The Premier League is BACK, FPL is BACK, and so are we! After just over three months, the Premier League’s Project Restart is upon us and it’s promising to make up for much of the last-minute goals, 59th-minute substitutes and surprise starting lineups we’ve had to miss due to the coronabreak. With no less than 92 remaining games planned to take place within a period of 40 days (June 17 to July 26), there’s going to more work than ever for all of us FPL managers.
There is more though, because this extraordinary situation in football resulted in an extraordinary reaction from FPL. In order to combat the effects of the coronabreak, every manager was given unlimited transfers in the build-up to gameweek 30+ (yes, the revised gameweeks kept their original numbering with a “+” added), something like a free wildcard. In order to help you set up a team and navigate the final nine gameweeks, we have changed the format of our weekly FPL preview this time, with premium, mid-price and budget picks per position.
Since the new fixture schedules were announced, FPL chip strategy has become a very current topic on the fiso FPL forum as well. The FPL announced that used chips would not be reactivated and unused chips would remain available until the end of the revised season. The most frequent differentiator between strategies is the presence (or absence) of the second wildcard, as well as the Free Hit. It looks like a majority of managers will be activating their Free Hit (if still unused) and their second wildcard (if still unused) some time between gameweeks 30+ and 31+, in different orders. On top of that, many managers and pundits seem to be advocating use of the Bench Boost this week (although will only 4 teams, and thus 12 players in an FPL team, playing twice in GW30+ you can only have a maximum of 1 player from the bench that plays twice). That’s why we have taken both the small double gameweek in GW30+ and the longer term into account when selecting our picks for this piece. Now, seeing as there is no time to lose, on to our selections.
Finally, don’t forget that the deadline for gameweek 30+ and the return of English football is set at 17h00 (UK time) tomorrow, Wednesday, June 17th 2020.
Ederson (£6.0m) is currently the second-most expensive goalkeeper in the official game, but he only occupies the 15th spot when it comes to FPL points won by goalkeepers this season. So why would we recommend bringing him in for the Premier League restart? The City goalie has 9 clean sheets to his name, which is not bad, but what’s even more important is that he is a sure starter in a generally rotation-crazy City squad with a double gameweek with home games against Arsenal and Burnley on the way. The Cityzens have kept clean sheets in their last two home Premier League games against Burnley and have conceded just one goal in their last five games in all competitions against Arsenal. Sure, some might argue that by picking Ederson we’re actually forfeiting an outfield spot for a City asset, but considering the enormous uncertainty surrounding most of City’s players and their claim to a starting spot, going for the Brazilian goalie could be considered a wise decision.
Non-premium: Bernd Leno
For our second goalkeeper recommendation, we were going with Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson for a long time, but we eventually opted for Arsenal’s Bernd Leno (£5.0m). We know, right? A defensive Arsenal asset? In FPL reality, Henderson and Leno don’t differ all that much. Where the Blades goalie sits on 122 FPL points, courtesy of 10 clean sheets, 1 assist, 70 saves and 11 bonus points, the Gunners man has 108 FPL points, 7 clean sheets, 104 saves and 9 bonus points to his name. To put it very simply, this is a question of clean sheet potential versus save points, and seeing as Leno is £0.3m cheaper than Henderson, we decided to go with the German. On top of that, his immediate schedule looks a lot more favourable, with an away game at Southampton and a home game against Norwich on the agenda after double gameweek 30+ in which Arsenal face City and Brighton away from home in empty stadiums.
Premium: Trent Alexander-Arnold
By around 22h30 (UK time) on Wednesday, June 24th, Liverpool will have crowned themselves champions of the Premier League 2019-20, if all goes to plan. Jurgen Klopp’s plan, that is. In any case, it means that Liverpool are not there yet, so expect them to come out all guns blazing when the Premier League returns. The fact that the first game back is the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park is just adding fuel to the fire. In terms of fantasy picks, this means that the Reds should be fielding their strongest starting eleven for at least two more games and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) is definitely part of that setup. How could he not be, with 11 clean sheets, 2 goals and 14 (!!) assists to his name? The absence of supporters will be felt by Everton, while we feel that it could not have come at a better time for their visiting rivals. With an empty Goodison Park up first, followed by a potential championship game versus Palace at Anfield, it looks mad not to include TAA in your team. Left-back Robertson and central defender Van Dijk provide considerably less expensive alternatives in the Reds backline.
