After weeks of chopping and changing of teams, attempting to gain some kind of statistical edge or simply going with your gut on who will score big this year, Game Week 1 of the Fantasy Premier League is finally upon us.
46 teams are currently entered into the Hive FPL, an excellent turn out for its debut season and of course it's not too late to join. Enter for free and become part of a fun and friendly community with weekly prizes on offer.
Gameweek 1 Match Previews and Key Stats
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Arsenal play the opening game of the Premier League season for the 2nd year running and will hope that they perform better than they did against Brentford 12 months ago when they lost 2-0.
The Gunners have been in magnificent form during pre-season with new signing Gabriel Jesus (FWD) hitting the ground running. At a cost of just £8 mil it's no great surprise that the man that Arsenal have brought in to lead the line is the most picked player to date in the FPL.
However, he and his teammates face a tough challenge away at Selhurst Park in a fixture which saw Palace run out resounding winners last season. In fact, Arsenal have tasted victory in just 1 of their last 8 Premier League meetings with the Eagles and it's unlikely that Gunners old boy Patrick Vieira will be looking to do his former club any favours this time around either.
Under Vieira, Palace have made themselves incredibly difficult to beat, as evidenced by the fact that they actually conceded fewer goals and lost fewer games than Arsenal last year. Off the back of a good pre-season themselves they'll be looking to convert some of their draws from last season (15 in total) into wins and catapult themselves up the table.
Last season's top scorer Wilf Zaha (MID) has looked sharp in pre-season and it's no surprise that he's the most picked Palace player at the moment. Arsenal passed on the chance to sign him in favour of fellow Ivorian Nicolas Pepe, oops. However, don't write off a couple of Palace's experienced forwards in Christian Benteke (FWD) and Jordan Ayew (MID) who have 6 and 5 career goals respectively vs the Gunners. Both are very cheap, have a penchant for scoring in big games and are being selected by very few others...
Fulham vs Liverpool
Liverpool's performance against City in the Community Shield suggests they mean business early on and to be honest that's nothing new. Klopp likes his team's to get off to a fast start in matches and it appears that this is very much the same for the season as a whole. Under his management, Liverpool have scored at least 3 times in every one of their opening Premier League matches.
That fact means the likes of Mo Salah (MID), Darwin Nunez (FWD) and TAA (DEF) are popular picks with all 3 of them already on the score sheet for Liverpool in competitive fixtures this season.
However, Fulham might not be quite the rollovers that some may think. Remember that despite being relegated in the 2020/21 season the Cottagers took a win and a draw from the then defending champions Liverpool!
One Fulham player to make sure that you don't have in your team anymore is Harry Wilson (MID). Having completed a permanent move to Fulham from Liverpool this summer, the Welsh winger limped off during a recent friendly with Aston Villa and is now likely to miss weeks if not months of the season. Wilson's partnership with ** Aleksandar Mitrovic** (FWD) was key to Fulham's promotion and his loss is a massive blow.
Bournemouth v Aston Villa
Bournemouth have endured a difficult pre-season with defeats in their last 3 friendlies. Meanwhile Aston Villa have looked very competent during their warm-up for the 2022/23 season.
Winger Leon Bailey (MID) has drawn special praise from manager Steven Gerrard for his 2nd half performance against Manchester United and he scored again in Villa's final friendly last week. The Jamaican's first season in the Premier League was beset by injuries but if he can stay fit then his £5 million price tag looks very appealing!
While these 2 teams have a very limited Premier League history, Bournemouth have run out winners in each of the last 3 occasions they've met Villa. No doubt the Cherries and their home support will be up for it again on the opening day.
Leeds v Wolves
The bookies have this fixture down as the hardest to call of all the opening day matches.
Leeds have lost both opening day fixtures since being reinstated to the Premier League and conceded 9 goals in the process. Interestingly prior to that, they'd never been beaten in their 1st game of a Premier League season.
The losses of Raphina and Phillips are obliviously huge but Spanish international Rodrigo (MID) scored in 3 of Leeds friendlies including a hat-trick in their final match against Cagliari and he could be a key player this season. The fact that he also scored in both EPL matches against Wolves last season means that his £6.0 million price tag is well worth a look at.
