With the Games of the XXX Olympiad in full swing, the football news emerging from London has taken a back seat. As a matter of fact, when we begin to focus in on the West side of the capital, Chelsea is the team dominating the (albeit few) football headlines. With massive money coming from Roman Abramovich’s pockets, it’s easy to see why Fulham FC has been in the background for the majority of the summer. Other than the Clint Dempsey speculation, Fulham’s dealings have gone down in a very quiet manner over the past few months. In the transfer market, they’ve spent nothing and have gained less than a million pounds but, surprisingly, have been involved with nine transfers. Clearly, there have been changes aplenty in Martin Jol’s squad. Let’s take a look at the best Fantasy Premier League assets on offer from The Cottagers this season, then.
Mark Schwarzer comes in at 5.0 million in this season’s FPL game which currently looks like a decent price for a goalkeeper who conceded the same amount of goals as the more expensive Michel Vorm and Tim Krul last season. Unfortunately, the best goalkeeper to rotate with Schwarzer is the premium-priced Petr Cech so many will understandably be opting for other goalkeeper combinations.
At the back, Fulham have grabbed Sascha Riether on loan from FC Cologne who seems to have made the right-back position his own. It’s unfortunate as Stephen Kelly looked like a potential bargain at 4.5 million but his game time will undoubtedly be hugely hampered this season as result of Riether’s arrival. The German defender arrives in FPL at a price of 5.0 million.
At the same price but perhaps more assured of starts is Brede Hangeland. By his own standards, last season wasn’t a good one for Hangeland as he only barely broke the 100 point barrier after a season without a single goal or assist. The good news is that his price has plummeted to 5.0 million and has a fairly appealing first ten fixtures.
Aaron Hughes looks like a possible bargain in Martin Jol’s defence. Priced at just 4.5 million, Hughes has played the majority of pre-season so far alongside Hangeland. If his starting place is confirmed and Fulham can find solidity on their away trips as well as their home games this season then he’ll surely make a mockery of his price tag.
It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of Clint Dempsey in this area of the team. If he stays at the club, then he automatically becomes the best choice in Fulham’s midfield. His price of 9.5 million will certainly deter many a manager and there’s every chance that the uncertainty surrounding his future could affect his performance and perhaps even his game time before the transfer window closes. Having said that, there’s no ignoring the fact that he notched 17 goals and 7 assists last season and his strong home record might continue from the off as Fulham host Norwich in Gameweek 1. With a forgiving opening schedule, there’s a possibility that the American will punish those fantasy managers who overlook him. However, I’d recommend steering clear until the transfer window shuts or until there’s full clarity about which club he’ll represent this season.
Regardless of the Dempsey situation, it’s likely that Martin Jol will plan to have Mahamadou Diarra, Damien Duff and Moussa Dembele in his starting 11 for Gameweek 1. However, despite being affordable, none of these three midfielders are mouth-watering prospects due to lack of goal power. Having said that, if Fulham’s new strikers happen to find some goal scoring swagger, then the assist count of set piece taker Damien Duff could soar – he’ll cost you 6.0 million. Dembele costs 6.0 million also but his future at Craven Cottage is in doubt which compounds the fact that he only found the net the net twice last season. Diarra comes in at just 5.0 million but, despite his guarantee of game time, opting for a defensive midfielder in FPL breaks most unwritten rules.
If Clint Dempsey does depart Craven Cottage this summer then there’s every chance that it will be Alex Kacaniklic who steps into the starting 11. The Sweden Youth international spent most of last season on loan at Watford but was recalled near the end of the campaign. He managed to notch an assist in the Premier League before the season came to a conclusion in May and has started every game of pre-season so far. 4.5 million for a winger could be a real steal.
Likewise, there’s the possibility that Kerim Frei could stake a claim for a place in Jol’s first 11. He’s also priced at 4.5 million and, considering his attacking tendencies, would be a bargain if he manages to get a spell in the first team. Even if Dempsey stays at Fulham this season, there’s every possibility that Frei might be given game time ahead of the ageing Damien Duff on the right-wing. In their most recent pre-season friendly, the Turkish national was even deployed up front. Despite having bucket loads of talent, it doesn’t seem smart to pick Frei at this early stage as there’s no guarantee of minutes for the 18 year old.
New signing Mladen Petric has started his Fulham career in fine form, scoring 4 goals from 3 starts in friendlies so far. He was signed from Hamburg in June and now looks set to lead the line for the West London club. He only costs 6.0 million and could well be one of the breakthrough stars of the league this year. He joins Hugo Rodallega on Fulham’s list of arrivals this summer but the ex-Wigan forward has yet to appear for the Cottagers. Despite being the same price as Petric, it’s hard to see him becoming a better fantasy option due to Jol’s great relationship with the Croatian. It’s inevitable that Fulham will line up with just the one striker in some away games this season and Rodallega will more than likely be the one to make way in these situations.
Bryan Ruiz is also priced at 6.0 million but will rarely be playing as far forward as Petric or Rodallega. He is only owned by 0.8% of managers, though, and could therefore turn out to be a nice differential. He played just behind the striker in Fulham’s latest friendly and scored a goal as a result. If he continues this good form, then investment looks likely but classification as a midfielder would have made him a far more attractive prospect.
- Brede Hangeland looks a good pick at 5.0 million and has the fixtures to provide some great returns from the back.
- Clint Dempsey is the only midfield option really worth considering, but only if he’s guaranteed to be a Fulham player after the transfer window closes.
- Mladen Petric is the best forward to choose, it seems.