An Idiosyncratic Season Preview
I won't be playing FPL this season. My time is limited and I have other things that need my focus. So I have decided to have a year off.
Despite this, I do intend to keep a casual eye on the game (and will possibly join a draft league later on). So I might intermittently post some thoughts here. If so, they will be quite random and perhaps idiosyncratic. But they might also be mildly interesting, who knows?
Anyway, partly in order to assuage any last-minute temptations I might have to enter a team, I am going to make a small commentary on players I like the look of for this season. But bear in mind that what follows doesn't necessarily reflect what I would do with a GW1 team. I haven't studied the fixtures at all
and therefore don't know whether I'd be going for a GW1 BB (more likely than not) or whether I'd be envisaging an early wildcard. The GW1 team needs to reflect your season strategy as far as I am concerned, and I don't have one.
So what follows is primarily based on price - players that I think are under-valued in the game. It would be my starting idea before getting into the detail of a GW1 team, something that I won't be doing. I will probably finish this with a GW1 selection but that should be considered as a kind of first draft that I'd have before looking at the game strategy.
If it matters, I have not read a single word on FFS or anywhere else, so this is my own list. That's what I do every season with the GW1 selection, apart from reading the FFS article about pre-season minutes played (which I didn't do this time).
May as well start with a comment about Europa League. Statistically, playing EL has a negative effect and those teams that qualified for it through league position suffer a drop of around 10 points (or 3 PL places) on average in that season. But that doesn't tell the whole story. In my experience (and this is observational rather than calculated) the bigger teams - those who have a big squad containing a lot of CL experience - suffer far less than smaller clubs with less European experience. For example, the EL probably helped Chelsea last season because the Group Stage was really easy for a team of Chelsea's calibre and gave an opportunity for very good younger players and/or fringe players to start games. In all honesty, Chelsea didn't face a really tough opponent until the SF stage and of course they went on to win it.
You can contrast that with Burnley's experience where they weren't even able to get through pre-qualifying but took half a season to get back onto an even keel afterwards.
Arsenal have a CL type of squad. It might be short in CL quality (especially in defence) but it is certainly big enough. So I wouldn't really be worrying about an EL effect on them until well after Xmas - once they get to the QF stage (if they do). And that's a long
way away. Same will go for United, when we get there, but not for Wolves, who are a different case and a team that I'd expect to suffer some EL challenges knocking on to their PL form.
Arsenal have apparently had a good window, AFTV think so anyway. Personally I'm not so sure and there are no Arsenal players that especially attract me. Sokratis
@ 5m is probably a decent enough defender option for a rotation (if you want to use a rotation) although you'd maybe prefer Maitland-Niles
while Bellerin is out. But I doubt I'd go there. The midfield looks very meh to me from an FPL viewpoint, Pépé
is no bargain at 9.5m even if he settles in fast and personally I tend to avoid new players to the PL until they have. Özil
@ 7.5m is the stand-out, of course, if he stays injury-free and starts regularly. But that's a helluva big if.
I do like the look of Lacazette
@ 9.5m but he is injured as far as I know. He'd be the most likely Arsenal selection for me but not until he is fit, so not for GW1. Aubameyang is fully priced to his potential and as I'd not trust him as a regular captaincy contender he'd be too expensive for me.
You have what you expect here, by and large. Much depends on whether you believe Villa will make a good fist of things defensively. With JT on the staff there's a chance of that, in which case Heaton
could be an option at 4.5m, he's a very good GK that makes a lot of saves. Targett could offer decent value for a rotation. But I'm not sure I'd go there myself.
The one player that attracts me at Villa is McGinn ***
, who I think is more important even than Grealish to them. 5.5m seems a decent price for someone that will probably start every game when fit and who has goals and assists in his locker. He deserves a 3-star rating in my book and I would consider taking a punt on him if I needed a cheap, playing attacker to round off my squad - but not as a bench player, he's too expensive for that.
These are cleverly priced by FPL, I don't see an obvious mistake. Bournemouth's defence is erratic so I doubt I'd want them in a rotation - not unless I knew who would be their LB this season, and I don't. Fraser
seem to be correctly priced to me, although Wilson is a streaky player with a long track-record of scoring goals in bunches so it would more be a matter of trying to time it right with him. Having just glanced at Bournemouth's early fixtures, though, they couldn't be much better, so maybe he'd be worth considering from the start. I'll reserve the 3-star rating for Josh King ***
though; 6.5m seems good to me and he could well find a place in my squad.
Depends whether Hughton learned from last season and also how he reacts to the fans. For FPL purposes we want the deep-defending Brighton which he reverted to later on last season having tried to play more expansively. Problem is that the fans and board seem to want some excitement and don't seem to value the dogged negativity that we FPL managers so prize.
Be that as it may, clearly the likes of Dunk
can offer good value in a rotation. Maupay
is the one that most interests me, however; at 6m he seems to have a lot going for him. I'd probably give him a 3-star rating if it didn't break my rule about not selecting players new to the PL, especially those that have also changed club.
