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Fantasy Premier League tips: The best starting XI to buy for your FPL team in Gameweek 1

The i 8/13/2021 Oliver Young-Myles

If you feasted on Euro 2020 with a side helping of Copa America before gorging on some Olympics action for the hell of it, it might feel as though football never actually went away over the summer.

But it has been 82 days since a ball was last kicked in the Premier League, which seems an inordinate amount of time considering barely 24 hours seemed to pass without a game taking place after English football restarted in June 2020.

The opening weekend of a new season is always a clean slate for managers, players and supporters. And to Fantasy Premier League managers alike, who might have overachieved or underachieved in the overall standings, or won or lost their mini-league on the final day of the previous season.

There are some tasty looking fixtures to get stuck into in Gameweek 1. Newly-promoted Brentford kick things off as they welcome Arsenal to west London before Tottenham and Manchester City close out the opening weekend on Sunday in a match that will be of particular interest to Harry Kane, who has been linked with a move from the former to the latter.

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If you’re interested in joining the i readers league on Fantasy Premier League for the 2021-22 campaign, enter this code when prompted on the website: t96gm9. You can also sign up to i‘s dedicated fantasy football newsletter to receive tips, injury updates and more each week throughout the season.

In the build-up to the 2021-22 season, i have put together four separate tips articles on the best goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards to target throughout the campaign. If you would like our weekly tips to drop into your email inbox each week, sign up to our dedicated fantasy football newsletter here.

This year, i will select the XI best players to target for every upcoming gameweek, using form, statistical data and fixtures as a guide to inform our selections. Our weekly budget will be set at £83.5m as the cheapest four-man bench you could have at the start of the season would be worth £16.5m.

As usual, we will include a “differential” player owned by fewer than five per cent of managers in the game, as the 12th man only in our newsletter.

Here is our first FPL team for the 2021-22 season.

Robert Sanchez (Brighton)

Of the teams still in the division, Burnley scored the fewest home goals (14) last season which boosts the prospects of Brighton’s budget goalkeeper Robert Sanchez. After dislodging Mat Ryan from Gameweek 13 onwards, Sanchez had the third-highest expected FPL points (111) among goalkeepers, only behind Emi Martinez and Ederson, via Fantasy Football Fix.

Price: £4.5m Points (in 20-21): 101 Gameweek 1 fixture: Burnley (a)

Luke Shaw (Man Utd)

Who could have predicted at the start of the 2020-21 season that Luke Shaw would be the most transferred player in the entire game ahead of the 2021-22 campaign? At the time of writing, Shaw is owned by just under 55 per cent of managers, putting him ahead of Mo Salah in the popularity stakes. Shaw was the second-most creative defender in the Premier League last term before starring for England at Euro 2020.

Price: £5.5m Points (in 20-21): 124 Gameweek 1 fixture: Leeds (h)

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

According to data from Fantasy Football Fix, Trent Alexander-Arnold created more big chances (14) than any other defender in FPL in 2020-21 and was also top for expected goals (xG) and assists (xA). He ended 2021-22 in fine fettle too, supplying five FPL assists and a goal in his last eight appearances. Injury cruelly robbed the 22-year-old of a Euro 2020 stint, but England’s loss could prove to be Liverpool’s gain.

Price: £7.5m Points (in 20-21): 160 Gameweek 1 fixture: vs Norwich (a)

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Kostas Tsimikas (Liverpool)

Andy Robertson’s untimely ankle ligament injury has opened the door for backup left back Kostas Tsimikas to make his mark at Anfield after playing a grand total of six Premier League minutes last season. Tsimikas provided a lovely assist for Roberto Firmino in Sunday’s 3-1 win against Osasuna and could provide exceptional value at just £4.0m.

Price: £4.0m Points (in 20-21): 2 Gameweek 1 fixture: vs Norwich (a)

Mason Greenwood (Man Utd)

Similarly to Alexander-Arnold, Mason Greenwood ended an inconsistent campaign on a high, with six goals and an assist in his final eight matches, before missing Euro 2020 through injury. With Marcus Rashford ruled out for the foreseeable future after undergoing shoulder surgery and Edinson Cavani yet to return to England from his holiday in Uruguay, Greenwood could lead the line against Leeds in Gameweek 1.

Price: £7.5m Points (in 20-21): 106 Gameweek 1 fixture: Leeds (h)

Mo Salah (Liverpool)

A Liverpool triple up against Norwich looks to be on the cards given Daniel Farke’s side will surely need time to bed in a number of new recruits. It is hard to look past Mo Salah for the captain’s armband this weekend with his 20 point haul against Leeds on the opening day of the 2020-21 season still fresh in the memory for those who backed him on that occasion.

Price: £12.5m Points (in 20-21): 231 Gameweek 1 fixture: Norwich (a)

Kai Havertz (Chelsea)

Kai Havertz started to flourish in a Chelsea shirt during the second half of the season, emerging as a genuine FPL asset in the process. From Gameweek 19 onwards, Havertz provided three assists and goals apiece, including one of each in Chelsea’s 4-1 destruction of Crystal Palace in April. He could have a prominent role in the opening weekend with Romelu Lukaku yet to complete his return to the Bridge.

Price: £8.5m Points (in 20-21): 91 Gameweek 1 fixture: Crystal Palace (h)

Harvey Barnes (Leicester)

Harvey Barnes was on course for his best-ever FPL season – and potentially a place in England’s Euro 2020 squad – before a knee injury sustained in a match against Arsenal in Gameweek 26, ended his campaign. Between Gameweek 1 and 26 prior to his injury setback, Barnes had accumulated 126 points – more than any other midfielder priced at £7.0m or under.

Price: £7.0m Points (in 20-21): 126 Gameweek 1 fixture: Wolves (h)

Jack Grealish (Man City)

With both Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden unavailable for Manchester City’s opening fixtures due to injury, English football’s first £100m man Jack Grealish should see plenty of game time for his new club. Despite only playing 26 games for Aston Villa last season, Grealish provided 12 FPL assists – a total only bettered in the league by Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Bruno Fernandes (all 14).

Price: £8.0m Points (in 20-21): 135 Gameweek 1 fixture: Spurs (a)

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Danny Ings (Aston Villa)

Aston Villa have reinvested the £100m raised from selling Jack Grealish to Manchester City in three exciting attacking players in Emi Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings. The acquisition of Ings, in particular, is a major coup considering only Harry Kane, Mo Salah and Jamie Vardy have outscored him in the Premier League since August 2019.

Price: £8.0m Points (in 20-21): 131 Gameweek 1 fixture: Watford (a)

Callum Wilson (Newcastle)

The Premier League’s fixture computer has pitted Newcastle and West Ham together in Gameweek 1 for the second year running, giving Callum Wilson the chance to extend his excellent record against the Hammers. Wilson has scored more goals against West Ham (eight) than any other club in his career and averaged the third most points-per-game (5.15) among forwards last season, according to Fantasy Football Fix.

Price: £7.5m Points (in 20-21): 134 Gameweek 1 fixture: West Ham (h)

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