The Fantasy Football Fairy is back for the 2018/2019 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) season and shares his player picks ahead of Gameweek 1.
As the maiden deadline approaches (7pm, Friday 10th of August), FPL managers will be under pressure to pick their initial fifteen-man squad to begin the season with. Planning this season has been somewhat disrupted by the FA’s decision to close the transfer window one day before the new season kicks off and of course, player choices are limited due to their involvement in the latter stages of the World Cup.
It is very easy to get distracted by the shiny new signings and budget options available from the promoted teams from last year’s Championship. Of utmost importance at the early stage of any FPL season is picking your core players first in each position and then selecting the remaining squad players.
This is easier said than done, as over the past week alone I must have changed my starting squad at least ten times.
Outlined below are my top picks for Gameweek 1 to help you start the season strongly.
Premium: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – £11.0m
Premium forward options Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku and Roberto Firmino were all late returning to their clubs this summer due to their involvement in this year’s World Cup in Russia. Sergio Aguero’s masterclass in the Community Shield final on Sunday last reminded us of his sheer quality and explosive status as an FPL option.
The Argentine was selected in 12% of teams before the weekend fixture and at the time of writing is now selected by a whopping 25%. The £11.0m priced striker has scored twenty plus Premier League goals in each of his last four seasons and will be looking to get the season off to a winning start against Arsenal in the late kick-off Sunday.
Mid-Priced: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) – £9.0m
Roberto Firmino would likely be my preferred mid-priced forward of choice, but due to the uncertainty around his starting place for Gameweek 1, I have instead opted for Spanish striker Alvaro Morata. The Chelsea player suffered a price drop to £9.0m due to his poor form in the second half of last season, even though he scored eleven Premier League goals.
With Maurizio Sarri now in charge at Stamford Bridge and Eden Hazard likely not to start, Morata will have the chance to step up against Huddersfield on Saturday afternoon after receiving widespread criticism for his performance against Manchester City.
Budget: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) – £6.5m
Fulham’s record £27m signing Aleksandar Mitrovic completes my budget picks for Gameweek 1 as the Cottagers welcome Crystal Palace to Craven Cottage. The Serbian international was a key figure in Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League, scoring twelve times in the final seventeen games last season.
This sort of form was enough to convince Slaviša Jokanović to break the bank and sign his number one summer transfer target.
Mitrovic has scored ten Premier League goals in his short time in England and looks up for the fight this season with Fulham. He scored a goal and assist in their pre-season draw against Celta Vigo last weekend.
Premium: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – £13.0m
What more can I say about Mohamed Salah after his FPL masterclass last season where he racked up 303 points by scoring 32 league goals and contributing twelve assists for his Liverpool teammates. The Egyptian also scored twenty-six bonus points for his exceptional performances for the Reds throughout the season.
Now priced at £13.0m, Salah is currently the most owned player as over 50% of managers have opted to start the season with him in their squads. A home fixture with West Ham on Sunday afternoon should afford Liverpool the opportunity to lay down a marker for the year ahead as they look to push Manchester City for the title.
Mid-Priced: Lucas Moura (Spurs) – £7.0m
Brazilian winger Lucas Moura did not get the Brazilian call-up for Russia this summer but instead seems to have set about proving himself to new manager Mauricio Pochettino. The £7.0m priced midfielder looks set to start the season opener for Spurs as their World Cup players struggle for fitness ahead of the 2018/2019 season.
Moura has scored four goals and supplied two assists in pre-season, which outlines his potential for the season ahead, in particular when Son Heung-min leaves to play in the Asian Cup after Gameweek 1.
Spurs travel to face Newcastle in Saturday afternoon’s early kick-off.
Budget: Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) – £5.5m
Budget midfield option Ryan Fraser gets the nod for Bournemouth’s season opener against Premier League newbies Cardiff on Saturday afternoon. £5.5m priced Fraser scored five goals and three assists last season, which looks like decent value as a budget enabler to start the season.
In pre-season, Fraser has been playing a key role in midfield for Eddie Howe, scoring once and assisting on four occasions.
Premium: César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) – £6.5m
Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta finished the 2017/2018 season as the top-scoring defender in FPL, despite the goalscoring exploits of his Chelsea colleagues Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses.
In total he racked up 175 points courtesy of 15 clean sheets, scoring two goals and assisting his teammates on six occasions. The £6.5m priced defender also topped the bonus points charts for defenders scoring twenty five.
With Maurizio Sarri now at the helm for Chelsea, it remains to be seen how the Blues start the season. A Gameweek 1 fixture against Huddersfield provides the Italian with an opportunity to start the season strong and Azpilicueta is likely to offer the chance of points at both ends of the pitch.
Mid-Priced: Seamus Coleman (Everton) – £5.5m
It would not be the start of a new season in FPL without having one Irish pick to recommend. Shane Duffy was a mainstay during Brighton’s good run last season, but this year it’s all about Donegal’s Seamus Coleman. Coleman suffered a price drop to £5.5m after an injury-hit season last time out.
Everton have strengthened well over the summer and we know from previous employers that new manager Marco Silva is fond of his fullbacks driving forward on the wings. With a full pre-season behind him this year, I expect the Irish captain to start the season well. Everton travel to face Premier League new boys Wolves in the late kick-off on Saturday evening.
Budget: Charlie Daniels (Bournemouth) – £4.5m
Fantasy favourite Charlie Daniels makes a return to my picks as Bournemouth welcome newly promoted Cardiff to the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The £4.5m priced Englishman has played over three thousand minutes for Bournemouth consistently over the past three seasons scoring eight goals and supplying eleven assists over that time.
His wonder strike against Manchester City last season lives strong in my mind and as Wolves have made an array of new signings this summer it may take them some time to click for manager Nuno Espírito Santo.
Premium: David De Gea (Manchester United) – £6.0m
Last season’s top scoring goalkeeper David De Gea is my premium pick as Manchester United kick off the new season against Leicester on Friday night. Leicester will likely be without commanding centre-back Harry Maguire and top goalscorer Jamie Vardy due to their extended rest following England’s World Cup journey in Russia.
Despite Manchester United’s problems last season, £6.0m priced De Gea scored a huge 172 FPL points by securing league-high 18 clean sheets for Jose Mourinho. Luke Shaw was considered as a cheaper route into the United backline but with Ashley Young returning to training, his place long term might not be assured.
Mid-Priced: Alisson Becker (Liverpool) – £5.5m
Liverpool smashed the world transfer record for a goalkeeper last month after announcing the signing of Brazilian number one Alisson Becker for £67m. Loris Karius was at fault for two of Real Madrid’s goals in the Champions League final defeat in May and continued his poor form over the summer friendlies.
Liverpool face a new look West Ham side in Sunday’s early kick-off on Sunday in what should be a comfortable win for Jurgen Klopp’s men. West Ham have made some big signings this summer but I have a feeling it will take some time for the players to gel for Manuel Pellegrini.
The £5.5m priced goalkeeper made 34 appearances for Roma last season, keeping fifteen clean sheets.
Budget: Ben Foster (Watford) – £4.5m
Watford snapped up Ben Foster for £3m over the summer as former club West Brom were relegated to the Championship. Priced at £4.5m in FPL again this season, Foster looks set to take the place of 37-year-old Heurelho Gomes between the sticks for Watford.
Watford welcome Brighton to Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon boasting the worst scoring record away from home of all Premier League teams last season, with ten. Watford boast the record of third fewest shots conceded from Gameweek 25 last season when Javi Gracia took charge, with only Liverpool and Manchester City conceding fewer.