Some things in the world of fantasy football are difficult, yet, others are as simple as they can be. One of those straightforward options players should take is to check the predicted lineups. After all, there’s no point in making an uninformed decision about your FPL team transfers or selections. The sources are out there. You just need to know where to look.
Using Predicted Lineups in Fantasy Football
There are plenty of decisions to make on a weekly basis within fantasy football – maybe even more frequently considering midweek games too. Different players have different routines – their modus operandi, if you will. However, there is always one constant that you will find among the regular plans of the top FPL players every season – looking at the likely starting elevens. It’s almost imperative that you check out the predicted premier league lineups before each gameweek deadline.
Can Anyone Have a Go at Predicted Lineups?
The short answer is yes. Yet, why put yourself through all that time-consuming research when you have some fantastic and reliable sources out there willing to do the work for you?
At first, you may think there isn’t too much to it. But don’t forget everything that needs to be considered in order to pick a predicted starting for one Premier League club. There are fitness issues, injuries potentially suffered during training that you may not have heard about, suspended players, other stars missing due to personal issues, and much, much more. Now, imagine taking all that into consideration for all 20 teams!
No-one knows the exact starting eleven for any club until one hour before kick-off, when teams must confirm their lineups as per Premier League rules. Some sites, however, can make a very good go at it thanks to all the information they collate every day of the week. It’s their specific focus so let them take that load on for you.
All you have to do, then, is have a look at the websites you find most reliable before making your transfers and picking your starting lineup. Don’t forget to prioritise your substitutes how you want them too.
How Injuries and Fitness Can Affect Starting Lineups
As an avid football fan, you will know that players can get injured at any time throughout the season. We generally know immediately if we witness an injury occurring during a live match on TV. Normally a player will need a scan on an injury if it’s deemed serious enough. Those scans will take place in the days following the match. You would need to stay up-to-date on the club website to find out just how serious that injury was.
Players can get injured in training too. Away from the TV cameras, Premier League players undergo hours of intense training every week. Injuries can happen at the training ground, of course. These ones you may not hear about so much unless you keep tuned to the sports news channels.
You must also take into account a player’s match fitness when they are returning from an injury. If they were out of action for a prolonged period of time, there will most certainly be a readjustment period to think of. You’re likely to see such players come back in for one or two substitute appearances while they return to full fitness.
Suspensions in Fantasy Premier League
Players are suspended during the season as a result of accumulating too many yellow cards or receiving any red cards. Whoever receives five yellow cards in the Premier League will miss the next game through suspension. The same rule applies for every extra five yellow cards that player gets.
Anyone who is sent off due to a second yellow card in the same match will receive a one-match ban. The same is said for players who get a straight red card after committing a professional foul.
There are heavier bans for in-game offences such as dissent. If the dissent leads to a red card, the player gets a two-game ban. Violent conduct can be punished by a suspension of three or more matches.
Your safest bet to keep on top of all of the current bans and injuries is to check a reliable source before making changes to your FPL selection.
Utilise All the Tools Available to You
Missing a gameweek deadline without changing your team or making your transfers is so demoralising. Try to avoid this by setting reminders on your phone.
After that, you need to build your routine. This will involve finding those sites you know you can depend on for accurate predicted lineups. Get your information then make your decisions such as picking transfers, your first eleven, and the order of your substitutes.
Once all that is done, your fate will lie in the hands of the football gods! It is then time to sit back and witness the magic and the mystery of the FPL.
Sports betting has gained a lot of popularity over the years. There was once a time when you had to go to a physical bookmaker to bet on your favourite sport. But with the rise of the internet, you can now wager from the comfort of your couch. The internet has made sports betting more convenient and accessible to people. In this article, we will give you a few tips to make you more successful in sports betting.
1. Bet on the Sports You Know
There are tons of sports you can bet on, from football to basketball to hockey to horse racing. It’s best to go for the ones you understand, or rather, the ones you enjoy watching. If you love horse racing and understand a ton about it, you have a better chance of winning at it compared to a sport you rarely follow.
In the case of horse racing, you simply need to find a site that offers the best horse betting sign up bonus. You can find it by going to horsebetting.com. This website does the due diligence on which horse betting sites have the best offers and bonuses. Horsebetting.com has a team of specialists that scour the internet for the best horse betting sites in the UK. They look at features like bonus amounts, sign up offers, odd limitations, and turnover requirements. They also go a notch further to offer you betting tips, strategies and news. You can rely on horsebetting.com for any information on horse racing in the UK.
2. Do Your Research on the Teams
You don’t have to spend hours and hours on research if you are betting for fun. But if you are betting to add more money to your pocket, you need to do a little bit of research to increase your chances of winning. Check the line-up, head to head statistics, odds, and form of players. Will the match be home or away? Who needs this win more? Who will not be playing? Have the teams played before? What was the outcome of previous games? Such are the kind of questions you need to ask before placing your wager.
3. Have a Budget
Setting boundaries on how much you spend in a bet is one of the most important disciplines. Regardless of the amount of money you have, you need to ensure the amount you use is within a budget. Try having a daily, weekly or monthly budget. The amount is up to you, though make sure it is something you can afford.
4. Keep a Record of Your Wagers
Very few people understand the concept of keeping records of their wagers. Some don’t believe keeping records is necessary, while others think it is too much work. Keeping records isn’t exciting, but it can help you track the amount you are spending on betting and assess whether you are making any overall profits. You can analyze your performance, see which strategies are working and which ones you need to change. This information is vital if you are looking to bet in the long term. Consider keeping a record on information like:
Date of stake
Your bet picks
The amount you staked
The outcome of the game
5. Bet With Logic not Emotions
When your favourite team or player is in a game, it’s natural to want to back them up for a win. Your emotional attachment towards a player or team can influence your selection and cloud your judgement. Partly because you might overlook important facts and because you might feel like you are rooting for your team to lose if you bet against them. For such instances, it’s better to avoid the game entirely or be willing to bet with logic and not emotions.
6. Compare Wagers from Different Betting Sites
Whenever you are placing a bet, go to different betting sites and compare the odds. Some betting sites have better odds and lines than others. The difference might be small, but it will help you achieve more winnings. Over time, this small difference will add up to a lot of money.
If you are into sports betting, these six tips will help you make more successful wagers. There will be times when you will suffer a few losses. Everyone, even the best bettor, has a losing streak at one point in their betting career. Take heart and assess what you can change and what you cannot. Do your research on the teams and always have a budget on how much you spend.
We had to be patient, and we had to make do with such lesser events as the 2020 European Championship and the Olympics, but boy, was it worth the wait. The Premier League, and therefore the official fantasy game (FPL), got off to a start in style as a combination of expected and differential hauls saw gameweek 1 ending with a very high 69 points on average.
The two biggest performers of the week were also two of the most highly-owned fantasy assets: Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes and Liverpool’s Mo Salah. With 20 FPL points and 17 FPL points respectively, the Red Devils playmaker and the Reds talisman are now both in over 55% of all teams. The week’s top performers also included a bunch of very much differential picks, with the likes of Marcos Alonso (15 points, 5.6% ownership by now), Trevoh Chalobah (14 points, 2.3% ownership now) and Said Benrahma (12 points, 9.8% ownership now) all delivering big for their owners.
