Fantasy Premier League: Embracing the Underdogs in 2020-21

As the January transfer window nears, the opportunity for Fantasy Premier League players to implement wholesale changes to their teams draws closer. The possibility of new recruits has long been met with excitement by football fans, particularly those who like tinkering with their squad. While the likes of Liverpool are likely to add to their ranks to cover their season-long defensive injuries, others will instead enjoy a steadier period. So, how’s it best to approach the festive period and the January window? The answer, perhaps, lies with the English top-flight’s underdog teams. 

Injuries to Former Must-Have Selections 

As touched on above, the reigning Premier League champions are in desperate need of another defender in the January window. In the first few months of the season, the Reds lost both Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk to long-term injuries, leaving only Joel Matip as Liverpool’s only senior defender. By his own admission, Jurgen Klopp has hinted that recruitment in January is possible, declaring the Merseyside team will “look for solutions” in the transfer market.   

For many, Gomez and Van Dijk will have been obvious fantasy selections prior to their injuries. However, their absence has diminished FPL’s offerings regarding reliable central defenders. If the Reds do add another option in January, then it would be wise to steer clear of immediately picking them. Throughout his tenure at Anfield, Klopp has often bided his time when bedding-in new signings. As such, it’s unlikely that a new recruit would start consistently from the get-go, regardless of the champion’s current crisis.   

On the subject of injuries, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero has also only recently made his return to the Citizens’ squad following a hamstring problem. While the temptation is there to turn to the prolific Argentine, it’s advisable to hold off on him for a short period. After suffering a knee problem in June 2020, Aguero returned on October 14th, before picking up his latest hamstring injury 11 days later. The 32-year-old’s talent is undeniable – his fitness, however, is becoming questionable, and his physicality will be tested to the limit over the festive period.   

Early Promise, but Is It Sustainable? 

As mentioned above, the fantasy solution to the Premier League’s upcoming period of fixture congestion and unpredictability may lie in the form of the underdogs. After nine matches, Southampton had lost just two games and found themselves sat in fifth place. Because of their impressive start to the campaign, as of November 26th, the Saints are 6/1 at football betting to finish in the top six come the end of the 2020-21 season. Aston Villa, on the other hand, had won five of their opening eight games, which included a 7-2 demolition of Liverpool. 

Regarding their ability to sustain their form, nothing is guaranteed, especially in the Premier League. However, given their absence from European competitions, their fixture scheduling will be less demanding than many of the division’s top sides. Crucially, this will help both on-form sides maintain a desired level of fitness without suffering fatigue, while also aiding in their efforts to keep injuries to a minimum. Because of that, turning to the likes of Che Adams, Jannick Vestergaard, Ollie Watkins, and Tyrone Mings, for example, may be the key to maximising FPL points over the winter months. 

Think Outside the Box 

Fantasy Premier League is all about testing football knowledge and problem-solving skills. Given the current top-flight season’s start, both form and injuries will have made many players rethink their approach. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as this period presents an opportunity to experiment with new players and systems.