Wolves ended last season without a win in their final 7 games and their preparations for this year haven't exactly been smooth either. A "friendly" against Levante ended in a fist fight with both sides reduced to 9 men by the end of the game and Wolves also picked up 5 second half yellow cards in a warm-up against Sporting Lisbon last weekend.
One bright spark has been the form of Pedro Neto (MID) who scored in 3 friendlies last month. The Portugese winger spent a large part of last season injured but is looking fit now and could be a bargain buy at just £5.5 million.
Newcastle v Notts Forrest
OK, so it's been a while since Forest have been involved in the English top flight but during their initial Premier League stint the former champions of Europe won 4 out of their 5 opening games!
By contrast, their hosts Newcastle have a fairly terrible record in opening day fixtures (8 wins in 27 matches) particularly at home where they haven't won since 2012. Since then they've played 6 of their opening games at St. James park where they've drawn 1 and lost 5!
Expectations for Eddie Howe's team are sky high since the takeover and his side finished last season well but as we've seen throughout the years, St. James Park can be a difficult place to play for the Magpies if they don't start quickly. Their opponents will, like any newly promoted club, be up for this game so taking a punt on a couple of Forest players might not be a bad option.
As a flying full-back Neco Williams (DEF) at just £4.0 mil is proving a very popular buy while new boy Jesse Lingard (MID) was linked with a move to Newcastle before joining Forest and perhaps the Magpies were keen to sign the former United midfielder due his record against them which includes 3 goals in 6 meetings.
Meanwhile for Newcastle, Miguel Almiron (MID) has enjoyed a stellar pre-season with 6 goals across the Toon Army's 8 matches. At just £5.0 mil and having been selected by just 1 in 100 FPL coaches could he be a dark horse in the early part of the season?
Spurs v Southampton
Of the regular Premier League teams (15+ seasons in the EPL) Southampton have the worst opening day record of all-time with just 2 wins in their 23 matches played to date. They travel to a Spurs side who haven't historically been quick out of the blocks either but have improved in recent years with 4 wins out of 5 in game week 1.
However, this is a fixture that when we look beyond just the opening game stats, tells us to expect one thing - goals!
Southampton actually won 3-2 in the corresponding fixture last season and Spurs have failed to keep a clean sheet against the Saints in each of their last 13 Premier League meetings a run stretching back to 2015.
During that same period Spurs have hit 3+ goals against the Saints on 5 occasions so this might well be a game to avoid selecting keepers and defenders from both sides!
Harry Kane (FWD) has scored in 5 in his last 10 appearances against the Saints while Heung-min Son (MID) has netted 8 times in the last 6 games in which these 2 teams have met.
Southampton still appear to be chasing reinforcements, particularly up front, with the departure of Broja back to Chelsea leaving a hole. Adam Armstrong (FWD) may well be in line for more minutes as a result and the striker valued at just £5.5 mil has already netted twice during pre-season. Can he help continue the scoring streak for Saints in this fixture?
Everton v Chelsea
I think it's fair to say that both these teams enter the 2022/23 season with a degree of uncertainty surrounding their squads.
Everton seem to be in a constant state of flux these days and over the last decade their league finishes have been on a downward trajectory. Perhaps most concerning is that a fair number of their squad's careers are following a similar path. Top scorer Richarlison has departed and the club's financial concerns mean that to date they've been unable to really invest the amount that they received back into personnel.
One new signing who has come in and hit the ground running is Dwight McNeil (MID) who scored a brace in a friendly against Dynamo Kiev last weekend and is available for just £5.5 mil. The fitness of Dominic Calvert-Lewin (FWD) who is the clubs only recognised striker will also be key this season but it's already looking likely that he won't be available for this match raising the question of who exactly will lead the line for the Toffees?
Chelsea's boardroom comings and goings have undoubtedly delayed their transfer business this summer but one man they did bring in early is Raheem Sterling (MID). It looks likely that he'll occupy a false 9 position this season and we've seen in the past that he is capable of hitting 20+ Premier League goals in a season. As a former Liverpool player he won't get a great reception at Goodison Park but that hasn't bothered him much in the past. He's scored 5 Premier League goals vs the blue half of Merseyside and added a further 2 assists in previous meetings.
