FANTASY PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW: Kane drops in price as managers rush to Haaland, but Zinchenko offers a bargain after dazzling on debut and Nunez could explode against Crystal Palace if he starts… how FPL is shaping up ahead of GW2
- Erling Haaland has already risen in price following his double against West Ham
- Harry Kane has dropped to £11.4m after blanking in Spurs’ 4-1 win against Saints
- Gabriel Martinelli netted against Palace and has emerged a popular budget pick
- Darwin Nunez hogged all major chances for Liverpool after coming off the bench
- Sportsmail has reviewed the opening weekend of FPL and looked ahead to GW2
The Premier League’s long-awaited opening weekend brought about excitement, drama and entertainment as it often does – but plenty also went according to the script as far as FPL was concerned.
While few predicted Fulham‘s fearless display at Craven Cottage, holding Liverpool to a 2-2 draw, heavily-captained Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) delivered a goal and assist to repay the managers who trusted in him despite his hefty price tag.
A sensational two-goal performance at West Ham from Erling Haaland (£11.6m) proved just how lethal he can be leading the line at Manchester City, having already linked up with star playmaker Kevin de Bruyne (£12.0m) for the second goal.
Mo Salah kicked off the new FPL season with a 12-point haul against Fulham at Craven Cottage
Son Heung-min (£12.0m) and Harry Kane (£11.4m) owners can count themselves unlucky, with neither premium asset scoring in Spurs’ 4-1 thrashing of Southampton in north London.
Meanwhile, routine wins and clean sheets for Chelsea and Arsenal against Everton and Crystal Palace respectively reinforced the value of defensive assets such as Reece James (£6.0m), Ben Chilwell (£6.0m), Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.1m) and Gabriel Magalhaes (£5.0m).
With over 8.5million FPL managers readying their squads for GW2, Sportsmail has analysed key performances from GW1 and identified the best transfers and captaincy picks ahead of Saturday’s deadline.
Harry Kane owners suffered at the weekend and the Spurs forward has already fallen to £11.4m
Lessons learned from GW1
Haaland is the real deal
One of the major talking points ahead of GW1 was whether FPL managers should opt for Kane’s reliability and proven Premier League quality against Southampton or gamble on the shiny and exciting new prospect of Haaland against West Ham.
The reality is – there was no wrong answer. One of the key aspects of FPL is reacting to the decision-making process rather than the outcome. As many predicted, Spurs thrashed Southampton 4-1 and on another day Kane would have walked away with a double-digit haul. Instead, he bagged just two points.
Meanwhile, despite Haaland’s lack of Premier League experience, it was fairly obvious from his movement and hunger in the Community Shield that the new signing would prosper at Man City.
Erling Haaland scored twice in Manchester City’s win against West Ham and hit 13 FPL points
Choosing the ex-Dortmund star over Kane – particularly if it was with the view of captaining him in GW2 against Bournemouth – was a shrewd decision. The foresight behind selecting Haaland has put those who backed him ahead of the curve, as most Kane owners scramble to get him in ahead of the weekend.
For what it is worth, there is certainly an argument to keep Kane, especially if swapping him for Haaland would require a four-point hit due this week’s price change. After Chelsea in GW2, Kane faces Wolves, Nottingham Forest, West Ham and Fulham – and Salah could easily match Haaland in a one-week shootout against Crystal Palace as far as captaincy is concerned.
That being said, Haaland’s performance against West Ham was nothing short of devastating. It is no surprise that the Norwegian is the most transferred-in player ahead of GW2.
Having learned from their mistakes in the Community Shield, Man City aimed to feed Haaland at every opportunity against West Ham. Even Pep Guardiola confirmed this plan after the match, feeling his side even missed opportunities to supply him.
The Spaniard said: ‘We had the feeling that we could find him more. Now we have him and when the defence is high with open space, these guys have to find him. When you have this open space and Kevin (de Bruyne), it’s difficult to stop him.’
Despite Bournemouth’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa, the prospect of Man City playing a promoted team in GW2 is extremely attractive – and Haaland has every chance of matching or bettering his GW1 return against the Cherries.
Pep Guardiola and Manchester City managed to feed Haaland successfully against West Ham
The frightening stats behind Darwin Nunez
In GW1, Nunez topped the charts for npxGI (non-penalty expected goals involvement) with an incredible 3.66.
It is a tiny sample size – and he only played just over 40 minutes – but it shows how destructive he can be.
