It’s easy to see why we love fantasy football – whether your team has just lost to the side bottom of the league, or your big-money goalkeeper has thrown one into his own net, fantasy football provides an escape from the drudgery of supporting an actual, perennially-disappointing club.
But it’s not always a chore to support your club. There are highs among the lows, and Liverpool experienced the highest of them all back in 2005, on that night in Istanbul. More than a decade on and it’s still one of the most incredible games of football to have been played, one that lives long in the memory of anyone who saw it regardless of club affiliation.
The Liverpool players of 2005 became heroes to their supporters, no doubt. How do they stack up to today’s crop, though? Jurgen Klopp has built a Liverpool side that looks the most likely to challenge for silverware as any since Rafa Benitez’s heyday.
Klopp’s blossoming team got Betting.net wondering – what would an XI made up of the squad that lifted the Champions League and today’s domestic and European contenders look like? It’s a different kind of fantasy football, but an intriguing one none the less.
Some of the inclusions are easy enough – the 2005 midfield of Dietmar Hamann, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard is just about perfect, and so is today’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. But in defence? In goal? It’s much more debateable. Alisson could eventually surpass Jerzy Dudek, and Virgil van Dijk might out-do Sami Hyypia, but for now, the nod went to the Champions League winners.
And what about in the dugout? Klopp’s side is more exciting than Benitez’s ever was, but the Spaniard delivered trophies. Maybe in time this would be an XI dominated by current day players, with the current day coach, but for now, the 2005 vintage wins out. Either way, this team would be a contender for every trophy – the onus is on Klopp to make the fantasy a reality.
“Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris who, along with Alli, is expected to miss the home vs Liverpool due to injury in this weekend’s top match” (CC by 2.0) by Ben Sutherland
With the arrival of gameweek 5 starting tomorrow, this season’s first international break has come to an end, which means it’s time to start seriously looking at our FPL squads again. Most of the FPL teams will feel the effects of the break in one way or another. Some popular players got injured over the break, including not just the two Spurs players mentioned above but also Man United’s Luke Shaw (concussion), Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser (knock), Palace’s Wilfried Zaha (groin) and City’s Raheem Sterling (back), whilst other players either found or continued their form while representing their country, including Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Everton’s Richarlison and Man United’s Romelu Lukaku.
Some observations ahead of gameweek 5
Some of the most unpredictable moments in FPL take place just after the international breaks. It’s hard to know whether a player’s performance for his country is representative for the coming gameweek, while factors like travelling (particularly to South America), playing position and the team’s playing style all have an influence as well. Managers will be hoping their players are not rested and only sent on for the last few minutes which is what happened to the likes of Keita, Mkhitaryan and Kompany last gameweek meaning a miserly 1 point only and no chance of an automatic substitute.
In Brazil’s away game against tiny El Salvador, Everton’s Richarlison made his debut and did in so in style. He scored two goals, one of them a beautiful right-foot curler, to help Brazil to a 5-0 victory. He’s suspended for one more game in the Premier League, but if you still have him in your team, you’d probably do good to keep him.
Burnley crashed out of European football before the break against Greek giants Olympiakos, so their focus will be on the league now. They’ve performed below par until now, but with no European football to distract them from now on, it would be logical to see their results improve over the coming weeks. Do beware that the Clarets host United and play away at Arsenal in the coming three weeks.
Crystal Palace have become (too) dependent on Wilfried Zaha. Without their talisman, the Eagles lost at home to Southampton last gameweek. As a matter of fact, the last ten games in which Zaha failed to feature, Palace didn’t book a single victory. Keep an eye on his injury status if you have Palace players in your squad.
Finally, Manual Pellegrini is finding it difficult to field a competitive squad at West Ham this season, despite spending almost £100m on new players this summer. With zero points and just three goals scored after four games, their season start can be called disastrous. Coming up in the next five weeks are games against Everton (away), Chelsea, United and Spurs (all at home), so things aren’t looking to good for the Hammers.
Looking at the FPL statistics, the players that managers are currently bringing in most include Mitrovic, Moura, Pedro, Holebas, Hazard and Alonso (all with over 250,000 transfers in this gameweek) whilst those players on their way out of squads (all with about 100,000 or more transfers out this gameweek) include Zaha (injury), Walcott (injury), Salah (can the money be better spent elsewhere?), Mkhitaryan (after his drop to the bench with Ozil returning for GW4), Richarlison (ban), Firmino (even after finally getting amongst the goals in GW4) and Daniels (see our ‘differential’ comments below about Rico).
Eden Hazard (£10.7m) doesn’t seem to be too phased by the international break. The Belgian scored a penalty against Iceland in the Nations League, whilst he also scored in his last two Premier League games, amassing 19 points in the process. Hazard seems to feel comfortable in his role under Sarri and a home game against a sturdy Cardiff side could provide the perfect opportunity to continue his hot streak. The forward has shot at goal and created big chances 20 times in total (only Salah was more active) and Chelsea has scored at least two times in every league match up until now. With an ownership of just over 20%, Hazard could even be something of a differential captain.
This weekend’s game at Bournemouth will be marked by the return of Jamie Vardy (£8.9m) after a three-match suspension as the result of a red card. The attacker no longer features for England, so his international break was quite calm. Bournemouth has started the season in impressive fashion, but only their first game, at home against Cardiff, resulted in a clean sheet. Vardy will be raring to go against the Cherries and attacking returns could well be on the cards for him. In the 92 minutes he played this season so far, spread over two games, he did manage to score a goal. Young teammate James Maddison is developing into Leicester’s chief creator in the midfield and has impressed many pundits and Vardy might well be benefiting from Maddison’s urge to constantly feed the attack.
Our next suggestion could be considered somewhat of a punt, but hear us out. Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m) has largely been flying under the radar so far this season, despite his three goals in four matches. The negative atmosphere that currently seems present at the club might have played a role in this. Nevertheless, Lukaku had a good international break, scoring two goals in Belgium 0-3 victory over Iceland. Add to that the fact that the Belgian is a guaranteed starter for José Mourinho and that the next four games are against Watford (away), Wolves (home), West Ham (away) and Newcastle (home) then Lukaku’s potential for points over the coming suddenly becomes a lot more obvious. With a current ownership of just 7.9%, the big striker could even function as an strong differential this weekend.
A differential pick or two
After picking out a joint top scorer in GW4 (Glenn Murray) and the 2nd best scorer in GW3 (Lucas Moura) the odds are against us in picking three in a row, particularly as we’re going for defenders this time!
With 5 points from 4 games, newly-promoted Wolves have had a decent start to the 18/19 campaign and right wing-back Matt Doherty (£4.4m) started each of those four games. In Nuno Espirito Santo’s system, Doherty is allowed plenty of freedom to roam forward and support the attack where possible, which should translate to attacking returns at some point. Wolves are relatively tight at the back though, with one clean sheet against West Ham, and next up is a still out-of-sorts Burnley outfit. The Clarets have scored just two goals so far in away games this season and with major Burnley threats Gudmundsson and Brady out injured, the home team might book a valuable result with points for Doherty a very real possibility and he’s only held by 0.8% of managers.
We’re going with another defender next, namely Bournemouth’s Diego Rico (£4.5m) who is only held by 0.1% of FPL managers. The Spaniard came over from La Liga side Leganés and made his first start for the Cherries last gameweek. Despite losing 2-0 to Chelsea, Rico showed a tremendous amount of quality at left-back and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’d remain there for the rest of the season. He wasn’t able to play in the 1st three games of the season due to a red card ban from his previous club but was always expected to take over from Charlie Daniels at LWB, although this was made easier for the Manager in GW4 due to a knee injury for Daniels. Apart from forming part of a Bournemouth defence that looks sturdier than ever, he also took six corners against Chelsea and created two big chances. With games against Leicester (home), Burnley (away), Palace (home), and Watford (away) in the next four weeks, the Spanish left-back might be in for more returns. Those still holding Daniels (which is about 11% of Managers) should consider swapping for Rico asap.
