Saturday August 8

Rapid Reaction - Gameweek 1, Aug 8 Matches

The first day of the EPL season is in the books, here's what we're thinking now that the matches are over:

• Spurs came out hot to open the game, with Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane showing some great chemistry. Then came the own-goal by Kyle Walker (Rooney earned a late assist), and Spurs went into their now-familiar shell that they seem to always go into after going down early at Old Trafford.

Matteo Darmian was by far the strongest United defender on the pitch today, even during the initial flurry by Spurs. If fantasy managers look to pick up a Man U defender, Darmian is the one to own. Memphis Depay showed quite a bit of promise, even if he did not earn managers any fantasy points. Morgan Schneiderlin had a rough go of it today, and did not look very sharp at all.

• Leicester City came out swarming today and played with a chip on their shoulder: Riyad Mahrez led the way with a brace as LCFC spanked a hapless Sunderland. Will be interesting to see how long they can carry the "Noone believes in us!" mentality before their defense (which had several mental lapses today) lets them down.

• Everton defense struggled once again, and looked very shaky in their home opener against Watford. John Stones made some critical errors, and they certainly missed the presence of Leighton Baines who was out with an ankle injury (which is rumored to be a two- or three-month injury). The Toffees looked much better in the second half, with sub Kone (1 goal, 1 assist) being the spark they desperately needed to salvage the draw.

• Bournemouth looked very solid in their debut against Aston Villa, outplaying the Villans in every facet of the match (especially in the first half) except for on the scoreboard. Tim Sherwood's men showed some surprising resilience defensively and played a much better second half, but absence of former striker Christian Benteke was very noticeable - they will certainly need to make a move before the transfer window is over.

• The Crystal Palace midfield proved to be the main source of offensive production once again, with Zaha, Cabaye, Puncheon and McArthur each producing a goal or an assist. Should they add a striker before the close of the transfer window, Alan Pardew's men will have quite the potent offense indeed.

• New signing Andre Ayew notched his first goal as a member of Swansea, and his presence added another dimension to their attack and really allowed them to open up and stand toe-to-toe with the defending champs. Bafétimbi Gomis showed a penchant for making great runs to the net, but was just a hair offsides about 75% of the time... as the season goes on, should his timing improve, he will certainly be a fantasy threat. Dreadful start for the 11.37% of fantasy managers who own Thibaut Courtois on the FPL website after he was sent off for fouling a breaking-away Gomis in the penalty area.

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Saturday August 8

Gameweek 1 - August 8: Starting Lineups [Updating!]

• Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur (12:45 GMT+1, 7:45am EST)

Manchester United: Sergio Romero is the man between the goalposts today, David De Gea not listed among the substitutes. Rest of the Starting XI as projected. Bastian Schweinsteiger listed as a sub, could see some action in the second half.

Tottenham: Kyle Walker at right-back, Ben Davies at left-back, Eric Dier in a holding midfielder role. Kieran Trippier and Erik Lamela listed as substitutes. Michel Vorm starting between the sticks today, Hugo Lloris subbing. Center-backs are the Belgian Bash Brothers Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.

Manchester United: Romero, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Carrick, Schneiderlin, Memphis, Mata, Young, Rooney

Tottenham: Vorm, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Bentaleb, Dier, Chadli, Dembele, Eriksen, Kane

• Bournemouth vs Aston Villa (15:00 GMT+1, 10:00am EST)

Bournemouth: Tyrone Mings not in the starting XI today for Bournemouth.

Aston Villa: Hutton on the sub list for the opener.

Bournemouth: Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Gosling, Surman, Pugh, King, Wilson
Subs: Federici, Distin, Smith, Mings, O'Kane, Gradel, Kermorgant.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Richards, Clark, Amavi, Veretout, Gueye, Westwood, Ayew, Agbonlahor, Sinclair
Subs: Bunn, Baker, Cole, Hutton, Sanchez, Gestede, Richardson

• Everton vs Watford (15:00 GMT+1, 10:00am EST)

Everton: Lukaku gets the start despite hamstring concerns. Baines out with an ankle injury, rumored to be out for three months. Deulofeu not included amongst the subs.

Watford: Angella listed as a sub, not in the starting XI

Everton: Howard; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Galloway; McCarthy, Barry, Barkley, Cleverly, Mirallas; Lukaku
Subs: Robles, Oviedo, Kone, Naismith, Osman, Browning, McAleny

Watford: Gome, Nyom, Cathcart, Prödl, Holebas, Capoue, Behrami, Anya, Jurado, Layun, Deeney
Subs: Gilmartin (GK), Angella, Paredes, Pudil, Watson, Ighalo, Vydra

• Leicester vs Sunderland (15:00 GMT+1, 10:00am EST)

Leicester: Vardy getting the start for LCFC over Ulloa.

