It’s time for some final tinkering before the Fantasy Premier League season gets underway.
After a long summer, we’re eager to sink our teeth into Gameweek 1 and, hopefully, get off to a flyer.
Liverpool and Manchester City assets will unsurprisingly be among the most popular and the two sides begin with attractive fixtures. The Reds face newly-promoted Norwich City at Anfield while the reigning champions travel to West Ham.
The clash of the weekend though will be staged at Old Trafford where Manchester United begin the new season against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
Here’s a few picks to help you get off to a great start.
CAPTAIN – MOHAMED SALAH | LIVERPOOL | 12.5M
Mohamed Salah is probably the safest captaincy pick to begin with. The Liverpool star has been the game’s top-scoring asset for the last two seasons, bagging 259 points last term.
Despite his returns, the emergence of Sadio Mane was a drawback for Salah owners. The Senegalese nearly matched his team-mate while being a whopping 3.5m cheaper as he was priced at 9.5m and Salah at 13m.
This time around though, his value has risen to 11.5m, just 1m less than the Egyptian. That, coupled with the fact that Salah has had some minutes in pre-season and played in the Community Shield against City last week as opposed to Mane who is yet to feature, makes him the more appealing option.
Salah also looked like Liverpool’s biggest threat against the Citizens and having topped the charts for shots last season with 137, he should enjoy numerous efforts at goal against Norwich.
He has a total of 78 direct goal involvements over the last two FPL seasons. Salah’s simply the best choice.
RAHEEM STERLING (12.0m) will be the one hoping to dethrone Salah as FPL’s top scorer. He was pivotal to City’s title-winning campaign and fell 25 points shot of the Liverpool man’s tally. He’s bound to be City’s main man again, especially with Leroy Sane injured, and should breach West Ham’s defence.
HARRY KANE (11.0m) looks like he may be geared up for a fine season. Even though he was far from his sharpest last term, he averaged 3.6 shots per game, more than any other player. Meanwhile, his 1.6 shots on target per game was only topped by Salah. A price drop from 12.5m to 11m is most welcome as well and he takes on Aston Villa at home first up.
NICOLAS PEPE (9.5m) is Arsenal’s bright new star in attack and while many will be apprehensive about captaining a foreign recruit on his Premier League debut, he presents a great differential. He’s owned by less than 7 per cent so far and is listed as a midfielder though he could well operate in a front three. Away to a Newcastle side reeling from a tumultuous summer, it could be the perfect storm for the Frenchman.
ONE TO GET
GYLFI SIGURDSSON | EVERTON | 8.0M
Many fail to realise that Gylfi Sigurdsson had his best-ever FPL campaign last season with 13 goals and six assists. He’s firmly established as the No10 for Everton and is on set-piece and penalty duty. He will also have the gifted Moise Kean to link up with in attack now while enjoying great fixtures early on starting with a trip to Selhurst Park. Take all that into account and the Iceland international is a steal at 8m.
ONE TO AVOID
WILLY BOLY | WOLVES | 5.0M
With Matt Doherty rising to 6m this season, many FPL managers have turned to other assets in Wolves’ defence. Most seem to have settled on Willy Boly at 5m but opting for Wolves defenders entirely at the moment may be a mistake. They begin with a tough run of fixtures and have a Europa League qualifier in Armenia against FC Pyunik just two days before their opener away to Leicester.
JOSHUA KING | BOURNEMOUTH | 6.5M
At just 6.5m, Joshua King is a budget striker still capable of delivering consistent returns. While team-mate Callum Wilson (8m) is more explosive, King has the advantage of being on penalty duty while being significantly cheaper. Bournemouth start by hosting newly-promoted Sheffield United and King averaged 5.3 points per home match last season.
With Gameweek 1 just around the corner, Fantasy Premier League managers are trying to fill their squads with as much value within the confines of the allotted 100m budget.
That’s impossible to accomplish without featuring players bought on the cheap who represent great value for money.
Here’s a look at our top five FPL bargains ahead of the new season.
DANI CEBALLOS | Arsenal | 5.5m
Arsenal’s sensational swoop for Nicolas Pepe (9.5m) has grabbed headlines but they also secured a superb player in Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid. The playmaker hasn’t established himself at the Bernabeau but has shone for Spain’s U21s.
At just 5.5m and with the plethora of attacking options in front of him, expect Ceballos to produce real value with a fair number of assists. With an ownership of just 3.7 per cent so far as well, he’s a tidy differential.
LEWIS DUNK | Brighton | 4.5m
Surprisingly valued at just 4.5m, Lewis Dunk could turn into one of the most owned defenders as the season progresses. He’s already likely to deliver healthy returns at Brighton, as he has done over the past couple of seasons.
However, if a move to Leicester City as Harry Maguire’s replacement materialises, he should be on course to do even better.
WILFRIED ZAHA | Crystal Palace | 7m
Wilfried Zaha only scored 13 points fewer than Leroy Sane last season who is valued at 9.5m. How is the Palace winger 2.5m cheaper? Not just that, he’s also listed as a midfielder despite spending a reasonable amount of time operating as a forward under Roy Hodgson.