We mentioned it earlier, but Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (£10.7m) is a principal candidate for the captaincy this gameweek. With two goals and two assists the Belgian attacker has delivered attacking returns in each of his Premier League games so far, and it would be surprising if he didn’t make it five consecutive gameweeks this weekend against Cardiff at home. If you’re not captaining Aguero or another attacking City player against Fulham coming weekend, Hazard is probably the best option you have. Cardiff has conceded two and scored none so far in home games, against Newcastle at home and Huddersfield away. Chelsea is of another calibre and Hazard might well be the one to demonstrate that.
We know that we’ve suggested captaining Aguero (£11.3m) on two previous occasions already, both of which ended up in disappointment, but a home match against an attacking Fulham side is too good to pass on. Just look at this statistic: City has scored the most goals at home so far this season, namely eight, and Fulham conceded the third-most away goals, namely five. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Saturday’s game turns out to be a goal-bonanza and, if it does, Aguero is more likely to be among the goals than not.
“Can Brighton continue their form at the AmEx against Fulham after the home victory over United 2 weeks ago?” (CC by 2.0) by Gareth Williams
The high weekly FPL points averages keep rolling in this season, as gameweek 3 ended with an average of 50 points. The outstanding point scorers in FPL were Spurs winger Lucas Moura, who was one of our 2 ‘differential’ picks last week and who scored two goals taking home 15 points, and Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored twice and provided one assist at Craven Cottage to delight his owners with 16 points. Defenders Marcos Alonso (2 assists vs Newcastle) who was one of our 3 Premium player tips and Trippier who was also highlighted last week (1 assist and a clean sheet against United) followed with 11 points both.
Some GW3 observations ahead of GW4
In Son Heung-min’s absence, Brazilian forward Lucas Moura has made a blistering start to the 18/19 campaign, playing the full 90 minutes in the last two games and bagging three goals in the process, as well as 22 FPL points. Seeing as Son and his South Korea just made it to the final of the Asian Games (coming Saturday), which Son has to win if he wants to be exempted from 21 months of mandatory military duty in his homeland, Lucas is expected to retain his starting place and rightfully so after his performances.
Meanwhile, Burnley’s less-than-optimal start to the season keeps dragging on as the Clarets lost 4-2 away to promoted Fulham after losing the first leg of their Europa League qualifiers against Olympiakos (3-1). As a result, Burnley have taken just one point from the first three Premier League rounds. They welcome a Manchester United in crisis this weekend and their fixtures after that are attractive as well, on paper, but Burnley remains an unusually unpredictable side for now. Manager, Sean Dyche, will no doubt be working with the team to rediscover their defensive capabilities so don’t be surprised if they reel off some clean sheets again despite leaking goals in their last two EPL matches, particularly if tonight’s Europa qualifying game is their final European Cup distraction.
The frequent criticism of Liverpool’s defence last season seems to have been listened to at Anfield, as the Reds have yet to concede a goal this season. The first step was the signing of Virgil van Dijk last January, followed by the acquisition of Roma’s goalkeeper Alisson this summer and the impressive development of Alexander-Arnold at right-back. With stronger opposition facing them over the coming gameweeks, the Liverpool defence will be put the test, but one that the Reds can look forward to with full confidence. ‘Pool have played with more steel and determination this season enjoying plenty of possession thanks to the addition of more quality and confidence at the back and have shown that they could be the defensive team of the season.
Don’t let Man City‘s unexpected 1-1 draw when playing at Molineux versus Wolves be any reason for despair. Pep Guardiola’s men didn’t take home the three points, but they played their usual game. City hit the woodwork twice (Kun and Sterling), took 18 shots of which 6 ended up on target, had 72% of the possession, and made 644 passes with an accuracy of 89%. As we predicted last week, Wolves’ luck in front of goal was due to change in GW3 and they did indeed score a lucky goal against Man City.
In Northwest London, Watford are enjoying a simply magnificent start to the season, with 9 points from 3 games and a current fourth place as result. Winger Roberto Pereyra is the man in form at the moment (who we highlighted in our Watford preview), with 3 goals in 3 games, while Ben Foster, José Holebas, and Troy Deeney are interesting differential targets as well. Do keep in mind that the Hornets have had a relatively easy start to the season and that the coming five gameweeks include home games against Spurs and United, and an away game at Arsenal.
Premium player picks
Last week, one of our top recommendations for both a transfer in and the captaincy (if you didn’t have Salah) was Kun Aguero (£11.3m), after his hat-trick performance a week earlier during the 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield. City and Aguero somewhat disappointed in gameweek 3 away at Wolves, at least in terms of the result. A 1-1 draw against a promoted side is never sufficient for the reigning champion, but the Cityzens played their usual free-flowing football and the Wolves goal came after a clear handball. This weekend at home against Newcastle will likely be a return to normality as City will control the ball and attack at will, a situation in which Aguero thrives. It’s worth giving him another chance after blanking last weekend, after all he’s still the player with most shots on target (16) in the league after three rounds and you can’t expect the man to score a hat-trick every week.
Chelsea visited Saint James Park for gameweek 3, which is never an easy fixture and even less so with Rafa Benitez at the Newcastle helm. The Blues were faced with a tight Newcastle defence, and the occasional danger on the counter or from set-pieces, but they eventually got the victory, largely courtesy of an in-form Eden Hazard (£10.3m). The Belgian forward was unstoppable against the Magpies, combining with his team mates at will and dribbling past his markers for 90 minutes, and he got on the score sheet as well after converting a penalty won by Alonso. Sarri’s Chelsea looks to be improving every week, and with matches against Bournemouth, Cardiff (both at Stamford Bridge), and West Ham (away) coming up, Hazard might bring his owners more attacking returns in the coming weeks.
Considering Arsenal’s ongoing defensive frailty, it might seem odd to mention one of their defenders in this list, but we’ll do it anyway. Hector Bellerín (£5.5m and owned by about 12% of managers) is the starting right-back for Unai Emery and the manager gives him the freedom to bomb forwards when possible, which is when the Spaniard is at his best. After back-to-back losses (0-2 against City and 3-2 vs Chelsea), the Gunners picked up their first three points of the season against West Ham last weekend. Bellerín got an assist in the game and for the next game Arsenal are visiting Cardiff, the only Premier League outfit yet to score this campaign. With a League-low 2 shots on target per game so far, Cardiff away looks like an ideal moment for Arsenal’s first clean sheet of the season.
A differential pick or two
After 3 goals and 23 FPL points in the first two weeks of this season, Everton sensation Richarlison greatly disappointed his owners by being shown an admittedly somewhat harsh red card against Bournemouth. Those who are looking to replace the Brazilian straight away don’t have to look very far for an interesting option. Theo Walcott (current ownership has already increased to 14%) has been flying a bit under the radar as a result of Richarlison’s explosive start at his new team, but the English winger has started all of Everton’s games so far. In his last two games, Walcott scored two goals and provided one assist, accruing 20 points in the process. At a price of just £6.7m, and with home games against Huddersfield, West Ham, and Fulham in the coming four gameweeks, a simple like-for-like swap for Richarlison might provide your team with a major differential asset.
We probably would’ve mentioned Lucas Moura here next, had it not been that he was already highlighted last week, so we’re going with Brighton’s Glenn Murray (£6.5m) instead this week who is only owned by 1% of managers. Admittedly a personal FPL favourite, Murray has started the 18/19 season relatively well. He has played 90 minutes in every game so far and he already has a goal to his name, as well as 9 FPL points. What needs to be taken into account is that Brighton’s first three games were against surprise package Watford, Man United and Liverpool. The Seagulls are now welcoming Fulham, who have conceded 49 shots and 7 goals in three games already this season, before visiting a rather colourless Southampton after the international break. With a price tag of £6.5m in FPL, Murray looks like a stand-out option with potential for the third or even second striker spot in your squad. Managers are tending towards Fulham’s Mitrovic (£6.6m) instead as his ownership is now up to just over 12% or Callum Wilson (£6.2m) of Bournemouth at 14% but they both have harder fixtures in the next two gameweeks.
