A day before the start of the 2022/23 Premier League season, 46 percent of Fantasy Premier League managers had opted for Erling Haaland and more than 60 percent for Mohamed Salah.
While the most prominent signing of the summer and last season’s top points-scorer were easy picks for many, opening weekend, as always, poses tricky dilemmas elsewhere.
Leading a player ensures they double the number of points they accumulate, making smart decisions crucial for managers looking to make as much money as possible and start out in style.
Who should you gift your virtual bracelet to? Can you include Haaland and Salah without making fatal compromises elsewhere in your squad? The sports news takes a look at how the unpredictable game returns.
FPL Gameweek 1 Captain Selection
It’s a line so familiar that FPL executives might deem it worthy of a tattoo, but Salah and Harry Kane are strong and obvious candidates for Gameweek 1 captaincy.
Kane leads the line for a newly formed Tottenham Hotspur side on Saturday at home to a Southampton side who ended last season in abysmal form – which of course could be interpreted to mean Saints were without pressure for a 1-0 victory is ripe. Still, it’s hard to ignore Spurs getting off to a strong start and Kane taking center stage.
A word also, as usual, for team-mate Son Heung-min, who has scored ten goals in 15 games against Southampton and been directly involved in a further four goals in those games.
If Salah is empty in the early kick-off against Fulham, you’ll have to watch Kane and Son play against Southampton pic.twitter.com/afhc9YLLKv
— FPL Corrigan (@FPLCorrigan) July 28, 2022
Liverpool start their season on Saturday at Fulham, who are hoping not to emulate last season’s newcomers Norwich City by being beaten at home by the Reds in their opening game.
Salah became the first player to score in that game in five consecutive opening games in the top flight. The Egyptian talisman is level with Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy in the first game of the season with seven goals and he can join Premier League legends Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer on the list by repeating the trick this time.
As with Kane and Son, we should mention another Liverpool player who is keen to open his account against the Cottagers and is £4m cheaper than Salah’s £13m: new signing Darwin Nunez.
MORE: Fantasy Football tips: The best budget defenders, midfielders and forwards for FPL 2022/23
Some pundits on the FPL’s official channels are planning to switch between Haaland and Salah as captain, bargaining that the terrifyingly deadly Norwegian sensation will be as instantly unstoppable in the Premier League as he was anywhere else in his early career.
Haaland and Manchester City start Sunday at West Ham United, who were one of the surprise packages of 2021/22, taking a 2-0 lead against City before Pep Guardiola’s side scored two late goals to earn a valuable point in their last Away game save the last campaign.
It should be remembered that the FPL’s odd continued classification of Salah as a midfielder means he scores one more point per goal than Haaland and Kane and one point for Liverpool without conceding.
Guardiola’s taste for rotation could also mean that Haaland is less likely than Kane and Salah to play at least 60 minutes, worth an extra point each time.
✅ Hat trick in Bundesliga debut
✅ Prepare for UCL debut
✅ Goal in the DFL Supercup debut
✅ Goal in the DFB Cup debut
Erling Haaland scored for Dortmund on his debut in every competition. Careful, Westham. pic.twitter.com/ZhUM7g2mMA
– Bet9ja (@Bet9jaOfficial) July 31, 2022
Trent Alexander Arnold
Aside from the obvious tactic of picking an attacking midfielder or striker who you expect to hit the net at least once – think of Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Chelsea- Newcomer Raheem Sterling – there’s always some adventurous defenders worth successfully singled out.
With six points per goal and four points per clean sheet for defenders who deliver at both ends of the pitch, Alexander-Arnold will have you gleefully grinning at your screen as he capitalizes against a potentially weak Fulham.
England international Alexander-Arnold scored just twice for Liverpool in the Premier League last season but contributed 12 assists, worth three points each. The 23-year-old almost always started and completed more than 60 minutes each time.
