FPL Season 2021/22: Gameweek 8 preview

It’s chaos in the Fantasy Premier League universe. Once again. At the moment of writing, Premier League stars from all over the world have started returning to England after the end of the second international break of this 2021/22 season. Besides the complicating covid measures, which are especially relevant for South American Premier League players, fantasy managers have a wave of injury, fitness, and general availability issues to deal with. As we speak, the popular likes of Romelu Lukaku, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Raphinha, Antonio Rüdiger and Diogo Jota along with Goalies, Ederson and Martinez, are all carrying a yellow flag in the official game, just to give you an idea of the situation.

As a result, we’re likely to see a lot of Wildcard activity in the build-up to GW8 as well. The fixture calendar seems to be taking a turn these weeks, with teams like Manchester United and West Ham preparing themselves for a run of harder fixtures, and teams like Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton embarking on kinder runs after a difficult start to the season. These swings will have caused problems for more than a few managers and inside that probably large group, plenty will choose to play their Wildcard. Whether that’s smart, or not, considering all of the international break-related uncertainty remains to be seen but it’s sure to give us another exciting, all-over-the-place round of fantasy Premier League football.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 8 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, October 16th.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per October 14th, 2021)

GKSchmeichel (LEI), Sanchez (BRI), Mendy (CHE)Ramsdale (ARS), Foster (WAT), Ederson (MCI)
DEFAlexander-Arnold (LIV), Alonso (CHE), Shaw (MUN)Cancelo (MCI), Azpilicueta (CHE), Dias (MCI)City and Chelsea defences best in the league + good fixtures, TAA yellow flag
MIDPogba (MUN), Greenwood (MUN), Sarr (WAT)Townsend (EVE), Salah (LIV), Raphinha (LEE)Salah and Townsend form, United difficult run of fixtures,
FORRonaldo (MUN), Lukaku (CHE), Dennis (WAT)Hwang (WOL), Vardy (LEI), Lukaku (CHE)Lukaku yellow flag, Hwang and Vardy form

Premium pick

Before Manchester City faced Liverpool this season, the Cityzens had conceded just a single goal in six league games, boasting the league’s most solid defence as a result. Then Mo Salah (£12.7m) and co appeared and now Pep Guardiola’s men have the shared best defence, together with Chelsea, having conceded three goals. While one of those goals came from a brilliant Salah assist on Mané, the other came from the man himself and well… we’re going to see that one in many goal compilations for years to come. With a 13-point haul, the Egyptian continued his excellent form, and brought his league totals to 6 goals and 4 assists. Salah is currently the highest-scoring player in the official game with 70 FPL points and up next are Watford as the Hornets kick off the new era under manager Claudio Ranieri. It remains to be seen how the living Leicester legend will have his men line up on Saturday, but we feel that one way or the other, Liverpool’s star man will get chances to build on his current red-hot form.

Non-premium pick

Rotation. That’s the big risk when it comes to picking Phil Foden (£7.9m) or indeed any Man City asset. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s continue with the upsides, because there are some serious upsides here. First of all, Man City are facing Burnley at home this weekend, followed by Brighton away and Crystal Palace at home. There is, of course, the small matter of European football to take into account here, but League-wise, that looks like a tasty run. Second of all, Foden has been in great form of late. He was electric at Anfield in gameweek 7, and he played the full 90 minutes in both of England’s international games against Andorra (1 assist) and Hungary, on last Saturday and last Tuesday, respectively. Third of all, Foden’s chances of starting against Burnley are considerable, especially now that Ferran Torres has been ruled out with a foot injury and Gündögan is still suffering from a knock as well. Adding all those factors together and looking at his current price tag, we doubt that there are many better alternatives in the non-premium category than Phil Foden.

The budget enabler

We mentioned the expected Wildcard activity for this week earlier and one of the players that we’re expecting to see in many new squads is Tino Livramento (£4.2m). The Chelsea Academy graduate is starting to show more and more signs of being this season’s stand-out budget pick since he rather unexpectedly made Southampton’s right-back spot his since gameweek 1. In the seven league games he played since then, Livramento collected a more than decent 21 FPL points, courtesy of 2 clean sheets and 1 assist. He gets plenty of freedom to bomb forward during games, which only fits his speed and dribbling style, and the Saints have looked pretty good defensively of late. They have conceded 4 goals in the last four games and three of those goals came against Chelsea in GW7. The other was conceded against Wolves, while the home game against on-fire West Ham in GW4 and the away encounter with Manchester City in GW5 both ended in goalless draws. Up next is a much kinder run of fixtures for Livramento and the rest of the Saints, starting with a home game against Leeds this weekend. In the four games after that, Soton are facing Burnley and Villa at home, and Watford and Norwich on the road. Livramento looks like the ultimate defensive enabler for at least the medium-term.

The differential

After a good 2020/21 Premier League campaign and a summer in which the final of the European Championship was reached, Mason Mount (£7.4m) has not really gotten off the mark yet this season. The Chelsea midfielder started well with 2 assists in the first two league games, but he then started suffering from injury troubles. As a result, his assist back in gameweek 2 was his last attacking return of the season so far. The most positive part of all this is that Mount has featured twice during the international break, as a 73rd-minute substitute against Andorra last Saturday and then for 90 minutes against Hungary on Tuesday. In other words, the 22-year old looks to fully back in action and despite the abundance of choices available to Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel, we feel he will play a big role in the Blues’ upcoming run of mostly favourable fixtures. The fact that Mount carries a share of the team’s set-piece duties only adds to that picture. The team seemed to miss his vision, creativity and incisive passing during his absence, and with an ownership of just 8.8% right now, the England international has all the makings of an excellent differential pick.

