FPL 2022/23 PRE-SEASON CLUB PREVIEWS – PART 5

Yesterday our 4th preview of the 2022/23 FPL season covered Crystal Palace and EvertonIn this 4th FPL instalment, we’re taking a dive into newly promoted Fulham and a Leeds side preparing for its first full season under Jesse Marsh.

FULHAM – FPL 2022/23 team preview

Under the spirited tutelage of former Watford and Everton manager Marco Silva, Fulham has made an instant return to the Premier League. After a rather helpless 2019-20 campaign at the highest, which saw the Cottagers relegated with just 28 points, the club replaced current Bournemouth manager Scott Parker with Silva and what followed was a dominant season in the Championship. An impressive 90 points from 46 games saw them clinch the second-tier title in style, boasting not only the best attacking numbers by some distance, but also the third-best defensive stats. The London side scored a whopping 106 goals and conceded just 43 for a positive goal difference of 63 which was 28 more than second-best Nottingham Forest.

Of course, when you have a striker (Mitrovic) who bangs in 43 goals (!) in 44 league appearances, plus another 7 assists, your attacking numbers as a team are bound to be pretty good. As most FPL managers know, the Serbian striker is kind of an enigma in English football, dominating in impressive fashion in the Championship but not being able to fully translate those performances into results at the very highest level. In the 2015-16 season, he scored 9 and assisted 4, in the 2018-19 season he recorded 11 goals and 4 assists for his best ever season in the Premier League, and in his last campaign in the elite, he got just 3 goals and 3 assists, partly due to ongoing injury niggles. Nevertheless, keeping hold of their undisputed focal point in attack will be a priority for the Cottagers this summer.

The club has succeeded in that objective so far, though they did lose a few other important players. Defensive midfielder Zambo Anguissa was sold to Serie A side Napoli for around £15 million, while the talented Fabio Carvalho transferred to Liverpool for about £5 million. The Cottagers put the incoming transfer fees, plus the enormous amount of Premier League TV money, to work straight away. Sporting Lisbon defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha was brought in for £17 million and Man United attacking midfielder Andreas Pereira was welcomed for about £8 million after spending a season on loan at Brazilian giants Flamengo.

Fulham’s tactics sheet

To expect Fulham to simply replicate their free-scoring, free-flowing type of football from last season in the Prem this season is not realistic, to say the least, but under Marco Silva, they could be an interesting addition to the league. In the Championship, the Portuguese tactician mostly preferred a 4-2-3-1 setup in which possession of the ball was the holy grail. Only Swansea boasted a higher average possession percentage than them, but the interesting thing is that the Cottagers seemingly just as easy adopted a more direct approach when needed. As Silva stated towards the end of the season, “We want to start from the back, to build… but if you can reach the opposition box in three of four passes, why make ten passes?”. That kind of sums it up as far as Fulham’s tactical approach goes.

This tactical flexibility and readiness to adapt when needed or even necessary will likely be of key importance to the side upon their return to the Premier League. The Cottagers will rarely dominate possession and instead be on the backfoot quite often, much more often than last season. More importantly though, is Silva’s general realism when it comes to preparing for games. He has stated that his philosophy will not change this season, but that the club and the team have to understand the reality of coming into one of the strongest leagues in the world. All-out attacking football will simply not enough be an option for the Londoners, unless they want to be relegated well before the business end of the season.

FULHAM – Potential FPL targets

After mentioning his 43 goals and 7 assists in 44 Championship games last season, we have no choice but starting this section with Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.5m). The Serbian’s pedigree as a natural goal scorer is well-known by now, but FPL Towers have once again given him a slightly (too) elevated price tag, in our opinion. Amongst the budget and mid-priced forwards in the official game alone, which in all honesty is not a category boasting an abundance of quality choice, Mitrogol has to compete for the love of FPL managers with the likes of Brentford’s Ivan Toney, Aston Villa’s Danny Ings and Wolves’ Raul Jimenez, just to name a few. And then we haven’t mentioned similarly priced assets in midfield and defence yet. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old forward could be an interesting differential option, especially from gameweek 8 onwards, when Fulham enter a nice stretch of favourable fixtures.

Over-pricing is not something that Andreas Pereira (£4.5m) has suffered from this season as a fantasy asset. The former Manchester United creator, who never truly enjoyed a real breakthrough at Old Trafford, was brought in for around £8 million this summer and is expected to play a central role in the Cottagers’ attacking plans. That alone is something more than worth keeping in mind, as there are very few other options at his price point that will be able to count on regular minutes, let alone starts, this season. At Flamengo, where he played on loan last season, he was deployed as a defensive midfielder as well, but so far during Fulham’s pre-season, the Brazilian has mostly operated as the man behind and around striker Mitrovic. Fulham might possibly offer us one of the very best budget-enablers available in the build-up to gameweek

Naturally, most of the spotlights were on Mitrovic’ record-breaking goal-scoring performance in the Championship last season. He wasn’t the only player in the Cottagers’ forward line who shone bright though, because right winger Harry Wilson (£6.0m) actually performed at similar levels as the Serbian goal machine. While the Welsh international’s 10 goals in 41 Championship games were more than decent, his total of 20 assists was downright incredible (partly thanks to Mitrovic’s high goal count). With budgets tight once again in the build-up to the season opener on August 5th, his price tag is perhaps a bit too prohibitive for fantasy managers to gamble on, but we really recommend to at least place him on your watchlists. Wilson actually already has a season of Premier League action under his belt, after scoring 7 goals and providing 1 assist over the 2019-20 campaign with Bournemouth, so he’s not entirely unexperienced at the highest level. His set-piece duties, mainly focused on corners and direct free-kicks only add to his appeal, especially from GW8 onwards.

LEEDS – FPL 2022-23 team preview

After a spectacular return to the Premier League back in 2020 under manager Marcelo Bielsa, the 2021-22 campaign was a different beast for the Whites. They ended up being, in fact, the first side in eleven years to climb out of the drop zone on the very last day of the season. They needed to book a better result away at Brentford than fellow relegation candidates Burnley at home to Newcastle, and they did. A 1-2 victory over the Bees saw them hop over Burnley into 17th place, pushing the Clarets, who fell 1-2 to the Magpies, into the relegation zone.

All of this happened under the management of Jesse Marsh, the American former RB Leipzig coach who was appointed in February as Bielsa’s successor after a horror run of defeats under the Chilean. Marsh managed to have an impact on the side as Leeds won three of the next five following his appointment, but the ghost of relegation was never truly far away. Especially worrying was Leeds’ defensive display as they conceded a frankly relegation-worthy 79 goals in 38 league games, a total only surpassed by last season’s whipping boys Norwich. At the same time, their goal-scoring record was nothing to write home about either, netting just 42 times which wasn’t helped by injuries to main striker Bamford. Only the three relegated sides and Wolves scored less than the Whites.

In that light, the departure of their absolute star man Raphinha is all the more problematic. Sure, Barcelona paid a hefty £55 million fee (including add-ons) for the Brazilian international, but by selling the winger, Leeds also lost no less than 33% of their goals from last season. Raphinha was directly involved in 14 goals (11 goals, 3 assists) and in the absence of Patrick Bamford, he was the one that made Leeds tick. Add to that the £42 million transfer of midfield compass Kalvin Phillips and it’s clear that Leeds have their work cut out for them this summer transfer window. So far, they have invested around £100 million back into the squad, but mainly in young(er) players without too much experience in the Premier League. Nevertheless, the likes of attacking midfielder Brenden Aaronson (£22 million from RB Salzburg), Colombian international winger Luis Sinisterra (£25 million from Feyenoord) and defensive midfielder Tyler Adams (£20 million from RB Leipzig) could end up being spectacular additions to the squad and the Premier League as a whole.

Leeds’ tactics sheet

Any team sacking Marcelo Bielsa will have to cope with a period of change in terms of playing style and tactics, as the Chilean mastermind is famously known for his extreme ideas in terms of setting up his sides. It was no different for Jesse Marsh last season, but the American managed to navigate the situation quite well. In fact, very well actually, because he steered the Whites clear of relegation and secured at least one other season of Premier League football at Elland Road.

As is often the case with teams in fear of relegation, results gain importance over style, so last season’s games under Marsh might not be entirely indicative of what we’re going to see from them this season. Still, he seemed to clearly prefer a 4-2-3-1 formation, much like Bielsa would use. This makes sense as the squad was obviously built for this tactic before his arrival. As a product from the Red Bull school, the American wants to see energetic, high-press football that puts opponents under pressure from the moment they touch the ball. The likes of Jack Harrison and Dan James are particularly suited to this type of football, while Rodrigo was a bit of a revelation as the dynamic, hard-working number 10. The previously mentioned new recruits, Sinisterra and Aaronson in particular, look like they could slot into this approach quite easily, which is why we’re not expecting too much of a system change in that sense. Then again, with so many changes having taken place at Elland Road over the last six months or so, Leeds are very much a wait-and-see side for us at the moment. We’re not coming close to anything defence-related from Leeds until there are some signs that they have learned from their horrific defensive performance from last season.

