Preakness Stakes Horse Betting: 5 Tips In Securing Successful Bets

Image Source

After Authentic nailed a surprising victory in the Kentucky Derby, fans can look forward to the Preakness Stakes that will start in a few weeks. On October 3, 2020, the Pimlico Park will highlight thirteen all three-year-old colts competing for the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes. Like the Derby, the Preakness will not allow any fans to see the live racing show.

This year, the horse racing community was cheering for Tiz The Law to win the Derby, but Authentic’s fate seems to look clearer than his. Hence, there is no Triple Crown winner this year. Although we won’t see any Triple Crown titleholder, the Preakness Stakes will conclude the series featuring million-dollar pot money.

As the race for the Black-Eyed Susans comes soon, the betting games will surely thrill every fan and bettor. Since the Preakness Stakes will close the Triple Crown this year, picking a winning horse is challenging because each of them brings excellent accomplishments. To ease your pain of picking the right horse to bet, here are some helpful tips to take heed on how to bet on the Preakness Stakes.

Kentucky Derby Winners

Preceded by the Derby this year, some of the Preakness Stakes entrants are coming from this event. Today, Authentic leads the odds ranking and the biggest favorite for the Black-Eyed Susans. You must consider this colt as one of your bets. Regardless if you wager on simple or challenging categories, this horse can surely place or win.

Aside from Authentic, there are also other Derby winners taking shape at the Preakness Stakes. Make sure to consider picking them for your next Preakness Stakes betting game. It helps to pick Derby winners since they have saddled in longer racecourses and might effortlessly complete the Preakness, which has a shorter running-distance.

Belmont Stakes Accomplishers

This year, Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes and only second in the Kentucky Derby. According to his owner, he will not run for the Preakness Stakes as he prepares for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. However, bettors should not worry since his runners-up are heading to the Preakness Stakes and can win big time.

Some of the Belmont Stakes placers who’ll run in the Black-Eyed Susans are Max Player and Pneumatic. Remember that the Belmont Stakes has the longest race course out of the three Triple Crown jewels. If these horses have made a significant placement in a longer course, the Preakness might be a no-sweat for them.

Preakness Field Condition

The Preakness Stakes this year will happen during the wet season. For the past years, it settled in mid-summer, so horses can quickly saddle up in a dry field. In a few weeks, fans and bettors can expect that it might be rainy, and horses will run on a muddy surface. It can greatly affect the colt’s speed, so get guided with the field condition.

Although the Preakness Stakes has the shortest course, if the horse can’t sustain an excellent speed in a muddy track, he might not get successful. So, when you pick for your Preakness Stakes bets, look for an entry that can saddle up well in a dry or wet racecourse. In this way, you can ensure that they can win all the way regardless of how the weather looks like on race day.

Non-Triple Crown Achievements

The Preakness Stakes entries did not only work out for the Triple Crown this year. Do know that there are various notable horse racing shows happening all over the world. If a horse has garnered huge accomplishments other than the Triple Crown jewels, they are more likely a good Preakness bet to consider.

Some of the Preakness Stakes participants this year had competed in Derby trails. These racing games have the same field as the Preakness Stakes. So, if a horse has ended a successful stint in these trails, they are most likely to do the same at Pimlico Park. Take time to review each entries’ non-Triple Crown achievements to compare and contrast.

Jockeys And Trainers

Jockeys and trainers play the biggest role in honing the horses’ talents and skills. No matter how tough the horse can look, he won’t be able to develop his skills without the help of these people. Looking back, most Preakness winners are trained and ridden by familiar jockeys and trainers, so you can do the same strategy this Preakness season.

A racehorse trainer who has accomplished many Triple Crown awards come out successful. The same goes for the jockey. If he has built a strong connection with the horse and can control the right speed during the race, they might end up successful.

Takeaway

The Preakness Stakes is not going anywhere, as it will start in less than ten days. Although the fans won’t get the chance to see the live racing show at the venue, the betting games are still settling on your most trusted online bookie. Hence, if you aim to pick a successful Preakness Stakes to bet this year, don’t forget to apply the tips above to earn considerably.

FPL Season 2020-21 – Gameweek 3 Preview

“The clash of the week takes place at Anfield this week as champions Liverpool host Arsenal” (CC by 4.0). Image by: Rodhullandemu

With Man City, Man United, Burnley and Aston Villa also off the mark after their blank gameweek 1, the FPL 2020-20 season is now well and truly underway. Gameweek 2 saw a boat load of goals with no less than six games featuring 4 goals or more and an incredible four games seeing a minimum of 6 goals. As a result, we saw plenty of hauls, with Spurs star Heung-Min Son (24 FPL points), his team mate Harry Kane (21 points) and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin (17 points) forming the top-3 performers.