The best FPL budget picks for Gameweek 1
Illan Meslier (4.5)
Leeds United’s Meslier is the only goalkeeper priced under £5m to have amassed more than 100 points last season and will not attempt to keep a clean sheet against a ‘Big Six’ club in the opening weekend – in value of four points.
MORE: How to win Fantasy Football: Top tips and rules for the 2022/23 FPL season explained
The Whites are aiming for a bright start to start Jesse Marsch’s first full season in charge and are at home against Wolves, who ended poorly in 2021-22.
Martin Dubravka, the Newcastle United goalkeeper who picked up 96 points last time out, is available for the same price and also has a friendlier looking game, starting at home against newcomers Nottingham Forest.
Marc Guehi (4.5)
Crystal Palace defender Guehi, 22, was one of the game-changing stars of 2021/22 and was called to England in a laudable first season as Premier League manager by Eagles boss Patrick Vieira.
Guehi scored in Palace’s last friendly to help his side beat Montpellier 4-2 and is a solid option should you expect Vieira’s side to impress again against Arsenal on Friday.
Well that was pleasant in South London!
– News from Crystal Palace FC (@AdvertiserCPFC) July 30, 2022
Palace defenders Joachim Andersen and Tyrick Mitchell have also been excellent performers for FPL managers last season and are expected to go through at least an hour without dropping points for every two goals conceded.
Andrew Pereira (4.5)
Chosen by more than 25 per cent of managers, creative midfielder Pereira joined Fulham from Manchester United in the summer for £10million and is likely to be a regular for his new team.
The Brazilian will hope to be at the center of Fulham’s attempts to put Liverpool in trouble after which they have more forgiving games against Wolves and Brentford.
For £5m, consider Wolves’ Joao Moutinho or West Ham captain Declan Rice – the two players in the price bracket who scored more than 90 points last season – or new Spurs signing Yves Bissouma, who shone for Brighton. Bissouma started in Spurs’ last pre-season test game but his playing time could be limited in a crowded squad.
MORE: Fantasy Football Team Names For 2022/23 FPL Season: Best Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool And Man Utd Names
Julian Alvarez (6.5)
While much of the focus has been on the likes of Haaland, Salah and Nunez, Argentina forward Alvarez was the only City player to score in the Community Shield game against Liverpool in late July, scoring in his competitive debut for the club.
The 22-year-old joined City in January but stayed on loan at former club River Plate until July, where he enjoyed great success.
As with most City players, the number of minutes Alvarez will spend on the pitch is in question. For the price, this gifted prospect is an exciting gamble without undue risk.
Mohamed Salah and Erling Haaland: The FPL dilemma
Combining Haaland (£11.5m) with Salah means spending almost 25 per cent of your £100m budget on two of the 15 players required in a squad.
The pair’s selection requires careful cutting elsewhere, making it all the more important to earn points from non-premium players.
Top 5 players with the most possessions in #FPL until now
1. Jesus 73.9%
3. Alexander Arnold 58.5%
4. Haaland 46%
5. Cancel 45.2%
– Fantasy Premier League Updates & Tips (@FPLtips2022) August 4, 2022
It may also require dropping other expensive players, but consider the weekly opportunity to change your mind with a free transfer, as well as use your chips to make changes or make more transfers for points.
Usual advice applies: choose players who are available, likely to play the most minutes, seem to have games against weaker opponents, and preferably in form.
For example, if you think Pereira will play at least 60 minutes and Liverpool cause problems, it would be wiser to bring him in to plug the hole in your budget than a regular reserve whose injury status is uncertain.
Many managers are wrestling with the question of whether to include Salah or Haaland. Salah’s game against a side from Fulham looking to survive in the Premier League looks easier than Haaland’s test against a side that qualified for Europe last season.
Salah will go down as a Premier League great while Haaland is unproven in England. However, if it were so easy to play by the form book, the appeal of the game would be lost.
By the time Gameweek 1 is over, it’s entirely possible that one under-the-radar player has eclipsed both. Buyer regret is as inevitable as these superstars frequently bring in the numbers.