What have I learned from Gameweek 1? It’s the same every year. Don’t panic after just one Gameweek. Remember why you chose those players. If you can save a transfer that’s ideal.
All words of wisdom we heard in pre-season, which is why less than 24 hours after Gameweek 1 ending I’ve considered no transfers, one transfer and even a hit! Fantasy Premier League is truly back.
In this article I want to see if there’s anything we can take away from Gameweek 1. It should be noted that making rash decisions based on one Gameweek is often a fools game, but we should always try and spot what we can, especially this early on.
Lots was made of Everton’s sub-par performances during Project Restart. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.0m) didn’t score at all, and they looked as a whole, very poor as a team.
Fast-forward to signing a whole new midfield in Allan (£5.5m), Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.5m) and James Rodríguez (£7.5m), and it’s suddenly a whole different story.
The midfield three, which included Allan, Doucouré and André Gomes (£5.5m) looked like it had been playing together for years, and Rodríguez looked like that player that some people probably haven’t seen play since the World Cup in 2014. He constantly caused Ben Davies (£5.0m) issues even without pace on his side, and with five chances created against a strong enough Tottenham Hotspur side, we should be taking note.
It’s also worth noting that Everton’s game plan was to seemingly target the side of Matt Doherty (£6.0m), with Rodríguez often playing balls out to Richarlison. With West Brom, Crystal Palace and Brighton up next it may be something they continue to try, although Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m) might have something to say about that in the Brighton game.
Just to quickly touch on Lucas Digne (£6.0m) as well. It was interesting to see that Rodríguez didn’t monopolise set pieces, and Digne was still on lots of corners and free-kicks, which is ultimately where his assist came from. He only created one chance in the game, but with more freedom against teams that don’t have a marauding full back like Doherty, he could still be a great option, especially with the new look midfield giving the defence more protection.
I’ve been pretty vocal in my excitement for Chelsea players this season but it might take a bit longer for their new signings to gel together like Everton’s did. Without some of their key players being fit, I’m looking at your Christian Pulisic (£8.5m) and Hakim Ziyech (£8.0m), it may be more sensible to hold off on loading up too soon.
They beat Brighton 3-1 but it wasn’t convincing. The xG for the game was Brighton 1.05 v 1.22 Chelsea..
Reece James (£5.0m) rewarded owners handsomely, but I’m not expecting him to score a 20 yard goal every week. And the third goal was helped through a significant deflection.
It might be harsh but I also thought Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.0m) was at fault for the goal they did concede, and it wouldn’t be the first time. I think I’ll continue avoiding Chelsea defenders until a replacement comes in (which may be soon), despite their relatively good underlying numbers last year.
In attack to say Kai Havertz (£8.5m) didn’t look good would probably be an understatement. He created just one chance and had zero shots. It’s too quick to write him off, he’s a young player, playing in a new team, in a new league, but for owners it may be concerning with Liverpool (home) up next. When Pulisic and Ziyech are finally fit we should see Havertz move more centrally, rather than playing out wide and that should broaden his points potential.
I don’t think Havertz is necessarily a rush to sell, but the timelines on certain injuries to other players in the squad would help me if I had to make that decision. After Liverpool it’s West Brom, Crystal Palace and Southampton up next, so there’s certainly some promise there.
For any promise Havertz didn’t show, Timo Werner (£9.5m) defintiely did. He managed five shots in the box, and also won the penalty. His speed in the transition from defence to attack will be huge, and playing off the shoulder against Liverpool could see plenty of counter attacking opportunities. Just an assist is hard to swallow for his 46.5% owners, but a goal looks to be right around the corner.
This probably isn’t news to some, but the Liverpool defence is still pretty good, despite heavy transfers out for the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m)
Leeds United may have impressed and scored three goals, but this came from an xG of just 0.32. On another day Leeds may not have scored at all.
What was most worrying to me was Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) making another mistake and gifting Patrick Bamford (£5.6m) a goal. It’s easy to put those mistakes down to a league winning hangover, but we don’t have that excuse now and it’s something to monitor – hopefully just first game of the season rustiness.
I don’t think we should have been expecting too many clean sheets from Leeds, Chelsea and Arsenal in the first three Gameweeks, players like Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) and Alexander-Arnold are long term holds after all, which is why the Leeds result doesn’t put me off when you look at the underlying numbers.
In attack, Mohammad Salah (£12.0m) owners can probably consider themselves a little lucky (I know I do), to have gotten two penalties in one game. Although it’s worth noting for a lot of people getting penalties for the same price as Sadio Mané (£12.0m) was key reason behind the pick.
From an “eye test” perspective Salah looked sharp, and any pre-season lack of form or sharpness was not to be seen. The same can’t be said of Mané who I thought looked poor at times with sloppy passing that broke down some attacks.
But when you look at the underlying numbers, both Salah (0.38) and Mané (0.27) had fairly similar npXG and it’s probably not worth panicking too much after just one Gameweek. Although for some people perhaps it’s just dawned on them that penalties can be very handy in FPL, and Salah is probably worth owning long term whilst they are the same price.
For more detailed information on every match played in Gameweek 1, please check out the Scout Notes articles written by David and Neale, linked below. These include in-depth analysis as well as some exclusive additional sections for Premium Members.