FPL Season 2020-21 – Gameweek 2 Preview

“After a 16-year absence, Premier League football returns to Elland Road this weekend” (CC by 4.0). Image by: Boxingfan1995

And we’re back! After a simply crazy 2019-20 campaign, the 2020-21 campaign was set into motion last weekend and it’s promising to be an amazing year once again. It didn’t take long for English football to remind us of the roller-coaster kind of league it truly is, with new boys Leeds almost matching Liverpool in a goal-scoring spectacle; Arsenal showing some serious promise against Fulham and Everton immediately setting the tone under Ancelotti with a 0-1 away win at Spurs, just to mention a few encounters. From an FPL point of view, we hope you had Momo Salah (as captain).

For this season, we have adapted our gameweek preview format just a little bit. We will recommend player picks in the build-up each week, as usual, and we’ll do so based on four categories instead of the previous three. We will pick a premium player each week (meaning priced £9.5m or higher, which at the moment are 9 players), two non-premium picks, 1 budget pick (the price to be included in this category can vary a bit based on position, but needs to be considerable as a budget enabler), and two differentials (because what’s more satisfying, really, than hauling with a player owned by 0.1% of all managers?). To end each piece, we’ll also quickly go over our captaincy thoughts.

Gameweek 2 offers a few juicy fixtures, so let’s get started! Welcome back!

Don’t forget: the deadline for gameweek 2 is set for 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, September 19th. Also do check out the Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs as well as the latest injury news (click on ‘Team’ to sort per club rather than the default ‘date’) before finalising your transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per September 17th, 2020)

 TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
GKMcCarthy (Sou), Alisson (Liv), Ryan (Bri)Pickford (Eve), Leno (Ars), McCarthy (Sou)Could be fixtures, plus improved clean sheet potential after GW1
DEFAlexander-Arnold (Liv), Doherty (Tot), Egan (She)Gabriel (Ars), Justin (Lei), Mitchel (Cry)Shift to budget defenders who performed well in GW1
MIDSon (Tot), Mané (Liv), Aubameyang (Ars)Fernandes (Utd), De Bruyne (MC), Willian (Ars)The return to action of United and City premium options, Willian’s haul against Fulham
FORWerner (Che), Ings (Sou), Mitrovic (Ful)Bamford (Lee), Martial (Utd), Calvert-Lewin (Eve)Shift to scoring budget strikers, United’ return to action

Premium pick

Obviously, after starting the season with a hattrick, Mo Salah is an excellent premium pick for gameweek 2, despite his away fixture against Chelsea. We’ve gone with another “midfielder” though, one who is, strangely being dumped by a lot of managers this week. Arsenal got off to a good start, beating Fulham 0-3 away from home and star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£12.0m) notched one of those goals for a total of 7 FPL points. It’s true that he is expensive this season, but it’s also true that he is classified out-of-position as a midfielder, when in reality he will be the most dangerous Gunner most of the time. His yellow card was a shame, but he did get an extra point for his goal in comparison to a forward and another one for the clean sheet. In GW2, the Gabonese attacker is combining what looks like decent form with a strong home fixture against West Ham and he’s on penalties as well. Auba is not only our premium pick for gameweek 2, but our captain pick for as well.

Non-premium picks

Traditionally, we’re a bit wary of going big on Everton at the start of the season, as the Toffees can be deceitful at times. They usually boast plenty of talent and promise, but their performances are not always on par. This season though, we’ve got some hopes for them. It’s the first full season under seasoned manager Carlo Ancelotti and he seems to have wasted no time on moulding the team to his wishes. One player who could definitely benefit from the fresh Italian breeze at Goodison Park is striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.1m). The young Englishman got off the mark just after the break, scoring the only goal with a majestic header against Spurs to bring the three points back home. As you can see, he has already risen by £0.1m and we wouldn’t be surprised to see that trend continue for a while to come, especially if he delivers again versus West Brom this weekend. The Baggies didn’t look quite ready for the Premier League yet in GW1 against Leicester, and with the likes of James Rodriguez, Richarlison and Allan feeding the Everton attack, DCL might hurt them this Saturday as well.

Leicester’s Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) is another more than affordable player who could become a very appealing FPL asset. Out of all the players who didn’t get an attacking return last weekend, the young winger is probably the one who should have. The Foxes overwhelmed West Brom and Barnes could’ve netted a couple had he been a bit more clinical in front of goal. He got 8 touches in the penalty box, a joint third-best of all players, and he fired 5 shots in the box, a total bettered only by hattrick hero Salah. These are some very promising offensive stats, though worthless when not converted in returns. Barnes passed the eye test with flying colours nevertheless and despite coming weekend’s Burnley not being a fragile opponent by any chance, we feel he could be a good pick for GW2.

The budget enabler

In gameweek 1, there were a few serious budget picks that delivered points. The likes of Jeff Hendrick and Jorginho hauled at bargain prices, as did Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford (£5.6m). Thanks to his goal against Liverpool, after good pressing and a subsequent mistake by Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, his price has already risen by £0.1m. In the crazy 4-3 encounter, Bamford managed to snatch a single bonus point for a total of 7 FPL points. Up next for Leeds is fellow newly-promoted club Fulham and the West Yorkshire side will feel that this weekend presents a good opportunity for the first three points of the season. The club brought in Spanish international Rodrigo to bolster the forward line and Bamford’s starting spot might come under pressure at some point, but for the moment we can’t imagine manager Marcelo Bielsa dropping the Englishman. With a price tag of £5.6, he represents a huge potential bargain.

A differential pick or two

Newcastle had an excellent opening of the 2020-21 season by booking a 0-2 victory at the London Stadium against West Ham. The Magpies started the game with a four-men defence and it was former Norwich defender Jamal Lewis (£4.5m) who impressed on the left side. Against the Hammers, the talented Englishman created three chances for his team mates, which ranks him amongst the top three for defenders in gameweek 1. Next up for Newcastle are Brighton at home and based on last season’s defensive performances at Saint James’ Park, a second consecutive clean sheet is definitely a possibility. Last season, the club booked seven clean sheets at home, on par with Manchester United and Liverpool. Lewis currently sits in 3.1% of all FPL teams, which makes him an attractive differential and budget-enabling pick for GW2.

Gameweek 2 might also very well be the last time to see our second differential pick in this category. Manchester United’s top scorer Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) was re-classified as a premium midfielder for this season and that offers possibilities for FPL managers. The English superstar scored 17 goals and provided 8 assists last season, and he is facing Crystal Palace at Old Trafford for his first Premier League game of the season this weekend. Rashford is currently selected by just 6.0% of FPL managers, in big part due to the fact that United had a blank in gameweek 1, which creates a huge differential asset. We absolutely expect him to start against the Eagles and he will get some chances, coming in from the left side as part of a forward line containing Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, and possibly new star Donny van de Beek. He has a great set of fixtures coming up, so get him while still a differential.

The captaincy

As we wrote earlier, our FPL captaincy pick for gameweek 2 is Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gunner talisman combines a favourable fixture (home vs West Ham), a decent opening form coming off a goal in his first match of the season, and an out-of-position classification that we find too hard to ignore.

Of course, he is quite expensive, but fortunately, there are plenty of appealing alternatives this weekend. Martial and Rashford could explode against Palace in their first PL game of the season, while Salah could very well build on his hattrick with a good return at Stamford Bridge. Jamie Vardy is facing Burnley at home and is a pretty dependable pick for the captaincy as well. For those managers looking for an early-season punt, Calvert-Lewin (at home against West Brom), Bamford (at home versus Fulham) and whoever plays as left winger for Chelsea against Liverpool could represent fantastic differential value.

FanTeam’s €1,000,000 Seasonal Premier League game still open!

With only 16,244 teams entered in time for the start of Gameweek 1 there is still a big opportunity for late entrants (who will be given 46 bonus points for missing GW1 – being 70% of the average GW1 score) in challenging for the huge amount of guaranteed prize money on offer (including €200,000 for 1st) with FanTeam. Entrants now whilst starting slightly behind the average score do have an advantage in that they can pick their team having seen the opening matches and will still get to use their 1st wildcard later on.

