FPL 2019/20 Club Previews – Bournemouth & Brighton

In anticipation of the 2019/2020 Premier League season’s kick-off between Liverpool and New boys Norwich, at 20h00 on August 9th at Anfield, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at the 20 squads that’ll be competing this year. In this second instalment, we’re continuing the series with an eager Bournemouth and new manager Graham Potter’s Brighton.

“This season will be the first for Brighton under new manager Graham Potter” (CC by 2.0) by JJ Hall

Bournemouth – The team

If he could, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe would sign up for a start like the one his side had to the last campaign in a heartbeat. The Cherries commenced the 2018/19 season in spectacular form, taking 20 points from the first 10 games, a run in which they scored no less than 19 goals. By the time November came, they were sixth in the table and looking like the season’s surprise package. Eventually, the form wore off and the Cherries finished the season in a disappointing 14th spot, but their potential had been proven.

Eddie Howe generally prefers his team to line up in a 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2, a system in which especially the attackers, like Wilson, King, Brooks and Fraser, thrived last season. The Cherries like to play attractive football, building out from the back and bringing the full-backs into the final third to create width and extra men on the midfield, but they are not afraid to play on the counter either, if needed. Against stronger opposition in particular, Bournemouth possess the speed, the tactical discipline and the killer instinct up front to lay deep and wait for the opportunities to counter-attack.

In Bournemouth’s and Eddie Howe’s fifth consecutive season in the top flight, we don’t expect too much of a change of approach. The Cherries have managed to hold on to their key players for now and brought in two promising English youngsters, right-back Jack Stacey (Luton Town) and left-back Lloyd Kelly (Bristol City) for just under €20 million. After a phenomenal first 10 gameweeks last season, the remaining 28 gameweeks saw Bournemouth ship 58 goals, more than any other team in the league, which is why Howe’s focus will be on adding some defensive solidity to his otherwise well-functioning outfit. If he can build in some certainty in the back while maintaining, or possibly even improving, last season’s attacking display, Howe and his men could be looking at a comfortable mid-table finish this season.

Bournemouth – Potential FPL stars

Put simply, together with a few other more than decent options, Bournemouth have two authentic FPL favorites amongst their ranks. One of those is striker Callum Wilson (£8.0m). The Englishman had a cracking 2018/19 season in which he scored 14 goals and provided 12 assists in 2528 minutes of Premier League football, resulting in 168 FPL points. As a consequence, his price tag increased accordingly, from £6.0m to £8.0m. In all fairness, this is a pretty steep rise, but Wilson is a sure starter in an attacking team with a favourable opening schedule. He has recently extended his contract with Bournemouth until the summer of 2023, so it looks like he’ll be an integral part of the club’s plans in the foreseeable future. We expect him to be a popular pick in gameweek 1 at home to Sheffield and with good reason.

The second FPL favourite in the Bournemouth squad is, you guessed it, Ryan Fraser (£7.5m). Like Wilson, the Scottish winger had an impressive last season in which 7 goals and 14 assists converted him into the highest-scoring Cherry asset in FPL (181 points). As a matter of fact, with a starting price of just £5.5m one year ago, Fraser scored more points per million (28.3) than any other midfielder or forward in the official game. His price hike to £7.5m this year might turn you off him a bit, but consider this: in terms of points totals last season, only premium midfielders Salah, Sterling and Mané, plus Sigurdsson (8.0m this season) outscored the Scot. If he maintains his telepathic connection with Wilson and can reproduce some of last season’s form, he could again be excellent value for FPL managers this season.

For our third and final recommendation from the Cherries roster, we thought it was between midfielder David Brooks and forward Josh King (£6.5m), and we’ve gone with the latter for mainly two reasons: the abundance of budget midfield picks in comparison to the scarcity of budget forward picks and the fact that King is on penalties. The Norwegian international scored 12 goals and provided 3 assists last season, winning 141 FPL points in the process, just 27 less than Callum Wilson. Despite that reality, King’s price was increased by exactly £0.0m instead of £2.0 (in Wilson’s case) which makes him a very interesting option for many squads. He’s part of the starting eleven up front in a team that scores goals, he’s on penalties and Bournemouth have a kind opening schedule (Sheffield at home and Villa away before hosting City at the Vitality). In his price bracket, there are few better options.

Brighton – The team

One of the more profound changes in terms of managerial tactics and playing style this summer will be taking place on England’s south coast, where Brighton & Hove Albion have replaced manager Chris Hughton with Östersund coach Graham Potter. Östersund? Yes, Östersund, from Sweden. When Potter started his coaching career there back in 2010, they were playing in the fourth division. By the end of the 2017/18 season, they had been eliminated by Arsenal in the Europa League’s round of 32 and finished fifth in the Swedish elite division. Potter then spent a season at Swansea in the Championship, finishing tenth and making it to the FA Cup quarter finals, before signing with Brighton this summer. It’s always hard to say how a new manager will line up and fit in at his new club, but what can we more or less expect from Potter at Brighton?

