We had to be patient, and we had to make do with such lesser events as the 2020 European Championship and the Olympics, but boy, was it worth the wait. The Premier League, and therefore the official fantasy game (FPL), got off to a start in style as a combination of expected and differential hauls saw gameweek 1 ending with a very high 69 points on average.
The two biggest performers of the week were also two of the most highly-owned fantasy assets: Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes and Liverpool’s Mo Salah. With 20 FPL points and 17 FPL points respectively, the Red Devils playmaker and the Reds talisman are now both in over 55% of all teams. The week’s top performers also included a bunch of very much differential picks, with the likes of Marcos Alonso (15 points, 5.6% ownership by now), Trevoh Chalobah (14 points, 2.3% ownership now) and Said Benrahma (12 points, 9.8% ownership now) all delivering big for their owners.
Gameweek 2 could be another high-scoring one as the weekend’s schedule offers some very plum fixtures. Fantasy managers will be eyeing the Liverpool (against Burnley) and Manchester City (versus Norwich) home games, while Manchester United (at Saint Mary’s) and Chelsea (for a derby at the Emirates) have favourable away games lined up.
Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 2 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, August 21st. Also do check out the Premier League Injury Table and Predicted Premier League Line-Ups before finalising your teams.
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per August 18th, 2021)
|TRANSFERS OUT||TRANSFERS IN||POSSIBLE REASONS|
|GK||Martinez (AST), Ederson (MCI), Sánchez (BRI)||Schmeichel (LEI), Raya (BRE), Foster (WAT)|
|DEF||White (ARS), Chilwell (CHE), Shaw (MUN)||Tsimikas (LIV), Alonso (CHE), Amartey (LEI)||Seems mostly GW1-related knee-jerking; Tsimikas continued starts; Arsenal shaky defence|
|MID||Saka (ARS), Maddison (LEI), Grealish (MCI)||Pogba (MUN), Fernandes (MUN), Benrahma (WHU)||Form of transferred-in players; Maddison flagged|
|FOR||Kane (TOT), Iheanacho (LEI), Cavani (MUN)||Richarlison (EVE), Lukaku (CHE), Antonio (WHU)||Kane future at Spurs + flagged; Lukaku recent addition to FPL; Antonio involvement|
Based on gameweek 1 performances and gameweek 2 fixtures, Mo Salah and Bruno Fernandes (£12.1) look to become the two most-captained fantasy assets for a second week in a row this weekend. There is not much between them, to be honest, and we have eventually gone with the Man United hat-trick hero as our premium fantasy pick for GW2. Whilst Liverpool are playing Burnley at home on Saturday afternoon, United are visiting a Southampton side that has just lost Jannik Vestergaard to Leicester. The visitors ranked amongst the top three attacking stats after their season opener against Leeds, including shots on target and expected goals, while the home side ranked amongst the bottom three teams after their 3-1 defeat against Everton, including big chances conceded and expected conceded goals. Back-to-back hat-tricks for Bruno to kick off the season?
Despite not featuring in the FPL Team of the Week in GW1, due to scoring “just” 7 points against Southampton after scoring once, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.0m) more than showed why he should be top of your watchlists. The Everton front man is clearly the focal point of Rafa Benitez’ Toffees and with his team mates practically flooding the Saints’ penalty area with crosses, 17 in total last weekend, more goals could very well be on the way. No player recorded more shots in the box (5) or headed chances (3) than DCL, and with Leeds known to be vulnerable in the air, his appeal is more than understandable. On top of that, afterwards it’s Brighton (away), Burnley (home), Villa (away) and Norwich (home) for Everton, which makes their striker a very feasible option for the longer term as well.
The budget enabler
We understand it might be considered a bit boring or uninspired, but in our budget-enabling fantasy pick category we’re highlighting Liverpool’s Kostas Tsimikas (£4.1m) for a second week in a row. It’s just very hard not to. The Greek left-back is a temporary replacement in the absence of Andy Robertson, who is expected to return to action around the international break, but a high-quality one at that. He comfortably passed the eye test against Norwich in gameweek 1 and the fact that he took seven of Liverpool’s 11 corners only adds to his appeal. Tsimikas recorded 6 FPL points in that game, courtesy of a clean sheet, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him at least repeat that feat this coming weekend when Burnley roll up to Anfield. With 58.5%, the Reds boasts the highest clean sheet odds of all teams in gameweek 2.
In the build-up to the 2021/22 campaign, whenever Brentford came up, much of the discussion focused on striker Ivan Toney. Logical, of course, after the forward’s record-breaking season in the Championship last season, but perhaps a tad short-sighted as well. In the opening game against Arsenal, it was actually his partner in crime up front Bryan Mbeumo (£5.5m) who operated as the most advanced Bee. The France U21 international, who is listed as a budget midfielder in the official game, played on the edge of offside for much of the game and was actually their most threatening man going forward. He had a couple of good chances and even hit the post, but eventually came away with 3 FPL points as his side managed to keep a clean sheet. Acceptable for a £5.5 midfielder, but based on his performance and the game itself, a bit disappointing. Up next are Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, in theory a good and open opponent for Brentford and Mbeumo to build on their spectacular season opener.
As we wrote earlier, Bruno Fernandes and Mohammed Salah are expected to be the two run-away captaincy candidates for gameweek 2. Manchester United are visiting Southampton after thrashing Leeds 5-1 at Old Trafford and Liverpool are hosting Burnley after comfortably dispatching of newly-promoted Norwich last weekend. If you have one of these two players in your squad, you should probably put the armband on them. If you own both, it’s pretty much a coin toss, though our preference leans ever so slightly towards Bruno at Saint Mary’s.
If you’re looking for a more differential type of captain this weekend though, the fixture list offers a few interesting options. Dominic Calvert-Lewin against Leeds at Elland Road could repay risk-takers in a big way, as could Riyad Mahrez against Norwich as part of the ever uncertain Man City starting eleven. Newly arrived premium asset Lukaku could get off to a flying start against Arsenal on Sunday as well, while Danny Ings will be looking to make it two consecutive appearances on the score sheet at home against a seemingly leaky Newcastle side.