What a summer it's been! The World Cup was a feast of incredible football and was better than any tournament I can remember.
England made a nation believe in the impossible before cruelly dashing the hopes and dreams of so many football fans. So what better way to move on from the World Cup than to dive back into fantasy football?
Yes, Fantasy Premier League is back! It has been online for two weeks now and it is the perfect way to fill the void between the World Cup ending and the Premier League season beginning.
Over the next few weeks, RealSport will bring you plenty of FPL content including a guide to picking your team, a quick look over the basics of FPL including the chips and an analysis of each and every team.
But for now, just log back on and get a feel for the new prices, new players and new teams, like sinking into a nice warm bath. Here are our initial thoughts on the game.
The RealSport league is back as well. The league code is 20571-70568 and the prize for coming first is £50! So sign up on the FPL website or just click here for your chance to win.
Post-World Cup Hangover
The most important thing to remember when setting up your FPL team in a summer that has seen tournament football is that a lot of players won't be back for the first game.
At the very least you can discount all the players from France, Croatia, Belgium and England for the opening weeks. This will impact several of the bigger teams.
Spurs – Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele, Dele Alli, Harry Kane (it's hard to think who will actually line up for them against Newcastle...)
Manchester United – Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku
Manchester City – Kyle Walker, John Stones, Vincent Kompany, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne
I am, of course, aware that Hugo Lloris also lined up for France in the final but goalkeepers are much less likely to miss season openers due to the different fitness demands.
The Premier League tried desperately to crash the FIFA party by releasing their fixture schedule on the same day as the World Cup kicked off but to no avail as club football took a back seat to the thrills and spills of an international tournament.
Now it's time to take a look and see who has been dealt a killer opening hand and who will have to wait until October for their season to begin.
Burnley – Southampton (a), Watford (h), Fulham (a), Man United (h), Wolves (a), Bournemouth (h)
The Clarets embark on a European adventure this season after punching well above their weight and finishing in 7th last year.
It remains to be seen how well they juggle with this added pressure, especially as they are renowned for having a thin squad.
However, they couldn't have asked for a much better fixture list, with two promoted sides and only one top six side in Manchester United.
Everton – Wolves (a), Southampton (h), Bournemouth (a), Huddersfield (h), West Ham (h), Arsenal (a)
It has been a summer of change at Goodison Park. Sam Allardyce departed and the man they originally wanted finally arrived.
Marco Silva will want to show that he can do the business with Everton and he has been handed a nice intro into life in Liverpool. Everton play newly-promoted Wolves on the opening day before four games against teams who have recently flirted with relegation.
Their first game against top six opposition is Arsenal, the difficulty of which will depend on how well they deal with their own managerial transition.
Manchester City – Arsenal (a), Huddersfield (h), Wolves (a), Newcastle (h), Fulham (h), Cardiff (a)
Manchester City will begin their title defence against the new-look Arsenal.
This will be a difficult one to call as key players (Stones, Sterling, Kompany, De Bruyne… Delph?) will probably not be back from an extended break due to England and Belgium making it to the final weekend of the tournament, while Arsenal will be desperate to impress.
Afterwards, however, it all looks much more rosy. They have matches against all three Premier League newbies and home games against Huddersfield and Newcastle.
If you can handle the constant threat of rotation in a team containing Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Sterling, Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez, De Bruyne and the Silvas - David and Bernardo - then you should get a lot out of investing in the reigning champions.
Cardiff – Bournemouth (a), Newcastle (h), Huddersfield (a), Arsenal (h), Chelsea (a), Man City (h)
It almost seems cruel to give this sort of schedule to a newly promoted side. The three opening games look manageable although two of them are away from home but then they face three of the top six.
It doesn't get much better after Manchester City either, as they face Liverpool and Spurs in the following four matches.
Huddersfield – Chelsea (h), Man City (a), Cardiff (h), Everton (a), Crystal Palace (h), Leicester (a)
The Terriers surprised a lot of people last year as they were hotly tipped to go down.
If they want to avoid accusations of 'second season syndrome' they will need to overcome some tough opposition in the opening weeks.
They play the champions of each of the last three Premier League season as well as having a tough trip to Goodison.
Every year FPL managers dig deep in the mines of the game to find little gems known as OOP (Out of Position) players.
These are people playing as midfielders/strikers but classified in the game as defenders/midfielders, like Josh King in 2016/17 and Zaha last year (note the reverse is colloquially known as a POO player – reverse OOP – and that is something to avoid).
However, as quickly as we find them, FPL deems it fit to rectify their mistake and reclassify.
Fabian Delph (MID->DEF)
Considering all the talent Manchester City have in midfield, it's no surprise Fabian Delph has struggled to make his mark in that area.
While it is surprising that Guardiola saw fit to play him at left-back, now Mendy is back it is hard to see Delph reprising that role again.
It's hard see him becoming a decent prospect anywhere because Manchester City have so many better players.
James Milner (DEF->MID)
Milner has always been a midfielder really but two years ago, before the emergence of Andrew Robertson, when Liverpool's only proper left back was Alberto Moreno, Klopp decided he trusted Milner there more than the Spaniard.
As a result, Milner was pushed back to being a defender in last year's game, only for Robertson to break out and Klopp pushed him back into the midfield.
With that change and Milner no longer taking penalties we can go back to ignoring him completely as an FPL option.
Arthur Masuaku (DEF->MID)
His promise as an OOP option never really materialised. Despite some impressive skills and beating a few men, he never delivered and finished the season with just thre assists. His six match ban for spitting didn't help either...
With Moyes gone and Pellegrini looking to strengthen that area, it's hard to see Masuaku continuing as a left winger. He could even revert to left back, leaving him as POO rather than OOP.
Wilfried Zaha (MID->FWD)
Zaha took over from the lacklustre Christian Benteke as Palace’s striker and he was key to helping them stay up comfortably despite 0 points and 0 goals after the first seven matches last season.
There aren't any better options at Palace yet, so Zaha could provide a decent option in the mid-range bracket up front which has been sorely lacking in the past couple of seasons.
Marko Arnautovic (MID->FWD)
Another winger who was pushed forward when his manager lost patience with the rest of the strikers, Arnautovic flourished under David Moyes and was a bargain for your FPL midfield from December onwards.
Like Masuaku, it remains to be seen how Pellegrini will utilise his talent but surely he will learn from Moyes’ reign and keep him up front!
In the meantime, let us know which players you think are an absolute bargain for 2018/19 in the comments below.
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