The captaincy

Our FPL captain for gameweek 8 is Mo Salah and we’re expecting a majority of the FPL community to make the same choice. The Egyptian talisman looks simply unstoppable at times and with an away game against Watford coming up, it takes a very brave man to bet against him. He featured once over the international break, during 90 minutes against Libya as part of the African World Cup qualifiers, so he should be fit and ready to kick off gameweek 8 this coming Saturday noon.

If you’re not convinced by Salah so far or if you’re one of the 38% of fantasy managers who don’t own him yet, then you’re probably looking at the Etihad for your captaincy. Barring the known rotation risk, the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, KDB and even Riyad Mahrez could all deliver big this weekend against Burnley. Then again, if you’re one of the 5% of managers who own Harry Kane, you’re probably inclined to captain him for the away game against Newcastle. His teammate Heung-Min Son also has the makings of becoming one of the weekend’s stars. For riskier captaincy picks, the likes of Neal Maupay (away against Norwich), Adam Armstrong (versus Leeds at home) and Michail Antonio at Goodison Park could see your squad soaring up the ranks this weekend.

Discuss your FPL opinions on FISO’s Fantasy Premier League forum.

FPL Season 2021-22: Gameweek 7 preview

As so many times already this season, it was the differentials once again who made the difference in gameweek 6. Of the eleven names in the official game’s Team of the Week, only three players boasted a current ownership of more than 4.4%, namely Jamie Vardy (12.7%), Joao Cancelo (12.3%) and Bukayo Saka (8.5%). The highest scorer of the week was Aston Villa’s Kortney Hause though, with 15 FPL points after scoring the only goal and keeping a clean sheet against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Other stand-outs were Wolves goalkeeper José Sá with 14 FPL points and the previously mentioned Saka with 13 points.

This week, from an FPL point of view, Chelsea’s home game against Southampton, Leeds’ home encounter with Watford and West Ham’s home game versus Brentford stand out. At the same time, the neutral viewer will be looking forward to the clash of the weekend at Anfield on Sunday afternoon as the locals host Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Add games like Man United against Everton to open the weekend, Leicester’s visit to Crystal Palace and Wolves hosting a struggling Newcastle side, and the PL looks set for another weekend jam-packed full of action and upsets.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 7 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, October 2nd.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per September 29th, 2021)

GKSchmeichel (LEI), Sánchez (BRI), Lloris (TOT)Ramsdale (ARS), Mendy (CHE), Foster (WAT)
DEFShaw (MUN), Alexander-Arnold (LIV), James (CHE)Alonso (CHE), Rüdiger (CHE), Cancelo (MCI)Chelsea and Man City fixtures, injuries of the transferred-out players
MIDTorres (MCI), Fernandes (MUN), Greenwood (MUN)Sarr (WAT), Benrahma (WHU), Saka (ARS)Form of the transferred-in players, Man United fixture swing, Greenwood and Torres rotation risk
FORBamford (LEE), Ronaldo (MUN), Ings (AST)Antonio (WHU), Lukaku (CHE), Saint-Maximin (NEW)Bamford injury, Lukaku fixtures, Antonio form

Premium pick

Romelu Lukaku (£11.6m) returned to the Premier League in style back in gameweek 2 with a goal against Arsenal, which he then followed up with a brace against Aston Villa in GW4. That’s it for the moment as far as league returns are concerned, but two things should definitely be noted in this regard. One, that Lukaku has not missed a minute of Premier League action since GW2, and two, that he has so far faced Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs away, and Villa and Man City at home. Chelsea’s fixture take a shape turn from this weekend onwards, starting with a home game against Southampton on Saturday. The Saints have been surprisingly solid at the back of recent, conceding just a single goal in their last three outings, which included home games against Wolves and in-form West Ham, and an away game at the Etihad. Still, with the Cityzens and Liverpool facing off this weekend, the Blues will be looking to secure the three points at home against Southampton and we expect Lukaku to play a major role in that challenge despite Chelsea only managing 1 effort on goal in their last two matches including last night’s Champions League loss to Juventes.

Non-premium pick

When Michail Antonio (£8.0m) got his second yellow card late on in the game against Southampton in gameweek 4, voices here and there could be heard saying that the Jamaican international’s spectacular start to the 2021-22 Premier League campaign would surely be stifled. He had posted three consecutive double-digit hauls over the first three games of the season, followed by a -1 in GW4 and the inevitable blank in GW5. Last weekend, Antonio was back in the starting eleven for the Hammers and simply said, it doesn’t look like his impressive early-season form has been stifled one bit. The West Ham star gave his side the victory with a 90th-minute winner at Elland Road and the only reason for him not recording his fourth double-digit return in five starts is the yellow card he received earlier in that game. With 5 goals and 4 assists to his name so far, Antonio is the second-highest FPL points scorer after Mo Salah, so this weekend’s opponents Brentford are warned. The Bees are having a great start to life in the Prem and three clean sheets from the first six games is impressive, but last weekend’s 3-3 draw at Anfield showed that the new boys’ backline can be breached by the right attack. That attack could well be West Ham this week, led by Michail Antonio.

