Gameweek 1 Captain & Player Picks

Holly Shand from Fantasy Football Community is back for a new season, with a brand new captaincy corner and her three player picks in three positions for 2019 – Gameweek 1.

Del, FPLBET Editor

There’s an intriguing sword vs shield captain dilemma to start the season and plenty of intriguing matchups on opening weekend.

Last Sunday’s Community Shield was the perfect starter to engage FPL managers for a fresh campaign. Sterling hit the score sheet, Salah peppered the City goal with numerous good chances and Van Dijk reminded us of his capabilities for goals, assists and clean sheets.

Looking at the calendar around Gameweek 1, Wolves are involved in Europa League this Thursday and next Thursday, travelling to Armenia for their Third Qualifying Round first leg prior to Gameweek 1. Liverpool and Chelsea head to Istanbul between Gameweek 1 and Gameweek 2, to contest the UEFA Super Cup.

Captaincy Corner

My captain picks return for Gameweek 1, whittled down to the two main options you should be considering. The shield pick is likely to be the most captained player of the week, allowing you to play safe and keep pace with the pack. The sword pick will be a less popular selection: if they perform it can shoot you up the overall rankings, but the risk from failure is higher.

Shield Pick: Mo Salah vs Norwich (H)
Anytime Goalscorer Odds: 4/7

The best FPL player from the last two seasons has a tasty home fixture against promoted Norwich in Gameweek 1. At the time of writing, his ownership is just below 40%, and the highest of all premium attackers: he should be the highest captained player in FPL for Gameweek 1.  He looked his usual hungry self in the Community Shield: he had 10 shots on goal, hitting the woodwork and having an effort cleared off the line. Handing the Egyptian the armband looks to be the obvious decision: perhaps the question we should be asking here is should the Triple Captain chip be deployed this early in the season? There’s an argument for here, with single gameweek options emerging as credible choices at the right moment last season. James Milner is struggling with injury, so Salah may be on penalties for VAR’s Premier League launch this weekend. Will you play safe with the Shield Pick?

Sword Pick: Harry Kane vs Aston Villa (H)

Anytime Goalscorer Odds: 8/13

Those managers looking elsewhere for their GW1 armband, would be wise to consider Harry Kane this weekend. He may not be too far behind Salah in the captain popularity charts, his ownership sits just below 30% which is third among attackers behind Salah and Sterling. He’s had a much needed rest this summer and a full pre-season, which bodes well for his output this season. He’s yet to score in the new White Hart Lane and will be looking to address that at the first opportunity. He has an excellent penalty record and could be one of the early beneficiaries of VAR: we saw a similar spike during the 2018 FIFA World Cup which led Kane to win the Golden Boot. Aston Villa join the Premier League with a reputation for being weak defensively: Kane has four goals in five Premier League games against them. Are you going to take a risk in selecting the Sword Pick?

Holly’s Hopefuls

In a new feature to the column, I’ll be sharing my top three players for each Gameweek, selecting one defender, one midfielder and one striker. These are players that I’m tipping for the FPL Dream Team and they could also make intriguing differential captain decisions for you to consider too. For more differentials, be sure to check out Jared’s top picks for 2019 FPL differentials.

DEF: Virgil Van Dijk vs Norwich (H)

Virgil Van Dijk currently sits as the highest owned player in the game and despite being less dazzling than Liverpool’s full backs, it’s his consistency which earns him his place here. He had an excellent game in the Community Shield, assisting Matip’s equaliser and narrowly missed out on a goal himself when he smashed the underside of the crossbar. Liverpool were tremendous defensively at Anfield last season, so should be able to keep the Norwich attack at bay. With four goals, four assists and 22 bonus points last season, there’s hope that he can get the holy grail of an attacking return, clean sheet and bonus in this game.  

MID: Raheem Sterling vs West Ham (A)

An away game for Sterling shouldn’t put you off backing him this weekend: he’s potentially playing out of position as a striker for the Champions and has had a great pre-season. He had another fantastic game in the Community Shield, taking his goal nicely and squandering a couple of other excellent chances. Manchester City have had the better of West Ham on numerous occasions in recent memory, winning 4-0 and 4-1 in games at the London Stadium in the last three seasons. Sterling has three goals and six assists from his last six Premier League games against the Hammers.

FOR: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vs Newcastle (A)

Last seasons Golden Boot winner has been somewhat overlooked for the start of the FPL season, but his opening pair of fixtures provide plenty of appeal and he could be a great differential for your fantasy squads. Things don’t look great for the Magpies this coming season, with a change in personnel and injuries in defence. With Lacazette a doubt, Aubameyang could be free to lead the line for Arsenal in this game and probe that Newcastle back-line. He has penalty duties too and had a decent end to pre-season with three goals and two assists, he could be a great differential!

Until next time…
Good luck!
Holly

Find even more Fantasy Premier League Tips over on Holly’s website: Fantasy Football Community

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Holly Shand | 🏘️ FFCOM Founder & Editor | 📽 @OfficialFPL Show Panellist - Top 10K Finish 2018/19

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