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Fantasy Premier League Pundit Picks: Gameweek 1

Make sure to take these guys in your FPL team!

Prithviraj Dev | New Delhi |

It’s that time of the year when scores of fanatics get their notepads out and become engaged in the long-term commitment that is Fantasy Premier League (FPL).

Hundreds of millions (all virtual!) are spent on a daily basis, with each fan channeling their inner Pep Guardiola in a bid to get bragging rights for the week (and in some lucky cases, for the year!).

However, when your team’s fortunes depend on the roller-coaster ride that is the English Premier League, things get complicated there and it’s easy to understand why the weekend induces stress rather than relieving it.

Hence, The Statesman helps make the right moves on FPL with a comprehensive article on who to buy for the coming gameweek.

The indicators are:

Teams in BOLD are top 4 contenders.

Prices marked with a (+) indicate a rise in Base Price.
Prices marked with a (-) indicate a fall in Base Price.

Goalkeepers

Fraser Forster
Team: Southampton
Fixtures: Swansea (H), West Ham (H), Huddersfield (A), Watford (H) and Crystal Palace (A)
Price: 5.0
Score: 0
Ownership: 6.9%

Why yes: The Saints have the easiest opening fixtures and Forster was one of the league’s best keepers (FPL points-wise) last season. The 29-year-old had a similar tally to the likes of David de Gea and Peter Cech, despite being half a million cheaper. 

Why no: Virgil van Djik’s transfer saga doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon and without the Dutchman, Southampton’s defence is easier to breach. Their full-backs are worth a look and should you buy them, having Forster as well would be a big risk, regardless of the fixtures. 

Asmir Begovic
Team: Bournemouth
Fixtures: West Brom (A), Watford (H), Man City (H), Arsenal (A) and Brighton (H)
Price: 4.5
Score: 0
Ownership: 6.2%

Why yes: Bournemouth have spent well this summer, strengthening their defence with the acquisitions of Begovic and Nathan Ake from Chelsea. The Bosnian is an underrated keeper and at the very least, is an ideal back-up. The Cherries have on the whole, decent fixtures ahead. 

Why no: The 30-year-old hasn't played regular football for the past two seasons and could be a little rusty to begin with. Ake, in defence, is a good option as well. 

Defenders

Victor Lindelof
Team: Manchester United
Fixtures: West Ham (H), Swansea (A), Leicester (H), Stoke (A) and Everton (H)
Price: 5.5
Score: 0
Ownership: 7.8%

Why yes: United’s sole defensive signing of the summer (so far), Lindelof has been decent so far. The Red Devils have largely been impressive in pre-season and in Jose Mourinho’s second year, look like genuine title contenders. Cheapest confirmed starter from a backline that is expected to rack up the clean sheets this season.

Why no: Those considering David de Gea or any other United defender should skip the Swede. There is a massive difference in quality from the Portuguese League and the former Benfica defender may take time to find his feet at Old Trafford. 

Rob Holding
Team: Arsenal
Fixtures: Leicester City (H), Stoke (A), Liverpool (A), Bournemouth (H) and Chelsea (H)
Price: 5.0
Score: 0
Ownership: 2.2%

Why yes: Question marks remain about Gabriel Paulista and Per Mertesacker’s fitness, making Holding a near certainty to start. Add Laurent Koscienly’s two-game suspension to the mix and the 21-year-old suddenly is an excellent option. 

Why no: It remains to be seen whether Holding can nail down a regular starting spot. And the fact that the Gunners have many injuries at the back right now will make it difficult to keep shutouts. 

Midfielders

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Team: Manchester United
Fixtures: West Ham (H), Swansea (A), Leicester (H), Stoke (A) and Everton (H)
Price: 8.0
Score: 0
Ownership: 6.3%

Why yes: Big things are expected from the ‘Armenian Magician’ this season. He’s been impressive all summer and regardless of United’s formation, is a confirmed starter. To top it all, almost plays like a second forward when the Red Devils switch to a 3-5-2 system instead of their regular 4-2-3-1.

Why no: There is a world of a difference between pre-season and regular season. The 28-year-old struggled with injuries last time round and it remains to be seen if he can consistently be in Mourinho’s starting XI. Played the entire 90 minutes in their UEFA Super Cup loss to Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Mohamed Salah
Team: Liverpool
Fixtures: Watford (A), Crystal Palace (H), Arsenal (H), Man City (A) and Burnley (H)
Price: 9.0
Score: 0
Ownership: 21.0%

Why yes: Liverpool have had the most impressive pre-season from all the ‘big’ sides so far. And their record signing has made an instant impact, with plenty of goals and assists so far. 

Why no: Mane (marginally expensive) and Coutinho are good options as well, as is Roberto Firmino up top. Avoid picking Mane if you already have either of them. As was the case with Liverpool last season, they might score plenty in each game, the problem is that they have different players contributing all the time. 

Forwards

Harry Kane
Team: Tottenham Hotspur
Fixtures: Newcastle (A), Chelsea (H), Burnley (H), Everton (A) and Swansea (H)
Price: 12.5
Score: 0
Ownership: 37.6%

Why yes: Kane is the new Sergio Aguero. A pricey must-have, as it is a given that he will be scoring on a regular basis. Spurs haven't got any additions to their squad, which means the Lilywhites don’t have to wait for a player to get used to their system. 

Why no: Will the lack of activity in the transfer market come back to haunt them, considering they fell short in the title race last season? Kane might be essential, but his enormous price tag and the fact that he isn't a differential at all could see some FPL managers look for more reasonable options. 

Charlie Austin
Team: Southampton
Fixtures: Swansea (H), West Ham (H), Huddersfield (A), Watford (H) and Crystal Palace (A)
Price: 6.5
Score: 0
Ownership: 1.7%

Why yes: The wildcard pick of the week, for multiple reasons. The burly striker has had a productive pre-season, is confirmed to start and the Saints have mighty easy fixtures ahead. 

Why no: Doubts remain over his fitness after suffering a long-term injury last season. There is a new manager at the helm and while early signs are promising, it may take a while before results start to fall their way.

PS: The Gameweek deadline is Friday, 6.45pm GMT/11.15 pm IST.