LEEDS – Potential FPL targets

In theory, after the departure of Raphinha, Patrick Bamford (£7.5m) is the talisman in Leeds’ current squad. His 2021-22 Premier League campaign was largely ruined by ongoing injury problems as he managed just 557 minutes. Despite that very limited playing time, the England international did record 2 goals and 2 assists, which hints at the qualities he definitely possesses. For more proof of that, we just have to look back at his 2020-21 season. On Leeds’ return to the Premier League, Bamfy played just over 3,000 minutes of league football, scoring 17 goals and providing 11 assists for a total of 194 FPL points. Incredible stats for a striker of a newly promoted side, especially considering his £5.5m price tag at the start of that season. It’s that same price tag that will keep many fantasy managers from taking a gamble on him in the build-up to this season’s first gameweek, but if he keeps fit and starts ticking under Jesse Marsh, £7.5m can end up being a more than reasonable price.

In the shadows of mainly Raphinha, Jack Harrison (£6.0m) actually had a decent 2021-22 Premier League campaign, considering how poor Leeds were for most of it. He scored 8 goals and provided 1 assist for a total of 117 FPL points, and what’s especially encouraging is the seeming uptick in form that he experienced after the appointment of Jesse Marsh. In the last eight gameweeks of last season, Harrison actually developed into the main man at Leeds, scoring four goals and playing a major role in them securing another season of Premier League football. As a matter of fact, after Raphinha’s opener in the final game of the season against Brentford, he was the one who scored the injury time winning goal in the 1-2 result that saw the Whites hop over Burnley into the safety zone. Again, like Bamford, we don’t think many fantasy managers will pick him for their gameweek 1 squad, but if he carries on his form from the end of last season, he could become an interesting option at £6.0m.

Overpricing, unfortunately, seems to be a bit of a trend for Leeds fantasy assets this season. Like Bamford and Harrison, new boy Luis Sinisterra (£6.5m) could be an interesting differential, but at his current price, he’s competing with the likes of Wilfried Zaha, James Ward-Prowse and Youri Tielemans for a midfield spot in your squad. Having said that, if you are set on taking a Leeds punt, the Colombian international, who won’t feature at the 2022 World Cup later this year as his country failed to qualify, could be what you are looking for. As one of the stand-out performers for Dutch giants Feyenoord last season, Luisito scored 12 goals and gave 7 assists in 30 Eredivisie games last season. His underlying stats were good as well, as he registered an average of 2.6 shots and 2 key passes per game.

For more in-depth discussions on the Fantasy Premier League game check out our FPL forum.

FPL 2022/23 PRE-SEASON CLUB PREVIEWS – PART 4

Yesterday our 3rd preview of the 2022/23 FPL season covered Brighton and ChelseaIn this 4th FPL instalment, it’s time for Crystal Palace and an Everton side that only very narrowly escaped the first relegation in its history last season.

CRYSTAL PALACE – FPL 2022/23 team preview

The 2021-22 Premier League campaign represented a new start for Crystal Palace in more than a few ways. Some big names and Eagles mainstays over the previous were released, including the likes of Gary Cahill, Mamadou Sakho and Wayne Hennesey, and a new manager was appointed in the person of French former world champion Patrick Vieira. After four years of decent enough but rarely exciting football under Premier League veteran Roy Hodgson, the OFC Nice manager was brought in to ring in a new era at Selhurst Park. Attacking football, leaving relegation worries permanently behind and perhaps even competing for a top-half finish were all amongst the goals set for Vieira prior to his arrival, so the Frenchman had his work cut out for him.

It was a risky appointment, there is no doubt, and the bookmakers had Vieira as the second-most likely manager to get the first sack in the 2021-22 season, but as so often, they were wrong. What emerged under the former Arsenal midfielder was a young Palace side, stacked with English and Continental talent that no longer depended almost entirely on Wilfried Zaha, as had been the case so often in the past years. While the Ivory Coast international recorded his best season as an Eagle to date with 14 goals and 2 assists for 150 FPL points, Palace had a good season overall as well. They finished 12th in the Prem and in the bottom-half of the table, only Aston Villa outscored them (50 goals vs 52). Defensively, they were even more impressive with 46 conceded goals, a total bettered by only seven other teams in the league.

Like the fans, Palace’s management must be quite happy with how the summer transfer window is developing so far. They have managed to keep last season’s team together and added a few reinforcements already, most notably young defensive midfielder Cheick Doucouré from Ligue 1 side Lens for about £15 million and the young attacker Malcolm Ebiowei from Derby on a free. Quite a contrast compared to last summer, as we described earlier, and something that should instil hope of another good season in the topflight among the Palace faithful.

Crystal Palace’s tactics sheet

One of the major achievements of Vieira in his first season at Selhurst Park, besides the tidy 12th-place finish in the league, has been the way in which he managed to implement a new playing style in relatively little time. Preferring a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, the Frenchman focused on getting the team used to a more energetic, attacking approach to games and it paid off. Outside of last season’s top eight and Aston Villa, no team scored more goals than the Eagles’ 50 successful attempts. At the same time, no defensive solidity was sacrificed to achieve this feat, as the team went on to concede just 46 goals. As a result, they were the only side outside of last season’s top eight to end the 2021-22 campaign with a positive goal difference.

As we briefly touched upon earlier, one of the major improvements to the side has been the lower reliance on individual flashes of brilliance from their talisman, Wilfried Zaha. By demanding a higher, more intense press from his team, especially in the middle, Vieira managed to involve more players in the attacking part of their game, most notably Chelsea loanee Connor Gallagher, who blossomed under the Frenchman. They will surely miss him this season. Add to that a new pair of ball-playing central defenders and the emergence of Tyrick Mitchell as yet another top wing-back prospect from The Academy, and it’s clear that, in a relatively short period of time, Vieira managed to add quality and tactical versatility to the side.

CRYSTAL PALACE – Potential FPL targets

For some years now, no serious Crystal Palace season preview could start listing interesting FPL targets without starting with Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m). FPL managers will be happy to see the Palace star man not only listed as a midfielder once again this season, but at a very fair price. The 29-year-old forward was the best fantasy scorer by some distance on the Palace roster last season, recording 150 FPL points from 14 goals, 2 assists, 11 clean sheets and 11 bonus points. That translates to about 21 FPL points per million pounds spent, which is quite a phenomenal return. As Zaha is the team’s talisman, he is all but immune to rotation and he has penalty duties as well. Palace’s start to the season is not the easiest, but the fixtures ease up from gameweek 5 onwards, which is where we expect interest in the Ivory Coast international to really take off, assuming he remains fit and shows decent form in the weeks prior.

After Aaron Wan-Bissaka a few seasons ago, Tyrick Mitchell (£4.5m) is on the way to becoming the next top talent at wing-back coming out of the Crystal Palace Academy. Contrary to his AWB, Mitchell plays on the left and seems to have fully convinced Patrick Vieira of his qualities, considering his 3,101 playing minutes in the Premier League last season. From 10 clean sheets, 2 assists and 6 bonus points, the 22-year-old England international collected 109 FPL points. For a budget defender, that’s not bad at all. While the Palace centre-backs offer a bit more goal threat from set-pieces, Mitchell’s appeal lies in his goal threat from open play. Competition is fierce in the budget defender bracket this season, but the Palace man is worth putting on your watchlists.

Michael Olise (£5.5m) was mainly used as a bench player last season, starting 12 times in the Premier League and coming on 14 times as substitute, but he still managed 2 goals and 5 assists for 73 FPL points. The France Under-21 international was brought in from Reading last summer for about £9 million and we have a feeling that there is much more playing time on the cards for him this season. He boasts some interesting offensive stats for a bargain midfielder, including the highest Expected Assist ratio among all his teammates (0.29 per 90 minutes) and the third-most completed passes into the box. Possibly not one for your gameweek 1 squad, but over the whole season, we expect Olise to improve considerably on his 2021-22 stats.

EVERTON – FPL 2022-23 team preview

Image by jorono from Pixabay

To label Everton’s 2021-22 Premier League campaign as tough is probably the understatement of the season. The Toffees struggled through most of the campaign, fighting to avoid dropping into the relegation zone on more than a few occasions. Strangely enough, the club started off quite well under Rafa Benitez, winning three and drawing one in the first four league games of the season. A seemingly endless run of uninspired displays and disappointing results then led to the sacking of the Spanish manager in January 2022 and the subsequent appointment of Chelsea legend Frank Lampard as his successor.

