With just a day remaining until the start of the 2021/22 Premier League season, FPL managers are excited and nervous in anticipation of the start of another season of Premier League action.
They will, however, have to deal with a minor roadblock in the shape of the ongoing transfer window. Most of the big-money deals are on hold and with less than three weeks remaining till the European transfer window slams shut, FPL managers are anxiously waiting for any new development in the transfer market, and are largely dependent on two big-money players in Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane.
While the Lukaku deal has finally been completed, Kane’s transfer saga has been a major stumbling block for most FPL managers. Here, in this Best FPL Team for Gameweek 1 article we try to bring to you the best squad and playing XI to go with which also wouldn’t incur too many hit points when adding new explosive attacking firepower in your arsenal.
Gameweek 1 Deadline: Saturday, 13 August at 6:30 pm (British Summer Time), and 11:00 pm (Indian Standard Time).
Manchester United v Leeds United (5:00 pm)
Burnley v Brighton & Hove Albion (7:30 pm)
Chelsea v Crystal Palace (7:30 pm)
Everton v Southampton (7:30 pm)
Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers (7:30 pm)
Watford v Aston Villa (7:30 pm)
Norwich v Liverpool (10:00 pm)
Newcastle United v West Ham United (6:30 pm)
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City (9:00 pm)
Best FPL XI for Gameweek 1
FPL Team suggested for Gameweek 1
Chips activated: None
Budget remaining: £3.5m
Captain: Mohamed Salah
Vice-captain: Bruno Fernandes
Picking Moh Salah as your captain for Gameweek 1 is a no brainer. The Egyptian has a good pre-season under his belt and with the squad almost back to full fitness, Salah is the obvious pick against a newly promoted Norwich side. With Cavani, Rashford and McTominay among some of the big names missing for the start of Man Utd’s league campaign, every bit of attacking output will be coming through Fernandes, while the same can be said about their neighbours. Despite having a star-studded squad, City walk into their opening fixture without a lot of their first-team starters, hence the onus lies on Mahrez’s shoulders as the Algerian has been heavily involved throughout City’s pre-season and is nailed for Gameweek 1.
Robert Sánchez (£4.5m) | Opponent: BUR (A)
The Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper had a stellar start to life in the Premier League. In 27 appearances for the Seagulls last season, Sánchez was able to keep 10 clean sheets and made 65 saves (71%). The likes of Ederson, Alisson Becker and Eduard Mendy are all priced at £6.0m, while Emiliano Martínez’s over-priced £5.5m valuation for a mid-table Aston Villa side will certainly offset the balance of premium players in your squad. With one of the easiest run-ins of fixtures till the second international break, Sánchez stands out as a no-brainer for a measly £4.5m.
Also Read – TOP 5 BUDGET DEFENDERS FOR 21/22 FPL SEASON
Trent-Alexander Arnold (£7.5m) | Opponent: NOR (A)
Although Trent-Alexander Arnold didn’t achieve the same lofty heights in the 20/21 season as he did in the one prior, the Liverpool fullback still accumulated the second-highest points tally (160) for a defender, behind only his teammate Andy Robertson (£7.0m). The 22-year-old scored two goals and provided seven assists for the Reds and looking at Liverpool’s generous opening set of fixtures, he’s likely to bag clean sheets and attacking outputs as well. With Trent being the Merseyside club’s main set-piece taker, picking him in your fantasy team is a must.
Luke Shaw (£5.5m) | Opponent: LEE (H)
One of the standout left-backs from last season, and after his exploits for England during the Euros, Luke Shaw is currently the highest owned player in the game. Shaw’s ownership share stands at 54.0%, an indication of the high expectations fantasy managers have for him. Although the English fullback only scored one goal and provided five assists last season, in terms of creative output among defenders he is only second to Trent. With United’s easy set of fixtures for the first six Gameweeks, valuable clean sheets might be up for grabs along with his attacking output.
Joël Veltman (£4.5m) | Opponent: BUR (A)
In our 3-5-2 formation, the third defender will be rotated on a weekly basis. The reasoning behind it is explained below in the bench section. Brighton, to their credit, had a decent defence last season. In total, Brighton had 11 clean sheets, while their lowly standing on the points table is down to a lack of quality forwards. For defenders, Brighton have the easiest set of opening fixtures. Games against Burnley, Watford, Everton, Brentford, Leicester and Crystal Palace are assured of fetching some crucial clean sheet points. With Tariq Lamptey still recovering from his injury, Veltman is a nailed starter for Brighton.