Our reasoning for including Aguero as a captaincy candidate after already mentioning him earlier on and last week as well, as both a premium pick and a captain, is the same as it was for including him in this week’s premium picks. The Argentinian striker blanked last weekend against promoted Wolverhampton, after scoring a hat-trick at home against Huddersfield a week earlier, but he could’ve easily enjoyed attacking returns last weekend as well, as it rained chances as usual. At home versus Newcastle is not likely to be a walk-over, but it wouldn’t be odd to see Aguero score a goal or two. Keep an eye on the situation in regard to Gabriel Jesus to be sure, but Kun should be starting and captaining him would be logic.
The other captain pick has also been mentioned earlier, namely Eden Hazard, another of this week’s premium picks. The Blues are welcoming an in-form Bournemouth team with an unusually tight defence, but Hazard looks set for another Man-of-the-Match performance nevertheless. The Belgian forward was excellent at Newcastle and, in fact, the player with most touches in the opposing penalty area over the last gameweek. He scored his first goal of the Premier League season last weekend (and shown he is the number 1 penalty taker and not Jorginho) , adding to his two assists from the earlier two gameweeks. With two home games against Bournemouth and Cardiff coming up, and an FPL ownership of just 14.6%, Hazard could be a points magnet, a great differential and a good candidate for captains armband for the near future.
Slot games have taken over in the world of online casino. Though they have been around since the 19th century, it wasn’t until the internet age that they really started to make their mark and the technological advances throughout the 21st century have helped create some quite wonderful titles.
Every few months CasinoCircle do a full landscape search to scope out the games that are popping within the industry, and for the first time, they’d like to share their list with the readers at Fiso.co.uk
So, without further ado, let them guide you through the current 5 most popular slot games in the world of online casino in their own words.…
There probably isn’t another slot game more recognisable than Starburst. Since its birth in 2013 it has almost always been atop of the slot game tree, and in its own way, Starburst is the Tiger Woods of the slots world as it transcends genres like few else can.
But what makes this game so popular isn’t a ridiculously fun and convoluted bonus round or particularly exciting reel to reel action, it’s actually its simplicity which has won it so many supporters; there is no bonus round at all on Starburst and the reels are as basic as a basic bitch.
Starburst is also usually the assigned slot for welcome offer free spins too due to that simplicity, because even someone who has never played a slot game before can enjoy it and know just what to do.
And for those veterans out there, it’s also a great back-to-basics slot which cuts out the bullshit and just focuses on the pure beauty of slot gaming. Lovely lovely.
For stats fans; the house edge is 3.9%, there are 5 reels and 10 paylines.
Created in 2016, Bonanza almost immediately rocketed its way into the top 20 and has been there ever since. Throughout 2018, Bonanza has fluctuated throughout the top 10 but right now its more popular than ever, and has firmly cemented its place at number two over the past few months.
So, what makes it so great? Well, almost everything, really. The visuals are awesome, the symbols are silky smooth, the reels are funky and quirky, and the scene surrounding the paylines is lush.
Unfortunately, though, Bonanza doesn’t offer a bonus round instead what they offer is a free spin every time you hit a win which is a lovely little feature and can provide with you some really big wins off just one paid spin.
But whereas Starburst is the game for the newbies, this is the game for those searching for something a bit more from their slots. And they certainly do find it on Bonanza.
Stats? 4% house edge, 6 reels and 117,649 (!) paylines.
3. Gonzo’s Quest
Another game, and, just like Starburst, another NetEnt game. For those of you unfamiliar with NetEnt, they’re basically the Roger Federer of the Casino World; consistently excellent, classy, striking, and precise.
NetEnt very rarely let you down, and what they have created with Gonzo’s Quest is a real thing of beauty with lovely visuals, alluring symbols, and a very decent bonus round.
The bonus round itself comes around pretty often and consists of 10 free spins and a potential multiplier of x15. The potential wins in this round really are huge, especially considering that hitting five of the best paying symbols in a row pays out 2,500/1.
A 2013 game, Gonzo’s Quest is probably the bridge between Starburst and Bonanza. It’s very easy to play, but not overly simplified, and will be enjoyed by veterans and newbies alike.
In terms of the stats, we’re at a 4% house edge, we’ve got 5 reels, and 20 paylines.
4. Book of Dead
Book of Dead is a consistent performer, but I really cba to compare it to another sportsman so just take my analogy as read. Created in 2014, this Play’n Go creation took a little bit of time to gather fanfare, but over the past two years it has rarely dropped out of the top 5.
Sitting at number four right now, there could be an argument for a higher placing because in terms of visuals alone, there is no better game on this list – they’re just so glossy, crisp and beautiful.
The gameplay ain’t half bad either with silky smooth animations and transitions, plus a gamble feature which gives you the ability to double your earnings on every win by making a 50/50 choice between red and black.
There is a bonus round on here, but it just consists of free spins, little more, and it’s another one of those games that will suit all audiences. Nothing to confuse the newbies, and more than enough to entertain the vets.
Stats wise we’re looking at a 3.79% house edge, 5 reels and 10 paylines.
5. Immortal Romance
The oldest game on the list, Immortal Romance is a 2011 creation, and in truth, a bit of an outsider here, but at the time of writing, it has just sneaked in to a top 5 which is absolutely teeming with quality.
And I know what you’re on about to say, “What the hell is this doing in the top 5?” because once you land on the page and see the reels you can’t help but feel of shrill of disappointment and sadness run through your body, because, let’s face it, Immortal Romance looks like utter crap.
But, hey, when have you ever been told to judge a book by its cover? I know you probably do it all the time, but you shouldn’t, and you definitely shouldn’t here because once you scratch beneath the surface, a lovely little game is waiting for you.
There are four different bonus rounds bursting with multipliers and with just a 30p bet, it’s capable to win up to £729,000. That’s why this game is so popular.
And one more time, the stats: 3.14% house edge, 5 reels and 243 paylines. Love-ly.
All these lovely games and more can be played over at CasinoCircle and they also have a grand selection of exclusive casino bonuses for you to take advantage of too.
“City’s Kun Aguero is on fire after his hat-trick against Huddersfield” (CC by 2.0) by Oskar
The first two gameweeks of the 2018/19 FPL campaign have yielded averages of 53 (week 1) and 60 (week 2), which is extremely high. Where the first week of the season was dominated by defenders, week two was marked by yet another Kun Aguero hat-trick, an excellent Neil Etheridge in the Cardiff goal and a bunch of players from both big and smaller teams reaching double digits, including Henrik Mkhitaryan, Theo Walcott, and Bournemouth’s Steve Cook. Players now owned by more than 25% of managers in FPL are, in descending order, Salah, Aguero, Richarlison, Mane, Firmino, Zaha, Kane, de Gea, Mendy and Alonso (with Trippier, Kante and Neves getting close to 25%). Three of these mentioned have the most amount of bonus points after 2 games (5 out of a maximum possible 6) – they are Richarlison, Mane and Alonso. Fraser of Bournemough is next best on 4 bonus points with a large number of other players on 3.
Some GW2 observations ahead of GW3
Apart from its high entertainment value, last weekend’s Chelsea game versus Arsenal gave us some interesting indications as to what the new manager of each club is working towards in terms of tactics, formations, and playing styles. For FPL managers the new, more advanced position of N’Golo Kanté in Sarri’s Chelsea could be of interest. Sarri has give him much more freedom to roam forward on the basis he is quick enough to get back and defend. The £5.0m midfielder already has a goal to his name and could have had an assist or two as well. Based on this one would expect his fantasy points haul to be more than last season and almost 23% of managers already have him in their squad. As an aside, Ross Barkley (£6.0m) must have been pleased with his own performance, until substituted for Mateo Kovacic (£6.0m) newly arrived on loan from Real Madrid, and then dismayed at how Kovacic showed how a world-class midfielder should perform. Loftus-Cheek must have also not enjoyed Saturday after not making the bench and seeing how easy Kovacic made the game look – both players are owned by approx. 1% of managers so we think some adjustment will happen to these figures over the next few weeks.
