The first gameweek of the 17/18 FPL season is in the books, and it was a bloody mental one. Big upsets, sendings off, big name transfers performing and a shed load of FPL points to be shared around. Not in my team, but in everybody else’s, of course.
With such an eventful opening weekend for the Premier League, there were quite a few things to keep an eye on when it comes to FPL, with the wheels of many bandwagons already starting to turn.
The Key Stats
First of all, here’s a quick look at the stats for the opening weekend, looking at the league as a whole.
Points: Hegazi – 15
Goals: Vokes, Mounie, Lukaku, Vardy – 2
Assists: Eriksen, Xhaka, Mkhitaryan – 2
Shots: Eriksen, Chamberlain, Kane – 6
Shots on Target: Jay Rodriguez, Eriksen – 3
Attempted Assists/Key Passes: Ozil – 6
Solely judging by the stats, we’ve already seen a few expected names getting heavily involved in their opening matches. The 15-pointer from West Brom’s new centre half and Tony Pulis’ new set piece target Ahmed Hegazi was rather unexpected, though many thought he’d do well with West Brom’s kind opening fixtures.
Lukaku bagged a brace, with him being the most expected of the top goalscorers this week. Vardy managed 2 against a very out of sorts Arsenal defence, which saw them line up with a back three that contained a 21-year-old and two full backs. It was fantastic to see Mounie do well, as he was acclaimed by many before the season, with many of those – myself included – only having him in a draft team and not their official GW1 squad.
Vokes‘ brace away at Chelsea came in one of the most incredible games we’re likely to see, with Burnley beating the champions 3-2. We can’t exactly expect this every week from Vokes, though he did do rather well last season, making him a decent cheap shout as he continues his form.
We can see regular creative forces like Ozil, Eriksen and Mkhitaryan all racking up the key passes and assists, with Eriksen also having quite a few shots on goal. Xhaka‘s brace of assists has started an initial bandwagon, though with the return of Aaron Ramsey, his attacking potential will likely be limited to set pieces again.
Players to Watch
Ben Davies – Spurs
Though Hegazi was the top scoring player this week with 15, Spurs’ Ben Davies managed 14 points himself, claiming a goal, a clean sheet and two bonus points from left back. Towards the end of last season, Davies was a superb option at the back, racking up clean sheets while also chipping in with the odd attacking return as he took over from the injured Danny Rose.
The loose-lipped left back is still recovering from that injury, meaning that Davies should be a fixture in the Spurs team for the immediate future. He could potentially remain there for the entire season thanks to the interview that Rose gave last week, indicating that he could be looking for a move elsewhere.
Davies operated fairly high up the pitch even with Spurs playing a standard 4-at-the-back system, though they could change back to their 3-4-3 with the return of Wanyama, allowing Dier to play in defence. This would allow Davies even more freedom as a wing-back, providing plenty of potential attacking returns.
With Davies’ form in the side since Rose has been injured, as well as the drama surrounding Rose’s interview, he could well prove to be a real keeper this season at just 5.5, though this is likely to rise.
Sead Kolasinac – Arsenal
One of the more highly touted defensive options going into the 17/18 season was Arsenal’s Sead Kolasinac, a man they picked up for on a free from Schalke. In his last season at Schalke, he mainly operated as a left wing-back, picking up 3 goals and 5 assists in the Bundesliga. This hype was further added to after his goal against Chelsea in the Community Shield, and has been even further strengthened after an assist in Arsenal’s incredible 4-3 win against Leicester.
Now, it seems a bit odd recommending a defender who took part in a 4-3 thriller, though Kolasinac showed plenty of potential going forward.
He played on the left of a back three, with Chamberlain playing as the left wing-back. He was rather forward-thinking considering his position on the pitch. Looking at the average positioning of the Arsenal side, it was somewhat lopsided with Kolasinac bursting forward, with one burst leading to an assist for Welbeck’s goal.
If he’s that adventurous in a back three, could you imagine him as a wing-back? Phwoar.
Jamie Vardy – Leicester
Grab your vodka and your charlie, Jamie Vardy’s having a party. Well, had a party, doing so at the expense of Arsenal’s makeshift back three. Vardy scored 2 goals and picked up 3 bonus points in Leicester’s dramatic 4-3 defeat, looking like the Vardy that finished 7th in the Ballon D’Or voting while also being one of the greatest FPL bargains of all time.