1. Nunez 3.66
2. Haaland 1.12
3. Gross 1.09
4. Son 0.89
5. Salah 0.86
6. Fernandes 0.83
7. Welbeck 0.83
8. Hwang 0.80
9. De Bruyne 0.71
10. Martinelli 0.64
Nunez impressed with a goal and assist off the bench for Liverpool against Fulham
Nunez set for a goal explosion
Jurgen Klopp lauded the ‘impact’ Darwin Nunez made in the Community Shield against Man City, and the Uruguayan delivered off the bench once again at Craven Cottage.
Although there is no guarantee he starts against Crystal Palace, Nunez is quickly riveting the gaze of numerous FPL managers, with over 200,000 teams having already recruited his services this week.
The 23-year-old has demonstrated a knack of hogging all the opportunities created by Liverpool in both the Community Shield and the 2-2 draw at Fulham.
Nunez registered three big chances after his introduction in the 51st minute and had four shots on Marek Rodak’s goal.
The very small sample size of data assembled on Liverpool’s new striker suggests that he will score bucket loads of goals under Klopp.
However, whilst he is firmly on Sportsmail’s watchlist, Nunez has yet to start a match for the Reds and remains a risk at this stage.
He could well explode against Crystal Palace in GW2, but the wisest move may be to wait and see if he continues to impact the Liverpool attack in this way.
Man United flatter to deceive
Different manager, same results.
Last campaign, Manchester United faded into the abyss as far as FPL was concerned, and Erik ten Hag’s first match in charge of Brighton on Saturday did not inspire confidence.
After their torrid 2021-22 season, FPL slashed the price of United assets to tempt managers, offering Bruno Fernandes up at £10m, Jadon Sancho at £7.5m and Marcus Rashford at £6.5m.
But Saturday’s lacklustre performance at Old Trafford showed just how monumental the task is for Ten Hag to turn the tide – and FPL managers should be put off by his players until the dark clouds begin to clear.
With Brentford up next, there is certainly no need to prioritise selling United assets at this stage, but it would be wise to avoid bringing any in until Ten Hag has a few positive results under his belt.
The only Man United player who stood out from an FPL perspective was Christian Eriksen (£6.5m), who managed to contribute a full 90 minutes as well as register three key passes and three shots.
Christian Eriksen was a bright spark on a dull day for Man United as they lost 2-0 to Brighton
Based on the Premier League’s opening weekend, Sportsmail has updated their watchlist ahead of GW2.
The core group from our GW1 shortlist remain, with notable additions and removals stated below. Players on the watchlist are not necessarily assets to transfer in straight away, but they are certainly worth monitoring in the coming gameweeks.
GOALKEEPERS AND DEFENDERS
Edouard Mendy, Chelsea, £5.0m
Clean sheet in opening fixture. Gained an extra point thanks to three saves. Chelsea looking defensively solid.
GW2: TOT (H), GW3: LEE (A), GW4: LEI (H), GW5: SOU (A), GW6: WHU (H)
Oleksandr Zinchenko, Arsenal, £5.1m
Extremely attacking from left-back. Assisted Arsenal opener and great for bonus. Offers superb value at £5.1m.
GW2: LEI (H), GW3: BOU (A), GW4: FUL (H), GW5: AVL (H), GW6: MUN (A)
Ben Chilwell, Chelsea, £6.0m
Shook off fitness concerns to start against Everton. Provided goal threat to win penalty. Good value at £6.0m.
GW2: TOT (H), GW3: LEE (A), GW4: LEI (H), GW5: SOU (A), GW6: WHU (H)
Nathan Patterson, Everton, £4.0m
Extremely cheap. Played wing-back against Chelsea. Back five looks likely to continue after Coady loan signing.
GW2: AVL (A), GW3: NFO (H), GW4: BRE (A), GW5: LEE (A), GW6: LIV (H)
Diogo Dalot, Man United, £4.5m
Offered some attacking threat but United looked frail in defence. Better options at £4.5m and £5.0m.
GW2: BRE (A), GW3: BHA (H), GW4: SOU (A), GW5: LEI (A), GW6: ARS (H)
Jonny Otto, Wolves, £4.5m
Played in back four and attacked less than last season. Wolves defence leakier as a result. Better £4.5m picks.
GW2: FUL (H), GW3: TOT (A). GW4: NEW (H), GW5: BOU (A), GW6: SOU (H)
Jonny Otto conceded twice against Leeds
Oleksandr Zinchenko has emerged one of the most transferred-in players after his GW1 haul
MIDFIELDERS AND FORWARDS
Jarrod Bowen, West Ham, £8.5m
Tricky Man City fixture out of the way. Almost scored but for a Dias block. Still worth monitoring at £8.5m.
