The opening week of the 2018/19 Fantasy Premier League was a high scoring one despite the large amount uncertainty surrounding the availability, fitness and the sharpness of the World Cup returnees. The likes of Raheem Sterling, Paul Pogba, Dele Alli and N'Golo Kante pulled off a surprise early returns, and much to their owners' delight also got on the score sheet. Harry Kane too started but didn't exactly look his usual self. On the other hand, Eden Hazard produced an assist in a cameo appearance for Chelsea, while his Belgium teammate Kevin de Bruyne rather off colour.
What GW 1 taught us
An average of 53 points is still short of the mean of the opening gameweeks of recent seasons, but with so many doubts swamping FPL managers' minds ahead, this is a fairly good return. With only a handful traditional powerhouses firing, points came from few unlikely sources who are likely to be in the scheme of things when managers sit to plan their team for GW 2.
Benjamin Mendy provided assists for both Manchester City goals against Arsenal and was a constant threat down that left-hand side. A tally of 15 points is a sign of things to come for the French defender who looks fit and ready for a big season in Pep Guardiola's side. In the very first week, he has greatly boosted his credentials of becoming the season's top-scoring defender. His price has already seen a rise and it isn't surprising at all that FPL managers are looking to snap him up early on and make the most of the price rise that could see his fee potentially enter the £7m zone as the season progresses.
Last season's prime defensive option Marcos Alonso though seems in no mood to relinquish his pedestal. He offered plenty of hope again for FPL managers by providing the assist for Jorginho's goal and constantly venturing forward. Crystal Palace's Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a hot property due to his generous price of £4m, but a return of 12 points in the opening week has only boosted his chances of selection. Manchester United's Luke Shaw and Liverpool's Andrew Robertson who showed plenty of attacking intent are some of the players high on FPL managers' shopping list for GW 2.
The midfielders too had a productive opening week. Sadio Mane made a statement by outshining his much popular Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah. His return of 16 points was the most by any player in the week. Coming at a much lesser price compared to the Egyptian, Mane might prompt some of Salah's owners to jump ship and free up much-needed funds if he continues his scoring streak against Crystal Palace this week.
Everton's Richarlison had a debut to remember. A 14-point return would coax a lot of managers in putting faith in the new Toffees' recruit for GW 2, especially with Everton having a good run of fixtures in the coming weeks. The Brazilian is likely to shrug off an injury concern and be ready for the visit of Southampton. Wolves' Ruben Neves was the surprise package of the week as he provided a goal and an assist to help his team to a point. Coming at a price of £5.1m, it is no surprise to see Neves being the most transferred in player this week after Mane. Roberto Pereyra and Ryan Fraser too scored a handful, but their past record suggests it could be a one-off and FPL managers would be better off looking at their progress for a few weeks before snapping them up.
The forwards had a relatively quiet week. The strikers contributed just six goals in the opening week with almost all the big guns misfiring. That is likely to change this week with players getting a full week to train and regain their sharpness.
Chelsea versus Arsenal is the standout fixture in a week that sees other big guns have fairly easy games. City face Huddersfield who struggled against Chelsea in the opening game, Spurs face Fulham who lost at home, while United travel to Brighton. The temptation to have a forward line-up involving Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane might be very high, but the purse may not permit it. The threat of a Gabriel Jesus starting over Aguero remains and that may dissuade managers from spending big on Aguero. But for the 32.5 percent who already own the Argentine have a decision to make. His recent form may keep him ahead of the Brazilian in the pecking order, and with Huddersfield coming to town, it might be worth giving him Aguero another shot. As for Kane, August isn't the best time to have him, but he has built his career overcoming such jinxes. Games against Man United and Liverpool in coming weeks might make managers look for other options but Kane is a player that can make you regret his absence in your team, so if funds allow his entry into your team, don't hesitate.
Managers could opt for either a Salah-Silva combo or a Mane-Sterling partnership. The fact that the latter comes for £0.6m cheaper, might make managers think.
Eden Hazard has been Chelsea's go-to man in big games. He scored twice against the Gunners last season. With a full week of training, the Belgian is likely to start and could make the difference in that fixture. Owned by just 11.6 percent managers, Hazard could be your trump card this week. Alli would also be a good option after he made a scoring start to his season. Lucas Moura also offers a cheaper alternative for a Spurs midfielder. The Brazilian is likely to see action in coming weeks with Heung-Min Son away on international duty at the Asian Games in Indonesia.
Bringing in full-backs seems to be the trend, and rightly so. Their willingness to get involved in attacks makes them a potent source of points at a much cheaper price. The top six most purchased defenders this week are all full-backs. These six players scored 73 points among themselves last week, and FPL managers seem to be taking note of it.
Among the center-back options, John Stones seems to be the top center-back choice of FPL managers with the Englishman likely to keep many clean sheets in the next few weeks and maybe also profit on set-pieces.
Ederson remains the most sought-after goalkeeper with Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga, Liverpool's Allison, and United's David de Gea surprisingly failing to make FPL managers' top-five most purchased goalkeepers this week.
Although the United custodian remains the most owned goalkeeper, City's Ederson may threaten to take steal the limelight in coming weeks.
Ruben Neves: The Wolves midfielder got straight into the thick of the FPL managers' plans by returning with 12 points in the opening week. At a price of £5.1m, he could be the perfect guy to add balance to your team
N'Golo Kante: The French midfielder netted only his fourth goal at club level against Huddersfield. But an advanced role under new manager Maurizio Sarri may enhance his attacking prospects. At £5m, he might turn out to be a real steal.
Ben Hamer: The Huddersfield goalkeeper impressed in pre-season and has got the nod over Jonas Lossl. With a price tag of £4m, Hamer might be the perfect purchase to make up the numbers especially if you already have a goalkeeper from a top team that you can almost play every week.
Jeffrey Schlupp: The Crystal Palace player is listed as a defender but plays as a winger. He began the season with a goal and there might be a few more to come. The price of £4.5m might not be the lowest for a defender, but for someone playing further up the pitch, it is a very inviting one.
Raul Jimenez: Wolves showed plenty of promise in their opening encounter against Everton. Striker Raul Jimenez got on the score sheet. He might not give you 20 goals, but coming at a price of £5.5m, he might help save funds for bigger purchases, while still providing a decent inflow of points.
Whom to captain?
In a week where the big six have promising fixtures, the choice of captain could prove to be game-changing. Salah is always a candidate, but Mane has emerged as a notable rival. Sterling might be slightly risky in a week like this where many players from the big leagues are expected to score big.
My choice for captain though would come from the forward line. Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane have a great chance to open their accounts for the season this week and there is a chance that the goals might come in numbers. It will be a tough call between Kane and Aguero, but City's form just gives the Argentine the edge.
The armband will be pivotal this week. Choose wisely.
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Updated Date: Aug 17, 2018 12:23:30 IST