Currently (17th September) there are just over 18,000 teams entered so we can see that about 2,000 teams have already taken advantage of the opportunity. Prizes are paid all the way down to 5,659th position.

For news and help on your FanTeam entry visit FISO’s FanTeam forum.

Fantasy Premier League 2020/21 – Games & Resources

List of the main season-long games & summary of rules:

FanTeam – €25 to play per team with a huge €1 million prize pot (including a life-changing €200,000 for 1st) and a maximum 75,000 entrants allowed (only 5,500 entries so far). Pick 15 players with 4 on the subs bench. 1 free transfer per gameweek and 2 wildcards for the season. Pick a captain for each gameweek, prior to the transfer deadline 90 minutes before the 1st kick-off of that gameweek. Player prices change during the season depending on transfers/form. Late registration possible up to gameweek 5 and receive 70% of average score in the previous gameweeks.

Fantasy Premier League (FPL) – Free to play – the official game from the Premier League and already over 3 million people have entered (1 team per person). 1st prize is a UK holiday with VIP tickets to 2 EPL matches. Pick 15 players with 4 on the subs bench and a captain each gameweek. Player prices do change during the season due to transfers made – keep an eye on FISO’s Crack the Code price change prediction page. 1 free transfer per gameweek (deadline 90 minutes before 1st kick-off of that gameweek) and 2 wildcards for the season. Extra ‘chips’ such as triple captain, bench boost and free hit also available.

Telegraph Fantasy Football (TFF) – Free to play (max 5 teams per person) with approx. £10k of prizes. Pick 11 players with 40 transfers for the season (max 5 per week).

Sun DreamTeam (SDT) – Free to play (max 10 teams per person) with a £100k prize pot. Pick 11 players and max 3 transfers per month.

SkySports Fantasy Football – Free to play (max 2 teams per person) with approx. £60k prize pot. Select 11 players and a captain each gameday. 40 transfers for the season.

Hopefully there is at least one game to suit everyone to increase your enjoyment of watching the English Premier League (EPL) in 20/21.

List of Resources to Help you

FISO’s Forum – FISO was started over 20 years ago and has a discussion forum for each game. Topics from FISO’s FPL forum include the extremely useful STC Shared Rate My Team topic started by one of the top ranked FPL managers (which itself has a long list of useful resources in the 1st post).

Predicted Line-ups – FanTeam’s prediction for which 11 players will start for each EPL Club.

Club Preview articles for FPL – an article on each EPL club with a focus for FPL.

Fantasy Football Hub – Many useful resources for most games including How to Win at FPL article.

Fantasy Football Scout – A wide variety of FPL advice, tips and tools.

Injury News Table – a summary of the FPL injury status changes for EPL players.

FPL 2020/21 – Pre-season Club Previews – West Ham & Wolves

“Is it going to be another tough season of top-tier football at the London Stadium this year?” (CC by 4.0). Image by: Hammersfan.

After last season and what was very probably the most unusual Premier League campaign any of us ever witnessed, the new 2020/21 season is now upon us. In the build-up to the season opener on Saturday, September 12th, at 12h30 (UK time), we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League with a special focus on their FPL potential to help you select your FPL team.

The EPL club previews could also be useful if you’re entering FanTeam’s massive €1 million prize fund Fantasy Premier League game for 20/21.

In this tenth and final instalment, a West Ham side in turmoil before we’ve even started and Nuno Espirito Santo’s impressive Wolves.

WEST HAM – The team

From the outside, things are not looking optimal at West Ham at the moment, in terms of the transfer window, team harmony and preparation for the coming season. This all came to the surface on September 4th, when the club announced the sale of talented winger Diangana Grady to West Brom, much to the discontent of captain and living Hammers legend Mark Noble. While public posts are usually not the way to communicate disappointment for contract players, this incident feels like a final straw kind of situation, especially when the likes of Declan Rice and Jack Wilshere openly voiced their support of the captain’s statement.

This all adds to the disappointment that was the 2019-20 campaign. Yes, West Ham secured Premier League status for yet another season, but the Hammers rarely played to what many still feel is their more than decent potential. They were underwhelming for most part of the season, though a decent run towards the end of the campaign saw them finish in in sixteenth place, five points above the drop zone. A resurgent Michail Antonio played a bit part in that (anyone picked him for his quadruple strike against Norwich back in July?).

Apart from the powerful English midfielder-converted-into-striker, there were more positive points for manager David Moyes. Jarrod Bowen emerged as an exciting prospect for the future on the wings, while Slavia Prague loanee Tomas Soucek turned out to be an excellent addition to the Hammers midfield, where he has started forming a promising partnership with Declan Rice in the middle. As a matter of fact, the attack is not a real issue for Moyes (particularly if Haller & Antonio stay fit!): only nine teams scored more than West Ham’s 49 goals last season.

The Scottish coach will be more worried about his defence. Only the four teams below West Ham conceded more than their 62 goals last season. The Ogbonna-Diop partnership at the centre of their defensive setup looked promising at first, but has been faltering too often. The wing-backs, though technically capable, are too frail at times and leave the backline too exposed, especially against the quicker teams in the league. Just recently though, the Hammers conceded five against relegated Bournemouth in a friendly game, which seems like a worrying omen for things to come.

On top of that, years of big spending have left the club with little budget to work with this summer. In that sense, the sale of Diangana did make sense. The likes of Manuel Lanzini, Felipe Anderson and Jack Wilshere weigh heavily, while they do not necessarily perform accordingly. The club has reported interest in Burnley defender James Tarkowski, but the arrival of the England international seems like an illusion for now, however much of a game changer it would.

Having said that, the squad boasts plenty of talent. Big transfer Sebastian Haller suffered from injuries last season, but looks posed for a return in style as the main man up front, while the likes of Antonio, Fornals, Bowen, and even Lanzini and Anderson can provide him with plenty service. As we wrote before, the Rice-Soucek partnership in the middle looks very promising as well. The goalkeeper is a mainstay as well, as Fabianski is regularly one of the best Hammers on the pitch. What the club needs most of all is some defensive reinforcement, either by first offloading some other players or by being creative on the transfer market. If they manage to do that, they could have a decent season. If not, it might be another year of looking back over their shoulders for most of the time.

WEST HAM – The FPL potential

It’s important to know that West Ham have probably the most difficult set of opening fixtures of all teams this season. Considering their pre-season and the wealth of alternatives in other teams, we would only possibly seriously start considering Hammers assets from around gameweek 8 onwards. Having said that, individually West Ham do seem to offer some potential value, forward Sebastien Haller (£6.5m) being one of them. For a first season in the Premier League, the French striker did not do too badly with 7 goals and 3 assists, especially considering his injury issues. For the 2020-21 campaign, he is expected to be the starting number nine for the Hammers, with Antonio playing behind/around him. Once the calendar clears up, he could be worth considering.

With Michail Antonio (£6.5m), we have immediately mentioned another Hammer that could get some returns for a good price. The English forward was classified as a midfielder last season and scored 10 goals (plus 4 assists) for a total of 111 FPL points, the highest of Hammers. He is a forward in the official fantasy game this season, but that shouldn’t hurt his potential too much (due to the lack of clean sheets West Ham get anyway). He could be an interesting differential for your gameweek 1 squad, especially considering his good form at the end of last season, but we think he should really start being on your watchlist from gameweek 8 onwards, when West Ham welcome Fulham to the London Stadium.

The best value though, is probably found in midfield. Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek (£5.0m) played for West Ham on loan last season and the club’s management knew that they hit the bull’s eye. They paid Slavia Prague around €16 million to make the deal permanent this summer and the player looks like he will be a big part of Moyes’ plans this summer. In half a season last year, the tireless Soucek managed 3 goals for a total of 41 FPL points, in big part thanks to his talent for connecting with the attack at the right moments. There seems to be a good understanding with the intelligent Declan Rice in the middle and with a price tag of just £5.0m, the Czech Republic international is perhaps the only Hammer we would seriously consider for our gameweek 1 squad. He is reportedly available for the opening match after a period of isolation. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team and due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a West Ham player with one from Newcastle.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Newcastle (H)
2Arsenal (A)
3Wolves (H)
4Leicester (A)
5Spurs (A)
6Manchester City (H)
7Liverpool (A)
West Ham’s opening EPL fixtures for September & October

WOLVES – The team

The Wolves story of the past few years is remarkable. Fuelled by Chinese investment and the seemingly endless connections of Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes, the club rose from the Championship two years ago to establish themselves as a consistent challenger of the Premier League’s top seven. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo has managed to create and nurture a kind of hard-working, no-complaining culture at the club that has resulted in very good performances. Last season’s seventh place finish is a very present reminder of that.