This is all about Nick Pope *****
surely? Burnley GKs are usually great investments and if we ignore the EL-affected first half of last season there's no reason to think Pope won't be exactly that in 19/20. At 4.5m he's my first 5-star selection and the only reason I'd consider looking elsewhere would be if I decided on a premium GK. I can't imagine I would, though.
I wouldn't want to be paying 5m for a Burnley defender and don't know how secure the FB positions are, so that actually makes Pope the best route in on that score too. But if Taylor is going to be the regular LB (or Lowton the regular RB) then I'd even consider a double-up here (with the defender in a rotation). I think with Burnley you know what you are going to get and you can't say that for a lot of teams. Adding Drinkwater will only make them even more solid as far as I can see.
In attack, I think Barnes
is pickable but also priced to his potential, so no star rating for him.
Chelsea are interesting and as a supporter I am really looking forward to this season. The transfer ban was the blessing-in-disguise that many fans have waited for because at long last the club are forced to give a proper chance to our excellent academy graduates. I did expect to be giving a high star-rating to Mason Mount
, long a well-kept secret at Chelsea, because I think he will play more than most imagine, especially while RLC is out. But 6m kills that; he is over-priced unfortunately.
The same can't be said for Pulisic ****
! 7.5m is a price tag I expect him to make a mockery of, so much so that I'm willing to disregard my rule about new players to the PL and give him a 4-star. He's the clear stand-out option in the Chelsea attack for me, at least until RLC and CHO are fit again. Tammy Abraham
has been prolific at all levels but I'm not sure whether he'll nail the striker position yet - and neither are FPL who have priced all 3 strikers at 7m.
I am also going to give Zouma ***
a star-rating. Just about cheap enough to be part of a rotation, in a good enough defence to play every week and nailed at least until Rüdiger is fit again (though he's not far away by all accounts). Luiz being sold is a clear message about Zouma and I think Lampard rates him highly. He's well worth a go in my opinion.
No-one at Palace interests me really, though I doubt Cahill
would have gone there without some assurances about game time. He could be a good rotation option at 4.5m. Milivojevic
is ridiculously over-priced at 7m, I'm having none of it. Palace can't have yet another season with so many penalties and the idea that he's the same price as Zaha
is nonsensical in my book. The only thing that prevents me from giving Zaha 3 stars is his current mental state after his failure to get a move.
Despite Palace having decent early fixtures, I think I'd want to see how things shape up before investing there.
As far as I can see, the Everton defence is generally over-priced. Zouma will be a big loss to them and Digne
may well struggle to justify 6m. But Everton do have a decent start in terms of fixtures and I'd not put anyone off starting with Digne or Coleman. Not enough for a star-rating though. In addition, it may well be worth adding Delph to the watchlist, because he's probably OOP (will play in midfield) and should start regularly when fit.
Same goes in the midfield with the one exception of Iwobi ***
. At 6m, the one thing that prevents me from giving him a 4th star is the uncertainty of where he will play, because you'd imagine that Kean gets the striker slot and that means Richarlison wide. Does Iwobi start every game? You'd imagine so but I have enough uncertainty not to go overboard with him.
...are a team I expect good things of this season. Evans ***
looks a very good buy at 5m to me, as do Maddison***
at 7m and 6.5m respectively. My only reservation is that I'm not 100% how Rodgers will line them up in terms of formation and exactly where Perez will play. Off Vardy maybe? If so he has to be a snip at his price.
is a player you can never put anyone off but I do think that at 9m he is priced to his full potential, hence no star rating.
Nothing much to say here. I'm not going to give any star-ratings apart from Allison ***
and VVD ***
because I don't see any obvious bargains and the outfield players are all priced to their full potential. At the same time, it is almost inconceivable that you would go into the season without at least one Liverpool defender, probably VVD because he's 0.5m cheaper. Though I personally like TAA a lot, I'm just a bit disappointed with his price.
is not cheap but is as good a captaincy candidate as anyone in the game. Personally I think he's priced at a level where you can go either way with him. But hey, Liverpool will be one of the most discussed teams in FPL I'm sure, so no-one needs more about them from me.
Similar comments apply for City, though I do think that Zinchenko ****
is well worth starting with until Mendy is fit. Laporte ***
looks a solid pick at 6.5m once he is fully fit, similar to VVD really. And if Allison has 3 stars then so must Ederson ***
at the same price, though I do prefer Pope to either myself.
In the midfield, I am a big fan of Sterling ****
, even at 12m. Sané's injury increases Sterling from 3 to 4 stars in my book and also gets Bernardo ***
on the star list, though I do have a feeling we will see more of Mahrez this season and he could affect Bernardo's gametime so that needs watching. I prefer Sterling to Aguero
at the same price and don't think it would be good FPL management to have both when you can only captain one in any given game. If you have 2 12m players they need to give you captain alternatives.
