With the transfer window closed, and the acquired and departing players listed, analyzed, and rated, it's probably a good idea to step back and look at the bigger picture. Without league matches this week, the First XI will look at just that. I'm going to give you my prefered starting XI for each club. These should tend towards the clubs actual XI, so it will be helpful for fantasy managers looking for a comprehensive overview. Where I'm inserting my own opinions, I'll let you know and try my best to explain my thinking (such as it is).
Here's part one, Arsenal through Manchester City. Part two - Manchester United through West Ham - to follow.
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Jenkinson - Mertesacker - Kocielny - Gibbs
Ramsey - Arteta
Walcott - Ozil - Cazorla
Subs: Fabianski, Sagna, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanogo
Ozil was a great buy, and it strengthens Arsenal's midfield - the team's existing strength. However, Arsenal can only go as far as Olivier Giroud can take them. Yes, there will be some matches where Walcott can play through the middle, but Giroud will be asked to do a lot of work for the team in many, many matches. If I were a Gunner (Hi, Neal!) I would be worried about injury, or at the very least, burnout.
In midfield, Ramsey is the man in form. Wilshere is still an emerging talent, but I would play Arteta, were the Spaniard healthy.
Lowton - Vlaar - Okore - Luna
El Ahmadi - Westwood - Delph
Weimann - Benteke - Agbonlahor
Subs: Steer, Clark, Baker, Bacuna, Sylla, Tonev, Helenius
Villa's young team is stocked with potential starters at center back, but Jores Okore (pictured) has the athleticism - and at a very young age, the big match experience having played in the Champions League - to earn him the place alongside Ron Vlaar. The starting XI is raw, but pacey, and a little bit fearless. The substitutes bench is really raw and will need to be brought on slowly.
Connolly - Caulker- Turner - Taylor
Whittingham - Kim -Gunnarsson - Bellamy
Subs: Lewis, Mutch, Maynard, Cowie, Campbell, Odemwingie, Theophile-Catherine
Frazier Campbell has been playing very well. Just ask Manchester City. When healthy, I would expect Andreas Cornelius to be the starting forward. Peter Odemwingie will probably fight it out with Craig Bellamy for the support role, and good luck to anyone who gets in a fight with Bellamy!
Ivanovic - Luiz - Terry - Cole
Ramires - Lampard
Oscar - de Bruyne - Hazard
Subs: Schwarzer, Cahill, Essien, Mata, Mikel, Torres, Schurrle Out of the XVIII: Hilario, Ake, Azpilicueta, Willian, van Ginkel, Ba On loan: Courtois, Moses, Atsu, van Aanholt, Moses, Wallace, Kane, Piazon, Kakuta, Hutchison, Romeu, Lukaku, Marin
Chelsea's squad is simply unbelievable, so we had to look at it in more depth. A loan XI could challenge for mid-table in the Premier League. The bench could challenge for a Europa League spot. Well, not really, but Jose Mourinho has a ton of quality players at his disposal. The above list is my best guess as to his preferred XI, but clearly rotation will happen from week to week.
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Ward - Delaney - Mariappa - Moxey
Kebe - Bannan - Dikgacoi - Puncheon
Subs: Alexander, Marange, Gabbidon, Jedinak, Grandin, Jerome, Guedioura
Crystal Palace turned over the majority of their team this window, signing enough new players to fill out the entire matchday eleven, and almost the full bench. A lot of players have Premier League experience, albeit many from the wrong end of the table. If this new-look Palace gel, and if young Spanish star Jose Campana can make the step up to this level, they could be an very interesting side.
To help that happen, I'm going to give Campana a free role off Chamakh and hope he can be a playmaker. Kebe and Puncheon will push forward, making this a 4-2-3-1 in posession, but I wold want to see them sit back and stick to their defensive duties as a first priority.
Coleman - Jagielka - Distin - Baines
Gibson - McCarthy
Mirallas - Osman - Pienaar
Subs: Robles, Heitinga, Barry, Jelavic, Kone, Deulofeu, Barkley
Everton have kept the core of their side together and on balance they've even improved their options in the transfer window. I don't think they have all the pieces for Martinez's favoured 3-4-3 formation until Antolin Alcaraz is fit. Even then, this squad looks really strong in a 4-2-3-1. Ross Barkley has been the story of the season so far for Everton, but he's young and needs to be managed - England cap or no England cap. I think they'll be more balanced once Darren Gibson is back (and Barry can deputize there), moving Osman up into a more creative role and allowing the front four greater freedom. Romelu Lukaku will be the one to watch for fantasy managers if he can, as he should, win the starting role from Nikica Jelavic.
Riether - Amorebieta - Hangeland - Riise
Ruiz - Sidwell - Parker - Kacaniklic
Berbatov - Bent
Subs: Stockdale, Hughes, Richardson, Karagounis, Duff, Taarabt, Rodallega
There is quality in this side, there's no question about that. What is in question, is if Martin Jol can make a solid team out of these individuals. I would go for a basic 4-4-2 here as I think that gives the best structure for these players to complement each other, rather than step on each other's toes.
Elmohamady - Chester - Davies - Figueroa
Koren - Huddlestone - Livermore
Sagbo - Graham - Brady
Subs: Harper, Rosenior, Bruce, McShane, Meyler, Boyd, Aluko
Hull's strength is in the midfield and if I'm honest, this 4-3-3 I've put them in will more likely look like a 4-5-1. They'll be tough to over-run, but may find it hard to score unless Danny Graham can rediscover some semblance of form.
Johnson - Toure - Agger - Enrique
Lucas - Gerrard
Suarez - Sturridge - Moses
Subs: Jones, Cissokho, Allen, Sakho, Henderson, Aspas, Alberto
To get the best out of his personel, Brendan Rodgers will have to play an odd 4-2-1-3 formation. The danger here is that they can get over-powered in midfield. Keeping possession of the ball will be the key to avoiding this, but I wonder what Liverpool's Plan B is.
As for Mamadou Sakho, I don't think he starts yet. He and Daniel Agger are too similar, and to same-footed. However, when (ok, if... but who are we kidding?) Agger goes to Barcelona in January, Liverpool will have his replacement bedded in and ready to go.
Zabaleta - Nastasic - Kompany - Clichy
Fernandinho - Toure
Navas - Aguero - Silva
Subs: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Milner, Nasri, Lescott, Dzeko, Jovetic
I think Manchester City's team is relatively set. Alvaro Negredo is stepping up and should take Edin Dzeko's starting spot. There will be rotation, for sure. We've already seen Kolarov come in for Clichy, and Stevan Jovetic will get time either for Aguero or Silva. But the basic pattern looks to be in place already.
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