Gameweek 2 could be another high-scoring one as the weekend’s schedule offers some very plum fixtures. Fantasy managers will be eyeing the Liverpool (against Burnley) and Manchester City (versus Norwich) home games, while Manchester United (at Saint Mary’s) and Chelsea (for a derby at the Emirates) have favourable away games lined up.
Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per August 18th, 2021)
Martinez (AST), Ederson (MCI), Sánchez (BRI)
Schmeichel (LEI), Raya (BRE), Foster (WAT)
White (ARS), Chilwell (CHE), Shaw (MUN)
Tsimikas (LIV), Alonso (CHE), Amartey (LEI)
Seems mostly GW1-related knee-jerking; Tsimikas continued starts; Arsenal shaky defence
Saka (ARS), Maddison (LEI), Grealish (MCI)
Pogba (MUN), Fernandes (MUN), Benrahma (WHU)
Form of transferred-in players; Maddison flagged
Kane (TOT), Iheanacho (LEI), Cavani (MUN)
Richarlison (EVE), Lukaku (CHE), Antonio (WHU)
Kane future at Spurs + flagged; Lukaku recent addition to FPL; Antonio involvement
Based on gameweek 1 performances and gameweek 2 fixtures, Mo Salah and Bruno Fernandes (£12.1) look to become the two most-captained fantasy assets for a second week in a row this weekend. There is not much between them, to be honest, and we have eventually gone with the Man United hat-trick hero as our premium fantasy pick for GW2. Whilst Liverpool are playing Burnley at home on Saturday afternoon, United are visiting a Southampton side that has just lost Jannik Vestergaard to Leicester. The visitors ranked amongst the top three attacking stats after their season opener against Leeds, including shots on target and expected goals, while the home side ranked amongst the bottom three teams after their 3-1 defeat against Everton, including big chances conceded and expected conceded goals. Back-to-back hat-tricks for Bruno to kick off the season?
Despite not featuring in the FPL Team of the Week in GW1, due to scoring “just” 7 points against Southampton after scoring once, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.0m) more than showed why he should be top of your watchlists. The Everton front man is clearly the focal point of Rafa Benitez’ Toffees and with his team mates practically flooding the Saints’ penalty area with crosses, 17 in total last weekend, more goals could very well be on the way. No player recorded more shots in the box (5) or headed chances (3) than DCL, and with Leeds known to be vulnerable in the air, his appeal is more than understandable. On top of that, afterwards it’s Brighton (away), Burnley (home), Villa (away) and Norwich (home) for Everton, which makes their striker a very feasible option for the longer term as well.
The budget enabler
We understand it might be considered a bit boring or uninspired, but in our budget-enabling fantasy pick category we’re highlighting Liverpool’s Kostas Tsimikas (£4.1m) for a second week in a row. It’s just very hard not to. The Greek left-back is a temporary replacement in the absence of Andy Robertson, who is expected to return to action around the international break, but a high-quality one at that. He comfortably passed the eye test against Norwich in gameweek 1 and the fact that he took seven of Liverpool’s 11 corners only adds to his appeal. Tsimikas recorded 6 FPL points in that game, courtesy of a clean sheet, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him at least repeat that feat this coming weekend when Burnley roll up to Anfield. With 58.5%, the Reds boasts the highest clean sheet odds of all teams in gameweek 2.
In the build-up to the 2021/22 campaign, whenever Brentford came up, much of the discussion focused on striker Ivan Toney. Logical, of course, after the forward’s record-breaking season in the Championship last season, but perhaps a tad short-sighted as well. In the opening game against Arsenal, it was actually his partner in crime up front Bryan Mbeumo (£5.5m) who operated as the most advanced Bee. The France U21 international, who is listed as a budget midfielder in the official game, played on the edge of offside for much of the game and was actually their most threatening man going forward. He had a couple of good chances and even hit the post, but eventually came away with 3 FPL points as his side managed to keep a clean sheet. Acceptable for a £5.5 midfielder, but based on his performance and the game itself, a bit disappointing. Up next are Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, in theory a good and open opponent for Brentford and Mbeumo to build on their spectacular season opener.
As we wrote earlier, Bruno Fernandes and Mohammed Salah are expected to be the two run-away captaincy candidates for gameweek 2. Manchester United are visiting Southampton after thrashing Leeds 5-1 at Old Trafford and Liverpool are hosting Burnley after comfortably dispatching of newly-promoted Norwich last weekend. If you have one of these two players in your squad, you should probably put the armband on them. If you own both, it’s pretty much a coin toss, though our preference leans ever so slightly towards Bruno at Saint Mary’s.
If you’re looking for a more differential type of captain this weekend though, the fixture list offers a few interesting options. Dominic Calvert-Lewin against Leeds at Elland Road could repay risk-takers in a big way, as could Riyad Mahrez against Norwich as part of the ever uncertain Man City starting eleven. Newly arrived premium asset Lukaku could get off to a flying start against Arsenal on Sunday as well, while Danny Ings will be looking to make it two consecutive appearances on the score sheet at home against a seemingly leaky Newcastle side.
The Cheltenham Festival is well over 160-years old at this point, and it remains one of the most prestigious hurdle racing events in Europe. Fantasy Cheltenham, on the other hand, is the official fantasy race associated with the Cheltenham Festival, in which thousands of fans from across the globe participate every year. Read on as we explain the basics of how you too can become a part of Fantasy Cheltenham.
How Should You Get Started?
Before you get started, you will first need to have a pretty good idea about the horses, jockeys, and trainers who would be participating in the festival, as well as a solid understanding of how the real-life horseracing event works.
Keep in mind that the Cheltenham Festival isn’t simply a single horse race, but an important leg of the National Hunt horseracing event as a whole. It consists of 28 races in total, each of which will be important for your own Fantasy Cheltenham success. Stay ahead of the competition with these Cheltenham tips from the experts GG. Understanding the odds and staying updated with the necessary info about the event is going to be crucial if you wish to do well in the fantasy race.
Where Can You Get Started?
To start playing, players can visit the Fantasy Cheltenham website. This is where the registration and enlisting will happen for the coming event, but as far as the latest info and relevant updates are concerned, players will need to gather them from sources such as pro bookmakers and sports news outlets.
Are There Any Requirements?
No minimum requirements are specified, so just about any individual or group willing to play Fantasy Cheltenham is welcome to do so. There is only a fee of €20/ticket, which the participants will need to pay.
Can You Sell Fantasy Cheltenham Tickets?
Yes, if you become an official Fantasy Cheltenham ticket seller for a club or a group, you will be allowed to sell as many as 199 tickets with a 50% profit on each sale. Considering that this will not require any resource expenses on the seller’s part, so it presents a lucrative opportunity to turn a good profit for ticket sellers.
