Surprise starting XI omissions, injuries to popular players, and of course, goals by Erling Haaland. The 2023-24 FPL season is truly and well underway in other words. About 80% of managers just continued one of last season’s few true constants, the captaining of Erling Haaland, and were subsequently rewarded with 26 FPL points. The other FPL constant, Pep Guardiola’s fixation on rotation, continued as well, with the likes of Jack Grealish and Ruben Dias left out of the starting eleven. To make matters worse for those betting big on City, Kevin de Bruyne lasted 23 minutes before abandoning the pitch with an injury that will keep him on the sidelines for several months. Just-under-10%-owned Villa defender Tyrone Mings suffered a similar fate and Arsenal’s new defensive signing Timber suffered an early injury too, which will have more than a few fantasy managers dealing with defensive issues after just a single gameweek.
On to gameweek 2 though, because the Fantasy Premier League waits for no one. From a fantasy point of view, Liverpool at home to Bournemouth on Saturday stands out, as does Aston Villa at home to Everton the next day, to a slightly lesser extent. The upcoming weekend also sees a Kane-less Spurs hosting Manchester United and Newcastle visiting Manchester City on what’s promising to be a very eventful Saturday of Premier League football.
Check out FISO’s FPL Forum for the latest discussion and don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 2 is set at 18h15 (UK time) on Friday, August 18th, 2023.
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per August 17th, 2023)
|TRANSFERS OUT||TRANSFERS IN||POSSIBLE REASONS|
|GK||Ramsdale (ARS), Raya (ARS), Pope (NEW)||Onana (MUN), Leno (FUL), Ederson (MCI)|
|DEF||Stones (MCI), Mings (AST), Timber (ARS)||Chilwell (CHE), Estupiñan (BRI), Saliba (ARS)||Stones, Mings and Timber injuries, Chilwell and Estupiñan GW1 returns|
|MID||De Bruyne (MCI), Eze (CRY), Rashford (MUN)||Saka (ARS), Rodrigo (MCI), Luis Diaz (LIV)||KDB injury, Saka GW1 returns|
|FOR||Kane (TOT), Darwin (LIV), Watkins (AST)||Isak (NEW), Joao Pedro (BRI), Haaland (MCI)||Kane transfer to Bayern, Isak returns in GW1, Pedro budget starter on penalties|
At the moment of writing, the ownership of Erling Haaland in the official fantasy game is approaching 91%. Therefore, we consider him permanent premium pick material and will instead focus on a different premium-priced player for gameweek 2. Especially with the Norwegian playing at home against Newcastle, possibly one of the best defences in the league once again this season, a lot can be said for moving the armband to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) instead. The Egyptian started off discretely with an assist (and a VAR denied goal) and 5 FPL points to his name at Stamford Bridge in GW1, but we all know what he’s capable of. Up next are Bournemouth at home, which could see him record a double-digit return without stretching the imagination too much. Of course, last season he blanked when the Reds thrashed the Cherries in the same fixture, but let’s not think about that anymore. Instead, let’s believe that he’s getting his first goal of the 2023-2024 campaign this Saturday to give Erling Haaland captainers a run for their money.
Our non-premium fantasy pick is a bit of a punt, in the sense that he plays in an attacking position for Manchester City. Phil Foden (£7.5m) completed the 90 minutes in the season opener and recorded an Expected Goal Involvement of 0.38, which is not bad. The reason we are including him in this category this week though, despite City hosting Newcastle on Saturday night, is the injury of Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian midfield maestro is likely to be out for up to four months with a serious hamstring injury, which we feel opens up even more possibilities for Foden to put his stamp on the City attack. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Cityzens call up their Emirati sugar daddy for a major signing before the end of the summer transfer window, but with Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan out of the picture as well, it could be time for Foden to really shine. It remains to be seen how Guardiola will line up on Saturday and he will surely not stick to the same eleven over the coming gameweeks, but with Sheffield United away, Fulham at home, West Ham away, Forest at home and Wolves away on the agenda after Newcastle, Foden could represent excellent value on the longer term.
The budget enabler
In Joao Pedro (£5.5m), we’ve got a budget enabler like we love to see. The Brazilian was brought in from Watform by Brighton for around £ 30 million this summer and he did not need long to shoot himself onto the fantasy manager radars. He started, showed plenty of intent in the 87 minutes of action he got from manager Roberto de Zerbi and scored from the penalty spot. In other words, what more could you want from a forward playing for one of the offensive sides in the league, priced at just £5.5m? The Seagulls have got two reasonably favourable fixtures coming up in gameweeks 2 and 3, versus Wolves away and West Ham at home respectively, which only increases Pedro’s fantasy appeal. We have played just a single gameweek of the current season so far, but Brighton’s Brazilian bomber already looks like a fantastic budget fantasy pick.
With Harry Kane gone, one of the major questions for gameweek 2 is how Spurs will line up for the first time without their star striker. Many fantasy eyes will be on manager Ange Postecoglou’s starting eleven for the home game against Manchester United and we feel there will be a role of increased importance for Richarlison (£7.0m). Since his £ 60-million transfer last summer, the Brazilian has yet to make a real impact at Spurs and Kane’s departure might just make that happen. He started in attack in gameweek 1 versus Brentford and despite not recording any attacking returns, he did look lively. On top of that, Richarlison is listed as a midfielder in the official fantasy game, which means an extra point per goal and per clean sheet. While the upcoming game against Man United looks difficult on paper, it should be noted that only Luton Town conceded more shots in the box in gameweek 1 (20 away against Brighton) than the Red Devils did at home to Wolves (17). At his current ownership of 4.1% and with games against Bournemouth (away) in GW2, Burnley (away) in GW3 and Sheffield United (home) in GW4, Richarlison looks like a shrewd differential fantasy pick.
Erling Haaland will dominate the captaincy debate as has been usual since his arrival to the Premier League last season. Despite Man City playing at home to a tough Newcastle side, a majority of fantasy managers will captain him and we recommend you do the same.
Possibly the only exception we would consider is Mo Salah, if you have managed to fit him into your squad. The Egyptian attacker will be on the hunt for his first Premier League goal of the season and there are few better fixtures to do so than Bournemouth at Anfield. If you’re a manager who feels like gameweek 2 is an ideal time to take punts on the captaincy though, the likes of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli away at Selhurst Park on Monday could be worth considering, as would the in-form Bryan Mbeumo for Brentford’s visit to Craven Cottage.