Saturday lunchtime sees the return of the Premier League after a shorter than usual break.
This leaves just a few more days of drafting for us Fantasy Football managers. The scheduling of the league has made it harder to select a final squad, with Manchester City & Manchester United without a fixture in GW1.
As a result there are just eight Premier League matches this opening weekend and here is a look at the best picks in them all.
Fulham vs. Arsenal: Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang could well be the highest owned player going into the first game week of the season. A positional change to midfield only increases the Arsenal captain’s appeal, meaning higher returns for goals as well as clean sheet points up for grabs.
It is likely he will sign a new deal with the club and since arriving at the Emirates back in January 2018, Aubameyang has scored 54 goals in just 85 league matches!
Fulham were defensively awful in the Premier League a couple of campaigns ago and the Gunners should start the new campaign off with a comfortable win. You’d be a brave manager to go without Aubameyang this week, especially as the Manchester clubs are without a fixture.
Kieran Tierney (5.5)
Aleksandar Mitrovic (6.0)
Crystal Palace vs. Southampton: Alex McCarthy
Southampton’s trip to Crystal Palace is likely to be a close game; however the two sides ended the previous campaign in differing form.
Palace desperately struggled for goals all of last year, whilst Southampton kept three clean sheets in their last nine, two of which were on the road.
It is hard to see the fixture being high scoring, so defensive options for either side could the way here.
Kyle Walker Peters (4.5)
Joel Ward (4.5)
Liverpool vs. Leeds United: Sadio Mane
There is no right or wrong answer here really. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are both excellent picks for the opening day of the season.
The difference in ownership between the two is massive though with Mane in a surprisingly low 12.8% of teams, whilst Salah finds himself in 29.9%.
Salah is the more selfish player, which is a good thing from an FPL point of view and will again be on penalties. However Mane has had a better pre-season than Salah and should he outscore his team mate then you’d rank better!
Trent Alexander Arnold would have been the best pick (and still maybe); however the right-back has missed a good amount of pre-season due to injury and may not be 100% going into their season opener.
Liverpool do have a tough start to the season; however going without at least two options for the first game of the season is a massive risk!
Mohamed Salah (12.0)
Andrew Robertson (7.0)
West Ham United vs. Newcastle United: Allan Saint-Maximin
Allan Saint-Maximin had an excellent debut season for Newcastle United and is in a lot of teams ahead of the new campaign, mainly due to a relatively low price.
ASM scored just three goals and provided five assists last term, however was always a threat and will surely better those returns in 20-21.
Newcastle won the meeting 3-2 last year and ASM absolutely ran the show. Granted he won’t be up against a 100 year-old Pablo Zabaleta this time, but the fixture is an appealing one when you consider his history against the Hammers and the off field issues the hosts have going into the new season.
Miguel Almiron (6.0)
Jared Bowan (6.5)
West Brom vs. Leicester City: Harvey Barnes
I’ll be honest, this isn’t a game that appeals to me much! Both sides ended the last campaign in poor form, with Leicester City losing a Champions League spot and West Brom only earning promotion due to rivals dropping points on more than one occasion.
Leicester City will be without three of their back four from last season for the first game, whilst it’s unclear how quickly the Baggies will re-adapt to the Premier League.
Jamie Vardy slowed up towards the end of last season and at 10.0 is slightly overpriced for me and James Maddison remains an injury doubt.
Harvey Barnes has seen his price go up after a good 19-20 season and perhaps he could be the best option for a tough to call first fixture.
James Justin (4.5)
Matheus Pereira (6.0)
Tottenham vs. Everton: Heung Min Son
No surprise to hear the decision for this game is whether to own Heung Min Son or Harry Kane!
The differing pre-season of the pair means I’m slightly inclined to pick Son here. Kane had to quarantine following a holiday, whilst Son has been an ever present for Spurs, even captaining the side in their last game against Watford.
It’s still a very close call though and Kane at 10.5 is a very attractive prospect, his lowest starting price since the 2015-16 season.
The signing of Matt Doherty is a really interesting one; however I’d want to see how much attacking licence he will be given in a Jose Mourinho side before I select.
It is tough to predict how the 20-21 season will go for both Tottenham and Everton and I wouldn’t be against having none of their assets in your GW1 squad.
Harry Kane (10.5)
Lucas Digne (6.0)
Brighton vs. Chelsea: Timo Werner
The pressure is on Frank Lampard this season having spent massively this summer. Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz are huge additions; however the signing of Timo Werner is the most appealing FPL option.
In four seasons with former club RB Leipzig, Werner scored 78 Bundesliga goals and he will certainly come straight into a Chelsea side that often struggled to finish their chances last term.
Given all of the midfield options this season, Werner is surely one of the easiest attacking picks in the game, highlighted by the fact nearly 50% of managers have him in their side already.
Brighton away is a tricky start, however this new look Chelsea side is expected to be a title candidate this season and you’d expect them to take all three points.
Hakim Ziyech (8.0)
Reece James (5.0)
Sheffield United vs. Wolves: John Egan
Another tough game to call on the opening weekend of the new season; however I wouldn’t expect there to be many goals at Bramall Lane.
John Egan scored an impressive 133 points last term and he was a regular in one of the best defensive sides. He returned a huge 15 point haul in fixture last year, scoring a late winner in a 1-0 win.
New keeper Aaron Ramsdale has been brought in at 5.0 and there is a decent amount of 4.5 options this term. This combined with the act full-backs Enda Stevens and George Baldock are priced higher than Egan, means I’ve a preference for the central defender.
Wolves themselves are a strong defensive side, however having lost Jonny to injury and Doherty to Spurs, I’d wait before investing one of these.
Enda Stevens (5.5)
Raul Jiminez (8.5)
GW1 Dream Team:
(4-5-1): McCarthy; Fredericks, Tierney, Egan, Robertson; Aubameyang (C), Salah, Mane, Saint-Maximin, Son; Werner