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 sixth instalment, reigning champions Liverpool are up, followed by last season’s principal rivals Manchester City.
LIVERPOOL – The team
Unless you’ve been living in a cave without any television or internet connection for the past year, you’ll be aware of the fact that Liverpool won the Premier League title last season, for the first time in 30 years. The wait was long, the build-up was excruciating at times, but the eventual moment was more than deserved. From gameweek 1 to gameweek 31, when they officially became champions, the Reds dominated. To give you an idea of that domination: by February 2020, Liverpool were no less than 25 points ahead of 2nd placed Man City.
Jurgen Klopp is not done though, and neither are the rest of red Liverpool. In December, the German extended his contract by five years and he shows no indications of feeling like a man who has completed his mission. To say it in his own words, “We are in the middle of something”. The Liverpool squad is extremely settled by now and even though there might be changes of personnel this summer, they will surely continue on the same path that has brought them a Champions League and a Premier League title in the last two seasons.
One thing they do need to do, is to avoid contentment at any cost. Since the big spending spree of the summer 2018, Liverpool have been quite discrete on the transfer market. As a matter of fact, attacking midfielder, Takumi Minamino, and Greek left-back, Kostas Tsimikas, are the only senior first-team players signed by the Reds since that summer. Both in terms of sustaining the competition within the team and securing the necessary squad depth to compete with the powerhouses, domestically and internationally. In that light, the exits of Adam Lallana (to Brighton) and Dejan Lovren (to the Russian Premier League) should definitely be addressed, either by investing or looking inwards at the talented likes of Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones.
This is also why we find it hard to imagine that Liverpool will not be still making some moves during the current transfer window. In that sense, the potential signing of Bayern Munich’s midfielder Thiago Alcántara would be a masterful one. In Origi, the Reds boast a great super sub, but another high-level signing to back up their three stars up front would not be considered unnecessary luxury either. In any case, The Reds are balanced, solid and mentally one of the strongest teams out there and have just welcomed Matip back from injury to slightly aleviate the worries about Lovren leaving. The competition is seriously spending this summer, but as far as we are concerned, the title is Liverpool’s to lose this season. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for Liverpool before finalising your team.
LIVERPOOL – The FPL potential
One of the big advantages for FPL managers in terms of Liverpool is Jurgen Klopp’s relatively modest tendency to rotate. Within that context and apart from goalkeeper Alisson Becker, probably the most nailed-on Red is captain Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m). The Dutchman is expensive and his defensive teammates on his left and right side will surely take up more of the spotlight throughout the season, but he is a sure thing. Last season, he recorded 178 FPL points, courtesy of 15 clean sheets, 5 goals and 2 assists. This made him the third-highest scoring defender in the entire game, just behind, you guessed it, Alexander-Arnold (210 points) and Robertson (181 points). Liverpool have a relatively favourable start of the 20120-20 campaign coming up and if you’re looking for a premium defender, Virgil should be one of the candidates.
With Mo Salah (£12.0m) and Sadio Mané (£12.0m), we’re continuing on the premium path, but for midfielders this time. The two Red superstars are the most expensive players in the game and with good reason. The Egyptian ended up beating his Senegalese teammate in terms of FPL points (233 vs 221), and only Man City’s Kevin de Bruyne manage to record more points than both of them (251). Salah scored one goal more than Mané, but the former also played 134 Premier League minutes more than the latter. As we concluded more than a few times during our in-season articles and analyses, there is simply very little between the two of them from an FPL points of view.
We think many squads will struggle to afford both of the Liverpool stars on their roster by the time gameweek 1 gets started (or be stuck with only being allowed 3 Liverpool players), so the question for most FPL managers will be: Salah or Mané? Salah can be frustrating at times, but he often plays down the centre and is on penalties for the Reds. Mané looks more clinical at times and, last season at least, looked a bit more comfortable performing outside of Anfield. In the end, we would probably go with the Egyptian dribbler, though Mané could very well be a Golden Boot candidate again this season as well. There will no doubt be times during the season when it pays to have one and not the other depending on form, fitness and luck!
|4||Aston Villa (A)|
|6||Sheffield United (H)|
|7||West Ham (H)|
MANCHESTER CITY – The team
By the time the 2019-20 season had ended and Bayern Munich had won the Champions League for the sixth time in their history, one of the dominant emotions in the sky blue part of Manchester surely was disappointment. Despite winning the League Cup, the fact that Man City lost the league to Liverpool as the result of an incredible 18-point gap and the painful elimination in the Champions League quarter-finals versus Olympique Lyon were surely not calculated. We shouldn’t forget though, that City were the first team in a decade to retain the Premier League title two seasons in a row (2017-18, 2018-19) and that the first title was won by winning exactly 100 points, a record.