It remains more or less the same every year, but your ticket should have additional instructions if any new changes are introduced. Just go through the step-by-step process, as detailed next:
Choose your 5 winning horses (just one from each race) for the first five races and note down the unique numbers assigned to each horse.
Go to the Fantasy Cheltenham website linked earlier and click on Play Online.
A prompt will come up, asking for your ticket number and Play PIN.
After entering the information, you will be officially ready to play Fantasy Cheltenham online.
How to Play Fantasy Cheltenham Manually?
Alternatively, one can just take the manual route if they do not want to play online. In that case, pay a visit to the Fantasy Cheltenham website, and send a text with your selections to their registered phone number, or email them the same at their registered email ID. Whether you send a text or an email, follow this format:
Ticket Number: HNR1, HNR2, HNR3, HNR4, HNR5
For example, 1202: 11, 3, 8, 5, 14
*(HNR = Horse Number from Race)
Do note that all these steps must be completed before the clock strikes 12pm on race day, and preferably much earlier than that.
How to Get Your Play PIN?
You could get your Play PIN issued to you at any time during the last weekend before the Cheltenham Festival begins. That is usually the time when clubs and groups register their members’ tickets online, and a text is sent to each ticket holder, confirming this.
Your Play PIN will also be generated simultaneously, meaning that you should be able to retrieve it from the website soon after receiving the confirmation text. No Play PIN will be issued for you if your club does not register your ticket online in due time.
Note that a Play PIN will not be required if you don’t play Fantasy Cheltenham online. Follow the manual method of registration mentioned previously if you don’t want to wait on the Play PIN. For playing online though, then you will most certainly need a registered PIN to participate.
Hi, my name is Luke also known as FPLIrons on Twitter, I create social media content and write a few blogs for @FantasyFootyFix. A few years ago, I was the classic FPL player that would create a team a few hours before the GW1 deadline, and never touch the team again for the season. FPL never interested me, it simply hadn’t lured me in, that was until my manager at work said he could beat me easily… That’s when I began to care, it become competitive! This was at the beginning of the 18/19 season, and luckily for me, I began to browse YouTube videos and came across fantasyfootballfix.com, I instantly fell in love. Football, stats, planning, projections, all in one place. It was the dream website for a lifelong football fan and lover of stats/numbers. I’ve used the site more and more each year and my ranks have improved each time, 300k, 30k, 15k, I truly believe that if you use fantasyfootballfix.com correctly it’s almost impossible to fall outside the top 100k.
My favourite tool on the site is the Rotation Planner, this is a fantastically useful tool to save yourself a bit of cash and find some cheaper players that will rotate nicely each gameweek. You are able to choose a length of time, how many players you would like to play/bench and then finally, which teams you would like to include and which ones you wouldn’t.
In the example below, I wanted to give myself a strong bench this season, so I used the tool to find a pair of £4.5m defenders that would give me a reliable first sub each week. I removed all teams that do not have a £4.5m defender, and then locked in Leeds as I believed that Ayling was a really strong £4.5m option this season based on his statistics last year. The algorithm informed me that the best defensive rotation pairing with Leeds was Arsenal, therefore I chose Ben White. This means my first sub for the first 8 weeks will play Brentford, Everton, Burnley, Norwich, Burnley, West Ham, Watford and Palace.
fantasyfootballfix.com have an incredibly advanced points projection tool that not only informs you who to captain, play and bench each week, but also which player you could potentially look to sell and who to replace them with.
For example, in my current team the projections are telling me to bench Mason Greenwood in 3 of the next 4 gameweeks. This is due to his low xMins and high likelihood of being rotated. Therefore, I used the ‘single click optimiser’ in order to find a better replacement as £7.5m is a substantial amount of money on a player with such low projections. I was informed to bring in Harvey Barnes, who is predicted to help my squad score 9 points more across the next 5 gameweeks.
Of course, these are only projections and FPL is not an exact science, but more often than not Fix is spot on! So much so, my Fiancé uses the site to improve her transfer planning as I “apparently” don’t give good advice, but fantasyfootballfix.com does. Nightmare!
The official Fantasy Premier League’s ‘Fixture Difficulty Ratings’ are often criticised, teams like West Ham, Leeds and Villa who had impressive seasons were classed as a good fixtures, but games against clubs like Arsenal who were having a poor season were classed as very difficult.
On the fantasyfootballfix.com website and app, you are able to analyse fixtures based on defensive difficulty and offensive difficulty, and these ratings change each gameweek based on how teams are performing. In the example below, I have looked at gameweeks 2-6, in terms of attacking difficulty, Manchester City have the 2nd best fixtures in the coming weeks based on their ability and their opponents capability, however, they do not find themselves in the top 5 for defensive difficulty. Therefore, I would consider moves for the likes of Mahrez. De Bruyne or Grealish, rather than looking to bring in Dias or Cancelo, as clean sheets are unlikely in comparison to attacking hauls.
The ‘Fix Stats’ tab is where the site comes into its own in my opinion, the amount of detail you can go into analysing players is incredibly impressive. An example I have here is Jamie Vardy’s heat map for the 2020/21 season within the player heatmaps screen. It’s a heatmap that I love as a fantasy football manager, it shows me that Jamie Vardy is only interested in getting the ball in the box. When Leicester have a great run of games, based on this and knowing that he is on penalties, you can’t go wrong with Jamie Vardy.
An added bonus of this screen is the comparison you can do between two players, the example below I found when analysing Kevin De Bruyne vs Bruno Fernandes for the 21/22 season. Kevin De Bruyne’s underlying statistics per 90 far exceed Bruno Fernandes, and he could potentially be a great differential when fit, moving away from a player like Bruno Fernandes would of course be a brave move, but potentially one worth taking!
The Custom Stats Builder is a tool I have only just started using, and I am so frustrated that my past self didn’t give it a go!
You have the ability to create tables and graphs with over 200 different statistics and a number of different variables such as position, price, season, gameweek, home/away, team, opposition and ownership.
The example I looked into during pre-season was £7-8m strikers and how their underlying statistics looked last season. Ollie Watkins came out on top with 6 expected assists and 15 expected goals, Bamford also looks fantastic with nearly 18 expected goals.
The exciting part about this is that the possibilities are literally endless, you could look into FPL Bandwagons or FPL conspiracies, and do your own research. For example, I use this along with the Player Heatmaps tool to analyse how Bruno performed with Paul Pogba, and also to see how Leeds performed defensively in the 2nd half of the season. Whatever weird stat you’d like to find, you’ll be able to do it here!
The tool I am most excited to use this season is the Elite XI feature. fantasyfootballfix.com have gathered 11 elite managers with 74 top 10k and 55 top 5k finishes, each manager has a bio so you can only follow the managers that suit your style, or you can follow them as a collective with the ‘Consensus XI’. The combined 11 managed to score a total of 111 points in gameweek 1, so if a casual had signed up to fix and taken some advice from the experts, they’d have been very close to 100 and hit the tops of their own mini-leagues!
You can set up push notifications to come through on your phone when the managers make a transfer, this will insight throughout the season on their FPL strategies. If all of the Elite XI managers get rid of Luke Shaw for example, and bring in Lucas Digne, I will look to use the Fix Stats tool to analyse whether there is a reason as to why they’ve made that move and then decide whether to follow suite.