What impresses most about Wolverhampton Wanderers is their performances against the top sides, along with decent consistency. Sure, they have their relative ups and downs, and at times things don’t go their way, but that’s football. Overall, and especially from an FPL perspective, the club offers a kind of stability that has become rare in modern football. Practically the only thing that is a potential worry in regard to Wolves is their rather tight squad. Compared to other clubs in the top ten of the league, their squad depth is limited, even for a manager like Espirito Santo who likes to stick to a certain team.

There have nonetheless been some transformations within the Wolves roster this summer. The relatively cheap departure of club and FPL hero Matt Doherty was a surprise to most fans and followers, but apart from that, no regular players left. On the incoming side, the signing of 18-year old Porto talent Fabio Silva for a whopping €40 million, which made him the most expensive player younger than 20 years old in history, was a big moment, while left-back Marçal was signed for a modest fee from Lyon. The loan of Porto attacking midfielder Vitinha and the return of Ryan Bennett from Leicester have also bolstered the squad.

Wolves once again look like a strong unit and with no Europa League games to distract them from a strong start, we can see them once again finishing comfortably within the top eight. A challenge for a Champions League spot is a bridge too far, but Europa League qualification isn’t, nor is a good performance in one of the domestic cups. They could maybe do with a strong rival for superstar striker Raul Jimenez, who hopefully stays at the club this summer, but for the rest, Espirito Santo’s outfit looks ready to go.

WOLVES – The FPL potential

For anyone considering Wolves assets, forward Raul Jimenez (£8.5m) is probably the first name on their list. The Mexican striker is one of the most consistent performers in the league and practically fixture-proof. Last season, he was the highest-scoring Wolf of all, scoring 17 goals and providing 7 assists for a total of 194 FPL points. From players outside of the top four teams, only Ings, Aubameyang and Vardy beat that score, and the latter two did so carrying a much higher price tag. Jimenez is not cheap for the coming season, but the adds undeniable fantasy potential to your squad. He is as nailed-on as they come, he is involved is almost all of Wolves’ attacking moves (as he is their striker) and he plays in a genuinely good team.

The Wolves squad also boasts an interesting out-of-position pick this season in the person of Diogo Jota (£6.5m). The winger/forward is classified as a midfielder this season and an affordable at that. The most annoying thing about the Portuguese player as an FPL asset is that he rarely make it past the 80-minute mark, though this also means that he starts most of the matches. Last season, Jota recorded 7 goals and 3 assists for a total of 105 FPL points. A similar output this season would make him very good value, considering his relatively low price tag. From gameweek 3 onwards, he could be an excellent pick as fourth or even fifth midfielder.

The Wolves backline might also pack some serious FPL potential this season, as it has done since the club returned to the Premier League. Where last season Romain Saiss offered great value, it’s left-back Ruben Vinagre (£4.5m) who could represent the cheap way into one of the league’s best defences. First-choice left-back Jonny is still injured for the coming months and Vinagre looks like his replacement until then. Wolves did bring in Olympique Lyon’s Marçal, but he will probably serve as a back-up for the Portuguese defender. Vinagre could be the kind of fantasy pick that makes the difference this season, with FPL squad depth looking more important than ever. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a Wolves defender with one from WBA.

Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Sheffield United (A)
2Manchester City (H)
3West Ham (A)
4Fulham (H)
5Leeds (A)
6Newcastle (H)
7Crystal Palace (H)
Wolves’ opening EPL fixtures in September & October

Fantasy Sports: NFL Strategy Guide You Should Use

view of fifty yard line from sideline of football field

Fantasy sports season is always an exciting time for enthusiasts. One of the keenly competed fantasy sports is the NFL, as expected from its legions of fans. A key motivation for competing is having the bragging rights of being a league winner and getting the predetermined prices.

A fantasy league team consists of 12 players and a host of substitutes. Every league winner needs a corresponding winning strategy. Hence, aspiring participants of the daily fantasy football league must adopt the right method from the very beginning. Since many unverifiable systems abound, here’s an ultimate strategy guide to use for aspiring winners.

  1. Draft Players Based On Their Skills And Queue Multiple Players

Leaving multiple potential players in a queue is a great strategy to do. It protects you from making desperate picks if your priority choices are unavailable during early picks. Having this kind of queue prepares you for the worst possible situation—that everyone has already been taken during the drafting.

Also, individuals who own NFL fantasy leagues have their favourite teams, and their love for the team remains unwavering even when the current team line-up is weak. However, there’s no place for sentimentality in a fantasy league because you want the best real-world players on your imaginary team to boost your winning chances.

  1. Use The Right Strategy And Make Instant Changes

Your drafting strategy must be written down properly or mentally recorded before proceeding with drafting. The importance of each position should be a primary guide to which ones come first. Conventionally, kickers and defence players should be left for the later rounds while the running back (RB) and wide receivers (WR) are given maximum attention. Tight ends and quarterbacks can fall within the middle rounds of the drafts.

Also, you must note that there’s a degree of probability involved in the fantasy league. Even though you have a strategy, you mustn’t pass over unexpected opportunities to draft top tier players. Such opportunities may completely disrupt your prepared strategy, but it shouldn’t bother you so much. After all, the ultimate goal is to get the best players out of the lot.

  1. Set A Preliminary Line-up On Monday Night

Drafting players on Monday nights allows you to know which players have bye weeks, reducing your risk of not updating your roster before starting another week. This should be after the final NFL matchup so that you can take a look at the most favourable and unfavourable ones.

For leagues with flex positions, you can start with a wide receiver or a running back. For Superflex leagues, you can start a second quarterback in that flex position.

  1. Pay Attention To Injury Reports

It’s essential to know the physical strength of your team. You can effectively do this by keeping up to date on injury reports. This knowledge gives informed league owners a considerable edge over the competition.

Make sure not to bet on uncertain players reported to have shown the slightest signs of injury. Midgame injuries do occur, but your best way to minimise risk is by knowing the latest on player injuries.

  1. Trade Carefully

Trading requires careful consideration and adherence to some basic rules. It’s not a strategic decision to switch one best player for two who are less than optimum. Neither is it reasonable to place your card on a player who has had a bye week over one who hasn’t. 

Thus, always consider team depth and strength while considering a trade. The best strategy is to sell off average level players for better-performing ones based on stats. Some of the key weighing factors to consider are points per reception (PPR) scoring systems and fantasy football calculators. Both are available online.

Ultimately, you’ll need to learn to trade without sentiments and emotion-driven judgements. When needed, let go of a player to avoid jeopardising your winning chances.

  1. Minimise The Effect Of Player Risks On Your Team

Each player row and position have peculiarities that put them at risk of injuries. Hyperactive RBs and WRs are some of the most injury-prone players. Hence, it’s important to have backups and rookies for such positions.

Also, ensure to up your team’s ceilings when they’re low. You can do this by drafting players with high upsides. Minimise risks per position and ensure to keep a tab of player performances.

Conclusion

The NFL fantasy league is indeed a high-intensity game that requires key strategies and keen attention throughout the season. But preparing a good strategy guide from the onset would prove useful throughout the games. 

Remember, your choices should never be emotion-driven but based on player skills and stats. By following the rest of these tips here, you’re all set to start.

FPL 2020/21 – Pre-season Club Previews – Tottenham Hotspur & West Bromwich Albion

“The Premier League has returned to The Hawthorns after a 2-year absence” (CC by 3.0). Image by: Mattd1991

After last season and what was very probably the most unusual Premier League campaign any of us ever witnessed, the new 2020/21 season is now upon us. In the build-up to the season opener on Saturday, September 12th, at 12h30 (UK time), we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League with a special focus on their FPL potential to help you select your FPL team.