Mid-price: George Baldock
Sheffield United have not only been John Lundstram’s team this season (although that’s one of the things they’ll be remembered for), but a team that has offered consistent defensive fantasy value throughout. Lundstram is, of course, still an option, but the arrival of Sander Berge has made him subject to more rotation, which is why we did not include him as our mid-price defence pick. Instead, we opted for his team mate on the right side of Sheffield’s back five, George Baldock (£5.1m). The Englishman has 10 clean sheets, 2 goals, 4 assists and a lovely 115 FPL points to his name, and in gameweek 30+ there are away games against Aston Villa and Newcastle on the calendar. In other words, more opportunities for clean sheets and maybe an attacking return. Those games are followed by United (away), Spurs (home) and Burnley (away), which are no easy match-ups by any stretch, but at least another clean sheet isn’t out of the question. In terms of the Sheffield United defence, you can also opt for left-back Enda Stevens, or slightly cheaper central defenders O’Connell, Egan or Basham.
Budget: Jean-Romain Saiss
The Wolverhampton Wanderers do not have a double gameweek in GW30+, but they do have one of the most favourable schedules on the short and medium-term. This week, the Wolves are visiting a troubled West Ham side before hosting Bournemouth in gameweek 31+ and rolling up to Villa Park the gameweek after. As far as Wolves defenders go, the most popular asset this season has been the tireless right-wing-back Matt Doherty, which is not surprising considering his 7 clean sheets, 4 goals and 5 assists. At £6.3m, he’s pretty pricey as well though, while the Wolves defence actually offers a lot of value elsewhere as well. In that light, and keeping budget limits in mind, we have selected central defender Jean-Romain Saiss (£4.6m) for GW30+. The Moroccan international is a nailed-on part of coach Nuno Espirito Santo’s starting eleven and a good way into the stable Wolves defence. On top of that, Saiss also has 2 goals and 2 assists to his name, and he sits in the top ten for shots in the box among defenders this season. He tends to be very active when it comes to attacking set-pieces, so keep your eyes open when Moutinho is preparing yet another corner or free-kick.
Premium: Mo Salah
Liverpool do not have a double gameweek, so this pick might be considered a bit controversial by some, but one of the world’s best forwards getting really close to the league title and being in the midst of a Golden Boot chase isn’t something to be ignored either. After 32 goals in 2017/18 and 22 goals in 2018/19, Mo Salah (£12.7m) currently sits on 16 goals (and 6 assists) for the 2019/20 campaign with nine games to go. The Egyptian star is trailing Arsenal’s Aubameyang by one goal and ranking leader Vardy by three goals. In other words, Mo is still in the race and winning that race might just help him win Liverpool’s first league title since the 1989-90 season, or vice versa, however you want to look at it. This also makes it likely that he will remain on penalty duty, especially after the title has been won. The Reds are going to want to hit the ground running against Everton at Goodison in order to host Palace at Anfield for the potential Premier League decider a week later and if they do, it’s hard to imagine Salah not being at the centre of it.
Mid-price: Jack Grealish
Aston Villa are one of the four teams with a double gameweek this round and probably the team with the least appeal in spite of that. A major reason for that sentiment is their schedule: two home games, first against Sheffield United and then against Chelsea, especially now that the absence of crowds in other leagues is already pointing to diminished home team advantages and away team disadvantages. For a struggling team like Villa that seemed to be counting on their fans (17 of their 25 points were won at home), that doesn’t bode well. Despite all the gloom though, Jack Grealish (£6.4m) has been one of Villa’s rays of light upon their return to the English footballing elite. The offensive midfielder already has 7 goals and 7 assists to this name this season, which represents a direct involvement in over 41% of his side’s goals. Most attacking moves pass through him and he is on most set-pieces for the Villans, which helps explain his appeal. Grealish is Villa’s talisman and main hope to avoid relegation, so his minutes are guaranteed and an attacking return is more than possible, if not in the upcoming gameweek then against Newcastle in gameweek 31+.