Leicester’s next fixture is Brighton at home. They did well against Man City for the most part, but ended up losing 2-0 thanks to a few defensive lapses towards the end of the match. Their other upcoming fixtures are rather rough on the eye, though Vardy’s pace on the counter could really threaten Chelsea and Liverpool, two sides that have looked poor defensively so far.
He’s priced at just 8.5m at the moment, meaning that he can be part of a heavy-hitting front three, or a cheap second striker to free up funds elsewhere while still providing returns.
Steve Mounie – Huddersfield
Speaking of cheaper striker options, Steve Mounie bagged 2 goals as Huddersfield surprised Crystal Palace in a 3-0 win for the newly promoted side. As mentioned before, Mounie was highly thought of among many FPL managers thanks to his 14 Ligue 1 goals last season, doing so for a relatively poor Montpellier side.
He was very clinical with his two goals, considering that he managed 3 shots, with 2 being on target. Such a prolific ratio probably isn’t too sustainable, though the signs are incredibly promising for the Beninese big man. As it stands, his price is set to rise to 6.1m, still offering incredible value considering Huddersfield’s upcoming fixtures.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Manchester United
United’s Armenian playmaker came into the Premier League with a massive amount of promise after an unbelievable season for Dortmund, racking up 11 goals and 20 assists in the Bundesliga the year before. He only managed 4 goals and 1 assist in the Premier League last season, with him being in and out of the team, making him a poor FPL prospect.
That being said, it looks like he’ll be improving on that this season, as he picked up 2 assists after making 5 key passes, just one fewer than Ozil, who attempted the most of any player. Mkhitaryan played as the #10 in United’s 4-2-3-1, dovetailing with Mata who played on the right wing. Mkhitaryan seems the be the most nailed-on out of United’s attacking midfielders, with the likes of Mata, Lingard and Martial all more prone to rotation. He also started essentially up front with Lukaku when United played 3-at-the-back against Real Madrid in the Super Cup.
It’s hard to judge from one game, especially against an awful West Ham side, but things are looking promising for Mkhitaryan. He’s currently rated at just 8.0m, though is likely to rise before their game away at Swansea.
Players to Avoid
Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace
In a previous article on this site, Wilf was lauded as a potential bargain to kick off the season, rated at just 7.0m with some decent fixtures. Well… he blanked on the opening weekend at home to Huddersfield, and now he’s potentially out for a month.
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) August 15, 2017
In around a month’s time, Palace’s schedule will see them play City, United and Chelsea, making things somewhat difficult. His price should drop, so you should consider getting rid if you can. Oh Wilf, what could have been…
Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea
After picking up 5 goals, 15 assists and 14 bonus points in just 1,300 minutes last season, Fabregas had plenty of promise coming into the season considering the sale of Matic and the injury/lack of preseason for Bakayoko. Chelsea’s first game was at home to Burnley, a side who won just once away from home all of last season. Simple, right?
Fabregas ended up getting sent off as Chelsea lost 3-2.
His suspension and Chelsea’s poor start to the season will see him drop out of quite a few teams this weekend, including mine. Looking at the top transfer choices so far this week, Fabregas is being shipped out in 4 of the top 10 transfers.
Source: Fantasy Football Fix.
Regarding both Fabregas and Zaha, they’re both 7.0m. In terms of replacements, Aaron Ramsey managed to pick up a goal in his return from injury, also having 4 shots in just under 30 minutes of action. The aforementioned Mkhitaryan costs only 1.0m more (for now at least), while there are plenty of decent options in the 5-6m range such as Pascal Groß, Tom Ince, and Matt Ritchie. Ruben Loftus Cheek is also an option. He costs just 4.5m, and he played as part of a front 3 for Palace this weekend.
Victor Lindelof – Manchester United
The final player to avoid for now isn’t one who played on the weekend, which is the problem. Lindelof was United’s first signing of the summer, being fairly well regarded from his time at Benfica as a calm, ball playing centre half. He looked shaky during preseason, generally performing rather poorly throughout, capped off with a rough performance against Real Madrid in the Super Cup.
With this in mind, Mourinho opted for Eric Bailly and Phil Jones as United’s starting centre halves against West Ham at the weekend.
He has said that while Matic and Lukaku have years of Premier League experience, Lindelof will need more time to adapt to the league, meaning that Bailly and Jones will likely be the first choice pairing going forward.
Lindelof currently sits at 5.5% ownership, and may well be one of the first casualties of the FPL season as his price is set to drop to 5.4m.
If you’re after a United defender, go for Jones. If he stays fit, he’ll be first choice alongside Bailly, at least until Rojo comes back.