7 months ago
The last piece of the jigsaw was revealed this morning, and we now have Premier League fixtures. I am sure many of you are like me, and your draft team has been thrown out the window. The two Manchester clubs out of action is a big blow, but also a great opportunity. With some smart planning, you can overcome the crowd and have a strong start. I have created an Excel to help you do this, it allows you pick a team and see their fixtures for the first 10 GWs. But which big hitters should you start with? To help you decide, I will discuss a number of premium assets in this article for you to consider for the opening Gameweeks.
LEE, che, ARS, avl, eve, SHU
Let’s start with the champions. A right mixed bag, 2 top, middle and lower table teams in their first 6. Given they are champions for a reason and they don’t blank in GW1, it is wise to invest in their team.
At the back, pre-fixtures I would have recommended 2 Liverpool assets. But looking at these match-ups, 3 clean sheets could be considered a stretch to obtain even for the league’s best defence. Having said that, TAA is still a must. Although playing fullback, TAA managed to create 87 chances last season, putting him 3rd in the league in this category. He is also on a sizable chunk of free-kicks and corners. He is a season keeper so he stays.
In the middle, Mo Salah will be hot property given the fact that Bruno (£10.5m - FPL, £11.0m FanTeam), Kevin de Bruyne (£11.5m) and Raheem Sterling (£11.5m FPL, £12.5m FanTeam) all miss GW1. Last year, Salah was first for goal attempts with 132, shots in the box (110), and shots on target, while also being joint-third for big chances created. He will have chances regardless of the opposition and is one of the first on my team sheet.
Given the GW1 blanks, many are also considering a double-up with his counterpart Mane. He is more clinical than Salah in front of goal, but his numbers are still not as encouraging. He lay 8th in league for goal attempts (77) and joint 10th for big chances created (10). Given he also comes in at £12m I would not be as keen, given we have one more option at £12m…
ful, WHU, liv, SHU, mci, LEI
The stars have aligned here and they are screaming at us:
Aubameyang GW 1 & 2, then shift to KdB or Sterling for GW3!!!
Where your new City asset will then face LEI, lee, ARS, whu in the next four.
Back to Aubameyang; he racked up 22 goals and 5 assists last year and is now classified as midfielder. If he was a midfielder last year he would have 230 points for the season, putting him 3rd in the league behind KdB and Salah. His attacking stats don’t fully support this though. Ranking 9th for big chances and attempts, 11th for shots in the box and 6th for shots on target. But his high points tally defies this, thanks to his high 23.7% goal conversion rate.
I believe Aubameyang is a streaky player. So having him for these 2 enticing games before ditching him ahead of a tough fixture run is a promising strategy.
EVE, sou, NEW, mun, WHU, bur
Of course, the most unpredictable team has the best opening fixtures in the league!
After the restart, we had mixed performances from Harry Kane, dropping too deep in some matches while collecting braces in the other. A frustrating asset to own, but he still managed 7 goals from 8 games and finished the season on 18 goals despite only making 29 appearances due to injury.
He will make you pull your hair out but is a great option given these fixtures. However, word of warning, due to Europa League qualification, Spurs will have games either side of GWs 1-4. Kane is the most nailed in the team. But in this new COVID world, things can get messy very fast.
Injuries and red cards limited Son to 28 starts last year, yet he still managed 24 attacking returns (11 goals and 13 assists) — his joint highest ever in the Premier League. Somehow, FPL believe he was worthy of a £0.5m reduction in price.
Even though he started on 74% of games in a topsy-turvy season for Spurs, he was joint 5th for big chances (12) among midfielders, 5th for shots (81) and shots in the box (58), and joint 3rd for shots on target (39).
Although it will need some careful planning and require you to have no fires to put out elsewhere, an upgrade to Bruno, who has appeasing fixtures (CRY, bha, TOT, new), after a GW1 blank is a strategy I am considering.
bha, LIV, wba, CRY, sou, mnu
Four handy fixtures with 2 toughies sandwiched in between. Nevertheless, these opening fixtures give new-signing Timo Werner an excellent opportunity to hit the ground running at Stamford Bridge.
28 goals and 8 assists from 34 appearances in the Bundesliga, he also proved himself against the best with 4 goals and 2 assists in 8 Champions League games.
He scored 1 goal every 100mins in the Bundesliga last year shooting every 23mins and hitting the target every 44mins demonstrating his accuracy
With Willian out the door, he may also be on penalties. If he does indeed hit the ground running, he may not leave my team all year…
Also, keep an eye-out for Pulisic’s return from injury and Ziyech who lit it up at Ajax. However, I fear rotation in these wing roles with a deal for Havertz being completed imminently.
wba, BUR, mci, WHU, AVL, ars
Last year’s Golden Boot winner starts the season with 4 fantastic fixtures in his opening 5, 3 of these games being at home. Top of the league for big chances last year (35), it is the clinical side to Vardy’s game that is so appealing.
Vardy was 12th for shots last year (89) which put him behind Neil Maupay and Richarlison. However, he converted an astonishing 25.8% of these – 1 in 4 went in!
Although being 12th for shots, he managed to finish 5th shots on target (42) and 6th for shots in the box (80). I would keep a keen eye on Leicester pre-season though, as they dove-tailed at the end of the season.
cry, TOT, bur, WBA, che, EVE
Ings tied 2nd in the Golden Boot race, but he was number 1 for goals from open play. He always had the talent, but injuries have always plagued his seasons. In the same vein as Vardy, Ings did not have a plethora of strikes on goal ranking 9th last season (93). Yet he also had an outstanding conversion rate, with 23.7% resulting in goals. Towards the end of the season, it looked like every time he got the ball he would score.
The fixtures are mixed, Spurs and Chelsea will be tough tasks as well as trips to Burnley and Palace. But Southampton are getting better and better under Hasenhüttl. Ings may be one to stick in your team for these 6 games and then simply forget about him as the ceilings may not be high, but the consistent output should add up.
shu, MCI, whu, FUL, lee, NEW
A tough opening two fixtures on paper for Jimenez who finished 2nd for shots on goal (118) last season. Although the Manchester City fixture looks unappealing, Wolves did do the double over them last year, so they will fancy their chances.
Jimenez had 24 attacking returns for the season last year and consistently rolls over the points. After these two tougher fixtures, Wolves face 4 teams who I expect will be fighting for survival — expect Mr. Consistent to be among the goals.
These new fixtures have given us many headaches, but it seems that this was inevitable given how life has been the last few months. Keep the chin up though. A smart strategy and planning can go a long way. Many are already planning an early wildcard, but if you play your cards smart and can save this for later in the season, it could really help your rank in the long-run.
My advice is to keep a couple of season keepers. For me, that is Salah, TAA, and potentially Werner, if he starts off well. Then have a strategy to get in your Manchester Utd and City assets. Aubameyang to KdB or Sterling seems straightforward. However, getting in Bruno may prove more difficult. Take your time on planning this, we still have until September 12th.
Sports fan and FPL addict from Ireland (still has not forgiven Thierry Henry). Loves numbers in both studies & profession and has incorporated this into FPL in recent seasons. Has played FPL for 8 seasons, finishing in the top 40k 5 times, with the best finish of 8k. Find on Twitter @FplPup if you have any questions