The EPL club previews could also be useful if you’re entering FanTeam’s massive €1 million prize fund Fantasy Premier League game for 20/21.

In this ninth instalment, we’re going over José Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur and newly promoted West Bromwich Albion.

SPURS – The team

It’s been a strange year and a half for the Spurs. At the start of June 2019, the Londoners played in European football’s most prestigious game, the Champions League final. They lost it against Liverpool, but it was nonetheless the best performance in Europe’s most important tournament in their history. Less than half a year later, one of the big men behind Tottenham’s big project of the past decade, manager Mauricio Pocchetino, was fired and replaced by Mourinho after a horrible start to the 2019-20 campaign.

The Portuguese manager did not take too much time to let the world know that it was going to be something of a “best-we-can” performance for the rest of the season. He realised that some things needed to change at the club and what he wanted more than anything was to have a full pre-season with his team, including a summer transfer window. That’s also why it was hard to really judge his impact on the club last season. Spurs played poor football at times, but achieved the bare minimum: qualification for the Europa League by finishing in sixth.

Something else Mou didn’t doubt to point out once the season had finished, was that Spurs would have been fourth had the points count started at his arrival. That is, of course, rather useless rhetoric, but fourth is probably what they will be aiming for this season. He will not be happy with anything less than Champions League football next season and considering the quality of his squad, he shouldn’t be. The challenge will be a tough one, especially seeing the ways in which the direct competition for the top four have been reinforcing their respective squads this summer, but the Portuguese showman is nothing if not a natural competitor, and one who loves to compete from an underdog position. We’re not entirely sure to what extent Spurs will be able to challenge for a top-four spot, all we’re saying is: watch out.

In terms of regular first-team starters, 33-year old Jan Vertonghen left the club for free to join Benfica, but that’s it. On the incoming side, Spurs look to have done some very decent business. For a combined fee of around €65 million, they brought in on eof the fittest players in the Premier League, Southampton central midfielder Jan Hojbjerg, Wolves player, and one of the best right-backs in the league if not Europe, Matt Doherty, and Real Betis midfielder Giovanni Lo Celso, who was already on loan in London last season. Mourinho seems to be looking for more balance in his squad and we feel he’s on the right path. The new players definitely add quality and the necessary squad depth to be able to compete on several fronts at the same time during the season. If the manager manages to work his magic once again, Spurs could be one to watch. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

SPURS – The FPL potential

Out of the past six seasons, last season was the worst one for Harry Kane (£10.5m). That is, “the worst”, because despite some injury troubles and team form issues, the England striker still managed 18 goals and 2 assists for a total of 158 FPL points. His price was nevertheless lowered considerably and now sits at a very appealing £10.5m. With a pretty favourable set of opening fixtures, on papers at least, we suspect the number nine might be a popular pick come gameweek 1. At the moment he sits in just over 15% of all teams. Kane is a certainty in the Spurs starting lineup and it might just be that he won’t feature as much in Europe during the earlier stages of the Europa League in order to preserve him for the Premier League. There are few better forward options out there right now.

Another Spurs player who might be offering excellent value at the start of the 2019-20 campaign is South Korean international Heung-Min Son (£9.0m). Like Kane, Son is a nailed-on starter for Spurs and the type of player that Mourinho usually loves: tactically disciplined, hard-working, and, of course, of exceptional quality overall. Despite Spurs’ mediocre season last year, the forward  (who is classified as a midfielder in FPL, recorded 11 goals and 13 assets for a total of 169 FPL points. No other player on the Tottenham roster fared better. He’s currently selected by just under 30% of all gameweek 1 squads and we believe that’s for good reason.

While former Wolves star Matt Doherty is the major defensive signing for Spurs this summer, we believe his counterpart on the left of the defence could offer at least equal value. Ben Davies (£5.0m) is an integral part of Mourinho’s defensive plans in North London and represents a very affordable way into what could end up being one of the season’s most resilient defences. Due to injuries, a rivalry with Danny Rose and an overall leaky defence, the Wales international’s 41 FPL points last season don’t really tell the whole story. This season, Davies should be first-choice on the left side of the defence, though he could feature centrally at times as well when Spurs line up with three centre backs. Doherty’s past seasons indicate a higher potential involvement in the attacking third, but Davies feels like a stable pick. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a Spurs defender with one from Arsenal.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Everton (H)
2Southampton (A)
3Newcastle (H)
4Manchester United (A)
5West Ham (H)
6Burnley (A)
7Brighton (H)
Spurs’ opening EPL fixtures in September & October

WEST BROM (WBA) – The team

For West Brom, the Championship felt like it lasted just a few weeks too long. After a nine-game unbeaten run at the very start of the 2019-20 campaign, they lost to eventual champions Leeds. This dropped them to third in the league, but that was the only time the Baggies saw themselves outside of the top two for the rest of season. Slaven Bilic’s men looked destined for promotion most of the time, though a barren run at the very end of the season saw Leeds clinch the title early and Brentford come within touching distance. Still, West Brom held on and secured a return to the Premier League just two years after relegation.

West Brom’s preferred formation last year was an effective 4-2-3-1 with the double pivot lying rather deep, allowing the front four and at times the wing-backs to apply intense pressure on opposing defences. The forwards generally play quite narrow, which allows the full-backs to utilise the space on the wings. The Baggies preferred to dictate play from deeper on the pitch last season, which resulted in more patient build-up play and quite a lot of ball possession. We expect a very similar approach this season at the highest level, though we expect Bilic to adapt his preferred style to the higher demands of the Prem. After all, they will rarely be the team with most possession and lying too deep while allowing the full-backs to boom forward can be fatal against the speed that many of the first-tier teams possess.

The departures of regular starter Nathan Ferguson (right-back) and the young Jonathan Leko, and of experienced players like Gareth Barry and Chris Brunt will surely have left a mark on Bilic’ selection. In turn, the club did manage to turn loan contracts of two important players into permanent agreements: Grady Diangana from West Ham and winger/attacking midfielder Mateus Pereira, West Brom’s Player of the Year 2019-20. In terms of new faces, the Baggies have not made huge moves yet, but they did bring in experienced Brighton goalie David Button and young Wigan and centre back Cédric Kipré.

Looking at the current Baggies roster, we find it a bit hard to imagine the club spending much of the coming season outside of the relegation zone. They have a very experienced and successful manager in the person of Slaven Bilic, and the likes of striker Charlie Austin, winger Mattie Phillips and midfielder Jake Livermore are decent players, but overall, the current squad feels a bit… light. On the one hand, there is still some time for West Brom to look for reinforcements and they probably should. On the other hand, the Baggies did impress in the Championship last season and much of the team is still intact. It looks like it’s going to be a tough year at the Hawthorns, but they’ll surely be competitive.

WEST BROM – The FPL potential

Former Sporting Lisbon man Matheus Pereira (£6.0m) was West Brom’s Player of the Year last season and deservedly so. He scored 8 goals and provided an incredible 16 assists, and on top of that, he created 116 chances over the whole season, more than any other player in the league. The forward is classified as a midfielder in FPL, but usually operates as an advanced number ten or a winger, depending on the formation. With 111 attempts on goal, Pereira was also West Brom’s most prolific player. On top of that, he shares set-piece duties, especially when it comes to corners. Of course, it’s not realistic to expect the same kind of output from him this season, but the 24-year old will surely be a crucial part of West Brom’s fight for survival.

With starting budget goalkeepers a bit of a rarity coming season, Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) could be an interesting pick for FPL managers. The former Man United shot stopper is a nailed-on starter for the Baggies, as whilst Brighton’s David Button was brought in to provide some serious competition for the spot in goal he is still acknowledged as a back-up goalie. West Brom booked 14 clean sheets in 46 league games last season, which doesn’t point at a next Sheffield United for coming season, but save points will most likely be on the cards. Johnstone is a quality goalie after all, and he made a bit of a reputation as a penalty specialist for himself with six saved spot kicks over the past two seasons. With a price tag of £4.5m, he could be a decent option as second goalkeeper. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating Sam Johnstone with Patricio from Wolves.

