Yesterday our 3rd preview of the 2022/23 FPL season covered Brighton and Chelsea. In this 4th FPL instalment, it’s time for Crystal Palace and an Everton side that only very narrowly escaped the first relegation in its history last season.
CRYSTAL PALACE – FPL 2022/23 team preview
The 2021-22 Premier League campaign represented a new start for Crystal Palace in more than a few ways. Some big names and Eagles mainstays over the previous were released, including the likes of Gary Cahill, Mamadou Sakho and Wayne Hennesey, and a new manager was appointed in the person of French former world champion Patrick Vieira. After four years of decent enough but rarely exciting football under Premier League veteran Roy Hodgson, the OFC Nice manager was brought in to ring in a new era at Selhurst Park. Attacking football, leaving relegation worries permanently behind and perhaps even competing for a top-half finish were all amongst the goals set for Vieira prior to his arrival, so the Frenchman had his work cut out for him.
It was a risky appointment, there is no doubt, and the bookmakers had Vieira as the second-most likely manager to get the first sack in the 2021-22 season, but as so often, they were wrong. What emerged under the former Arsenal midfielder was a young Palace side, stacked with English and Continental talent that no longer depended almost entirely on Wilfried Zaha, as had been the case so often in the past years. While the Ivory Coast international recorded his best season as an Eagle to date with 14 goals and 2 assists for 150 FPL points, Palace had a good season overall as well. They finished 12th in the Prem and in the bottom-half of the table, only Aston Villa outscored them (50 goals vs 52). Defensively, they were even more impressive with 46 conceded goals, a total bettered by only seven other teams in the league.
Like the fans, Palace’s management must be quite happy with how the summer transfer window is developing so far. They have managed to keep last season’s team together and added a few reinforcements already, most notably young defensive midfielder Cheick Doucouré from Ligue 1 side Lens for about £15 million and the young attacker Malcolm Ebiowei from Derby on a free. Quite a contrast compared to last summer, as we described earlier, and something that should instil hope of another good season in the topflight among the Palace faithful.
Crystal Palace’s tactics sheet
One of the major achievements of Vieira in his first season at Selhurst Park, besides the tidy 12th-place finish in the league, has been the way in which he managed to implement a new playing style in relatively little time. Preferring a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, the Frenchman focused on getting the team used to a more energetic, attacking approach to games and it paid off. Outside of last season’s top eight and Aston Villa, no team scored more goals than the Eagles’ 50 successful attempts. At the same time, no defensive solidity was sacrificed to achieve this feat, as the team went on to concede just 46 goals. As a result, they were the only side outside of last season’s top eight to end the 2021-22 campaign with a positive goal difference.
As we briefly touched upon earlier, one of the major improvements to the side has been the lower reliance on individual flashes of brilliance from their talisman, Wilfried Zaha. By demanding a higher, more intense press from his team, especially in the middle, Vieira managed to involve more players in the attacking part of their game, most notably Chelsea loanee Connor Gallagher, who blossomed under the Frenchman. They will surely miss him this season. Add to that a new pair of ball-playing central defenders and the emergence of Tyrick Mitchell as yet another top wing-back prospect from The Academy, and it’s clear that, in a relatively short period of time, Vieira managed to add quality and tactical versatility to the side.
CRYSTAL PALACE – Potential FPL targets
For some years now, no serious Crystal Palace season preview could start listing interesting FPL targets without starting with Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m). FPL managers will be happy to see the Palace star man not only listed as a midfielder once again this season, but at a very fair price. The 29-year-old forward was the best fantasy scorer by some distance on the Palace roster last season, recording 150 FPL points from 14 goals, 2 assists, 11 clean sheets and 11 bonus points. That translates to about 21 FPL points per million pounds spent, which is quite a phenomenal return. As Zaha is the team’s talisman, he is all but immune to rotation and he has penalty duties as well. Palace’s start to the season is not the easiest, but the fixtures ease up from gameweek 5 onwards, which is where we expect interest in the Ivory Coast international to really take off, assuming he remains fit and shows decent form in the weeks prior.
After Aaron Wan-Bissaka a few seasons ago, Tyrick Mitchell (£4.5m) is on the way to becoming the next top talent at wing-back coming out of the Crystal Palace Academy. Contrary to his AWB, Mitchell plays on the left and seems to have fully convinced Patrick Vieira of his qualities, considering his 3,101 playing minutes in the Premier League last season. From 10 clean sheets, 2 assists and 6 bonus points, the 22-year-old England international collected 109 FPL points. For a budget defender, that’s not bad at all. While the Palace centre-backs offer a bit more goal threat from set-pieces, Mitchell’s appeal lies in his goal threat from open play. Competition is fierce in the budget defender bracket this season, but the Palace man is worth putting on your watchlists.
Michael Olise (£5.5m) was mainly used as a bench player last season, starting 12 times in the Premier League and coming on 14 times as substitute, but he still managed 2 goals and 5 assists for 73 FPL points. The France Under-21 international was brought in from Reading last summer for about £9 million and we have a feeling that there is much more playing time on the cards for him this season. He boasts some interesting offensive stats for a bargain midfielder, including the highest Expected Assist ratio among all his teammates (0.29 per 90 minutes) and the third-most completed passes into the box. Possibly not one for your gameweek 1 squad, but over the whole season, we expect Olise to improve considerably on his 2021-22 stats.