I’ve promoted Fix for several years, before joining the team and I will continue to do so for years into the future. If you’re struggling in your mini-league or want to break into the top 10/100k for the first time, this is the website for you! You will not regret signing up for fantasyfootballfix.com
As part of FISO’s special series of weekly articles on FanTeam, Europe’s biggest daily fantasy football provider, we will actually be entering the team we write about each week into the game. Our article will focus on an Early Entry for their Fantasy Premier League tournament held each week in order to help you identify game rules, tactics and the most promising players per gameweek, so you can win some of that large prize money.
Our FISO team below will be entered into this week’s £10.32 entry Monster with £43,000 of cash prizes on offer bringing plenty of excitement to the weekend’s Premier League action. Entry deadline is the usual 3pm on Saturday. Join the discussion on FISO’s FanTeam forum.
Before moving onto our team selection, we want to highlight a couple of FanTeam rules that they apply to their Weekly Monster competition and that represent some of the major differences when comparing the game to the FPL. Do though check out the Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs as well as the latest injury news (click on ‘Team’ to sort per club rather than the default ‘date’) before finalising your picks.
Number one is that FanTeam have a rule called the ‘safety net’. The safety net comes into play when a selected player does not start in the Weekly Monster, because the game will then automatically replace this player with the next lowest-priced player from the same position (GK, DEF, MID, FOR) in the same team. This is regardless of whether or not your selected player does take to the field later in the game. This rule helps people who have entered a team into the Weekly Monster not to worry too much about whether their selected players will start or not, particularly if they know there are cheaper players for that same club in that same position who should start instead.
Number two is that FanTeam also have a ‘stacking penalty’ for the Weekly Monster, which penalises teams that have selected more than one defenders/goalkeeper from the same club. The stacking penalty comes into play when you pick more than one defensive player (defenders or goalkeepers) from a particular club and this club records a clean sheet. The points awarded for this clean sheet will decrease by 1 point for each additional defensive player from the same club that you have selected. The stacking penalty has a maximum of minus 3 points. This rule helps stop multi-entrants from gaining an advantage by submitting block defence teams. A reasonable tactic can be to select two players from two different clubs for your Goalie and 3 Defenders, which would see you incur just 2 single-point deductions if you nail both clean sheets correctly.
Our team entered in the Gameweek 1
Norwich got themselves quickly promoted back to the Premier League but didn’t fare very well last time around and many, ourselves included, will fancy Liverpool to come out the winners over 90 minutes. Tsimikas looks to have the left back role in Robertson’s injury absence whilst Jota and Mane (captain) have been on the score sheet in pre-season (unlike Saha who we’re bravely passing over).
The Community Shield win against Man City showed that Leicester are already up and running this season. Wolves are a bit of an unknown quantity with their new manager and a disappointing campaign last season. We’re banking on Barnes (vc), Maddison and Pereira putting their injury troubles from last season behind them.
A solid defensive unit coming up from the Championship will be put to the test by a Grealish-less Aston Villa. Our budget options of Bachmann and Danny Rose may pay dividends, particularly if Watkins misses out and Ings fails to gel with his new team-mates.
Barnes has had a good pre-season and we will see the team line-ups v Brighton so can change if he’s not a starter. Jack Cork is very cheap and may just get an assist.
Our final spot goes to the energetic Antonio who’s another with a good pre-season and will be fancied to get on the score sheet away to Newcastle.
And we’re back! With just 1 day to go until Arsenal and Brentford kick off the new 2021/22 Premier League season, we will once again be looking forward to what we feel are the best, the shrewdest and most differential FPL fantasy picks ahead of gameweek 1. And the best thing? We’ll be doing so every week and twice if it’s a double!
If you were a regular reader of our gameweek previews, thank you for following and hopefully our insights will be useful again to you this season. If this is your first taste of our regular FPL content, we’re very happy to have you here and hopefully you’ll find plenty of reasons to check us out regularly in your quest for ultimate FPL glory.
Also, we have posted a 10-part 2021/22 season preview series over the past week or so, in order to help fantasy managers plan for their gameweek 1 squads. Per club, we have taken a brief look at last season’s performances, at their expected tactical approach for the coming season and at some of their most appealing FPL assets. The last of those was West Ham & Wolves so these are now done and published for reading though and now it’s time for the first gameweek preview of the new season.
Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 1 is set at 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, August 13th.
Players with highest ownership (as per August 11th, 2021)
Premium pick Lots of things Premier League have changed last season, but then again lots of things didn’t. Last season, our final premium fantasy pick was Mo Salah (£12.5m) and lo and behold, the Liverpool talisman is our first premium recommendation for the 2021/22 season as well. He was our stand-out pick in our Liverpool Season Preview as well, mainly because of his extremely high-level consistency. You never know exactly how a player will start a new season, but Mo has recorded 303, 259, 233 and 231 FPL points over the last four seasons, courtesy of 95 goals and 40 assists. That’s 135 direct goal involvements in about 150 Premier League games. No wonder he’s the most expensive fantasy asset in the official game this year and no wonder that he’s the most selected midfielder ahead of a season opener against newly promoted Norwich, and Mane, Jota and Firmino have all scored in pre-season which is encouraging for his assists potential as well.
Non-premium pick There have been a few shock moves and multi-million pound deals already this summer, but in terms of the Premier League at least, few transfers were as sneaky as Danny Ings (£8.0m) to Aston Villa for about £30 million. We basically heard about it on the day it was confirmed! The former Saint’s main issue has always had his vulnerability to injuries, but when fit, he’s one of the most lethal strikers in the English top flight. Something he confirmed straight-away by scoring the equalising goal in the friendly encounter with Italian side Salernitana just five days after signing for the Villans. He scored 12 goals and 4 assists in just over 2,100 minutes of Premier League football last season, and with Villa’s further recruitment (Buendia, Bailey), the 29-year old could be looking at a very good season ahead. We’re just hoping he will stay fit for an extended period of time.
The budget enabler There is probably no more significant time in the life of a budget-enabling FPL asset than the build-up to gameweek 1. Every fantasy manager in the world is looking for that one £4.0m defender or that £4.5m midfielder who is at least nailed-on to start for his team. If that asset is also part of a strong team, even better, and if the starting fixtures are kind, EVEN better. Well, Kostas Tsimikas (£4.0m) is ticking all of the boxes at the time of writing. With Robertson out injured for a while, the former Olympiakos man looks set to fill in at left-back for Liverpool, he’s been having a very good pre-season and his opening fixtures read Norwich away and Burnley at Anfield. The only drawback is that Tsimikas is a temporary budget enabler at most, as Robertson will slot right back into the starting eleven as soon as he’s fit (possibly GW3 or GW4). Still, the Greek defender represents fantastic short-term and possibly even medium-term value, even more so if you play FPL with a £4.0m 15th man who remains on the bench.
