FANTASY PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW: Who should you pick in your GW1 squad?

FANTASY PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW: Martinelli, Neto and Bailey emerge as early budget options, defence continues to offer great value and Salah is still the king… who to pick in your 15-man squads ahead of GW1

  • The new FPL season is set to start with Arsenal against Crystal Palace on Friday 
  • Millions of FPL managers are busily preparing their perfect 15-man squads 
  • FPL have handed out an additional wildcard to navigate the World Cup hiatus
  • Sportsmail has provided a comprehensive preview of the new FPL campaign

The new Fantasy Premier League season is rapidly approaching and millions of managers across the globe are chopping and changing their teams in pursuit of the perfect 15-man squad.

At the beginning of the season, plenty of managers aim to hunt down a new personal best, several tussle for bragging rights in their office mini-leagues, and some simply set themselves the dream of finishing with the coveted FPL crown. 

Whether new to FPL or an experienced regular, it is important to take note of what’s changed in the Premier League ahead of the new season and get a flavour of the in-form players who are just waiting to pick up a glut of points in the opening few gameweeks.

So, Sportsmail’s Ben Willcocks, who finished with an overall rank of 118 in 2020-21, has assessed the status quo ahead of the brand new FPL campaign and built a shortlist of some promising options to back at the start of the season.

Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) finished last season as the highest-scoring FPL asset with 265 points

Season preview 

The ‘third wildcard’ 

The 2022-23 season is destined to play out very differently to previous campaigns, notably because of the World Cup in November.

Unlike before, the Premier League will break in GW16 and return six weeks later on Boxing Day.

As a result, managers will be able to make unlimited transfers between GW16 and GW17 and reset their squads with fresh new assets.

Star signing Erling Haaland (£11.5m) may rival Salah’s points return at Man City next campaign

https://usasportsradar.com/soccer/premier-league-players-to-no-longer-take-the-knee-before-every-match/

In essence, the FPL chiefs have handed managers an additional wildcard this season, which could dramatically change the manner in which players approach the game.

As the first wildcard must be played before the World Cup break, the need for a long-term squad is less important this campaign. 

In order to benefit from the changes made on a wildcard, managers would be wise to activate the chip by GW12 at the very latest, giving at least four weeks of profit ahead of the GW16 hiatus.

Also, at the start of the season, there are always several unknown quantities just waiting to emerge from under the surface. 

Expensive early season bandwagons can often require plenty of moves and points hits to get ahold of, but the prospect of a low-risk early wildcard could hand managers the perfect opportunity to restructure their squad as early as GW4.

In bygone years, millions of FPL managers stayed actively engaged with the game in the first quarter of the season – but this often changed in December during the congested winter schedule as deadlines came thick and fast.

Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) has impressed with seven goals in pre-season since arriving at Arsenal

With the World Cup providing a break from FPL, casual managers are now more likely to stay active for a longer spell this year, which should provide a more exciting and high-scoring season overall.

Blessed with an early wildcard in the bank, FPL managers would be wise to prioritise short-term fixtures at the start of the season rather than play the long game. 

Five subs rule 

Premier League managers are now permitted to make up to five substitutes in every top-flight match, which is likely to alter FPL significantly in the future.

The substitutes bench in FPL is only called into action if a player fails to register a single minute in a match. 

Therefore, as Premier League bosses are set to call upon substitutes more frequently this season, auto-subs are likely to be less of a factor, with players more regularly coming on for one-point cameo appearances.

Whilst it is always worth having one or two reliable bench options on hand in case of unprecedented scenarios, managers should hardly spend any of their £100m budget on the substitutes this season and instead prioritise throwing money into the starting line-up.

Ederson (£5.5m) and many other premium goalkeepers are now much more affordable in FPL

Captaincy

With twice as many points on offer, captaincy is one of the most crucial aspects of FPL and seems to be overlooked by several players every season.

At £13.0m, Mohamed Salah could struggle to pay back his price tag in comparison to other value picks, but captaincy is where he and the likes of Harry Kane, Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland and Son Heung-min repay their value.

Looking ahead at the fixture schedule and deciding which player to give the armband to is an important part of the planning process. 

