from Liverpool. He is priced at 10m in the Fantasy Premier League game, and should be supported by GB Olympian Daniel Sturridge – who looked great last season in flashes – and is priced at 8m. Sturridge probably won’t play much – if at all – in the Community Shield, so it could possibly be Hazard tucked in just behind Torres to start.
Chelsea have yet to gel in the pre-season – they lost to the MLS All-Stars as well as to AC Milan, so I have to give the edge to Manchester City going into the match. Tevez and Aguero will be difficult to stop, and the team is a bit more settled with fewer new faces.
It will be interesting to see how Hazard, Mata and Torres combine. Didier Drogba is gone, and Frank Lampard is aging so Chelsea need consistent goalscoring this season. Will they get it through that impressive trio?
On Sunday, we’ll see some great new Chelsea faces, but I think Mancini’s men will have too much. Both teams will score, but let’s give the edge to the blue side of Manchester.
Prediction: 2-1 Manchester City