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 fourth instalment, we’re continuing the series with an AWB-less Crystal Palace and an ambitious Everton.
Crystal Palace – The team
Despite a twelfth place at the end of the 2018/19 season in the real-life Premier League, Crystal Palace offered some gold in terms of the Fantasy Premier League. Think of Wilfried Zaha and his double figures for both goals and assists (10 and 11 respectively), and Luka Milivojevic’ incredible 12 goals, 2 assists and 166 FPL points. Or what about Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who started the previous season as an elusive £4.0 starter at right-back and ended up with 12 clean sheets, 3 assists and 120 FPL points to his name? Just a few weeks ago, AWB was sold to Man United for £55 million, while Zaha could be on his way out as well. At first sight, it looks like Palace could be in for another season full of struggle, though the squad still boasts plenty of quality just like many online New Zealand casino sites do so maybe they will continue with their good finish.
Eagles’ boss Roy Hodgson, one of the authentic old-school English managers in the Premier League, has been at the helm since September 2017. At the time, Frank de Boer has just lost his first four games in the Premier League and Hodgson added another three consecutive losses to that streak. The now 72-year old turned it around though, and led Palace to a respectable 11th place. No club in Premier League history has ever managed to remain in the top flight after losing their first seven games. As a matter of fact, no Premier League club had ever lost their first seven games until then.
Though initially welcomed with some scepticism, Hodgson has done a decent job at Palace so far, finishing 11th and 12th in the last two seasons. As far as his preferred tactics go, he prefers a pretty rigid 4-4-2 that goes and lie deep in a kind of 4-5-1 formation when defending. When attacking, Hodgson’s Palace attempts to move to ball at high speed over different stations to arrive at a pretty direct offensive approach. Especially against stronger opposition, Hodgson is not afraid to have his team retreat into their own half and wait for the opportunity to break out at speed.
At Crystal Palace, these tactics have mostly stayed intact and the team has been formed, step by step, to fit the style of play preferred by the coach. At times, his side have shown both high defensive resilience and a free-flowing kind of attacking play. With players like Wilf Zaha, Andros Townsend, and Jeffrey Schlupp, Palace has the capacity to break away quickly. The excellent passing ability of the double pivot duo in the middle, formed by Luka Milivojevic and usually James McArthur or Max Meyer, is crucial in this sense. The departure of Wan-Bissaka is a real loss for the team, not just because of his individual quality, but because of the fact that he fit Hodgson’s game plan perfectly. Like fan favourite Patrick van Aanholt on the opposite side, AWB offered the necessary physique to support the attack where possible while being able to defend as part of a deep back line as well. The attacking superiority of Van Aanholt on the left was perfectly complemented by Wan-Bissaka’s higher defensive solidity on the right. Hodgson’s biggest challenges on the player front this pre-season will be to replace AWB at right-back, to try and keep Zaha at Selhurst Park for at least another year, and to see what other assets are available to help the Eagles finish in the top half of the table coming season.
Finally, the London club has been quite calm on the transfer market this summer, despite selling their starting right-back for £55m to United. Michy Batshuayi, who scored 5 goals and 1 assist last season on loan from Chelsea, returned to his parent club, but no other main figures from the team were lost. This seems like relatively little to lose, but so far, the Eagles have not seen a lot of new blood coming in either. Just a few days ago, Swansea forward Jordan Ayew was signed for a modest £2.5 million fee, but that is probably more of an investment in squad depth than anything else. We would not be surprised if Palace bring in a few more quality players before the end of the summer window on August 8th.
Crystal Palace – Potential FPL stars
While he’s still an Eagle, Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) remains Palace’s most attractive FPL asset by some distance. The Ivory Coast international scored 10 goals and recorded 11 assists over the 2018/19 Premier League campaign, which earned him a decent 143 points as a £7.0m forward. For this season though, Zaha has been reclassified as a midfielder in the official game, which greatly improves his already more than good appeal. To give you a simple idea of the impact of this: by just adding clean sheet points and an extra point per goal to his tallies of last season, he would have finished with 165 FPL points, which means only seven midfielders in the whole league outscored him. At a price of just £7.0m, Zaha looks like one of the absolute bargains of the (early) season.
Funnily enough, one of those seven midfielders that would have ended above Zaha on the hypothetical list above, is his team mate, defensive midfielder Luka Milivojevic (£7.0m). The Serbian set-piece specialist had an amazing 2018/19 season, at least in FPL terms, in great part thanks to his penalty duties. He banged in no less than 10 spot kicks, which obviously shot him up the FPL watchlists for this season. Even though it’s unrealistic to expect him to get and then convert another ten penalties this season (particularly if they lose Zaha), Milivojevic is nonetheless not a bad shout for FPL managers. He is nailed on, he gets a point per clean sheet (Palace had 12 last season) and he is on practically all set-pieces, including corners and free kicks, both direct and indirect. There is some serious competition in and around his price bracket, but Mili is definitely worth watch-listing.
Our final Palace pick is not so much based on his points potential as it is on his price tag. At the start of every FPL season, the search is on for that one £4.0m gem who is a sure starter and a regular points scorer. Wan-Bissaka was THE prime example of this profile last season. This season, pickings are thin in this category, not to say non-existent, but Palace’s right-back Martin Kelly (£4.0m) has been named as one of the potential performing budget enablers this season. The English defender can play at both right-back and in the centre of the defence, which adds to his appeal, especially considering that one, Palace have not signed a replacement for AWB (yet) and two, central defenders Sakho and Tomkins are currently out injured for an undetermined period of time. Last season, Kelly got 1110 minutes of Premier League football, in which he recorded three clean sheets and 26 FPL points. Honestly, it would be surprising if the Eagles do not sign one or two quality defender before the transfer window closes, but until then, Kelly is one of the better picks in the absolute bargain bracket.
