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Chapter 5 – Choosing your GW1 squad
The opening gameweek is arguably the hardest time being an FPL manager, but also the most freedom available. Starting the season with a £100m budget, each manager has to select 2 goalkeepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders and 3 strikers.
Identifying which players are going to score the highest points can be a very tough task,however we think there are guidelines to follow so that you don’t stray too far wrong.
Balance between budget and premium players
Having a £100m budget to spend, it is important for managers to prioritise the premium players that they want in their squads. For many managers, they will aim to own at least 1 premium player in each of the outfield positions.
The best plan of action when deciding your opening team, is to plan what team structure you plan on playing. For example, our team last season opted for a focus on premium defenders and midfielders as we felt this provided the most value. This included the likes ofMendy, Robertson, Salah, Sanchez – we know, big mistake with Sanchez – and then the single premium striker in Aguero.
In order to afford these players, we decided that the goalkeepers were an area to save money, going for a £4m non-playing goalkeeper with a £4.5m starting in Patricio. Our bench followed suit, with 2 defenders and 1 midfielder valued in the lowest price ranges in their positions. One of those defenders was Wan-Bissaka who proved to be a great example of a playing-budget asset.
Although these aren’t always common, managers should target the budget players that are also starters in their clubs. This avoids problems in the opening weeks if a player in your starting 11 gets injured, you at least have a player to come in for a minimum 2 points.
Balance is everything in a team, and as mentioned we felt the balance should include investment in the defence and midfield. Some managers however see value elsewhere, with a triple up of premium forwards and a budget playing defence. Each style is different to each manager. There, unfortunately is no magic combination that guarantees FPL success.
Our “player price comparison’ video discusses
Promoted sides and their risk
Promoted sides start the season as untested FPL assets for managers, and with that can bring risk. Norwich were the stand out team in the Championship last season, with their man main Pukki spearheading their title winning campaign.
For some managers, a player like Pukki with a budget price tag can come across as FPL value and in some cases it can. However, the main issue with these types of players in promoted sides is the fear of the unknown. Many are unproven at the highest level and can see their previous top performances fall at the hands of the Premier League.
Take, for example, Wolves’ Diogo Jota, who scored 17 and assisted 6 goals in 44 Championship matches. Selected by over 300,00 managers in gameweek 1 due to his impressive performances, the Portuguese midfielder only managed 1 assist in his opening 14 Premier League games. This also saw his gametime reduced and clearly struggled to adapt to the style of the top English league. As many know the second half of the season was much more successful for Jota and will rightly be considered for the opening gameweek of the new season.
Following on from Wolves, they are an example of the risk reward that is associated with promoted sides. They went on to finish 7th in their first season back in the Premier League, enjoying great wins over top 6 sides and some brilliant individual performances across the season. These included the likes of Doherty and Jimenez who, like most promoted players, started at a measly price tag.
There is plenty of potential to find some value in players from promoted sides, but we thinkgameweek 1 isn’t the time to take these risks. We recommend managers taking the openinggameweeks to assess the performance of both the teams and individual players to establish if they have FPL potential.
Consider the opening fixtures
There are a handful of FPL players that many would deem fixture proof, including the likes of Salah, Sterling and the Liverpool defence of last season. While these players don’trequire as much consideration, most others should be purchased with an eye on the upcoming fixtures.
Certain players that are usually great FPL value, might lose their appeal due to a tough opening run of fixtures. As an example, Arsenal face a tricky start to the season with matches against both Liverpool and Spurs. While they have some attractive fixtures either side, managers need to decide whether they have enough FPL value to afford some of the premium prices. The likes of Aubameyang finished the season as the leading points scorer for forwards, however other options might be worth considering who have a better start to the season.
Fixture difficulty arguably affects lower sides in comparison to the big teams in the Premier League. Therefore, when choosing those mid-priced/budget players for your Gameweek 1 squads, some teams might be much more appealing than others. Take Everton as anexample, who don’t face a ‘Top 6’ side in their opening 6 Premier League matches. Playerssuch as Richarlison should be a more favourable option over those players that have a much tougher opening run of fixtures.
Proven player’s v risks
From our analysis of the FPL Dream Team over the years, it is clear that there are proven players that continuously score high points year on year. Naturally proven players are rewarded each year with price rises, making it harder every season to create a squad full of these proven/consistent players.
The concept of a risky player doesn’t necessarily have to be something that should put off managers owning them. As previously mentioned, we recommend avoiding players from newly promoted teams and players new to the league that you are considering to be in your main starting 11. The risk associated with these types of players usually doesn’t equal thescores they generate, especially with other options in their price range.
We think that there is a fine line between a ‘risky’ player, and a player that is worth acalculated risk. We view a risky player as having no Premier League experience, and only selected based on some good performances in previous seasons. However, a calculated risk should be made with the consideration of all the factors that we have mentioned before. These include gametime security, whether they are FPL players – does their attributes equate to goals/assists/clean sheets – that FPL score points for.
We’ve discussed further about taking unnecessary risks in the opening game weeks, and why they should be avoided:
Monitor pre season
Previous seasons can provide insight into which players are established and great FPL value. However, factors such as manager changes, transfer activity and formation changes can shift the previous perceptions of teams and players.
Preseason is a great opportunity for managers to monitor the players on their watch list and determine whether they have FPL potential. Chelsea are a great example under new manager Frank Lampard, who has to negotiate his first season with a transfer ban.
From an FPL perspective, Chelsea have a mass of mid-priced players that could prove to be amazing value. However, they are equally a risk with the unknown factor of how the team will perform under Lampard. Therefore, watching closely over their preseason campaign can help spot some potential gems and also those to not take unnecessary risks on.
Another factor to consider over preseason is summer competitions such as the African Cup of Nations. Premier League players such as Salah, Mane and Mahrez have all featured heavily throughout the competition, therefore their rest will happen later than the majority of other players. Whether this has an impact on their gameweek 1 availability is unclear but watching preseason closely will provide better information.
Hope this article provided some value.
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