The managerial chance didn’t do Everton’s fortunes much good though, as they found themselves actually IN the relegation zone with just a few weeks to go before the end of the season. Somehow, Super Frankie Lamps managed to light the fire in his players one more time, resulting in surprising victories over Chelsea, Leicester and Palace in the final stretch. The end result: 16th place with 39 points, just four above the drop zone, a total of just 11 victories and a negative goal difference of 23. Not good enough for a club of Everton’s calibre, not good enough at all.

Toffee sentiment will not have improved much since that disappointing finish, as the club has just sold their best player by some distance. Richarlison transferred to Spurs for a cool £60 million, so at least Everton have some money to spend on the market this summer, on top of their usual budget. As far as incoming players are concerned though, up until now the biggest news has been the free transfer of Burnley icon James Tarkowski to Goodison Park, which in all honesty is very good signing. Still, with just a few weeks to go until gameweek 1, the club really needs to kick into a higher gear if they want to avoid another nightmare season full of bottom-half-of-the-table action.

Everton’s tactics sheet

As far as Frank Lampard’s tactical approach at Everton, last season was more about survival than working on an attractive, own way of playing. Therefore, it will be very interesting to see how the Toffees turn up in gameweek 1 against Chelsea at home. Ideally, the former England international prefers building up from the back with his team, keeping the ball at their feet and patiently moving it up the pitch, and with wing-backs pushing up the field to provide width. At the same time, the forwards are expected to be energetic and press almost constantly on the opponent’s defence around the middle of the pitch. Even supposed starting number nine Dominic Calvert-Lewin works incredibly hard in a defensive sense, which is only more testament to Lampard’s influence on the side.

While the preferred way of playing is clear, last season showed a worrying lack of stability, especially in terms of their defence. As we wrote above, when Premier League survival is at stake, teams usually return back to the very basics and seeing as Everton made it, their approach can easily be labelled as the right one in that particular situation. Still, when you see a team conceding 66 goals in 38 games (only four teams conceded more) while scoring just 43 themselves (only six teams scored less), you have to be critical. Teams with better stats have been relegated from the Premier League in the past. If you’re considering Everton assets for your gameweek 1 squad, it’s therefore important to check out the club’s preparations as Lampard is going through his first pre-season with them.

EVERTON – Potential FPL targets

Despite his slightly elevated price tag, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.0m) is probably Everton’s most appealing asset from a fantasy point of view. When fit, he is the undisputed focal point of the Toffee attack and he has shown that he can translate that role into plenty of attacking returns. Between 2019 and 2021, the England international recorded 29 goals and 7 assists over two seasons, and even last season his averages were not bad. The problem with last season were his injury issues, which led to him getting just 1,281 minutes of Premier League action (5 goals, 2 assists). That’s why we mentioned his fitness earlier. He missed a total of 16 league games last season due to an ongoing toe injury, which basically placed him offside as an FPL asset. The 25-year-old looks to be back to full fitness again during the current pre-season though, and if he can keep that up, then £8.0 million is an acceptable price for a player of his calibre. His biggest problem in terms of FPL appeal is that there are other fantasy assets priced similarly that offer, at first glance, considerably more value, like Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus, Man City’s Phil Foden and Chelsea’s Mason Mount.

In the absence of DCL as Everton’s most likely top points scorer in the official fantasy game and excluding the now-departed Richarlison, Jordan Pickford (£4.5m) ended up being the team’s best performer with 116 FPL points. Nevertheless, and not so surprisingly perhaps when looking at how many goals the Toffees conceded, the goalkeeper’s price was dropped by £0.5m for the 2022-23 campaign. An interesting move by FPL Towers, because this at least places Pickford in the goalkeeper debate for gameweek 1. He’s an established international goalkeeper who is vying for a place in England’s World Cup squad, available at the cheapest possible price for a starting goalkeeper this season. We like to think that Everton will perform better as a team this season than they did last, after all performing worse than last season would practically see them relegated, and that this will also reflect in Pickford’s numbers. At the time of writing, 6% of all managers in the official game seem to hope for the same.

As you’ve probably realised by now, Everton are very much a wait-and-see for us right now, but if you’re set on bringing in one or more Toffees, the midfield roster offers some interesting budget-enablers. Last season was a breakthrough season for Everton Academy graduate Anthony Gordon (£5.5m) as he conquered a starting spot in Benitez’ and later Lampard’s starting eleven in the first half of the season. He ended up playing just over 2,200 minutes of Premier League football, and recorded 4 goals and 3 assists for a total of exactly 100 FPL points. As a result, his price tag was raised from last season’s bottom-bargain £4.5m to a still very fair £5.5m this season. When you watch Gordon play, he definitely passes the eye test and looks like a player who could do some real damage, in real life and in FPL. If he can keep up his development and increase his offensive output this season, it won’t be long before he starts featuring in more than a few fantasy teams. Frank Lampard seems to consider him a starter at least, and he got some set-piece duties towards the end of last season as well, so the fantasy potential is definitely there.

For more in-depth discussions on the Fantasy Premier League game check out our FPL forum.

FPL 2022/23 PRE-SEASON CLUB PREVIEWS – PART 3

Yesterday our 2nd preview of the 2022/23 FPL season covered Bournemouth and Brentford. In this 3rd FPL instalment, we’re taking a deeper look at Graham Potter’s Brighton and a Chelsea side under new ownership after the forced exit of Roman Abramovich.

BRIGHTON – FPL 2022/23 team preview

With Brighton and Hove Albion, we have come to one of the more calm and consistent clubs in the Premier League. While frustrating at times from a fantasy perspective, mainly due to their often-decent performances not being converted into consistent attacking returns, the club has been one of the more stable sides in the bottom-half of the table over the past years. That is, up until last season, when the Seagulls finished in the top-half of the Premier League table for the first time in their history with a very respectable ninth place.

Manager Graham Potter has managed to implement an attractive playing style at Brighton, but they have been lacking a serious end product for a few seasons now. Last season, they conceded just 44 goals, a total only bettered by the top-four plus Wolves, but they also netted just 42 times. Only the three relegated clubs plus, again, Wolves scored less. What’s more, when looking at the Expected Goals over the run of the 2021-22 campaign, Brighton were THE underachiever in the Premier League classroom with 54.34. Just imagine where they could have ended had they actually delivered on their xG.

This thought will surely have crossed the club management’s minds more than a few times as well, which explains Brighton’s activity on the transfer market so far. On top of Deniz Undav returning from loan at Union Saint-Gilloise, where he crowned himself top scorer of the Belgian Jupiler Pro League, the Seagulls splashed the cash for the very talented 18-year-old forward and Paraguay international Julio Enciso (£9.5 million from Club Libertad), and left winger Simon Adingra (£6 million from Danish side Nordsjaelland. The club had some extra money to spend after the sale of key player Yves Bissouma to Spurs for around £25 million. There is no doubt that Brighton will duly miss the Mali international’s physicality and intensity in midfield this coming season but with the likes of Jakob Moder, Enock Mwepu and Moises Caicedo, they might just have his replacement in their ranks already.

Brighton’s tactics sheet

Like at his other clubs in the past, Graham Potter has managed to instil a level of tactical awareness and discipline at Brighton that few other teams in England and indeed the world possess. Their possession-based game based on a rock-solid defensive foundation, usually in a very fluid 3-5-2 or 3-4-2-1 formation, has proven to make the Seagulls hard to score against and more importantly, hard to beat as well. At the same time, Potter has no problems changing or rotating his personnel, which from a pure football point of view is rather impressive, but not the kind of thing you like to see as an FPL manager.

As we wrote before, Brighton like to have the ball and move it around, which is how they initiate most of their attacking moves. They consistently rank amongst the best teams for most passes per game, though it should be noted that the majority of this passing happens on their own half. With quick forwards that constantly interchange positions up front, they wait for the right moment to make the incisive pass, either high or low. As a result, Brighton’s central defenders boast some of the highest completed attacking passes ratios in the official game.

The forwards are asked to press high and constantly, which is why the likes of Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard fit Brighton’s style of play so well. The downside is that, so far, Potter has not yet found a way to make his forwards stand out in terms of goalscoring. The previously mentioned two players managed 8 goals each, making them the side’s shared top scorers. Only Wolves (the parallels between the two sides are starting to show, right?) had a team top scorer with less than that, namely Raul Jimenez with 6 goals.