The differential As we speak, the first template team of the season is forming itself already, as the likes of Salah, Alexander-Arnold, Bruno Fernandes, Shaw and Toney are finding themselves into lots of teams. This gives investing in a differential pick a potentially higher ceiling, but also carries the risk of missing out heavily-owned fantasy assets from the get-go. Still, we feel that at least one differential pick should find its way into your gameweek 1 squad and in that light, we think Mason Greenwood (£7.5m) could be golden. With Rashford out for the foreseeable future after undergoing shoulder surgery and Cavani being given extra time off, its hard to see the 19-year old not starting against Leeds in gameweek 1. On top of that, six of the seven goals he scored last season, as well as one of his two assists, came over the course of the last eight games. Greenwood had the summer to recharge his batteries and with a starting berth all but guaranteed in GW1, he could continue where he left off last season and carry his good form into the 2021/22 campaign.
The captaincy There are various good options for the captain’s armband for gameweek 1, but as far as we are concerned, it eventually all comes down to Bruno Fernandes versus Leeds at Old Trafford or Mo Salah against Norwich at Carrow Road. We have opted for the latter. The Egyptian is the official game’s best performer since the 2017/18 season and if there’s anyone in the entire league who we can see hitting the season off with a few goals, it’s him. He will start up front, he’s on penalties and Liverpool will be raring to get off to a good start in their quest to retake the title after losing it to Man City last season.
Having said that, Man United’s Bruno is probably just as reliable for the captaincy. The only slight uncertainty is in regard to how United will turn up in gameweek 1 and to what extent the Portuguese playmaker will be allowed to influence their attacking moves. Still, an extremely solid pick for the armband. Looking further into the schedule, the kindly priced Kai Havertz (at home to Crystal Palace), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (at home to Southampton), Danny Ings (away at Watford) and Michail Antonio (away at Newcastle) could be very interesting differential captains to help you claim a top spot in mini-leagues on day one.
If you’re on here looking for fantasy tips ahead of the upcoming football season, you’ve come to the right place. But before you can find the best methods of picking players and finding a team that can be victorious in your league, you need to make sure you’re signed up to play on the best app for daily fantasy football.
DraftKings fantasy football is a fan’s favourite due to how it makes the game fun and thrilling. In addition to the leagues, there are extra cash prizes to win each week, and a range of different contests to play across a number of different sports.
More importantly, it’s perfect for beginners. There are game modes tailor made for new players, as well as short term options that let you play out an entire season in less than a week, if you’re aiming to gain experience.
Once you’re signed up, it’s time to start planning on how you will dominate your league. Here are all the best tactics you need to know before playing.
Know your scoring
For new fantasy players, learning the basics of how players can earn you points is vital. When picking players for your draft, certain positions will hold more value as they will score more touchdowns – this is why some sites end up scoring less points for quarterback touchdowns (four) than touchdowns from other positions (six).
And it isn’t just touchdowns that will bag you points either. You’ll need to learn the ways other manoeuvres can bring home points, from turnovers to yardage. Most sites also offer points per reception, so running backs, wide receivers and tight ends can easily help up your numbers.
Putting together a weekly roster becomes simpler when you familiarise yourself with the format. However, some sites may put restrictions on who you can pick – in some cases, you may only be allowed to roster one quarterback, for example.
Pay attention to injury news
If you want to lead your fantasy team to success, that means eating and breathing everything football related all week – not just on game days. And the most important part of this is paying attention to the latest injury news, to ensure you don’t draft a player who won’t even make it to the pitch.
Not all injured players sit their games out, but they will be severely limited if they choose to play. And if you’ve drafted a player who has sat the game out but haven’t paid attention to the news, then you’re just begging to come last.
And check the weather forecast too
While that one may be common sense, there’s another rule that could limit players that many fantasy leagues overlook: the weather. Games are never cancelled because of it, but conditions like rain can severely impact player performances in both offence and defence.
Awful weather usually leads players to singlehandedly try run offensive approaches, with less passing to teammates during play. An entire site has been set up to monitor weather before big games – checking it is an insight as to how each team will approach the match, and which players will be most reliable for points.
Learn how to pick the best players
There are lots of simple ways to know which players are expected to make a big impact on the field. And one of these is via analyzing sportsbook odds, which will help you gauge player and team value on a week-by-week basis.
For example, if the odds for a specific game suggest either huge or low total numbers of points scored, you’ll know whether or not to avoid picking a player or drafting them. Learning how to read odds will be a vital skill needed to get ahead in the game.
Don’t play favourites
You may be rooting for your own favourite team to do well in football – but when it comes to fantasy, you should never rely on personal favourites, and should always follow the stats. You need to draft the players you need at an affordable price, as chasing the ones you want to succeed could end up with you losing valuable points in the game.
And don’t think it all ends with draft day
At the start of any given draft day, chances are the first two rounds of player selections will take every available running back off the board. It’s easy to see draft day as vital to forming a team, but you need to remember that it’s only the beginning.
Lineups will change throughout the season, and regular trades with other members of your team could wind up with you picking up your desired player as the season draws to a close. Yes, you need to be on high alert as your league completes its draft – but from there, the season will be unpredictable, and you’ll need to follow the facts in order to win.
Welcome back to yet another season of Fantasy Premier League football!
If you stuck with us during the exciting and sometimes sad thrill ride that was the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, great to have you back with us again. If you just stumbled upon our FPL content recently, a very warm welcome and hopefully you’ll find our regular contributions to the world of FPL both enjoyable and useful in your quest for a top rank come the end of the season.
Newly promoted Brentford will be taking on Community Shield winners Arsenal in the season opener on Friday, August 13th. In the build-up to that game, we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League this season with a special focus on their FPL potential. In this tenth and final instalment, we take a look at a European West Ham side and a Wolves side getting used to life under a new manager after five successful years under Nuno Espirito Santo.
WEST HAM – FPL 2021/22 team preview
When talking about last season’s surprising top performers, the focus often shifts to Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, and with a ninth place and an exciting brand of attacking football, the Whites deserve all of the praise they’ve received. Still, when looking at the Premier League table at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, it doesn’t take long to identify another, perhaps even more impressive finish, namely that of West Ham United in sixth. With 65 points from 38 games, the Hammers actually managed to penetrate the bastion that is the English top six, just two points off Chelsea in fourth, and at least three points of ahead of London rivals Spurs and Arsenal.
This excellent result meant more than prestige though, because it has also seen the club qualify for the Europa League group stages of the coming season. After getting eliminated in the qualifying rounds in 2015/16 and 2016/17, the East Londoners will feature in the tournament for the first time since the UEFA Cup was rebranded for the 2009/10 season. A fitting reward for a great season.
When delving a little bit deeper into the underlying statistics, we can see that West Ham’s sixth-place finish was more than deserved. The Hammers were prolific in attack, their tally of goals scored only beaten by five other teams in the league, while their defence proved resolute. Only seven sides conceded less than their 47 goals. It was West Ham’s home record that particularly impressed as just champions Manchester City boasted a higher points average than their 1.79 points per home game. Some analysts and pundits have questioned the absence of crowds, in West Ham’s case the absence of an often very expectant and critical crowd, as a reason for this.
