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Perfect XI

AM's Perfect XI - Week 1

by Nik Argiropoulos
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Welcome to AM's Perfect XI - Week 1 player picks. Just in case you missed it I wrote a preview for Togga's Perfect XI game last weekend so please ensure you check it out before you continue reading this column. Perfect XI is mobile only this season, so you'll need to download / update the Togga app on your IOS or Android device. Find the app here:https://www.playtogga.com
 
We've set up a Rotoworld PL Private League where you can challenge myself and the rest of the RW PL team over the course of the season. To join it download the app and then click the below link from your device, or find us from the Featured Leagues tab:
 
http://tog.ga/rotoworld
 
Each week I'll be providing a Perfect XI of my own for the upcoming gameweek, recommending 11 players to consider along with some honourable mentions. Now I must be clear that the players listed won't neccesarrily be the exact 11 selected for my own Perfect XI fantasy side (that would be plain boring). The point of this column isn't to tell you exactly who to pick; it's to present some ideas and get your brain whirring. 
 
Last season the unlimited transfer / no budget led the majority of us to approach Perfect XI by simply selecting the same big names each week regardless of their match-up. While this will work on occasions it soon became obvious this wasn't a long-term winning strategy - you need to do some analysis on a weekly basis and think outside-the-box with your picks to gain an edge over your fellow fanasy managers. For that reason I'll be listing a combination of the must-haves and slightly riskier options, alongside the odd hunch. Hopefully you'll find this useful whether you're playing Togga's game or looking at potential transfers for your official Fantasy Premier League team.


Follow the RotoWorld_PL team on Twitter: Galin | Neal | Nik | Steve | Ben | Sean | Andrew
 
On to Week 1, which is always tricky. We have no real idea of starting XI's, no true indication of the form or fitness of individual players and no way of knowing if new signings will adapt to the rigours of the Premier League. It's up to you whether to take a gamble or go with the tried and trusted. You'll see the way I'm leaning below ...
 
KEEPERS
Joe Hart - The confidence that helped Joe Hart early in his career has turned to arrogance in recent seasons and became his downfall over the summer. The Manchester City man's pre-match behaviour in the tunnel during Euro 2016 smacked of someone playing up to cameras and led many to comment on whether Hart was fully focused on the task of, y'know, stopping the ball going in the goal. Turns out he wasn't. Hart had an absolutely shocking tournament and the dip in form continued in the friendly defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, but it seems he'll remain number 1 for at least the start of the season. A clean sheet against Sunderland would be the perfect tonic to begin a recovery and it's a tonic he should receive. He'll be my Week 1 keeper in PXI.
 
*Something worth noting - if Pep Guardiola decides to start with Willy Caballero then the Perfect XI app allows you to switch Hart to Caballero (or any other goalkeeper yet to play their fixture) provided it's before Manchester City v Sunderland match kicks off. This flexibility applies to all players in all positions which will allow you to prevent the pain of a surprise benching or unreported last minute injury and a big fat zero. Ensure you keep your eyes on the RW PL Twitter account for line-ups one hour prior to matches.


Honourable mention: Fraser Forster at home to Watford, Wayne Hennessey at home to West Brom
 