On the one hand, managers do not want to spend unnecessary transfers chopping and changing their premium assets. On the other, they certainly do not want to miss out on a plum fixture because of a lack of forethought.

Therefore, it is worth thinking five or six gameweeks in advance at the start of the season with captaincy in mind – here is a list of the best captaincy options between GW1 and GW6 as it stands.

Harry Kane (£11.5m) and Son Heung-min (£12.0m) scored a combined 450 points last season

GW1

1. Mohamed Salah (Fulham vs. Liverpool)

2. Son Heung-min or Harry Kane (Spurs vs. Southampton) 

3. Erling Haaland or Kevin De Bruyne (West Ham vs. Man City) 

GW2

1. Erling Haaland or Kevin De Bruyne (Man City vs. Bournemouth)

2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace)

3. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace) 

GW3

1. Son Heung-min or Harry Kane (Spurs vs. Wolves)

2. Raheem Sterling or Mason Mount (Leeds vs. Chelsea)

3. Gabriel Jesus or Bukayo Saka (Bournemouth vs. Arsenal)

GW4

1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool vs. Bournemouth)

2. Son Heung-min or Harry Kane (Nottingham Forest vs. Spurs)

3. Erling Haaland or Kevin De Bruyne (Man City vs. Crystal Palace)

GW5

1. Erling Haaland or Kevin De Bruyne (Man City vs. Nottingham Forest)

2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool vs. Newcastle)

3. Raheem Sterling or Mason Mount (Southampton vs. Chelsea) 

Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m) looks an excellent captaincy option against Bournemouth in GW2

Sportsmail’s shortlist 

Choosing assets from top six clubs – or from mid-table sides with strong fixtures – is usually the optimum way of attacking the start of the season. 

Whilst daring managers can prosper from risky selections, the best strategy is to choose the tried-and-tested FPL options, choosing reliable players from top teams.

With that in mind, Sportsmail has assembled a shortlist of solid picks in each position. 

GOALKEEPERS 

Ederson, Man City (£5.5m)

Endured a £0.5m price cut from last season. Excellent cheap route into Man City’s defence. Kept 20 clean sheets with the champions last campaign.

GW1: West Ham (A), GW2: Bournemouth (H), GW3: Newcastle (A)

Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal (£5.0m)

Great pre-season from Arsenal with three clean sheets. Solid save potential shown last year. Better for bonus points than other Arsenal defenders.

GW1: Crystal Palace (A), GW2: Leicester (H), GW3: Bournemouth (A) 

Brighton’s Robert Sanchez could be the pick of the £4.5m goalkeepers this campaign

Robert Sanchez, Brighton (£4.5m)

Solid and organised defence in Brighton. Ticks over with clean sheets at a healthy pace. Not the most exciting pick but the most reliable £4.5m option.

GW1: Man United (A), GW2: Newcastle (H), GW3: West Ham (A) 

Danny Ward, Leicester (£4.0m)

Great bench option since Kasper Schmeichel’s exit plans. May emerge as the only £4.0m playing goalkeeper. Worth tracking Brendan Rodgers’ comments.

GW1: Brentford (H), GW2: Arsenal (A), GW3: Southampton (H) 

DEFENDERS 

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool (£7.5m)

Best value pick in the game. 208 points last season. Scored over 160 in last four campaigns. Showcased attacking talents against Man City on Saturday.

GW1: Fulham (A), GW2: Crystal Palace (H), GW3: Man United (A)  

Joao Cancelo, Man City (£7.0m)

Reliable and explosive Man City defender. 201 points last season. Played 36 out of 38 matches last campaign. City lacking options at left-back too.

GW1: West Ham (A), GW2: Bournemouth (H), GW3: Newcastle (A)

Andrew Robertson, Liverpool (£7.0m)

Only slightly less attractive than Alexander-Arnold. 186 points last season. Reliable starter every match unlike some Liverpool attackers. Amazing value.