The budget enabler

With a goal and an assist in the 3-1 victory over Spurs at the Emirates, Bukayo Saka (£6.2m) has catapulted himself back into the FPL spotlight. That 13-point haul followed his first attacking return of the season just a few days earlier, when the England international provided the assist for the only and therefore winning goal at Turf Moor in GW5. What’s also interesting is that Saka seems to have fought himself back into Mikel Arteta’s starting eleven after a long and tiring Euro Cup summer. Over the last three games, he has missed just 4 minutes of playing time. We find that encouraging as Arsenal find themselves in the middle of a kind run of fixtures. In gameweeks 7 and 8, for example, they are playing Brighton away and Crystal Palace away. We know how hard it is to trust Arsenal when it comes to making FPL transfers, but if you’re looking for a budget-enabling midfielder, Saka is definitely one of the most interesting picks.

The differential

Goals are like ketchup. Sometimes, however much you try, they just won’t come out. Then you score once and suddenly they come out at all once. Signed, Ruud van Nistelrooy, as quoted by the Gonzalo Higuain. Van the Man said this to the Argentinian striker while both were at Real Madrid and the latter was going through an extended period without scoring. About 4.9% of FPL managers will hope that the Dutchman’s wisdom is also applicable to Raúl Jimenez (£7.5m) after the Mexican scored his first goal for Wolves in 336 days in gameweek 6 against Southampton. After boasting some of the league’s best attacking underlying stats over the past weeks, the Wolves talisman finally got his first return since suffering a horrific head injury versus Newcastle in October 2020. With Newcastle, who boast the league’s worst defensive record after Norwich, at Molineux up next, we can just see Van Nistelrooy’s words becoming truth for Jimenez this weekend.

The captaincy

For the GW7 captaincy this weekend, we’re going with Romelu Lukaku for the first time this season. The Belgian giant has failed to net in his two last Premier League outings and we feel he’ll be too much to handle, even for a Saints defence in good form. Keep an eye on any Chelsea team news with special regard to potential rotation after the mid-week Champions League clash with Juventus, but bar any force majeure, Lukaku should be fit and ready to go on Saturday afternoon.

Of course, the former Inter man is not the only candidate for the captaincy this weekend. Both Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes should absolutely not be discarded for the armband as they prepare to take on Everton at Old Trafford, and the same goes for Mo Salah as Liverpool host Manchester City on Sunday afternoon. The likes of Michail Antonio (at home versus Brentford), Raphinha (at home against Watford) and Jamie Vardy (away at Selhurst Park) are all good options as well, while captaining Raul Jimenez for his home encounter with Newcastle or Chris Wood for his home game against Norwich can be considered a bold move.

Discuss your FPL opinions on FISO’s Fantasy Premier League forum.

FPL Season 2021-22: Gameweek 6 preview

Gameweek 5 was mostly a mixed bag in terms of FPL returns and possibly a sign of things to come in terms of rotation. Five of the best-performing players last weekend were defenders, with Villa’s Matty Cash and Chelsea’s Thiago Silva joining Watford winger Ismaila Sarr’s 15-point haul of the week. Antonio Rüdiger also joined the podium with 14 FPL points, courtesy of a clean sheet and a goal against Spurs. The most-captained player of the round, Mo Salah, lived up to expectations by scoring a goal and giving an assist during Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Palace for a nice 12 FPL points.

Contrary to GW5, gameweek 6 does not offer as clear-cut fixtures for fantasy managers to target. The stand-out fixture is Chelsea versus Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, but not a lot of managers will be looking at that one for big hauls. From a fantasy point of view, Man United’s home game against Aston Villa, Everton’s home game against Norwich and Leicester’s home game versus Burnley, for example, look more appealing. The game at Elland Road between Leeds and West Ham and the clash between Watford and Newcastle at Vicarage Road could also end up being good sources for attacking returns.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 6 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, September 25th.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per September 23rd, 2021)

GKPickford (EVE), Mendy (CHE), Schmeichel (LEI)Alisson (LIV), De Gea (MUN), Schmeichel (LEI)
DEFAlexander-Arnold (LIV), Shaw (MUN), Laporte (MCI)Alonso (CHE), Rüdiger (CHE), Duffy (BRI)Chelsea upcoming fixtures, TAA and Laporte injuries
MIDTorres (MCI), Fernandes (MUN), Mount (CHE)Sarr (WAT), Benrahma (WHU), Gray (EVE)Focus on budget-priced midfielders to free up funds
FORRicharlison (EVE), Ings (AST), Bamford (LEE)Antonio (WHU), Ronaldo (MUN), Saint-Maximin (NEW)Richarlison and Bamford injuries, Ronaldo form, ASM form

Premium pick

A first mention in our weekly FPL gameweek previews for Jamie Vardy (£10.4m) as Leicester prepare to host Burnley on Saturday afternoon. With a current ownership of just 11.5%, Vardy is going slightly under the radar so far this season, despite having recorded 29 FPL points already, courtesy of 3 goals and 1 assist. In terms of fantasy forwards, only Antonio boasts better numbers so far. Burnley are having a tough start to the season with just a single point from their first five games and it’s worth noting that they have not yet managed to keep a clean sheet. Leicester, on the other hand, have not yet hit full stride either and are coming off consecutive defeats against Manchester City and Brighton, but we’re betting on them getting back to winning ways against the Clarets this weekend. If there’s one man to bring back to good feelings for them, it’s Vardy.