Everton – The team
Everton are one of those clubs where hopes are flying high at the start of every season. The Toffees have a rich footballing history, and both their statements and their transfer activity each summer illustrate their ambitions. The past seasons, the Liverpool side are widely considered as a prime candidate for the “title” of best of the rest, behind the top six, together with clubs like Leicester and Wolves, but breaking into the top six has so far appeared to be an objective out of reach. This season, under manager Marco Silva and with the help of some promising new recruits, the Toffees will be aiming for a Europa League spot again and they certainly have got the squad to give it a try.
Since the appointment of Marco Silva as coach in May 2017, Everton’s game has been steadily improving. He has brought a high-energy, high pressing kind of football to Merseyside that, on a good day, can compete with some of the best outfits in the Premier League, though inconsistency was still an issue for his men over the 2018/19 campaign. He has demonstrated a certain flexibility when it comes to formation and how to fill them in, but his preferred choice is a 4-2-3-1 with attacking full-backs and two wingers who are not afraid to come inside and have a go. At Everton, the team slowly been formed to fit this approach, with signings like left-back Lucas Digne, Brazilian forward Richarlison and attacking midfielder Bernard.
In Jordan Pickford, Silva has one of the most promising young goalkeepers in the league at his disposal. The Portuguese coach usually plays with four defenders in the back, a back line that seems to be composed this season of Michael Keane and ex-Barcelona strong man Yerry Mina at the centre, and Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne on the flanks. Both full-backs offer plenty of threat on the attack, while the two centre-backs are physically strong, both when defending and on attacking set-pieces. The permanent signing of Andre Gomes after a successful season on loan last campaign is a crucial move by Silva to inject some more football into his double pivot, where the Portuguese central midfielder will be joined by master ball winner Idrissa Gueye. Sigurdsson will be the number 10 playmaker to orchestrate most of Everton’s attacking moves, while the two positions on the wing have three main candidates: Richarlison, Bernard and Walcott. The position up front is currently occupied by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, which would be amazing news for FPL managers as the young Englishman is priced at £6.0m, but rumours regarding heavy investment in a complimentary striker persist. With players like Tom Davies, Leighton Baines, Cenk Tosun and Morgan Schneiderlin on the bench, Silva has the manpower to combat any potential injuries or dips in form.
One player we haven’t mentioned above is new signing Fabian Delph, who came over from champions Man City for an acceptable £8.5 million fee. His multi-functionality in combination with his excellent left foot will make him a valuable part of the squad, though it’s a bit hard to see at the moment where in the starting eleven he would slot in. The possible departure of Gueye to PSG might be good news for Delph in this sense. Besides that, Everton have just signed ex-Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lössl on a free transfer, while a few loaned-out layers with potential (like strikers Henry Onyekuru and Sandro and wingers Bolasie and Mirallas) returned to the club. The Toffees have about two weeks left to work on their squad and they might just be saving some fireworks until the very end making them a potential option for your sports bets this season.
Everton – Potential FPL stars
Everton boasts quite a lot of very good options that combine points potential with relatively affordable price tags. Add to that the fact that Everton has one of the kindest opening schedules and you can expect their assets to be popular at the start of the FPL season. Our first pick of the bunch is play-maker Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8.0m). The Icelandic attacking midfielder had his best FPL season in terms of points last season, courtesy of 13 goals and 6 assists. Thanks to a great Everton run of defensive solidity towards the end of the last season, he also got points for 15 clean sheets to reach a season total of 182. That’s excellent value and there are no indications of Sigurdsson’s performances being any less this season. There is plenty of competition in his price bracket for midfielders, but considering Sigurdsson’s role in the team and Everton’s opening fixtures, we suspect he could turn out to be one of the most popular signings at the start of the FPL season and with good reason.
Lucas Digne (£6.0m) could be one of the players in the Everton squad to be even more popular than Sigurdsson when the FPL kicks off on August 9th. In his first year as a Toffee, he played 2964 minutes of Premier League football in which he kept 14 clean sheets, scored 4 goals, provided 5 assists and recorded a total of 156 FPL points. Besides that, he also created 71 chances for a team mate last season, which is the most by a defender by some distance, and had 34 shots on goal (sixth amongst defenders). Everton ended the season as the league’s fourth-best defence and as the team that created the most chances from set-pieces (75). Digne is on many set-pieces that suit a left-footed player, including corners and direct free kicks. In other words, despite the hefty price tag and the excellent options in other defences, the French left-back should be in your team.
Players like Pickford, Coleman and Richarlison are all potentially great FPL assets, but for our third pick we’ve gone with Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.0m). He’s not so much in this list because he will be scoring more points than the previously mentioned players, though he might, but more because of his price tag and the fact that decent budget forward picks are scarce this season. If, and that’s still quite a big “if” for the moment, DLC manages to convince his manager, he will be a definite standout budget pick. In 1769 minutes of PL football last season, he recorded a decent 92 points, courtesy of 6 goals, 5 assists and 3 bonus points. With the six opening games for the Toffees being Palace away, Watford home, Villa away, Wolves home, Bournemouth away and Sheffield home, Calvert-Lewin could start off the season in goalscoring style.
Don’t forget to keep up to date with all the latest news on FISO’s FPL forum.