BRIGHTON – Potential FPL targets

Out of all players currently on the Brighton roster, goalkeeper Robert Sánchez (£4.5m) is the highest owned at the time of writing and we expect that to still be the case come gameweek 1. The Spanish international is the number one between the sticks for Graham Potter and sits in just over 14% of all teams. Despite his nailed-on starting spot and a very decent total of 11 clean sheets last season, for a total of 126 FPL points, his price tag has remained unchanged. This makes him a very interesting pick, especially for those managers who like to rotate budget goalies and spend some more of the available budget on outfield players. Adding to Sánchez’ appeal is the fact that, after his GW1 visit to Old Trafford, he’ll only be facing one team with an FDR rating higher than 3 (Liverpool away in GW9) until gameweek 13.

We’re sticking with the Brighton defence for now, because the second Seagull on our watchlist is Tariq Lamptey (£4.5m). A bit of a fan favourite since his transfer from the Chelsea U23’s back in January 2020, the speedy right-back missed part of last season due to injuries. As a result, he managed just 1,547 Premier League minutes, though in that limited time he did record 2 assists and 6 clean sheets for a total of 74 FPL points. An advantage for fantasy managers is that, as a result of his limited playing time last season, his price tag has remained unchanged. At £4.5m and with a good set of fixtures practically right up to the World Cup break, we recommend keeping an eye on him in the build-up to the season opening.

In all fairness, besides Sánchez and Lamptey, we struggled a bit to find a third recommendable pick at Brighton, simply because their attack has been so goal-shy over the past few seasons. If you do have your heart set on integrating an offensive Brighton asset into your squad, Leandro Trossard (£6.5m) is probably your best bet. The Belgian will be fighting for a spot in his country’s World Cup squad and he is a bit of a talisman for the Seagulls. What also helps, is that he gets his share of set-pieces, including penalties. Looking back at his 2021-22 Premier League campaign, 8 goals and 4 assists for a total of 141 FPL points is pretty OK for a midfielder in his price bracket, and we feel he will definitely reach those numbers again this season. The main problem in that sense is that Potter is not afraid to rotate, as we said earlier, so timing your utilisation of the Belgian is very important if you want to benefit from his low price. He will probably be outscored by a few other mid-price midfielders, but he’s also a quality player who might just explode if the Seagulls finally manage to start banging in the goals.

CHELSEA – FPL 2022-23 team preview

Photo by Simon Reza on Unsplash

Chelsea FC were last season’s runner-up team. They finished in third place in the league, a respective 18 and 19 points between powerhouses Liverpool and champions Manchester City, and lost both the League Cup final and the FA Cup final to Liverpool. A season without silverware is not good enough for one of the world’s biggest clubs, is what many would’ve said prior to the start of last season, but of course, no one could have expected the off-field chaos that unfolded at Stamford Bridge when Russia decided to invade the Ukraine back in February of this year.

Identified as a key contact and partner of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chelsea’s (former) billionaire owner Roman Abramovich saw his assets frozen soon after the invasion and his ownership of Chelsea Football Club was one of those assets. As a result, during a period of time, it looked like Chelsea were heading towards an unprecedented collapse in the summer transfer window, not being allowed to splash the cash on anything from new players to multi-million salaries and team transportation. Fortunately for everything and anyone Blue, this disaster scenario was avoided when a group of new, mainly American, investors took full ownership of the club for a cool £4.25 billion in May.

The new owners did not take long to get themselves noticed in the world of European football. While the free transfer of key man Antonio Rüdiger to Real Madrid ended up being unavoidable, the only leaving players that played some sort of role last season were the ineffective Romelu Lukaku and central defender Andreas Christensen, who also moved to La Liga for free, to FC Barcelona. On the other side, Manchester City ace Raheem Sterling and Napoli giant Kalidou Koulibaly arrived for £47.5 million and £33 million, respectively. It’ll be interesting to see how the Blues will turn up this season, but what’s for sure is that manager Thomas Tuchel has his work cut out for him this pre-season.

Chelsea’s tactics sheet

Tuchel is known as a manager who very much lets his tactical approach to seasons and games depend on the personnel that he is available to him, which makes him quite flexible tactically. Nevertheless, there is a clear preference for a 3-5-2 formation for this Chelsea squad when possible, which makes sense given the exceptional abundance of wing-back talent in the current squad. We don’t have to tell FPL managers, but the likes of Reece James, Marcos Alonso, Ben Chilwell and Cesar Azpilicueta tend to be fantasy football gold, thanks to their high involvement in attack. James alone recorded a crazy 5 goals and 9 assists from less than 2,000 minutes in the Premier League, while Alonso only just fell short of those totals with 4 goals and 5 assists.

The wing-backs bombing forward means that Chelsea’s double pivot in the middle is relatively uninteresting from an FPL point of view, apart perhaps from Jorginho and his penalty duties. The expansive build-up play also has implications for the attackers on the wings, including new recruit Sterling, as they are generally instructed to drift inwards and around the central striker. A point to keep in mind is the fact that Chelsea have a deep squad and rotation can occur, especially in attack. In defence, Tuchel has shown that he tends to build on a fixed foundation. Nevertheless, with one of the most favourable starting sets of fixtures out of all teams, a sea of green FDR ratings stretching out to basically the Christmas period, we expect some Blues assets to be hot property over the coming weeks.

CHELSEA – Potential FPL targets

We already mentioned his impressive numbers above, so it’s no surprise that Reece James (£6.0m) is amongst our stand-out Chelsea fantasy targets, just like it’s no surprise that he currently sits in over 44% of all teams in the official game. The England international had to deal with some injury problems over the course of last season, which slightly dampened his appeal as there were more defenders in the spotlight, but 5 goals and 9 assists from 22 starts is just out of this world. Imagine what he can do if he starts 30+ league games this season. He does have some serious competition for his spot, but in our opinion, and considering Tuchel’s preferred tactical approach, James is the number-one choice at right-back for the Blues. He carries a premium price tag, but then again, which midfielder or forward priced at £6.0m will all but guarantee you 180+ FPL points, assuming he stays fit?

At first, we thought to include both James and Ben Chilwell in this section, pretty much for the same reasons, but then we noticed Edouard Mendy (£5.0m), or better said, Edouard Mendy’s price tag for the 2022-23 campaign. At just £5.0m, a whopping whole million cheaper than last season, the Senegal international looks like a bit of a steal to us, to such an extent that we’re considering giving him the elusive “set-and-forget” label this early in the season already. He is the cheapest starting goalie among all of the top-six goalies by some distance and everyone knows how good he is by now. We suspect that part of FPL Towers’ decision to keep his price in the mid-range is the result of Tuchel showing last season that even his goalkeeper is not exempt from (at times seemingly random) rotation, but personally, we’re not worried about it. Mendy is the clear number one for us and will be eyeing World Cup success with his country later on this year. He’s on top of our goalkeeper watchlist at the moment.

A player who did see a price rise this season compared to last is Mason Mount (£8.0m), but the £0.5m extra won’t likely deter a host of fantasy managers bringing him in for the start of the upcoming campaign. Last season, he was the highest-scoring Blue in terms of FPL points: 169, courtesy of 11 goals, 11 assists and 11 clean sheets. As we mentioned earlier, rotation risk is real under Tuchel and with the addition of Raheem Sterling, the offensive positions have only become more stacked. Still, Mount’s role under Tuchel is such that he forms the heart of almost every attacking move Chelsea put together when he’s on the pitch and on top of that, he’s a set-piece specialist as well. Competition is fierce is the mid-price and mid-upper-price midfielder bracket this season, which is reflected in the 23-year-old’s current ownership of just under 10%, but we feel he could be FPL gold in the first half of the season.

For more in-depth discussions on the Fantasy Premier League game check out our FPL forum.

Explaining the mutually benefiting relationship between fantasy sports and sports betting

The relation between fantasy sports and sport betting has been heavily discussed due to their similar structures. In fact, it turns out that they are so similar that they are mutually benefitting. In this article, we will explain and discuss the relationship in more detail in order to understand the mutual growth of the two markets.

Since the birth of fantasy sports in the 1960s, the fantasy sports market has grown in rapid pace to a global phenomenon. Today, the branch has millions of players worldwide with a generously positive growth estimation carved out for the next five years. This is in part because of their relationship with online casino and betting services, which together lower the threshold into the world of sports for casual fans.

Recruiting tool for casual and younger audiences

The fantasy sports market has been called a recruiting tool for sports at large, as both fantasy leagues and sports betting provide a fun way to learn more about sports. This is particularly true for ‘casual’ fans and younger fans, as the gaming approach might feel more easily digestible and more interactive than simply learning all there is about a team or series the traditional way.

TikTok-ization and micro-betting

Some argue that the reason why fantasy leagues and betting has become such an efficient “recruiting tool” for the sports market is because of a cultural “TikTok-ization”. This generally refers to the shortened time span and mass-information culture that is prevalent in social media culture, which affects the way people cope with information outside of apps such as Instagram or TikTok.

