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)


TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
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)


TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
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)


TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
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.

How to View Predicted Premier League Lineups

Some things in the world of fantasy football are difficult, yet, others are as simple as they can be. One of those straightforward options players should take is to check the predicted lineups. After all, there’s no point in making an uninformed decision about your FPL team transfers or selections. The sources are out there. You just need to know where to look.

Using Predicted Lineups in Fantasy Football

There are plenty of decisions to make on a weekly basis within fantasy football – maybe even more frequently considering midweek games too. Different players have different routines – their modus operandi, if you will. However, there is always one constant that you will find among the regular plans of the top FPL players every season – looking at the likely starting elevens. It’s almost imperative that you check out the predicted premier league lineups before each gameweek deadline.

Can Anyone Have a Go at Predicted Lineups?

The short answer is yes. Yet, why put yourself through all that time-consuming research when you have some fantastic and reliable sources out there willing to do the work for you?

At first, you may think there isn’t too much to it. But don’t forget everything that needs to be considered in order to pick a predicted starting for one Premier League club. There are fitness issues, injuries potentially suffered during training that you may not have heard about, suspended players, other stars missing due to personal issues, and much, much more. Now, imagine taking all that into consideration for all 20 teams!

No-one knows the exact starting eleven for any club until one hour before kick-off, when teams must confirm their lineups as per Premier League rules. Some sites, however, can make a very good go at it thanks to all the information they collate every day of the week. It’s their specific focus so let them take that load on for you.

All you have to do, then, is have a look at the websites you find most reliable before making your transfers and picking your starting lineup. Don’t forget to prioritise your substitutes how you want them too.

How Injuries and Fitness Can Affect Starting Lineups

As an avid football fan, you will know that players can get injured at any time throughout the season. We generally know immediately if we witness an injury occurring during a live match on TV. Normally a player will need a scan on an injury if it’s deemed serious enough. Those scans will take place in the days following the match. You would need to stay up-to-date on the club website to find out just how serious that injury was.

Players can get injured in training too. Away from the TV cameras, Premier League players undergo hours of intense training every week. Injuries can happen at the training ground, of course. These ones you may not hear about so much unless you keep tuned to the sports news channels.

You must also take into account a player’s match fitness when they are returning from an injury. If they were out of action for a prolonged period of time, there will most certainly be a readjustment period to think of. You’re likely to see such players come back in for one or two substitute appearances while they return to full fitness.

Suspensions in Fantasy Premier League

Players are suspended during the season as a result of accumulating too many yellow cards or receiving any red cards. Whoever receives five yellow cards in the Premier League will miss the next game through suspension. The same rule applies for every extra five yellow cards that player gets.

Anyone who is sent off due to a second yellow card in the same match will receive a one-match ban. The same is said for players who get a straight red card after committing a professional foul.

There are heavier bans for in-game offences such as dissent. If the dissent leads to a red card, the player gets a two-game ban. Violent conduct can be punished by a suspension of three or more matches.

Your safest bet to keep on top of all of the current bans and injuries is to check a reliable source before making changes to your FPL selection.

Utilise All the Tools Available to You

Missing a gameweek deadline without changing your team or making your transfers is so demoralising. Try to avoid this by setting reminders on your phone.

After that, you need to build your routine. This will involve finding those sites you know you can depend on for accurate predicted lineups. Get your information then make your decisions such as picking transfers, your first eleven, and the order of your substitutes.

Once all that is done, your fate will lie in the hands of the football gods! It is then time to sit back and witness the magic and the mystery of the FPL.

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)


TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
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.

FanTeam 2021/22 – Gameweek 1 Monster

As part of FISO’s special series of weekly articles on FanTeam, Europe’s biggest daily fantasy football provider, we will actually be entering the team we write about each week into the game. Our article will focus on an Early Entry for their Fantasy Premier League tournament held each week in order to help you identify game rules, tactics and the most promising players per gameweek, so you can win some of that large prize money.

Our FISO team below will be entered into this week’s £10.32 entry Monster with £43,000 of cash prizes on offer bringing plenty of excitement to the weekend’s Premier League action. Entry deadline is the usual 3pm on Saturday. Join the discussion on FISO’s FanTeam forum.

Before moving onto our team selection, we want to highlight a couple of FanTeam rules that they apply to their Weekly Monster competition and that represent some of the major differences when comparing the game to the FPL. Do though check out the Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs as well as the latest injury news (click on ‘Team’ to sort per club rather than the default ‘date’) before finalising your picks.

