It was all smiles at the end of Gameweek 1 (GW1) as the Fantasy Premier League season got off to a flyer.
An average score of 65 was pretty impressive as several big-hitters delivered in the opening round of the Premier League fixtures.
Mohamed Salah (12.5m) did not disappoint while Raheem Sterling (12.1m) was the highest scorer with a hat-trick. Harry Kane (11m) bagged a brace as did Ashley Barnes (6.5m). Meanwhile, Manchester United assets gave FPL managers plenty to think about after their 4-0 win over Chelsea.
GW2, however, serves up a few more tricky fixtures. Liverpool and United travel to Southampton and Wolves respectively while Manchester City take on Tottenham at the Etihad in the match of the weekend.
Here’s a few picks to help you get off to a great start.
CAPTAIN – MOHAMED SALAH | LIVERPOOL | 12.5M
Salah was always going to be the safe option for the captaincy in GW1 and after coming good, there’s no reason to shift the armband on to someone else.
Sure, Sterling might have a few FPL managers thinking, especially those who may have captained him to begin with, but with Spurs to play next his appeal isn’t as high for this weekend.
After impressing during the Community Shield clash with City, Salah was again Liverpool’s main man in attack when Norwich paid them a visit. Not only did he deliver a goal and assist but his three key passes were also encouraging.
Salah is also one of the more consistent away performers in the game and particularly enjoys facing Southampton. The Egyptian has bagged five goals and an assist in four games against the Saints.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (11.0m) was absolutely clinical, finishing superbly to earn Arsenal all three points at Newcastle. While the lack of chances for the striker was a concern, he should see more at home to Burnley with Unai Emery expected to field a much stronger starting XI.
New arrivals Nicolas Pepe, Danil Ceballos, David Luiz and Kieran Tierney may all enter the fray to boost the Gunners.
SADIO MANE (11.5m) has been among the most transferred out players this week after Divock Origi started the opening game. However, the Senegalese should return to the starting line-up with another week of training under his belt.
There’s every chance he delivers against his former side and punishes FPL managers who may have been too hasty in getting rid of him.
TEEMU PUKKI (6.5m) was hugely impressive against Liverpool, already proving he can score against the big sides. He has no shortage of supply lines and looked really sharp getting in behind, managing three shots at Anfield when Jamie Vardy didn’t register any at home to Wolves and Callum Wilson had just one at home to Sheffield United.
A goal and seven points in arguably the toughest fixture bodes well for the future and playing Newcastle at home this time could well see him add to his tally.
ONE TO GET
ADRIAN | LIVERPOOL | 4.5M
Alisson Becker is expected to miss 4-6 weeks so Adrian is a really cheap way in to Liverpool’s clean sheet points for now. In 19 games during the 2017/18 season, he managed six clean sheets and an impressive 71.9 per cent save rate.
This move is also an opportunity to downgrade a Liverpool defender and use that money elsewhere. Make the switch soon though or it loses value. The Reds travel to Southampton who had just three shots on target in a 3-0 defeat at Burnley in GW1.
ONE TO AVOID
BERNARDO SILVA | MANCHESTER CITY | 8.0M
He may be one of the best players in the league but in FPL terms, Bernardo Silva is something of a liability this season. While the Portuguese proved to be good value last term at 7m, his price rise of 1m this time still doesn’t come with a guaranteed starting berth.
He was benched in GW with Riyad Mahrez (8.5m) starting on the wing instead and David Silva (7.5m) partnering Kevin De Bruyne (9.5m) in the middle. Even when he does start, Bernardo is an unselfish player and therefore doesn’t boast a high ceiling. You won’t get many double-figure hauls from him.
TODD CANTWELL | NORWICH CITY | 4.5M
Everything you need to know about how highly Todd Cantwell is regarded at Carrow Road is written on the back of his shirt. The iconic No14 of club legend Wes Hoolahan has been bestowed upon the 21-year-old and early signs suggest he may actually do it justice.
Cantwell has been most likened to James Maddison though, who created more chances than anyone in Europe last season. After a tough opening day at Anfield, Cantwell already has three chances to his name. If he can turn that creativity into FPL points, he could be a real bargain in an attacking Norwich outfit.
Former Tottenham captain Ledley King insists the club do not need to win a trophy this season for the campaign to be a success.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side reached the Champions League final last term, losing to Liverpool in Madrid, with the Argentinian still waiting to lift his first piece of silverware since taking over in 2014.
The former Southampton boss has questioned the importance of domestic cup competitions in the past, choosing instead to focus on Europe and a Premier League title tilt, although he recently conceded that lifting a trophy of any description was his personal goal for 2019-20.
Spurs were in the hunt in the league for the first half of last season before patchy results and the form of Manchester City and Liverpool saw them drop off the pace.
But even another campaign without a trophy should not automatically be regarded as a failure, according to King, who captained Spurs to victory in the 2008 League Cup final – the last silverware won by the club.
“No, it is important just to improve,” he told PA when asked if it was vital for Tottenham to break their trophy duck.
“We all want to win trophies, every team wants to win trophies, but it is not a given. It is very difficult and no-one has a given right to win anything.
“The team will be trying to compete on all fronts to win anything, but I don’t think you can judge the season on not winning a trophy.
“We will be able to look at the season as a whole and see what we have done. Last season was great for the club but we didn’t win a trophy, so I don’t think it can be judged like that.
“We all realise how difficult it is to win trophies at the moment – Manchester City won three last year, so the competition is very tough.
“The players want to improve and they will be looking to try and compete and, until they are out of a potential title race, they will believe they can be right up there amongst it.”
Tottenham opened their new campaign with a 3-1 comeback victory at home to newly promoted Aston Villa last weekend but face a difficult trip to face reigning champions City on Saturday evening.
“It is very early in the season, but it is a big game for both teams,” King added.
“Both will want to lay down a marker to say ‘this is where we are at this season’, but of course we all know there is such a long way to go, so many twists and turns. But in terms of trying to show you mean business this season, both teams will want to do that.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was disappointed to find that not a single player from his domestic treble-winning side was shortlisted for FIFA’s The Best award for this year.
The Catalan manager is of the opinion that Bernardo Silva had a spectacular season and deserved to make the prestigious list.
Guardiola also suggested that City players are usually ignored in such awards and cited examples from the last decades.
“It is because Manchester City is in this position the last decade. We are new in these situations,” hes aid, according to Goal.
“I cannot imagine Real Madrid and Barcelona winning four titles and not one single player being there [on the shortlist].
“I don’t think there is one player who made a better season than Bernardo Silva last season, even winning [The Nations League] with Portugal.
“This club, for example, in eight years won four Premier Leagues. It is quite remarkable. And never in these four seasons was one of our players nominated the best in the league. Never.
“Huge respect for Mohamed Salah [who won the PFA and FWA awards in 2017-18], but Kevin De Bruyne that season, guys, when we made 100 points was above and beyond the normal situations.”