FPL 2023-24 | Gameweek 1 | Captain Picks
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After weeks of wondering what to do with ourselves, whether it be immersing ourselves in a thrilling Ashes series, or watching Max Verstappen race away to will what surely be another World Championship, finally the 2023-24 Premier League season has burst into view. That of course, means that it’s time for another year of Fantasy Premier League. It’s safe to say that FPL is now a staple of all our footballing diets, an opportunity to get one over on our mates, giving us a reason to watch even the most mundane of fixtures on paper.
Happy Retirement Legend @StuartBroad8 💙— ALLABOUTFPL (@allaboutfpl) July 31, 2023
600 Test wickets✅
170+ wickets in ODIs✅
160+ Test matches ✅
T20 WC winner✅
Best figures of 8/15 in Ashes✅
And more importantly FPL GW37 World No.1 in 2017/18 season✅
All time great👑
More time to focus on @OfficialFPL now 😉 pic.twitter.com/O6nosvtYmT
As always, key to any success in FPL is choosing the right captain on every given gameweek, particularly here in Gameweek 1. Whilst the right choice can turbo-charge an early push to the top of your respective mini-leagues, a bad choice can leave yourself with weeks’ worth of catching up to do. With that in mind, we’ve analysed the contenders and highlighted three premium captain picks, including a differential selection ahead of Friday’s 18:30 deadline.
Erling Haaland (£14.0m) vs BUR (a)
After taking the Premier League by storm in his first season at Man City, can Erling Haaland (£14.0m) repeat the dose? The vast majority of FPL managers certainly think so, with over 80% currently owning the Norwegian striker despite his daunting £14.0m price-tag and the expectation is that almost all of them will place the armband on Haaland in Gameweek 1. Last season, the City star burst onto the scene with a brace in Gameweek 1 away at West Ham and he faces another away trip in the opening round of fixtures this year in the form of newly promoted Burnley.
🗣 "I'm pretty sure against Burnley he will be in better condition."— Football Daily (@footballdaily) August 7, 2023
Pep Guardiola is confident once Erling Haaland gets back into his rhythm he will start firing again 💥 pic.twitter.com/7712VLtp1r
Haaland already boasts a hat-trick against Vincent Kompany’s side, having put them to the sword in last season’s FA Cup quarter-final which Man City won 6-0 at home. Whilst this match takes place at Turf Moor, that won’t deter anyone from captaining a player who racked up a Premier League record 36 goals in 2022-23, not to mention nine assists and 272 fantasy points, more than any other fantasy asset. Fail to hand Haaland the armband in Gameweek 1 and your FPL season could be over before it’s even begun if he is to start the new campaign with a flourish.
Mo Salah (£12.5) vs CHE (a)
No player is more deadly on the opening day of a Premier League season than Mo Salah (£12.5m) and the statistics speak for themselves. The Egyptian has netted eight goals on the opening day across his career, level with Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer, but come Gameweek 1 of this new campaign, Salah has the chance to break the record and keep it for himself. He has now scored in six consecutive Gameweek 1 fixtures and last season managed a goal and an assist on the opening weekend as Liverpool drew 2-2 away at Fulham.
Whilst Chelsea at Stamford Bridge serves as one of Salah’s toughest Gameweek 1 tests on paper, with the last four fixtures between the two clubs in all competitions finishing goalless, writing off a player of his quality is ill-advised. It may take Chelsea time to adapt under a new boss in Mauricio Pochettino and Liverpool will be looking to capitalise. Whilst the fixture will likely put many FPL bosses off captaining Salah, he remains as dangerous a fantasy asset as ever.
Bukayo Saka (£8.5) vs NFO (H)
Arsenal are blessed with a collection of lucrative fantasy assets within their midfield that will leave many an FPL manager scratching their heads at who to bring in for Gameweek 1, which sees the Gunners host Nott’m Forest. You could make a case for a number of players, but Bukayo Saka (£8.5m) in particular stands out as captain material. The England international was Arsenal’s designated penalty taker last season, which gives him an edge over the likes of Odegaard and Martinelli, not to mention his attacking threat which sees him come into Gameweek 1 on the back of his best Premier League season in 2022-23.
Reasons why I like Saka for GW1 Captain.— Andy Martin (@fpl_tactician) August 2, 2023
- Forest at home is easier than Burnley away.
- Good time of day. Forest have quite a few players who have enjoyed a relaxing summer. That 7.30am wake-up call in the hotel followed by 8.30am pasta is going to sting.
-On Pens. pic.twitter.com/jImytTBYdw
Saka recorded 14 goals and 12 assists last season, ending the campaign as one of just four midfielders to exceed the 200 points mark in FPL. It would be no surprise to see him pick up where he left off, starting against Nott’m Forest. Steve Cooper’s side conceded 68 goals last season in the Premier League, a total exceeded by just three other teams and Arsenal will fancy getting on the scoresheet more than once here, making Saka a huge contender to be in-among the attacking returns.
Solly March (£6.5m) vs LUT (H)
Since Roberto De Zerbi joined Brighton as Graham Potter’s replacement in September of last year, the attacking output of the Seagulls has shot up with a level of cutting edge and effectiveness that has not been seen before at the club in the Premier League. De Zerbi has been credited for improving a number of long-serving Brighton players, once of them being midfielder Solly March (£6.5m), whose direct offensive wing-play made him a key figure for the Italian head coach. The second half of the season, saw March establish himself as one of the most in-form players in the country, scoring eight goals in all competitions from Boxing Day onwards and racking up ten Premier League assists over the course of the campaign, more than any other Seagulls player.
Brighton will begin 2023-24 with a home clash against newly promoted Luton and will no doubt look to dictate possession, control the tempo of play and utilise the large pitch at the Amex to their advantage, with the Hatters more used to the compact nature of Kenilworth Road. This should suit a player such as March, who is likely to be afforded plenty of room to carry the ball forward and his direct style could well see him carve out goalscoring opportunities out wide, both for his teammates and himself. The 29-year-old is also a dangerous free kick taker and should be fighting it out with Pascal Gross for set-pieces. As the majority of FPL managers scramble to bring in Kaoru Mitoma ahead of Gameweek 1, perhaps it’s his opposite winger March who could steal the spotlight instead.