At Spurs, right-back Kieran Trippier (£6.0m) seems to have nailed down his starting spot, especially after scoring a brilliant direct free-kick against Fulham. Taking his free-kick goal for England against Croatia about a month ago into account, it looks like Trippier (owned by about 24% of managers) has really become somewhat of a specialist. While this is good news for his owners in FPL, it may have a negative effect on £9.5m Christian Eriksen‘s set-piece responsibilities, as it would reduce the Dane’s involvement and points potential. Eriksen is currently owned by almost 14% of managers so this could drop slightly over the season (until Kane goes on a goal-run of course).
Though his position under Jürgen Klopp might be a bit too deep to really become an FPL favourite, Naby Keita (£7.5m) is still worth monitoring. The Guinean midfielder has hit the ground running in the Premier League, playing 90 and 86 minutes in the first two games of the campaign and he was arguably the best man on the pitch for Liverpool against Palace last weekend despite a silly error that almost lead to a Palace goal. He seems to have adapted effortlessly and to have cemented his spot in the heavily-contested Liverpool starting eleven. He’s a box-to-box midfielder who’s especially adapt at connecting defence and midfield and at setting up attacks up via wingers or the attackers in front of him. His price tag of £7.5m isn’t cheap but only 5% of managers have him in their squad (whereas Salah is over 50% and Mane over 30%), but keep an eye on how his positioning evolves at Liverpool especially after Klopp’s recent encouraging words for Keita to express himself more on the pitch and after Liverpool showing themselves to be more resilient defensively so he should pick up some extra 1 pointers during the season for clean sheets.
Arsenal started the season with 0 out of 6 points for the first time in the EPL, though some context is crucial here. The Gunners lost at home to City and away to Chelsea, two games that could be lost by any team in England. Especially last weekend’s Chelsea game, although lost by 3-2, showed some glimpses of the type of Arsenal team that Unai Emery wants to see with plenty of good chances to score more goals. The defence was a mess at times, but the Gunners came back from 2-0 behind and displayed a very fluent, attacking style of football at times. There’s still plenty of work to be done for Emery, but the calendar looks friendlier to Arsenal in the coming weeks and the past two games might not be a complete representation of this new Arsenal’s potential. Midfielder Mkhitaryan (£7m) and striker Aubameyang (£11m) are owned by about 16% of managers: the only ones above 10% ownership apart from defender Bellerin.
Leicester right-back Ricardo Pereira played in a more defensive position after spending a game on the right wing during the first week of this campaign. Despite this, the Portuguese defender added another assist to his tally, making it 2 assists in the season’s first 2 games. It remains to be seen whether Claude Puel will keep moving Pereira between defence and attack for the rest of the season, but the £5.0m player is rapidly becoming a viable FPL target, regardless of his actual position on the pitch due to his quality on the ball and support from a well-organised, attacking team. Wolves though were very unlucky not to score during the match and despite facing a tough home tie against Man City in gameweek 3 will fancy their chances of getting a goal.
Premium player picks
We have no other choice but starting with Sergio “Kun” Aguero, the author of a hat-trick against Huddersfield last weekend, plus an assist and 3 bonus points. The Argentinian is already City’s all-time top scorer and last weekend’s display was actually his ninth hat-trick in the Premier League, a record only bettered by goal-king Alan Shearer (11). Kun rewarded the more than 40% of FPL players who own him with a lofty 20 points (meaning 40 points to those that captained him) and despite his price (£11.0m), this feels like one of the moments in which bringing in Kun has to be your priority as a responsible FPL manager. He usually scores in bursts and the coming games for City (Wolves away, Fulham and Newcastle home) don’t suggest that the goals are suddenly going to dry up for Aguero.
It of course remains to be seen to what extent Maurizio Sarri can be successful in transferring his attractive brand of football to Chelsea Football Club, but one of the players who doesn’t seem to be phased by the change of managers and management styles, is left-back Marcos Alonso. To be honest, the shift from a 5-man to a 4-man defence during pre-season made us doubt whether Alonso would be repeating his performances from the past two Premier League campaigns (6 and 7 goals respectively), but our doubts now seem unfounded. The defender looks like Sarri’s preferred option for the left-back position and the Spaniard has already taken home 24 FPL points, as a result of an assist, a goal, and one clean sheet in the first two games of the season. He’s one of the most expensive defenders in the game (£6.6m), but could be worth every penny is he continues like this.
Especially after his goalless display and giant miss last weekend, it might surprise some to see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in this list, but keep in mind what we wrote about Arsenal earlier in this piece. The upcoming games are against West Ham at home, two away games at Cardiff and Newcastle, and a home game versus Everton. The £11.0m striker has disappointed his owners so far with a meagre 4 FPL from two games, but his spot in the starting eleven seems safe and the coming games should normally see him open his account for the season. Auba is simply one of the best in the league, don’t forget this is the man who scored 10 goals and provided 4 assists last season after arriving to the Gunners during the January 2018 transfer window. So far he has come very close to scoring on a few occasions so maybe his luck will turn this weekend.
A differential pick or two
With home games against Leicester and Brighton, and away games at Palace and Wolves coming up in the coming five gameweeks, Southampton’s schedule could look worse. Despite taking just 1 point from the season’s first two games, the Saints haven’t looked much like a team that has to fear relegation again this year, and part of that is thanks to new arrival Danny Ings. The former Liverpool striker was loaned out and opened his account for the 18/19 campaign with a goal against Everton last weekend. In just over 120 minutes of Premier League football so far, the Englishman has made 9 efforts at goal (8 of which came from inside the box), only Mitrovic and Aguero tried more often. He looks like a starter for manager Chris Hughes and at a price of £5.5m, Ings could turn into a real budget enabler and FPL differential over the coming weeks.
After his cracking goal against Fulham last weekend, mentioning Lucas Moura (£7.0m) as a differential might look a bit opportunistic, but hear us out. The Brazilian forward played 67 minutes in the first game and completed the 90 minutes last weekend, and, besides his goal, has left an overall good impression. With Son away at the Asian Games for at least a month, Moura will have to battle it out for the Korean’s spot with Lamela and Winks. For the moment, it looks like the Brazilian has come out on top for manager Pocchetino. Over the coming 5 gameweeks, Spurs are facing United away (coming weekend) and Liverpool at home, while they’ll also face Watford, Brighton, and Huddersfield (all away). This is far from an easy set of fixtures, but it could be worse as well, and with Spurs finding some of its form, more points could be on the table for Moura.
We usually don’t mention a player twice in these pieces, but after a 20-point haul last weekend, Kun Aguero is inevitable as a captaincy option coming weekend. The prolific Argentinian looks like he has encountered his top shape once again and with the likes of David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sané, and Riyad Mahrez providing a constant supply of chances, there’s not reason why Kun shouldn’t bag another goal or two coming weekend, away at Wolves. His price is likely to rise (more) before this week’s FPL deadline, so if you’re going to bring him in, you better do so sooner than later.
It seems to be becoming somewhat of a tradition to name a Liverpool player as a viable FPL captain whenever the Reds play at home, but that’s just because they score so much. We mentioned the inevitable Mo Salah last week (if you have him, he’s a major captaincy candidate as he’s playing at home whilst Aguero is away!) although he didn’t look at his sharpest in the win at Crystal Palace despite getting two assists, so we’ll go with the man on the other side, Sadio Mané. The Senegalese forward started the season in fashion, with 3 goals and 5 FPL bonus points after the first two gameweeks, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him stand out again against Brighton at Anfield coming weekend. He’s currently the official game‘s highest scorer (26 points), his price has already risen by £0.3m, and this weekend’s opponents allowed for a worrying (for them) 25 shots during their last away trip, to Watford. A Liverpool goal bonanza could be on the cards.