Non-premium pick

After a good showing away at Carrow Road, a home game against Newcastle this weekend might just be the perfect path for Ismaila Sarr (£6.1m) to build some consistent form. The Senegalese winger, who is listed as a midfielder in FPL, started off the season in style with a goal against Villa in gameweek 1, but then failed to follow up with more returns in the following weeks. That is, until last weekend, when an obliging Norwich defence allowed him to score his second and third goal of the season for an amazing 15 FPL points. Up next are a winless Newcastle side that has already conceded 13 goals this season, just one less than the league’s leakiest defence, Norwich. Sarr is central to Watford’s attacking moves and carries penalty duties as well, while also being a very direct player himself. Out of all players in the Premier League, only Salah has posted more shots and shots on goal than him. We don’t see any reason why he should not return again this weekend against the Magpies.

The budget enabler

Tino Livramento (£4.2m) is probably one of the best bargains of this young season. Starting off the 2021-22 campaign at £4.0, the Chelsea academy graduate quickly displaced Kyle Walker-Peters as Southampton’s starting right-back and he hasn’t looked back since. The Saints are going through a bit of a stingy patch of late, booking two 0-0 draws in succession against West Ham and Man City, which has been good news for the 10.7% of FPL managers who already own Livramento. Over the past two games, he has been good for 11 FPL points, which represents great value for money. Against Wolves at home this weekend, that trend could well be extended. Despite recording some of the best underlying stats in terms of attacking moves, the Wanderers have managed just two goals so far, one of which was an own goal by Francisco Sierralta in GW4. A third consecutive Saints clean sheet is therefore not out of the question, making Livramento an ideal budget enabler.

The differential

In the Liverpool attack, all eyes are on Mo Salah and to a lesser extent on Diogo Jota, thanks to the latter’s incredible potential FPL value, but what about Sadio Mané (£11.9m)? Having been criticized for missing a lot of chances of late, the Senegalese winger is actually ticking along quite nicely this season. In his first five games, he has already recorded 32 FPL points, thanks to 3 goals and 1 assist. As a matter of fact, he only blanked in gameweek 1 so far. The Reds are playing a surprisingly resilient Brentford side away from home this weekend and despite the Bees having already recorded three clean sheets in five games, we’re fancying a comfortable Liverpool victory here. It’s true that Mané is very expensive for a differential pick and the ever-present Salah costs just £0.7m more, but look at it this way: while Salah is owned by 57.4% of fantasy managers, Mané sits in just 2.8% of all teams. He could well be one of the biggest differential picks in the official game right now.

The captaincy

For the captaincy, we’re looking at Old Trafford once again this weekend. There is, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo who will be eager to make it three consecutive rounds of attacking returns since he came back to Manchester, this time against Aston Villa. We’re also mentioning Bruno Fernandes though, whose ownership has suffered since Ronaldo’s return, but who is still a very viable option for the armband. In two home games this season, the Portuguese playmaker has scored 4 goals and 28 FPL points.

Fun could be had in the Leeds versus West Ham game as well, where the likes of Raphinha, Bamford (if fit) and Antonio could be part of a goal-scoring bonanza between two free-flowing attacking sides. Jamie Vardy against Burnley at home looks like another good shout, while Salah, this time away against Brentford, is never a bad pick for the armband. Riskier but nonetheless very interesting captaincy picks for gameweek 6 include Ismaila Sarr at home to Newcastle, Demarai Gray at against Norwich and Wilfried Zaha at home versus Brighton.

Discuss your FPL opinions on FISO’s Fantasy Premier League forum.

FPL Season 2021-22: Gameweek 5 preview

Gameweek 5 was Cristiano’s Ronaldo’s gameweek. There were, of course, plenty of other players who played well and hauled big, but whether you liked it or not, in the end the biggest spotlights were really all on the Portuguese superstar. With a brace on his return to Man United, slotting straight into their starting eleven, he lived up to the huge hype and then some. To be fair, Newcastle’s defence did not put up too much of a fight, but then again, was there ever going to be any stopping Ronaldo? Probably not.