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) | Opponent: NOR (A)
It is hard to find a reason to not include Mohamed Salah in your FPL teams from Gameweek 1. Despite Liverpool’s mid-season wobble which saw goals completely dry up from their attacking trio. The Egyptian finished a close second to Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot in the 20/21 season, scoring 22 goals with an xG of 0.59 per game and further assisted six goals. Liverpool’s early fixtures include newly promoted Norwich, Burnley, Leeds, Crystal Palace, and Brentford in the first seven games, which makes Salah close to an essential pick as the winger is arguably the best captain not only for this week, but for 5 of the first 7 Gamweeks. And there’s no denying that he’ll be the first name on the team sheet of most FPL managers (and probably the most popular Gameweek 1 captain choice).
Emile Smith Rowe (£5.5m) | Opponent: BRE (H)
The 21-year old just had his breakthrough season at Arsenal where he showed he is more than capable to play at this level. It was a slow start for the playmaker last season after his shoulder injury. Smith-Rowe earned his first start in Gameweek 15 versus Chelsea. And in only 18 starts, the Englishman scored two goals and accumulated five assists with 12 Shots, nine Shots in the Box and three Big Chances while also creating 27 Chances and four Big Chances. Judging by his playing time and two goals in his last four league games, he should be a starter for the upcoming season. Moreover, if you look around at other budget midfield options, I can’t see many better options in this price range than the Arsenal man. Although most FPL managers might be put off by Arsenal’s opening fixtures, being a Gooner I witnessed first hand how some of his best performances came against the top dogs in the league. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he hit the ground running with creative contributions this time around as well.
Saïd Benrahma (£6.0m) | Opponent: NEW (A)
After joining from Brentford last summer, Benrahma struggled to establish himself at West Ham and only showed his true potential in glimpses. The underlyings were promising, though, and the failure to re-sign Jesse Lingard means there is a spot up for grabs in David Moyes’ attack. In the Hammers’ recent friendly against Atalanta, David Moyes’ side ran out 2-0 winners where both goals were set up by the 5.4%-owned Saïd Benrahma (£6.0m), the star of the show at the London Stadium and arguably West Ham’s stand-out performer of the summer. The Algerian had a number of efforts of his own, including one thunderbolt that cracked the woodwork, but turned provider for Antonio’s effort and then saw his goalbound header unwittingly turned in by Pablo Fornals. Although there remains a nagging sense that Moyes still doesn’t have full faith in Benrahma after some lukewarm praise in the past, a solid pre-season and perhaps a growing sense of maturity hopefully bodes well for FPL in 2021/22.
Bruno Fernandes (£12.0m) | Opponent: LEE (H)
After pipping Harry Kane to finish as the highest-scoring FPL player in his first full season in the Premier League, there is every reason to believe that Bruno Fernandes could replicate that feat in this 21/22 campaign as well. Last season the Portuguese midfielder racked up 18 goals and 12 assists with an impressive xG and xA rate of 0.51 & 0.34 per game and made the most number of key passes(95). With many of their first-team starters less likely to be available for the first few Gameweeks, the bulk of the attacking output is expected to come from Fernandes. Manchester United’s favourable fixture run from Gameweek 1-7 could potentially see the former Sporting man hit the ground running. Don’t be surprised to see major point hauls from Bruno in the opening fixtures.
Jack Harrison (£6.0m) | Opponent: MUN (A)
Harrison was a menace down the left flank last season and was the best budget midfielder by a country mile. The 24-year-old had 18 goal involvements last season. He scored six goals and provided 12 Assists, at a rate of one goal involvement every 158 minutes. The Leeds midfielder also recorded 1.42 shots and 1.86 Key passes per game. While the whole FPL community is raving about Raphinha and how everyone wants to have him in their teams, at £0.5m cheaper, Harrison ticks all the boxes and then some for a £6.0m priced midfielder. Although Leeds have a tricky opening set of fixtures, with a goal involvement percentage of 48.1% and 10 Big Chances created last season, Harrison might be the one collecting valuable additional points in a difficult Gameweek for your team. He’s a valuable asset, both for the present and for the future.
