Since it’s the end of the year, it’s only fair that we present to you our midseason Fantasy Premier League Best XI. These aren’t perhaps the eleven best Premier League players “in real life,” but these are certainly those that pertain to us as fantasy managers. So let’s take a look at those studs who found themselves in our first XI. We’ll set up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation though we do prefer the 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 for fantasy purposes.
GK: ASMIR BEGOVIC, STOKE - An absolute no-brainer. Begovic started off the season priced at just 4.5m and has seen his value rise all the way to 5.7m. He leads all goalkeepers in points scored as well as clean sheets. Stoke have been criticized as boring, but it doesn’t get much better than Begovic between the sticks.
RB: BRANISLAV IVANOVIC, CHELSEA - We know he has played CB in recent weeks but he has played the majority of the season at RB, and the Chelsea man has proven to be the most consistent fantasy scorer on the defensive end. A 24 point score in Gameweek 1 started the season off with a bang, and at just 6.5m, he was quite the attractive bargain. Up to 7.1m now, Ivanovic is less enticing to owners who have opted for the cheaper Luiz, but Chelsea should continue to keep clean sheets under Rafa Benitez and the Serbian has found an eye for goal this year – after 3 goals last season, he already has 4 in just half a season this term. Expect a few more.
CB: SEBASTIEN BASSONG, NORWICH – He’s come a long way since the days we called him ‘Bassong, Bassong, So Wrong’ back in 2008 and 2009, and while he didn’t score much as a youngster at Newcastle or Tottenham, he’s found his scoring boots at Norwich. 3 goals, 5 clean sheets and 5 bonus points in half a season is impressive – especially with a starting price of 4.5m in the official FPL game. Now priced at 5.2m, Bassong is less attractive as a ‘buy’ candidate, but he deserves the praise.
CB: RYAN SHAWCROSS, STOKE – A bonus point magnet (13 is second only to Leighton Baines amongst defenders) and clean sheet stud – Stoke’s captain has blossomed as he’s matured, just like Bassong. He hasn’t scored a goal yet this season, but with his price now 6m after starting the season at 5m, fantasy managers will surely focus on cheaper Stoke teammates like the American Geoff Cameron if they don’t already own a Stoke defensive asset. Shawcross is the most highly owned defensive player in the FPL game – at 32%, and as long as he stays out of the referee’s book in the second half of the season, he’ll continue delivering good returns.
LB: KIERAN GIBBS, ARSENAL – He missed 5 games due to injury but has started every other game for Arsenal this season – returning 5 points per game, with 4 assists, 5 clean sheets, and 5 bonus points. He’s coming into his own and at just 23 years old could mature into England’s best left back in the years to come. Arsenal have kept it surprisingly tight at the back this season, and Gibbs’ 5.4M asking price is a drop in the bucket compared to fellow left backs Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines and Patrice Evra.
M: GARETH BALE, TOTTENHAM – World class on his best days, he’s the highest scoring midfielder by points per game – returning nearly 7 points per start. With 9 goals and 4 assists in 1,400 minutes played, he’s on pace to surpass last year’s 10 goal/14 assist breakout season. With Rafael van der Vaart no longer there to steal his bonus points, and Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson relegated to complimentary roles at best, Bale is the main man for Villas-Boas’ side. The most dangerous player in the league, and a fantasy stud to boot.
M: MICHU, SWANSEA – He’s currently out injured with an ankle problem, but the Spaniard is not only the signing of the summer in the Premier League, but perhaps the player of the season so far as well. 120 fantasy points is most amongst midfielders and his 13 goals are most in the entire league. He’ll cost you a cool 8.3m but back in August he was priced at just 6.5m. Like Ivanovic, he had a massive gameweek 1 (18 points), and has not cooled off one bit since. What a sensational buy for Swansea, and millions of fantasy managers too.
M: JUAN MATA, CHELSEA - You didn’t think we’d forget the Juan and only Mata, did you? He’s made Chelsea into a potential title contender with his consistent goalscoring displays from midfield and he is the ‘new Lampard’ at Stamford Bridge. Fernando Torres actually remembered how to score this season thanks to his compatriot, and Mata has not done badly for himself either. 104 fantasy points is two more than teammate Eden Hazard, who is worth a mention for his explosive scores but has not been as consistent as Mata. 7 goals already in half a season – the same as striker Torres. Expect 4-7 more in the second half.
M: MAROUANE FELLAINI, EVERTON – Screech Powers grabs our final midfield slot. He’s been on our radar since August, and while it was tough to leave Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla out of our team, we had to go with the value play that is Fellaini. 8 goals and 4 assists at a starting price of just 6.5m is Michu-esque and it’s no wonder Manchester United have been rumored to be interested in the big Belgian. His 6.3 points per game are as good as Michu’s and better than Cazorla’s, and his aerial presence gives defenders nightmares. Would love to have him in my real life team.
F: ROBIN VAN PERSIE, MANCHESTER UNITED – The Fantasy Premier League game is one that requires a combination of skill, patience, luck and instinct. Robin van Persie, in an opposing team’s 18 yard area, has all of those attributes. A complete forward, and a week in and week out Captain Choice. We weren’t sure of RVP’s prospects a few months ago but he’s proven his fantasy worth. The game’s leading scorer, he is also the most expensive player (13.9m) but with 13 goals and 9 assists to his name at the halfway point, he is well on his way to another 25+ goal season. He may not hit the 30 that he scored with Arsenal last season, but barring injury, he’ll come close. The game is a bit easier with RVP in your side – give him the Captain’s armband and worry about fielding the strongest possible 10 players around him – so for that, we thank you, Robin.
F: CARLOS TEVEZ, MANCHESTER CITY – He has found himself rotated in and out of the starting lineup in recent weeks, but looking at the entire half season Tevez deserves a place in our Best XI. He started the season priced at just 9m – an amazingly affordable option as a key performer in the Premier League champions’ attack. And with 7 goals and 10 assists already, not to mention 16 bonus points, he’s been superb. His price peaked at 9.9m but has now dropped to 9.4m. Dzeko, Aguero and Balotelli threaten Tevez’s playing time in the second half, so he’s far from essential at this point, but he is capable of a big score anytime he’s on the field, and if one of those aforementioned three goes down with a long term injury, then Tevez will surely return to his fantasy heights again in the second half.
There you have it. Our Fantasy Premier League Best Eleven. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.