It’s finally here. The Premier League is back. No more inconsequential friendlies at 3 in the morning, no more international matches (well, for a few weeks at least). With that, we’ve got the proper return of FPL. The game itself has been out for a good while, with all of us tinkering with our potential teams for Gameweek 1. Well, there’s no more time to tinker – the deadline is almost here.
The Premier League season kicks off with Arsenal hosting Leicester on Friday night as opposed to the usual Saturday afternoon start, which is likely to catch out a few last-minute tinkerers.
Which players should you be after for Gameweek 1 of the 17/18 season? Here’s the starting XI for the week:
David de Gea – Manchester United (5.5m)
The number one choice between the sticks this week is David de Gea, whose Manchester United side welcome the visit of West Ham. United were generally solid at the back last season, conceding the second fewest goals in the league behind Spurs. While he may not make a massive amount of saves in this match, there’s a very good chance of a clean sheet for the Spaniard, with him being the best way into a United defence which isn’t particularly nailed on at the moment, with the nailed-on defenders (Valencia and Bailly) being more expensive.
Marcos Alonso – Chelsea (7.0m)
One of the faces of the 16/17 FPL season, Marcos Alonso offers fantastic potential for GW 1 with a plum fixture, as Chelsea host Burnley. Alonso ended the season on 177 points, racking up 6 goals and 5 assists in the process as a left wingback that essentially played as a classic winger, even making darting runs to the far post to meet headers, as Hector Bellerin will tell you.
Chelsea haven’t looked stellar in preseason, though there aren’t many better fixtures to kick off a season than Burnley at home, with Burnley’s away form last season being among the worst in all the football league, winning just once away from home, scoring 13 goals. They’ve also just lost Andre Gray to Watford this summer, arguably their biggest threat going forward.
Ryan Bertrand – Southampton (5.5m)
Southampton were known last season for their decent defensive solidity, picking up 14 clean sheets, with 8 of them coming at home. They kick off the season at home against Swansea, who survived relegation last season thanks to Paul Clement, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente after a disastrous spell under Brad Bobley.
The Saints have got a new manager this season, Mauricio Pellegrino. His Alaves side punched above their weight in La Liga last season, with them being one of the better sides in the league defensively. You take their new manager’s defensive nous, the defensive quality of the side, as well as a plum fixture, Southampton defenders are almost essential to kick off the season, even without Virgil Van Dijk.
Nacho Monreal – Arsenal (5.5m)
Another defensive shout this week is Nacho Monreal, whose Arsenal side host Leicester on the opening day. Arsenal improved defensively towards the end of last season as they switched to a back three, which was the style at the time.
The reason he’s been chosen here is that he’s absolutely nailed on. Kolasinac didn’t start against Chelsea in the Community Shield,
Kevin de Bruyne – Manchester City (10.0m)
Man City’s chief playmaker makes his way into the side as Man City travel to newly promoted Brighton. They’ve been outstanding in preseason, with Kevin De Bruyne picking up 4 assists as Pep has moved towards a 3-at-the-back system. They kicked off last season in spectacular form, and look to do so this season after making massive improvements to their squad with the likes of Walker, Ederson, Mendy and Bernardo Silva all making big money moves to the Etihad.
De Bruyne himself bagged 21 assists in the league last season, the most of any player. He creates a massive amount of chances, and should have less defensive work in their new system with an extra man at the back.
Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace (7.0m)
A player that’s been mentioned on previous articles on this site – GW1 captain choices + midfield bargains – Wilfried Zaha has so much potential to be a superb FPL asset this season. De Boer has implemented a back three with his Palace side in preseason, playing Zaha in their front three as essentially a second striker alongside Benteke.
Palace have a superb fixture to kick off the season, hosting newly promoted Huddersfield, a side that didn’t travel extremely well in the Championship. Zaha will have more attacking freedom in this system,
Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea (7.0m)
Joining Alonso in the Chelsea contingent of ideal players in a GW1 squad is his compatriot, Cesc Fabregas. It’s a toss-up between Fabregas, Willian and Pedro this week, though Fabregas has made the cut due to his outstanding points per minute last season, managing (x) assists even though he wasn’t really a member of Chelsea’s starting XI, being behind both Matic and Kante.
Chelsea host Burnley, a side likely to sit very deep, so Fabregas should have plenty of room to pull the strings in midfield, pinging the ball al over the shop trying to unlock Burnley’s defensive block. He’ll very likely be on corners as well, with the likes of Batshuayi, Cahill, Luiz and Rudiger all being prime targets for his deliveries.
Willian is also an alternative at the same price for the same side; slightly higher up the pitch but less proven.
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool (9.0m)
One of the biggest summer signings made in the Premier League in terms of FPL prospects has to be Mo Salah, signing for Liverpool from Roma. Last season, managed 15 goals and 11 assists in Serie A, one of the only a handful of players to achieve double digits for each stat.
Salah has looked fantastic in preseason, picking up 4 goals over the course of the summer, including one against Bayern Munich in a game which saw himself and Mane very high up the pitch.
Liverpool kick things off against Watford. They’re a different proposition to the side that finished 17th in the league last season with Marco Silva now in charge, but Liverpool really should be able to pick up a win, with Salah being central to anything good that Liverpool put together. Mane is also a great shout, as is Firmino, though Salah is shiny and new so I’m natually drawn to him.
Romelu Lukaku – Manchester United (11.5m)
The prime captaincy option this week and the most owned player in the entire game is Man United’s new #9 Romelu Lukaku.
Lukaku bagged 26 league goals last year, and is aiming to bring something to Man United that they sorely missed last season: goals against the lesser sides. Lukaku has been known to put lesser sides to the sword, while United regularly struggled in those matches. Their opening fixture is at home against West Ham, a side that Lukaku knows very well, scoring 9 goals in 12 games against them.
Lukaku will most definitely be the most captained player this week. If you’re looking to play it safe, give the armband to Lukaku, or at least have him in your side.
Harry Kane – Spurs (12.5m)
Another massively owned player who is a proven Premier League marksman is Sir Harold Kane, savior of many sides at the end of last season with his 7 goals in the final 2 games.
Spurs are in a weird spot at the moment with their lack of signings, injury issues, the departure of Walker, and the move to Wembley. That being said, they’re still one of the top sides in the league, with Kane arguably being the best #9 on these shores.
They kick the season off away at Newcastle. Looking at their Championship form, they won the league but only had the fourth best home record in the Championship, keeping just 8 clean sheets. Kane has been known to be a slow starter, though he’s enjoyed a proper preseason without any injury worries as opposed to the past few years.
Kun Aguero (11.5m)
Wrapping up the starting XI and finalising this ludicrous front three is Kun Aguero, who plays Brighton on Saturday. As mentioned when going over De Bruyne, City have been excellent in preseason with their new system.
A system that includes both Aguero AND Jesus up front together. This has been a massive worry for many FPL managers, which explains Aguero’s low ownership of 10.8%. Aguero hit a lovely run of form at the end of last season, coming back into the side upon recovering from an injury, with Jesus also missing time through an injury of his own.
The two managed to play together towards the very end of the season, dovetailing well, with Pep regularly stating that they can and will play together very often.