Gameweek 3 offers yet another set of juicy fixtures, including top-of-the-table clashes between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield and Man City and Leicester at the Etihad. Spurs could build on their 5 goals at Saint Mary’s with a home game against Newcastle, while from an FPL point of view, the Wolves game at West Ham and the Chelsea game at the Hawthorns offer plenty of potential. Before we move on to our picks for the weekend, don’ forget to check the lineups and results of the mid-week games in the League Cup. We don’t expect them to affect the lineups too much this weekend, but do keep them in mind nonetheless.

Don’t forget: the deadline for gameweek 3 is set for 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, September 26th. 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 24th, 2020)

 TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
GKMcCarthy (SOU), Ryan (BRI), Pope (BUR)Martinez (AST), Ryan (BRI), Guaita (CRY)Disappointing Saints and Clarets, defensively at least.
DEFAlexander-Arnold (LIV), Doherty (TOT), Egan (SHE)James (CHE), Mitchell (CRY), Castagne (LEI)Replacement of premium defenders for more budget-friendly picks after few clean sheets in the first gameweeks.
MIDAubameyang (ARS), Saint-Maximin (NEW), Son (TOT)Son (TOT), Rodriguez (EVE), De Bruyne (CIT)Looks largely fixture-based, with form included as well.
FORWerner (CHE), Ings (SOU), Mitrovic (FUL)Calvert-Lewin (EVE), Bamford (LEE), Kane (TOT)Performing budget-friendly options

Premium pick

Just two gameweeks is not a large sample to base trend predictions on, but with one home game and one away game played for Liverpool, Mo Salah (£12.1m) seems to be continuing his habit of saving his best performances for the home crowd. The Egyptian scored a hat trick and 20 FPL points at Anfield in GW1 and then blanked last weekend away to Chelsea. Last season, he scored 19 Premier League goals and 15 of those came at Anfield. This weekend, the Reds are hosting an Arsenal side that has conceded just a single goal so far, but their opponents have been of quite another calibre than Liverpool, namely Fulham away (0-3) and West Ham at the Emirates (2-1). The Gunners did not look particularly impressive against the Hammers last weekend, and there could be goals in this encounter on Monday. Finally, it doesn’t say that much, but last season, this fixture took place in GW3 as well and saw Salah scoring a brace.

Non-premium picks

Another player who seems to be continuing where he left off last season is Wolves striker Raul Jimenez (£8.5m). The Mexican netted 17 times and provided 7 assists over the 2019-20 campaign, and already has 2 goals to his name this season. He scored in the opener at Bramall Lane and then repeated that feat against Man City at Molineux last weekend. Simply said, there are very few FPL assets as reliable as Jimenez, though he is not generally the go-to man for a big haul. He usually bags a goal plus a bonus point or two. This weekend, Wolverhampton are visiting a West Ham side that has started the campaign with two defeats. In total, the Hammers conceded 4 goals against Newcastle and Arsenal, and to make matters worse, regular starting centre back Issa Diop will be missing on Sunday due to a positive Covid-19 test. Sounds like a good moment to bring in Jimenez if you haven’t yet.

One player we have been following closely since gameweek 1 is Everton’s new star James Rodriguez (£7.6m). The Colombian is a world class operator, there is no doubt about it, but we just wanted to see how fit he was after a few slow years and to what extent he would immediately fit into Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Well, he seems quite fit and the Italian manager seems to consider him as a key piece of his Toffees puzzle. James started with a modest 3-pointer against Spurs in gameweek 1, but followed that one up with a 12-point haul last weekend, courtesy of a goal, an assist and 2 bonus points against West Brom at Goodison Park. He seems to have quickly established himself as Everton’s main creative force and only Salah has attempted more assists than his 7 over the first two gameweeks. He also created more big chances than any other player bar Harry Kane since the start. Up next is an in-form Crystal Palace side, but Everton are showing good form as well and we feel they could make it 9 points out of 9 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The budget enabler

In the budget category, Wolves forward Daniel Podence (£5.6m) has been making some waves in the first two weeks of this season. With the acquisition of Nelson Semedo, the club may have found a definite replacement for Matt Doherty at right-back , meaning that Adama Traoré is freed up a bit more to be deployed up field in place of Podence, but the ex-Olympiakos looks safe for now. He has started the season in more than decent form with 2 assists in two games and a total of 11 FPL points. The Portuguese dynamo is classified as a midfielder in the game, which means he gets an extra point per clean sheet, and is up against West Ham on Monday. In our opinion, this is one of the most favourable fixtures in gameweek 3 and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him add a third assist to his total this round. Or who knows, maybe even a goal.

