Here we go, just a few hours away from the start of the 2018/19 Premier League season, as Manchester United welcome Leicester City. If last year’s opening fixture was thrilling, hopefully we will see a repeat to kick off this season. Many new faces in the FPL, players who have changed squads and player questions to be answered, especially if you are keen on a Watford defender. Yeah, don’t see that being to high on a fantasy manager’s list. This is the first starting XI post for the season, which will run down how I set my squad up.
While a tried like hell to fuck up the start my season by “thinking differently” as I did last year with a 5-2-3 formation, I have decided to go conservative and play it safe with a 3-5-2 formation that could easily shift to a 4-4-2. With no money remaining ITB, I have one non-playing forward on the bench. However, I feel rather confident heading into GW1. Andy, @#FPL_Wildcards noted, “Wow power midfield toumi; but Kate Moss titties uptop.” The lack of a premium forward is a minor concern, but willing to take a chance for the first few weeks, if need be I can roll a FT and downgrade one of the premium midfielders and introduce a big named forward.
Feeling confident looking back and seeing Manchester United’s, David De Gea in between the posts. At £6.0, he’s the games highest priced keeper, but worth the investment. Pundits say he won’t post similar numbers (172 points) to last year, but still you can expect 16-18 clean sheets for the year. Set and forget. De Gea provides a confidence in the defense starting in GW1. His backup, Artur Boruc (£4.0) was selected purely because he was cheap, plays back up to Asmir Begovic at Bournemouth.
Defensively, I have spent more than I expected to, but pleased with how the defense came together as a unit. Andrew Robertson (£6.0) and Benjamin Mendy (£6.0) lead a stout defensive unit. Both play for teams who will challenge for the top spot in the Premier League and could potentially combine for 30 clean sheets on the season. Both also carry attacking potential, as we saw from Robertson last year when he made the move from Hull City. Mendy, might be a bit of a question mark coming off knee injury. If his plays like he tweets on social media, he will be FPL gold.
David Luiz (£5.5) might be a punt selection for Chelsea to start the season, after falling out of favor with Conte last season. However, he’s back in the fold with new a new manager, in Sarri. Luiz combines defense prowess with BPS potential, been known to hit some vicious free kicks and could pick up a few goals on corner kicks. He appears to be nailed for Chelsea early on, but their squad didn’t look great in last week’s Community Shield.
Burnley’s, James Tarkowski and Crystal Palace’s, Aaron Wan-Bissaka round out my backline. While many managers are down on Burnley with the price increase in all their defenders to £5.0 and injuires to Nick Pope (dislocated shoulder) and Tom Heaton returning from injury, it’s Joe Hart who starts in goal for the Clarets. Add to that, Europa League qualification, which could see more rotation as fatigue could play a factor in some defensive rotation by Sean Dyche. Wan-Bissaka, one of a few starting defenders at £4.0 has won the right back spot. With Palace not buying anyone during the transfer window, it should be his job to lose. Ahead of GW1, Palace have a nice start to the season.
As mentioned earlier, I am big through the middle with three premium options. Starting with #AlwaysCaptainSalah, the Reds hitman with his TSB% of 54.2 is a must for to start the season. IF he fails to produce, it’s easy to move to ANY other player in the midfield. He will also get the captain’s armband until further notice. This season, I dipped back into the Manchester United honey pot, in hopes that Alexis Sanchez is sweet to start the season. He failed me last season, as I picked him up mid-season. Thankfully, he wasn’t captained, so his lack of production didn’t hurt me. Looking for big numbers early for Sanchez to get off to a flying start. Finally, add in Christian Eriksen, the Dane had great consistency last season and an outstanding international showing leading up to and including the 2018 World Cup. No reason to this is quality play will decrease this season. At £9.5, I had a fleeting thought to downgrade him in order to secure a premium forward. At this point, I don’t want to second guess my team selection. Brighton’s, Pascal Groß grabs the fourth starting midfield spot. While their opening fixtures see them play MNU/liv/TOT/mci in the opening seven games, the game flows through Groß and should be active in many of their attacking returns.
Fulham’s. Tom Carney is the final midfield piece, while I don’t know much about him, numbers from last year in the Championship seem to lend favorably to the start Fulham could have this season, as they had a good transfer window. Currently, he occupies a fifth midfield spot in the opening week, as Fulham travel to Crystal Palace. We will see how much Palace’s defense as improved.
It’s mixed emotions up front, as Wilfried Zaha and Marko Arnautovic have been reclassified as forwards this season (from midfield) and are nicely priced at £7.0. That was a big reason why both were selected for my starting XI. West Ham doesn’t have great fixtures and while I don’t really want to read into pre-season too much, Arnie looked outstanding in the lead up and thus, wins a starting spot. Zaha, based on last season and his price will start in a 2-man front line. He now has Jordan Ayew in the middle as another attacking option. Will that lead to an increase in points for Zaha? We will wait and see, but it’s great to see he has decided to stay at Palace.
Gary Madine, Cardiff is my third forward, non-playing and will reside in the third spot on the bench. Added purely because of price at £4.5, he won’t see any playing time and will most likely be moved with wild card activation.
While the saying, “Think Differently” was part of my planning, I just couldn’t follow through this season, just to be different. While I don’t expect to top this FPL at season’s end, I do want to implement some of the points I touched on in my Keys to Success article a few weeks back. Play boring, assess risk and most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Thanks to the guys at #FPLBeerClub, I suspect this will be the best fun yet enjoyed in five years of FPL activity. I am in some great mini leagues and rubbing elbows with some excellent pundits from around the FPL community. Twitter has been awesome since finding it last season for input, opinions and strategy. Have made some great friends and found some great source. So good luck to all FPL managers as we get ready to kick off the 2018/19 FPL season. Cheers!