A significant percentage of “casual” bettors listen to their gut when choosing their bet. Such an approach does not include profit bettors. The question now is whether intuition should be discarded completely.
How Can Intuition Help With Decision Making?
The concept of intuition according to Malcom Gladwell in his book “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” is worth borrowing a leaf from when looking at betting. How can a decision taken intuitively with little knowledge about the possibility of getting it right turn so right unlike a better-informed well thought-out decision?
Take, for instance, the intuitive marvel of tennis coach Vic Braden. Braden could say when a player is about to double-fault just before it could happen. Vic himself said he didn’t know how he did that and came to the conclusion that it was just snap judgment that came to him intuitively. One of his best prediction was while watching a match at Indian Walls. He correctly called 16 out of 17 double faults before they occurred in spite of 91.1 percent of second service attempts landing in.
Intuition and Big Data
Big data means extensive data sets which may be analysed computationally to interpret patterns, associations, and trends, especially in connection to human behaviour and interactions.
Big data can highpoint areas that intuition and perceived wisdom can all get wrong. An example worth noting includes the hot-hand fallacy, baseball scouting (Moneyball), and highlighting the way intuitive judgments can easily lean on confirmation bias. However, the two are not different though.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz in his book “Everybody lies” argues that Vic Braden’s talent for detecting double fault detection was a form, a form of data analysis.
Braden had carefully watched millions of serves and then developed an intuitive mastery of being able to spot the signs of a double fault a fraction of a second before the error happened. He somehow could extra-ordinarily calculate the chance of a double fault by analysing the swing of a player, while comparing the countless numbers of service attempts he had seen before.
Do you have any experience of betting on sports? Then you will without delay notice that something is wrong with the odds. Intuitively a person that knows anything about assessing the probability of soccer matches will notice that the chance of a Barcelona win is low by the odds.
Looking at Vic Braden’s talent was a great example of intuition in action, and maybe his ability and the variation in it could be applied to sports betting. After all, if an expert bettor with an extraordinary brain can function as a supercomputer, then the possibility of a bettor having a very accurate grasp of probability would be very high.
Indeed, there exist successful bettors, like Lewis Deyong, who admits that their success is thanks to their intuitive comprehension of probability. If a bettor could attain a similar level of skill then merely betting intuitively could be profitable, but is that a realistic prospect?
The Limitations Of Intuition
According to online sportsbooks, the reason this approach to betting is so limited is that many things need to be monitored as well lots of other events that one needs to bet on to guarantee long-term profitability
Having the knowledge of betting amidst some advantage in a wide spectrum of events would be similar to Vic Braden attempting to call double faults across hundreds or even thousands games happen at the same time. Braden’s intuition could only apply to a single match at a time but could as well become overstretched when trying hard to apply that intuition across many events.
Further, the soccer analytics expert Ted Knutson in his conversation with former US national team coach Bob Bradley is quite interesting. On the concept of expected goals, Knutson got an interesting response from the coach. Bradley pointed out some flaws with this data-driven approach to analysing soccer. Bradley argued when one watches a scoring opportunity; he could intuitively grasp the chance of a goal being scored unlike the data could.
Why Sample Size Is Important
Another flaw of betting intuitively is that the predictions cannot be tested because the ability to do so is not there. The approach based on data can be used on historical fixtures and tested on several matches. Meanwhile, the sample size of an intuitive bettor may be highly likely to reach a level where they can claim profitability with confidence.
Perhaps a highly intuitive bettor could find an ample edge to be consistently profitable with a minor set of bets. However, it is a pretty tricky task.
Does intuition have a chance in Sports Betting?
It is of course not surprising that the strategy of betting was built solely around intuitive judgment which is highly unlikely to be successful. There is certainly a strong argument for intuitive judgements being applied to betting models.
Note that if the power of intuition could be eliminated from the betting strategy entirely, the betting will have no huge data source. Also, relying on intuition alone would be a very risky approach to betting as it relies entirely on a grasp of probabilities.
The 2018/19 Premier League season is officially underway. Five of England’s six ‘elite’ clubs were victorious on the opening weekend and fans of those teams will be optimistic ahead of what could be a successful campaign. From a fantasy football perspective though, there is more to life than those players at top Premier League clubs.
Take Ruben Neves for example. Wolverhampton Wanderers secured automatic promotion to the top-flight last season – winning the Championship title by nine points. According to WhoScored, Neves was one of their standout players in the second tier, scoring six goals whilst assisting one in 42 Championship appearances during the campaign. An impressive feat…
Most neutrals expected Neves to hit the ground running in the Premier League but not even he could have dreamt of a better debut. The Portuguese winger scored Wolves’ first goal of the campaign before assisting Raul Jimenez for a late equaliser, notching 12 points on the official fantasy Premier League game. His stock, value and popularity with players is going to shoot up due to those excursions.
However, it’s not all about Neves. In fact, there are a few fantasy football goldmines around this year. Some are obvious, others less so but all of these can help you to finish above your fantasy football rivals. Here are just a few of our favourite players to acquire ahead of the 2018/19 fantasy season.
Mohamed Salah (£13.0 million)
An obvious pick but an absolute must-have in your fantasy team. With every man and his dog selecting Salah, you are in danger of being cast away if you look elsewhere. Yes, he is pricey but you get an immense return on your investment. Salah was the only player to score over 230 fantasy points last season – the Egyptian finished the campaign with 303.
Salah got off to the perfect start against West Ham United on the opening weekend; the 2017/18 Golden Boot winner notched Liverpool’s opening goal of the season. Salah’s value is only going to rise so it may prove prudent to pick him up now before he becomes even more expensive.
Benjamin Mendy (£6.1 million)
Mendy is currently leading the way in terms of assist fantasy football points for defenders – the Manchester City man notched an impressive 15 total points in their victory at Arsenal and 8 more in their hammering of Huddersfield on Sunday. With two assists and a clean sheet in the first match and two more assists in the second match, Mendy has been instrumental both going forward and at the back. Without a doubt, he is a more exciting option at left-back than Fabian Delph.
Pep Guardiola has been full of praise for Mendy in recent times and he could be a pivotal figure for the Blues this year. Infogol articles have tipped City to retain the Premier League crown this campaign and it would take a brave man to back against Pep’s side – especially if Mendy is at his brilliant best for the entire season.
James Tarkowski (£5.0 million)
Burnley’s rock at the heart of the defence, Tarkowski is maturing into a solid defender at Premier League level. He made his England debut earlier this year and he has a bright future ahead of him if he continues to develop at Turf Moor. Sean Dyche knows how central he is to Burnley’s defensive prowess – arguably their most important trait as a team.
£5 million is an absolute bargain for a regular starter; Tarkowski will almost certainly play the full 90 minutes in every Premier League fixture this campaign barring any long-term setback. Place your trust in Tarkowski now and good things will happen; he should rank as one of the top scoring defenders if Burnley can emulate last season’s exploits and has already shown on Sunday that he can get in amongst the goals.
Felipe Anderson (£7 million)
West Ham United were a bit of a mess on the opening weekend. Ripped to shreds by Jurgen Klopp’s potent Liverpool offense, the Hammers were given a hammering at Anfield but you won’t find too many fans writing Manuel Pellegrini’s side off just yet. It was always going to take time for West Ham to adapt to the Chilean’s style although he will be under more pressure after they unexpectedly lost at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.
Felipe Anderson arrives at West Ham with bags of experience and he looks primed to enjoy a successful first season in English football. He was central to Lazio’s success in recent years and Anderson should link up nicely with the likes of Jack Wilshere and Marko Arnautovic. Watch this space, he will get better as the season goes on.
