The Prem is here, and we can all now rejoice. Now that the season has kicked off, I will be doing my best to fill your Mondays with sweet, fond memories from the games from over the weekend. I also ask for some patience as I work through how to best provide both a summation and meaningful outlook on the matches.

I was hoping to write about all 20 teams for this post, but it started to become lengthy and I started to get sleepy. So, here are my notes over the weekend on Arsenal to Liverpool (alpha order because why not?)…I will hopefully have Man City to West Ham by tomorrow.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Hammers are one of the hardest teams to peg coming into the 2017/18 campaign. They currently have 7 players injured – Aaron Cresswell, Manuel Lanzini, Andy Carroll, Michael Antonio, Diafra Sakho, Sofiane Feghouli, Chekhou Kouyate – but have transferred in a few playmakers that should help them get through a pretty tough schedule to start the season. Marko Arnautovic and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández are the two big names here, and both could provide great value for a number of FPL managers this season.

Hammers start the season away to Manchester United, but have great fixtures immediate after, facing Southampton (A), Newcastle (A), Huddersfield (H) and West Brom (A) from weeks 2-5. That stretch is followed with a tough home match versus Spurs in Gameweek 6, and then back into the green fixtures with Swansea (H), Burnley (A), Brighton (H) and Crystal Palace (A).  While starting the season with three road starts might prove difficult, keep in mind that they do not possess too much of a “home field” advantage going into just their second season playing home matches at the London Stadium.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Prem darlings from just two seasons ago crashed and burned in their attempt at a title defense for 2016/17 campaign. Despite dropping over £60million in transfers in order to contend for both the Prem and Champions League trophies, their new signings, Ahmed Musa, Islam Slimani, Luis Hernandez (left in January) and Nampalys Mendy did not even approximate their weight in pounds. Islam Slimani – heretofore to be known as the Muslim Slim Jim – was the only new signee not to struggle, tallying 7 goals, 4 assists and 35 shots in 1279 minutes playing striker coming off the bench. 

Their season was very much a tale of two teams: since Shakespeare took over the team last February at the end of Gameweek 25, the Foxes surged from 17th place and 1 point above relegation to finish the season in 12th place, 10 points clear of relegation and a mere 3 points behind sole possession of 8th. Part of their success was a return to the 4-4-2 formation that won them the Prem Title in 2016, and certainly their old manager had begun to rub people the wrong way. Ranieri’s 2016/17 campaign was characterized by unnecessary rotations and constant meddling with formations, resulting in abysmal 24 goals scored while allowing 43 in 25 matches. Shakespeare’s return to the basics led to the Foxes scoring 24 more while only allowing 20 in 13 matches, 6 of which were throttled down their throats by Spurs in the penultimate week of the season; if you take out those 6 goals, that’s 14 goals against in 12 matches (1.17 goals conceded/match, right on par with Arsenal’s 1.15 goals conceded/match rate for the entire season).

It’s a new season, and Leicester City does not have Champions or Europa League as a distraction this campaign, which gives me hope that they will be focused on winning the FA Cup or maintaining a higher position in the top half of the table as they look to compete again in continental fútbol.

What does this all mean for fantasy? Leicester’s nose dive last season and surprise season two years ago has created good value here, prettay prettay good value. Their two most expensive players, Vardy (3.5% owned) and Mahrez, are both priced at £8.5, cheap when you consider that Man City has 5 midfielders over 8.0 (thanks Smokey). Also keep in mind that Mahrez has been the focus of transfer rumors all summer (see below), and very well could be the man to replace Alexis Sanchez should Arsenal part ways with him. In terms of attacking, it would seem that Craig Shakespeare would do well to experiment with both Vardy and the Muslim Slim Jim up top.  At £7.0, Muslim Slim Jim might be too expensive for most budgets as a 3rd striker with no track record, and if Kelechi Iheanacho (more on him below) does indeed finalize his transfer to Leicester, he might remain a fixture on the bench for the upcoming season.

The calendar has turned to August, so let’s speculate who are the players to focus on, and what it means for your squad…

Please, blog, may I have some more?