On Monday our 6th preview of the 2022/23 FPL season covered Leicester and Liverpool. In this 7th FPL instalment, we’re taking a closer look at the two Manchester clubs, reigning champions Manchester City and a Manchester United side under new management.
MANCHESTER CITY – FPL 2022/23 team preview
After a thriller of a title fight with Liverpool, one that was decided on the very last day of the 2021-22 Premier League campaign, Manchester City crowned themselves champions of England for the second time in a row and the fourth time in the last five years. Incredible statistics for a side competing in what’s probably the most competitive league in the world and those alone are sufficient to declare the Cityzens one of the stand-out favourites for the 2022-23 Premier League title, even before the season has started.
Pep Guardiola’s men lost their all-time goalscorer to FC Barcelona last summer, but as if nothing happened, the team scored an impressive 99 goals in 38 league games. No other side scored more, though Liverpool came close with 94 goals. From a defensive point of view, City performed as a deserved champion as well, conceding just 26 goals, less than any team bar, you guessed it, Liverpool (also 26). The lack of cup success though, principally in the coveted Champions League, will only cause the Abu Dhabi government to pump more money into the club.
In all fairness though, City have also generated a decent mount of transfer income this summer. The sale of Raheem Sterling to Chelsea (£47.5 million), and Gabriel Jesus (£45 million) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (£32) to Arsenal alone netted more than £100m for the club. The money didn’t sit in the Skyblue accounts for long though, as they managed to sign Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland for £51 million and Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips for about £42 million. The Norwegian, in particular is an appealing prospect for FPL managers, but also another cog in Pep’s non-stop rotation machine.
Manchester City’s tactics sheet
Pep Guardiola’s preferred tactics, much like his arch-rival’s at Liverpool, are no big secret. The Spanish manager has clear preferences when it comes to how his side turns up and one of his biggest strengths is knowing how to drill these preferences to perfection. Generally, City play in a rather fluid 4-3-3 formation, though it can be viewed as a 4-2-3-1 as well. The front four, especially, interchange positions constantly during games, though the inclusion of Haaland might make the striker position a bit more set this season. Nevertheless, with the world-class likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez around him, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn up on the wings or around the number ten spot at times, as well.
Defensively, the Cityzens rely on a constant high press, at times complemented with smart tactical fouls when the opponent appears to break out. Thanks to their domination of the ball in most games, the wing-backs often function more like additional wingers or midfielders, with Joao Cancelo being the prime example. With Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias at the heart of the backline, the team has one of the most solid foundations in the game. Still, and we don’t think we need to repeat this, rotation is ever-present for every player on the City roster, bar Ederson perhaps.
MANCHESTER CITY – Potential FPL targets
So, at the age of 21, Erling Haaland (£11.5m) has already scored 85 goals and provided 22 assists in 88 Bundesliga games for Borussia Dortmund. Just let that sink in for a moment. While we tend to be cautious when it comes to recommending fantasy picks who have not yet proven themselves in the Premier League, the prospect of possibly the most complete attacker in the game today playing under the wings of Pep Guardiola is simply too promising to pass up. City have no other out-and-out striker on the books of the first team at the moment, apart from young Liam Delap and Julian Alvarez, which makes us think that the Norwegian superstar might be more rotation-proof than most perhaps expect. Add to that Haaland’s impressive physique and apparent top fitness levels, and we can’t see why you would not include him in your squad for gameweek 1. As a cherry on top, City are facing West Ham (away), Bournemouth (home), Newcastle (away), Palace (home) and Nottingham Forest (home) in the first five games of the upcoming season.
We know, it’s easy to just keep recommending the premium assets on the Man City roster, but we simply can’t write this piece without mentioning Kevin de Bruyne (£12.0m). The midfield maestro had another excellent campaign last season, scoring 15 goals and giving 8 assists for a total of 196 FPL points, despite missing about eight weeks of action in the first half of the season due to injury problems. This makes it all the more impressive that no other City colleague of his was involved in more goals. As one of the best midfielders in the world, KDB is probably as nailed-on as an offensive player can come under Pep Guardiola, and he’s on most set-pieces bar penalties as well. If budget allows, he’s a no-brainer.
We were initially planning to include Joao Cancelo as our third fantasy pick from Manchester city’s squad, but we ended up opting for a more budget-friendly option, considering our previous two picks. In our opinion, Phil Foden (£8.0m) has been slightly under-priced this season, though £8.0m is no bargain either, especially considering the rotation risk. The talented youngster accumulated 2,125 Premier League minutes last season, and recorded 9 goals and 6 assists plus another 13 clean sheets. Foden is registered as a midfielder in the official game, after all. We expect the Englishman’s minutes to only increase this season and with that his attacking output as well. He could very well represent an excellent non-premium way into England’s strongest attack.
MANCHESTER UNITED – FPL 2022-23 team preview
The season started with high hopes in the red part of Manchester after finishing in second place the season prior, and with the arrival of living United legend Cristiano Ronaldo and the very, very long-awaited Jadon Sancho. What followed was, once again, a largely disappointing 2021-22 campaign in which the Red Devils finished sixth in the league, just 2 points above West Ham, 11 points behind 5th placed Arsenal and a rough 35 points behind champions and city rivals Manchester City. Neither Ole Gunnar Solskjaer nor interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who replaced the Norwegian in November, managed to create order in what has largely been a top club in chaos over the past years.
