Yesterday our 4th preview of the 2022/23 FPL season covered Crystal Palace and Everton. In this 4th FPL instalment, we’re taking a dive into newly promoted Fulham and a Leeds side preparing for its first full season under Jesse Marsh.
FULHAM – FPL 2022/23 team preview
Under the spirited tutelage of former Watford and Everton manager Marco Silva, Fulham has made an instant return to the Premier League. After a rather helpless 2019-20 campaign at the highest, which saw the Cottagers relegated with just 28 points, the club replaced current Bournemouth manager Scott Parker with Silva and what followed was a dominant season in the Championship. An impressive 90 points from 46 games saw them clinch the second-tier title in style, boasting not only the best attacking numbers by some distance, but also the third-best defensive stats. The London side scored a whopping 106 goals and conceded just 43 for a positive goal difference of 63 which was 28 more than second-best Nottingham Forest.
Of course, when you have a striker (Mitrovic) who bangs in 43 goals (!) in 44 league appearances, plus another 7 assists, your attacking numbers as a team are bound to be pretty good. As most FPL managers know, the Serbian striker is kind of an enigma in English football, dominating in impressive fashion in the Championship but not being able to fully translate those performances into results at the very highest level. In the 2015-16 season, he scored 9 and assisted 4, in the 2018-19 season he recorded 11 goals and 4 assists for his best ever season in the Premier League, and in his last campaign in the elite, he got just 3 goals and 3 assists, partly due to ongoing injury niggles. Nevertheless, keeping hold of their undisputed focal point in attack will be a priority for the Cottagers this summer.
The club has succeeded in that objective so far, though they did lose a few other important players. Defensive midfielder Zambo Anguissa was sold to Serie A side Napoli for around £15 million, while the talented Fabio Carvalho transferred to Liverpool for about £5 million. The Cottagers put the incoming transfer fees, plus the enormous amount of Premier League TV money, to work straight away. Sporting Lisbon defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha was brought in for £17 million and Man United attacking midfielder Andreas Pereira was welcomed for about £8 million after spending a season on loan at Brazilian giants Flamengo.
Fulham’s tactics sheet
To expect Fulham to simply replicate their free-scoring, free-flowing type of football from last season in the Prem this season is not realistic, to say the least, but under Marco Silva, they could be an interesting addition to the league. In the Championship, the Portuguese tactician mostly preferred a 4-2-3-1 setup in which possession of the ball was the holy grail. Only Swansea boasted a higher average possession percentage than them, but the interesting thing is that the Cottagers seemingly just as easy adopted a more direct approach when needed. As Silva stated towards the end of the season, “We want to start from the back, to build… but if you can reach the opposition box in three of four passes, why make ten passes?”. That kind of sums it up as far as Fulham’s tactical approach goes.
This tactical flexibility and readiness to adapt when needed or even necessary will likely be of key importance to the side upon their return to the Premier League. The Cottagers will rarely dominate possession and instead be on the backfoot quite often, much more often than last season. More importantly though, is Silva’s general realism when it comes to preparing for games. He has stated that his philosophy will not change this season, but that the club and the team have to understand the reality of coming into one of the strongest leagues in the world. All-out attacking football will simply not enough be an option for the Londoners, unless they want to be relegated well before the business end of the season.
FULHAM – Potential FPL targets
After mentioning his 43 goals and 7 assists in 44 Championship games last season, we have no choice but starting this section with Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.5m). The Serbian’s pedigree as a natural goal scorer is well-known by now, but FPL Towers have once again given him a slightly (too) elevated price tag, in our opinion. Amongst the budget and mid-priced forwards in the official game alone, which in all honesty is not a category boasting an abundance of quality choice, Mitrogol has to compete for the love of FPL managers with the likes of Brentford’s Ivan Toney, Aston Villa’s Danny Ings and Wolves’ Raul Jimenez, just to name a few. And then we haven’t mentioned similarly priced assets in midfield and defence yet. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old forward could be an interesting differential option, especially from gameweek 8 onwards, when Fulham enter a nice stretch of favourable fixtures.
