Every week, we’ll be recapping the weekend’s action by highlighting some of our star performers, rehashing the highs (and of course, the lows) of the FPL slate, and underlining some key things to look out for heading into the following Gameweek…
The Bulletin Board
On the basis of recent evidence, one could almost be mistaken for viewing the PL title as something of a poisoned chalice. After raising the trophy in 2015/16, Chelsea went on to endure the season from hell – slumping to tenth place, firing manager Jose Mourinho by midseason, and producing their lowest ever Premier League points tally. One season later, and Leicester followed up their own title-winning campaign with another disappointing year, which began with an opening day 2-1 loss to Hull City and never really improved. Going into the 2017/18 season, things aren’t looking too rosy for the Champions once more – after an embarrassing reverse to Burnley in which they were reduced to nine men, the issues are piling up for Antonio Conte and Chelsea. One silver lining: Alvaro Morata’s debut PL goal, which should at least give fantasy managers a reason to monitor his output moving forward. Other FPL assets also impressed – the widely-touted Willian returned 6 points, much to the relief of his numerous backers. Meanwhile, premium defender Marcos Alonso was unlucky not to register attacking returns, after firing in 5 shots (more than any other defender in GW1). At least Chelsea fans will always have FPL…
Can Xhaka keep it up?
Two assists and a lot of corner taking for the Swiss meant that he is 66% of the way to covering last year’s output! A quick rise to 5.6 – the product of a red card for Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas, the newfound injury for Wilifred Zaha (mentioned below) and an Alex Iwobi no-show- has seen him become hot property for FPL managers, as we reported in our inaugural Market Forces article on FFS. There will be many new owners hoping, no doubt, that Xhaka can keep it up.
Glistening Egyptian debuts…
Another much-fancied side who will be sorely disappointed with their performance this weekend are Liverpool, who could only take a single point from Watford despite goals from each member of their attacking trident. With all due respect to Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, though, it was the showing of PL new boy Mohamed Salah that had owners raving after the match. Salah fired in five shots (neither Mane nor Firmino mustered more than two) on his way to registering a goal, an assist, and a meaty 11 points. With another enticing fixture in week two, could Salah already be building a claim for captaincy consideration?
Elsewhere, Salah’s countryman Ahmed Hegazi scored a points total to match his massive frame, with his 15 pointer thanks to a goal, a clean sheet and all three bonus by nodding in a Chris Brunt cross. A rise to 4.6 quickly happened; will he stay in the side once Gareth McAuley returns, though?
Terriers on top…
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go. As newly-promoted Huddersfield lined up against Palace, our primary question centred around just how many points we could greedily expect Wilfred Zaha to rack up against the Terriers backline. The answer, it transpired, was not very many at all – Huddersfield were resolute at the back, and surprisingly clinical in front of goal, on their way to a shocking (but wholly deserved) 3-0 victory. The fantasy performance of the game undoubtedly belonged to Steve Mounie (6.0), who handsomely repaid the faith of his 2% ownership base with a brace and 12 point performance. Time will tell as to how sustainable this performance proves to be.
As for Zaha owners, they can count themselves very unlucky with news filtering through that he may be out 3-4weeks. There are quite a few straight swaps in the 7.0 area, with Willian or even Ramsey candidates for inclusion, but we’d recommend transferring him out for sure to protect your team value.
The key men
Romelu Lukaku. Going into Sunday’s late kick-off, the numbers themselves were clear. Fifty percent ownership. The Gameweek’s most captained player. If ever Romelu Lukaku were to have the perfect opportunity to troll his FPL owners one more time – this was it. Yet the big Belgian lived up to his manager’s expectations, and more besides – firing in two goals and claiming maximum bonus points en route to a thirteen point outing to open the season. More promising than the points themselves though, was the performance of United’s attacking core around him – the Red Devils were rampant and (eventually) clinical, dispatching West Ham in the kind of comprehensive manner that has been sorely lacking at Old Trafford of late. We were extremely bullish on Lukaku during the pre-season (see his section in my article on United here), and if he can continue to receive such industrious service from the likes of Mkhi and Mata (sounds like a terrible pop duo), he could meet even our loftiest of expectations for his potential.
Harry Kane. Just as one premium striking option flourished, another failed to live up to his lofty price tag. Harry Kane may have had chances galore – on another day, he could well have had a hat-trick – but that will be little consolation to those managers who decided to entrust the England international with the armband. An offensive blank, combined with a booking, saw Kane return just a single point. Worse still, an hour later those managers had to watch as Lukaku ran riot against West Ham. A twenty-four point swing on the GW1 armband is a tough pill to swallow to open up the new season (cut to Nick, nodding glumly…)
Next week’s one to watch
Gabriel Jesus. The opening Gameweek was an underwhelming disappointment for those managers who had backed the City striker – his side laboured to a hard-fought victory over Brighton, while Jesus returned a frustrating blank and just a single point as he was also booked. Many will point to the goal of his strike partner Sergio Aguero as evidence of the latter’s continuing FPL superiority. Yet dig a little deeper, and you will find that the numbers were largely in favour of the young Brazilian – he fired in 4 shots, including 3 from inside the box, outdoing his Argentinian team mate. Jesus also had two goals ruled out by the officials, underlining how narrow the margin was between FPL failure and glory. With a home matchup against Everton on the cards for week two, we fancy the Brazilian to cash in on his undoubted ability with the first FPL haul of many in the 2017/18 campaign.
Ps our newest pod is out now! Do give it a listen if you haven’t already: http://whogottheassist.com/pod-6-hand-in-glove