And like that, Manchester United are up for yet another fresh start in the build-up to the new season, though it feels like things might finally really be different this time. Rangnick was replaced by successful Ajax Amsterdam manager Erik ten Hag, who guided the Dutch giants back to the European top in the past few years. While the Premier League is a whole different beast than the Dutch Eredivisie, ETH will be taking a step back in terms of European football this season, as United will be playing in the Europa League. Not where the club wants to be, that’s for sure, but in the light of a new manager building a new team with new players, perhaps not the worst of scenarios.
The new manager has already been very influential in the club’s transfer activities this summer. Former Spurs, Inter and Ajax midfielder creator Christian Eriksen was brought in on a free, while Ten Hag also brought Argentinian central defender and international Lisandro Martinez with him. For £57 million excluding add-ons, that is. The other marquee signing so far has been talented Feyenoord left-back and Dutch international Tyrell Malacia for about £13 million. As far as outgoing players go, the free transfer of Paul Pogba to Juventus is the most painful from a purely financial point of view, because the likes of Andreas Pereira (£10 million to Fulham), Jesse Lingard (free to Nottingham Forest) and Dean Henderson (free to AS Roma) never truly conquered a starting spot at Old Trafford.
Manchester United’s tactics sheet
“It’s about the Man United football and about the Man United identity and philosophy. It has to be about attacking football”. Signed, Erik ten Hag during his first, big interview with Manchester United’s in-house media shortly after his appointment earlier this summer. As with every new manager anywhere, it always remains to be seen how a team will turn up under the new management, but one thing is for sure: Ten Hag will be trying to implement an attacking style of football and if his three years at Ajax are anything to go by, the United faithful are in for a change compared to previous seasons. Only time will tell whether it’ll be for good or bad.
As far as United expected tactics go, pre-season seems to indicate that ETH will use his preferred 4-3-3 formation at United, possibly switching to a 4-2-3-1 at times. He did the same at Ajax with considerable success and most other European top clubs have a similar approach to games. You can expect a very energetic United side in gameweek 1, pressing hard not only up the pitch but all over. Three seconds to get the ball back in possession was the rule in Amsterdam. The (even) bigger challenge for the new manager will be to turn an at times shambolic United defensive block into a ball-playing unit that forms the first phase of the team’s attacking moves based on short passing and quick combinations. New boy Martinez, in particular, is expected to play a major role in this transformation.
MANCHESTER UNITED – Potential FPL targets
So far, Cristiano Ronaldo (£10.5m) is still part of Manchester United’s first-team squad and therefore, he is our first United fantasy pick. In a side that struggled for form, consistency and results, the Portuguese superstar still managed an impressive 18 goals in the Premier League, the same amount he scored in his last season before leaving for Real Madrid, after the 2008-09 campaign. Rather unnoticed it seems, he actually ended third on the list of Premier League goal scorers last season, five goals behind joint-winners Mo Salah and Son Heung-Min. It’s therefore no surprise that he was also United’s best performer from an FPL point of view with 159 points. His current price places him a whole million below the ultra-premium forward options Harry Kane and Erling Haaland, and his opening fixtures don’t look too bad, either. Brighton at home in GW1, followed by Brentford away, Liverpool at home and Southampton away looks like a run for which you want to count on one of football’s most prolific goal scorers ever.
In the shadow of a few multi-million signings and many more transfer rumours, contracting Christian Eriksen (£6.5m) on a free might end up being the club’s shrewdest piece of business. Including his half-season stint at Brentford last season, where he showed that he’s still very much got it after his horrible health ordeal during Euro 2020, the Danish midfielder has 237 Premier League games under his belt, as well as 52 goals and 71 assists. While more than a few pundits don’t believe there is a place in the starting eleven for Eriksen, mainly due to Bruno Fernandes’ presence in the pocket, we’re not so sure yet. Ten Hag has shown in the past that he is a big fan of a double pivot in which at least one of the two midfielders is a technically gifted, ball-playing creator and the Dane could actually fit this role perfectly. It all remains to be seen, of course, but at a bargain price of just £6.5m, Eriksen should absolutely feature on your scouting lists in the build-up to gameweek 1.
The arrival of Jadon Sancho (£7.5m) at Old Trafford felt like it was in the making for an eternity, so expectations were logically sky-high. Unfortunately though, the 2021-22 Premier League campaign did not entirely work out the way the Red Devils had hoped and it reflected in Sancho’s performances as well. In just under 1,900 minutes of league action, the £73 million-signing managed a rather underwhelming 3 goals and 4 assists for a total of 91 FPL points. The lack of starts especially, 20 in total, was a deterrent for many fantasy managers to really consider the England international as a viable FPL asset. We find it hard to imagine that last season’s marquee signing will be cast aside just like that after a season in which the whole side struggled and Erik ten Hag seems to be putting his confidence in the 22-year-old. In theory, Sancho is perfectly suited to the new manager’s preferred style of dynamic play, so if you want to take a bit of a pre-season punt, he should be around the top of your list particularly given his pre-season goal scoring form.
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