Fantasy Football – #FPL Gameweek 1 Preview – Written by @NiallHawthorne
I must caveat this while column by saying that I’m writing this before the transfer window has closed.
This is because the Lord and Master of FantasyYIRMA is currently starring in Home and Away, frolicking on the beach and being called a ‘Flaming Galah’ by Alf Stewart.
So, the time difference between our planets means I must type this on a Tuesday, and hope for the best.
In short, it’s all Ryan’s fault if anything that follows is factually inaccurate. But all credit to me if I’m right. Fair?
Defender: Kyle Walker, Manchester City
The eagerly-awaited rematch from the Asia Cup tussle between West Ham and Manchester City (said nobody ever) takes place this Saturday at the London Stadium. Having been on the end of a 4-1 shellacking in the Olympic Sports Stadium in China somewhere, Manuel Pellegrini could be forgiven for writing off GW1 for his troops and focusing all his attention on a trip to Brighton in August, which should be nice.
City in third gear should be more than a match for the Hammers, and I expect them to stroll to a routine 2-0 or 3-0 victory here to start their inexorable march towards reaching the fabled 115 points mark this season. Yes, I know that 38 x 3 = 114, but this is Manchester City we’re talking about.
Kyle Walker was noticeable for his quite frankly ridiculous bicycle-kick clearance from under his own crossbar in the dying seconds of the Community Shield, and as an ex-Spurs player he’ll delight in shutting down the Hammers on day one.
Midfielder: Youri Tielemans, Leicester City
To be frank, the multitude of midfield riches that the Brodge has at his disposal at Leicester City is quite frankly disgusting. Tielemans, Perez, Maddison, Barnes, Ndidi, Gray, Albrighton. It’s ridiculous, and means that Brendan may well opt for the lesser-known 2-7-1 formation this season. These are exciting times for Leicester City fans, and with £80 million (!) burning a hole in their pocket, I’m extremely excited to see who Brendan picks up to replace old slab head. (It’ll be Martin Skrtel, you know it will…).
Going forward the Foxes should be entertaining and while old Jamie Vardy can always be relied upon, it’s a newer arrival that excites me. I got on the Tielemans Train early in the second half of last season and he rewarded me with 3G and 5A in just over 1,000 minutes of action. With a full pre-season under his belt, this could be a mega season for a £6.5m midfield asset. That’s not to say that Perez at the same price should be overlooked, or even Maddison at £7m, but Tielemans is my man.
Plus, they face a Wolves side fresh from a lovely jaunt to Armenia this Thursday to play a team called Pyunik in what is sure to be 158-degree heat on a pitch made from baked clay. So where did you holiday this year, eh?
Forward: Chris Wood, Burnley
I know that pre-season ‘form’ can sometimes be misleading, but this guy has scored no less than 1,439 goals in just 3 pre-season matches (or something like that). Burnley disappointed last season but weren’t helped by their Europa League exploits in the month of July (and god knows Sean Dyche absolutely HATES Europe), so with no such distractions this season I reckon they’ll be the under-the-radar-quick-out-of-the-blocks team this season (like Watford were last season).
Plus, New Zealand sportspeople are about to dominate f*cking everything for the next few months.
Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool
The only thing annoying me about this fixture is that it hasn’t come on a wet, cold November afternoon, after the plucky Canaries have had all their hope and optimism battered out of them, and they accept that trips to Anfield are meant to be endured rather than dreamed about.
There’s nothing more annoying than a plucky Canary, so while this won’t be as straightforward as it could have been for Liverpool, I can’t see anything other than a comprehensive home win with Salah bagging at least a quick brace to get his Golden Boot campaign off to a flyer. If he had that many chances against Manchester City, he should have at least 10 shots against Norwich. I wouldn’t even put you off that TC chip y’know…
Outsider: Callum Robinson, Sheffield United
There’s a type of player that always starts a season strongly. The type of player who is quick, thrives on good pitches, loves the sunshine, and disappears completely when it’s five below zero and even the pre-match handshake hurts.
Callum Robinson has four goals in pre-season and is your Duracell-bunny type attacking midfielder. A trip to the seaside to take on a notoriously leaky Bournemouth defence means that his mother will be getting quite a few ‘Ooh Mrs. Robinson’ comments on Saturday night, but in a purely footballing sense of course….
Draft: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
It’s week one, and if you haven’t completed your draft yet, then I’m pointing out the bleeding obvious.
Fantasy Football – Gameweek 1 Preview – Written by @NiallHawthorne
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Niall Hawthorne has a strange view on most things.