Euphoria! Not the great HBO show, it’s the feeling the start of a new Premier League season brings. Copa America, Women’s World Cup, African Cup of Nations, Concacaf Gold Cup, these were all tournaments played this summer for football aficionados to consume. Yet, the majority of my footballing friends only speak with excitement when referencing the new European season around the corner. Those who play Fantasy Premier League have been busy in the lab cooking up the right formula, so many will feel prepared, and many others will see the clock ticking to Friday’s deadline and be in panic mode.
Staff members here at Never Manage Alone will try to assist you in the decision making process all season long, starting with our GW-1 picks today. If you’re new to the blog, a quick note about me: I don’t like to always pick the obvious, so I will always include a couple gambles. There are always managers playing catch up in a mini-league, so I try to find a player or two away from popular thinking who has the potential to make up some ground. With that said, let’s get to the first picks of the season.
Hugo Lloris (£5.5, Tottenham v. Aston Villa)
A good fixture to start the season for the recent Champions League finalists. Starting off at home against a team promoted through the playoffs, who probably lack cohesion because of a multitude of signings, will give confidence to Mauricio Pochettino that his team can keep a clean sheet.
Ben Foster (£5.0, Watford v. Brighton)
Brighton have a new manager; they may try to play more expansively this season under Graham Potter. I just don’t see where the firepower is going to come from, so I back Watford to keep a clean sheet here.
Ben Mee (£5.0, Burnley v. Southampton)
Wish he was priced at £4.5 but Burnley are normally a solid defensive unit that you can count on for some clean sheets.
Andrew Robertson (£7.0, Liverpool v. Norwich)
Do I need to explain this? Top scoring defender last season in FPL, could repeat the feat.
Nathan Ake (£5.0, Bournemouth v. Sheffield United)
I expect this to be the last year the Dutch center back is not at a big team. How Chelsea could use him now! Good opening fixture.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.5, Manchester City at West Ham)
I’ll admit he didn’t look convincing in the Community Shield, but Liverpool are not his GW-1 opponents so I back him to recover and do well here.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£5.0, Arsenal at Newcastle)
You did hear me say I like to throw something different into the mix? Not so much a clean sheet pick, but there is a chance for attacking points when you are crossing to players like Aubameyang and Lacazette.
Lucas Moura (£7.5, Spurs v. Aston Villa)
Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son will not be part of this one, while Christian Eriksen may be sold in the next 24 hours. Lucas should play a big role in this one.
Ryan Fraser (£7.5, Bournemouth v. Sheffield Utd)
Here is another example of a player on a good price who can make the points add up quickly. Fraser creates loads of chances and should see lots of the ball.
Kevin De Bruyne (£9.5, Manchester City at West Ham)
As the kids say, “to keep it 100”, I have Raheem Sterling in my team. Based on the Community Shield the Belgian was the best City player by a mile though.
Mo Salah (£12.5, Liverpool v. Norwich)
No budget measures here, I tried to save a few dollars going with KDB ahead of Sterling, but the top scoring player of the past two seasons takes his place in the picks. Against new-boys Norwich, he’s quite possibly the best captain choice of opening week.
Ayoze Perez (£6.5, Leicester v. Wolves)
Brendan Rodgers has brought excitement back to the King Power Stadium. Hard working Shinji Okazaki is gone, replaced by the exciting Spanish player Perez.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0, Arsenal at Newcastle)
Golden boot co-winner last season, I expect continued excellence this time round from the Gabonese man.
Chris Wood (£6.5, Burnley v. Southampton)
New Zealand man Wood has been on fire in the lead up to the season. My own team is settled, but I just may get him in before the deadline because I think he will do well.
Marcus Rashford (£8.0, Manchester United v. Chelsea)
This is a difficult fixture that’s hard to predict. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has placed his complete faith in the academy product, and it would be a big return on that confidence if he scored against fellow top-four hopefuls.
There you have it, the first picks of the season. Surely you will notice names like Sterling and Kane are not listed. Just remember it is a budget-based game so I chose to go with alternatives from those teams. Callum Wilson is another one many will have expected to see, but with Fraser in the squad I chose to chance Rashford. Let’s hear your lineups for game week one in the comments and our Twitter @NMA_Blog