From an FPL point of view though, gameweek 5 was interesting for a whole other reason as well. With fitting various premium picks into one team being one of the major challenges of this season’s early stages, the quest for good budget options seems more alive than ever in the FPL community. In that light, the fact that no less than five members of last week’s Team of the Week can be considered serious budget-enablers is very interesting. Wolves defender Marçal (now at £4.6m) and Chelsea midfielder Matteo Kovacic (now at £5.1m) were the round’s joint top scorers with 13 FPL points, while Andros Townsend (£5.4m, 12 points), Odsonne Edouard (£6.5m, 12 points) and Leandro Trossard (£6.4m, 11 points) also provided real differential value.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 5 is set at 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, September 17th. If you’re considering a GW5 FPL wildcard then check out this FISO forum topic.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per September 16th, 2021)

GKMartínez (AST), Lloris (TOT), Foster (WAT)Sánchez (BRI), Schmeichel (LEI), Steer (AST)
DEFTsimikas (LIV), Shaw (MUN), Dier (TOT)Marçal (WOL), Duffy (BRI), Alexander-Arnold (LIV)Dier dead-leg, TAA and Marçal hauls in GW4
MIDFernandes (MUN), Son (TOT), Benrahma (WHU)Gray (EVE), Pogba (MUN), Gallagher (CRY)Gray and Gallagher form at bargain price
FORAntonio (WHU), Calvert-Lewin (EVE), Ings (AST)Ronaldo (MUN), Lukaku (CHE). Bamford (LEE)Antonio red card, DCL injury, Ronaldo debut, Lukaku form, Bamford stats & fixtures

Premium pick

With 3 goals and 2 assists from the first four games and a home game against Crystal Palace up next, Mo Salah (£12.5m) looks set to become the most-captained player once again this weekend. The Egyptian forward is also our premium fantasy pick of choice. Remember when he came on for a half-an-hour cameo at Selhurst Park last season? Exactly. Salah did play 84 minutes in the Champions League against AC Milan on Wednesday (and scored the all-important equaliser right after the break after missing a penalty), but he should be OK for Saturday’s clash at Anfield. Palace have conceded 5 goals in four games so far and despite their confidence-boosting victory over a 10-men Spurs side in gameweek 4, we can really see this encounter only going one way. You will see Salah return in our captaincy segment as well.

Non-premium pick

After an incredible 2020-21 campaign with 17 goals and 11 assists, and an inevitable price rise as consequence, Patrick Bamford (£7.9m) has had a relatively quiet start to the current season. It should be noted though, that Leeds have not had the easiest of starts to the season with an away game at Old Trafford in GW1 and a home game against Liverpool last weekend. Still, Bamfy has managed a goal an an assist overall for a total of 16 FPL points and has had plenty of shots in the box. Up next are the League’s leakiest defence when the Whites are travelling to Newcastle on Friday night, followed by an appealing run of fixtures until at least November. Based on Leeds’ and Bamford’s performances last season, we’re still confident that they can return to their winning and goal-scoring ways. A free-flowing victory over the Toon might be just what they need to be on their way.

The budget enabler

We mentioned the growing category of budget-enablers in the Fantasy Premier League universe earlier, so we were a bit spoilt for choice here. We would’ve gone with Crystal Palace’s Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher had it not been for his away game at Anfield this weekend. Instead, we’re recommending Everton’s extremely clinical forward Demarai Gray (£5.7m). The 25-year old winger, who is listed as a budget midfielder in FPL, has so far scored with every shot on goal, which is why he currently sits on 3 goals and 24 FPL points from his last three outings. Everton are in excellent goalscoring form and this weekend’s away game at Villa Park is followed by a home game against Norwich. With Gray having earned himself a nailed-on spot in Rafa Benitez’ starting eleven, more points could be on the way in the near future for the very kindly priced attacker.

The differential

One of this Premier League season’s early themes is the Curious Case of the Wolverhampton Wanderers. Despite posting some of the attacking and defensive underlying statistics after four games, Bruno Lage’s men find themselves back in 13th place with just three points. While their expected goals ratio currently sits at just over 7, they have actually scored just twice and one of those goals was an own goal last weekend. Their tough opening fixtures (Leicester away, Spurs at home, United at home) surely didn’t help, but their schedule has cleared up now. This means that several of their fantasy assets might be due a purple patch or at least a haul soon, and one of those assets is striker Raul Jimenez (£7.4m). Despite a total of 12 shots in the box and 12 provided key passes, the Mexican forward does not have a single attacking return to his name so far. As a result, his current ownership is just 4.4%. With Brentford and Newcastle (both at Molineux) and Southampton away coming up in the next three weeks, now could be the moment to bring the big man in and fully benefit from his extreme differential status.

The captaincy

With Ronaldo back in the Premier League, you can expect him to return to this segment weekly bar some kind of force majeure. He’s coming off a dream return to Old Trafford and a mid-week goal in the Champions League, and he has West Ham in London in his sights now. Still, for the GW5 Captain we’re opting for that other powerhouse Mo Salah, when Liverpool host Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday. Putting the band on his arm seems like the safest option this weekend.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the Leeds game at Saint James’ Park should interest you as well. Both Bamford and Raphinha look like they could have some fun on Friday night, with the former carrying the additional appeal of penalty duties. To go even more differential, you could opt for Ismaila Sarr at Carrow Road or indeed Teemu Pukki for the home side. The final game of the weekend also offers an interesting option in the person of Romelu Lukaku as Chelsea visit the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to take on a battered Spurs defence.

FPL Season 2021/22: Gameweek 4

1,304,361. One million, three hundred and four thousand and something. That’s how many FPL managers have transferred in Cristiano Ronaldo (CR7) since his transfer to Manchester United was confirmed on August 31st. That’s over 17% of all managers currently playing the official Premier League fantasy game. We don’t have the historical numbers, but we doubt there have been many, or indeed any, transfers with such an immediate and huge impact on the FPL community.

