FPL 2020-21 GW1 tips: The best fixtures, who to captain, which Manc players?
This weekend welcomes back the Premier League which, in turn, gives us the opening gameweek of a brand new Fantasy Football season. It’s time to get planning!
First things first: if you’re after a comprehensive overview of the upcoming FPL season, then check out our FPL season preview. There you’ll find a full rundown of positional changes, over/underpriced players, and some early fixture assessments.
Now, our attention turns to gameweek one. Most of you have no doubt already picked a team name based on a dodgy pun, built your first squad draft, and will now be relentlessly tinkering players in and out of your side.
So allow us to help. Below, we’ve picked out which sides have an inviting opening fixture, who the best captaincy shouts are, and whether it’s worth owning Manchester United and/or City assets given both clubs blank in gameweek one.
Arsenal — Fulham (A)
The Gunners first task of the new season will be to take three points from Craven Cottage, with a newly-promoted Fulham side standing in their way. Scott Parker’s men scored fewer goals (64) and conceded more (48) than either of their fellow Premier League newcomers, West Brom and Leeds, last season, making Arsenal assets incredibly enticing.
We’d recommend avoiding Arsenal’s keepers, though, as it’s still unclear whether Bernd Leno (£5.0m) or Emiliano Martinez (£4.5m) will start in net. Likewise, the backline remains something of a mystery, with Hector Bellerin (£5.0m) linked with a move to PSG and two new centre-backs in contention in William Saliba (£4.5m) and Gabriel Magalhaes (£5.0m).
That leaves us with midfield and attack, and the smart money is on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£12.m). Reclassified as a midfielder this season, Aubameyang represents your best chance of capitalising on this fixture, having hit over 200 FPL points last campaign.
Liverpool — Leeds (H)
It’s a champion vs champion clash at Anfield on Saturday, as the Premier League winners square off against the Championship’s best. Even with the genius of Marcelo Bielsa, many see this as a bridge too far for Leeds and expect Liverpool to help themself to at least a couple of goals.
The familiar faces of Mohamed Salah (£12.0m) and Sadio Mane (£12.0m) will be firmly in the thoughts of FPL bosses, as will the marauding full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m).
If you’re looking to steal a march on the pack, though, it may be worth considering Andrew Robertson (£7.0m). Coming in £0.5m cheaper than Trent, and owned by well under half as many people, the left-back may represent a great way of building an early mini-league lead, should he score or assist. High risk, high reward.
Chelsea — Brighton (A)
It’s a very new-look Chelsea side this season, and no, we can’t be totally sure that things will click immediately. But do you really want to run the risk of finding out at your own expense?
The Blues leaky backline from last season looks likely to be shored up by Thiago Silva (£5.5m) and Ben Chilwell (£5.5m), although the latter is still suffering from a heel injury and will likely miss this opening fixture.
Further forward, all eyes will be on Timo Werner (£9.5m) and Hakim Ziyech (£8.0m). Werner has especially caught the eye — we noted his underpriced potential in our main season preview — and is in almost half of all FPL teams.
Who to captain?
For us, Aubameyang is the man you want to be captaining in GW1. He’s a proven FPL pick and, having been moved into midfield, represents a chance to pick up extra points for goals and clean sheets.
There are still rumours circling around Alexandre Lacazette’s (£8.5m) future, so the situation could get better still with Aubameyang potentially operating out of position through the middle. He’s also on penalties and netted a lovely curling effort in the Community Shield against Liverpool recently.
Since Salah returned to the Premier League with Liverpool back in 2017, he’s been scoring FPL points for fun. 303, 259 and 233 are his totals from the last three campaigns, to be precise, and we fully expect him to hit well over the 200 mark again this year.
Unlike Aubameyang, there is an argument to be made that Salah has to compete for big points hauls with team-mate Mane every week, but when you’re as potent as Liverpool are, is that really an issue?
An FPL newcomer. With the likes of Ziyech, Christian Pulisic (£8.5m) and Kai Havertz (£8.5m) offering a world-class supply line to the forward, you’d have to imagine that someone of Werner’s quality will score goals.
The striker bagged 28 times in the Bundesliga last season, and there’s nothing to suggest he can’t match those numbers — or at least get close to them — in the blue strip of Chelsea this time out.
Buy Manchester players?
Perhaps the biggest headache FPL players face ahead of the first gameweek is whether to own Manchester City or Manchester United assets.
Both teams’ fixtures — against Aston Villa and Burnley respectively — have been postponed due to the extended European commitments they faced at the backend of last season. So the question is: how many players, if any, can you get away with benching in GW1?
We personally feel heavy hitters like Raheem Sterling (£12.0m), Kevin De Bruyne (£11.5m), and Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m) are simply too expensive to own from the off with no opening fixture.
If you do have your heart set on owning these guys, it’s probably best to have placeholders of equal value ready to transfer out — like Aubameyang and Salah — or to activate your wildcard early. The latter option is a bit of a risk, with COVID likely to disrupt future fixtures, but it does allow you to sort out your GW1 side without any future problems.
That brings us to the non-premium picks. You can probably get away with having an Anthony Martial (£9.0m), Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) or Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) on your bench, or indeed two assets if you opt for Mason Greenwood (£7.5m) and Phil Foden (£6.5m), although you may be reconsidering picking either of those right now.
We’d recommend having one, max two, non-premium Manchester players in your squad and benching them for GW1. You can then use the likes of Aubameyang and Salah to chop and change your premium picks throughout the season and save that precious wildcard for later on.
By Charlie Carmichael