So it is finally back. The Premier League returned this weekend and so with it came Fantasy Football (FPL). Weeks of planning and over thinking lead to what seemed for most anyway going on the average score of the week a very decent start. As always there was a few surprise results on the opening day which has lead to many rethinking their sides. Here are the biggest winners and losers from gameweek one.
Raheem Sterling – The Man City forward just seems to go from strength to strength. Following on from two outstanding seasons, Sterling is showing signs that this season could be his best yet after scoring an opening day hat-trick away at West Ham. In his last two seasons he has scored 35 league goals and assisted 32 times combined. This is an incredible rate of consistency which is showing no signs of slowing down. He has become a clinical finisher under Guardiola and you could argue has become City’s main man. The injury to Sane is also potentially good news for his owners as you could argue he is at less risk of the dreaded Pep roulette. Personally I think he is in the same bracket as De Bruyne now at City and Pep will not be rotating Sterling unless it is needed. A 12M midfielder who is likely to score 20 goals and get double figure assists? Sterling’s worth is for all to see.
Brighton – There has been some optimism regarding the Seagulls in pre-season after Chris Houghton left after staving of relegation. Graham Potter has taken charge after leaving Swansea City and so far with pre-season and Saturday’s result it seems Brighton will have a lot more about them this season. The football under Hughton was pragmatic at best with Brighton often sitting extremely deep and not being too adventurous when in possession. Checking the results on my phone after work I was expecting to see a tight game between Watford and Brighton but to my shock Brighton had put them to the sword winning 3-0. This led me to excitingly go to look on FPL for any goal involvement from Leandro Trossard, who did not play a part in the match…. They only scored three goals away from home once under Hughton in the Premier League, so they are certainly looking a potential surprise package this season. Keep an eye on Neal Maupay who is 6M and scored on his debut, the French striker scored 28 goals for Brentford last season in all competitions.
Manchester United – Last season United were in self destruct mode. Poor results, player power rumours and a weak squad made sure it was a season to forget for this sleeping giant. Jose Mourinho was sacked which is nothing unusual given that is what usually happens to him in his third season at a club. Club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes over on what was a loan to buy deal which is very strange for managers but he was at Molde at the time. He enjoyed instant success and a great run of results before reality hit that this United squad was very poor and the club needed a shake up.
United have solved some of their problems signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire from Crystal Palace and Leicester City. Both are very good players and with the signing of promising winger Daniel James from Swansea City, the average age of the squad is now lower. But a lot of United fans were left feeling let down as it was not the shake up they imagined and selling Romelu Lukaku without a replacement was strange. So, a positive start was needed and boy did they get off to one. Effective and lethal on the counter attack with Marcus Rashford at the double, Anthony Martial and Daniel James rounding off the scoring against a leaky Chelsea (more on them later.) If this is a sign of things to come then Martial at 7.5M as a midfielder is certainly a player who will see a lot of attention given he was playing upfront and always has the potential to haul. But we have seen this before with United so is it another false dawn?
Chelsea – The Londoners come into this season in an unusual position, as they for once are an unknown entity. Eden Hazard going to Real Madrid has left a huge shaped hole in the team and a transfer ban has them using players from their academy which is unheard of usually for them. Throw into the mix Frank Lampard as manager and you can see why many FPL managers are waiting to see what happens with Chelsea. Well if this was a sign of things to come then it is going to be a long season for the Blues. Despite playing some good football and looking dangerous they were terrible in transition and was cut open by a swift United side who did not have to do much to get at their defence. The signs were there in pre-season as Chelsea conceded fairly frequently, so the thought that Zouma, etc could prove a bargain has been thrown into serious doubt already. Leicester next in the league is another tough test for Lampard and if he cannot find answers quickly it remains to be seen how patient Chelsea even though the circumstances are not easy.
Southampton – Ralph Hasenhuttl made a positive impact when he took over from the ever humble Mark Hughes, guiding the Saints to safety and getting the best out of players like Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse. Attacking players have joined but the main issue of last season has not been addressed which is the defence. Southampton conceded 65 goals last season and from what we saw at Burnley they will be conceding at a similar rate this season. The Clarets bullied them with Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes proving a real handful for Jannik Vestergaard who endured a torrid afternoon. Southampton players are no more than 7M in FPL but they are also in a category where you are never quite sure what you will get from them. They are ones to avoid for sure at the moment as it is Liverpool up next.
Jack Grealish – Villa’s local lad and captain will be hoping to make amends against Bournemouth next week as he cost his side on their return to the Premier League. The scoreline was 1-1 and a draw would have been a great result away at Spurs but the midfielder was caught wanting too much time on the ball and Harry Kane made him pay for the mistake. His style of play lends itself to this sort of thing happening but in the Championship it would not happen as much and the opposition would not always punish it, but in the top flight it is a different story. Opposition fans were armed and ready to rip into the player as he does wind up the opposition effectively but he will have to take it on the chin for now. He now has the unwanted stat of losing 19 Premier League games in a row which is the most of anyone ever. But lets’ be honest his haircut was worse than his mistake for the goal.