Fantasy Football came back into our lives last week. The return of the Premier League also brought the game we all love to hate back into the mix and it didn’t disappoint. Players benched, much fancied goalkeepers being injured and captains scoring – and that was just Friday night. How does GW2 follow that? Dave Black takes a look ahead to the weekend…
Nearly all of the fancied players have hit the ground running – Salah, Kane, Sterling, Aubameyang, Aguero and Van Dijk all got off to scoring starts, albeit some better than others. Even Sadio Mane, who only made a brief cameo in GW1, proved his fitness in the Super Cup so his inclusion is now a safe bet.
There are actually more questions than answers after the first round of matches. Chelsea’s midfield muddle, will it be Martial or Rashford up front for Man Utd and has Gabriel Jesus done enough to keep a Sergio Aguero shaped wolf from the door?
The way I see it, you can take your pick of the premium players and there’s an element of luck of the draw as to who fires and who doesn’t if all are fit and well. The difference will be made in the rest of your team, which is why this week I’m offering up five alternative picks ahead of GW2.
1) Callum Robinson (Sheff Utd, Midfielder, £5.5m)
Sheffield United were the only one of the promoted clubs to pick up a point in week one and a home game with Crystal Palace might represent an opportunity for more. As you would expect from a promoted side, their players are priced very reasonably and I’m putting forward midfielder Callum Robinson as a pick this week.Embed from Getty Images
Robinson has been playing as a striker which is always a red alert in FPL – midfielders get more points for their goals than forwards so this is a potential bonanza. Sheffield United have spent nearly £30m on strikers which is a concern – Mousset and McBurnie will be pushing for his spot before long, as will veteran Billy Sharp. But for now, an out of position midfielder will have the chance to shin and at just £5.5m that is incredible value.
See also John Lundstram – a £4m defender playing in midfield. If he can keep his place in the team he qualifies for any clean sheet points.
2) Wesley (Aston Villa, Forward, £6.0m)
Aston Villa were cast in the role of valiant losers last weekend but with Spurs away out of the way, it’s time to get a better measure of what Dean Smith’s men can bring to the table. With nobody priced over £6m in the entire squad, this could be the answer to our mid-price problems. I’ve picked out Wesley, who at £6m is cheap for a starting striker.Embed from Getty Images
Home games against Bournemouth and Everton are on the way but even following that, games with Crystal Palace and West Ham shouldn’t put you off. He’s not short of company either – first game goalscorer John McGinn is just £5.5m and midfield partner Jack Grealish is £6m. There’s always an element of risk with promoted teams as they are both relatively unproven at the top level but their talent is there for all to see. Will they make your lineup?
3) Brighton (The surprise package, players range from £4.5m to £6.5m)
If you sift beyond the “Potter magic” headlines you have an FPL bandwagon to jump on. Brighton’s 3-0 win at Watford was impressive, least not because a lot of people were tipping Brighton for the drop. Whilst one sunny day doesn’t make a summer, it’s hard to ignore such an emphatic win – especially with two home games to come. The only question is who to pick?Embed from Getty Images
Two of the goalscorers climbed off the bench so it’ll be interesting to see if they force their way into the starting eleven. Andone (£5m) is particularly interesting but new signing Maupay (£6m) is probably the long term answer. The most expensive asset Pascal Gross (£6.5m) picked up an assist, as did centre back Lewis Dunk (£4.5m). Of course one game is far too small of a sample to go all in on Brighton but there’s lot to be said for current form.
4) Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal, Defender, £5.0m)
With Hector Bellerin out injured, Arsenal had a vacancy at right back. Maitland-Niles was reclassified as a defender for this season which has already started to pay dividends. A clean sheet and an assist away to Newcastle last weekend brings young Ainsley into our thinking ahead of a home game with Burnley.Embed from Getty Images
Arsenal’s defence has come in for some criticism but with Mustafi seemingly out of favour and David Luiz now at the club, maybe a corner has been turned. A slight downside is that the Gunners face Liverpool and Tottenham is weeks 3 and 4 before the fixtures ease a little.
Bellerin will be back before long but until he is, you could do a lot worse than include Maitland-Niles in your back line this weekend.
5) Adrian (Liverpool, Goalkeeper, £4.5m)
This one might end up being a false dawn but when one door closes, another opens. If you’ve got Alisson, it seems like a very sensible move to make the switch to his understudy and save yourself £1.5m in the process. What could go wrong?Embed from Getty Images
A couple of things, actually. Firstly, and I don’t mean any disrespect to Adrian, but he isn’t as good as Alisson. Will Liverpool’s defence be as tight without him? Secondly, the Reds are off to Southampton this weekend following 120 minutes in Istanbul on Wednesday. It’s Arsenal next week. The question really is whether Adrian is better value than other £4.5m goalkeepers. Personally, I don’t like doubling up on defensive assets and at least with Alexander-Arnold and Robertson there’s the chance of attacking returns even if the clean sheet doesn’t come off. If Alisson is ruled out for a number of months it’s potentially a great option for a few months.
The OffsideRulePod League
It’s early days but congratulations to three managers for getting over 100 points in a single game week. Ian McAllister takes the slenderest of leads with 105 points, 40 of which came from captain Sterling. Solid contributions from Kane and Origi also helped. Nenad is second will be cursing the choice of Salah as captain over Sterling!
It’s a marathon not a sprint – you will notice me saying that as long as I don’t feature in the top 10.
That’s all for this week. The deadline for GW2 is 11.30am Saturday 17th August. Good luck!
You can follow Dave on Twitter @CM9798