On Saturday our 5th preview of the 2022/23 FPL season covered Fulham and Leeds. In this 6th FPL instalment, it’s time for Leicester City and a Liverpool side without Sadio Mané for the first time since 2016.
LEICESTER – FPL 2022/23 team preview
Leicester City started off the 2021-22 season brimming with confidence after an excellent 2020-21 campaign in which they not only finished fifth in the table and qualified for the Europa League, but also added not one but two pieces of silverware to their cabinet. In the FA Cup final, Chelsea were beaten, while the Foxes overcame Manchester City for the Community Shield, courtesy of a very late Kelechi Iheanacho penalty. Replicating such a low-key great season was always going to be difficult for manager Brendan Rodgers and his men, but a nice run all the way up to the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League partly made up for an eighth-place finish in the league, just outside of the European spots.
Perhaps due to the strain of European football, which saw them get knocked out of the Europa League group stages by Spartak Moscow and Napoli before being eliminated by AS Roma in the Conference League semi-finals, Leicester boasted some of the least impressive underlying stats in the league last season. As a matter of fact, despite scoring a decent 62 goals, the Foxes actually recorded an Expected Goal ratio of about 52, making them the number-one overachievers in terms of goalscoring in the entire league. At the same time, the Leicester defence was leaky last term, conceding a worrying 59 goals in 38 games, as well as the fourth-most shots. With the absence from Europe this season, Rodgers will very surely be looking to seriously improve all over in order to compete for a top-six finish.
Nevertheless, it has been extremely quiet on the transfer front so far this summer. The Foxes have seen Belgian international Dennis Praet return from his season on loan with Serie A side Torino, but that’s it for the moment in terms of “new” faces at the King Power Stadium. The club did release reserve goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic and let winger Ademola Lookman return to Red Bull Leipzig after a season on loan with them. Leicester have been connected to a few high-profile acquisitions this summer, like PSV Eindhoven’s Ivory Coast international Ibrahim Sangaré and Club Brugge star Charles de Ketelaere, but no official announcements have been made yet in terms of new arrivals.
Leicester’s tactics sheet
From an FPL point of view, Brendan Rodgers is a great manager. He has a clear preference for a system of play, a 4-2-3-1 with the possibility of adding an extra striker, and he is nowhere as addicted to rotation as some of the other elite managers in the league. The Scotsman likes to dominate possession and to have his players interchange position in games in ways that suit the team’s generally pacy forward line. One upcoming issue with this style of play is the team’s continued reliance on Jamie Vardy, who fits Rodgers’ plans perfectly, but who also turned 35 in January. Despite missing a total of 21 games due to hamstring and knee issues, the living Leicester legend still managed 15 goals and 2 assists in the league last season, but the question is how long the side can keep feeding off him up front.
Having said that, the Foxes’ roster did provide more value than just Vardy in FPL terms. Thanks to Rodgers’ preference for attacking football, quick movements on the flanks and deep runs when possible, the likes of James Maddison and to a lesser extent Harvey Barnes topped FPL scouting lists at various times over the 2021-22 campaign. Thanks to the standard double pivot in midfield, usually formed by the slightly under-rated world-class couple of Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi, the Leicester attack gets a lot of freedom to attack freely. The lesser defensive performances last season saw the prices of their defensive assets drop to bargain levels, which could bring them into play once their fixture list clears up a bit from GW6 onwards. Our recommendation is to wait-and-see for now though, when it comes to Leicester’s defence.
LEICESTER – Potential FPL targets
We mentioned above that the attacking players around Jamie Vardy play in an ideal system, on paper, to deliver regular attacking returns for FPL managers and this goes for James Maddison (£8.0m) especially. Where Brendan Rodgers’ is not afraid to rotate his wingers from time to time, Maddison is the man who orchestrates the Foxes in the final third. Last season, the 25-year-old started 28 out of 38 Premier League games and came on as an impact sub in seven more games. Over that run, he recorded an impressive 12 goals and 11 assists for a total of 181 FPL points. A phenomenal return for a player who started the season with a £7.0m price tag and one that only four midfielders in the official game managed to beat. Maddison is expected to be a key cog in Rodgers’ attack once again this season and despite his price hike, he is one worth considering, especially when the fixtures start turning greener for the Foxes after the first five gameweeks.
Our next pick from the Leicester roster is mainly based on two things: the expectation that Leicester will improve on last season’s terrible defensive stats and the player’s own history in the Premier League. Out of the Foxes’ backline, Caglar Söyüncü (£4.5m) is probably the most secure starter, considering the options Rodgers’ has on either flank with the likes of Luke Thomas, Timoty Castagne, James Justin, Ricardo Pereira and Ryan Bertrand. The Turkish central defender, whose country failed to qualify for the upcoming World Cup, had his best season back in 2019-20, when he amassed 12 clean sheets, a goal and an assist for 120 FPL points. The season after that was largely marred by injury issues and last season saw him underperform again, this time as part of a generally leaky backline. Sure, these are not great indicators for a fantasy football pick, but as a result, his price tag was also lowered to £4.5m this season. The competition in his price bracket is fierce and we doubt many managers will have him in their GW1 squad, but he could well develop into a major bargain if Leicester get their defensive business in order.
Our third and final Leicester pick also pertains to the budget bracket, though for midfielders this time. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (£5.0m) had his breakthrough last season, as he got no less than 2,101 minutes of Premier League action last season. He started 23 times and got another 5 appearances from the bench, scoring a goal and providing 2 assists in the process. He ended the 2021-22 Premier League campaign with 70 FPL points, which, for a midfielder who started out at £4.5m, is more than decent. For the upcoming season, his price was logically raised, but by just a half million. As a result, the official game now boasts a starting central midfielder playing for a team that will look to compete for the top-six at an absolute bargain price. Definitely worth considering as the fifth midfielder in your squad.