Continuing in the budget category, but at the other end of the pitch, Charlie Austin (£5.5m) might turn up in a few teams as a third forward. In 34 Championship games last season, the Englishman scored 10 goals and provided 2 assists. He recorded 42 shots in the box and had 24 attempts on target, placing him in second place in the entire squad, behind Pereira on both accounts. There is an important note to take into account should you consider Austin for your FPL squad: Hal Robson-Kanu provides serious competition and chances are that the club will still be bringing in offensive reinforcements over the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for Baggies team news and do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Leicester (H)
2Everton (A)
3Chelsea (H)
4Southampton (A)
5Burnley (H)
6Brighton (A)
7Fulham (A)
WBA’s opening EPL fixtures in September & October

FPL 2020/21 – Pre-season Club Previews – Sheffield Utd & Southampton

After last season and what was very probably the most unusual Premier League campaign any of us ever witnessed, the new 2020/21 season is now upon us. In the build-up to the season opener on Saturday, September 12th, at 12h30 (UK time), we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League with a special focus on their FPL potential to help you select your FPL team.

The EPL club previews could also be useful if you’re entering FanTeam’s massive €1 million prize fund Fantasy Premier League game for 20/21.

In this eighth instalment, we’ll be talking about last season’s surprise package Sheffield United and Danny Ings’ Saints.

SHEFFIELD UNITED – The team

Obviously, for many FPL managers, the 2019-20 Premier League campaign will forever be remembered as “that season in which John Lundstram started as a £4.0m defender”. The English box-to-box midfielder ended up recording 144 FPL points, courtesy of 10 clean sheets, 5 goals and 4 assists, as well as 15 bonus points. Despite losing his spot in the starting eleven in the second half of the season, he represented incredible value, especially for those managers who had him since gameweek 1.

His misclassification as a defender clearly played a role in all this, but the overriding reason for Lundstram’s FPL success was that trainer Chris Wilder managed to mould a team that took the Premier League by storm in their first season at the highest level after a 12 year absence. From a collection of players with very little PL experience, he created a solid unit that finished ninth last season, just five points off the top six.

For the Blades, last season’s success depended for a large part on their advanced tactical discipline and their sturdy defence. In 38 games, they conceded just 39 goals. Only the top three teams conceded less and what’s especially remarkable about it, is the fact that United managed to do without employing a negative game approach. On the contrary, the wingers got plenty of freedom to boom forward and even the three central defenders often overlapped with their midfield partners to join in attack. Combined with a meticulously put together midfield, this provided a unique and stable foundation. Maintaining this type of defensive organisation and discipline will be a major priority for Wilder.

At the same time, the manager will be looking at ways to improve his offensive output. Where 39 conceded places Sheffield United amongst the league’s top four, their tally of 39 goals scored places them amongst the five most goal-shy attacks. Despite their tactics, the Blades create relatively few chances, which explains why no team had less attempts on goal last season. They are a patient side and wait for high-quality openings to strike. This requires clinical strikers though, and despite the fact that the likes of Oli McBurnie, David McGoldrick and Lys Mousset provide certain quality up front, neither of them managed to score more than 6 goals last season.

This is why we wouldn’t be surprised to see the club bring in an attacking reinforcement still this summer, though none have arrived yet. United did react efficiently to the inevitable return of loanee goalkeeper Dean Henderson to Manchester United by resigning the talented Aaron Ramsdale from Bournemouth. Besides that, Wilder brought in two Derby full-backs in Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle for undisclosed fees, and Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu on loan to bolster his defensive options as well as acquiring forward Oliver Burke from WBA in a swpa deal for Callum Robinson.

The logical thing for Wilder and his Blades would be to continue on last season’s (and the previous seasons’) path and it looks like they will. All of their players now have a full season of Premier League football under their respective belts, for many the first in their entire career, and one more year of experience with the manager’s intense tactical concepts at the highest level. They were a very hard-to-beat, attractive-to-watch side to watch last season and we feel the 2020-21 campaign will be more of the same, or better. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

SHEFFIELD UNITED – The FPL potential

Keep in mind that the excellent Dean Henderson is no longer at the club, but as a result of last season’s excellent performances, most of Sheffield United’s defensive assets have been upgraded to (almost) premium level in FPL. If you’re investing in a nailed-on starter in one of the league’s best defences, our first pick is Mr. Sheffield United himself, Chris Basham (£5.0m). The 32-year old already sits on 282 games for the Blades and featured in every Premier League game last season. It’s true that, compared to his teammates in defence, his attacking output was rather negligible with just a single assist, but with Basham, you’re going for security of starts and clean sheets at a very affordable price. The central defender will once again be a key cog in Chris Wilder’s machine and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him record a few clean sheets in the first weeks of the season.

For a bigger threat going forward at just £0.5m more, either one of the wing-backs Enda Stevens (£5.5m) or George Baldock (£5.5m) is a great option. We mention both, because from an FPL point of view, there is barely a difference between them. Both were part of 13 clean sheets last season, both scored 2 goals and both provided 4 assists. Where Stevens got a total of 8 bonus points, Baldock got 7, but at the end of the ride, both defenders ended with 142 FPL points. Baldock got 75 more Premier League minutes to his name than his counterpart on the left, but that is really about it. Stevens sits in a few more teams at the moment (6.0% vs 5.6%), but either player could be an excellent pick for your gameweek 1 squad. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a Sheff Utd defender with one from the club below, Southampton.

In the middle, Oliver Norwood (£5.0m) is a fixed part of Wilder’s starting eleven and with good reason. The 29-year Northern Ireland international conducts play superbly from a central position and doesn’t shy away from a set-piece either. At a price of just £5.0m, this makes him an appealing option as fifth midfielder in your gameweek 1 squad. Of course, his attacking output is not huge, with a goal and 3 assists last season, but if he can repeat a score 98 FPL points this season, he represents more than decent value. For a bit more goal involvement, but also a million more of your budget, you can opt for John Fleck as well.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Wolves (H)
2Aston Villa (A)
3Leeds (H)
4Arsenal (A)
5Fulham (H)
6Liverpool (A)
7Manchester City (H)
Sheffield Utd’s opening EPL fixtures in September & October

SOUTHAMPTON – The team

When Southampton lost 0-9 (nil to nine) at home to Leicester in the early stages of last season, things looked kind of grim at Saint Mary’s. Manager Ralph Hasenhüttl allegedly offered his resignation after the unprecedented destruction of his team, but the club’s management refused to accept. A project had been started and a single, albeit devastating defeat, wasn’t going to change that. Maybe this symbolises that something is missing from English football: patience, and belief in a project.

Eight months after the “Leicester” away match (they won the return match!), the Austrian extended his contract with Southampton by four years. The Saints ended up in eleventh place, well above the drop zone and seven points off Spurs in sixth, in big part thanks to an impressive run at the end of the season that saw them lose just one in nine. As a matter of fact, they lost just six of their last 21 Premier League games last season. Things could look good this season if Hasenhüttl manages to continue building on that positive trend, one that he started, with the support of the club’s management.

Of course, it helps when you have a killer present up front. Possibly no other player on the Saints roster was so positively affected by Hasenhüttl’s change to the 4-2-2-2 system he favoured at RB Leipzig than Danny Ings. The high-energy press and quick transitions fit the English striker like a glove and he showed it by scoring 22 goals, just one shy of Golden Boot 2019-20 winner Jamie Vardy. In a season in which he finally managed to avoid serious injury trouble, Ings elevated his entire side to another level.

The Saints have already made two astute signings this summer, the first being the permanent signing of on-loan Spurs right-back Kyle Walker-Peters and the second being talented central defender Mohammed Salisu from Spanish side Valladolid for a combined €25 million. Though we don’t expect too much more incoming transfers in South England and a continued focus on the club’s prodigious youth academy, one or two more relatively major signings could be on the way. One of those could be a direct replacement for Emil Hojbjerg, who left the club for around €17 million to join Spurs.

In any case, the atmosphere at and around Saint Mary’s feels positive during the pre-season. The club ended last season on a high note, it has been relatively calm regarding Ings and the team’s other key men up until now, and their set of opening fixtures has potential for a good start. Whether Southampton are ready to challenge the top eight is something we’re not entirely sure of yet, but equalling (or even bettering) last season’s eleventh place is definitely a possibility.