Sunderland: O'Shea listed as a sub for the opening match.

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, Albrighton, Drinkwater, King, Mahrez, Okazaki, Vardy
Subs: Schwarzer, Hammond, Kanté, Kramarić, Ulloa, Fuchs, Benalouane

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, PVA, Kaboul, Coates, Cattermole, Rodwell, Larsson, Johnson, Lens, Defoe.
Subs: Mannone, O’Shea, Matthews, Bridcutt, Giaccherini, Graham, Fletcher

• Norwich vs Crystal Palace (15:00 GMT+1, 10:00am EST)

Norwich: Redmond not in the Starting XI, listed as a sub

Crystal Palace: McCarthy getting the start as Goalkeeper today. Bolasie, Jedinak, Wickham all listed as subs for today's match.

Norwich: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Brady; Howson, Dorrans, Tettey, Johnson; Hoolahan; Grabban
Subs: Wisdom, Jerome, Hooper, Redmond, R Bennett, O'Neil

Crystal Palace: McCarthy; Ward, Dann, Delaney; Souare; McArthur, Cabaye; Zaha, Mutch, Puncheon; Murray
Subs: Hennessey, Kelly, Jedinak, Bolasie, Gayle, Wickham, Bamford

• Chelsea vs Swansea (17:30 GMT+1, 12:30pm EST)

Chelsea: Costa getting the start today, both Remy and Falcao on as subs. No other surprises here.

Swansea: Jack Cork subbing today, won't be starting at the holding midfield position.

Chelsea XI: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Diego Costa.
Subs: Begovic, Zouma, Ramires, Mikel, Moses, Remy, Falcao.

Swansea XI: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Ki Sung-Yueng, Shelvey, Sigurdsson, Ayew, Montero, Gomis.
Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Bartley, Tabanou, Cork, Routledge, Eder

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Friday August 7

2015-16 Fantasy Preview - Chelsea F.C.

At long last, we have come to our 20th and final fantasy preview of the season, and we end with the defending champions: Chelsea F.C.

Nickname: The Blues

Manager: Jose Mourinho

2014-15 Finish: 1st (87 points, 26-3-9 record)

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Friday August 7

2015-16 Fantasy Preview - Manchester City F.C.

Manchester City F.C. have long been the big spenders in the EPL, and have continued to do so this transfer window by bringing on Raheem Sterling for £49m and Fabian Delph for £8m. City have also been linked with Wolfsburg's Kevin de Bruyne who is expected to go for more than £45m. Even without these additions, City has a formidable squad with a potent 4-2-3-1 attack, however there are some question marks about the back line that could cause them some trouble this season.

Nickname: City

Manager: Manuel Pellegrini

2014-15 Finish: 2nd (79 points, 24-7-7 record)

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Friday August 7

2015-16 Fantasy Preview - Arsenal F.C.

For our 2015-16 Arsenal F.C. Fantasy Preview, we turned to community member, fantasy enthusiast and livelong Gunners fan A.Timberlake, who prepared an incredible piece for us. Enjoy!

Following successive FA Cup and Community Shield victories for the second season running, Arsenal come into the new campaign riding a wave of optimism and good form. Just as importantly, the Gunners have emerged from a fine preseason nearly free of injury, with Wilshere being the only casualty receiving a hairline fracture during training (Welbeck still rehabbing last year's knee injury and Sanchez is back in training). With the club and manager now the record FA Cup winners respectively, the challenge for both this season will be to mount a sustained title challenge. The last two seasons have seen Arsenal perform a footballing Jekyll and Hyde, putting together stellar half seasons which if extrapolated over a full season would have seen them finish as champions, but in actual fact saw them botch the other halves and ultimately fall well short of their rivals. Having proclaimed this his greatest squad since the ‘Invincibles,’ it is now up to Arsène Wenger and co. to fire straight off the blocks this season and to carry it all the way through until May. If they do not, there will be few excuses to be made. As is always the case with the Gunners, the health of the club’s star players will be key to any success.

After opening at home to West Ham, Arsenal face a moderately difficult start to the new campaign, playing both Liverpool and Chelsea in their next five matches. The good news is that the first half of the season sees Arsenal face the majority of their sterner tests at home, with only a trip to the champions to negotiate from last season’s top six. The Gunners must insure they aren’t playing catch up come the New Year.

Nickname: The Gunners

Manager: Arsène Wenger

2014-15 Finish: 3rd (75 points, 22-9-7 record)

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Friday August 7

2015-16 Fantasy Preview - Manchester United F.C.

