And just like that, we’re back! It doesn’t feel like we’ve spent long without soccer with Euros and Copa America happening but when Arsenal and Brentford kick off on Friday, the Premier League will be underway. While Jack Grealish is with Manchester City now, Jadon Sancho has finally joined Manchester United and Romelu Lukaku is back to Chelsea not much has changed when it comes to Premier League power rankings.
If you twisted my arm, my top six would go something like this; Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Leicester City, and Spurs. Spurs are a massive unknown heading into things but the top four feels pretty set unless the other teams are perfect this season. But all of that gets into a little bit of why my FPL side looks the way that it does heading into this season.
Let’s look at this week’s schedule:
Friday 13 August
Brentford v Arsenal
Saturday 14 August
Manchester United v Leeds United
Leicester City v Wolves
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Watford v Aston Villa
Everton v Southampton
Burnley v Brighton
Norwich City v Liverpool
Sunday 15 August
Newcastle v West Ham
Tottenham v Manchester City
Robert Sanchez – Brighton 4.5m: While Brighton has lost Ben White due to a transfer to Arsenal and Dan Burn to injury their defense has always been greater than the sum of its parts. Graham Potter has created a system with such a plug-and-play nature that playing Pascal Gross and Jakub Moder as wing-backs still didn’t decrease their defensive numbers. Add in the fact that Brighton plays Burnley, Watford, and Brentford in their first five games of the season and it makes a cheap 4.5m keeper too good to ignore (if you’re looking to cheap out of course).
Ben Foster – Watford 4.0m: As far as 4.0m keepers go, getting one who was a starter on a team that has rumors of their number one being shopped is good enough for me.
Konstantinos Tsimikas – Liverpool 4.0m: Injuries are unfortunate but fantasy managers were gifted a budget defender in a high-powered offense. Considering that James Milner may have to start in midfield, Tsimikas is almost certain to start at left back while Andrew Robertson is injured until the international break in this Liverpool defense. Could he bomb, of course, but who is gonna say no to a 4.0m Liverpool defender?
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool 7.5m: A rested TAA heading into the season is a dangerous TAA. A rested TAA heading into Norwich and Burnley is one that I can’t keep out of my team. He had a down season last year and still managed two goals and seven assists. The potential is there for a big year and that makes TAA one of the first names on my team sheet.
Vladimir Coufal – West Ham 5.0m: I don’t love West Ham this year because they have a thin squad that could struggle being tasked with Europa league but that doesn’t matter right now. Coufal’s underlying numbers matched Aaron Creswell’s without taking any set plays which bodes well since he gets into advanced positions when the Hammers move into a back three. Looking at the fixtures, I’d expect at least two clean sheets in their first four games for Coufal as well.
Matt Targett – Aston Villa 5.0m: Villa’s run to open the season is mouthwatering with Watford, Newcastle, and Brentford in their first five matches. While things will be different without Jack Grealish, it feels like he has been replaced adequately via Emi Buendía, Leon Bailey, and Danny Ings. They do have a rough run during weeks 4-7 but that is a good time for an early wildcard onto Chelsea assets. Targett has a shot at an assist in almost any game and I also view the addition of Ashley Young as something that will help with his fitness as opposed to a threat to playing time.
Sergio Reguilón – Spurs 5.0m: It is punt time! Reguilon had a disappointing first season in the Premier League seeing his key passes per game fall from ~1.6 at Sevilla to .68 at Spurs. But when you look at the circumstances of Covid, settling into a new team, and José Mourinho it makes sense that there were issues. Coming into year two with a breath of fresh air and next to a top-notch center back in Christian Romero will lead to big things for Reguilon.
Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United 12.0m: I love Manchester United’s offensive potential this season with the addition of Jadon Sancho. Combine that with their favorable schedule to open the season and even if Fernandes does lose some set plays to Sancho, it shouldn’t knock his overall numbers down much.
Jadon Sancho – Manchester United 9.5m: Jadon Sancho has been one of the most creative players in the world in Germany. While there is a chance that he won’t start in gameweek one, I don’t like future planning transfers for gameweek two so I’ll be staring with Sancho and hoping that I can get some early price rises from him as well. When United is flowing, I’m excited for the Sancho to Bruno link up.
Emiliano Buendia – Aston Villa 6.5m: I love the reloading project that Aston Villa is undertaking this season and while Raphina may be one of the best value picks in the game, Buendia will give him a run for his money. Coming off of a season in which he scored 15 and assisted 17 more it’s impossible to not be excited about what he can do in an attack-minded Villa side.
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool 12.5m: Given Salah’s fixtures and that he’s my pick for the golden boot this year, that’s more than enough for having him in my FPL side. I do think that things will be closer between him and Mane but the penalty factor edges it. Salah is also my captain for this week.
Billy Gilmour – Norwich 4.5m: I think Gilmour has some attacking potential in this Norwich side but what is most important is that he’ll start every game.
Ollie Watkins – Aston Villa 7.5m: Dean Smith has been adamant that Watkins will still be a center forward and with the good opening fixtures I’ll believe him. Watkins has been dealing with a niggle during preseason but it doesn’t look like it will stop him from starting this weekend. Considering that Watkins is just as good at picking out passes as he is shooting, he can form quite the partnership with Danny Ings.
Michail Antonio – West Ham 7.5m: Antonio again is trying to capitalize on a good start for West Ham. With the massive amount of budget forwards, I’m going with the ones who have fixtures that I like out of the gate as it will be easy to move them out and change things up later in the season.
Emmanuel Dennis – Watford 5.0m: No one knows who the Watford starting forward pairing will be this season so I’m taking a flier to see what happens. There has been some hype over Cucho Hernandez but considering that he hasn’t scored more than five goals in the top flight, I’d like to see what the new signing Dennis can do as he gets another chance to capitalize on his talent.