The shortened attention span has therefore also affected the way people are betting. Rather than making predictive bets before competitions that simply focus on the general outcome of the games, live- and micro-betting has grown in popularity. This includes betting during the game and betting on events related to individual players or other specific game happenings such as soccer hattricks or goal gestures.

Interlinked target groups

However, the relationship between fantasy sports and betting goes beyond havng similar effects on the sports market. According to data from the official Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association (FSGA), the two groups are made up of almost identical demographics as well. Both markets are made up of 80% male users, and half of their users are between the ages 18-34. Furthermore, FSGA’s data showed that the two groups are highly likely to participate in both markets: 78% of fantasy sports players have participated in betting, and 5% of bettors have participated in fantasy sports.

These statistics are based on data from 2018-2019, and so it is likely that the two markets are even more interrelated today as sports gambling is being legalized in more and more areas. This is particularly true in North America, which is widely recognized as the largest markets for esports such as betting and fantasy sports.

FPL 2022/23 PRE-SEASON CLUB PREVIEWS – PART 2

We started our preview of the 2022/23 FPL season with a look at Arsenal and Aston Villa. In this second FPL instalment, we’re taking a deeper look at newly promoted Brentford and one of last season’s positive surprises at the highest level, Brentford.

BOURNEMOUTH – FPL 2022/23 team preview

With Bournemouth, we’ve come to the first of three newly promoted sides. The Cherries ended their 2021-22 Championship campaign in second place, comfortably ahead of 3rd placed Huddersfield Town and just two points behind champions Fulham. Like that, they limited their absence from the English footballing elite to just a single season, which is quite the achievement. Still, and despite boasting the best defence in the Championship last season, the Dorset team is most likely to be relegated at the end of the coming season, according to the bookies.

Then again, the bookmakers are often wrong, especially so early on in the season. What’s for sure is that manager Scott Parker won’t be phased by the challenge. It’s not the first time the former England international has been in this situation. Back in the 2019-2020 season, he took charge of Fulham in February and led them to the Prem by winning the Championship play-offs. The Cottagers then were relegated straight back to the second tier that next season, which saw Parker leave the club and join his current side. Where he was still quite a rookie in managerial terms in 2019, he now has a lot more experience under his belt, experience that will undoubtedly come in more than handy this season.

What’s surely encouraging for club and fans is that the successful team from last season is still nearly entirely intact for the moment. Midfielder Robbie Brady left for Preston and the experienced Gary Cahill left the club transfer free, but that’s largely it in terms of senior players who played a role last season. At the same time, the Cherries’ very modest activity during the summer transfer window so far will hopefully heat up over the coming weeks. At the time of writing, Bournemouth brought in central midfielder Joe Rothwell from Blackburn and right-back Ryan Fredericks from West Ham, both on a free.

Bournemouth’s tactics sheet

It hasn’t taken Parker very long to implement his own style of play as manager at Bournemouth, in part because it mirrors his own style as a player. A 4-3-3 formation is by far the team’s preferred set-up, sometimes switched for a less attacking 4-2-3-1 formation with one of the central midfielders, usually Philip Billing, playing in an advanced role in the pocket behind lone striker Dominic Solanke. Generally though, the Cherries turn up with two wingers flanking the big man and Billing operating between the forward line and the Lewis Cook-Jefferson Lerma double pivot. We’ll have to see whether the manager dares to take the same approach in the Premier League or whether he will switch to a more defensive formation like he did when he was promoted with Fulham a few years ago.

From an FPL perspective, the Bournemouth winger positions are worth keeping an eye on, as they get a lot of chances to show their attacking qualities, thanks to the presence of the earlier mentioned double pivot in the midfield purely focusing on defensive tasks. The same goes for Billing, who is partly relieved of defensive duties as a result. Basically, the team’s foundation is a solid defensive block in the centre with full-backs who don’t tend to exaggerate with their attacking actions. It’s not that Parker likes to “park the bus”, as a certain former manager of his at Chelsea liked to call it, but they do employ a patient kind of build-up play. In theory, this style should help them endure the stronger competition in the Premier League. It’s also worth noting that, in the Championship, Parker does not shy away from consolidating (narrow) margins in games, starting with a high-pressing tactic and then retreating once a goal or two has been scored.

BOURNEMOUTH – Potential FPL targets

To be honest, we don’t think there will be many Bournemouth assets present in gameweek 1 teams come August 5th. That is part due to the quality of their current players and part due to the fact that the Cherries start the season with a home game against Villa, followed by three very difficult fixtures: Man City away, Arsenal at home and Liverpool away. Having said that, if we’d choose one Cherry for our GW1 squad, it would probably be Philip Billing (£5.5m). The Danish midfielder has evolved from a more conservative central midfielder into a scoring attacking midfielder under Parker, at times even positioning as high as Solanke, the team’s first-choice number nine. A very impressive 10 goals and 10 assists from 40 Championship games last season underlines that evolution. A scoring midfielder is something FPL managers love to see, especially at a price as low as £5.5m, so Billing offers decent budget-enabling potential. He also loves a shot from range and is one of the team’s direct freekick takers, which only benefits his bonus point potential.

If you’re set on picking a Cherry for your gameweek 1 squad, Dominic Solanke (£6.0m) is probably the next name to spring to mind for most fantasy managers. In our opinion, his price tag is just a tad too high for him to really be considered for the third striker spot in our squad, but then again, the big man did record 29 goals and 7 assists in 45 league games last season. This represents a whopping goal involvement of 49% over the entire season. Don’t expect him to replicate those numbers in the Premier League this season, but it’s clear that the potential for FPL points is there. The fact that Solanke already has 63 Premier League appearances under his belt should not be underestimated either. There are not many cheaper starting forwards than Solanke in the official fantasy game, especially not forwards who are also on penalties, like him.

Our third and final Bournemouth pre-season pick is newly acquired Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m), who came from West Ham after running out his contract in London. Manager Parker knows the lightning-fast right-back quite well, having played along him both at Under-21 level at Spurs and from 2015 to 2017 at Fulham in the Championship. Fredericks encounters considerable competition for a starting spot in Jack Stacey and the experienced Adam Smith, but our feeling is telling us that the West Ham made his transfer decisions this summer in big part based on his chances of playing minutes after spending a spell as mainly a reserve player with the Hammers. On top of that, he is also capable of playing on the left side, where the Cherries currently just have the talented Jordan Zemura. At £4.5m, there are probably better options available in the official fantasy game, but if you’re set on a Bournemouth defender, he could be an interesting differential fantasy pick.

BRENTFORD – FPL 2022-23 team preview

Brentford were one of the new boys last season, but it didn’t show on the pitch. After clinching third place in the 2020-21 Championship, the Bees played in the top tier of English football for the first time since the 1946-47 season. Apart from an extended series of bad results at the start of 2022, the team managed to surpass the expectations of most, if not all, by finishing the season in a very comfortable 13th place with 46 points. The fact that relegation was never really a big worry for them is testament to the level of their performances over the 2021-22 campaign.

Besides the 2021-22 season representing the first time Brentford played at the highest level of English football in 75 years, the campaign will also be remembered as the one in which Danish midfield maestro Christian Eriksen made his return to professional. Following his shocking cardiac arrest during the Euro 2020 match against Finland in the group stages just eight months earlier, he made a comeback to professional football for the Bees on February 26th at home against Newcastle. As he worked up to a spot in manager Thomas Frank’s starting eleven, Brentford’s performances started to improve rather drastically. Five wins out of the next six all but secured another season of Premier League football for the Bees. As for Eriksen: his quick return to form plus 1 goal and 4 assists in 11 appearances earned him a free move to Erik ten Hag’s new-look Manchester United this summer. True quality always finds a way back.

Fortunately for Brentford, Eriksen’s departure is the only major name to leave the Brentford Community Stadium so far. At the same time, they have been active during the summer transfer window already, bringing in two highly rated British youngsters into the squad in the persons of 21-year-old left winger Keane Lewis-Potter (for £16 million from Hull City) and 20-year-old left-back Aaron Hickey (£14 million from Serie A side Bologna). If they can manage to keep the rest of the squad together, the Bees could very well build on last season’s performances.

Brentford’s tactics sheet

Under Thomas Frank, Brentford mostly turn up in a fluid 4-3-3 formation or alternatively a more expansive 3-4-1-2 formation with wing-backs high up the pitch. Regardless of the initial set-up though, Frank’s Bees always strive to play attacking football, based on quick combinations and players constantly switching positions in attack. The interchangeability of striker and top scorer Ivan Toney and attacking midfielder/forward Bryan Mbeumo is a perfect example of that. On top of that, the wingers or wing-backs get all the freedom in the world to roam forward in possession and support the attack where possible, either by keeping the pitch wide or by providing ammunition for the forwards.