After a (relatively) slow start to last season that saw only three wins in their first ten matches and found manager Louis van Gaal on the (preliminary) hot seat, Manchester United went on a tear, losing only 2 of their next 22 matches. While they stumbled a bit in their final six matches, losing three and drawing two, it was still good enough to qualify for the Champions league this upcoming season. This offseason saw a flurry of activity for the Red Devils, who spent over £80m in transfer fees to bring on several world-class players while also sending out Angel Di Maria to PSG - and they reportedly aren't done yet as they are reportedly targeting Barcelona's Pedro and have also been linked to PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Real Madrid's Gareth Bale. Regardless of how the team looks at the close of the window, Manchester United have added quite a bit of strength to their squad this season, and will once again be in the hunt for the top of the table this season.

Nickname: The Red Devils

Manager: Louis van Gaal

2014-15 Finish: 4th (70 points, 20-8-10 record)

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Thursday August 6

2015-16 Fantasy Preview - Tottenham Hotspur F.C.

Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and second-year coach Mauricio Pochettino come in to this season following a campaign that saw the emergence of Harry Kane, a 5th place finish in the EPL table and a visit to the League Cup finals. They will have their work cut out for them this season though, as their rivals at the top of the table have spent massive amounts this transfer window to improve their teams, and they once again have to contend with an increased workload as they participate in the Europa league once again. Tottenham supporters can take heart in the fact that even though Spurs haven't been spending the massive quantities that other EPL clubs have, the money they have spent has shored up a shaky back line (which was one of their few weaknesses last season), and it is reported that they are still in the market for another winger and a striker to back up Kane.

Nickname: Spurs

Manager: Ted Lasso Mauricio Pochettino

2014-15 Finish: 5th (64 points, 19-12-7 record)

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Wednesday August 5

2015-16 Fantasy Preview - Liverpool F.C.

For our Liverpool preview, we are doing something a little different... @EdgeCommaThe, lifelong Liverpool fanatic, a good friend and great member of Soccer Captains community, has prepared an incredible Liverpool F.C. preview which I hope you will enjoy as much as we did! Without further ado...

YOU'LL NEVER WILDLY SPECULATE ALONE

If 14/15 was the hangover to Liverpool’s house party of 13/14 than 15/16 is surely going to be… what exactly? That’s the question everyone is asking about Liverpool at the moment. Their success in 13/14 came as the result of a high scoring, swashbuckling style which saw the club score 101 goals in 38 league games. Yet as prolific as Liverpool were in 13/14, they were equally anemic in 14/15.

The cause for this lies somewhere between the narrative, Suarez leaving for Barcelona, and the reality of: Suarez leaving for Barcelona, Sturridge breaking, trying to “bed in” a myriad of new players, and attempting to shift 50% of the team’s goals from the previous year off of two players and onto the backs of the team as a whole. A slow start to the season exposed the team’s defensive fragility, which, combined with the lack of firepower up top led to a string of poor results. These results necessitated a change, as the team was no longer capable of simply outscoring the opposition.

That change was to come as the manager eschewed his preferred 4-3-3 formation, to instead run out a 3-4-3; going so far as to play a natural midfielder as a converted centerback, and a winger as a false 9. While the goals were still hard to come by, compared to the previous year, the team was much more solid defensively and began to eke out modest victories. When all was said and done however, Liverpool ultimately failed to replicate their form from the year prior, scoring only 52 league goals and finishing 6th overall.

Why though, are we talking so much about seasons as far back as two years prior, in a preview for the coming year? Well, Liverpool find themselves in much the same position heading into this new campaign, as they did last summer prior to the season past. In 14/15 the team needed to immediately replace the 31 goals of Luis Suarez, and after a few weeks into the season, the 21 goals of Daniel Sturridge. Once again, the two highest scorers of the last campaign have departed. Steven Gerrard, has left for Los Angeles, while Raheem Sterling has been sold to Manchester City. The task to replace these goals isn’t as herculean as it was the previous year though, as they only scored nine and seven goals in league play respectively.

The similarities between the two off seasons aren’t solely reserved to replacing goal scorers however. Prior to the 14/15 season, Liverpool brought a grand total of eight new players into the squad, 3 of which could be said to be guaranteed starters. During this current transfer window, while fewer players have come in, seven, four of them are thought of as first 11 caliber. Is Liverpool poised on the brink of another slow start, while they wait for players to grow accustomed to each other and the system they are expected to play in?

Nickname: The Reds

Manager: Brendan Rodgers

2014-15 Finish: 6th (62 points, 18-12-8 record)

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