FPL 2023-24: Gameweek 1 preview

Welcome back to the Fantasy Premier League, welcome back to FISO!

The start of the 2023-24 Premier League season is almost upon us and as usual, we will be providing our insights in the build-up to every gameweek. We have also published a comprehensive series of EPL Club Preview articles, taking a look at the shape of each of the twenty clubs that will be competing in the Premier League this season. Like that, we hope to help you with the preparations for what will undoubtedly be another rollercoaster of a season, both on the pitches and in the Premier League fantasy universe.

Of course, labelling any fixture as favourable before the season has even kicked off is risky, but at first glance, it looks like gameweek 1 of the 2023-24 offers a few clear target fixtures right off the bat. Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City are opening the season with a visit to Burnley, the reigning Championship champions, on Friday, followed by Arsenal versus Nottingham Forest at the Emirates and Brighton against Luton at the AmEx the next day. The opening matchday of the 2023-24 season is also immediately serving up a big-name clash on Sunday, when Liverpool travel to Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. Good luck with your Premier League football predictions.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 1 is set at 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, August 11th, 2023.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per August 09th, 2023)

GKN/A for GW1Areola (WHU), Onana (MUN), Ramsdale (ARS)///
DEFN/A for GW1Estupiñan (BRI), Trippier (NEW), Stones (MCI)///
MIDN/A for GW1Saka (ARS), Rashford (MUN), Mitoma (BRI)///
FORN/A for GW1Haaland (MCI), Watkins (AST), Darwin (LIV)///

Premium pick

It takes a brave manager to go against Erling Haaland (£14.0m) at the start of the 2023-24 season. As we write this piece, the Norwegian goalscoring machine sits pretty in no less than 86.5% of all teams in the official fantasy game. He made a devastating entrance to the Premier League last season, scoring 36 goals and providing 9 assists just under 2,800 minutes of Premier League action, and breaking a host of records along the way. Haaland is the most expensive player in FPL by some difference, but it doesn’t seem to matter. On top of his record-breaking debut season, Manchester City also have a very kind run of opening fixtures to the new season, including visits to promoted Burnley and Sheffield United in the first three games, as well as home games versus Fulham and Nottingham Forest in their first six gameweeks. Our recommendation: get used to working with a £86 million budget in the build-up to gameweek 1, because Haaland has to be in your squad.

Non-premium pick

If you have been reading our articles over the past seasons, you know that we consider any player priced below £10.0m to be eligible for our non-premium fantasy pick category. As a result, we find it hard to write this gameweek 1 preview without including Bukayo Saka (£8.5m). Even during Arsenal’s excellent 2022-23 campaign, he managed to score more FPL points than any other Gunner with 202, courtesy of 14 goals and 12 assists. Arsenal are determined to make another serious challenge for the title this year and Saka forms a key part of that challenge. The England international is one of the first names on manager Mikel Arteta’s team sheet, which is great from a fantasy perspective. On top of that, the attacker is also one of Arsenal’s main set-piece men, including a majority of corners and perhaps more importantly, penalties. At his current price of £8.5m, we don’t see many better-value midfielders in the game in the official fantasy game.

The budget enabler

There are few times in the fantasy Premier League season when the importance of finding the right budget enablers is bigger than in the build-up to gameweek 1. There are a few interesting budget fantasy picks at the moment, but few are as dependable as Newcastle’s Sven Botman (£4.5m). The young Dutchman needed no time to get used to the Premier League, recording 35 starts in his first season. Botman is not the defender to look for when you are looking for attacking returns, or at least, he wasn’t last season with just 2 assists, but he is a nailed-on starter in one of the league’s very best defences. Besides, in terms of attacking returns, he slightly underperformed last season with an Expected Goals ratio of 2.75, so who knows what he might be capable of in his second season. Newcastle’s start to the season could hardly be more difficult fixture-wise, with a visit to Man City and a home game against Liverpool in their first three games, but at £4.5m, you can bench Botman and wait for the schedule to green up a bit without a problem.

The differential

In order to qualify for our differential fantasy pick category, a player should not be owned by more than 10% of all managers in the official game, though we generally try to go for players whose ownership percentage is significantly lower than that. Pedro Porro (£5.0m), for example, is a player who we mentioned in our Club Preview series as well, as one of the players who could benefit enormously from the arrival of new arrival Ange Postecoglou at Spurs. In half a season on loan as part of a disappointing Tottenham side, the Spanish right-back still racked up 59 FPL points, courtesy of no less than 3 goals and 3 assists on top of 2 clean sheets. Spurs made the deal permanent this summer for around £ 40 million and we are looking forward to seeing what Porro can do in a full season, including pre-season. What’s more, Postecoglou likes his full-backs aggressive and positioned high up the pitch in order to support the attack where possible, a style that should fit the Spaniard like a glove. With a current ownership in the official fantasy game of just 3.0% at the moment of writing, we can easily see him becoming one of the stand-out differential early in the 2023-24 season.

The (vice-)captaincy

If you are spending £14.0m on Erling Haaland, then he should be your captain for Manchester City’s visit to newly promoted Burnley. Even if you are doubting it, think about this way: it’s gameweek 1 and more than 80% of all fantasy managers are going to put the armband on the Norwegian. It’s perhaps not the way you like to think about FPL, but since the arrival of Haaland to the Premier League, it is what it more or less is.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean that there are no other good options for the captaincy in gameweek 1. Bukayo Saka at home against Nottingham Forest jumps out, as does Marcus Rashford for Manchester United’s home game against Wolves on Monday. Besides that, there is, of course, the inevitable Harry Kane for Spurs’ visit to Brentford (if Bayern haven’t poached him in the meantime).