The Welshman, however, presents a significant risk. Should a much talked about move to Real Madrid for a world-record fee be completed, it could be costly to re-jig your team to accommodate his departure. Should he stay, he will be a consistent goalscorer and reliable captain option.
Swansea's Michu (8.5) remains good value, having scored an astonishing 18 goals last season, despite no longer being a surprise package. Few midfielders can match that goal return, and he's already struck up a promising partnership with Wilfried Bony, though it remains to be seen if he is more than just a one season wonder.
|TOP THREE MIDFIELDER PICKS|
GW1 v Hull & Villa (H)
GW1 v Swansea (A)
GW1 v Stoke (H)
Manchester United's midfield options present an interesting dilemma. The team kept fewer clean sheets than the rest of the top four last season, making them a less attractive option for the defensive bonus. Equally, none of their midfielders were particularly creative or prolific.
Antonio Valencia (7.0) assisted the most goals last term, but his five were equalled by defender Patrice Evra. In total, United's wingers, Valencia, Nani (6.5) and Ashley Young (7.0), scored just two goals between them. Shinji Kagawa (8.0) is one interesting option though. The Japan international scored or assisted 10 goals in 20 games during an injury-plagued season spent adapting to English football. More game time, partly as a result of Wayne Rooney's uncertain future, could see his points return explode.
Having kept 18 clean sheets last season, Manchester City's midfielders are likely to be frequently rewarded with defensive points. City's options aren't hugely positive, though. Yaya Toure (9.0) is likely to play a withdrawn role, David Silva (9.0) has been in largely unspectacular form, and new-boy Jesus Navas (8.0) failed to score with any of his 80 shots on goal in La Liga last year.
Few players have been in as good form as Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho (8.0) in pre-season. The Brazilian has three goals to his name and has been an inventive, creative spark. He scored or assisted every 92 minutes last term, and could quickly become a must-have player. For the blue half of Merseyside, Marouane Fellaini (8.0) is less inviting; new Everton boss Roberto Martinez is unlikely to stick with the long ball tactics that were so profitable for the Belgium previously.
There's plenty of value to be found lower down the table. Kevin Nolan (6.0) scored 10 times in the league last season, and was West Ham's top scorer, while Swansea's Jonathan De Guzman (5.5) is the side's designated set-piece and penalty taker. Those looking for a gamble may be enticed by Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa (6.5); if he can stay fit, he has a huge up-side.
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