Now, qualification for European football is fantastic, both in terms of prestige and finances, but we have also seen how it can be a double-edged sword at times in recent years. Think Burnley in the 2018/19 Europa League and Wolves in the 2019/20 Europa League. In that sense, boss David Moyes will have to manage the addition of least six more Thursday evening games on top of what will undoubtedly be another gruelling Premier League season. Squad depth and player fitness will be major topics for the Hammers over the coming weeks as they will seek to do well in Europe while also aiming for another top-half finish in the league, at least.
West Ham’s tactics sheet
Despite the intense upcoming schedule for a group of players that is not entirely used to playing three times a week including away games on the European continent, it has been a very quiet transfer summer so far. Winger Felipe Anderson and central defender Fabian Balbuena moved on to pastures new, while last season’s loanee Craig Dawson was given a permanent contract and Paris Saint Germain back-up goalkeeper was brought in on a loan. Probably the biggest transfer window news so far, from a West Ham point of view, is the fact that key man Euro 2020 starter Declan Rice is still a Hammer.
In regard to the starting lineup for gameweek 1, we therefore don’t expect too many changes in comparison to last season. Moyes generally lined his men up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with an occasional switch to a backline of five. More often than not though, this was the result of injury issues in defence, which is why we’re expecting a similar set-up this season.
In goal, the reliable Lukasz Fabianski is a certainty. In front of him, Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson look like the most probable pairing, with Aaron Cresswell on the left wing and Vladimir Coufal from the right wing providing attacking impulses from the back. West Ham’s double pivot in the middle, possibly one of the most reliable in the league, will consist of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek.
The powerful but injury-prone Michail Antonio is the first choice to lead the offensive line. For the three spots behind him, Moyes can choose from a bunch of attacking talent, including Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma, Manuel Lanzini and Euro 2020 star Andrei Yarmolenko. Based on the pre-season preparations, Fornals seems to be preferred to play behind Antonio with Bowen and Benrahma on the flanks, though these players can switch positions easily throughout games.
WEST HAM – Potential FPL targets
Both Aaron Cresswell and Vladimir Coufal (£5.0m) are good choices for your gameweek 1 squad, and we have opted for the latter. Though the former is on lots of set-pieces and provided more assists than any defender in the official game, the latter costs £0.5m less and recorded an equally impressive 9 assists last season. In our opinion, the Czech Republic international is probably underpriced by about half a million and combined with a kind set of opening fixtures, this makes him a very appealing fantasy pick. With Newcastle away, Leicester at home, Palace home and Southampton away in the first four rounds, Coufal represents potential for returns at both sides of the pitch.
Despite missing out on considerable parts of the campaign due to injuries, Michail Antonio (£7.5m) still ended the season as the West Ham player with the highest direct goal involvement. His 10 goals and 5 assists represent an involvement of just over 19% and an total of 118 FPL points. Compared to his actual playing minutes, that comes down to an attacking return every 131 minutes and 0.52 Expected Goals per 90 minutes, a ratio bettered by just four other players in the entire division. He’s an explosive option up front and without any attacking signings so far, his starting berth seems as secure as ever.
Two players made 38 appearances for West Ham in the Premier League last season. One was cental midfielder Tomas Soucek, an enticing FPL asset himself at £6.0m, the other was winger Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m). The 24-year old joined the Hammers in the winter of 2020 for a maximum fee of £25 million and didn’t need long to find his place in East London. He got a goal and 4 assists in his first half-season at the club and got him definite breakthrough last season, when he recorded 141 FPL points, courtesy of 8 goals, 4 assists and 9 clean sheets. He’ll be hoping to further improve on that performance this season and if he does, his £6.5m price tag will end up being a real bargain.
WOLVES – FPL 2021/22 team preview
The Wolverhampton Wanderers have been a quality addition to the Premier League since their promotion back in 2018. After impressive back-to-back league finishes in seventh place in the 2018/19 and the 2019/20 seasons, last season was relatively disappointing with a 13th place. The defensive nature for which they had become known largely disappeared as Wolves conceded 52 goals in 38 games, while their attacking output was even more problematic. In the Premier League, you simply can’t hope for much if you manage to score just 36 goals over the course of the season.
Having said that, we believe a special mention of Raul Jimenez and his horrific head injury is warranted. The Mexican striker, good for 30 goals and 17 assists in the two seasons prior to last, was sitting on 4 goals and 1 assist from 824 minutes of Premier League when he suffered a season-ending skull fracture at the end of November 2020. For a side already not extremely prolific in front of goal, losing their talisman meant a huge loss. Add to that the later (long-term) injuries of the likes of forwards Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto, and Wolves’ subpar goal-scoring sounds a bit more logical.
While Podence and Neto remain flagged in the official game as of today, the big man up front is back in action, which means a huge boost for the Wolves. New manager Bruno Lage, the successor to Nuno Espirito Santo after his move to Spurs, will be looking to put last season to bed and build a new squad around the undeniable amount of talent at his disposal. With no European football to distract the team from domestic objectives, the former Benfica and Dinamo Tbilisi boss has the opportunity to implement a more attacking approach to games and to integrate a few new key figures into the team.
Wolves’ tactics sheet
Where under Espirito Santo the Wolves generally lined up in a very organised back-men backline with attacking wing-backs and a playmaking double pivot in front of it, Lage seems to favour a more classic 4-4-2 formation. In recent friendlies during pre-season though, he reverted back to Nuno’s 3-4-3 system with wing-backs. On the one hand, he might be experimenting with different systems in order to counter the very different types of opposition his men will face coming season. On the other hand, he could be checking the current squad’s ability to play with a back four. One way or another, some uncertainty exists for FPL managers in this sense.
In terms of transfers, Wolves have been pretty active during the ongoing window. Mainstay and number one for years Rui Patricio is now plying his trade in between the sticks at AS Roma, but no other outgoing transfers of first-team significance have taken place so far. On the other side, Rayan Aït Nouri’s loan agreement was made permanent for about £10 million, while Olympiacos goalkeeper José Sa has been brought in to replace Patricio. On top of that, the club signed central defender Yerson Mosquera from Colombian side Atletico Nacional, right-back Bendegúz Bolla from Hungarian side Féhérvár and talented winger Trincao from FC Barcelona on a loan.
Assuming that Lage will stick to the 4-4-2 formation that has brought him considerable success at Benfica and Tblisi, a central defensive pairing of Connor Coady and Willy Boly looks the most likely. They will be backed by the newly acquired José Sa in goal. The right-back position looks set for former Barcelona man Nelson Semedo, while the left-back spot will be between Marçal and Aït Nouri. The latter has however been used as a left midfielder on several occasions during the pre-season as well, which could represent a very interesting out-of-position fantasy asset, should Lage continue to employ the Frenchman as such.
In the middle, we find it hard to imagine that Lage will change the tried and tested central duo of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, though the latter’s starting berth is eyed by Leander Dendoncker as well. Adama Traoré is the prime candidate to start on their right side, while the left side will be occupied by Pedro Neto once he is back to fitness. Up front, Raul Jimenez is 100% nailed-on and likely to be joined by Trincao. Daniel Podence will need to be slotted in once he is back from injury, probably on the left side of the midfield or in the forward line.