GW2: NFO (A), GW3: BHA (H), GW4: AVL (A), GW5: TOT (H), GW6: CHE (A)
Dejan Kulusevski, Spurs, £8.1m
Spurs’ best player against Saints. Unlikely to share too many minutes with Richarlison after that display.
GW2: CHE (A), GW3: WOL (H), GW4: NFO (A), GW5: WHU (A), GW6: FUL (H)
Ivan Toney, Brentford, £7.0m
Took chance well against Leicester. Solid fixtures. Bees talisman and on penalties. Great Mitrovic alternative.
GW2: MUN (H), GW3: FUL (A), GW4: EVE (H), GW5: CRY (A), GW6: LEE (H)
Danny Welbeck, Brighton, £6.5m
Top assist against United and should have won a penalty. Looks to be Brighton’s main striker at the moment.
GW2: NEW (H), GW3: WHU (A), GW4: LEE (H), GW5: FUL (A), GW6: LEI (H)
Mason Mount, Chelsea, £8.0m
Struggled against Everton and hooked off after 64 minutes. Chelsea attack not quite working. Better £8.0m picks.
GW2: TOT (H), GW3: LEE (A), GW4: LEI (H), GW5: SOU (A), GW6: WHU (H)
Leon Bailey, Aston Villa, £5.0m
Still a good pick for Everton but poor long-term fixtures. Most owners will ship after GW3. Better cheap options.
GW2: EVE (H), GW3: CRY (A). GW4: WHU (H), GW5: ARS (A), GW6: MCI (H)
Danny Welbeck bullied United’s defence
Dejan Kulusevski was Tottenham’s best player against Southampton and scored 13 FPL points
Salah delivered the goods as Sportsmail’s top pick for captaincy in GW1, earning his first double-digit haul of the season with 12 points.
Using last week’s matrix as a guide, we have reassessed the best captaincy options ahead of the next five gameweeks, making minor alternations based on the opening Premier League weekend.
1. Erling Haaland (Man City vs. Bournemouth)
2. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City vs. Bournemouth)*
3. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace)
*De Bruyne drops to second with Haaland looking the stand-out option at Man City.
1. Son Heung-min or Harry Kane (Spurs vs. Wolves)
2. Erling Haaland (Newcastle vs. Man City)*
3. Mohamed Salah (Man United vs Liverpool)*
*Haaland and Salah usurp Arsenal and Chelsea’s assets. Man City look devastating and Liverpool could punish Man United’s frailty in defence.
1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool vs. Bournemouth)
2. Son Heung-min or Harry Kane (Nottingham Forest vs. Spurs)
3. Erling Haaland (Man City vs. Crystal Palace)
1. Erling Haaland (Man City vs. Nottingham Forest)
2. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City vs. Nottingham Forest)*
3. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool vs. Newcastle)
*De Bruyne drops to second for the same reasons as GW2.
1. Son Heung-min or Harry Kane (Spurs vs. Fulham)
2. Mohamed Salah (Everton vs. Liverpool)
3. Erling Haaland (Aston Villa vs. Man City)
Son Heung-min remains the best captaincy option for GW3 when Tottenham host Wolves
Extra-time FPL tips: The art of taking hits
Arguably, the most important skill in FPL is balancing patient and aggressive play. Knowing when to trust your gut and when to forbear impulses is crucial.
To many new players, taking a four point hit can often seem negligible. Compared to an entire gameweek score, it is easy to view four points as a worthwhile price to pay in pursuit of the perfect team or the shiniest new toy.
But over time, those four-point sacrifices add up – and whilst an FPL squad may look better off at the log-in screen, they are worse off in terms of total points.
Although in theory there is no right or wrong answer as to when to take a hit, most four-point deductions are best made with the long-term in mind. Players are very unlikely to repay the hit in just one or two gameweeks.
Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli impressed on the left wing against Crystal Palace on Friday
For example, let’s imagine an FPL manager has already transferred Kane to Haaland and is considering an extra move to swap Rashford to Gabriel Martinelli (£6.1m).
If that manager only wanted Martinelli for a couple of gameweeks, the Arsenal winger would need to score at least one more goal than Rashford during that timeframe just to repay the four-point hit. Keeping patient and giving Rashford an extra week in this scenario is likely to prove the optimal choice.
However, were the manager planning to hold on to Martinelli for the next five or so gameweeks, there is a better chance of the hit paying off in the long-term.
Finally, captaincy is an important factor to consider when taking hits. Bringing in a player with the view of captaining them is perhaps more justifiable, as the double-points score means that the hit is more likely to be repaid.
In this instance, it is worth thinking about who the alternative captain would be from your team, as it may well be that the hit is not necessary.