What’s interesting though, is that despite their preference for attacking play over the wings, Brentford are also very capable at playing through the middle when necessary. The squad overall is built up of players with excellent ball-handling technique, including in the back and even in goal with the excellent David Raya. This not only helps them to control the ball and dictate the pace of matches, but also to provide dangerous moves and passes from practically anywhere on the pitch. The result last season: in the bottom-half of the table, only Crystal Palace and Aston Villa managed to score more than Brentford’s 48 goals in 38 games.

BRENTFORD – Potential FPL targets

It’s not the most adventurous of fantasy picks to kick this section off with, but Brentford’s highest-priced player also happens to be their most interesting pre-season target, in our opinion. Ivan Toney (£7.0m) had an excellent 2021-22 campaign, scoring 12 goals and providing 5 assists for a total of 139 FPL points, more than any other Bee colleague. Big part of his appeal came from being a nailed-on forward in an attacking side, during a season in which consistent forwards were hard to find in the official game. On top of that, he’s one of the best penalty takers in the world. It’s a little bit surprising therefore that his price was not raised by more than just £0.5m, but all the better for fantasy managers. At £7.0m, and with a favourable run of no less than nine gameweeks after the first two gameweeks (in which Brentford face Leicester away and Man United at home), Toney is one to watch for your early team selections.

The previously mentioned extended run of favourable matchups between gameweeks 3 and 11, in which Brentford only face opponents with an FDR rating of 3 or lower, will also see David Raya (£4.5m) turn up in more than a few GW1 FPL squads. Despite an injury that kept him side-lined for a few months, the Spanish goalkeeper still made 24 PL appearances and managed to keep 8 clean sheets. The fact that he has one of the best “saves per 90 minutes” stats in the league only adds to his appeal, as bonus point potential is gold for goalies. Raya should start the upcoming campaign as manager Thomas Frank’s first choice between the sticks as well. So, at a price of just £4.5m, expect him to be on many an FPL manager’s mind in the build-up to gameweek 1.

Initially, we wanted to include the talented Bryan Mbeumo in this Brentford pre-season watchlist as well, but his re-classification from midfielder to forward in the official fantasy game this season made us go with Pontus Jansson (£4.5m) instead. The Swedish central defender barely missed a minute under Thomas Frank last season and he duly repaid that confidence in his abilities. Not only with consistently good performances from a defensive point of view, but also with no less than seven attacking returns: 3 goals and 4 assists. No wonder the Swede recorded the most FPL points behind striker Ivan Toney. It should be noted that Christian Eriksen’s sublime set-piece deliveries in the second half of the season will no longer be a part of Brentford’s game as the Dane has moved to Man United on a free, which could impact the team’s (and Jansson’s) efficiency from dead-ball situations.

For more in-depth discussions on the Fantasy Premier League game check out our FPL forum.

FPL 2022/23 Pre-season Club Previews – Part 1

Welcome back to another season of Fantasy Premier League football, welcome back to FISO!

After a thrilling 2021-22 campaign, which saw Manchester City booking their third consecutive title victory, the upcoming season is already looking like a whole other kind of beast due to the 2022 World Cup being held in November and December this year. It’s unusual, but money talks and in the end, a World Cup immediately followed by the Christmas holidays, doesn’t sound so bad at all, right?

Plus, as FPL Towers recently announced, special measures will be taken to accommodate the unprecedented November-December break. Unlimited free transfers will be activated in the game between 13:30 on Saturday, November 12th, and 13:30 on Monday, December 26th. This means, in essence, that fantasy managers will have a kind of third Wildcard at their disposal this upcoming season. Save this information, because it can make or break your season before the first half of the campaign has even begun.

As a result of this season’s calender, the Premier League is kicking off a little bit earlier than usual as well. On Friday, August 5th, the world’s greatest league kicks off with a good old-fashioned London derby between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park. In the build-up, 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 first instalment, we’re kicking off with ambitious Arsenal and an Aston Villa side that’s determined to do better than last season’s rather disappointing 14th place.

ARSENAL – FPL 2022/23 team preview

Last season was a strange one for Arsenal, because it was the first time since the 1995-96 campaign that the Gunners did not feature in Europe at all. Far from a highlight for the club, but as a famous Dutch footballing genius used to say, every disadvantage has its advantage. That advantage, in the case of Arsenal, was that there were no European distractions during the last campaign, meaning that all of the focus could be shifted to domestic competitions.

In the Premier League, the North Londoners finished in fifth place, just 2 points off the coveted fourth and final Champions League spot. It was nevertheless their best finish since the fifth place back in the 2019-20 season and for periods throughout the period, Mikel Arteta’s men definitely looked like they’re getting back to a position from which they can seriously compete for a top-4 spot. While their FA Cup run was nothing to write home about last season, exiting at the hands of Nottingham Forest in the Third Round, the Gunners did manage to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup. A 2-0 loss against later winners Liverpool ended their run and with that, their hopes for silverware.

Besides the improving performances overall and the qualification for Europa League football, last season also saw Arsenal fielding the youngest team on average with an age of just over 24 years old. This confirms what many FPL managers already knew, namely that the current Arsenal roster is full of young and exciting talent, and more importantly from a fantasy perspective, at decent prices. In that light, the addition of Man City star Gabriel Jesus for a cool £45 million fits perfectly, as does the less-covered acquisition of 22-year-old Portuguese offensive midfielder Fábio Vieira from FC Porto for a whopping £34m (including add-ons). Without those reinforcements, the Gunners already boasted the sixth-best offense in the league with 61 goals in 38 games. Defensively, they recorded 13 clean sheets, placing them fifth in the league behind the season’s top four.

Arsenal’s tactics sheet

The idea behind Mikel Arteta’s appointment as manager back in December 2019 was to continue the club long-standing tradition of playing free-flowing attacking football, building up from the back and controlling the game’s pace. The club started last season with a 3-4-2-1 formation, but a lack of dynamism from the back and the performances of their attacking players warranted a change to a more versatile 4-2-3-1 formation. While this initially caused some worries about their defensive stability, it turned out that this wasn’t the case, in big part thanks to new signings Ben White, who formed a stable partnership with Gabriel Magalhaes in the heart of the defense, and goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

As we mentioned before, Arsenal play out from the back and do so often over the flanks, where Takehiro Tomiyasu, Cedric Soares and especially Kieran Tierney offer quality outlets. By dropping deeper when the team initiates attacks, the central midfielders force opponents to crowd the midfield, essentially leaving space on the flanks for Arsenal’s explosive wingers to get into dangerous positions even early on. What stands out in terms of their attacks is the rotation of their offensive players. The likes of Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli are such gifted talents that they can shift all over the attacking third and pop up dangerously from practically anywhere. Playing with a mobile and equally technical striker in the person of Gabriel Jesus or even Eddie Nketiah should only make them harder to stop this season.

ARSENAL – Potential FPL targets

Last season, Bukayo Saka (£8.0m) was a no-brainer for us, considering his enormous potential in combination with his bargain price tag. We recommended him as one of the best Gunners to target and he did not disappoint one bit: 11 goals, 9 assists and 179 FPL points in just under 3,000 minutes of Premier League football. Therefore, and despite the hefty increase of his FPL price, he is among the best Arsenal fantasy picks once again. No other Gunner scored more FPL points than him last season and he was amongst the stand-out performers in most matches. Add to that the facts that he is about as nailed-on a fantasy asset as they come, is on penalties AND is once again listed as a midfielder in the official fantasy game, and there should be no doubt about who to focus on when it comes to the Arsenal roster. Do keep in mind that the additions of attacking options Gabriel Jesus and Fábio Vieira, as well as the added strain of European games, could end in more rotation among the Arsenal squad. Saka is nevertheless this Arsenal’s star man and should be a safe fantasy pick for a medium-sized investment.

It’s always a bit risky to name players who just arrived at a club as major potential FPL target, weeks before the season has even officially started, but we believe that the case of Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) does not apply here. The Brazilian has been playing in the Premier League since January 1st, 2017, amassing an impressive 233 appearances for Manchester City, scoring 95 goals and 46 assists. In other words, Jesus needs no introduction to the English footballing elite. The main issue for him at City was his relatively limited playing time and seeing as a player of his calibre will surely have had dozens of top-quality options this summer, we feel that more regular minutes for the attacker this season represented an important part of the negotiations. Looking at his current pre-GW1 ownership of 59.2% at the time of writing, we’re probably not the only ones feeling this feeling. At £8.0m, it could be more than worth it to own the expected focal point of Mikel Arteta’s side.

