As always with FPL, there was a level of predictability about GW1.
Everyone’s go-to captain, Mohamed Salah (13.0) delivered, Erling Haaland (11.6) hit the ground running and popular defenders Joao Cancelo (7.0) and Reece James (6.0) both achieved 7-pointers, despite earning yellow cards.
Thanks to the Bonus Points System (BPS), these guys are regularly rewarded even when they don’t register an attacking involvement.
It didn’t all go to plan, though.
How often do Tottenham score four and the Harry Kane (11.4) and Heung-min Son (12.0) partnership only register a single assist between them? You can count yourself unlucky if you went there. Who predicted Dejan Kulusevski (8.1) to outscore them with 13 points, Aleksandar Mitrović (6.6) to score a brace against the second-best defence in the league and Oleksandr Zinchenko (5.1) to pull out a 12-pointer?
The good news is, there are a wealth of FPL options this season and as long as a couple of your players go big each week, you will likely be in the mix at the top of your mini-leagues.
If you don’t own Haaland, now is the time to move. Sure, he went up in value on Sunday night but it’s never too late – do what you need to do to get him in and captain him against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Historically we have seen a spread of points in Man City’s front line and it’s always felt like a punt if you buy one of their attacking players, but now we have a reliable FPL asset at City, reminiscent of peak Sergio Aguero.
When City score, you can be confident that their new number 9 will be involved and whilst they are only playing once a week, we don’t have to worry about rotation. Do note that midweek fixtures start in GW5 and for teams involved in Europe, will run all the way through to the World Cup – GW16.
Arsenal and Chelsea will no doubt host some of the best defensive numbers in the Premier League this season. They’re fairly reliable and offer really affordable routes to points. 21-year-old William Saliba (4.5) looks to have cemented his spot in the Arsenal back line and at 4.5% owned is somewhat of a differential.
He earned two bonus points on the opening day and looks like a long-term set and forget. Likewise, Chelsea may have underwhelmed in attack against Everton, but they look like they will be solid at the back and Edouard Mendy (5.0) in goal and new signing Marc Cucurella (5.0) are worth keeping an eye on if you can’t stretch to James or Ben Chilwell (both 6.0).
All out Attack
Big at the back was a message being pushed by lots of FPL content creators throughout pre-season but after some impressive performances from FPL forwards, I think we are going to want three good forwards in our team each week.
If you haven’t already, start to think about how you might move funds further up the pitch. Let’s assume we all own Gabriel Jesus (8.0) and Haaland, I think we need to move away from the idea that the third forward spot should be 4.5 bench fodder.
If you can upgrade there are plenty of options in that mid-priced bracket with Mitrović (6.6), Patrick Bamford (7.5), Ivan Toney (7.0) and Callum Wilson (7.5) all looking sharp as they registered attacking returns in GW1.
It might sound like I am being guilty of chasing last week’s points by recommending these players but look at the teams they play for and the fixture runs they have and ask yourself; can I see goals in that attack?
But while I like the mid-price forwards, the player with the highest ceiling for me is Darwin Núñez who is someone I am looking to bring in this week. I have been so impressed by both his cameos in the Community Shield and in GW1. Both times he came on, changed the game, scored goals and hogged all the big chances.
In GW1 no player had a higher non-penalty expected goals (xG) than him, despite the fact he only played 40 minutes. Madness! I’m expecting him to start against Crystal Palace and whilst I recognise The Eagles are not easy opposition, I expect them to have a go at Anfield, which will leave space for Salah and Darwin to have some fun.
If we see a reaction from Jurgen Klopp’s men after dropping points last weekend, I’m backing Darwin to go big in his first game in front of the home fans.
FPL is a game of skill and luck in equal measure and my advice to those who are disappointed with the players who blanked in GW1, like popular assets Matty Cash (5.0), Andy Robertson (7.0) or Harry Kane (11.4), is always look at the decision, not the outcome.
Was it the right call to back Kane at home to a poor Southampton or Robertson to keep a clean sheet against newly promoted Fulham? Probably, yes.
You made the right call but the outcome went against you. You can’t win them all, and you will enjoy this game so much more if you always keep that front of mind.