What we’re trying to say is that the Cityzens will be more than up for another draining season-long fight on different fronts. The playing style under manager Pep Guardiola is known, usually an attacking 4-3-3 with lots of movement and ball possession, executed by what’s probably the world’s most talented group of players. It will be more of the same coming season with the only major changes taking place on the personnel side of things.
With several weeks of the transfer window still to go, City have already spent €79 million on new recruits, with left-footed & Dutch international central defender Nathan Aké from Bournemouth for €45 million and Spanish winger Ferran Torres from Valencia for €23 million the two major transfers. Good signings, but the loss of Leroy Sané to Bayern Munich and David Silva to Real Sociedad will be felt at the Etihad nonetheless. That’s also why we’re very sure that the Cityzens will still be bringing in some new players before the end of transfer window. They have been linked to players of the stature of Napoli’s Senaglese international centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly and Atletico Madrid’s centre-back José Jimenez for a while already, just to name a few of the more persistent rumours.
Whatever still does or doesn’t happen, you can be sure of one thing: City will be competing for the prizes again this season. The abundance of talent and world class quality in their squad is dazzling, and Guardiola has already been bringing in the necessary big names to keep all of his players in their toes. After not making it past the Champions League quarter-finals a single time as coach of City up until now, the need for international success will only have increased for the coming season. Still, we believe that City will be challenger number one for the title, with Chelsea possibly an interesting outsider.
MANCHESTER CITY – The FPL potential
Kevin de Bruyne (£11.5m), and we could leave it there, but OK. If you are considering serious investment in Man City assets, which you probably should despite their blank first gameweek, the Belgian should be on top of your list. Not only is he the best player in an incredible team, he is also more or less the most nailed-on a non-defensive player can get under Pep Guardiola. That’s no surprise given his fantastic stats from last season: 2,790 Premier League minutes, 13 goals, 23 assists, 35 bonus points and 18 clean sheets for a total of 251 FPL points. No player in the entire league recorded more over the 2019-20 campaign. He is going through a bit of an ugly legal dispute with his former agent at the moment, but it doesn’t look like it will affect his performances on the pitch too much. De Bruyne comes as a strong recommendation from our side and 33.6% of FPL managers seem to agree already despite the blank GW1.
The only reason not to go for KDB, besides the fact that City don’t play in gameweek 1, is a preference for City’s top scorer of last season Raheem Sterling (£11.5m). The 2019-20 campaign was the first one in which the English superstar reached 20 goals and on top of that he provided 6 assists, as well. He was the second-highest scoring Man City asset with 204 FPL goals, while only six players in the entire league ended with a higher tally. He is relatively nailed-on as a starter, though his returns tend to be a bit more explosive than, for example, De Bruyne’s at the same price. The return of Aguero from injury also adds another major name to the mix, as he missed much of last season. This took out one name from the front line, which lead to a slightly lower rotation risk for a top performer like Sterling. The Argentinian is back now and heavy rotation can be expected, but Sterling could be a very shrewd differential pick (his current ownership sits at just 4.5%).
In defence, French central defender Aymeric Laporte is probably the most certain starter, but prone to injury as well and, along with Marhez, has just tested positive for coronavirus. That’s why a potentially better defensive pick amongst the City assets is goalkeeper Ederson (£6.0). The Brazilian shot stopper won last season’s Golden Glove, courtesy of 16 clean sheets and he will surely be a contender again this season. With 133 FPL points, he just made it into the top ten of goalkeepers, but keep in mind that he missed a few games through injury and also got 1 rare red card. Without those setbacks, Ederson would surely have made it into the top five and if the Man City centre-back line is strengthened then expect a top 3 finish this season. Of course, that’s all speculation, but what we are sure of is that you’ll be happy you went with him once the inevitable and usually heartbreaking Pep Roulette kicks in. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for Man City before finalising your team.
|6||West Ham (A)|