Earlier on, we mentioned Arsenal’s decent defensive performance last season and how £50-million acquisition Ben White (£4.5m) played his role in stabilising a traditionally shaky defence. In that light, we find it quite surprising that the Brighton Player of the Year 2020-21 has not seen his price rise for the new season. Just like that, you’ve got a nailed-on defender in a team that should be contending for at least a top-6 finish at a bargain price. Sure, White’s not a wing-back and provides zero attacking returns last season, but we’re considering him one of the stand-out budget enablers prior to GW1. He was part of a defence that recorded 13 clean sheets over the previous campaign and ended up with 107 FPL points. Add to that the fact that Arsenal are facing only two sides with an FDR rating higher than 2 in the first eight gameweeks (Leicester at home in GW2 and Man United away in GW6) and you can see why we included him in our list of potential Arsenal FPL targets over the likes of Smith-Rowe and Martinelli, for example.

ASTON VILLA – FPL 2022-23 team preview

The 2022-2023 Premier League campaign will be Steven Gerrard’s first full season as manager of the Villans and hopes are, as usual, high at Villa Park. Back in November of last year, the Liverpool legend succeeded Dean Smith, who had just recorded the fifth consecutive loss. Despite his track record at Rangers, opting for Gerrard in the middle of the season could be considered a risk, but it panned out nicely, though their eventual 14th-place finish does not immediately indicate that. The style of play was promising at times though, and the hope is that Stevie G can continue building on that foundation.

Of course, last season was also year 1 AG, After Grealish. The absolute star man of the Villans, who at the age of 25 made 213 appearances for his boyhood club (32 goals, 43 assists), was sold to Manchester City in August 2021 for a record £100 million. That money was quickly invested back into the squad with the acquisitions of, among others, Emi Buendia from Norwich, Leon Bailey from Leverkusen and Danny Ings from Southampton, but there was more to come. Good players and big names, sure, but there was more to come. In the January transfer window, newly appointed Gerrard managed to bring in direct reinforcements of proven world-class in the persons of former teammate and former PL sensation Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona, as well as World Champion Lucas Digne from Everton.

As far as the current transfer window is concerned, the Villans have been relatively quiet so far, though the summer is long still. There is less necessity for them to reinforce in big ways this time, seeing as most of the multi-million Pound signings from last season are likely to play significant roles throughout the upcoming campaign. Their major investment so far has been the powerful Diego Carlos, a central defender from Sevilla who cost them around £26 million, though the signing of Boubacar Kamara from Olympique Marseilles on a free should not be underestimated either. Villa missed a physical controlling midfielder last season and the 22-year-old French international might just be the solution.

Villa’s tactics sheet

With Gerrard currently managing his first pre-season at Aston Villa, the former England international will have plenty of more time to implement his preferred playing philosophy in comparison to when he started mid-season last year. Add to that the major reinforcements that he was allowed to bring in January and it’s easy to see why the team should improve considerably from its disappointing 14th place last season. The expectation is that, in order to achieve that, the manager will remain loyal to his love for attacking football, goals and excitement.

Gerrard’s style foundation is strict tactical discipline with plenty of movement, both on and off the ball. The wingers, especially, play key roles in his preferred 4-3-2-1 or 4-3-1-2 formations, depending on whether he wants to play with one or two strikers. They get the freedom to drift inside and join the striker(s), while the full-backs bomb forward to reach the backline and create chances. With Lucas Digne on the left and Matty Cash, Villa Player of the Season 2021-22, on the right, the side boasts the perfect personnel for such tactics. They shared 4 goals and 7 assists among the two of them last season.

At the same time, Gerrard is not afraid to instil a patient approach when it comes to the build-up. Villa like to control the game, especially in the midfield, and the aim is to get the ball into the box to take shots instead of taking shots from outside. Since Gerrard’s appointment, Villa on average take 7.8 shots per game from inside and 2.5 per game from outside. Considering the types of strikers they possess, Ings in particular, this makes a lot of sense.

ASTON VILLA – Potential FPL targets

Surprisingly, one of Villa’s stand-out performers from last season, right-back Matty Cash (£5.0m) has not gotten a price rise from FPL Towers this season. He developed into one of the most popular full-backs in the league, which is quite a feat when you consider the extreme competition. His modest price made him a kind of “luxury enabler” for many fantasy managers and he delivered duly with 4 goals and 3 assists from just over 3,300 minutes of Premier League action, which resulted in 147 FPL points. Add 13 clean sheets to that and it’s no surprise why he is currently in just over 20% of all teams prior to gameweek 1. The Poland international is nailed-on under Gerrard and there is no reason to believe he will not surpass his excellent 2021-22 campaign this season.

The only player on the Aston Villa roster who boasts a higher ownership percentage at the moment of writing, though by a minimal margin, is Philippe Coutinho (£7.0m), who we feel could actually end up being a major bargain for fantasy managers. His main issue in terms of fantasy selections is that the mid-price midfielder category is quite stacked this season, but he should definitely be on your scouting lists. The Brazilian international, who played with his current manager at Liverpool from 2013 to 2018, returned to Anfield in January and racked up 16 starts in the Premier League between gameweeks 22 and 38. Over that stretch, he showed a glimpse or perhaps even a bit more already of what he is capable of with 5 goals and 3 assists for a total of 83 FPL points. Assuming a full pre-season with the club and more time for his manager to work on the tactics, Coutinho might just end up becoming one of the better midfielders in the official fantasy game. He has the qualities to make a mockery of his price tag, that’s for sure.

Despite ending the 2021-2022 Premier League season with 11 goals and 2 assists from 33 starts, Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) possibly looks back on the campaign with a feeling of being able to do better. In the first half of the season, especially, the 26-year-old striker had difficulties finding the back of the net, just like many of his teammates were struggling to find consistent good form. Still, with 131 FPL points, Watkins ended the season as Villa’s topscorer, while in the entire league, only seven forwards did better than him. What we’re trying to say is that he is good and his last season was decent, but we feel he can do considerably better still. Gerrard’s preferred style of playing should fit the attacker perfectly and with a favorable opening set of fixtures to the season, his current 4.5% ownership could see him become one of the popular early-season differentials. It’s Bournemouth away, Everton at home and Crystal Palace away for the Villans in the first three gameweeks, so keep an eye on Watkins’ form during pre-season.

For more in-depth discussions on the Fantasy Premier League game check out our FPL forum.

Unforgettable Premier League moments making history

It’s just fair to say that the Premier league is  one of the most popular and favourite competitions of both football fans and punters, especially as it gives unforgettable moments with a strong viewership and unparalleled betting value. In fact, going through bookmakers at https://allbets.tv/ one can easily see the distinctive place of Premier League bets, particularly as Premier League matches are a treat for the senses!

Throughout the 30-year life of the Premier League and over the course of thousands of football games, there have been a number of moments standing out and making history for one of the world’s most iconic tournaments. From outstanding and top-notch goals to surreal incidents and from unexpected and unimagined outcomes to somewhat not cheerful events, the Premier League is full of unforgettables.

The Premier League is not only loved for its amazing football games, especially among top clubs giving unique performances, but it is loved also because it gives football fans and viewers the chance to see and experience moments that have actually made history.

The all-time favourite “Aguerrroooo”!

It was the ending of the 2011/12 -the 20th season of Premier League featuring Manchester City fighting against Queens Park Rangers, while Manchester United playing against Sunderland. Manchester United was winning and was nearly certain that they were about to get their 13th title in the Premier League, once Man City got defeated by QPR. City was 2-1 down, but in a sudden twist of things, and in the last moments, the unthinkable did happen. Sergio Aguero scores and settles the title of the tournament! Martin Tyler, the commentator, screams “Aguerrrooooo” and ……. GOAL! It was the defining moment Manchester City would claim Premier League victory and would lay the path towards lifting the trophy for the first time, while beating its all-time, biggest rival, Manchester United! The rest is history.

Beckham’s iconic goal from his own half

It was the 1996/97 season, Manchester United playing against Wimbleton, when David Beckham at the age of 21 was about to make history with his wonder goal and launch a brilliant career. No matter whether you are a fan of Beckham or you think of him as one of the great football players of the Premier League, you simply can’t deny the astonishing goal he made from his own half, when he saw Wimbleton’s Sullivan off his line and chose to give it a shot!

Leicester winning the trophy!

For the first time in the history of the Club, the Foxes lifted the Premier League’s trophy in the 2015/16 season. Being an absolute underdog (bookmakers’ offered odds at 5.000-1) at the beginning of the season and nearly relegated at the end of the previous season, it took Leicester’s dedication, focus and commitment to gradually build their performance over the course of the games and in the end become the winner of the English Premier League – a league with all those top world-class football clubs competing for the trophy.

Eric Cantona’s outburst 

It was the 1995-96 season and Manchester United was playing against Crystal Palace, when a bizarre event took place, leading to a series of disciplinary actions. Eric Cantona, the French player of Manchester United was banned for nine-months from football, when he responded with a flying “kung-fu” kick to a Palace fan and launched himself to punch him after being shouted at and abused. Just moments before, Cantona was given a red-card for kicking Palace’s defender Richard Shaw and he was walking off, when the fan’s behaviour triggered his outburst. Notably, Eric Cantona recently admitted that he regrets not hitting the fan harder…. Although not a cheerful episode, it remains one of the most shocking ones that have marked the Premier League’s history.