LIVERPOOL – FPL 2022-23 team preview
For a big part of the (second half of) the 2021-22 season, the illustrious quadruple was a serious topic of conversation for everyone and anyone Red. For a long time, Jurgen Klopp’s men were in the running for the Premier League title, the Champions League, the FA Cup and the League Cup. Eventually, “just” two of these prizes were brought home, both of the domestic cups, but Liverpool can still look back on what was probably one of the best seasons ever by an English side. As we all know though, football and especially football history is about the prizes, and just very narrowly losing out on the two major ones will have hurt quite a bit.
Enough about the silverware though, because there was more big news coming from Anfield over the past few months. First of all, of course, the contract extension for the architect of this current Liverpool side and all of its successes, manager Jurgen Klopp. Second of all, the transfer of star man and last season’s best player Sadio Mané to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. Third of all, the mid-season addition of Porto forward Luis Diaz for a whopping £37 million, who seemingly immediately felt at home in Liverpool dynamic high-press system of play. He will also feature in our potential Liverpool FPL targets section.
Diaz is not the only personification of the club’s intention to shake up and rejuvenate the squad preparation for what looks to become yet another thrilling title fight this season. While the Reds generated decent cash with the sale of Neco Williams to Nottingham Forest (£16 million), Takumi Minamino to French side Monaco (£15 million), Marko Grujic to Porto (£10.5 million) and the previously mentioned Sadio Mané to Bayern. A majority of this money was quickly reinvested in the acquisition of striker Darwin Nuñez from Portuguese side Benfica for a whopping £85m, a club record, actually. In the Uruguayan’s shadow, Fulham starlet Fabio Carvalho and Aberdeen talent Calvin Ramsay have also made their way to Anfield this summer.
Liverpool’s tactics sheet
With the recent extension of Jurgen Klopp’s contract at Anfield, the Reds are assured of at least a few more hours of their now-trademark energetic, high-press attacking way of playing of football. Looking at the club’s most recent million-pound transfers, the German manager looks set to continue developing his preferred way of playing, based on a 4-3-3 formation. Luis Diaz looks like the dead-set successor of Sadio Mané, while Darwin Nuñez will be starring in a central role, much like Roberto Firmino did for many years as part of Liverpool’s feared front three. At the same time, Nuñez is a very different player than Firmino is. The Uruguayan is more of physical presence in the area than Firmino and while the Brazilian betters him in terms of runs and technique especially, Nuñez is more of a killer in front of goal and presents more of a focal point for centers. With the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson whipping them in at will, it will be interesting to see how Klopp will integrate these new facets into his side’s game.
With Robertson and TAA, we have also mentioned one of the Reds’ most typical and important tactical aspects. The wing-backs are of crucial importance to Liverpool’s high-pressing, reactive kind of attacking approach. Both of them consistently rank amongst the top defenders for attacking stats like goals, assists, crosses and key passes, which is also reflected in their FPL prices. This season once again, they are priced at £7.0m and £7.5m, respectively. This season, the wing-backs will again be getting full freedom to bomb forward, only this time with a 6ft 1inch Uruguayan goal machine present in the area.
LIVERPOOL – Potential FPL targets
It’s kind of unbelievable, but we have dedicated about a page of text to Liverpool already without mentioning Mo Salah (£13.0m) even once. Perhaps we just mentioned him too often last season and we subconsciously decided to give others a chance to be in the spotlight for once. In any case, here we are, and the Egyptian is, surprise surprise, the first of our Liverpool fantasy picks. With 265 FPL points, courtesy of 23 goals and 14 assists, Salah was the highest scorer in the official game last season and there is no way he is not going to be Liverpool’s main man again this season. As a matter of fact, when you look back at the past few seasons, he has been their main man every year since the 2017-12 campaign. That year, he recorded the all-time FPL points record of 303 and since then, his lowest season haul has been 231 FPL points, in the COVID-stricken 2020-21 season. No wonder he is the most expensive player in the official game right now and with games against Fulham (away), Palace (home), Man United (away) and Bournemouth (home) in his first four of the upcoming season, we suggest you find a way to fit him into your squad.
If Salah is first on your team sheet, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) should probably be second. The Liverpool right-back has been a sensation in FPL over the past seasons, racking up at least 160 FPL points in each of the last four Premier League campaigns. Last season, the England international recorded 2 goals and no less than 12 assists on top of 18 clean sheets, which resulted in 208 FPL points. No defender in the official game scored more than him and we’re expecting him to be among the top-performing defenders once again this season. He’s nailed-on under Jurgen Klopp, he creates a crazy amount of chance from open play and he is also on set-piece duties, including direct free-kicks. Like with Salah just above, TAA looks like an asset that picks himself for the opening of the 2022-23 campaign.
We were tempted to include new signing Darwin Nuñez in this list as well, but even though we don’t have much doubt about him getting used to Liverpool and the Premier League in no time, we ended up going with Luis Diaz (£8.0m) instead. Our reasoning is based on a combination of his first half year in service of the Reds and his current price tag. The Colombian international, whose country will not feature at the upcoming World Cup, came to Anfield at the end of the last winter transfer window and did not need much time to show what he’s capable of. In just under 1.000 Premier League minutes, the winger, who is listed as a midfielder in FPL, collected 64 FPL points, courtesy of 4 goals, 3 assists, 6 clean sheets and 6 bonus points. There is competition for the three spots up front under Klopp, but we’re seeing Diaz as a nailed-on option on the left wing for the majority of the games this season. This makes him a relatively inexpensive entry into one of the best attacks in the league and therefore very much worth including in your scouting lists.
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