GW1: Fulham (A), GW2: Crystal Palace (H), GW3: Man United (A)   

Reece James, Chelsea (£6.0m)

Very explosive when fit. Chelsea were third best defence in terms of goals conceded and expected goals conceded. Nine assists in 22 starts last season.

GW1: Everton (A), GW2: Spurs (H), GW3: Leeds (A)   

Trent Alexander-Arnold offers goals, clean sheets and assists at his low £7.5m price tag

Ivan Perisic, Spurs (£5.5m)

Exceptional in Serie A. Eight goals and seven assists from defence last season. Set to thrive in Antonio Conte’s wing-back system. Maybe a fitness doubt.

GW1: Southampton (H), GW2: Chelsea (A), GW3: Wolves (H)   

Gabriel Magalhaes, Arsenal (£5.0m)

Impressive pre-season with Arsenal. Main defender in Mikel Arteta’s system. Crystal Palace and Leicester struggled lots defending set-pieces last season.  

GW1: Crystal Palace (A), GW2: Leicester (H), GW3: Bournemouth (A) 

Kyle Walker, Man City (£5.0m)

Set to start the season due to Man City’s full-back shortage. Little attacking threat but good for clean sheets. Could offer great value if he keeps starting.

GW1: West Ham (A), GW2: Bournemouth (H), GW3: Newcastle (A) 

Diogo Dalot, Man United (£4.5m)

Erik ten Hag’s preferred right-back over Aaron Wan Bissaka. Showed plenty of attacking threat in pre-season. Man United will improve in defence – surely?!

GW1: Brighton (H), GW2: Brentford (A), GW3: Liverpool (H) 

Jonny Otto (£4.5m) is set to start the season for Wolves with Ruben Semedo out injured

Lewis Dunk, Brighton (£4.5m)

Like Sanchez, from a reliable and solid defence. Poses bags of potential from set-pieces. Averaged three goals per season since 2019-20 at centre-back.

GW1: Man United (A), GW2: Newcastle (H), GW3: West Ham (A)  

Jonny Otto, Wolves (£4.5m) 

Will start the season at right-back with Ruben Semedo out. Traditionally an attacking wing-back unless Bruno Lage changes to a 4-3-3. Kind fixture run.   

GW1: Leeds (A), GW2: Fulham (H), GW3: Spurs (A) 

Neco Williams, Nottingham Forest (£4.0m)

Set to start at wing-back after his £18m move from Liverpool. Cheapest defender in the game and a guaranteed starter. Perfect for the bench.

GW1: Newcastle (A), GW2: West Ham (H), GW3: Everton (A) 

 

MIDFIELDERS

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool (£13.0m)

Best FPL asset in the game – perhaps of all-time. Fifth successive season over 230 points. Returned 23 goals and 14 assists last season. Still worth it at £13m.

GW1: Fulham (A), GW2: Crystal Palace (H), GW3: Man United (A)    

Kevin De Bruyne, Man City (£12.0m) 

Potential Salah alternative. Best City player in pre-season with brace against Club America. Played further forward just behind Erling Haaland on Saturday. 

GW1: West Ham (A), GW2: Bournemouth (H), GW3: Newcastle (A)

Son Heung-min, Spurs (£12.0m)

Another potential alternative to Salah. Joint golden boot winner with 23 goals and 10 assists last season. His tally of 258 in 2021-22 was his highest FPL total. 

GW1: Southampton (H), GW2: Chelsea (A), GW3: Wolves (H)    

Winger Bukayo Saka (£8.0m) will continue to rack up FPL points as Arsenal’s talisman

Bukayo Saka, Arsenal (£8.0m)

Emerged as Arsenal’s talisman last season. Guaranteed starter unlike some other £8.0m midfielders. Took Arsenal’s most recent friendly in pre-season.

GW1: Crystal Palace (A), GW2: Leicester (H), GW3: Bournemouth (A) 

Mason Mount, Chelsea (£8.0m)

Under the radar option. 11 goals and 11 assists last season and still improving. Continued to impress in pre-season despite questionable Chelsea form. 

GW1: Everton (A), GW2: Spurs (H), GW3: Leeds (A)    

Phil Foden, Man City (£8.0m)

Explosive asset with risk of starts. Played very well in the Community Shield after coming on. Could be worth the risk with Bournemouth at home in GW1. 