Budget: John Fleck
As we mentioned before, Sheffield United have been a fantastic source of FPL value this season, but mainly in defence. The Blades boast the best defence in the Premier League after run-away leaders Liverpool, but further up the pitch, the fantasy potential quickly diminishes. We do feel that for the budget midfield category, central midfielder John Fleck (£5.0m) is more than worth a mention, especially for those budget-conscious (or budget-restricted) FPL managers out there. The affordable Scotsman is an ever-present face in Dean Smith’s starting lineup, with the only three games he has missed this season being the result of suspension or minor injury. While his central midfield partner Oliver Norwood is in charge of most set-pieces (and therefore a reasonable alternative to picking Fleck), Fleck is the one with more creative freedom and forward drive during games. This also explains his 94 FPL points (5 goals, 2 assists, 8 clean sheets) in comparison to Norwood’s 1 goal, 2 assists and 77 FPL points. With away games against Villa and Newcastle coming up in double gameweek 30+, Sheffield United’s Scottish midfield maestro might just be the budget-enabler with potential your team needs.
Despite not recording any attacking return from the last four games before the coronabreak, Man City’s Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) is the first man most FPL managers look at when a double gameweek is around the corner. The explosive Argentinian’s minutes have been managed more than ever before this season, with him completing the 90 Premier League on just nine occasions, but that hasn’t stopped him from netting 16 times and providing 4 assists. City are one of the four teams with a double gameweek this round and after three months without football, we don’t see why Kun would not start both games (against Arsenal and Burnley, both at home). It’s true that with Gabriel Jesus, coach Pep Guardiola has a world-class alternative waiting in the wings who can both replace and complement Aguero, but we expect the Argentinian to start the Arsenal game on top. For the Clarets game next Monday, he might well be partnered with Jesus, but in any case, we’re seeing plenty of minutes for Kun in gameweek 30+.
Manchester United are restarting their 2019/20 Premier League campaign with an away game against the man who left them not so long ago, and not on the bestest of terms either, namely José Mourinho’s Spurs. As the Red Devils have shown on more than one occasion this season though, they can play their favourite kind of game in matches where the opponent takes the initiative as Spurs will be expected to do on Friday. That, plus the return to fitness of Paul Pogba and basically any other player that was populating the crowded United infirmary pre-corona, made us decide to go with Marcus Rashford (£8.8m). In an up-and-down season for United, the talented Englishman still managed to score 14 goals and provide 5 assists to reach a current total of 134 FPL points. Only four other forwards have returned more points so far. Thanks to United’s relatively favourable revised schedule, that might be changing soon, though. With home games against Bournemouth, Southampton and West Ham, and away games at Brighton, Villa, and Palace still to go as part of the remaining nine games, few teams have a more enticing schedule than the Red Devils and few forwards will be facing more porous defences than Rashford.
Budget: Diogo Jota
As we wrote earlier in this, Wolves might not have a double gameweek coming up, but they do have a fixture calendar with potential waiting for them. The undeniable star of the Wolves is obviously striker Raul Jimenez, who at £8.1m still represents great value, but we have gone with his team mate Diogo Jota (£6.4m) in attack instead, as our budget forward pick. The Portuguese forward was actually one of the form players before the coronabreak, with 2 goals and an assist against Norwich in GW27 and a goal and an assist versus Spurs a week later. Those returns were more than welcome though, as Jota had just 3 goals and a single assist to his name prior to those games. Next up are some of the league’s most obliging defences though, with GW30+ opponent West Ham having conceded 50 goals so far, GW31+ opponent Bournemouth conceding 47 and GW32+ opponent Villa conceding 56. We’re expecting Jota to remain in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season, which should lead to further improvement of his current tallies.
Not sure who to Captain in GW30+? The FISO Forum Captain poll for GW30+ shows Aguero & KDB out front with most votes, followed by Aubamayeng and Sterling. Not suprisingly all players have a DGW.
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