WOLVES – Potential FPL targets
Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) is the Wolves talisman and at his current price tag, probably a steal. As mentioned earlier, his last season was ruined by a serious head injury, but the Mexican’s qualities are undeniable. He has been one of Wolves’ and indeed the Premier League’s most consistent performers over the past season, recording 181 FPL points in the 2018/19 campaign and 194 FPL points over the 2019/20 campaign. Jimenez is the team’s focal point up front and on penalties as well, which only increases his appeal. Wolverhampton have been given a tough start to the season, but if they show some fantasy potential, expect Raul’s ownership percentage to increase considerably from gameweek 3 onwards.
In the Wolves backline, we found an England international and Euro 2020 participant available at a budget price. Conor Coady (£4.5m) is a mainstay in the Wolves defence, which is underlined by the fact that he played the most minutes of any outfield player last season. In a mediocre season for the team as a while, he still managed to record 106 FPL points, courtesy of 10 clean sheets and a single goal. This shows that Coady is not a pick you should consider if you’re looking for explosive returns, but if Bruno Lage manages to shore up his defence, the Englishman could provide excellent value to any FPL squad.
As we have stated in earlier parts of this series, we generally don’t tend to recommend going with fantasy assets new to the Premier League too early. The Prem is a different beast and with so many options at our disposal for every position in our squad, “wait and see” is usually a wise move. From time to time though, a fantasy asset presents itself that shows particular potential and we believe Trincao (£6.0m) could be such an asset. The Portuguese winger was loaned from a Barcelona side on the brink of bankruptcy and should slot in right into the starting eleven next to Jimenez up front. That places him in the often much-coveted out-of-position category at a potential bargain price. He has featured heavily during Wolves’ pre-season and is, in our opinion, one to keep an eye on.
Welcome back to yet another season of Fantasy Premier League football!
If you stuck with us during the exciting and sometimes sad thrill ride that was the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, great to have you back with us again. If you just stumbled upon our FPL content recently, a very warm welcome and hopefully you’ll find our regular contributions to the world of FPL both enjoyable and useful in your quest for a top rank come the end of the season.
Newly promoted Brentford will be taking on Community Shield winners Arsenal in the season opener on Friday, August 13th. In the build-up to that game, we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League this season with a special focus on their FPL potential. In this ninth instalment, we will be providing a bit more insight into a new-look Spurs side under former Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo and the last of three promoted teams in this season preview series, Watford.
SPURS – FPL 2021/22 team preview
If there was an award for rockiest pre-season, then Tottenham Hotspur would be a prime candidate this year. It started with the reported struggle for the club to find a manager of name and reputation to follow in the footsteps of the often controversial José Mourinho. Inter’s Antonio Conte, Bayern’s Hansi Flick, Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers, all of these names and a bunch more were linked to the Spurs job, and as many allegedly declined the opportunity. All but one, that is, because the Londoners eventually did manage to sign Nuno Espirito Santo, the successful Wolves coach who led his former team back to the Premier League for the 2018/19 season and immediately established them as an upper mid-table force to be reckoned with.
In other words, and despite Spurs being a clear step-up in terms of club size and pressure to perform, the doubts surrounding his appointment at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium seem largely unfounded. Calm, tactically strong and a good man-manager, Espirito Santo could turn out to be the perfect heir to Mourinho’s squad. Having said that, improving on last season’s seventh place, preferably in the form of a top-four finish, is going to be a mammoth task for the Portuguese manager.
Of course, the Harry Kane shenanigans are not helping. Imagine signing for a club considered serial underachievers by their own fans, knowing that you can at least build a team and a new tactical approach around the league’s best striker (who was directly involved in no less than 54% of the team’s goals in the prior season), and then that striker deciding not to turn up for the first training session after his holidays. Or the second. Or the third. Not cool, to say the least, but Espirito Santo has to deal with it and he’s doing it in his own style: calm, unruffled, positive. We will see if Kane will turn up in a Spurs’ shirt come gameweek 1, that’s all we can say for now.
Spurs’ tactics sheet
One of the major causes for doubts in regard to Espirito Santo’s appointment has to do with the fact that, after the largely negative approach to games under Mourinho, the club was supposed to move into a more attack-minded direction. That’s because the Portuguese manager is not exactly known for an especially attacking kind of football.
It’s not that Santo’s football is not attractive, because it can definitely be, but it’s based on fitness and tactical discipline first of all, combined with a solid defensive foundation. His statement at the start of his tenure about first getting fitness levels up to his standards before settling on a formation should therefore be taken seriously. Additionally, it shows another quality of the new Spurs coach, namely that he is not rigidly set on a certain shape or playing style. The result could be a very hard-to-beat, hard-working Spurs side in which the attacking assets, like at Wolves, can excel.
It remains to be seen how Spurs will line up in GW1, but we feel a five-men backline is most likely, considering both Nuno’s playing style at Wolves over the past four seasons and the player material available to him at Spurs. In goal, captain Hugo Lloris seems assured of another season as Spurs #1, despite him entering his final contract year. For the central trio, the club is looking for reinforcements with Atalanta defender Cristian Romero on the way and Bologna defender Takehiro Tomiyasu strongly linked to the North London side. Of the current squad, Ben Davies and Eric Dier look like the most likely candidates for a starting spot. Sergi Reguilón on the left and Matt Doherty, who blossomed under Nuno at Wolves, on the right fill the wing-back positions.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele look set to form the team’s double pivot in the middle. For the three spots left up front, Nuno has quite an abundance of talent at his disposal, though some of them will hope for a bit of a form revival after featuring on the fringes under Mourinho. Assuming Kane stays, he will lead the line with the other undroppable and outstanding performer Heung-Min Son behind him, around him or on the wing. Dele Alli, Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn and Giovanni lo Celso will be vying for the third spot in attack, either on the right flank (Moura, Bergwijn) or behind the Kane-Son duo (Alli, Lo Celso).
SPURS – Potential FPL targets
Obviously, Harry Kane (£12.5m) is Spurs fantasy pick number one. At the moment of writing he is still a Spurs player, and anyone Spurs-related will be hoping this will still be the case come the end of the transfer window on August, 31st. Kane became both the Premier League topscorer with 23 goals and the division’s assist king with 14 assists last season for a total of 242 FPL points. The season’s top points scorer Bruno Fernandes outdid him by just two points. Kane is Tottenham’s talisman, he is fixture-proof and he is on penalties as well as on more than a few free-kicks. Yes, he is very expensive and Spurs’s opening fixtures are not fantastic, but there a few safer long-term investments than Tottenham’s very own in the official fantasy game.