DEFENDERS
Christian Fuchs - If you didn't play Perfect XI last season let me assure you that Christian Fuchs was an absolute beast and one of the few fixture-proof players you were justified in picking every week. Kante-less (and possibly Mahrez-less) Leicester will find it tougher going this year but a trip to relegation favourites Hull should help ease them in to things.
Hector Bellerin - As a Tottenham fan I'm not allowed to have a favourite Arsenal player, but if I was it would be Hector Bellerin. The Frenchman has every quality the modern-day full-back requires, solid defensively, quick and able to offer an attacking threat. These qualities also translate very well in fantasy games with complex scoring systems and I expect Bellerin to start with a nice haul of points against Liverpool.
Leighton Baines - 2015/16 was a season Leighton Baines will want to forget, with injury and loss of form limiting the left-back to just 18 appearances which in turn led to him missing out on a spot in England's Euro squad. As fantasy managers we must remember what a force Baines can be from corners and free kicks around the box and he should thrive under Ronald Koeman's management. Week 1 will be a test against Spurs but I have a sneaky feeling he'll pop up with an assist, maybe even a goal.
Aleksandar Kolarov - You'll definitely want a Manchester City defender this weekend and Aleksandar Kolarov would seem best suited provided he's in the starting line-up for the home clash with Sunderland. As mentioned earlier in the column a clean sheet is likely and we all know how dangerous the Serbian can be both moving down the left flank and from set pieces. Again, if the line-ups reveal Guardiola has plumped for Gael Clichy instead then you can switch out Kolarov to Clichy / Sagna / Otamendi / whoever is starting across the backline.


Honourable mentionsVirgil Van Dijk at home to Watford (who looks probable to recover from his pre-season injury), Scott Dann at home to West Brom.
 
MIDFIELDERS
Eden Hazard - Last season was a torrid one for Eden Hazard but the wing-wizard showed flashes of his best for Belgium in the summer, has been bright in pre-season and can flourish under the sensible guidance of Antonio Conte. The Chelsea crowd will be bang up for the derby with West Ham and I expect Hazard to get himself on the scoresheet in a comfortable home win.
Andros Townsend - One of only a handful of players to emerge with any credit from Newcastle's final months in the Premier League last season, Andros Townsend earned himself a deserved move straight back to the top tier with Crystal Palace. The 24-year-old loves to run, loves to cross and loves to shoot - all fantasy point-earning actions in the Perfect XI format - so he could be in for a bumper haul on his Eagles debut as West Brom visit Selhurst Park.
Gerard Deulofeu - Criminally under-used by Roberto Martinez last season, Gerard Deulofeu will suffer no such fate under Koeman. The Spainard has featured prominently in every pre-season game for Everton so far, scoring three goals, and he should play a key role in week 1 against a Spurs side potentially still reeling from a disappointing end to the last campaign and a poor Euros for their English contingent.
Nathan Redmond - Like Deulofeu, Nathan Redmond struggled for game time under Alex Neal at Norwich, despite looking like their brightest spark in the opening months. With the Canaries relegated, Southampton spotted an opportunity to add another young talent to their squad, and the winger is fitting in well already bagging a couple of goals in Saints' warm-up friendlies. Watford beware this weekend.
 
Honourable mentionsKevin De Bruyne at home to Manchester City, Henrikh Mkhitaryan away at Bournemouth.
 
STRIKERS
Sergio Aguero - Lads, it's Sergio Aguero, against Sunderland, at home ... a no-brainer. Manchester City have the stand-out fixture of the opening weekend and the Argentine striker is surely set to flourish in Pep's slick system. Aguero should be in your fantasy team this week regardless of format you play. He will score.
Andre Gray - The bookies have Burnley as second favourites to be relegated but they do have a hope of staying up , and his name is Andre Gray.The striker was top scorer and player of the season in the Championship last term as the Clarets gained promotion and he has been in scintillating form in pre-season scoring 9 goals in 6 games. Three points against a depleted Swansea would be the perfect start and the Welsh visitors will rightly be fearful of Gray opening his Premier League account.
 
Honourable mentions: Zlatan Ibrahimovich away at Bournemouth, Jamie Vardy away at Hull.
 
If you're hungry for more - check out our Team-by-Team Season Previews and all of the places you can challenge the Rotoworld Experts in fantasy competition across the web. 
 
That'll do us for Week 1. Feel free to comment below - and good luck to all managers!

Nik Argiropoulos

Nik Argiropoulos is a London-based soccer writer for NBC Sports Edge and co-founder of Never Manage Alone. You can find him on Twitter @nikarg.