Welcome back to the Fantasy Premier League! After our series of club previews to open the 2019/2020 season, we are now back with our first gameweek preview of the campaign. It’s possible that we say this every year, but this year, it looks more difficult than ever to put together a decent 15-man squad within the limits of our £100 million budget. In an effort to help you during the build-up to gameweek 1 as well as throughout the season, we have made some minor changes to the structure of our weekly gameweek preview pieces. Instead of providing you with three premium picks, two differential picks and two captain picks each week, we will recommend two premium picks, two non-premium (say £9.5m or lower, more or less) picks, two differential picks and a general piece on our captaincy recommendation before the start of each gameweek. Considering the hefty price tags of many of the promising FPL targets, we figured it will be interesting to place a bit more focus on those non-premium, possibly budget-enabling picks this season that allow you to bring in as many premium assets as possible without ruining the price and points balance in your squad too much.
Don’t forget: the deadline for the first gameweek of the 2019/20 season is set at 19h00 (BST) tomorrow Friday, August 9th.
It’s hard to pick another premium asset than Liverpool’s Mo Salah (£12.5m) for gameweek 1. After a disappointing AFCON run, the Egyptian wizard has been back with the squad for some weeks already and everything points at him starting coming Friday as the Reds host new boys Norwich. Last season’s highest scorer in terms of FPL points (259, courtesy of 22 goals, 12 assists and 18 bonus points) is once again listed as a midfielder in the official game, while he is expected to turn up in Liverpool’s number nine position more often than not this season. Salah performed extraordinarily well against promoted teams last season, recording an average of 7.66 FPL points in those games. Add to that the facts that Norwich boasted just the seventh-best defence in their league last season (57 goals conceded in 46 games) and have kept just one clean sheet during their pre-season campaign, and Liverpool’s star man becomes something of a no-brainer.
With players like Raheem Sterling (away to West Ham) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (away to Newcastle) also lining up for favourable fixtures in the opening gameweek, there’s plenty of choice in this bracket, but our second premium pick is Tottenham’s very own, Harry Kane (£11.0m). Spurs are facing newly-promoted Aston Villa at their brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and they will be raring to go in front of their crowd. Due to injuries, Kane had his statistically least successful season since 2013/14 last year, but he still recorded 160 FPL points from 2423 minutes of Premier League football, thanks to 17 goals and 6 assists. The Villans finished fifth in the Championship last season and were promoted after winning the play-offs. During the regular season, they conceded 61 goals in 46 games, meaning that no less than ten other teams in the league could boast a better defensive record. Villa spent a whopping €148 million on new players already, so the team is going to a whole lot different to last year’s, but you can’t expect it to glue together perfectly from the get-go. It’s hard to see Spurs not putting a few past them on Saturday and when they do, Kane will most likely be in on the action.
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Bournemouth assets in the build-up to gameweek 1, thanks to their favourable opening set of fixtures and the way they hit the ground running at the start of last season. Cherries forward Callum Wilson (£8.0m) had an incredible season last year, as he scored 14 goals and gave 12 assists for a total of 168 FPL points. In combination with his price tag of £6.5m at the time, he quickly became as close to essential as a player can get in FPL. For the 2019/20 season, his price was increased by £1.5m, but he can still be more than worth it in our opinion. In the first gameweek, Bournemouth are hosting promoted Sheffield United before visiting Aston Villa in gameweek 2, both of which are games they are expected to win (comfortably). Wilson looks like he’s in form after scoring his third goal of the pre-season against French side Lyon last weekend, a game in which he also provided 2 assists, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him net on Saturday as well.
Everton’s creator-in-chief Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8.0m) has been an FPL favourite since his 2014/15 season with Swansea and he looks like a promising pick again this season. The Icelandic midfield maestro racked up a nice 182 points last season after recording 13 goals, 6 assists and 15 clean sheets for the Toffees. The acquisition of highly-rated players like Juventus striker Moise Kean and reigning world champion Djibril Sidibé should only boost Sigurdsson’s appeal, as he is a key part of Marco Silva’s set-up. He is also on penalties as well as on plenty of corners and direct free-kicks, so his current price tag could turn out to be something of a steal. With Crystal Palace (away), Watford (home) and Villa (away) as Everton’s opening three fixtures, Sigurdsson could start the 2019/20 campaign in spectacular fashion.
A differential pick or two
Our first differential could be a big one, at least in the opening gameweeks. Talented Spurs right-back Kyle Walker-Peters (£5.0m) looks set to feature from the start at home to new boys Aston Villa on Saturday, a fixture in which Spurs will definitely dominate and a clean sheet is a real possibility. With last season’s first pick at right-back Kieran Trippier gone, and both Serge Aurier and Juan Foyth currently out injured, it’s difficult to see how KWP would not be part of the starting eleven. That being said, even when fit, neither Aurier nor Foyth has the starting spot at right-back nailed down right now, which means that Walker-Peters could make the position his permanently if he performs well in the first few gameweeks of the season. Should that be the case, then we have got a relative bargain at our hands as part of last season’s third-best Premier League defence.
Our second differential pick had a pretty great 2018/19 season, his bargain price did not increase for the coming season and he should be on (most) penalties again this season. Burnley’s Ashley Barnes (£6.5m) scored 12 goals, gave 3 assists and recorded 13 bonus points for a more than decent total of 122 FPL points, which comes down to 18.77 points per million. The Clarets open the season by hosting Southampton, an outfit that conceded a worrying 65 goals last season, though it should be noted that the Saints have shown remarkable improvement since the appointment of manager Ralph Hasenhüttl at the start of December 2018. After the Southampton game, Burnley face Arsenal (away), Wolves (away) and Liverpool at home, which is not an easy run by any stretch (though there could be goals for Barnes in the first two games), but after that, the schedule clears up considerably until gameweek 12. Amongst others, they face Norwich at home, Villa away, Sheffield away and West Ham at home over that period. At his current price, Barnes could be an excellent option as your second or third striker, allowing you to spend budget elsewhere while he records some attacking returns as a nailed-on part of Sean Dyche’s Clarets.
For the first gameweek of this Premier League season, the most popular options for the armband will probably be Liverpool’s Mo Salah (at home to Norwich), Man City’s Raheem Sterling (and possibly Sergio Aguero, away to West Ham) and Spurs striker Harry Kane (at home to Villa) as demonstrated by the FISO Forum FPL GW1 Captain Poll. Each of these players represents a high probability of a big haul in the opening weekend, and they are all reliable candidates for the captaincy. If we have to choose, we would go with Liverpool’s Egyptian talisman, as he is last season’s top FPL points scorer facing off against a newly promoted team that wasn’t exactly known for its defensive solidity last season in the Championship. The same would go for Harry Kane though, in terms of opposition, while Sterling is facing a transformed Hammers side that could positively surprise us this season.