Gameweek 1 Under the Microscope

7 observations no Fantasy Premier League manager can afford to ignore ahead of GW2

The excitement generated in the build-up to a new fantasy football campaign is difficult to rival. New managerial appointments need to be assessed, while a catalogue of new transfers present further dilemmas for aspiring managers. How will these players be accommodated? Will they be assigned specific duties? These are just a couple of questions that need to be addressed as you make those all-important selections.

Gameweek 1 may be done and dusted but now is not the time to rest on your laurels. You need to decipher what has happened during the first weekend’s action, making adjustments as necessary, to ensure that your future line-ups, whether they are entered in the seasonal FPL competition or any upcoming daily fantasy football slates are as competitive as they can possibly be.

Identifying set-piece takers plays a key role in fantasy football success so it’s imperative that you draw the right conclusions from your Gameweek 1 notes.

Here we put Gameweek 1 under the microscope and  list 7 observations no Fantasy Premier League manager can afford to ignore at this early stage of the 2016/17 campaign:

  • Riyad Mahrez is back on penalty duties for Leicester City. The Foxes won a league high 13 last season with Mahrez converting 4 from 6. However, he was given a breather by Claudio Ranieri, after missing a couple so it was a bit of a surprise to see him taking this one at the weekend, ahead of Jamie Vardy. Assuming Mahrez stays at the club, the added pace of Ahmed Musa, should ensure that Leicester continue to win their share of spot-kicks, adding to the Algerian’s fantasy selection appeal.

Fantasy Football Portal -Riyad Mahrez

  • West Brom’s new number 10 Matt Phillips, signed for £5.5m from QPR, is regarded as something of a set-piece specialist, which is highlighted in his WhoScored profile, along with his crossing ability. The winger played the full 90 minutes in the 1-0 victory at Selhust Park, a game in which match-winner Salomón Rondón looked very lively, but he wasn’t involved in any set-pieces at all. The Scottish International, who was one of the most sought-after budget midfield picks going into the new fantasy football season, scored 8 times and contributed 5 assists for QPR in the Championship last season so it will be fascinating to see how much responsibility Tony Pulis bestows upon him, especially with the Baggies having a favourable start to the season 
  • Gastón Ramírez took 6 of Middlebrough’s 9 corners against Stoke City and looked lively playing in the number 10 role behind Álvaro Negredo. Grant Leadbitter, Boro’s recognised dead ball specialist, is currently side-lined with a hernia problem, so Ramirez looks like one to keep an eye on.
  • The Pep Guardiola era is under way at the Etihad and possession football is already very prevalent. Manchester City enjoyed over 76% of the ball against Sunderland but their attack is somewhat diminutive, so short corners, a characteristic of Barcelona’s attacking play during Guardiola’s tenure at Camp Nou, could easily become the order of the day. This could count against Kevin De Bruyne, one of Europe’s most revered set-piece takers, who took 5 of City’s 9 corners against the Black Cats, playing 2 of them short.

Fantasy Football Portal - Kevin De Bruyne

  • Arsenal need to get their act together from the penalty spot. Theo Walcott fluffed his lines against Liverpool, while Granit Xhaka and Mesut Özil were both found wanting at the Euros. Alexis Sánchez, a target for Inter Milan, hasn’t taken one for Arsenal since his miss in 2014, while Santi Cazorla, who missed against the Baggies last season, also failed to convert in a pre-season friendly. Olivier Giroud did score the only other penalty the Gunners were awarded during the 2015/16 Premier League season though.
  • With Daley Blind seemingly not an option under their new manager, Manchester United’s corners were again poorly taken. Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks the obvious candidate to step up to the plate but he needs to establish himself in José Mourinho’s starting XI first.
  • Adnan Januzaj only played 26 minutes for Sunderland against Manchester City but he still managed to take 3 corner kicks. This was fairly significant since Wahbi Khazri, who took 56 corner kicks for the Black Cats in 2015/16 was on the pitch at the same time. Talks are still ongoing with Yann M’Vila, another option should he return to Sunderland. However, Januzaj would appear to be in the box-seat, assuming he becomes a regular starter under David Moyes.

There’s plenty of food for thought ahead of Gameweek 2 and those fantasy football contests but feel free to send us your views too!

Updated list of English Premier League Set Piece Takers