Eden Hazard (£10.5 million)
A consistent scorer on fantasy football since joining Chelsea back in 2012, Hazard could hit a new gear this campaign. With reports linking him with a move to Real Madrid, the Belgium star will want to shine and he should flourish under new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri. Hazard might even push Salah close for the top fantasy points scorer in 2018/19.
The Chelsea star came off the bench with 14 minutes to go in the first weekend but managed to snag an assist and did the same thing against Arsenal on Saturday. In terms of talent, Hazard is up there with the best players in the top flight and he should feature prominently on fantasy football. Currently selected by just 11% of teams, that will change in the coming weeks as he continues his recovery after the World Cup.
Dele Alli (£9.0 million)
Last but not least, we have Tottenham’s Dele Alli. The Spurs man has been a breath of fresh air since moving to the Premier League from Milton Keynes Dons in 2015 – Tottenham owe a lot to the England star. Alli got his name on the scoresheet against Newcastle United in the first gameweek and looked dangerous on Saturday at home to Fulham and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him shine for most of the season.
Alli is on the road to greatness; a belief supported by a very interesting statistic. The Spurs man has been directly involved in 64 Premier League goals at just 22 years old; Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard were involved in 18 and 33 respectively. Alli is central to Spurs’ style of play and Mauricio Pochettino will rely on his midfield exploits – and so should fantasy players.
The 2018/19 Premier League season kicked off with an unexpected number of clean sheets over the first gameweek, which resulted in a few high-scoring defenders. City’s Mendy, Watford’s Holebas, Palace’s Wan Bissaka and Schlupp, and United’s Shaw all scored 11 points or more, while the week’s top performers in terms of FPL points were Watford’s Roberto Pereyra (previously highlighted in our Watford preview article) and Liverpool’s Sadio Mané, with 16 points each. In the build-up to gameweek 2, we’ll take a look at some significant potential player price changes and we’ll highlight some players that could be bringing home the points.
Potential player price movements
Players like Chelsea’s Jorginho, Liverpool’s Mané, Everton’s Richarlison and Wolverhampton’s Neves have already seen their price rise after their displays during the first gameweek, while previous FPL favourites like Tottenham’s Son (away at the Asian games) and United’s Phil Jones have started their new campaign with a price decrease.
Man City’s Bernardo Silva, who scored a goal and took home 8 points last weekend, is likely to see his price rise before the coming FPL deadline and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sadio Mané’s price rise once more as well, after his man-of-the-match performance against West Ham. After a somewhat underwhelming season opener away at Newcastle, Spurs are facing Fulham at home this weekend, so the prices of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen could be in line for a rise as well.
In terms of falling prices, Man City’s man of the season last year Kevin de Bruyne is likely to see his price drop over the coming weeks after picking up a knee injury during training (although initially he may be protected from a price fall as his sales would be injury related). Managers certainly don’t want a large amount of their budget tied up with someone on the sidelines. He might be out for more than 2 months depending on the results of tests, which would mean a serious blow to Pep Guardiola’s outfit if they are to claim both the Premier League and Champions League this season. Players like Nicolas Otamendi, Jesse Lingard and Dejan Lovren (who appeared in the World Cup final) could see their prices decrease as well, though it’s likely their involvement will grow significantly over the coming few weeks.
Premium player picks
Eden Hazard is destined to become a key player in Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, something that the Belgian emphasised last weekend against Huddersfield, when he came off the bench in the 76th minute and provided the assist for Pedro’s goal in the 80th minute. Hazard seems sufficiently rested to be in the starting line-up from next game onwards and don’t let the coming fixture against Arsenal fool you. The Belgian has scored in three of his last five matches against the Gunners at Stamford Bridge and the calender is kind to the Blues after that: Newcastle away, Bournemouth and Cardiff at home, and West Ham away. At a price of £10.5m, he could be an excellent pick and candidate for the captaincy of the coming weeks.
After point hauls of 218 and 199 FPL points in the past two Premier League seasons, Christian Eriksen‘s ownership percentage of 16.9% is still relatively low. He had a quiet game against Newcastle last game as far as points were concerned, but no other player created more chances than the five created by Eriksen that game. With a home game against Fulham coming up, the Danish midfielder might very well convert those underlying stats into FPL points. As mentioned before, he’s as much of an FPL certainty as you can wish for and his price might be in line for a rise sometimes soon, so if you want to snap him up at £9.5m, now is probably the time.
With an away game at Palace and a home game versus Brighton coming up, the popularity of Liverpool assets is unsurprisingly rising, especially after their 4-0 thrashing of West Ham last weekend. Basically all three of Liverpool’s attacking assets look like guaranteed points magnets at the moment, but considering his 16-point haul last weekend, we’re picking Sadio Mané. The Senegalese winger has already seen his price rise by £0.1m this week and deservedly so, after scoring 2 goals and winning 3 bonus points in the process. Away at an improved Palace side is another opportunity to get a good score, so consider Mané (£9.6m) if your budget doesn’t allow for bringing in Momo Salah.
A differential pick or two
Leicester’s new acquisition Ricardo Pereira lost his first Premier League game, away at Man United, but left a good impression, for both his manager Claude Puel and FPL managers around the world. The Portuguese right-back played as a right-midfielder/winger and provided Jamie Vardy with an assist in the 90th minute. It remains to be seen if Puel will keep deploying Pereira is such an attacking role, which in combination with his £5.0 price tag would make him a player that should definitely be on your watchlist. Leicester played some very good football against Man United and if they keep playing like that should comfortably finish in the top half of the table at the season end.
With a price of £11.0 and a points total of 229 in FPL last season, it might seem surprising to mention City’s Raheem Sterling as a differential, especially after his goal against Arsenal last weekend. Still, the England attacker is currently owned by just 3.1% of FPL managers. Sterling seems to be one of the players that is most proof to Guardiola’s rotational tactics and he’s often deployed as a shadow striker to support Aguero or Jesus in the number nine spot. With home games against Huddersfield, Fulham, and Newcastle and an away game at Wolves, coming up between now and gameweek 5, Sterling might well be racking in the points over the coming weeks. His price is steep, but at such low ownership, he could give your FPL squad a real advantage in your (mini-)leagues. If Sterling is not your cup of tea then to ensure you have Man City coverage consider either i) Bernardo Silva instead whose place is less likely to be under threat if de Bruyne is out injured long-term particularly after his excellent performances in the win against Chelsea in community shield and the win against Arsenal at the weekend or ii) Benjamin Mendy the marauding left back who had two assists and a clean sheet at the weekend who if picked by Pep is likely to pick up more assists or goals given his tendency to play as an attacking winger rather than a defender – Pep will have to help him get the balance right.
On the basis of last season and the fact that he seems to be simply continuing where he left off last season make Mo Salah an obvious captain candidate. The Egyptian winger is the official game’s most-owned player (54.7%), despite his £13.0m price tag. He opened the score in the 19th minute against West Ham and had several chances to add to either his goal or his assist tally or both. After a disappointing World Cup, Salah looks ready to lead the Liverpool attack again this season, and you can expect his price to rise to unseen heights if he scores again against Palace this weekend. With such a high ownership and an opposing defence that allowed for plenty of chances against Fulham last weekend, can you afford not to captain Salah if you have him?
Fulham is an attacking outfit that play to create chances, but as a result also concede a significant amount of chances every game. Considering this fact, the ideal captain this week could be part of Tottenham’s attack, who host the Cottagers this weekend. We’ve already outlined the potential of Christian Eriksen for this game, who is an outstanding candidate for the captaincy, but Dele Alli (£9.0) shouldn’t be forgotten either. The young Englishman got off the mark by scoring his team’s second goal last weekend to bring home the three points and it wouldn’t be strange to see him on the scoreboard again coming weekend. His ownership of just 6.2% makes him very much a differential captain pick, though neither his performance last week nor his points total last season of 175 suggest that he should fly below the radar. Quite the opposite!
