After a refreshing summer break, Sports Mole's fantasy football advice is back and hopefully better than before!
The opening weekend of the season is always a tricky one to call, with starting lineups sometimes difficult to predict, while it is often hard to judge whether or not a new signing is going to hit the ground running.
Nevertheless, we've poured over the first 10 fixtures to pick three players that we believe should be included within your team and a further three that are best being omitted.
Who to pick
1. Diego Costa: It's been widely accepted that a lack of a significant goalscoring threat was the major contributing factor behind Chelsea's failure to win any silverware last term. Yet if pre-season form is anything to go by, Jose Mourinho has addressed that problem. Costa, signed from Atletico Madrid for £32m, has scored four goals in his new side's friendly outings this summer, including a brace against Real Sociedad on Tuesday evening. Of course, his form has come as little surprise, with the Spanish international having fired Atletico to the La Liga title and final of the Champions League in recent months. Now fully fit after an injury-hit World Cup, one would have to fear for newly-promoted Burnley against the powerful striker – they won't have dealt with his like in the Championship.
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2. Peter Odemwingie: Former Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham told Sports Mole back in March that the January signing of Odemwingie had helped to revitalise what had been a difficult campaign for the club up until that point. His reasoning behind that viewpoint was that the Nigerian had the pace and trickery to pose the sort of questions that the Potters had not been asking of the opposition under Mark Hughes's management. Aston Villa struggled to contend with the 33-year-old last season when he scored once and created numerous problems in a 4-1 win at Villa Park. The visiting rearguard are not likely to relish a reunion.
3. John Terry: Scoring goals may have been a problem for Chelsea last season, but they seemingly found keeping them out at the other end a much easier task. Much of that was down to the leadership and positional sense of Terry, who enjoyed a Stamford Bridge renaissance following Mourinho's return when it appeared that he could be bound for the exit door. Danny Ings had a positive season in front of goal in the Championship, but coming up against a defender of Terry's experience will represent uncharted territory for the 22-year-old. Meanwhile, Burnley's summer attacking additions Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Sordell are not likely to cause the Chelsea skipper to have sleepless nights. He may also fancy his chances of scoring, having found the net when the sides last met at Turf Moor in 2010.
Who to avoid
1. Lukasz Fabianski: Having spent plenty of time at the Emirates Stadium as a deputy, Fabianski is bound to be relishing the opportunity to prove his worth as a number one goalkeeper. The Pole, who has replaced Michel Vorm, could have had easier starts in a Swansea City shirt, though. Garry Monk's team will travel to Old Trafford, where there is a renewed belief following the appointment of Louis van Gaal. While pre-season form ultimately counts for little, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata have been in particularly positive form in front of goal this summer, so it could well be a busy afternoon for the new man between the Swansea posts.
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2. Graziano Pelle: Only someone with a heart of stone would not feel a degree of sympathy for Southampton. Almost on a weekly basis throughout the summer, key players departed, as did manager Mauricio Pochettino. The man left to pick up the remains is Ronald Koeman, who among his handful of signings so far is Pelle. Football history is littered with strikers that have made immediate impacts, but one of the last places that he would have wanted to have started his Premier League career is Anfield. Liverpool may have sold their talisman, but their playing style should see them dictate most home encounters. Providing that Brendan Rodgers's men are on form, it may very well be a lonely outing for Pelle as the sole striker.
3. Scott Dann: The inclusion of a Crystal Palace defender within your fantasy football team is a logical one. After all, following the appointment of Tony Pulis, the Eagles kept 11 clean sheets from 28 games, with Dann arguably the pick of the defenders. Yet, where they did tend to concede goals was against the bigger teams. This weekend they make the trip across London to face an Arsenal buoyed by their first trophy in nine years, which was then backed up by success in the Community Shield on Sunday. Champions Manchester City may have been understrength, but some of Arsenal's play – particularly on the counter-attack – was a joy to watch. With Alexis Sanchez likely to make his competitive home debut and the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla fit and firing, it's likely to be the wrong time for Palace to take on the Gunners.
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