Over-pricing is not something that Andreas Pereira (£4.5m) has suffered from this season as a fantasy asset. The former Manchester United creator, who never truly enjoyed a real breakthrough at Old Trafford, was brought in for around £8 million this summer and is expected to play a central role in the Cottagers’ attacking plans. That alone is something more than worth keeping in mind, as there are very few other options at his price point that will be able to count on regular minutes, let alone starts, this season. At Flamengo, where he played on loan last season, he was deployed as a defensive midfielder as well, but so far during Fulham’s pre-season, the Brazilian has mostly operated as the man behind and around striker Mitrovic. Fulham might possibly offer us one of the very best budget-enablers available in the build-up to gameweek
Naturally, most of the spotlights were on Mitrovic’ record-breaking goal-scoring performance in the Championship last season. He wasn’t the only player in the Cottagers’ forward line who shone bright though, because right winger Harry Wilson (£6.0m) actually performed at similar levels as the Serbian goal machine. While the Welsh international’s 10 goals in 41 Championship games were more than decent, his total of 20 assists was downright incredible (partly thanks to Mitrovic’s high goal count). With budgets tight once again in the build-up to the season opener on August 5th, his price tag is perhaps a bit too prohibitive for fantasy managers to gamble on, but we really recommend to at least place him on your watchlists. Wilson actually already has a season of Premier League action under his belt, after scoring 7 goals and providing 1 assist over the 2019-20 campaign with Bournemouth, so he’s not entirely unexperienced at the highest level. His set-piece duties, mainly focused on corners and direct free-kicks only add to his appeal, especially from GW8 onwards.
LEEDS – FPL 2022-23 team preview
After a spectacular return to the Premier League back in 2020 under manager Marcelo Bielsa, the 2021-22 campaign was a different beast for the Whites. They ended up being, in fact, the first side in eleven years to climb out of the drop zone on the very last day of the season. They needed to book a better result away at Brentford than fellow relegation candidates Burnley at home to Newcastle, and they did. A 1-2 victory over the Bees saw them hop over Burnley into 17th place, pushing the Clarets, who fell 1-2 to the Magpies, into the relegation zone.
All of this happened under the management of Jesse Marsh, the American former RB Leipzig coach who was appointed in February as Bielsa’s successor after a horror run of defeats under the Chilean. Marsh managed to have an impact on the side as Leeds won three of the next five following his appointment, but the ghost of relegation was never truly far away. Especially worrying was Leeds’ defensive display as they conceded a frankly relegation-worthy 79 goals in 38 league games, a total only surpassed by last season’s whipping boys Norwich. At the same time, their goal-scoring record was nothing to write home about either, netting just 42 times which wasn’t helped by injuries to main striker Bamford. Only the three relegated sides and Wolves scored less than the Whites.
In that light, the departure of their absolute star man Raphinha is all the more problematic. Sure, Barcelona paid a hefty £55 million fee (including add-ons) for the Brazilian international, but by selling the winger, Leeds also lost no less than 33% of their goals from last season. Raphinha was directly involved in 14 goals (11 goals, 3 assists) and in the absence of Patrick Bamford, he was the one that made Leeds tick. Add to that the £42 million transfer of midfield compass Kalvin Phillips and it’s clear that Leeds have their work cut out for them this summer transfer window. So far, they have invested around £100 million back into the squad, but mainly in young(er) players without too much experience in the Premier League. Nevertheless, the likes of attacking midfielder Brenden Aaronson (£22 million from RB Salzburg), Colombian international winger Luis Sinisterra (£25 million from Feyenoord) and defensive midfielder Tyler Adams (£20 million from RB Leipzig) could end up being spectacular additions to the squad and the Premier League as a whole.
