The Premier League is back on Friday evening when Arsenal take on Crystal Palace – and that means fantasy football is back too.
Fantasy Premier League has grown into a phenomenon in recent years and could top 10 million managers for the first time this season – although plenty will no doubt be caught out by the earliest ever start to a Premier League season as well as the always-tricky Friday night deadline, which kicks in at 6.30pm BST, meaning there may be plenty of late registrations after the first gameweek.
As fantasy managers put together the finishing touches on their teams, they will no doubt be following team news closely, hoping to glean some information from Friday’s press conferences. Here we take a look at the most popular FPL sides, what their (real) managers are saying and how they are likely to line-up this weekend.
Gameweek 1 fixture: Crystal Palace vs Arsenal, 8pm BST, Friday 5 August.
What Mikel Arteta said: “Three out of four of those players [Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith Rowe, Kieran Tierney and Fabio Vieira] are going to be training and if everything goes well, they will be available for selection and in the squad. Hopefully, we can start to recover because they’ve been missing a lot of minutes and time in pre-season and they are really important players for us.”
FPL team news: With Tomiyasu and Tierney still recovering their fitness, new-signing Oleksandr Zinchenko is set to start the season at left-back while Ben White looks in line to shift across to the right side, and William Saliba playing at center-back alongside Gabriel. Emile Smith Rowe’s lack of fitness means the left-wing position is Gabriel Martinelli’s to lose.
Arsenal’s predicted line-up: Ramsdale; White, Gabriel, Saliba, Zinchenko; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Jesus.
Gameweek 1 fixture: West Ham vs Manchester City, 4.30pm, Sunday 7 August.
What Pep Guardiola said: “I don’t know how many goals [Erling Haaland is] going to score and I don’t care. From what I’ve seen, he’s going to adapt incredibly quickly.”
On left-backs: “Nothing special. seduce [Wilson-Esbrand] it’s broken. João [Cancelo] It’s there, Nathan [Ake] can play there. Some surprises we can do. We will see.”
On Bernardo Silva’s future: “I would love for Bernardo to continue, but I don’t know what will happen. Players sometimes have a desire and I’m not a person to stop a person’s desire. I want Bernardo to stay here, 100%. We will see what happens”.
FPL team news: With Aymeric Laporte injured and John Stones missing most of pre-season, Nathan Ake could be a cheap route into the City defense, although rotation may well be just around the corner for the Dutch defender. Phil Foden did not start the Community Shield but could force his way into the side to face West Ham.
City’s predicted line-up: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva; Mahrez, Haaland, Grealish.
Gameweek 1 fixture: Spurs vs Southampton, 3pm, Saturday 6 August.
What Antonio Conte said: “For the right side we have a similar situation like Ivan [Perisic] to Matthew [Doherty]. Matthew had a serious injury and I think worse than Ivan. Now he is working a lot. He has had a bit of time to come back to be fit like last season. I hope to bring him in the same situation as last season as I think Matthew, he played really well. At the moment we need to have a bit of patience. He needs to have a bit of patience but is working very well to be fit quickly.
“Then we have [Djed] Spence. Spence, I told you that he was an important investment for the club for the future, he is a really good prospect and young player. For sure it is important for him to understand very well with us to adapt himself to the demands of Tottenham.”
FPL team news: Ivan Perisic looks set to start the season at left wing-back, but Antonio Conte’s comments suggest his minutes could be limited, similarly to Matt Doherty, as the duo builds fitness. Ryan Sessegnon and Emerson Royal are likely to get plenty of opportunities, particularly when the Champions League kicks in around gameweek six. With Ben Davies only just back from injury, new signing Clement Lenglet could well start the opening fixture.
Spurs’ predicted line-up: Lloris; Romero, Dier, Lenglet; Doherty, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Perisic; Kulusevski, Kane, Son.
Gameweek 1 fixture: Everton vs Chelsea, 5.30pm, Saturday 6 August.
What Thomas Tuchel said: “Marc [Cucurella, new signing from Brighton] will be an option in left-back and he can play very well across the back three. His profile is like Cesar Azpilicueta’s, but with a left foot. It helps us in depth, and it helps Ben Chilwell escape the pressure of having to deliver. Ben is very ambitious. He looks better and better but at the same time, he needs a little bit more time to adapt to the physicality of the match itself.”
FPL team news: Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly should make their debuts, but although Marc Cucurella was signed in time to be registered in Chelsea’s squad, the left back is unlikely to feature. Timo Werner is an injury doubt due to a hamstring injury but the forward has also been subject to speculation about his future and may not have featured anyway. Tuchel’s comments suggest Chilwell may be eased into the new season – Marcos Alonso played the most pre-season minutes at left wing-back but reports suggest he is on the verge of joining Barcelona, so Emerson Palmieri could start.
Chelsea’s predicted line-up: Mind; Azpilicueta, Silva, Koulibaly; James, Kante, Jorginho, Emerson; Mount, Havertz, Sterling.
Gameweek 1 fixture: Fulham vs Liverpool, 12.30pm, Saturday 6 August.
What Jurgen Klopp said: “Darwin [Nunez] is ready, but does that mean he has to start? I don’t know. We have different options and that is what we will use and Darwin needs time to get used to a lot of things but he is already a real help and it went really quickly from the first (pre-season) game when I thought ‘What are we doing with him?’. Not because of him but because of the passes we played for him. It was a proper pre-season training session for him and we gave him a lot of runs to do.
“He is completely settled. He said himself he was very nervous in the beginning and I sympathize with that a lot, it’s normal. But he settled pretty quickly because of all the players, not only the Spanish speakers, and that was very helpful and he feels at home after a short period. He had a real impact in the first final we could have played but the work will not stop and he is in the best possible place.”
On solving injuries with transfers: “A lot of unlucky situations. Started with Caoimhin [Kelleher] and Diogo [Jota], pretty much one was injured and one had a re-injury. In a few weeks’ time they will be back, but they’ve missed pre-season and that’s not cool. Ibou[Konate}inachallengeinthegameagainstStrasbourgwhathappenedtherewehavetoseehowlongitwilltakebuthe’soutforawhileButwecannotsolveaproblemwehaveforfourweekswithatransferforafullyearThatmakesnosensetousatthemoment[Konate}inachallengeinthegameagainstStrasbourgwhathappenedtherewehavetoseehowlongitwilltakebuthe’soutforawhileButwecannotsolveaproblemwehaveforfourweekswithatransferforafullyearThatmakesatthemomentnosensetous
“The transfer window is still open and we will see but the plans are not to go in that direction.”
FPL team news: Liverpool will be boosted by the return of goalkeeper Alisson Becker but have a number of players unavailable, including Diogo Jota, Curtis Jones, Kostas Tsimikas and Ibrahima Konate. Jurgen Klopp said new signing Darwin Nunez is “ready” to start but warned that he may not as the striker still gets up to speed.
Liverpool’s predicted line-up: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Diaz.