If he gets his move to Everton, he may be even more valuable but as it stands, he should still be great value with the Eagles. With VAR coming into play as well, how many penalties will he win this term?
ROSS BARKLEY | Chelsea | 6m
Chelsea are a team loaded with bargains this season, it’s juts a question of working out Frank Lampard’s first XI to begin with. Interestingly, Mateo Kovacic is available for only 5.5m but an extra 0.5m could get you far more returns with Ross Barkley.
The Englishman has been a goals and assists machine for Chelsea in pre-season and seems to have grabbed his opportunity under Lampard. Could Barkley fulfill his potential and become the FPL asset we all know he can be this term?
JOHN LUNDSTRAM | Sheffield United | 4m
So you’ve scanned through the piece but what you’re really here for is that 4m option who’s likely to play regularly – this season’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka if you will.
Don’t expect quite the same output from Sheffield’s John Lundstram but he does represent good value. He’s started in four out of five pre-season friendlies and here’s the kicker – he plays in midfield while listed as a defender.
Prepare to lose track of time while you stare at your screens confused, conflicted and desperate.
That’s right, Fantasy Premier League is back and we couldn’t be happier!
Another season promises to bring with it plenty of highs and lows as the Premier League action captivates us. There will be FPL captains scoring big and others being benched, Wildcards that could make or break your season and dreaded rotation that will have you pulling your hair out – we’re looking at you, Pep Guardiola.
Key to starting on the right note though is not falling victim to some of the most common mistakes.
Here, we look at the FPL pitfalls you must strive to avoid in order to enjoy a good start this season.
KEEPING CLUB LOYALTIES
This is arguably the most difficult of FPL mistakes to avoid. If you’re a devout fan of a Premier League team then sometimes you need to go against every fibre of your being and look at players from your club with cold objectivity.
Take Manchester United fans for example. Mason Greenwood may have thrilled in pre-season but other than drafting in him purely as bench fodder, there’s no reason he should make your team in GW1.
An Arsenal fan must fight the urge to get in fan favourite Sead Kolasinac. The Gunners are bound to struggle for clean sheets and there are several other full-backs capable of more attacking returns while he faces competition from Nacho Monreal at the Emirates Stadium.
One needs to be pragmatic and drop an admired if temperamental player for one who’s simply effective and chipping away with regular points.
When one of your players does begin to perform of course, ride that wave and reap the benefits. FPL is meant to be fun after all.
EARLY WHOLESALE CHANGES
Anyone who hasn’t been guilty of this simply doesn’t care enough. You suffer a horrific start, maybe even score below the average and then scramble around to overhaul your squad. Hasty transfers are a sure-shot way to sabotaging your own team and you must resist the temptation to wield the axe early on.
That’s why it’s important to prioritise consistent performers when setting up your team for GW1 rather than opt for too many explosive or maverick assets. Limit your punts to a couple of picks and steer away from too many foreign recruits as well. Make sure at least half your team consists of seasoned, reliable assets. Steer away from too many foreign recruits as well.
That way, even if you don’t get off to a flyer, you can count on those players to come good over the next few GWs while making little tweaks along the way.
Repeat after me: I will not use my Wildcard before GW4.
Nothing satisfies an FPL manager more than a player bought on the cheap going on to deliver big. Harry Kane was once such a buy, so too was Swansea City’s Michu a few seasons ago. Raul Jimenez was last term’s most successful budget buy.
The danger is in seeking out these hidden gems at the detriment of your overall squad level. You may be scrimping in certain departments to fit in as many big-hitters as possible in attack, but that would be asking for trouble as well.
There’s a reason why a popular pick is priced 1m more than someone who could be just as good but isn’t nailed on. What you want is a balanced squad to begin with and then make adjustments according to how things unfold.
Also remember that it’s a lot harder to go from Kevin De Bruyne (9.5m) to Raheem Sterling (12m) than the other way around. So it’s always worth starting with the more expensive option if you can afford it.
PICKING A DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER
Defensive midfielders don’t get you points, not enough of them anyway.
Just because they’re cheap and play regularly in a top six side doesn’t mean they’re worth having. So stay away from the likeable N’Golo Kante (5m) or even shiny new assets like Rodri (5.5m). No good can come from buying them.
You’d be much better served opting for more attack-minded midfielders from mid-table or even relegation threatened sides. Newcastle’s Isaac Hayden (4.5m) shows real promise for example, as does John McGinn (5.5m) of Aston Villa.
GOING FOR GLORY
When you fall behind in your mini league, desperation can set in and lead to some suspect decisions. That may involve abuse of your chips or the classic wild captaincy pick.
Where chips are concerned, you’d ideally hold on to them until they can be used around Double Gameweeks (DGW). A Bench Boost or Free Hit otherwise is just a waste.
A Triple Captain can work well during a normal GW. If Sergio Aguero is in form and you think he’s going to have a blinder at home to Norwich, go for it. But know that your odds are better during a DGW.
On the whole though, the focus should be on consistency and the big hauls will come. Being above average most weeks is the key to keeping you in the running. A few gambles along the way then can fire you to the top. Relying on big gambles though just isn’t sustainable.