The Portuguese superstar’s return to the Premier League has seen managers all over the world scrambling to somehow accommodate their squads to bring him in. With the upcoming gameweek 4 already expected to see considerable Wild Card activity prior to the confirmation of Ronaldo’s transfer, you can expect the template to look pretty different come the GW4 deadline. This also explains, for example, the more than 300,000 managers transferring out Romelu Lukaku after a few more than promising showings and over 750,000 managers removing United talisman Bruno Fernandes from their squads. Ronaldo’s arrival to the FPL has made this year’s budgets seem even tighter.

In other news, gameweek 4 is also following this season’s first international break. This means added uncertainty in terms of fitness and starting spots for more than a few players, only worsened by differing quarantine rules depending on where a player was active with his national team. Popular picks like Belgium striker Lukaku and South Korea star man Heung-Min Son are currently injury doubts, while many South American internationals, like Emi Buendia, Raul Jimenez and Raphinha, may all miss out on gameweek 4 due to various quarantine-related issues. Our advice: keep a close eye on team and individual player news, especially if you’re planning on using your Wild Card in GW4.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 4 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, September 11th.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per September 9th, 2021)

GKMartinez (AST), Foster (WAT), Schmeichel (LEI), Sánchez (BRI) Lloris (TOT), Raya (BRE), Sánchez (BRI)
DEFTsimikas (LIV), Shaw (MUN), James (CHE)Duffy (BRI), Reguilón (TOT), Alonso (CHE)James red card suspension, Shaw lack of clean sheets, Duffy ongoing starts
MIDFernandes (MUN), Son (TOT), Raphinha (LEE), Grealish (MCI)Torres (MCI), Gray (EVE), Benrahma (WHU)Torres goals in GW3, Fernandes and Son exchanged for Ronaldo, Gray form
FORIngs (AST), Lukaku (CHE), Toney (BRE)Ronaldo (MUN), Antonio (WHU), Lukaku (CHE)Ronaldo’s arrival, Antonio form, Ings difficult upcoming fixtures

Premium pick

It’s kind of hard to not speak about Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.5m) as part of our premium fantasy pick recommendations for gameweek 4, especially not when you consider that Manchester United are hosting Newcastle on Saturday. The Magpies currently boast the worst Expected Goals Conceded ratio in the league bar Arsenal and it’s difficult to see them keeping out the Red Devils this weekend. There has been some discussion in the FPL community about Ronaldo’s chances of starting and him “fitting into the side”, but those points are not very relevant in this extraordinary case. The Portugal captain, who actually brought his national team victory over the Republic of Ireland with a spectacular added-time brace at the start of the international break, is one of the two best players in the history of football and will slide into United’s team right away. He came to Manchester to play, to score and to win, it’s that simple. If not, he would not have returned to Old Trafford. Whether he is worth a major fantasy side overhaul or even an early Wild Card straight away remains to be seen, but count on Ronaldo becoming a major factor at both United and in the Premier League as a whole in record time. Assuming anything else, means doing his international prize-winning and goalscoring record injustice.

Non-premium pick

Speaking of goalscoring, opening a season with 4 goals (and 4 assists) in the first three games is the kind of form we would associate with Ronaldo. In this case though, we’re not talking about Man United’s star forward, but about West Ham’s main man up front, Michail Antonio (£7.9m). The Jamaica international, who switched allegiance to the Caribbean nation and made his debut for the Reggae Boyz last week, is currently the highest-scoring player in the official fantasy game with 40 FPL points. His international exploits are obviously a bit of a worry in terms of fitness and energy levels, but it’s hard to see the Hammers not calling upon him for the upcoming away game against Southampton. The Saints have been unable to keep a clean sheet so far, conceding 6 goals in their first three games, and we’re not expecting the first one to come against the league’s current most prolific side. Antonio in his current form will be more than a handful for them and we can see the Hammers forward making it attacking returns in four consecutive games on Saturday.

The budget enabler

One of the low-key surprises of this young 2021-22 Premier League campaign is Demarai Gray (£5.6m), who currently defends the colours of Everton FC on loan from Leicester. The lowly-priced winger, who is listed as a midfielder in the official fantasy game, has played at least 80 minutes in each of Everton’s first three league games of the season and with good reason. The 25-year old was on target in both gameweek 2 against Leeds and gameweek 3 against Brighton for a more than decent total of 17 FPL points. The Toffees have a visit of Burnley coming up next, who have taken just a single point from three games and conceded 5 goals in the process. At just £5.6m, Gray looks like a very shrewd bet, not just for the upcoming game against the Clarets, but also for the medium-term as Everton will be facing Aston Villa away and Norwich at home after this weekend.

The differential

With the Harry Kane situation settled for now, some calm and clarity seems to have returned to Spurs. Under former Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo, the London side has had an effective if not somewhat unspectacular start to the season with three consecutive 1-0 victories, including one against reigning champions Manchester City in gameweek 1. One of the players who seems to have impressed Nuno from the get go is Dutch international Steven Bergwijn (£6.0m), who has played at least 75 minutes in every league game this season. He has paid back his manager’s confidence with 2 assists, meaning that he has been directly involved in 2/3 of his team’s goals so far. This also led to return to the Dutch national team for the past international break, in which he left a good impression in the victories over Montenegro and Turkey. Despite being seen icing his ankle on Tuesday after being taken off by Louis van Gaal in the 61th minute against Turkey, Stevie seems to be fit and ready to start for Spurs against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday. With a current ownership of just 1.3%, he represents considerable differential value in GW4.

