It’s that magical time of year where all FPL managers can spend the weeks leading up to the first gameweek of the new Premier League season tinkering with their team, trying to put together the perfect side for the first few gameweeks. Everybody starts off on level ground, all with the same amount of money to spend, relying on instinct, intuition, stats, and handy sites like this to guide them to their perfect team.

So, what exactly should FPL managers be on the lookout for when planning their GW1 side? Here’s a quick look at precisely that, focusing on the key points to assess when choosing the right players during the build-up to GW1.

Browse the Fixtures

A massively important part of planning your first team is looking at the set of fixtures for the first few weeks of the season. While fixtures aren’t everything, they’re still a huge part of FPL as a whole, as you look to see which key players will have a handy run of fixtures, or are playing sides that they tend to do well against. You have to form to back up your selections, so assessing early fixtures and bringing in quality players is key.

Check out the sides with the best opening fixtures for the 17/18 season.

For example, a top FPL asset for the coming season is Romelu Lukaku, Man United’s new number 9. United have a massively favourable start to the season, making their players more enticing:

Man United Opening Fixtures - 17/18 Season

Southampton have an even kinder run of fixtures, making players such as Cedric, Bertrand, and Tadic all key choices for the opening set of gameweeks. 17/18 Southampton Opening Fixtures

A key part of stocking up on players with great opening fixtures leads us to the next point:

Look at an Early Wildcard

The wildcard is a massively powerful chip, allowing you to completely revamp your site from top to bottom. With your first wildcard, it’s common for players to use this very early on, usually around gameweeks 4-6. This allows you to really plan for the first few weeks initially, while assessing the form players and which teams look more settled, giving you a very strong side after you’ve played your wildcard.

Last season, plenty of players (myself included) used their first wildcard after gameweek 4, after the first international break of the season. Playing a wildcard after an international break also allows you to get rid of the key players who picked up knocks while playing away against San Marino after receiving a late tackle from a part-time plumber.

This wildcard allows you to plan for the rest of the season going forward, as you find the players who look absolutely essential.

Last season’s winner said that he played his first wildcard after gameweek 6, due to the impending return of Kun Aguero.

Assess Preseason Matches

Preseason scouting is a big part of the gameweek 1 planning process. FPL managers are on the lookout for new signings and how they’re doing, new managers and the systems they’re playing, as well as the form players in general.

It’s worth noting that preseason really isn’t everything. A player from a newly promoted side could rack up the goals against sides from the second tier of the Armenian football league on their tour of the Caucuses, but that won’t necessarily translate to the Premier League.

Use preseason to assess the systems that teams are playing, as well as who is taking the set pieces, and the roles that players are in. For example, from Crystal Palace’s preseason so far, we can see that they’re going for a back three, backed up by the signing of the ball-playing centre back Jairo Riedewald from Ajax. Also, the 5m-rated Milivojevic is on penalties and free kicks, making him a very
solid shout.

Also, Manchester United have experimented with a back three, with Mourinho saying that he’d like to use Rashford and Lukaku together up front.

Avoid Stockpiling Transferred Players

With every new season, one really tempting option is to stock up on the shiny new players that have been brought in during the summer. Not to sound like yer ‘da, but the Premier League may well take some players more time to adjust to, with things being a bit more physical. They may also need to take time to get adjusted to the system that their side is playing, the players around them, difference in style, etc.

For example, opting for the likes of Morata and Lacazette over truly top-tier Premier League players like Aguero and Kane could potentially lead to trouble, as they may need time to adapt. Also, some new signings may not even start initially due to an interrupted preseason.

One example of a new signing that plenty of people brought in at the beginning of last season was Paul Pogba. He struggled towards the start of the season as he wasn’t particularly used to playing in a midfield two, generally playing very deep as he partnered Marouane Fellaini, creating a rather undisciplined midfield.

Also, remember that if these players do start the season well, you can bring them in with your aforementioned early wildcard.