Prior to Game Week 1, tens of thousands of Dream Team gaffers were on the hunt for a £2.5m defender to balance their XI.
Popular choices included Aaron Cresswell, Diogo Dalot and Conor Coady.
That trio combined for minus two points thanks to the damage inflicted upon West Ham by Erling Haaland (£7m), Man United’s false start at home to Brighton, and Coady’s pre-transfer benching during Wolves’ defeat to Leeds.
In hindsight, the £2.5m defender of choice was William Saliba.
The 21-year-old made his debut for Arsenal against Crystal Palace on Friday night, three years after he signed for the club.
After an impressive start to the game which resulted in Gabriel Martinelli (£2.5m) giving the visitors the lead, Patrick Vieira’s side applied plenty of pressure only to be held at bay by Saliba and company.
The France international earned five points for the clean sheet and three more for a thoroughly deserved 7+ rating.
No asset in his position and price range earned more points in Game Week 1 – Dan Burn (£2.5m) matched him.
The irony is that had Takehiro Tomiyasu been fit, another potential bargain option at £2.5m, Saliba may not have played at Selhurst Park.
Ben White (£3m) filled in at right-back in the absence of the Japan international, allowing Saliba to partner Gabriel (£3m) at the heart of the back four.
Tomiyasu played 45 minutes for the Gunners’ Under-21s on Saturday and is in contention to feature against Leicester in Game Week 2 having recovered from injury.
Mikel Arteta therefore has a big decision to make as reintroducing him into the starting line-up would mean dropping either White, a mainstay in the side since his £50million transfer from Brighton, or Saliba, who was the best defender on show at Palace.
Arsenal’s favourable fixtures suggest there are points to be had for Dream Team gaffers but selection question marks mean it’s far from a straightforward task.
ARSENAL’S FIXTURES UNTIL THE INTERNATIONAL BREAK:
- Leicester (h)
- Bournemouth (a)
- Fulham (h)
- Aston Villa (h)
- Man United (a)
- Everton (h)
- Brentford (a)
In addition to the White-Saliba-Tomiyasu dilemma, it wouldn’t be unthinkable for Kieran Tierney (£3m) to start at left-back against the Foxes.
The Scotsman came off the bench in the 83rd minute against the Eagles to help see out the game.
This is a significant factor as Oleksandr Zinchenko (£3.5m) is one of the most-selected players in the game right now with an ownership of 25.6% – he also produced 15 points in his first outing.
However, the Ukrainian’s ability to fulfil various roles means he’s unlikely to sit out the entire 90 minutes if he’s not named in the starting line-up, especially now Premier League managers have the option of making up to five substitutions per fixture.
If Arsenal keep a clean sheet against Leicester at the weekend then Zinchenko would only need to get on the grass to collect his share of the points.
Dream Team gaffers would be wise to seek out Arteta’s press conference quotes later in the week – any clues would be helpful.