Leeds’ tactics sheet
Any team sacking Marcelo Bielsa will have to cope with a period of change in terms of playing style and tactics, as the Chilean mastermind is famously known for his extreme ideas in terms of setting up his sides. It was no different for Jesse Marsh last season, but the American managed to navigate the situation quite well. In fact, very well actually, because he steered the Whites clear of relegation and secured at least one other season of Premier League football at Elland Road.
As is often the case with teams in fear of relegation, results gain importance over style, so last season’s games under Marsh might not be entirely indicative of what we’re going to see from them this season. Still, he seemed to clearly prefer a 4-2-3-1 formation, much like Bielsa would use. This makes sense as the squad was obviously built for this tactic before his arrival. As a product from the Red Bull school, the American wants to see energetic, high-press football that puts opponents under pressure from the moment they touch the ball. The likes of Jack Harrison and Dan James are particularly suited to this type of football, while Rodrigo was a bit of a revelation as the dynamic, hard-working number 10. The previously mentioned new recruits, Sinisterra and Aaronson in particular, look like they could slot into this approach quite easily, which is why we’re not expecting too much of a system change in that sense. Then again, with so many changes having taken place at Elland Road over the last six months or so, Leeds are very much a wait-and-see side for us at the moment. We’re not coming close to anything defence-related from Leeds until there are some signs that they have learned from their horrific defensive performance from last season.
LEEDS – Potential FPL targets
In theory, after the departure of Raphinha, Patrick Bamford (£7.5m) is the talisman in Leeds’ current squad. His 2021-22 Premier League campaign was largely ruined by ongoing injury problems as he managed just 557 minutes. Despite that very limited playing time, the England international did record 2 goals and 2 assists, which hints at the qualities he definitely possesses. For more proof of that, we just have to look back at his 2020-21 season. On Leeds’ return to the Premier League, Bamfy played just over 3,000 minutes of league football, scoring 17 goals and providing 11 assists for a total of 194 FPL points. Incredible stats for a striker of a newly promoted side, especially considering his £5.5m price tag at the start of that season. It’s that same price tag that will keep many fantasy managers from taking a gamble on him in the build-up to this season’s first gameweek, but if he keeps fit and starts ticking under Jesse Marsh, £7.5m can end up being a more than reasonable price.
In the shadows of mainly Raphinha, Jack Harrison (£6.0m) actually had a decent 2021-22 Premier League campaign, considering how poor Leeds were for most of it. He scored 8 goals and provided 1 assist for a total of 117 FPL points, and what’s especially encouraging is the seeming uptick in form that he experienced after the appointment of Jesse Marsh. In the last eight gameweeks of last season, Harrison actually developed into the main man at Leeds, scoring four goals and playing a major role in them securing another season of Premier League football. As a matter of fact, after Raphinha’s opener in the final game of the season against Brentford, he was the one who scored the injury time winning goal in the 1-2 result that saw the Whites hop over Burnley into the safety zone. Again, like Bamford, we don’t think many fantasy managers will pick him for their gameweek 1 squad, but if he carries on his form from the end of last season, he could become an interesting option at £6.0m.
Overpricing, unfortunately, seems to be a bit of a trend for Leeds fantasy assets this season. Like Bamford and Harrison, new boy Luis Sinisterra (£6.5m) could be an interesting differential, but at his current price, he’s competing with the likes of Wilfried Zaha, James Ward-Prowse and Youri Tielemans for a midfield spot in your squad. Having said that, if you are set on taking a Leeds punt, the Colombian international, who won’t feature at the 2022 World Cup later this year as his country failed to qualify, could be what you are looking for. As one of the stand-out performers for Dutch giants Feyenoord last season, Luisito scored 12 goals and gave 7 assists in 30 Eredivisie games last season. His underlying stats were good as well, as he registered an average of 2.6 shots and 2 key passes per game.
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