The captaincy

As far as the captaincy goes, we’re expecting plenty of managers to give the armband to Cristiano Ronaldo this weekend. Despite his obvious Premier League and overall goalscoring pedigree, and the real chances of him hitting the ground running against Newcastle, we are opting for another Red Devil as our captain this weekend. There has been much talk about Bruno Fernandes‘ diminished appeal as a premium FPL asset with the arrival of his compatriot and penalty specialist Ronaldo, but don’t forget that Bruno has been one of the most consistent fantasy performers over the past two seasons. He could very well have a big haul coming his way on Saturday after two disappointing outings and we’re placing the captain’s band in his arm.

Outside of United hosting Newcastle, gameweek 4 offers a few other interesting captaincy options as well. There is, of course, the case of Mo Salah visiting Leeds on Sunday, while Harry Kane starting against Palace a day earlier looks enticing as well. The form of Michail Antonio as West Ham visit Saint Mary’s should not be ignored either. For the more differential captaincy picks, Dominic Calvert-Lewin at home against Burnley, Kai Havertz at home to Villa and Raul Jimenez (if available) for his encounter with promoted Watford could reap big rewards.

FPL Season 2021/22: Gameweek 3 preview

Much of the gameweek 2 debate was about who was going to haul bigger, Mo Salah against Burnley at Anfield or Bruno Fernandes against Southampton at St. Mary’s. After impressive double digit hauls in the opening round of the season, another big-time return was only a question of time, right? Right?!

Well, the Premier League wouldn’t be the Premier League and the FPL wouldn’t be the FPL without throwing millions of fantasy managers (no player in FPL history had ever been more captained than Salah last weekend) a serious curveball when they least expect it. Instead of a bunch of goals and assists, Salah managed just a clean sheet for 3 FPL points. And Bruno? Well, he didn’t score, he didn’t assist and he didn’t record a clean sheet, but he did get a yellow card for arguing. One point for Portugal.

Instead, the outstanding fantasy performers of the weekend were Chelsea’s Reece James (18 FPL points, now part of 10% of all teams), West Ham’s Michail Antonio (16 points, now part of 38.4% of all teams) and Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings (15 points, 9.9% of teams now). With Gabriel Jesus, Mateusz Klich and Aymeric Laporte, the Team of the Week also contained three players with ownerships well below 4% at the time of playing. It’s easy to focus our attention on the premium fantasy assets in a season in which budgets seem more restricted than ever, but gameweek 2 was mainly one for the non-premium picks and the differentials.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 3 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, August 28th. Also do check out the Premier League Injury Table and Predicted Premier League Line-Ups before finalising your teams.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per August 26th, 2021)

GKMartinez (AST), Schmeichel (LEI), Foster (WAT)Lloris (TOT), Raya (BRE), Schmeichel (LEI)
DEFWhite (ARS), Shaw (MUN), Digne (EVE)Duffy (BRI), Tsimikas (LIV), James (CHE)White isolated, Duffy and Tsimikas budget options, Shaw and Digne lack of returns
MIDSalah (LIV), Saka (ARS), Barnes (LEI)Benrahma (WHU), Pogba (MUN), Jota (LIV)Saka flagged, form of transferred-in assets
FORToney (BRE), Iheanacho (LEI), Richarlison (EVE)Antonio (WHU), Lukaku (CHE), Ings (AST)Lukaku debut, Antonio and Ings goal-scoring form

Premium pick

With many of the popular premium fantasy picks preparing for difficult fixtures in gameweek 3, we have shifted our focus to the encounter between Spurs and Watford. The two London sides face each other on Sunday afternoon and with the continued uncertainty regarding Harry Kane’s role in Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, underlined by the fact that he has played just 18 minutes of PL football so far, we feel his partner up front Heung-Min Son (£10.1m) could haul big this weekend. Spurs have been far from free-scoring in the first two gameweeks of this campaign, winning both games one to nothing, but the Korean did score one of those goals, in GW1 versus Manchester City. Watford, on the other hand, have conceded two goals in each of their opening games. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Son make it two consecutive home games with attacking returns against the Hornets.

Non-premium pick

After 3 goals and 3 assists in the first two league games of the season, it’s kind of impossible to ignore Michail Antonio (£7.7m) for West Ham’s home game against Crystal Palace. At the moment, no player in the entire game has recorded more than his 29 FPL points. His starting price of £7.5m is already starting to look like a serious bargain and it’s no surprise that the Jamaica international looks set for a third price rise in just two gameweeks. Palace boast some of the worst underlying defensive stats in the league after two rounds and confidence is not exactly high after starting the season with a (calculated) defeat against Chelsea and a draw with newly-promoted Brentford, and no goals in their favour. West Ham’s story is quite different, because the Hammers have started their 2021/22 campaign with two victories versus Newcastle and Leicester, and 8 goals scored. More goals should be on the menu on Saturday and Antonio will likely be involved once again.

