It's finally that time of the year again. Time to dust off the FPL app, resubscribe to your pick of 'infallible Fantasy tips' accounts on Twitter and maybe spend way too long deciding a team name. Like embarrassingly long. I'm talking upwards of 20 minutes here. Anyway, yeah, the Premier League is back!
Liverpool host newly-promoted Norwich in the battle of the birds
The Premier League will get underway with a Friday night fixture yet again, as European champions Liverpool play host to humble Norwich, so make sure to finish off all the last-minute tweaks to your team by 11.30pm IST on Friday. You're going to want to get your business done by the deadline because based on some deeply frustrating personal experience, recovering from a first-week slip-up is difficult work.
Going into the opening match-up, there's not really a lot for Norwich to be optimistic about. The newly-promoted side have been pummeled by Liverpool on a number of occasions in the Premier League, and Liverpool like to start their scoring early, with their last three opening day fixtures seeing the Reds score 10 goals.
Mohamed Salah is a clear pick ahead of this match, with the Egyptian looking to get back to his free-scoring self after a slightly low-key summer. He is marginally more affordable this time around though, seeing his price drop from £13m to £12.5m.
In defence, Liverpool have some very appealing players in the shape of Virgil Van Dijk (£6.5m), Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7m) and Andrew Robertson (£7m), all of whom did very well last season, earning a combined total of 606 points. With Liverpool looking likely to keep a clean sheet, Alison Becker, as always, is an excellent choice between the sticks, but at £6m, there are cheaper options available.
FPL stars may want to play the waiting game with Norwich, with newly-promoted sides often performing erratically in the opening few months of the season. A real highlight of Norwich's push for promotion in the last season was Finnish striker Teemu Pukki, who banged in 29 goals for the Canaries, and at just £6.5m, he could be the next Raul Jimenez. However, only time will tell if he can replicate his goal-scoring form in the Premier League.
City look to hammer the Hammers
West Ham don't do particularly well on opening day, and only part of that is actually their fault. The Hammers have been unlucky enough to be drawn against a different top-six side on the opening day for each of the last five seasons, and this season, they're the lucky recipients of the match that absolutely no-one wanted — an opening fixture against defending champions Manchester City.
West Ham’s first game in the Premier League over the last six years:
2019: Man City (H)
2018: Liverpool (A)
2017: Man Utd (A)
2016: Chelsea (A)
2015: Arsenal (A)
2014: Spurs (H)
Each of the top six in the first game over the past six years.
Are you actually kidding me?
— Jack Lebeau (@JackLebeau66) June 13, 2019
West Ham's last season opener saw them routed 4-0 by a rampant Liverpool, and this season's fixture promises to be no different, with Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne looking lethal in pre-season. Sterling, who is priced at an eye-watering £12m, has an excellent record against the Hammers, having scored one goal and registered seven assists in his last three visits to the Olympic stadium.
In defence, young Oleksandr Zinchenko put in a real shift whilst deputising for the injured Benjamin Mendy last season, and with the Ukrainian full-back expected to continue on in that role in the opening few games for City, he is the pick of the defence for a measly £5.5m. In goal, Ederson (£6.0m) is a wise choice, especially considering the fact that he is rarely troubled by opposition defences.
Wolves travel to Fox country
There are goals in this one. Wolves have continued their impressive form from last year into their new season, and are currently tearing it up in the Europa League qualifiers, having scored 10 goals in their three matches so far. Leicester, meanwhile, have had a pretty successful pre-season themselves, including wins against Stoke City and Atalanta from the Serie A.
In attack, Diogo Jota (£6.5m) and Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) stand out for Wolverhampton Wanderers after their exploits in the previous season. Jota, who played a vital role in Nuno Espirito Santo's set up, has had his FPL position changed from midfielder to striker this season. While that would make his goals a bit less valuable, it also makes him slightly more appealing than Jimenez, who has had his going rate bumped up by a cool £2m.
For Leicester, Jamie Vardy is always a criminally underrated option, with the English striker regularly coming up with double figures in returns. However, at £9m, he could be a costly back-up striker, especially with newly-acquired Ayoze Perez (£6.5m) and breakout star James Maddison (£7m) providing slightly more cost-efficient alternatives from the midfield.
Best of the rest
Tottenham have enjoyed a wonderful pre-season, holding their own against some of the biggest clubs in Europe. After playing against the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich, Spurs' first competitive match of the season comes in the shape of Aston Villa, who secured their return to the Premier League by beating Derby in the EFL Championship playoffs. Villa have been very busy in the transfer market, bolstering their squad with a string of new signings, but ultimately, that is what might cost them.
Facing a starting XI that has only recently started playing together as a unit, the experienced Tottenham side should face little trouble. Harry Kane (£11m) stands out as a great pick for the match, with the striker having broken his streak of goalless Augusts in 2018, and he could bag a goal or two in this tantalising opening fixture. The Spurs defence has looked a bit shaky in pre-season, but Hugo Lloris (£5.5m) is a decent option at the back as well, with a clean sheet looking likely.
Despite finishing a couple of places worse off last year than they did in 2018, Bournemouth saw a number of players step up and put in some solid performances for the team. The likes of Ryan Fraser (£7.5m) and Callum Wilson (£8m) were popular picks for many FPL users last season, thanks to their relatively affordable price tags, and boy did they come through, scoring 181 and 168 points respectively. Both these players have seen a £2m increase in their price tags, but against newly-promoted Sheffield United, it might just be worth it.
Top picks for GW 1:
Mohamed Salah: I mean, come on. Surely you have to have him in your team. The man's a two-time Golden Boot winner, and he's only been here two seasons. Is it even a debate?
Andrew Robertson: A hard worker in defence and a vital cog in Liverpool's attack, Robertson is a must-have in any defence. With Liverpool facing Norwich, an assist or two could be on the cards for the Scottish full-back, and a clean sheet is nigh guaranteed.
Kevin de Bruyne: Kevin de Bruyne was unfortunate to miss out on most of last season with a couple of injuries, but he's back and he looks like he's raring to go. However, proceed with caution on this one, because Pep Guardiola's rotation-policy spares no-one.
Hugo Lloris: The French goalkeeper has been a rock at the back for Tottenham in recent years, and though he is error-prone, he should have a relatively uncomplicated outing against Aston Villa.
Callum Wilson: At this point, it's a bit difficult to call Wilson a differential, but in an opening weekend that could see most FPL users go with Salah and Kane, the Cherries' striker is a great option for support.
Divock Origi: With both Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino having disrupted pre-seasons due to their national commitments, Liverpool's super-sub Divock Origi could get a run-in in their opening match against Norwich. The Belgian has generally found his scoring touch whenever called upon, most notably in that incredible Champions League comeback against Barcelona, and he could do the same on Friday night.
Dwight McNeil: Burnley play host to Southampton in their first fixture of the season, and McNeil (£6m) could get in on the scoring early. The Saints have been rather poor defensively under Ralph Hassenhuttl, keeping just one clean sheet in their last eight games of the season, and they could be in for another chastening defeat at the hands of a settled Burnley side.
O Captain, my Captain!
While Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling offer an alluring prospect, Mohamed Salah has to be the standout choice. The Egyptian is playing against newly-promoted Norwich, at Anfield, on opening night. The stage is set, and there's no better performer. It's showtime.
Updated Date: Aug 17, 2019 09:00:24 IST