Despite Everton's struggles in recent years this is a fixture they've done well in with Chelsea managing just 2 wins out of their last 9 Premier League encounters. Equally, Chelsea haven't tasted victory at Goodison Park since 2017 so while last season's final positions suggest that the Londoners are firm favourites, it's perhaps not quite as straight forward a fixture as that.
Leicester v Brentford
Leicester had a difficult last season with injuries and international call-ups impacting their form while this summer speculation about several key first team players will surely not be helping their preparations.
James Maddison (MID) has already been the subject of at least 1 bid from a Premier League rival and he was by far the stand out player for the Foxes in 2021/22 scoring in both matches against Brentford last year as Leicester did the league double over their opening day opponents.
If a few of the established names do depart before the the close of the transfer window then it might be worth looking at some of the youth players that Leicester continue to produce and who might get extra minutes this season. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (MID) made 28 EPL appearances last season and has enjoyed a strong pre-season after signing a long-term contract extension. At just £5.0 mil he could be one to watch.
Brentford meanwhile finished last year strongly and will hope to carry that form into the early part of this year. Brian Mbeumo (FWD) has been the man in form for them so far, scoring in 4 of the club's pre-season friendlies.
Manchester United v Brighton
United suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat the last time these 2 teams met less than 3 months ago. Since then, new manager Erik ten Hag has certainly got fans optimistic for the new season by starting his reign with a 4-0 friendly win against Liverpool but the Red Devils have failed to win any of their last 3 friendly games and the Cristiano Ronaldo (FWD) saga has been allowed to drag into the season proper.
It's seem likely that United will make further signings in August but for now, players like Antony Martial (FWD), Marcus Rashford (MID) and Jadon Sancho (MID) appear to be first choice and given that they are playing for a top 6 club are all very affordable options. The pre-season form of all 3 certainly suggests they enjoy Ten Hag's style more than they have some of the recent managers at Old Trafford but can the Dutchman really get a new tune from a United squad that has underperformed for so long?
Brighton's preparations have also been disrupted and you could argue that they lost or are about to lose their best 2 players from last season in Bissouma and Cucurella. They have however kept hold of Leandro Trossard (MID) who scored 141 FPL points last season and hit a hat-trick against Espanyol in the Seagull's final friendly. At just £6.5 million he could be a good value buy and he is certainly crucial to Brighton's chances of extending their stay in the Premier League.
Manager Graham Potter knows the value of a fast start especially for a club who are perennially stuck towards the bottom third of the league. He's delivered 2 wins out of the 3 opening day fixtures he's been in charge of at Brighton.
West Ham v Manchester City
The reigning champions didn't look in the best of rhythm in the Community Shield last week with manager Pep Guardiola visibly agitated by the performance of some of his players particularly in the first half.
It has been a summer of relative flux at the Ethiad with a number of players, particularly in forward roles, having left the club. This opening fixture mirrors that of 2019 in a game that City ran out 5-0 winners. It is, however, noticeable that none of the scorers from that day (Sterling, Jesus and Aguero) are left at the club.
New boy Erling Haaland (FWD) didn't enjoy the best of times during his competitive debut last weekend and it's noticeable that FPL managers have been quick to spot that this City team as well as the striker himself might take a little time to adapt. Prior to kick-off last Sunday, Haaland appeared in 57.3% of fantasy teams but that figure has now dropped significantly to 48.9%
West Ham meanwhile have been quietly going about their business ensuring firstly that they retain key players like Declan Rice (MID) and Jarrod Bowen (MID) and then adding to the squad with signings like Gianluca Scamacca (FWD).
The Hammers played the defending champions 3 times in all competitions last year and earned a draw in 2 of those matches (they won on penalties in the League Cup). Courtesy of the aforementioned Bowen they actually found themselves 2-0 up in the corresponding Premier League fixture last year and his pace in behind plus an undoubtedly noisy London Stadium will make this a very tough test for City.
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