SOUTHAMPTON – The FPL potential

Last season, Danny Ings (£8.5m) was one of the biggest bargains available, even once his price started rising from its initial £6.5m point. The English number nine surprised fans, opponents, FPL managers and FPL towers alike with his prolific season. In 2,800 minutes of Premier League football, he scored 22 goals and provided 2 assists, while no single player in the official game beat his total of 40 bonus points. Ings ended the season with an incredible 198 FPL points to his name. As a result, his price has risen substantially for this season, but that doesn’t mean his appeal has therefore decreased. With a decent set of opening fixtures and a certain role as key men in Ralph Hasenhüttl’s setup, he could very well hit the ground running this season.

We already mentioned Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.5m) before and at this current price tag, we think he is worth mentioning again. The talented right-back joined the Saints in January 2020 on loan and didn’t need much time to make the spot on the right-side of Hasenhüttl’s revamped defence his. He ended up playing 944 Premier League minutes in which he recorded 32 FPL points, thanks to being part of 2 clean sheets and providing 1 assist. This summer, Southampton made his loan deal permanent for a fee of €13 million and he looks to be going into the 2020-21 as the manager’s preferred choice at right-back. He could be great value as your fourth or even fifth defender. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a Southampton defender with one from the club above, Sheffield Utd.

Another budget option definitely worth considering is midfielder James Ward-Prowse (£6.0m). The 25-year old Englishman has developed into a key part of Hasenhüttl’s midfield setup and was even named club captain in the final stages of last season. He barely missed a minute whole season, and rewarded that faith with 5 goals and 4 assists for a total of 112 FPL points. The issue with JWP from an FPL point of view is that he is sometimes deployed further away from the opposition’s area, but that is also reflected in his price tag. To counter that, he is also on plenty of set-pieces, apart from penalties which are for Ingsy, obviously.

Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Crystal Palace (A)
2Spurs (H)
3Burnley (A)
4West Brom (H)
5Chelsea (A)
6Everton (H)
7Aston Villa (A)
Southampton’s opening EPL fixtures in September & October

2020 NFL Betting Tips And Tricks: 5 Effective Approach to the Betting Games

The National Football League (NFL) is one of the most celebrated sporting events in the US ever since. This year, the football season is back and will commence in a few days from now. Last year, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl LIV and will open the 2020 NFL season on September 10 against the Houston Texans.

Like other prominent sporting events that you know, NFL fans are looking for the best teams to bet in the wagering games. Every year, bettors put so much effort into forming the best betting strategies to pick a deserving entry. While there is no formula to win consistently, making big money is possible when you focus on leveraging the toughest team to gamble.

With many surprising player trades in the NFL draft, fans can expect more thrilling NFL match-ups this season. In line with this, your NFL betting might come challenging, and finding bets demand more time and effort. If you want a lesser work of forming NFL bets, here are some tips to learn.

Identify The Big Favorites

Before the regular NFL season starts, the preseason will take place and where fans will witness warm-up matches. It will preview the current team’s roster and how they will perform in the regular NFL season. Besides that, this will also be your basis for comparing every team’s weapons, their overall strengths, and key players.

In line with that, the NFL community also identifies the big favorites each year. Usually, these favorites are the groups who made it to the league playoffs in the last season. Aside from that, they also averaged the highest score when it comes to the overall team scoring. When you find your next NFL bets, make sure to know the latest big favorites.

Recognize The Dangerous Dogs

If the favorites demand a huge consideration, you must also try to bet for the dangerous dogs and dark horses in the current league. Last year, the Pats were almost heading to the best year of their lives, but during Wildcard Week, the Titans, who were underdogs, showed up with their best weapons, dispatching them big time.

There is no assurance that the favorites can win outright as the NFL can be anyone’s ball game. Although the dogs’ biggest disadvantage is getting less hype from the crowd, it doesn’t mean they can’t win. Thus, if you find the favorites as a deserving NFL bet, don’t forget the dogs as they can twist the show significantly.

Look For The Top Quarterbacks

The quarterbacks play a big role in the team’s success in their quest for the annual Lombardi trophy. If other key positions, like receivers, linebackers, edge rushers have to be reliable, the quarterbacks take double on this pressure. They don’t only lead the team, but they also make sure to portray the overall game plan that the team has structured.

Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Tom Brady, and Jimmy Garappolo are some of the best quarterbacks you can find in the upcoming NFL season. While these gentlemen are expected to give out their best skills in the field, try to compare other quarterbacks and see who can shine brighter.

Find A Team With A More Boosted Roster

Not only do the quarterbacks need to perform precisely, but the other talents have to do their part to win. As mentioned earlier, athletes playing as the cornerback, receivers, linebackers, offensive tackle, defensive end, and edge rushers need to have more boosted skills to develop a successful match.

During the drafting, many players have moved from one team to the other. Apart from that, many powerful rookies were also contracted to join the starting line-up. Make sure to double your effort in studying every team’s current roster and compare them. Through this, you’ll know which people you can rely on to win the betting games.

Notice A Team With Solid Offense And Defense Skills

A right combination of offense and defense skills will make a football team a real winner. They can’t have a strong defense and weaker offense or the other way around. These two departments should look even in any given circumstance.

If you find a team that possesses these two skills, they are a sure bet you can make in the upcoming NFL season. The key to knowing that the team has an excellent offense and defense department is to review the current line-up scores and statistics.

Takeaway

Your chance of getting the thrill in the upcoming NFL season is not only brought by the best playing teams but by the betting games you are looking forward to gambling. The 2020 NFL season is composed of 17-week playoffs, with 32 teams coming from the AFC and NFC. Hence, if you desire to select a successful team or player to wager on, the tips above would greatly help.

FPL 2020/21 – Pre-season Club Previews – Manchester Utd & Newcastle

“Will Man United be in the mix for the title race this season?” (CC by 4.0). Image by: HonorThe King.

After last season and what was very probably the most unusual Premier League campaign any of us ever witnessed, the new 2020/21 season is now upon us. In the build-up to the season opener on Saturday, September 12th, at 12h30 (UK time), we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League with a special focus on their FPL potential to help you select your FPL team.

The EPL club previews could also be useful if you’re entering FanTeam’s massive €1 million prize fund Fantasy Premier League game for 20/21.

In this seventh instalment, the focus is on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United and an active Newcastle United side.

MANCHESTER UNITED – The team

The situation is a bit complicated at United at the moment. On the one hand, a club with the history and squad like United’s seeks to pursue improvement every season. On the other hand, improving on their third-place finish last season would mean bettering either Liverpool or city rivals Manchester City. We are not excluding any scenario prematurely, you never know in football after all, but the latter scenario seems unlikely for this coming season. The next, more realistic step would be to remain in the title race until the end of the season. Being bested by powerhouses Liverpool and City is understandable, even for a club of United’s stature, but finishing 33 and 15 points behind their two rivals is not acceptable.

Many pundits and pre-season analyses have pointed out United’s need to especially invest in the back this summer, but strangely enough, the Red Devils were on par with the best in the league last season. Only champions Liverpool and runners-up Man City conceded less than United’s 36 goals in 38 games. It is true, though, that regular eye tests of Solskjaer’s team revealed certain defensive insecurity. This became especially apparent when one or more of the designated starters were unavailable. Adding an experienced central defender and one (or even two) ready-to-go full-backs would seriously bolster United’s chances this season.

The club performed on par in offense as well. With 85 goals and 102 goals respectively, Liverpool and City were miles ahead, but without taking these two into account, United’s output (66 goals) was only just beaten by Leicester (67) and Chelsea (69). It is also in the attacking area that the team carries most talent, with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood all capable of scoring against any opponent. Daniel James seems to have to content himself with a spot on the bench, but United wouldn’t be wrong to invest a bit in quality squad depth here as well.

For the midfield in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, Solskjaer does have some choice. Pogba, Fred, McTominay and Matic are all quality options for the two controlling spots, while new arrival Donny van de Beek is an excellent technician who can play as one half of the double pivot or as number ten instead of Fernandes. His versatility and undeniable quality on and off the ball make him the kind of transfer that United needs to close the gap with the Premier League top two while still competing on different fronts, including the Champions League.