A differential pick or two

A bit to our surprise, considering the many new recruits arriving at Stamford Bridge this summer, academy graduate Mason Mount (£6.9m) has played every single Premier League minute so far for Chelsea. Manager Frank Lampard tends to start him as a left winger from where he has the freedom to either stay out on the wing to provide width or to come inside and combine with the likes of Werner and Havertz. The young Englishman hasn’t yet returned in terms of the FPL, but an away game against an out-of-sorts West Brom side is as good a fixture as any for him to get off the mark. The Baggies have so far played against Leicester and Everton this season, and conceded a worrying 8 goals in the process. At Chelsea, the new pieces will probably still need a bit more time to glue together nicely, but this encounter with West Brom could definitely boost the confidence. At £6.9m and with an ownership of just 6.2%, Mount could be a great punt for gameweek 3.

After just very narrowingly escaping relegation last season, Aston Villa started off their 2020-21 campaign with a good 1-0 win over Sheffield United. Remember, the Villains blanked in gameweek 1. Up next for them are Fulham at Craven Cottage and considering the Cottagers’ first two displays this season, Villa could be making it a very nice 6 points out of six this coming Monday. That is also why we are recommending their talisman Jack Grealish (£7.0m) to those looking for a differential with potential for gameweek 3. The English midfielder did not manage to get any attacking returns against Sheffield United, He did have two shots from inside the box in that game and we think he’ll have at least as many against a Fulham side that has conceded 7 goals in the first two games of the season. On top of that, Grealish is on most of Villa’s set-pieces. The game on Monday looks like the perfect opportunity for him to record the first returns of the season after scoring 8 goals and providing 7 assists last season.

The captaincy

Gameweek 3 offers a few very interesting fixtures from a fantasy football point of view and with them, a few appealing GW3 FPL captaincy candidates as well. We have gone with Momo Salah for this one as he faces an Arsenal defence we still consider a bit leaky, but there are good alternatives for the Egyptian as well. Kevin de Bruyne as playmaker at number 10 at home to Leicester is never a bad pick, while Salah’s team mate Sadio Mané is just coming off a brace against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. We also think Raul Jimenez’ right arm is a good spot to place the armband this round.

For those managers looking for a bit more of a punt, in order to play early-season catch-up for example, Spurs stars Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are very good options at home to Newcastle after their dynamic duo display against Southampton. With Chelsea facing West Bram at the Hawthorns, there could also be a first goal for Timo Werner and/or Kai Havertz as the Blues are working hard to make the many new faces form a solid unit. 

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.

How to Join a Football Club in England

The English Premier League is the world-known football league every player dreams of playing in. If you are one of those passionate amateurs, who wants to build a professional career, you need to find the optimal way to join a promising football club in England. In fact, there are two main ways to get started, either by becoming a member of a local football club or by joining an English football academy. Irrespective of your choice, it is inevitable to combine sport with a college education, as it is the only way to achieve the desired result. Using the assistance of online statistics homework help, it will be much easier to succeed in both directions, gaining the necessary degree and building a professional career.

Striving to improve your skills and get to the leading football clubs, you need to be an exceptionally good player. Generally, it takes a long time to advance professional skills and become a top tier player. It means nothing else, but the fact that it is inevitable to start a career at a very young age, especially if you want to be a real pro.

Once you realize all the challenges and problems you will have to face like a football player, you need to decide whether you really want to join a football club in England. While passion and desire are not enough, determination, hard work, and diligence may also be needed. Be ready to pay to do homework if you want to stay successful at school, but still do not want to miss a single training. Once you are 100% confident in your desire to become a member of a team, you need to take maximum effort either to get discovered by Scouts or be accepted by the Football Academy.

Top 10 Steps to a Career of a Football Player

Football is an exceptionally progressive game, especially when it comes to England. The vast majority of local and international students strive to enter the industry and gain an opportunity to join a football club. Entering a Football Academy is one of the simplest and most beneficial ways to make a dream come true. A range of top-notch clubs have academies, where young and amateur players learn to play like real stars. Keep in mind that football academy is a combination of professional training and secondary education. Therefore, at some points, you will have to accomplish tons of homework, buy cheap essay, and cope with challenging assignments. However, you will still have enough time to focus on the basics of football and use theoretical knowledge in practice. Are you ready to start? Take simple steps to make your passion your profession.

  • Attend an Open Day and show your skills in a trial match.
  • Get an official offer, fill in numerous forms, and pay initial fees.
  • International students should check out the requirements necessary for the visa and IELTS test.
  • Join the academy.
  • Use your chance to join a football club and develop a desired career. 

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.

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