Michail Antonio (£7.5m) | Opponent: NEW (A)
Michail Antonio is one of the best strikers in the Premier League, when fit. The Hammers forward scored 10 goals and provided five assists last season. Marred by injuries, his overall output looks bleak for a £7.5m forward, but when you look at the underlying stats Antonio has an impressive rate of 0.45 goals and 0.22 assists per game, thus making him one of the best commodities for his price. Supported by the creative duo of Saïd Benrahma (£6.0m) and Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m), Antonio could be off to a flyer given that they have a relatively easy fixture run wherein the Hammers face the likes of Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Leeds and Brentford in their opening seven fixtures. Moreover, Antonio is also West Ham’s main penalty taker, which is always an added advantage when picking a player.
Danny Ings (£8.0m) | Opponent: WAT (A)
First and foremost, Ings is a proven goalscorer. In fact, only Harry Kane (£12.5m), Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) and Jamie Vardy (£10.5m) have scored more across the last two Premier League seasons. During that time, he has overperformed his expected goal (xG) totals in both campaigns, with an impressive goal conversion rate of 21.1% in 2020/21. However, he also offers more to the team with his all-round game. He will often pull out wide or drop deeper in an attempt to pick out runners with a pass, which could be good news for the likes of Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendía. Moreover, with Romelu Lukaku set to miss the opening fixture due to ‘technical regulations’, it only makes sense to have Ings in your Gameweek 1 team given Villa’s relatively easy set of fixtures. And with another £3.5m left in the bank just for this, you can bring in either Lukaku or someone like Jamie Vardy based on fixture difficulty index.
GK: Jason Steele (£4.0m) | Opponent: BUR (A)
Brighton’s underlying defensive numbers last season are extremely impressive, making the Seagulls’ No. 1 (Sánchez) a logical fantasy pick. Brighton had the 3rd-fewest xGA in the league (39.91), with only Chelsea and Man City doing better in this regard. Graham Potter’s men were unlucky to concede the number of goals they did last season as untimely red cards and bizarre VAR decisions went against them on multiple occasions. If Brighton’s on-field results reflect the brilliant underlying defensive numbers, a GK pairing of Robert Sánchez and Jason Steele is a safe combination as the risk of rotation is eliminated.
1st Sub: Luke Ayling (£4.5m) | Opponent: MUN (A)
Although Leeds United have a tough start to their 21/22 campaign in terms of fixtures, Luke Ayling is a promising value option and rotates very well when picked in combination with a Brighton defender. When Leeds have a tough fixture, Brighton plays a relatively easy one and vice versa all the way through Gameweeks 1-5. Veltman could be Ayling’s perfect partner as both are regular starters for their respective teams. While in terms of numbers, Luke Ayling was one of the unluckiest defenders last season as his zero attacking output massively overshadowed his expected goals contribution stats. And for the coming season, my bet is on Luke Ayling to be the Stuart Dallas of 21/22 FPL Season.
2nd Sub: Daniel Amartey (£4.0m) | Opponent: WOL (H)
Injuries to Wesley Fofana (£4.5m, DEF) and Johnny Evans (£5.5m, DEF) opened the doors for Daniel Amartey to be included in the starting 11 for the FA Community Shield, and he didn’t skip a beat! The Ghanaian international pocketed Riyad Mahrez and helped keep Jack Grealish quiet on his Man City debut. After Amartey’s impressive performance in the Community Shield, the 26-year-old centre back looks set to start in the opening game against Wolves. With both Evans and Fofana long-term absentees, Amartey could be set for a protracted run in the team.
3rd Sub: Michael Obafemi (£4.5m) | Opponent: EVE (A)
I’ve gone with two forwards, with Obafemi as a bench option. While many managers tend to go with a 3-4-3 or a 4-3-3 setup, my squad planning gives me greater flexibility to switch between the 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 systems, as and when required. While being priced at only £4.5m, it eases up a lot of funds for my midfield as my priority is to maximise my midfield each Gameweek. Moreover, both my strikers Danny Ings and Michail Antonio are regular starters for their respective teams and don’t need much tinkering. However, with Harry Kane’s impending deal and Lukaku not being eligible for Gameweek 1, it will be better for you to be flexible with your squad management.