With a few more smart, not necessarily extremely expensive investments, United should be able to spend most of the season in the top five. If the Red Devils splash the cash, it should probably be on a central defender to partner Harry Maguire, or on back-ups/rivals for Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. In any case, we expect there is still some incoming and outgoing transfer news coming from Old Trafford over the coming weeks.

By the way, United’s start to the season is alright in terms of fixtures, but they do have a blank round in gameweek 1. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for Man Utd before finalising your team.

MANCHESTER UNITED – The FPL potential

Before recommending a premium midfielder, we’d just like to repeat that: Manchester United do not play in gameweek 1. In the four following games, the Red Devils are facing three bottom-half-of-the-table teams. It could be the perfect set of fixtures for Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) to hit the ground running. As a forward, the talented Englishman scored 17 goals and provided 8 assists last season for a total of 177 FPL points. Actually, only four other forwards scored more than the United attacker. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes in the last winter transfer window took him off penalty duties, but his re-classification as a midfielder this season does help maintain his appeal. Rashford is expensive and will miss GW1, but he is one of Solskjaer’s key men and part of one of the league’s most exciting attacking units.

Another crucial cog of the Norwegian’s machine will be Portuguese international Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m). Rarely have we witnessed such a mid-season transformation of a team as the one brought about by the signing of the midfielder in January 2020. With 8 goals and 8 assists for a total of 117 FPL points, he managed to galvanise a United side struggling to squeeze out consistent quality performances prior to his arrival. He might feel the pressure of new signing Van de Beek from Ajax, but we expect Fernandes to be Solskjaer’s first choice for the most advanced midfielder berth. While the former Sporting Lisbon star might not be able to completely replicate his devastating form of the second part of last season, we feel he’ll get plenty of chances to rack up the points and on top of that, he is the designated penalty specialist as well.

As we mentioned earlier, despite the doubts surrounding Man United’s defensive setup, they still boasted the third-best defence by the end of gameweek 38 last season. FPL points-wise, the best performer in the United defence was tireless right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m) with 127 points. On top of 12 clean sheets and 4 assists, the English international also recorded 16 bonus points. He ended the 2019-20 campaign with just under 3,100 Premier League minutes behind his name and he will be the first-choice wing-back on the right side in 2020-21 as well. There is some serious competition in his price bracket with the likes of Caglar Söyüncü, George Baldock and Ben Chilwell just to name a few, but if Solskjaer manages to bolster his defence a bit to improve on last season’s defensive performance, AWB could be a set-and-forget option in FPL.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1///
2Crystal Palace (H)
3Brighton (A)
4Spurs (H)
5Newcastle (A)
6Chelsea (H)
7Arsenal (H)
Man Utd’s opening EPL fixtures in September & October

NEWCASTLE UNITED – The team

One of the team’s we’re actually (very) quietly optimistic about this season are Newcastle United. We admit that at the start of last season, we saw the Magpies as one of the prime candidates for relegation under manager Steve Bruce, but they proved us wrong. With 44 points and never really being in danger of relegation, the club had a pretty comfortable season in mid-table, something we can only applaud. It’s now up to Bruce and the rest of management to repeat that achievement or, who knows, even improve on it.

The defence was the backbone of Newcastle’s finish in 13th last season. While still conceding 58 goals in 38 games, they also booked 11 clean sheets, just one less than Manchester United. Steve Bruce had his team defend in deep blocks and counted on quick counters through players like Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almirón in a preferred 5-3-2 formation. We expect more of the same coming season, but with more efficiency, thanks to a few very positive moves on the transfer market this summer.

Perhaps a bit unexpectedly, the coveted Bournemouth duo Callum Wilson & Ryan Fraser moved to Saint James’ Park. The former cost Newcastle around £20 million, while the latter was a free agent prior to his move. Over the past three seasons, Wilson scored 30 goals and provided 20 assists in the Premier League. During that same period, Fraser managed 13 goals and 22 assists. Apart from their proven track record at the highest level of English football, these two players also seem perfectly suited to the kind of game Steve Bruce wants to play.

This is also one of the major reasons why we see some potential in the Magpies this season. Besides the two Bournemouth aces, they also brought in experienced Burnley midfielder Jeff Hendrick on a free transfer, much to Sean Dyche’s dislike. Today they have also signed highly-rated 22 year old left-back Jamal Lewis from Norwich. If Bruce manages to build on last season’s foundations and integrate these new signings at the same time, then a top ten finish could actually be on the cards for the Magpies. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for Newcastle Utd before finalising your team.

NEWCASTLE UNITED – The FPL potential

One of the perhaps underestimated effect Newcastle’s new signings will have, is that they will relieve Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.5m) of some pressure in an attacking and creative sense. With 3 goals and 5 assists last season, the talented Frenchman was directly involved in 21% of all goals scored by Newcastle. More than his direct involvement in goals, it was his dribbling that the Magpies depended on. In his debut Premier League season, ASM completed 4.7 dribbles per game, putting him among the most successful technicians in the league. With a year of Premier League football under his belt and a few promising reinforcements being added to the squad, we definitely see possibilities for the winger to improve on last season’s tally of 92 FPL points this season. His relatively low price tag only furthers his appeal.

Usually we are a bit conservative when it comes to recommending new signings, but Callum Wilson (£6.5m) is an exception to the rule and for a variety of reasons. First of all, he might be a new name at Newcastle, but he definitely isn’t a new name to the Premier League. In his last two seasons at the highest level, the England international scored 22 goals and provided 18 assists, totalling 284 FPL points. Second of all, at a price of £6.5m, the striker looks like a potential great investment as second or even third striker, as we expect him to be a nailed-on starter under Bruce this season. Third of all, the Magpies are up against West Ham (away), Brighton and Burnley (both at home) in their first four games. If Bruce manages to get his team ready for gameweek 1, we can Wilson getting off to a good start.

Defensively, central defender and captain Jamaal Lascelles (£4.5m) could represent a smart use of your FPL budget. The English defender, who can also play as a right-back, suffered from some injury troubles last season and only got to just over 2,000 Premier League minutes as a result of it. Normally though, Lascelles is a nailed-on starter in Newcastle’s sturdy backline. With a price tag of just £4.5m, he becomes a very appealing option as fourth or even fifth defender in your FPL squad, including from gameweek 1 onwards although main goalkeeper Dubravka is currently out injured. He is currently selected by just 3.1% of the team in the official game, which additionally grants him differential status. Do keep your eye out for Jamal Lewis’ FPL price once added to the game. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a Newcastle defender with one from West Ham Utd.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1West Ham (A)
2Brighton (H)
3Spurs (A)
4Burnley (H)
5Manchester United (H)
6Wolves (A)
7Everton (H)
Newcastle Utd’s opening EPL fixtures in September & October

FPL 2020/21 – Pre-season Club Previews – Liverpool & Manchester City

“Are Jurgen Klopp’s men keeping the title at Anfield this season?” (CC by 4.0). Image by: Yurificacion.

After last season and what was very probably the most unusual Premier League campaign any of us ever witnessed, the new 2020/21 season is now upon us. In the build-up to the season opener on Saturday, September 12th, at 12h30 (UK time), we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League with a special focus on their FPL potential to help you select your FPL team.

The EPL club previews could also be useful if you’re entering FanTeam’s massive €1 million prize fund Fantasy Premier League game for 20/21.

In this sixth instalment, reigning champions Liverpool are up, followed by last season’s principal rivals Manchester City.

LIVERPOOL – The team

Unless you’ve been living in a cave without any television or internet connection for the past year, you’ll be aware of the fact that Liverpool won the Premier League title last season, for the first time in 30 years. The wait was long, the build-up was excruciating at times, but the eventual moment was more than deserved. From gameweek 1 to gameweek 31, when they officially became champions, the Reds dominated. To give you an idea of that domination: by February 2020, Liverpool were no less than 25 points ahead of 2nd placed Man City.