Lastly, KDB is not a player to put anyone off but he's priced 0.5m too high to get a 3-star rating from me, because you will never captain him (unless you plan to go without both Sterling and Kun).
Well, here comes my 2nd 5-star candidate in the shape of Martial *****
. He's (wrongly) classified as a midfielder whereas he will mainly be a wide (and sometimes central) forward and his price is stupidly low. I think he's a 9m midfielder myself and also suspect he will put previous performance in the PL in the shade this season. Lukaku leaving only adds to the attraction. No-brainer.
I like United this season, not that I expect them to necessarily make the top-4 but what they have done in the transfer market takes the pressure off. They are clearly building a new team and will give it time. There will be ups-and-downs but I expect plenty of goals along the way. And EL football will also help; them in order to give starts to talented youngsters like Greenwood and FPL managers in that it will likely make team selection for the PL that bit more predictable. That's the difference between EL and CL; in the CL you have to play strong teams in both competitions whereas in the EL you can kind of have a PL team and a EL team if your squad is big enough. Which United's is.
I was expecting to go with Lindelöf as a 3-star choice in defence but having seen that Maguire ****
is the same price, it has to be him. And his goal threat merits 4 stars, not 3. He is under-priced by 0.5m I think, especially when you get DDG factored into the 5.5m you are paying.
almost merits a 3-star himself because his price is crazy low too. But how often will he start? If injuries intervene - anything that makes him a secure starter - then he automatically becomes a serious option. I don't like Rashford at 8.5m but for a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 structure would be well happy with Greenwood
at 4.5m because he'll often get on as a sub I think and that's always nice, even in a player you are benching every week.
I see nothing to get excited about here and think they may well get relegated. Bruce can organise a team defensively, so you wouldn't put anyone off Lascelles
as part of a defensive rotation I guess. They will have high hoped from Joelinton
but his career record isn't that wonderful, they have bought potential really. He could be value at 6m but I'd rather see him show that first.
As usual with promoted teams, nothing there to interest me until I have seen it really. Plus I know very little about their players apart from Byram
, who I know is a good attacking FB. But are there many CSs to be expected there?
Same comments. Wouldn't be tempted in the slightest really.
You could maybe look at a defender for a rotation but I'm not sure which one. I wouldn't want to pay 5m and am not sure whether any of the 4.5m options (Yoshida?) will start regularly. So I'll just give 3 stars to Danny Ings ***
, despite the uncertainty about his ability to stay fit, because if he does he has to be way better value than most of the alternatives at that price level.
Difficult one. A Spurs defender at 5.5m is a good deal and worth 3 stars. But which one will start regularly? Others may know but I don't, it's all a bit uncertain to me until I see what Pochettino actually does. Same goes in the midfield, especially with Son & Alli injured (and I think Son is now priced to his potential anyway). Which leaves Harry Kane ***
@ 11m but you'd have to get over the fact that he seldom starts the season fast to get him in GW1. From what I have seen he has been scoring goals in pre-season, though, so maybe this is the season when the August hoodoo is dispelled.
A reliable team and I'm pretty sure I'd be wanting a 4.5m Watford defender as part of a defensive rotation. I'd need to check out the likely starting defence but I imagine Cathcart
is fairly secure? In which case he'd be fine. I am also going to give Doucouré ***
3 stars because I think he's a genuine 6m+ player. People think of him as a DM but he really isn't, he's a box-to-box player that has a big presence when he arrives in the box. I like him as a set-and-forget in my midfield.
I also like to potential of Ismaïla Sarr
@ 6.5m. He has goals and (especially) assists in his locker and can also play as CF or 2nd striker. He's Watford's record signing so should be given a run and has the benefit of being classifield as a midfielder (which Deulofeu isn't). The only reason I am reserving a star rating is because he is new to England and to the PL. But he should be one for the watchlist I think.
There's a lot to like here. I can't look beyond Issa Diop ***
for my defender rotation and I think he's a player you could start in FPL almost every week - in 80% of his games anyway. Pellegrini knows how to organise a defence and I'd expect West Ham to improve in terms of CSs this season.
In the midfield, Anderson ***
seems at least decent value @ 7m, and it could be worth keeping an eye on Yarmolenko
@ 6m too. I also wouldn't put anyone off Haller
@ 7.5m but he's new to the PL (and to England) so no stars. But all in all I think West Ham have options to help FPL managers at the start of this season.
I expect them to be troubled by the EL this season but quite possibly not immediately. Sometimes teams that have to qualify (like Wolves) get a fast start in the PL because they are more advanced in fitness; Wolves have already played 3 competitive games whereas the rest are still completing pre-season.
I think Wolves' early fixtures would put me off a defender, though, and I am dubious that Doherty represents value at 6m. Boly ***
@ 5m would be more to my taste. However, there is one player so well priced that he has to get 4 stars irrespective of fixtures and the EL effect and that is Diogo Jota ****
. Personally I can't see why anyone would pay 1m more for Jiménez.