And we’re back! With just 1 day to go until Arsenal and Brentford kick off the new 2021/22 Premier League season, we will once again be looking forward to what we feel are the best, the shrewdest and most differential FPL fantasy picks ahead of gameweek 1. And the best thing? We’ll be doing so every week and twice if it’s a double!
If you were a regular reader of our gameweek previews, thank you for following and hopefully our insights will be useful again to you this season. If this is your first taste of our regular FPL content, we’re very happy to have you here and hopefully you’ll find plenty of reasons to check us out regularly in your quest for ultimate FPL glory.
Also, we have posted a 10-part 2021/22 season preview series over the past week or so, in order to help fantasy managers plan for their gameweek 1 squads. Per club, we have taken a brief look at last season’s performances, at their expected tactical approach for the coming season and at some of their most appealing FPL assets. The last of those was West Ham & Wolves so these are now done and published for reading though and now it’s time for the first gameweek preview of the new season.
Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 1 is set at 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, August 13th.
Players with highest ownership (as per August 11th, 2021)
Name (club – current ownership %)
Martinez (AST – 38.3%) ; Foster (WAT – 27.4%) ; Sanchez (BRI – 23.4%)
Shaw (MUN – 53.9%) ; Alexander-Arnold (LIV – 31.7%) ; Dias (MCI – 27.5%)
Salah (LIV – 50.2%) ; Fernandes (MUN – 48.4%) ; Grealish (MCI – 27.4%)
Toney (BRE – 30.1%) ; Ings (AST – 27.8%) ; Kane (TOT – 21.8%)
Lots of things Premier League have changed last season, but then again lots of things didn’t. Last season, our final premium fantasy pick was Mo Salah (£12.5m) and lo and behold, the Liverpool talisman is our first premium recommendation for the 2021/22 season as well. He was our stand-out pick in our Liverpool Season Preview as well, mainly because of his extremely high-level consistency. You never know exactly how a player will start a new season, but Mo has recorded 303, 259, 233 and 231 FPL points over the last four seasons, courtesy of 95 goals and 40 assists. That’s 135 direct goal involvements in about 150 Premier League games. No wonder he’s the most expensive fantasy asset in the official game this year and no wonder that he’s the most selected midfielder ahead of a season opener against newly promoted Norwich, and Mane, Jota and Firmino have all scored in pre-season which is encouraging for his assists potential as well.
There have been a few shock moves and multi-million pound deals already this summer, but in terms of the Premier League at least, few transfers were as sneaky as Danny Ings (£8.0m) to Aston Villa for about £30 million. We basically heard about it on the day it was confirmed! The former Saint’s main issue has always had his vulnerability to injuries, but when fit, he’s one of the most lethal strikers in the English top flight. Something he confirmed straight-away by scoring the equalising goal in the friendly encounter with Italian side Salernitana just five days after signing for the Villans. He scored 12 goals and 4 assists in just over 2,100 minutes of Premier League football last season, and with Villa’s further recruitment (Buendia, Bailey), the 29-year old could be looking at a very good season ahead. We’re just hoping he will stay fit for an extended period of time.
The budget enabler
There is probably no more significant time in the life of a budget-enabling FPL asset than the build-up to gameweek 1. Every fantasy manager in the world is looking for that one £4.0m defender or that £4.5m midfielder who is at least nailed-on to start for his team. If that asset is also part of a strong team, even better, and if the starting fixtures are kind, EVEN better. Well, Kostas Tsimikas (£4.0m) is ticking all of the boxes at the time of writing. With Robertson out injured for a while, the former Olympiakos man looks set to fill in at left-back for Liverpool, he’s been having a very good pre-season and his opening fixtures read Norwich away and Burnley at Anfield. The only drawback is that Tsimikas is a temporary budget enabler at most, as Robertson will slot right back into the starting eleven as soon as he’s fit (possibly GW3 or GW4). Still, the Greek defender represents fantastic short-term and possibly even medium-term value, even more so if you play FPL with a £4.0m 15th man who remains on the bench.
As we speak, the first template team of the season is forming itself already, as the likes of Salah, Alexander-Arnold, Bruno Fernandes, Shaw and Toney are finding themselves into lots of teams. This gives investing in a differential pick a potentially higher ceiling, but also carries the risk of missing out heavily-owned fantasy assets from the get-go. Still, we feel that at least one differential pick should find its way into your gameweek 1 squad and in that light, we think Mason Greenwood (£7.5m) could be golden. With Rashford out for the foreseeable future after undergoing shoulder surgery and Cavani being given extra time off, its hard to see the 19-year old not starting against Leeds in gameweek 1. On top of that, six of the seven goals he scored last season, as well as one of his two assists, came over the course of the last eight games. Greenwood had the summer to recharge his batteries and with a starting berth all but guaranteed in GW1, he could continue where he left off last season and carry his good form into the 2021/22 campaign.
There are various good options for the captain’s armband for gameweek 1, but as far as we are concerned, it eventually all comes down to Bruno Fernandes versus Leeds at Old Trafford or Mo Salah against Norwich at Carrow Road. We have opted for the latter. The Egyptian is the official game’s best performer since the 2017/18 season and if there’s anyone in the entire league who we can see hitting the season off with a few goals, it’s him. He will start up front, he’s on penalties and Liverpool will be raring to get off to a good start in their quest to retake the title after losing it to Man City last season.
Having said that, Man United’s Bruno is probably just as reliable for the captaincy. The only slight uncertainty is in regard to how United will turn up in gameweek 1 and to what extent the Portuguese playmaker will be allowed to influence their attacking moves. Still, an extremely solid pick for the armband. Looking further into the schedule, the kindly priced Kai Havertz (at home to Crystal Palace), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (at home to Southampton), Danny Ings (away at Watford) and Michail Antonio (away at Newcastle) could be very interesting differential captains to help you claim a top spot in mini-leagues on day one.