The English Premier League returns on Saturday as Fulham entertain Arsenal in the opener of the 2020-21 season.
With the return of the most exciting league in the world sparks the return of the fantasy football season too. Week 1 is always the busiest for players as they select a team from scratch with an eye on both the following week and the entire season in mind.
This season is perhaps more difficult than ever as Manchester City, Manchester United, Burnley and Aston Villa don’t feature the opening weekend as a result of the former two’s participation in the latter stages of last season’s Champions League and Europa League campaigns.
With that in mind, here are 11 players who you should strongly consider for the opening weekend:
Goalkeeper: Aaron Ramsdale
Dean Henderson returned to Manchester United at the conclusion of the last campaign and Sheffield United have replaced their successful loan signing with Aaron Ramsdale in goal. The Blades have kept a number of clean sheets over the past two seasons and the former Bournemouth man is a shot stopper so could pick up some points versus Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.
Defender: Kieran Tierney
Mikel Arteta has made wholesale changes to the Arsenal defence since taking charge in December. Kieran Tierney returned from injury before the end of the last campaign and was very impressive at left-back, providing a number of assists too. The Gunners start away to Fulham so there’s a reasonable chance of a clean sheet and three points versus the Championship play-off winners.
Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Liverpool defenders don’t come cheap in fantasy football but with the amount of clean sheets they kept last season they’re a must. The two full-backs are valued the same, and cheaper than Virgil van Dijk. I’d go with Trent Alexander-Arnold after he ended last campaign with more assists than Andy Robertson. The defending champions start the season at home to newly-promoted Leeds United.
Defender: Ben Chilwell
I’m not a fan of Frank Lampard’s defences but the Chelsea boss has added Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell to the ranks this summer. The latter should offer decent value in fantasy football this season in a left wingback role as the Chilwell likes to get forward and put balls into the box.
Midfielder: Sadio Mane
Liverpool have one of the best front three’s in world football and will be looking to start their title defence with a win. Sadio Mane (9.5m) is substantially cheaper than Mohamed Salah (15.0m) so is an obvious choice to start the season in your team.
Midfielder: Christian Pulisic
Chelsea have a lot of options to rotate their players in midfield which isn’t always the greatest thing for fantasy football. One player worth taking a chance on this weekend though is Christian Pulisic. The American is arguably the star of their team now and sets you back just 6.0m- cheaper than nearly all West Ham United midfielders to give you an idea of value. Away to Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday should give you confidence of starting with a goal.
Midfielder: Dani Ceballos
Arsenal have Dani Ceballos back from Real Madrid again this season. The Spaniard performed better during the second half of the season following the appointment of fellow countryman Mikel Arteta as manager. The midfielder should slot straight back into the starting lineup and create chances for his teammates. At 3.50 you can’t go far wrong for a budget player.
Midfielder: James Ward-Prowse
Southampton travel to Crystal Palace in a game they should be confident in getting a result. One of the playmakers in their team is James Ward-Prowse, who takes a number of set pieces too.
Forward: Timo Werner
Probably the best bargain I could find to start the season, Chelsea new boy Timo Werner is just 3.50m. The German international should lead the line for at least 70 minutes each game before Lampard considers bringing on Olivier Giroud or Tammy Abraham. Although the Blues face Liverpool in their second game, you’ll struggle to find a better value for money player this season I’m sure.
Forward: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Alexandre Lacazette appears to be on his way out of the Emirates so Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will seemingly move back into the striker’s role. The club captain fell just short of winning the Golden Boot last season despite spending much of his time out on the left. Arsenal start the season away to Fulham on Saturday.
Forward: Danny Ings
Danny Ings was in fine form after the restart and is Southampton’s only real goal threat. Whilst being reliable for the Saints you can’t overlook his price of just 3.5m either. He’ll be away to Crystal Palace on Saturday, which is as good enough reason as any to include him in your first squad of the season.
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