Here we go! The time for deliberating is almost over. All those evenings you have spent convincing yourself that Wayne Rooney can regain his 2004 form, that Sergio Aguero DEFINITELY won’t be rotated and that because Sead Kolasinac is a f*cking unit he’s going to be FPL gold now come to a shuddering climax. A climax which leaves you staring at 15 Premier League footballers who will determine your entire weekend’s mood. You could either be hitting the town buying jaeger bombs for anyone you make eye contact with or you could be sitting on the sofa, skipping past Match of the Day whilst refusing to talk to the missus because she says it’s just a stupid game. Grrr!
I myself have experienced the best and worst of gameweek 1 and I do not want to feel the disappointment of falling on my arse with a score of 25pts. Thankfully we at FPL Updates XI can still see the green of the arrows from the back end of last season and I fully intend on taking that form into the 2017/18 campaign.
After a rather disappointing season last year we pulled it around massively in the final 4 gameweek’s going from 1,045,710 to 251,007. A turnaround that convinced the FPL Updates board to give me a one year extension. They have however made it very clear that if I fail to make the top 100k they do have Steve McLaren on speed dial.
This pre-season I have tried to limit the tinkering. There is nothing worse than alternating between 128 players across 33 drafts only to see every player you transferred out having monster weeks. So I have put together a team here of players who have pretty much been at the forefront of my thinking for the best part of the summer. Risks have been kept to a minimum and early fixtures have played a big part as I will be looking to a probably gameweek 3 wildcard.
In goal I simply refuse to spend big. As mentioned in last week’s article the gap between the keepers of the top 6 and the rest is so small that I’m happy to do my goalkeeper shopping at Lidl. Therefore we have gone with Wayne Hennessey and Rob Elliott. Both have nice early games and both alternate pretty favourably. Neither are world beaters but both are expected to start and both should pick up solid enough points.
In defence I’ve gone big with Kyle Walker. 6.5m has been spent on the Manchester City right back and at this point I can’t decide if this is an inspired move or a bloody terrible one. Pep Guadiola loves utilising his fullbacks as far up the pitch as possible and with Brighton up first I just feel he has the potential for a big gameweek. Another right back starts alongside of him and it’s Cedric. The Southampton defender always seems to be one of those players that FPL managers see the upside in. He attacks for fun and plays within a team that kept 14 clean sheets last season. He may have only scored 108pts last season but I think he will improve upon that this year. Cuco Martina has left and Southampton have the most favourable of starts. No team has a better opening 10/11 gameweek’s so he can be one of those players you pick and safely leave for a while. The third of our starting back three is Rob Holding. The guy is class. He may not be at the forefront of everyone’s thinking but since Arsene Wenger moved to a back three at the end of last season Rob Holding has shown his class. With Laurent Koscielny suspended and Per Mertesacker likely out injured he is pretty much nailed on to start gameweek 1. Leicester and Stoke are Arsenal’s first two opponents and for 5.0m I’m more than happy to buy into their back line for that. On the bench we have Trent Alexander Arnold and Danny Simpson. Both 4.5m and both likely to start gameweek 1. So we at least have sufficient cover at the back.