GW1: West Ham (A), GW2: Bournemouth (H), GW3: Newcastle (A)

Luis Diaz, Liverpool (£8.0m)

Set to start most games with Diogo Jota injured. Found himself in many goal-scoring positions against Man City. Four goals and three assists since January.

GW1: Fulham (A), GW2: Crystal Palace (H), GW3: Man United (A)    

Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal (£6.0m)

Expected to start with Emile Smith-Rowe only just back from injury. Linked up extremely well with Gabriel Jesus and claimed three assists against Sevilla.

GW1: Crystal Palace (A), GW2: Leicester (H), GW3: Bournemouth (A) 

Leon Bailey (£5.0m) has impressed with three goals and two assists in pre-season

Brenden Aaronson, Leeds (£5.5m) 

Slight risk as yet to play in Premier League but performed well in pre-season. Taking over creative role from Raphinha. Could be worth a punt at £5.5m.

GW1: Wolves (H), GW2: Southampton (A), GW3: Chelsea (H) 

Pedro Neto, Wolves (£5.5m)

Back to full fitness after last season’s injury. Five goals and eight assists in 2020-21. Not yet known how Raul Jimenez injury will affect Wolves and Neto. 

GW1: Leeds (A), GW2: Fulham (H), GW3: Spurs (A)

Leon Bailey, Aston Villa (£5.0m)

Star of pre-season for Aston Villa, with three goals and two assists. Expected to line-up next to Philippe Coutinho and Ollie Watkins in Villa’s front three.

GW1: Bournemouth (A), GW2: Everton (H), GW3: Crystal Palace (A) 

Andreas Pereira, Fulham (£4.5m) 

Destined to play attacking midfield at Fulham after switch from Man United. Cheapest possible in his position and expected to start. Perfect for the bench.

GW1: Liverpool (H), GW2: Wolves (A), GW3: Brentford (H)

FORWARDS 

Harry Kane, Spurs (£11.5m)

Looked razor-sharp in pre-season for Spurs under Conte. Five goals and one assist in four friendlies. 192 points last campaign with 17 goals and 11 assists. 

GW1: Southampton (H), GW2: Chelsea (A), GW3: Wolves (H)     

Erling Haaland, Man City (£11.5m)

New star striker at Man City, who have led the league in scoring every year since 2017-18. Picked up some excellent goal-scoring positions on Saturday.

GW1: West Ham (A), GW2: Bournemouth (H), GW3: Newcastle (A) 

Darwin Nunez, Liverpool (£9.0m) 

Proved his threat against Man City at the weekend and seemed to hog chances when he came on. Still yet unclear whether he will start in GW1. 

GW1: Fulham (A), GW2: Crystal Palace (H), GW3: Man United (A)     

New Liverpool star Darwin Nunez (£9.0m) could well emerge the bargain of the season

Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal (£8.0m)

The in-form player of pre-season, with seven goals and one assist. Under-priced at £8.0m hence his above 70% ownership. Set to score a lot of points.

GW1: Crystal Palace (A), GW2: Leicester (H), GW3: Bournemouth (A)  

Patrick Bamford (£7.5m)

Still the main man at Leeds and now enjoyed a full pre-season under Jesse Marsch. Excellent fixtures to start the campaign and could be worth the risk.

GW1: Wolves (H), GW2: Southampton (A), GW3: Chelsea (H) 

Callum Wilson (£7.5m) 

Eight goals in 16 starts last season. Very explosive when fit and has had a full pre-season to build fitness. Mixed bag of fixtures but a great short-term punt.

GW1: Nottingham Forest (H), GW2: Brighton (A), GW3: Man City (H)  

Aleksandr Mitrovic (£6.5m) 

Record-breaking 43-goal season in the Championship last season and with a more attacking manager in Marco Silva this time around. Solid budget option.

GW1: Liverpool (H), GW2: Wolves (A), GW3: Brentford (H) 

Record-breaker Aleksandr Mitrovic (£6.5m) scored 43 Championship goals last season




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