So, here we are again. You’re sat in front of your phone or tablet, poised as if you are about to pull off a Pep Guardiola masterclass with your formations and tactics, only to find out that you’ve fallen at the first hurdle on the eve of Gameweek One – you have absolutely no idea who to pick or where to start.
You could start at the back with your keepers? Yes, plural. You need two of them. Build from the back as they say. But by the time you get to top end of the pitch you are hoping that Harry Kane has been valued at £5 million this time around instead of his usual £12.5 million. Oops. Not a good start.
Alright, pick players that you like – the fan favourites. No, that will never work. You must think more practically that that.
Fine. Who did well last season? Robertson, Fernandes, Son. Wait, how much?!
Who always does well then? Someone that will never disappoint… De Bruyne, Vardy, Salah. Hmm. * Looks sad while counting relatively few metaphorical pennies.
This is going to be tough.
So, what can you do? Start by taking a look at our short preview with some of our top tips to get you ready for the new season ahead.
Aston Villa will look favourably upon their opening three games as they face Watford away and both Newcastle and Brentford at home. Lining up against two of this year’s promoted teams and a tie against an unpredictable Magpies side, Dean Smith must be looking to sit at the top of the table after this trio. Yes, the Villains have lost hair-banded and short-shorted talisman Jack Grealish (£8.0m) but they have managed to replace him with FPL bagsman Danny Ings (£8.0), former Norwich playmaker Emi Buendía (£6.5m) and Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey (£6.5m). We think it could be three wins out of three if Smith can play his cards right here. 9 Points.
Liverpool will look at continuing their impressive record away at Norwich City – a ground where the reds often score plenty of goals. Daniel Farke has brought his side back into the Premier League in true style and will hope new loan signing Billy Gilmour (£4.5m) – a Chelsea wonderkid – can unsettle Klopp’s aging attacking trio. This kind start is followed by a game at home against Burnley; Dyche’s men can certainly produce upsets, but it’s been a quiet transfer window at Turf Moor this summer. By far the hardest of their opening three fixtures is against Chelsea, last year’s UEFA Champions League Winners and recently crowned UEFA Super Cup Champions. This will be a huge test for Klopp as Chelsea continue to grow stronger under Thomas Tuchel. 6 Points on Merseyside.
Hey Big Spender
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m). The Egyptian King is the first name on over half of the FPL teamsheets. Mo has an incredible return rate and is almost guaranteed points every season. His starting few fixtures could see some serious goals if he’s in the mood. In this case, high investment equals high reward.
Bruno Fernandes (£12.0m). Manchester United have found their talisman and set-piece specialist in Bruno Fernandes. He set Old Trafford alight with his tremendous performances last season. Goals and assists in unison, the Portuguese midfielder has warranted his price increase from last year and is only marginally cheaper than Mighty Mo. This midfield maestro does have a tricky opener against Leeds to contend with though.
Harry Kane (£12.5m). Quite possibly the best striker in FPL history. Very few strikers convert chances like he does. His link up play with Son is electrifying at times and when fit, he is a superb Number 10. Yet, things are looking a bit tricky for Kane right now; he has missed several training sessions since England’s late Euro exit and transfer rumours loom over White Hart Lane. FPL managers should perhaps avoid investing until he is settled, whether that is at Spurs or elsewhere.
Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m). The big Belgian is back after quite frankly terrorizing Serie A. Impressively, Lukaku finished the season top for both goals and assists at Conte’s Inter Milan and looks to be a man on a mission. Having joined Chelsea a decade ago, Lukaku returns to prove his Premier League doubters wrong. Having sealed the deal only hours ago, Lukaku will most likely miss what looks to be an enticing fixture against newly appointed Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace. A solid bet, but not just yet.
Cheap as Chips
Freeing up the cash for the big timers is not easy. But we’ve found some diamonds in the rough that may be your key to success.
Defenders are often where many of us choose to be frugal and rightly so, there are too many midfielders to squeeze in. But players like Ben White (£4.5m) could be a real gem at such a cost. Ranking highly in the FPL charts for Brighton last year, White has since been snapped up by Arsenal in a big money move. Costing the club £50 million, he is likely to start.
Other defenders on our radar are Liverpool’s Konstantinos “Kostas” Tsimikas (£4.0m) as a Robbo replacement as the Scotsman limped off against Athletic Bilbao in pre-season and Leicester’s Daniel Amartey (£4.0m) also looks to impress as Rogers chases more silverware.
The future is bright with Arsenal’s Emile Smith-Rowe (£5.5m) and the aforementioned Billy Gilmour (£4.5) who are two creative talents equally looking to impress from the midfield.
Brentford’s totemic Ivan Toney (£6.5m) is also looking to prove himself on the big stage. Yes, he is highly owned, but goals are almost guaranteed.
Starting ETC XI
Goalkeeper: Martínez (£5.5m)
Defenders: Tsimikas (£4.0m), Shaw (£5.5m), Targett (£5.0m)
Midfielders: Souček (£6.0m), Fernandes (£12.0m), Salah (£12.5m), Jota (£7.5m)
Forwards: Ings (£8.0m), Antonio (£8.0m), Toney (£6.5m)
Bench: You’ll have to wait and see…
Captain, Leader, Legends
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m). This one’s a no-brainer. Sorry Norwich, but we just think that Mo will run riot on Saturday. Best of luck though, Yellows.
Michail Antonio (£8.0m). The marauding Michail Antonio looks to lead the line for the Hammers against Newcastle. With some creative flair around him, this could be an underdog pick for a captain this weekend.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m). The supply Liverpool receive from their trusty full-back is among the best in the world. TAA is essentially a midfielder at times; he is part of the reason as to why Salah and his merry men score so many goals. If he can get a clean sheet combined with an assist or two, this could be a very smart choice for the armband.
With all that said and done, who knows what Gameweek One will bring? There are probably going to be surprises, disappointments, highs, lows, injuries, and goals. The lot. Research it as much as you like, but from Friday, 8pm onwards, anything goes.
And this is why we love it.
Best of luck FPL managers.
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