In anticipation of the 2018/2019 Premier League season’s kick-off between Manchester United and Leicester, at 20h00 on August 10th at Old Trafford, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at the 20 squads that’ll be competing this year. In this tenth and final instalment, we’ll take a look at a revamped West Ham United and promising newcomers Wolverhampton Wanderers.
West Ham – The team
To put it mildly, West Ham’s 2017/18 campaign wasn’t great. The season started under manager Slaven Bilic, who lost his job to David Moyes by November 2017, and the Hammers tasted victory just twice by the time December came around. The team definitely found some stability over the Christmas period and a run of 10 games in which West Ham lost just once eventually resulted in a mid-table finish. Not bad, considering the start of the season, but far from satisfactory when considering the ambitions in East London.
Moyes decided to step down at the end of last season and experienced Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini was brought in. The ex-Real Madrid and ex-City manager (he won the Premier League with City in 2013/14) is expected to lead West Ham out of a period of relative turmoil and instability since the club left the Boleyn Ground to play at the London Stadium in 2016. With the new manager have come several high-profile and promising players, including Lazio winger Felipe Anderson for £34.2 million, 21-year old French central defender Issa Diop for £22.50 million, Dortmund winger Andriy Yarmolenko for £18 million, and stand-out Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski for £7.20 million. Both Jack Wilshere and Fulham’s Ryan Fredericks came in on free transfers. Collins and Evra were let go, Joao Mario’s loan wasn’t extended and Kouyaté was sold to Crystal Palace for £9.63 million.
After last season, and considering the renovation the squad has undergone over the summer, the Hammers will be aiming for a finish in the top half of the table. Whether they’re ready to compete for the European spots remains to be seen, but it’s not out of the question if Pellegrini can get his side going. The Chilean is known as a calm and low-key manager, who studies his opponents meticulously, a characteristic he might’ve developed while working as a civil engineer in Chile. He likes his teams to play a quick, passing game, to play cross balls to test the rival’s balance, and to create one-v-one situations, especially when counter-attacking. Combine this with the desire to press higher up the field and West Ham fans might be in for plenty of goals this season.
West Ham – Potential FPL stars
Few players will fit the title “potential FPL star” better than West Ham’s club record signing Felipe Anderson (£7.0m). The Hammers spent £34.20 million on the Brazilian winger who had an injury-riddled season last year with Lazio, resulting in 4 goals and 7 assists in just over 1,100 minutes of Serie A football. In the previous season, Anderson scored 4 and assisted 11 in 36 games for Lazio. While there is definitely still room to improve in the finishing department, the 25-year old is a player who can decide matches. The Brazilian loves to look for the 1v1 and attempt a dribble (as a matter of fact, he completed 6 successful dribbles per 90 minutes last season), and he has a good eye for his team mates. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to life in the Premier League, but he absolutely has FPL potential, especially considering he’s classified as a midfielder in the game.
Despite his re-classification as a forward, Marko Arnautovic is still one of West Ham’s most reliable FPL assets. The Austrian international scored 11 goals and provided 6 assists in 31 Premier League games during the 2017/18 campaign, which resulted in 144 FPL points. It should be noted that he was still considered a midfielder in FPL last year, so each goal was worth 5 points and each clean sheet would result in an extra point. Still, West Ham was far from a stable unit last season, and the Hammers are expected to line up as a more composed and offensive team this season under Pellegrini, which will hopefully lead to more opportunities for the forwards, i.e. Arnautovic. At a price of £7.0m, he should be on your watchlist, though West Ham’s start to the season is really hard, with the Hammers facing 5 ‘top-6’ teams in the first 10 gameweeks.
In the 2017/18 Premier League season, no other team conceded as many goals as West Ham did: 68 in 38 games. Their backline was slow and unresolved for most parts of the season, which explains the signing of right-back Fredericks, centre backs Balbuena and Diop and goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. The latter was one of the few stand-out performers in an otherwise weak Swansea City season that ended in relegation. The Polish stopper started in all of the club’s 38 Premier League matches and played an important part in that season’s 9 clean sheets. He was actually the third-best goalkeeper in FPL by points (157), just behind Ederson (158) and De Gea (172). He collected a total of 14 bonus points, which was more than the goalies from Manchester (10 points each), and despite the Hammers’ unforgiving set of opening fixtures, Fabianski’s Premier League pedigree and FPL price (£4.5m) should make him a candidate for your 15-man squad.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – The team
Out off all of this year’s promoted teams, Wolverhampton Wanderers look most likely to survive their return to the Premier League. Wolves convincingly crowned themselves champions of the Championship last season by winning 30 out of 46 games and accumulating an impressive 99 points in the process. Under Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo, and with the backing of his compatriot Jorge Mendes (one of the most powerful football agents in the world), Wolves are hoping to return to the English elite division with a bang as they could aim for a comfortable mid-table finish.
The Wanderers have certainly not been sitting idly by while the summer transfer window got underway. With a particular focus on the Southern European markets, the club brought in a mix of big names and promising talents, such as Boro speedster Adama Troaré (€20 milliion, Portugal international central midfielder Joao Moutinho (€5.6 million), Brazilian forward Léo Bonatini (€4 million), and Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio (free). Last season’s loans of Atletico Madrid winger Diogo Jota (17 goals and 6 assists in 44 games), Porto centre-back Willy Boly (3 goals and 2 assists in 36 games), and 19-year old Monaco left-back Rúben Vinagre (fee unknown) were made permanent for a total amount of €26 million, while Benfica striker Raul Jiménez and Atletico left-back Jonny Castro were added to the roster on loan.
Manager Espirito Santo usually lines up his team in a flexible 3-4-3 formation that can go from 5-3-2 when defending to an ultra-offensive 3-2-5 when (counter-)attacking. The wing-backs are of crucial importance to Espirito Santo’s style of play, as they allow Wolves to stretch the playing field and create space for the central midfielders, all of which are excellent passers of the ball, both short and long. As a result, Wolves is a team that can hang back and wait for the counter opportunities, as well as dominate play and attack at will. The only question is how well they’ll be able to adapt their play to football in the elite division.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – Potential FPL stars
Despite coming over on a free transfer, as opposed to a hefty sum that would actually fit a player of his qualities, Rui Patricio is one of Wolverhampton’s most significant signings this summer. The 30-year goalkeeper is a reigning European champion after winning Euro 2016 with Portugal and he’s long been hailed as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. With more than 300 Portugese league games, 49 Europa League games, and 26 Champions League games under his belt, Patricio won’t be too phased by the Premier League. At a price of £4.5m, he’s likely to find his way into plenty of FPL squads.
The Wolverhampton midfield is full of (Portuguese) talent and experience, with the likes of Ruben Neves, Helder Costa and the dangerous Diogo Jota all vying for a starting spot, but it’s this summer’s addition of Monaco midfielder Joao Moutinho that we’re highlighting today. The now 31-year old Portuguese playmaker has been linked to practically every big club in Europe over the course of his career, and not without reason. He’s comfortable playing in an attacking side as well as in a deeper role, waiting for the right moment to open up the game on the flanks or further up front. His passing is spot on, he can shoot from distance, and he’s likely to participate in set-pieces as well. Not bad, for £5.5m in FPL.
Up front, it’ll be interesting to see how Mexican international striker Raúl Jiménez will perform for Wolves in the Premier League. The 27-year old came over on loan from Benfica, but for a fee of €3 million, which would suggest Espirito Santo sees a role for him. In just 973 minutes of league football for Benfica last season, Jiménez scored 6 goals and provided 7 assists, and he also appeared in 5 Champions League games. If the Mexican can cement his place as the starting number nine for Wolves at the beginning of the new campaign, he would be, in combination with his price of just £5.5m an interesting option for the position of 3rd or even 2nd striker in your team.