We generally try to focus on FPL assets besides the premium picks a lot, but in the case of Spurs, it’s just very hard to not mention both Kane and Heung-Min Son (£10.0m) when discussing their fantasy picks. With 17 goals and 11 assists, the Korean had a phenomenal 2020/21 campaign, scoring 228 FPL points, just 14 less than Kane. That’s also where much of Son’s appeal lies, because his price tag is a whole £2.5m lighter and he is registered as a midfielder in the official fantasy game. No other midfielder provided more value than him last season and with a current ownership of just over 17%, he is a relative differential pick as well.
To counter our two heavyweight fantasy picks, we are highlighting the potential budget-enabling value of Eric Dier (£4.5m). The versatile Englishman, who can play as a defensive midfielder as part of the double pivot, as one of the two central defenders in a four-men defence or as one of the three central defenders in a backline of five, was Spurs’ most-used defender last season in terms of playing minutes. He is not the one you should look for if you’re on a quest for attacking returns, in 2,520 minutes Dier recorded no attacking returns, but if Nuno manages to implement some of his much-desired tactical discipline and defensive solidity this season, the England international could be of excellent value to any FPL squad. Cherry on the cake is that Dier was raised in Portugal and came through Sporting Lisbon’s academy, so he is fluent in his new manager’s native language.
WATFORD – FPL 2021/22 team preview
With Watford, we have come to the last of the three promoted sides for this series of Season Previews and to the best defence of last season’s Championship campaign. In 48 games, the Hornets conceded just 30 goals, six less than champions Norwich, and recorded the highest number of clean sheets in the division by some margin. Exactly half of their games, 23 to be precise, ended without them conceding a single goal.
A big role in this achievement was reserved for Spanish manager Xisco Muñoz, who was appointed in December 2020 following the sacking of Vladimir Ivic. He is the one who really turned Watford into a hard-to-beat side, though at times at the cost of an attractive playing style. He was in charge during 27 games last season, a run over which the Hornets conceded just 16 goals and scored 40. Though not always lauded for his approach to games, Xisco’s philosophy might be just what the club needs to survive on their return amongst the English footballing elite after a year of absence.
The fact that Watford took just a single season to bounce back to the Prem is interesting for another reason as well, because the club managed to keep hold of much of the team’s core from that 2019/20 season. Recent Premier League experience is not to be underestimated when it comes to newly-promoted teams, even if they did get relegated. It should also not be forgotten that Watford missed out on retaining their Premier League status by just a single point and that, just a few months earlier, the team actually reached the final of the 2019 FA Cup.
On top of their promotion-winning squad, Watford have also been very active during the ongoing summer transfer window. Around £8 million was spent on central midfielder Imran Louza from Ligue 1 side FC Nantes, Club Brugge striker Emmanuel Dennis was brought in for around £3 million, and several reputed names were acquired on a free, including former Spurs left-back Danny Rose, Premier League mainstay Joshua King and Boro centre-forward Ashley Fletcher. As far as outgoing transfers go, the permanent move of Craig Dawson to West Ham has been the only move of real first-team significance so far.
Watford’s tactics sheet
When Xisco arrived at Vicarage Road in December of last year, he was presented with a Watford side used to turning up in a 4-4-2 formation in which club legend Troy Deeney had a fixed spot with André Gray next to him. The Hornets were not firing though, and as pressure on the new manager rapidly grew despite a couple of decent results as well, he opted for a tactical change. Out with the two-striker system and in with a more dynamic, expansive 4-3-3, or perhaps an attacking 4-1-4-1 describes it better. That’s essentially a 4-3-3 with an attacking triangle on the midfield.
While remaining defensively sound, in great part thanks to the staff’s insistence on maintaining a tightly knit defensive block, this tactical change brought the talented Joao Pedro to the forefront, together with talisman Ismaila Sarr. Together with Sema, Sarr got more freedom to influence attacks and come inside from the flanks, while the full-backs were allowed to join in attack more often as well. Of course, it remains to be seen if Watford decide to confront their Premier League challenge as well or if they revert to a slightly more consolidated midfield to counter the stronger opposition.
So far, it looks like Xisco will be sticking to a three-men midfield, formed out of Tom Cleverly, Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah, though these last two players are still in negations for contract extensions with the club. The likes of Philip Zinckernagel, Domingos Quina and Dan Gosling are waiting in the wings, while new face Imran Louza should be slotted in step by step as well.
In goal, the Hornets can count on two very reliable shot stoppers in the persons of veteran Ben Foster and Austria international Daniel Bachmann. The latter seems to be Xisco’s number one since the second half of last season. In defence, Kiko Femenía on the right and Adam Masina on the left look nailed-on, while last season’s central duo consisting of William Troost-Ekong and Francisco Sierralta looks set as well. It’s proven to be a successful recipe last season, after all.
In attack, the mobile Joao Pedro leads the line, flanked by Watford’s talisman Ismail Sarr and his counterpart on the left flank, Ken Sema. The likes of Troy Deeney, Andre Gray, Emmanuel Dennis and Joshua King provide Xisco with both depth and variation in an offensive sense.
WATFORD – Potential FPL targets
We’re starting this segment about Watford with their Player of the Year of last season, Ismaïla Sarr (£6.0m), who was also voted the Player’s Player of the Season. The Senegalese international has been linked with a move away from Vicarage Road ever since the club relegated at the end of the 2019/20 season, but he stayed and subsequently played a key role in their lightning return to the Premier League. Sarr, who plays as a very advanced winger but who is listed as a midfielder in the official fantasy game, scored 13 goals and provided 4 assists last season, which represents a direct involvement of 27% in his team’s goals. He’s a dribbler and was the second-most fouled player in the Championship last season, winning five penalties in the process (of which he took two himself, by the way). With a relatively kind opening set of fixtures for the upcoming season, he’s a very interesting differential pick.
The main appeal when it comes to Watford fantasy assets comes from their defence, though. As part of the Championship’s most stable defence last season, right-back Kiko Femenía (£4.5m) also registered 4 assists, a total bettered by no one on the Watford roster. Many FPL managers might remember the Spaniard from the 2019/20 season, during which he was in and out of the team for most of the campaign, but he has become a nailed-on starter for the Hornets since then. Of course, defensive resolve in the Championship is no guarantee for a solid defensive performance in the Premier League, but if Xisco manages to adapt his defensive block to the elite division, Femenía could become a very interesting budget-enabling fantasy pick.
Further on in the budget category, we find Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann (£4.5m). At first glance, there is a strange thing going on at Watford from an FPL point of view. Despite Bachmann looking like a pretty secure bet for a starting spot between the sticks, in our opinion at least, it’s his £4.0m rival Ben Foster who currently sits in 27% of all teams. And the Austrian? In just 3.3%… Not too long after his arrival, manager Xisco replaced Foster with Bachmann in the starting lineup, giving him the opportunity to record 13 clean sheets in 23 Championship appearances, and we can’t imagine the Euro 2020 participant not being the Spaniard’s first choice come GW1. Foster’s price tag (meaning some FPL managers are just looking at the cheapest goalkeeper to sit on the bench all the time) and the fact that he got a start in last season’s final game probably explain his current ownership, but it’s Bachmann you should focus on if you’re in search of a starting budget goalkeeper in a potentially defence-minded side.