EVERTON – FPL 2022-23 team preview
To label Everton’s 2021-22 Premier League campaign as tough is probably the understatement of the season. The Toffees struggled through most of the campaign, fighting to avoid dropping into the relegation zone on more than a few occasions. Strangely enough, the club started off quite well under Rafa Benitez, winning three and drawing one in the first four league games of the season. A seemingly endless run of uninspired displays and disappointing results then led to the sacking of the Spanish manager in January 2022 and the subsequent appointment of Chelsea legend Frank Lampard as his successor.
The managerial chance didn’t do Everton’s fortunes much good though, as they found themselves actually IN the relegation zone with just a few weeks to go before the end of the season. Somehow, Super Frankie Lamps managed to light the fire in his players one more time, resulting in surprising victories over Chelsea, Leicester and Palace in the final stretch. The end result: 16th place with 39 points, just four above the drop zone, a total of just 11 victories and a negative goal difference of 23. Not good enough for a club of Everton’s calibre, not good enough at all.
Toffee sentiment will not have improved much since that disappointing finish, as the club has just sold their best player by some distance. Richarlison transferred to Spurs for a cool £60 million, so at least Everton have some money to spend on the market this summer, on top of their usual budget. As far as incoming players are concerned though, up until now the biggest news has been the free transfer of Burnley icon James Tarkowski to Goodison Park, which in all honesty is very good signing. Still, with just a few weeks to go until gameweek 1, the club really needs to kick into a higher gear if they want to avoid another nightmare season full of bottom-half-of-the-table action.
Everton’s tactics sheet
As far as Frank Lampard’s tactical approach at Everton, last season was more about survival than working on an attractive, own way of playing. Therefore, it will be very interesting to see how the Toffees turn up in gameweek 1 against Chelsea at home. Ideally, the former England international prefers building up from the back with his team, keeping the ball at their feet and patiently moving it up the pitch, and with wing-backs pushing up the field to provide width. At the same time, the forwards are expected to be energetic and press almost constantly on the opponent’s defence around the middle of the pitch. Even supposed starting number nine Dominic Calvert-Lewin works incredibly hard in a defensive sense, which is only more testament to Lampard’s influence on the side.
While the preferred way of playing is clear, last season showed a worrying lack of stability, especially in terms of their defence. As we wrote above, when Premier League survival is at stake, teams usually return back to the very basics and seeing as Everton made it, their approach can easily be labelled as the right one in that particular situation. Still, when you see a team conceding 66 goals in 38 games (only four teams conceded more) while scoring just 43 themselves (only six teams scored less), you have to be critical. Teams with better stats have been relegated from the Premier League in the past. If you’re considering Everton assets for your gameweek 1 squad, it’s therefore important to check out the club’s preparations as Lampard is going through his first pre-season with them.
EVERTON – Potential FPL targets
Despite his slightly elevated price tag, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.0m) is probably Everton’s most appealing asset from a fantasy point of view. When fit, he is the undisputed focal point of the Toffee attack and he has shown that he can translate that role into plenty of attacking returns. Between 2019 and 2021, the England international recorded 29 goals and 7 assists over two seasons, and even last season his averages were not bad. The problem with last season were his injury issues, which led to him getting just 1,281 minutes of Premier League action (5 goals, 2 assists). That’s why we mentioned his fitness earlier. He missed a total of 16 league games last season due to an ongoing toe injury, which basically placed him offside as an FPL asset. The 25-year-old looks to be back to full fitness again during the current pre-season though, and if he can keep that up, then £8.0 million is an acceptable price for a player of his calibre. His biggest problem in terms of FPL appeal is that there are other fantasy assets priced similarly that offer, at first glance, considerably more value, like Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus, Man City’s Phil Foden and Chelsea’s Mason Mount.
In the absence of DCL as Everton’s most likely top points scorer in the official fantasy game and excluding the now-departed Richarlison, Jordan Pickford (£4.5m) ended up being the team’s best performer with 116 FPL points. Nevertheless, and not so surprisingly perhaps when looking at how many goals the Toffees conceded, the goalkeeper’s price was dropped by £0.5m for the 2022-23 campaign. An interesting move by FPL Towers, because this at least places Pickford in the goalkeeper debate for gameweek 1. He’s an established international goalkeeper who is vying for a place in England’s World Cup squad, available at the cheapest possible price for a starting goalkeeper this season. We like to think that Everton will perform better as a team this season than they did last, after all performing worse than last season would practically see them relegated, and that this will also reflect in Pickford’s numbers. At the time of writing, 6% of all managers in the official game seem to hope for the same.
As you’ve probably realised by now, Everton are very much a wait-and-see for us right now, but if you’re set on bringing in one or more Toffees, the midfield roster offers some interesting budget-enablers. Last season was a breakthrough season for Everton Academy graduate Anthony Gordon (£5.5m) as he conquered a starting spot in Benitez’ and later Lampard’s starting eleven in the first half of the season. He ended up playing just over 2,200 minutes of Premier League football, and recorded 4 goals and 3 assists for a total of exactly 100 FPL points. As a result, his price tag was raised from last season’s bottom-bargain £4.5m to a still very fair £5.5m this season. When you watch Gordon play, he definitely passes the eye test and looks like a player who could do some real damage, in real life and in FPL. If he can keep up his development and increase his offensive output this season, it won’t be long before he starts featuring in more than a few fantasy teams. Frank Lampard seems to consider him a starter at least, and he got some set-piece duties towards the end of last season as well, so the fantasy potential is definitely there.
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