Our midfield is where I’m pinning a lot of my hopes and where most of my headaches originated. The FPL depth at midfield is incredible and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll miss on at least a handful of players hitting big points. I have decided to invest fairly heavily on a few and just pray that they can lead the charge. Starting with Kevin De Bruyne. He is my tip for PFA Player of the year this season and a player I just couldn’t do without. He isn’t cheap at 10.0m, but 21 assists last season is pretty obscene. Yes he may have only scored six, but he hit the woodwork more than anyone and looks the most nailed on of all of City’s attacking players. I can’t help but think City will absolutely batter teams and I’m sure he will be at the forefront of them doing so. Next up is Sadio Mane. The Senegalese attacking midfielder has quickly established himself as Liverpool’s key man. When he didn’t play last year they just weren’t the same and I think that’s very much the case this year. He missed over 10 games in 2017/18 yet still broke the 150pt barrier with 20 total attacking returns. I think he comfortably surpasses that this season. Our third midfielder is the much maligned Paul Pogba. I’m not quite sure why he divides opinion so much. Is it because United signed him? Because he still dabs? Or maybe just because he’s best mates with Jesse Lingard? All valid reasons to be fair, but whatever you think of him you can’t ignore the fact that he looks primed for a big season. The Nemanja Matic signing entirely changes the role of several at United and none more so than Pogba. He will have the freedom to roam and when you see him in that role for France you realise he really is an £89m player. From an FPL perspective he is a 9.5m player with an 8.0m price tag. He is a bargain and when you throw in the fact that United’s opening games are about as favorable as you could hope then he looks a nailed on pick. Our fourth starting midfielder is Wilfried Zaha. With an ownership of 24% he has clearly taken the fancy of a number of people. I have seen him in many teams on Twitter and I can understand why. He has jumped up in price to 7.0m this year, but that is pretty justifiable given his clear improvement over the last 12 months. He is starting to add an end product to his already unquestioned ability and with Huddersfield, Swansea and Burnley in Crystal Palace’s first four I like the Zaha pick. Our last midfielder starts on the bench but looks a steal at 4.5m. Tom Carroll has had a really impressive pre-season and with Gylfi Sigurdsson currently sulking over a move that may or may not happen, Carroll has taken up the responsibility of resident string puller for Swansea to great effect. He registered 3 assists last weekend against Sampdoria and given that he is commanding most of the set pieces at the moment he looks the option if you are looking to free up cash elsewhere.
Our front line is still making me feel uneasy so this may be the area we change late on. There are so many question marks over so many striking options that it’s hard to be convinced by most. One I’m not worried about is Romelu Lukaku. The new signing for United finished on 221pts last season but just short of Harry Kane for the Golden Boot. He will be gunning for redemption and like Pogba will be facing a very favorable opening set of games. Rom is often ‘accused’ of being a flat track bully that only scores against the so called weaker teams. Well with West Ham, Swansea, Leicester and Stoke in the first four he has the opportunity to hit the ground running. He has already scored against Manchester City in preseason and Real Madrid in the Super Cup so I think he looks the pick of the striking bunch. 49% ownership suggests I’m not alone here! Our second striker is new to the striker selection pool, Roberto Firmino. Re-classified as an attacker this season he still looks a great player to own. He is a nailed on starter for a team that can and will score for fun and looks a great value pick at 8.5m. He finished on 180pts last season and I don’t think he will be too far off of that this year. It will be interesting to see if he will be hurt by losing out on the extra point for a goal and a clean sheet, but Watford and Palace up first I’m happy to pair him up with Mane. Our last striker is one I’m just so torn on, Manolo Gabbiadini. He started his Southampton career looking like Matt Le Tissier but finished the season looking like Ali Dia. It’s difficult to know which Gabbi will turn up but with a full pre-season under his belt I think we will gamble here. Mauricio Pellegrini will likely run with just one striker so the fear of rotation with Charlie Austin is there. Gabbi certainly looks the better fit for the system though so we’ll just have to see how he goes in a nice opening home game with Swansea. I can’t see him sticking around in our line up long term but he could be a nice short term pick up.
So there we have it, the first FPL Updates XI of the season. Am I happy with it? I have no clue whatsoever, but I think we have enough quality to ensure we won’t lose ground early. We have enough big name match winners combined with safe mid-priced players so I’m certainly expecting a 50pt opening gameweek.
With that said we are introducing a new feature this season! Every week we are going to be leaving the decision of The FPL Updates XI captain to the readers of this article. We will be including a poll vote each gameweek (what could go wrong) for you to select the best captaincy option from our line-up. So please get your vote in below and help guide us to a successful season!
Thanks everyone for reading and voting and all the best with your gameweek 1 teams. Don’t forget that the season starts with Friday Night Football tomorrow, so whatever you do make sure you don’t miss the earlier than usual deadline! Have a great weekend all, I’m now off to convince the missus that I have to watch every televised game this weekend for ‘work’ purposes. Wish me luck!
Written by FPL Guru (@FPL_Guru_)