Saturday 09 August 2014
With only seven days before the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League season kicks off, Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney is the most selected player in Fantasy Premier League, in association with EA SPORTS, as managers who have already started preparations fine-tune their squads for the Premier League's official fantasy football game.
More than 3.2 million people played FPL last season, the highest figure in the game's history. With the season's start just a week away, millions of managers have signed up in their droves as they look to emulate 2013/14 FPL champion Tom Fenley, who won a seven-day break in the United Kingdom, including visits to a major tourist attractions in partnership with VisitBritain, and pairs of VIP tickets to two Barclays Premier League matches.
Rooney, who is the fourth-highest scorer in Barclays Premier League history, has been picked by almost 40% of managers after his goalscoring form in pre-season under new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.
The England striker scored five goals in total in matches with Los Angeles Galaxy, AS Roma and Liverpool as United won the International Champions Cup. In the 2013/14 FPL game, his 190 points made Rooney the forward with the second-highest number of points who will be part of the game this season.
In the defence, Rooney's United team-mate Luke Shaw is the most selected player with more than a quarter of managers (26.1%) picking the left-back, while Everton midfielder Ross Barkley and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge are in the top three of most popular players overall.
The top 10 players through popularity in the FPL are made entirely of those who starred in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Alexis Sanchez, who shone for Chile, and Spain striker Diego Costa are the two most selected summer signings as they prepare for their Barclays Premier League bows at Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard is the most selected goalkeeper so far, at 26.4%, after starring for the United States in Brazil. USA bowed out to Belgium at the last 16 stage in Brazil, despite Howard producing a new competition record of 15 saves in the extra-time defeat.
The next popular goalkeeper is Newcastle United's Tim Krul, who was between the posts for Netherlands' quarter-final penalty shoot-out triumph against Costa Rica in the World Cup. He offers a low-price option in goal, despite helping the Magpies' top-half finish last term. Vito Mannone also excelled in the North East last season, playing a key role for Sunderland as they won four of their last five matches to stage a remarkable escape from Barclays Premier League relegation.
|David De Gea
After playing a key role in a Southampton defence that kept 15 clean sheets on the way to a record eighth-place finish last season, Shaw and Dejan Lovren are the most popular defenders in FPL this term after moving to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
Arsenal's new right back Mathieu Debuchy is also one of the favoured choices in FPL backlines after impressing with Newcastle in 2013/14, while Alex Bruce, who made 20 top-flight appearances under the management of his father, Steve, at Hull City, and Aston Villa's Ron Vlaar, who starred in the Netherlands' third-place finish in Brazil, offer the most popular cheaper options in this position.
After a summer move from Barcelona, Arsenal's marquee signing Alexis Sanchez has been backed to shine by FPL managers in his debut Barclays Premier League season. The Chile forward, who scored 39 goals in 88 appearances for Barcelona, has 26.8% ownership after being classed as a midfielder in FPL.
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure and Chelsea's Eden Hazard were two of the top three active players in FPL last season, and they have both been selected by more than a fifth of 2014/15 managers. Ross Barkley, who has just signed a new deal at Everton, is the most popular midfielder, and second-most selected player overall, after helping Everton secure their highest Barclays Premier League points haul last season.
Rooney, Sturridge and Olivier Giroud were among the top 10 performers in FPL last season and are among the most favoured choices for managers this time.
After scoring 15 Barclays Premier League goal while on loan with Everton in 2013/14, Romelu Lukaku joined the Toffees for a club-record £28 million from Chelsea this summer and 23.2% of FPL managers have selected him at a value of £9 million. Costa bolsters Jose Mourinho's striking options at Chelsea after his transfer from Atletico Madrid. His 27-goal haul for the La Liga champions last season was only bettered by Ballon D'or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and runner-up Lionel Messi.
Yaya Toure became the first midfielder to score 20 goals in a Barclays Premier League season since Frank Lampard's 22-goal haul for Chelsea in 2009/10, and he is the highest-scoring player from the 2013/14 FPL season who is in this campaign.
Liverpool duo Steven Gerrard and Adam Lallana are the only players in last season's top 10 who have less than 10% ownership. Following his move from Southampton in the summer, Lallana picked up an injury in pre-season that means he will miss the Reds' opening fixture against Saints on 17 August.
Who will you choose for your Fantasy Premier League squad this season?