In anticipation of the 2018/2019 Premier League season’s kick-off between Manchester United and Leicester, in just 2 days time at 20h00 on August 10th at Old Trafford, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at the 20 squads that’ll be competing this year. In this ninth instalment, we’ll take a look at a Spurs side that has welcomed zero new players so far, and Javi Gracia’s Watford.
Tottenham Hotspur – The team
Since the arrival of Mauricio Pocchetino at White Hart Lane in May of 2014, Tottenham Hotspur have grown into a stable top 5 team in the Premier League. After finishing third, second and third in the league over the past three seasons, hopes for another top 3 finish are high again this year, especially considering the fact that the club will finally inaugurate the new stadium this year. The first match on their new home soil will be played against Liverpool in mid-September, until then their “home” games will continue to take place in Wembley.
Whether it has to do with the costs of the new stadium turning out to be considerably higher than expected or the club’s management being completely satisfied with the current team roster, we’re not sure, but Tottenham stands out during this summer’s transfer window by not having spent a penny on new recruits yet. Of course, Mauricio’s Pocchetino’s starting eleven have been more or less fixed over the past few seasons and it’s not all that difficult to guess how his team will generally line up again this season, but some concerns have been aired by pundits and fans alike about the club’s complete lack of activity on the transfer market. No players were sold (yet), while the only “new face” during pre-season was Dutch striker Vincent Janssen, who spent a season on loan at Fenerbahce last year.
With key players like Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, just to name a few, the foundation of Pocchetino’s Spurs is clear. His starting eleven know each other well and, considering their generally young ages, there’s still plenty of room for improvement on an individual level and as a group. Still, with the enormous investment required to build a new stadium, Spurs will be expected to finally start winning some silverware, the one thing that has eluded Pocchetino at Spurs until now. As a matter of fact, the last trophy lifted by Spurs was the League Cup in the
2007/08 campaign. In order to compete in all competitions (Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, and the Champions League), a certain squad depth is required, a depth that Pocchetino simply doesn’t have at his disposal at the moment. He’s a great manager and Spurs are candidates for another high finish in the Premier League this year, but if the club wants to avoid another season without a prize, they’d do well to at least provide the Argentinian manager with more quality throughout the squad.
Tottenham Hotspur – Potential FPL stars
Christian Eriksen (£9.5m) is Tottenham’s chief creator, which is why he’s the first player we’d like to highlight first. The Danish attacking midfielder has long been an FPL favourite and he looks set for another season in the English top flight. As usual during the transfer windows, Eriksen was linked to Europe’s biggest clubs this summer, including FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, but the 26-year old wasn’t going to miss the club’s first steps in the new stadium. He scored 10 goals and provided 11 assists in the Premier League last season, with 199 FPL points as a result. Spurs are likely to be affected by the large number of players that were active in the late stages of the World Cup this summer and it remains to be seen how the change of stadium will be processed, but you can count on Eriksen to once again emerge as one of Tottenham’s stand-out performers.
When talking about Spurs, you can’t not mention Harry Kane. The 25-year old striker came up through the ranks at Tottenham and is an absolute fan favourite at White Hart Lane. His phenomenal scoring record probably has something to do with that as well: he’s scored 21, 25, 29, and 29 goals in the Premier League in the last 4 seasons. Besides his 29 goals last season, which were only bettered by a rampant Mo Salah, Kane also provided 2 assists, racking up a total of 217 points in FPL. The young Englishman might be rested for the first gameweek or two, but he’s expected to be banging in the goals again this season. Whether his Premier League and FPL pedigree justify his hefty £12.5 price tag is up to you.
Behind champions Man City and José Mourinho’s defense-minded Man United, Spurs had the next best defence in the Premier League last season, with just 36 goals conceded. The wizards behind FPL realized this as well and as a result, Tottenham’s complete defence (apart from Kyle Walker-Peters) is priced at £6.0, this season. After a successful World Cup, in which he even scored a stunning goal from a free kick against Croatia, Kieran Trippier is one of the more attractive options in the Spurs back line. The wing-back is part of a solid and experienced defensive unit, and he can add the occasional extra points from an assist or even a goal, as well, especially if he gets some set-piece duties from time to time.
Watford – The team
Last season was a season with ups and downs for the Hornets. The start of the season under Marco Silva was impressive, with just one loss in the first 8 games, but things then took a turn for the worse as the team started slumping badly over the Christmas period, which led to Silva’s sacking. Current coach Javi Gracia was then brought in to restore stability and he guided Watford to an eventual 14th place. In other words, not exactly a campaign to write home about, but enough to secure another year of Premier League football. Pundits and Watford fans alike have pointed out though, on several occasions, that the final nine games of last season under Gracia resulted in just one victory and the team avoiding relegation by just a few points in the end. In 14 games under Gracia, Watford got 15 points.
So, whether Javi Gracia is the right man to lead the Hornets to a higher finish this year is still uncertain for many Watford fans, but the club has done its best on the transfer market this summer. On one hand, they sold their exciting Brazilian winger Richarlison to Everton for a whopping €40 million, as well as winger/wing-back Amrabat to Al-Nassr (€8.50 million) and forward Mauro Zarate to Boca Juniors (€2.50 million). On the other hand, the Hornets brought in winger Gerard Deulofeu from FC Barcelona on a permanent basis (€13 million), talented left-back Adam Masina from Bologna (€5 million), left midfielder Ken Sema from last season’s Swedish surprise package Östersund (€2.25 million), 22-year Spanish right-back Marc Navarro from Espanyol (€2 million), and keeper Ben Foster from relegated West Brom (fee unknown).
The Hornets will probably consider a comfortable mid-table finish without any real relegation worries at any point during the season as a realistic target for the 2018/19 campaign. They’re unlikely to seriously compete for a position that gives access to European football at the end of the season, but their team roster does like solid enough to finish well above the bottom spots. Manager Javi Gracia usually prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation, though a 5-4-1 formation with attacking wing-backs is an option as well. He focuses a lot on the game’s tactical aspect, and likes his teams to turn up prepared and as a solid unit. To consider him a very defensive coach would be an exaggeration, but Gracia definitely likes to have his defensive unit organized well before focusing on his side’s offensive plays.
Watford – Potential FPL stars
One of Watford’s more shrewd acquisitions this summer is goalkeeper Ben Foster (€4.5m) from relegated West Bromwich Albion. The 35-year old is a Premier League veteran who hasn’t yet showed signs of slowing down anytime soon. In a largely chaotic West Brom campaign last season that saw the club ending bottom of the league, Foster recorded 10 clean sheets and a decent total of 123 FPL points. Assuming Javi Gracia can improve Watford’s defensive solidity in comparison to last season, Foster might turn out to be something of a bargain.
The departure of Richarlison has opened the door for some other talented players to show themselves this year. One of those players could be attacking midfielder Roberto Pereyra. The Argentinian has had his fair share of injury troubles since joining Watford in the summer of 2016, but in the periods that he was fit, he showed glimpses of a player that can be decisive for his team. The Argentinian can play both on the wings and in a more advanced position on the midfield, positions in which he can make the most of his creativity and excellent dribbling skills. In just 1,600 minutes of Premier League football last season, Pereyra scored 5 goals and assisted another 3, which makes his current price of £6.0m quite reasonable. He could be a great fifth midfielder in FPL, though we do recommend to keep an eye on his pre-season and on his fitness during the regular season.
The line that at the moment probably inspires least confidence at Watford is the attack. Current forwards Andre Gray, Troy Deeney, and Stefano Okaka scored a combined total of 11 goals last season, which is logically a statistic of concern for the Hornets. Of the three mentioned attackers, Andre Gray has shown the most promise during the pre-season, scoring goals and showing some good chemistry with other players in the team, like Deeney and Pereyra. The 27-year old scored 5 goals and gave 3 assists in just under 1,500 minutes of Premier League action last season, which roughly equals to a goal or assist every other game. If his pre-season form is anything to go by, Gray looks like a nailed-on starter for Watford, and at a price of £6.0 he could be both a great differential and a useful budget enabler.