After two decades of Champions League football, Arsenal finally find themselves outside of Europe’s premier competition for the upcoming campaign. This means a whole host of Thursday/Sunday scheduling and player rotation, therefore having a direct impact on some of the squad’s fantasy potential.
While Arsene Wenger has moved quickly to add a new star striker to his Arsenal squad, the future of many players remain up in the air.
STAR MAN – Alexis Sanchez (12.0m)
One of those who has question marks surrounding his playing destination come August is Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean is vital to the team’s success and at the time of writing, is still an Arsenal player. Whether that remains the case after the transfer window is shut remains to be seen, with a number of outlets reporting that he still may become a Manchester City player. For now though, he remains a Gunner, and from a fantasy perspective, he remains a midfielder. There were some murmurs that he’d be positioned as a striker this term (Josh King, at Bournemouth is one player to have been changed in such a way), but perhaps the FPL God’s see Alexandre Lacazette’s signing as one which will see Sanchez feature far less as the out and out attacker going forward.
Priced at £12.0m, the 28-year-old is arguably the best player in the division on his day. He is one of the true elite midfield options, and for some people he’ll be the first name on your team-sheet, despite being at least £1.5m more expensive than anybody else in his position. Sanchez can frustrate, giving the ball away often, but that’s usually only because he’s itching to make something happen. He takes risks, which, when they come off, can generate nice amounts of points. He featured in every single game last season, meaning he can certainly be relied on, and he scored double figures on 11 occasions, including a stunning 23 point performance against West Ham. With 24 goals and 11 assists in total, Alexis was the top points scorer in the game last year. He literally is, the star man. Just cross your fingers and hope he doesn’t leave the league for Bayern Munich before August is out!
HIDDEN GEM – Rob Holding (5.0m)
Back in April, when Wenger switched to three at the back, Rob Holding all of a sudden came back into the team, having not featured since August. The ex-Bolton defender was trusted with helping the team get back on track and reaching the cup final, before being promptly dropped for the North London Derby, in which Gabriel came in and gave away a penalty. Holding came back, and didn’t look back, after that, playing a starring role in the FA Cup final as the season ended. Priced at just £4.0m last year, I remember as he came back into the team I felt he could be a real bargain for my team. The Gunners kept three clean sheets in their final five games with Holding in the side, and the Englishman picked up nice bonus points in wins over Manchester United and Southampton.
This season, he’s a hidden gem in as much as Arsenal’s other defensive options are more glamorous – Laurent Koscielny, Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi all more ‘likely’ picks you’d choose. But Holding holds value, because Wenger trusts him and the fans love him. Plus, Koscielny, Mustafi, Gabriel and Mertesacker have all proved to be slightly unreliable due to injuries or suspensions down the years. Being out of the team for seven months last year didn’t seem to phase Holding and with all of the team’s centre backs coming with that odd question mark about them, there is no reason why he cannot stake a real claim in the side, particularly if Wenger sticks with the three man defence like he’s suggested he will. As Wenger once said about him, “if he’d have cost the club what Stones cost Manchester City, we’d all be talking about him.” In this year’s game, Holding starts with a price of £5.0m.
BARGAIN – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (6.0m)
Another who may well leave the club before the transfer window, but in my eyes the squad’s nicest bargain option looks like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Priced at £6.0m, he begins the game with a lower value than Ahmed Musa, Erik Lamela and Yannick Bolasie (who is out until Christmas) to name just a few. The Englishman’s role in the side is a well-documented talking point, with the player insisting he wants to play in the middle of the park but with Wenger using him both as a wide forward and as a wing back.
‘The Ox’ is coming off of his best FPL season, playing more minutes last year than any other campaign and recording two goals and seven assists. Whether he stays at Arsenal or not, this season has to be a big one for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who will be keen to impress Gareth Southgate in a World Cup year. He needs to nail down a role in the team – something which he managed towards the end of last season – and then he needs to kick on and produce better attacking returns and number, something he should be more than capable of.
PREDICTED LINE UP
Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi Monreal Kolasinac
If you have enjoyed this early view of the fantasy potential of Arsenal, be sure to check the other teams here.
Written by Joe McPhee (@JPMc99)
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