Newcastle’s opening day fixture against Aston Villa was an encounter between two sides expected to challenge the established positions of the expected big six teams, once again.
The Magpies having had a resurgence under Eddie Howe are back amongst the most elite clubs of European football in the UEFA Champions League.
Aston Villa, on the other hand, under the stewardship of returning, Unai Emery possesses a similar story to the one unfolding at St. James’ Park.
Last season’s two matches between these sides are poignant evidence of Emery’s good management.
Villa lost 4-0 to Newcastle while Gerrard was in charge overturning the score line in the reverse fixture defeating Howe’s side 3-0, ending Newcastle’s four-game winning run.
Match display & statistics
There were new signings and exciting ones for fans of both teams and for Fantasy Premier League managers to take notice.
New arrival and on the watch list as a prime differential asset for many FPL managers, Villa midfielder Diaby, restored parity for the Villains after going behind in the very opening moments from Newcastle’s latest signing Sandro Tonali’s strike.
Tonali operated alongside Bruno Guimaraes, in the central midfield dictating the play and momentum of the game.
The newly arrived Italian seems to be already flourishing in his team helping take much of the pressure off from Bruno, as the sole chief architect of Newcastle’s midfield.
For Fantasy managers it would take some major shift in tactics from Howe including Tonali’s change in style of play, for him to be an option as an FPL asset.
He will likely be the player in the Newcastle team assisting the assister, linking up forward movements and passes from midfield. In the real game, Tonali impressed heavily and will benefit Howe’s team greatly.
The rest of the match saw Newcastle run riot-winning emphatically in a 5-1 score line. Despite getting caught out multiple times, Emery persisted with the high line throughout the game.
If the same tactics are to be continued it will be interesting to see how other teams especially the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal fare against the Villans. Saka and Salah might have a field day if trends and similar styles of play are to be continued by the Villa manager.
Martinez found himself reaching for the ball outside of his box fowling Almiron in the process.
Almiron had a good opening-day outing, though it would probably take him going into another goal-scoring streak to become an option in Fantasy Premier League.
It was new signing Harvey Barnes who caught the eye.
The former Foxes’ midfielder ran the show after coming on from the bench and registering a goal and an assist. Incredibly he registered an xG number of 1.16 on the day, the highest amongst all midfielders on Saturday. There will be a long gap before a repeat of this happens again.
Wilson came on the bench getting on the score sheet as well. He would have probably been a fine FPL option as a mid-priced forward had there been no Isak in the picture.
Isak started the game by scoring a brace and displaying some fine clinical finishing which would probably help his case in keeping his starting place in the team. He had an xG of 0.76.
Fantasy managers who had opted for Botman would have been happy to see his name in the assist charts. Botman was indeed considered the season keeper in the £4.5m defender category.
However, his assist points would be somewhat marred by the yellow card he received.
Trippier, the most popular of the Newcastle defenders played fine registering an xGi of 0.26. He had no attacking returns in the game, slightly disappointing for the owners given the score line.
The right time for Newcastle players to take precedence in FPL
Newcastle takes on Manchester City away at Etihad followed by Liverpool at home. The fixtures are not the only reason for Fantasy managers to exert caution before buying their assets.
The forward positions in Newcastle are a minefield. As seen in the last scene, there is little to no assurance on the starting forward spot between Isak and Wilson. Wilson’s high score return while Isak failed to deliver had a major rank impact towards the end of the campaign gone by.
As good as Barnes has been, unless there is an assurance of starts, there are better options elsewhere in the form of Mbeumo, Mitoma, or Eze. Eze had a fine outing as well for Crystal Palace.
Newcastle’s immediate fixtures don’t bode well for clean sheets. Chilwell, and James or the Arsenal defenders provide better opportunities for clean sheets and thus better value.
A case can be made for going Botman at £4.5m, but to waste a transfer on a 4.5m defender would be a wasted opportunity at this stage of the season. When game week 3 rolls around, for FPL managers to have two transfers is probably the wise move.
Newcastle’s fixtures turn great from game week 5, with Brentford at home, and Sheffield United away, followed by Burnley at home, and West Ham, and Crystal Palace at home. The time to invest in their assets is then when there is simply more clarity and information with better fixtures.