The budget enabler

Budget constraints as a result of expensive players in all categories are marking the start of the 2021/22 Fantasy Premier League season, but at the same time, an unprecedented number of budget-enabling defenders have emerged, some more permanent than others. We had Kostas Tsimikas as Andy Robertson’s replacement, while currently £4.0 assets Shane Duffy and Daniel Amartey are racking up playing minutes as well in the absence of one or more of their team mates. The budget enabler we would like to highlight this week though, is Southampton’s Tino Livramento (£4.0m), who is probably the safest extreme budget pick on the long-term. The Saints are far from the most defensively solid outfit in the league and the 18-year old Livramento has accrued just 3 FPL points so far, but he does seem to have the right-back spot nailed down. The Chelsea academy graduate hasn’t missed a minute so far and looks to have taken Kyle Walker-Peter’s spot in the starting eleven, seeing as the latter has been fit since the start of the campaign. His determined performance in the draw with Man United certainly earned him praise from the fans. With Newcastle away coming up this weekend, there could be some freedom for forward-oriented Livramento on the right flank, but the main argument for bringing him in is his starting berth at just £4.0m, making him a very good option as the fifth defender in your squad.

The differential

One young man who has been going under the radar over the past weeks is Dele Alli (£6.5m). Now, we know that more than a few fantasy managers will experience light symptoms of PTSD when mentioning his name due to his tendency to disappoint in a big way in past seasons, but the Spurs midfielder has had a more than decent start to the current campaign. Dele scored Tottenham’s only goal against Wolves in GW2 and he scored it from the penalty spot, which is interesting. Should Kane return to the Spurs fold soon, then penalty duties will most likely shift to the star forward, but Dele taking the spot kick last weekend inspires confidence. His new manager Espirito Santo has kept the England international on the pitch for 90 minutes in both league games so far and the attacking midfield spot seems his to lose. Against a Watford side that has already conceded 4 goals in two games, he will be looking to further cement his role as key man for Spurs this season. With an ownership of 2.9% at the moment of writing, the differential value here is more than considerable.

The captaincy

After overwhelming captaincy numbers for Salah and Fernandes in gameweek 2, we expect armbands to be a lot more spread around this weekend for the GW3 FPL captain. The Egyptian is always an option, but he does face Chelsea at Anfield this weekend, while the Portuguese playmaker visits Molineux on Sunday. At the same time, Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are hosting new boys Watford, and that’s where we’d recommend to leave the armband. With Kane’s situation unclear still, our preference goes to Son, who could easily book a few attacking returns against a Hornets side that has already shipped 4 goals in two games against Villa and Brighton.

Outside of the more premium bracket, Michail Antonio at home to Crystal Palace and Dominic Calvert-Lewin away at a Brighton side that is vulnerable in the air look like excellent options for the armband. If you’re willing to play Pep Roulette, Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish and even Gabriel Jesus are interesting options as they host a weak Arsenal side. Jamie Vardy could haul for the first time this season as Leicester visit Norwich, while the ever-dangerous Callum Wilson might find the net against Southampton, just like Bamford and Raphinha at Turf Moor or Ings at home to Brentford who are yet to concede.

FPL Season 2021/22: Gameweek 2 preview

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.

Don’t forget, the deadline for gameweek 2 is set at 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, August 21st. Also do check out the Premier League Injury Table and Predicted Premier League Line-Ups before finalising your teams.

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per August 18th, 2021)

GKMartinez (AST), Ederson (MCI), Sánchez (BRI)Schmeichel (LEI), Raya (BRE), Foster (WAT)
DEFWhite (ARS), Chilwell (CHE), Shaw (MUN)Tsimikas (LIV), Alonso (CHE), Amartey (LEI)Seems mostly GW1-related knee-jerking; Tsimikas continued starts; Arsenal shaky defence
MIDSaka (ARS), Maddison (LEI), Grealish (MCI)Pogba (MUN), Fernandes (MUN), Benrahma (WHU)Form of transferred-in players; Maddison flagged
FORKane (TOT), Iheanacho (LEI), Cavani (MUN)Richarlison (EVE), Lukaku (CHE), Antonio (WHU)Kane future at Spurs + flagged; Lukaku recent addition to FPL; Antonio involvement

Premium pick

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?

Non-premium pick

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.

The differential

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.

The captaincy

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.

For more comment join other FPL enthusiasts in FISO’s FPL discussion forum.

How fantasyfootballfix.com improved my FPL rank

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.

The Rotation Planner

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.

The Assistant Manager/Points projections

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 Fixture Analyser

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.

Player Heatmaps

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!

Custom Stats Builder

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! 

Elite XI and Consensus XI

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

FPL Season 2021/22: Gameweek 1 preview

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)

Name (club – current ownership %)
Martinez (AST – 38.3%) ; Foster (WAT – 27.4%) ; Sanchez (BRI – 23.4%)
Shaw (MUN – 53.9%) ; Alexander-Arnold (LIV – 31.7%) ; Dias (MCI – 27.5%)
Salah (LIV – 50.2%) ; Fernandes (MUN – 48.4%) ; Grealish (MCI – 27.4%)
Toney (BRE – 30.1%) ; Ings (AST – 27.8%) ; Kane (TOT – 21.8%)

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.

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FPL 2021/22 Season Previews: Part 10 West Ham and Wolves

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.

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