Jurgen Klopp is not done though, and neither are the rest of red Liverpool. In December, the German extended his contract by five years and he shows no indications of feeling like a man who has completed his mission. To say it in his own words, “We are in the middle of something”. The Liverpool squad is extremely settled by now and even though there might be changes of personnel this summer, they will surely continue on the same path that has brought them a Champions League and a Premier League title in the last two seasons.

One thing they do need to do, is to avoid contentment at any cost. Since the big spending spree of the summer 2018, Liverpool have been quite discrete on the transfer market. As a matter of fact, attacking midfielder, Takumi Minamino, and Greek left-back, Kostas Tsimikas, are the only senior first-team players signed by the Reds since that summer. Both in terms of sustaining the competition within the team and securing the necessary squad depth to compete with the powerhouses, domestically and internationally. In that light, the exits of Adam Lallana (to Brighton) and Dejan Lovren (to the Russian Premier League) should definitely be addressed, either by investing or looking inwards at the talented likes of Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones.

This is also why we find it hard to imagine that Liverpool will not be still making some moves during the current transfer window. In that sense, the potential signing of Bayern Munich’s midfielder Thiago Alcántara would be a masterful one. In Origi, the Reds boast a great super sub, but another high-level signing to back up their three stars up front would not be considered unnecessary luxury either. In any case, The Reds are balanced, solid and mentally one of the strongest teams out there and have just welcomed Matip back from injury to slightly aleviate the worries about Lovren leaving. The competition is seriously spending this summer, but as far as we are concerned, the title is Liverpool’s to lose this season. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for Liverpool before finalising your team.

LIVERPOOL – The FPL potential

One of the big advantages for FPL managers in terms of Liverpool is Jurgen Klopp’s relatively modest tendency to rotate. Within that context and apart from goalkeeper Alisson Becker, probably the most nailed-on Red is captain Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m). The Dutchman is expensive and his defensive teammates on his left and right side will surely take up more of the spotlight throughout the season, but he is a sure thing. Last season, he recorded 178 FPL points, courtesy of 15 clean sheets, 5 goals and 2 assists. This made him the third-highest scoring defender in the entire game, just behind, you guessed it, Alexander-Arnold (210 points) and Robertson (181 points). Liverpool have a relatively favourable start of the 20120-20 campaign coming up and if you’re looking for a premium defender, Virgil should be one of the candidates.

With Mo Salah (£12.0m) and Sadio Mané (£12.0m), we’re continuing on the premium path, but for midfielders this time. The two Red superstars are the most expensive players in the game and with good reason. The Egyptian ended up beating his Senegalese teammate in terms of FPL points (233 vs 221), and only Man City’s Kevin de Bruyne manage to record more points than both of them (251). Salah scored one goal more than Mané, but the former also played 134 Premier League minutes more than the latter. As we concluded more than a few times during our in-season articles and analyses, there is simply very little between the two of them from an FPL points of view.

We think many squads will struggle to afford both of the Liverpool stars on their roster by the time gameweek 1 gets started (or be stuck with only being allowed 3 Liverpool players), so the question for most FPL managers will be: Salah or Mané? Salah can be frustrating at times, but he often plays down the centre and is on penalties for the Reds. Mané looks more clinical at times and, last season at least, looked a bit more comfortable performing outside of Anfield. In the end, we would probably go with the Egyptian dribbler, though Mané could very well be a Golden Boot candidate again this season as well. There will no doubt be times during the season when it pays to have one and not the other depending on form, fitness and luck!

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Leeds (H)
2Chelsea (A)
3Arsenal (H)
4Aston Villa (A)
5Everton (A)
6Sheffield United (H)
7West Ham (H)
Liverpool’s opening EPL matches in September & October

MANCHESTER CITY – The team

By the time the 2019-20 season had ended and Bayern Munich had won the Champions League for the sixth time in their history, one of the dominant emotions in the sky blue part of Manchester surely was disappointment. Despite winning the League Cup, the fact that Man City lost the league to Liverpool as the result of an incredible 18-point gap and the painful elimination in the Champions League quarter-finals versus Olympique Lyon were surely not calculated. We shouldn’t forget though, that City were the first team in a decade to retain the Premier League title two seasons in a row (2017-18, 2018-19) and that the first title was won by winning exactly 100 points, a record.

What we’re trying to say is that the Cityzens will be more than up for another draining season-long fight on different fronts. The playing style under manager Pep Guardiola is known, usually an attacking 4-3-3 with lots of movement and ball possession, executed by what’s probably the world’s most talented group of players. It will be more of the same coming season with the only major changes taking place on the personnel side of things.

With several weeks of the transfer window still to go, City have already spent €79 million on new recruits, with left-footed & Dutch international central defender Nathan Aké from Bournemouth for €45 million and Spanish winger Ferran Torres from Valencia for €23 million the two major transfers. Good signings, but the loss of Leroy Sané to Bayern Munich and David Silva to Real Sociedad will be felt at the Etihad nonetheless. That’s also why we’re very sure that the Cityzens will still be bringing in some new players before the end of transfer window. They have been linked to players of the stature of Napoli’s Senaglese international centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly and Atletico Madrid’s centre-back José Jimenez for a while already, just to name a few of the more persistent rumours.

Whatever still does or doesn’t happen, you can be sure of one thing: City will be competing for the prizes again this season. The abundance of talent and world class quality in their squad is dazzling, and Guardiola has already been bringing in the necessary big names to keep all of his players in their toes. After not making it past the Champions League quarter-finals a single time as coach of City up until now, the need for international success will only have increased for the coming season. Still, we believe that City will be challenger number one for the title, with Chelsea possibly an interesting outsider.

MANCHESTER CITY – The FPL potential

Kevin de Bruyne (£11.5m), and we could leave it there, but OK. If you are considering serious investment in Man City assets, which you probably should despite their blank first gameweek, the Belgian should be on top of your list. Not only is he the best player in an incredible team, he is also more or less the most nailed-on a non-defensive player can get under Pep Guardiola. That’s no surprise given his fantastic stats from last season: 2,790 Premier League minutes, 13 goals, 23 assists, 35 bonus points and 18 clean sheets for a total of 251 FPL points. No player in the entire league recorded more over the 2019-20 campaign. He is going through a bit of an ugly legal dispute with his former agent at the moment, but it doesn’t look like it will affect his performances on the pitch too much. De Bruyne comes as a strong recommendation from our side and 33.6% of FPL managers seem to agree already despite the blank GW1.

The only reason not to go for KDB, besides the fact that City don’t play in gameweek 1, is a preference for City’s top scorer of last season Raheem Sterling (£11.5m). The 2019-20 campaign was the first one in which the English superstar reached 20 goals and on top of that he provided 6 assists, as well. He was the second-highest scoring Man City asset with 204 FPL goals, while only six players in the entire league ended with a higher tally. He is relatively nailed-on as a starter, though his returns tend to be a bit more explosive than, for example, De Bruyne’s at the same price. The return of Aguero from injury also adds another major name to the mix, as he missed much of last season. This took out one name from the front line, which lead to a slightly lower rotation risk for a top performer like Sterling. The Argentinian is back now and heavy rotation can be expected, but Sterling could be a very shrewd differential pick (his current ownership sits at just 4.5%).

In defence, French central defender Aymeric Laporte is probably the most certain starter, but prone to injury as well and, along with Marhez, has just tested positive for coronavirus. That’s why a potentially better defensive pick amongst the City assets is goalkeeper Ederson (£6.0). The Brazilian shot stopper won last season’s Golden Glove, courtesy of 16 clean sheets and he will surely be a contender again this season. With 133 FPL points, he just made it into the top ten of goalkeepers, but keep in mind that he missed a few games through injury and also got 1 rare red card. Without those setbacks, Ederson would surely have made it into the top five and if the Man City centre-back line is strengthened then expect a top 3 finish this season. Of course, that’s all speculation, but what we are sure of is that you’ll be happy you went with him once the inevitable and usually heartbreaking Pep Roulette kicks in. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for Man City before finalising your team.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1////
2Wolves (A)
3Leicester (H)
4Leeds (A)
5Arsenal (H)
6West Ham (A)
7Leeds (A)
Manchester City’s opening EPL matches in September & October