Fantasy football tips: Salah and Haaland make the cut but no room for Kane or Son

Alistair Bruce Ball

If you’re anything like me then the tinkering with your initial FPL squad will undoubtedly continue right up until the first deadline of the season at 18:30 BST on Friday.

The first thing I tried to do was to see if I could get three premium attacking players – namely Mohamed Salah, Erling Haaland and one of Son Heung-min or Harry Kane – into a line-up that still had enough overall strength to cope with injuries and rotation.

In the end though I felt there were just too many weak links among my 13 outfield players so I’ve decided to go without either of the Tottenham duo at the start of the season which could come back to bite me!

Don’t forget to consider who you’re planning to captain each week when building your initial squad because that should have a big impact on your decisions.

I decided I wasn’t going to captain Son or Kane in the first six game weeks ahead of Salah or Haaland so I wasn’t going to benefit from double points from them at any stage. Now you could easily argue that Salah’s form tailed off in the second half of last season, that Haaland is unproven in the Premier League and that Son or Kane could fill their boots against the likes of Southampton, Nottingham Forest and Fulham in those first six game weeks but that’s just the way I’ve decided to go.

One way around the issue is to pick Luis Diaz in the Liverpool attack instead of Salah, saving yourself £5m. However, as good as the Colombian is do you really believe he is going to match Salah’s prolific FPL output – an output he has consistently produced over the past five seasons?

You can of course have both Salah and Diaz given the potency of the Liverpool attack but Diaz has some real competition in the £8m midfielder bracket. Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Dejan Kulusevski, James Maddison, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez all come in at that price and they would all be good picks.

I’d put Saka and Mount at the top of the list based on their opening five fixtures and also the fact I’d be confident they’re both among the first names on the teamsheet for their respective clubs. Kulusevski proved a superb signing for Tottenham last season but now has more competition for his place with the arrival of Richarlison while there’s the familiar threat of both Foden and Mahrez missing game time as Pep Guardiola rotates his squad.

You can certainly pack your squad with premium defenders as well as a top-notch goalkeeper because of how generously they’ve been priced this season. Ederson and Alisson will only cost you £5.5m but Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy is proving the most popular choice in the game at the moment at just £5m.

If you’re not a manager who likes to spend too much on his goalkeeper then Brentford’s David Raya, Brighton’s Robert Sanchez and Leeds’ Illan Meslier are all in the £4.5m price bracket and worth considering.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is a must for any FPL manager at £7.5m, you could pair him up with his team-mate Andy Robertson for £7m if you’ve got a Liverpool spot left in your squad or go for Joao Cancelo, who’s so £7m. Reece James and Ben Chilwell are also appealing at the seemingly bargain price of £6m.

Attacking full-backs are points magnets in FPL which is why Ivan Perisic has attracted a lot of attention at £5.5m following his move to Tottenham. It is worth noting, though, that he has not featured that much in their pre-season so it might just be worth holding on to see what Antonio Conte goes with when the Premier League kicks off.

You’re clearly going to need some cheaper options in all departments to come within your £100m budget and the best two £4m options in defense seem to be Neco Williams at Nottingham Forest and Nathan Patterson at Everton.

If you’re looking in the £4.5m price bracket then Arsenal, Brentford, Brighton, Leicester and Wolves are good clubs to start your search, while Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot is also proving a popular choice.

There’s definitely some value to be had with United players at the start of the season, particularly if Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t part of their plans. Marcus Rashford costs £6.5m, Anthony Martial £7m and Jadon Sancho at £7.5m.

Former United man Andreas Pereira is the most popular £4.5m midfielder in the game by far after his switch to Fulham and Leon Bailey’s pre-season form for Aston Villa makes him an enticing option at £5m.

The £4.5m forwards don’t look like they’re going to see much game time at the beginning of the season but keep an eye on how Deniz Undav starts at Brighton if you’re looking for a cheaper forward option at £5.5m

Gabriel Jesus has been the most popular signing in pre-season with more than 65% of managers putting him in their squads and it makes sense – a proven Premier League goalscorer who’s looked sharp in pre-season. He only costs £8m and Arsenal have a promising run of fixtures to start the season.

Finally we have a new feature on the Fantasy 606 podcast this season which we’d love you to get involved in – we’ve set up a listeners’ team to see if you can finish above me, Chris Sutton and Statman Dave. It will be managed by a different listener each week and you will make all the calls on transfers, team selection, captaincy or whether you want to play a precious FPL chip.

If you want to have a go then please e-mail us on fantasy606@bbc.co.uk.

The first episode of the podcast previewing the new season is currently available on the BBC Sounds App

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