Howden Group’s Chris Taylor, an avid Arsenal fan, makes some surprising selections

First up for Insurance Times’ Fantasy Football season previews in association with QBE is Chris Taylor, associate director of the UK division of the Howden Group. Based in the City, Howden focuses on providing liability and crime products for businesses. With offices in Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Israel, Spain and India, it provides access to the London insurance market but also to other key insurance centres such as the US, continental Europe and Bermuda.

Chris is an avid Arsenal fan with a season ticket at the Emirates. But even he can’t see past Roman Abramovich’s millions guiding Chelsea to another Premier League title.

“Chelsea will romp in,” he says. “Other teams aren’t as strong and don’t have as much depth. It’s no longer team versus team but squad versus squad. Abramovich has got the money and can keep buying the best.”

Chris did not take part in last year’s competition, but says many of his colleagues pitted their wits against each other. “One was near the top going into the last month and had already worked out how he was going to spend the money. In the end he finished 12th.”

And so to his team, Taylor’s Talismen. Chris has opted for a 4-4-2 formation, with a mixture of English and overseas talent in his starting 11.

In goal is ex-Spurs and England number one, Paul Robinson. Last season he surrendered his England and Spurs starting places, but Chris is keeping faith in the talented shot-stopper, now at Blackburn.

The defence has a top three feel to it with Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna, Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic and Chelsea’s John Terry and Jose Bosingwa.

The midfield consists of Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry, Everton’s Tim Cahill, Portsmouth playmaker Niko Kranjcar and Spurs’ new signing David Bentley.

Bentley’s selection may raise eyebrows in some quarters but Chris is not letting his heart rule his head. “It pains me to put a Spurs player in there, but he did quite well at Blackburn,” he says. “He’s a proven player.”

And as for the front men, Chris has gone for a strike force that would put fear into any defence. The aerial presence of Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor combined with the goal-hungry tenacity of Michael Owen will make for a dangerous front two.

On Adebayor, he says: “He can score some amazing goals but when it comes to simple chances, he just can’t do it. But if he scores 25 goals in the league and another 10 in other competitions, you’ve got to have him in there.”