I’m going to premise this entire article by saying be careful when it comes to Chelsea assets. There is a LOT up in the air as I write this in mid-July. After a turbulent 17/18 campaign that ultimately ended in 5th place disappointment, the disenchanted Conte has finally been relieved of his managerial duties. There is a new Italian in charge by the name of Maurizio Sarri. Signed on a 5-year deal from Napoli, he’s here to test his metal in the Premier League and I envisage significant changes to a Chelsea squad that went stale last season.
The other factor to account for is World Cup fatigue. 7 of the current Chelsea squad (Courtois, Cahill, Hazard, Loftus-Cheek, Willian, Kante, Giroud) featured in the Quarter Finals and beyond leaving the door open to them being rested in GW1/2 of the new season. With that in mind, I’ve made these picks based on the knowledge I have available at this juncture. The outlook is likely to change over the next month depending on ins/outs.
STAR MAN – Eden Hazard (£10.5m)
After his wonderful showing in Russia, this was a very simple pick. I expect Sarri to build the team around this man if he isn’t lured away by Real Madrid in the meantime. In FPL terms, his stats last season were fairly mediocre given his premium price tag. I would be shocked if he doesn’t improve on 12 goals, 6 assists this season. He’s entering the prime of his career now, this is his time to step up and cement himself as a Premier League great. Many including myself have been burned by his hot and cold FPL tendencies, his scoring is erratic and unpredictable which makes hopping on him at the right time very difficult. I hope this is the season he sheds the “FPL troll” tag and begins to show Salah level consistency. Do keep in mind that he may see reduced minutes in GW1/2 due to World Cup fatigue.
HIDDEN GEM – Alvaro Morata (£9.0m)
Forget hidden gem, this fella hid away altogether last season. After a bright start to his debut campaign at the Bridge which included a hat-trick away to Stoke, his form dropped off a cliff and he became a much-maligned figure within the FPL community. Call me optimistic, but I have not lost hope for Alvaro. With Giroud likely to miss the start of the season (hungover), unless Chelsea sign a marquee striker such as Higuaín then he will get his chance at redemption and as I write this, there has been no advancement on any deal of that nature. £9.0m is a significant knock off on his starting price last season and places him in the upper-mid price bracket. Ruthless in the air and quick with his feet, if he recaptures the form he showed in Italy then he could offer a stable 2nd forward option. 10 of his 11 league goals came before January suggesting he does have it in him. Can he become a consistent force under the demanding Sarri? Watch this space.
BARGAIN – Cesc Fabregas (£6.5m)
This wasn’t an easy selection as the Chelsea squad is devoid of nailed on cut price players. I’ve gone for Fabregas here as £6.5m appears a very reasonable price for this true FPL stalwart. He had a poor 17/18 campaign by his standards only notching 6 FPL returns. Conte definitely unsettled him and based off his World Cup punditry on BBC (which was superb incidentally) he wasn’t overly impressed with his treatment. It’s time for Cesc to turn his attention back to playing the game and cementing a spot in Sarri’s midfield. This is far from a certainty but World Cup winner Kante and Three Lions prodigy Loftus-Cheek’s potential absences could open the door to Fabregas starting in the early gameweeks. If he can hit the ground running then he could prove superb early value. Sarri built his Napoli team on neat ball playing possession with sudden incisive bursts into enemy lines. Fabregas has the ability to be a key creative outlet in the side, unlocking the door through the channels for the likes of Hazard and Morata.
N.B Aleksandr Golovin has apparently agreed personal terms with Chelsea as I write this, so this calls Cesc’s starting spot into question. Let’s hope he’s priced well in FPL!
PREDICTED LINE UP
Azpi – Rudiger – Christensen – Alonso
Kante – Jorginho – Fabregas
Willian – Morata – Hazard
Written by FPL Viper (@FPLViper)