The good news for Seagulls fans is that Potter has an attacking approach to football games. He thinks more in terms of principles, like ball possession and goal opportunities, then formations. That’s also why he can start in different formations and even switch formations during matches. He usually favours a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, but is also comfortable playing with three in the back. What remains constant throughout the different formations is the role of the wing-backs, who support the attack often and encourage Potter’s favourite short-passing game by creating an extra men on the midfield. In addition, his emphasis on relationship management and camaraderie in the team has earned him comparisons with current Premier League powerhouse managers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. Potter believes that his players can only perform at their very best when they feel comfortable in their environment and playing with the people around them. At Östersund, the great atmosphere in the group was lauded as one of the team’s main reasons for success, despite their lesser experience and lower budget.

Some of Brighton’s incoming transfers this summer seem to give an indication of how Potter’s men will be lining up during the opening weeks of the 2019/20 campaign. Star signing Leandro Trossard came to the AmEx for the hefty sum of €20 million after leading Belgium’s RC Genk to the title. In the process, he scored 14 goals and provided 7 assists domestically, while scoring another 8 and setting up another 3 goals in 11 Europa League appearances. Like ball-playing centre-back Matt Clarke, who was bought from Portsmouth for €3.9 million, Trossard looks like one of the men around which Potter wants to build a new, more attractive Seagulls outfit. Though there still is talk of central defender Lewis Dunk leaving for Leicester if the Foxes end up selling Maguire to Man United, for now the only departures with any weight in the Brighton dressing room are forward Anthony Knockaert (loaned to Fulham) and veteran defender Bruno (retired). Graham Potter has more than shown that he is capable of making good teams with limited budgets, so it’ll be extremely interesting to see if he can do it England’s elite division as well. If he can combine some of predecessor Chris Hughton’s defensive discipline with some improved offensive flair, the Seagulls might well make it through another year of Premier League football.

Brighton – Potential FPL stars

With a new, more attack-minded coach at the helm and a relatively kind opening run of fixtures (West Ham, Southampton and Burnley at home, and Watford and City away in the first five gameweeks), the Brighton squad contains a few potential bargains for FPL managers. We’re starting off with a more than decent candidate in the important “budget defender” category, Lewis Dunk (£4.5m). Over the years, the Englishman has built up a decent central defensive partnership with Shane Duffy, who costs half a million more in the official game this season. Last season, Dunk scored just 24 points less than Duffy (91 vs 115), mainly due to the latter’s 5 goals and 2 assists (Dunk scored 2 and assisted 1). He won’t bring you big hauls, but as a budget-enabling fourth or fifth defender, Dunk is a decent choice based on his spot in the starting eleven at a club like Brighton. Keep an eye on the rumours about his move to Leicester as well.

Our second Brighton pick is the German playmaker who ran riot during his debut season in English football two years ago, Pascal Gross (£6.5m). At the start of last season, the Seagulls ace was arguably their star player after a great 2017/18 (7 goals, 8 assists, 164 points), but a season full of injury trouble saw the 2018/19 campaign turn into somewhat of a disappointment (1864 minutes of Premier League football, 3 goals, 3 assists and 80 FPL points). As a result, the German’s price has dropped, making him a potential bargain this year. Just like under Chris Hughton, Gross will be instrumental in shaping Brighton’s attacking ideas, with the big difference being that Brighton is expected to play a lot more attacking football under Graham Potter. In addition, Gross will be on most of the dead-ball situations (including penalties), which considerably improves his assist potential. Considering his last season was affected by injury and the fact that a new coach has come to the AmEx, picking Gross is a bit of a punt, but one that could pay off handsomely.

Finally, another budget pick that would allow you to spread your funds elsewhere without adding useless bench fodder to your squad. Jurgen Locadia (£5.5m) played just 221 minutes of Premier League football in his debut 2017/18 season (1 goal, 1 assist, 16 FPL points) and improved on those totals last season (1221 minutes played, 2, 0 assists, 52 points). If the young Dutchman wants to take the next step in the development of his undoubtedly promising potential, he will need to make a starting spot his this season. He is an athletic forward with great drive who can both set up and finish chances, which sounds like the type of player new boss Potter likes to see. Potter also likes versatility, and Locadia can play both as a striker and on the (left) wing. This gives the manager options, as strikers Murray (turning 36 in September) and Andone (unconvincing so far) don’t look up to the task of carrying Brighton by themselves a whole season long, and wingers Trossard (new from Belgium), Izquierdo (injured) and Knockaert (loaned to Fulham) are, as it stands at the moment, uncertainties due to different reasons. Selecting Locadia is definitely a punt, but his development and 5.5m price tag could represent a decent third striker option.

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