Unless you’re questionably unbalanced or have an irrational hatred of uber talented footballers, the chances are you’ll have at least one of Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard or Alexis Sanchez in your FPL team come the start of the season.
But what if you didn’t? What if you broke with convention, ignored the experts and said SCREW YOU to the statistics? What sort of side could you create without the three highest points scorers from 2014/15?
Dom Crofts from www.themagicspongefpl.com took it upon himself to conduct this sociological fantasylogical experiment…
Follow Dom on Twitter @spongeymagic
No Hazard, no Aguero, no Sanchez. It’s like watching Star Wars but ignoring the first three films. THE BEST FILMS. Why would anyone do this? I can’t have Princess Leia but I’m allowed Jar Jar bloody Binks?!? FML.
The challenge has been set though, and I’ve accepted said challenge for better or for worse.
So let’s kick things off by focusing on that last line of defence – the keepers… And GOD HELP US ALL.
THIBAUT COURTOIS (CHELSEA) – £5.5 MILLION
One of the perennial questions in FPL is whether to rotate your goalkeepers – but on this occasion I’m going to plump for an out-and-out number one – and it’s the big Belgian Thibaut Courtois who gets the nod.
Chelsea conceded just 32 goals last season enroute to the title, and they’re nailed on to be the stingiest backline again this term – Courtois represents great value and a potential points bonanza. Plus he’s less of a douchebag than John Terry, right?
WAYNE HENNESSEY (CRYSTAL PALACE) – £4 MILLION
Wayne Hennessey seems unlikely to oust Julian Speroni from the Crystal Palace starting XI but he’s been heavily linked with a move to West Brom, and with Ben Foster still crocked he could earn some serious playing time for the Baggies.
Tony Pulis may look like a PE teacher in his embarrassing tracksuit and cap combo, but he’s a master when it comes to organising defences, and if he teams up with the Welsh international again you can expect some very decent returns.
HECTOR BELLERIN (ARSENAL) – £5.5 MILLION
Bellerin was one of the success stories of last season, bombing down the Arsenal flank like a man possessed and fending off the challenge of French international Mathieu Debuchy for a place in Arsene Wenger’s first team.
The young Spaniard played just 1563 minutes for the Gunners last season, but still scored twice and picked up 77 points overall – an equivalent of 4.4 points per game. And he’s also got funky hair – I mean, what’s not to love?
NATHANIEL CLYNE (LIVERPOOL) – £5.5 MILLION
Liverpool were laughable at times last season, with Dejan Lovren comedy central at the heart of Brendan Rodgers’ backline.
You’d think the Anfield hierarchy might have thought twice about investing in Southampton defenders as a result, but Nathaniel Clyne has rocked up on Merseyside and is yours for the pretty price of £5.5 million.
Clyne was the joint third highest scoring defender last term and is significantly cheaper than Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry – another good campaign for the England international and he could be worth his weight in gold.
CEDRIC SOARES (SOUTHAMPTON) – £5 MILLION
Another right back, Cedric is Clyne’s replacement at St Mary’s, He’s attack-minded (TICK), fast (TICK) and HIS NAME IS RUDDY CEDRIC (TICK TICK TICK). What more do you need to know?
YOUNES KABOUL (SUNDERLAND) – £4.5 MILLION
The first of two rotation options, Kaboul is certain to start for Sunderland after becoming one of Dick Advocaat’s first signings since being re-appointed boss of the Black Cats.
Advocaat’s nine games in charge at the end of last season reaped four clean sheets – and with a decent fixtures to kickstart the new campaign you could be quids in if you sign the former Spurs man.
STEVEN TAYLOR (NEWCASTLE) – £4 MILLION
When Sunderland are away, Newcastle are at home – and that can only mean one thing…. ROTATION KLAXON!
Taylor has had his injury problems but is a whole-hearted defender who will be keen to impress Steve McClaren – and let’s face it, he’s cheaper than a pair of socks in Primark.
SANTI CAZORLA (ARSENAL) – £8.5 MILLION
Santi Cazorla gets the nod in midfield ahead of his googly-eyed teammate Mesut Ozil and Welsh wonder Aaron Ramsey. Why? STATISTICS, STATISTICS AND DAMN STATISTICS.
Cazorla has more assists than any other Premier League player since signing for Arsenal in 2012, and last year he was behind only Hazard, Sanchez and Silva at the top of the midfield rankings. Go on, get yourself an early Christmas present – plump for Santi.
DAVID SILVA (MANCHESTER CITY) – £10 MILLION
Ahhh, diddy David Silva – the man is a little genius. Having been banned from acquiring the only two midfielders who outscored him last year, I’d have to be fool to ignore his silky skills as well. And I am not a fool. Silva is IN.
JAMES MILNER (LIVERPOOL) – £7 MILLION
He’s not the most fashionable of players, but I’ve always loved James Milner. Versatile, hard-working, technically proficient, and the owner of possibly the squarest head in world football – Milner will be a rip-roaring success at Anfield and I’m tipping him to outscore his midfield rivals.
MOUSSA SISSOKO (NEWCASTLE) – £6 MILLION
If Newcastle are to have a decent season they’ll need to rely on the talents of Sissoko in the heart of their midfield. Many thought the French international would quit St James’ Park this summer, but with the Geordies finally splashing some cash and with a former England manager in charge, Moussa could be set for his best season yet.
DARREN FLETCHER (WEST BROM) – £4.5 MILLION
He’ll play every week for the Baggies, and that makes him a decent substitute in fantasy football. Hopefully he wont play every week for this side, otherwise something will have gone very wrong indeed.
CHRISTIAN BENTEKE (LIVERPOOL) – £8.5 MILLION
12 goals in 12 games under Tactics Tim is proof that Benteke is top class – either that or Sherwood’s a managerial genius (I know what I think is more realistic).
In three seasons in England the Belgian has notched double figures every time – and in a top six team you’d expect him to excel once more.
DIEGO COSTA (CHELSEA) – £11 MILLION
Fine. You won’t let me have Hazard? I’ll buy his snarling, Spanish friend instead. Diego Costa is the human embodiment of a Rottweiler. Nasty, aggressive and just a bit of a bastard.
Yes his hamstrings are weak. Yes there is absolutely no way he is really 26-years-old. But he’s a winner, he’s a goalscorer and he’s in my team from the start.
WAYNE ROONEY (MANCHESTER UNITED) – £10.5 MILLION
Roonaldo had to play in midfield for much of last season but still managed to finish the season with 12 goals, five assists and 132 points.
Louis Van Gaal has already said he’ll be playing the England captain up front this season and if he keeps his word then Rooney is a must-have. Plus it means I have two Wayne’s in my squad. Which has to be some sort of record.
So there you have it – my Hazardless, Sanchezless, Agueroless team. Will I keep faith with it for the opening day? Good God no. But it just shows you that there are decent options out there if you do decide to ignore the big guns and raid the second tier of superstars.
So let us know what YOU think – how would your squad look with no Aguero, Sanchez or Hazard??
Dom Crofts writes for www.themagicspongefpl.com and presents their podcast, the first one of which is OUT NOW.
He’s an Arsenal fan but that doesn’t make him a bad person.