Blackburn win

In the 1994-95 season Blackburn Rovers were about to write their own fairytale. There were two matches that would determine the winner of the third Premier League to be held since the beginning – Manchester United or Blackburn Rovers. The Rovers were losing 2-1 to Liverpool at Anfield, but at the same time Manchester United’s match at Upton Park with West Ham was ending with their defeat, crowning Blackburn the winners of the League. This had been the first victory for the club!

History makers: How Wales secured their first World Cup appearance since 1958

When the draw was made for World Cup 2022 qualifying, Wales knew they had a tough task. Drawn into Group E of European qualifying, Belgium were always going to be favourites for the group, and the first matchday confirmed that, as Wales lost 3-1 in Brussels, despite Harry Wilson’s early goal. However, they followed that up with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic Daniel James scoring late on.

That result looked like it could be crucial. With Belgium likely to win the group, and Estonia and Belarus both looking unlikely to qualify, second place would be straight shootout between Wales and the Czech Republic. The teams finished with almost identical records, both racking up a goal difference of +5, with 14 goals scored and nine conceded. However, Wales finished one point ahead of the Czech Republic, with 15 points.

With both teams playing eight games, both racked up four wins, but Wales only lost one, while the Czech Republic lost two. Having squeezed into second place in the group, the Dragons qualified for the play-offs.

As a seeded side in the play-off draw, they were drawn against Austria in the semi-final of their qualification play-off. The game took place in Cardiff in March 2022, and a Gareth Bale brace was enough to see Wales through, despite a consolation goal from Marcel Sabitzer with just under half an hour to go.

March saw a number of games played in a short space of time, but fans who had a football accumulator on the results would have to wait, as Scotland’s semi-final against Ukraine was delayed by the Russian invasion of the Eastern European country. With Wales due to play the winner of that game in their play-off final, interim manager Rob Page’s side found themselves waiting too.

The rescheduled game eventually went ahead at the beginning of June, with Ukraine running out comfortable 3-1 winners at Hampden Park. Four days later, Wales hosted Ukraine in Cardiff, with a place in the World Cup group stages on the line. Despite having played at Euro 2016 and Euro 2020, it was 64 years since Wales last took part in a World Cup, and the mixture of hope and nervous anticipation in the stadium made for an electrifying atmosphere.

It was a tight affair, with one goal enough to decide the result. Gareth Bale’s first half free kick was headed in, albeit unintentionally, by Andriy Yarmolenko. The Ukrainian captain’s own goal was a sucker punch, with the visitors having had the better of the game up until that point. It was a hectic affair, with Bale having a chance to double the lead late on, while Brennan Johnson hit the woodwork.

At the other end, Ben Davies had to be alert to snuff out danger on numerous occasions, and Wayne Hennessey was in phenomenal form, with the Ukrainian attackers likely wondering if it was even possible to get the ball past him.

It wasn’t the most impressive performance in the home side’s history but, roared on by a jubilant Cardiff City Stadium, the only thing that mattered to Wales was the win. They secured their place in the Qatar, where they’ll be joining England, the USA, and Iran in the group stages of the World Cup.

6 Online Activities That Will Appeal To All Sports Fans

Being a sports fan is more than just a form of entertainment; it is a passion. Dedicating your time to travelling to and from sporting events can take up much of your time. However, how do you spend your time when your favourite sport is out of season? If you struggle to find exciting activities to pass the time, this article is here to help. Below – are six online activities that will appeal to all sports fans. We cover it all, from online gambling to workout videos.

Workout Videos

If you are a sports fan, chances are you like to engage in sports during your downtime. Keeping fit and active is something that you can enjoy in your daily life. However, exercising while you travel to and from sporting events can be tough. Luckily, with online workouts, you can make sure you are getting your fitness fix, no matter where you are in the world. There is an abundance of free workouts online. All you have to do is conduct a quick Google search to find them. You can find a workout to suit a range of different abilities. So, if you are looking for something low intensity one day, you will be able to find it.

Sports Quizzes

Whether you are waiting for a sporting tournament to start – or are travelling to watch it in person, a sports quiz can be a fun way to pass the time with your friends. You can find plenty of sports quizzes online; the best part is they are mainly free to access. It is a great way to test your sporting knowledge – and is ideal for passing some time while you wait. If you have enough time on your hands, you could even create your own sports quiz and host it online with your friends. Video conferencing platforms are the ideal places to do this. This is ideal for those of you who have friends that live out of town. It is a fun way to stay in touch while connecting over something you are both passionate about.

Online Casinos

A lot of sporting fans love to place bets on their favourite teams to win. If you enjoy placing the odd bet from time to time, you will most likely enjoy gambling in an online casino. Online casinos are packed full of various games that can keep you entertained for hours on end. They also give you the opportunity to make a bit of extra cash if you win. This is great for those who need additional money to fund season tickets. Games like online slots are a popular option as they require simple gameplay. If you want to look for an online casino where you can play slots online, check out Online Casino Review. They have compiled a list of some of the best casino sites worth investing time in.

Sports Podcasts

Suppose you have a long commute to a football game or a golf tournament. You most likely need an activity that will make the time go by. Listening to sports podcasts can be great for this. Podcasts have grown in popularity over the years, and now there are plenty of them to choose from. Regardless of which sport you enjoy, you are bound to find a podcast centred around it. You will find an array of podcasts on streaming platforms like Spotify. However, please note that you will have to pay a small fee to the platform to listen to it. If you don’t want to pay, look for free podcasts online, as there are some out there.

Sporting Blogs

If you are a sports fan that loves keeping up to date with the latest news, you can spend some of your downtime reading sports blogs. You can find some of the best sports blogs by conducting a quick search online. The sheer number of them may surprise you. Sporting blogs are great because you can read and watch content centred around your passion. It is a great way to gain insight into what other sports fans think about recent news. If you like to write, you could consider starting your own blog. If you travel around the world watching your favourite team, you can document it on your blog, and it will be a memory you can look back on for a lifetime. 

Live Streams

Live streams are ideal if you like to watch other people play sporting games or see their reactions to recent sporting events. Many sports fans now use live streaming platforms to reach out to people who share the same interests. You can watch people playing some of your favourite sporting games like FIFA and interact with people in the comments. Most live streams have a live chat running alongside it – so you can ask the broadcaster questions. The premise may sound strange at first, but live streams are a great source of entertainment, and they are certainly ideal for passing the time while you travel.

Innovative Offers and Decisions from the International Football Association Board

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has changed the football rules regarding the number of substitutions at the 136th general meeting in Qatar, mass media report concerning the site IFAB. So, if you want to fill in football coupons today, you should consider the following information to make your predictions more accurate.

Note that the reason for the decision was the COVID pandemic and the intense schedule of matches for players. As a result, world Cup 2022 will be held during the club season, in November-December, for the first time in history.

IFAB Meeting: Key Takeaways

First, the squads will be expanded from 23 to 26 players at the Mundial in Qatar. This extension also implies that 26 players can be announced at the World Cup match. Although before that, the postponed Euro-2020 teams could declare only 23 of the 26 players who had entered the tournament.

FIFA also announced that the teams could make changes in the squads by November 13, meaning eight days before the start of the tournament. At the same time, they decided to expand the list of players from 35 to 55 players.

Then, starting from the season 2022/23 (July 1), teams will be allowed to perform five substitutions during the match’s main time.

This rule was temporarily introduced in May 2020 owing to the Сoronarus pandemic and has now been ratified permanently. Before this, it was allowed to carry out three substitutions. However, there are limitations. Only three slots are available for replacement, as well as half-time replacements. In addition, the number of reserve players has been increased – from 12 to 15, for the consideration of the competition organizers.

The meeting also raised the issue of disrespect for judges and their safety. It has been noted that initiatives will be developed to address this problem, including possible testing of referees’ body cams.

The participants discussed the substitutions test because of the concussion and the offside rules’ possible interpretation. Specialists will investigate the issue of players’ replacement because of concussions until August 2023 to obtain more information. Other innovations were discussed:

  • The explanation of referees’ particular decisions made during the match.
  • Fair calculation of game time
  • Booting the ball into play feet from the out.

At the World Cup 2022, the system of automatic fixing of the offside might be used, which, according to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, passed a successful test at the World Cup and the Cup of Arab Nations.

Nevertheless, the sources keep saying nothing is final because testing of potential innovations continues. Let’s revise that the World Cup will be held from November 21 to December 18 in Qatar.