Number one is that FanTeam have a rule called the ‘safety net’. The safety net comes into play when a selected player does not start in the Weekly Monster, because the game will then automatically replace this player with the next lowest-priced player from the same position (GK, DEF, MID, FOR) in the same team. This is regardless of whether or not your selected player does take to the field later in the game. This rule helps people who have entered a team into the Weekly Monster not to worry too much about whether their selected players will start or not, particularly if they know there are cheaper players for that same club in that same position who should start instead.

Number two is that FanTeam also have a ‘stacking penalty’ for the Weekly Monster, which penalises teams that have selected more than one defenders/goalkeeper from the same club. The stacking penalty comes into play when you pick more than one defensive player (defenders or goalkeepers) from a particular club and this club records a clean sheet. The points awarded for this clean sheet will decrease by 1 point for each additional defensive player from the same club that you have selected. The stacking penalty has a maximum of minus 3 points. This rule helps stop multi-entrants from gaining an advantage by submitting block defence teams. A reasonable tactic can be to select two players from two different clubs for your Goalie and 3 Defenders, which would see you incur just 2 single-point deductions if you nail both clean sheets correctly.

Our team entered in the Gameweek 1

Liverpool

Norwich got themselves quickly promoted back to the Premier League but didn’t fare very well last time around and many, ourselves included, will fancy Liverpool to come out the winners over 90 minutes. Tsimikas looks to have the left back role in Robertson’s injury absence whilst Jota and Mane (captain) have been on the score sheet in pre-season (unlike Saha who we’re bravely passing over).

Leicester

The Community Shield win against Man City showed that Leicester are already up and running this season. Wolves are a bit of an unknown quantity with their new manager and a disappointing campaign last season. We’re banking on Barnes (vc), Maddison and Pereira putting their injury troubles from last season behind them.

Watford

A solid defensive unit coming up from the Championship will be put to the test by a Grealish-less Aston Villa. Our budget options of Bachmann and Danny Rose may pay dividends, particularly if Watkins misses out and Ings fails to gel with his new team-mates.

Burnley

Barnes has had a good pre-season and we will see the team line-ups v Brighton so can change if he’s not a starter. Jack Cork is very cheap and may just get an assist.

West Ham

Our final spot goes to the energetic Antonio who’s another with a good pre-season and will be fancied to get on the score sheet away to Newcastle.

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

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 %)
Goalkeepers
Martinez (AST – 38.3%) ; Foster (WAT – 27.4%) ; Sanchez (BRI – 23.4%)
Defenders
Shaw (MUN – 53.9%) ; Alexander-Arnold (LIV – 31.7%) ; Dias (MCI – 27.5%)
Midfielders
Salah (LIV – 50.2%) ; Fernandes (MUN – 48.4%) ; Grealish (MCI – 27.4%)
Forwards
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.

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

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.

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

FPL 2021/22 Season Previews: Part 9 Tottenham Hotspur and Watford

Welcome back to yet another season of Fantasy Premier League football!

If you stuck with us during the exciting and sometimes sad thrill ride that was the 2020/21 Premier League campaign, great to have you back with us again. If you just stumbled upon our FPL content recently, a very warm welcome and hopefully you’ll find our regular contributions to the world of FPL both enjoyable and useful in your quest for a top rank come the end of the season.

Newly promoted Brentford will be taking on Community Shield winners Arsenal in the season opener on Friday, August 13th. In the build-up to that game, we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League this season with a special focus on their FPL potential. In this ninth instalment, we will be providing a bit more insight into a new-look Spurs side under former Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo and the last of three promoted teams in this season preview series, Watford.

SPURS – FPL 2021/22 team preview

If there was an award for rockiest pre-season, then Tottenham Hotspur would be a prime candidate this year. It started with the reported struggle for the club to find a manager of name and reputation to follow in the footsteps of the often controversial José Mourinho. Inter’s Antonio Conte, Bayern’s Hansi Flick, Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers, all of these names and a bunch more were linked to the Spurs job, and as many allegedly declined the opportunity. All but one, that is, because the Londoners eventually did manage to sign Nuno Espirito Santo, the successful Wolves coach who led his former team back to the Premier League for the 2018/19 season and immediately established them as an upper mid-table force to be reckoned with.

In other words, and despite Spurs being a clear step-up in terms of club size and pressure to perform, the doubts surrounding his appointment at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium seem largely unfounded. Calm, tactically strong and a good man-manager, Espirito Santo could turn out to be the perfect heir to Mourinho’s squad. Having said that, improving on last season’s seventh place, preferably in the form of a top-four finish, is going to be a mammoth task for the Portuguese manager.

Of course, the Harry Kane shenanigans are not helping. Imagine signing for a club considered serial underachievers by their own fans, knowing that you can at least build a team and a new tactical approach around the league’s best striker (who was directly involved in no less than 54% of the team’s goals in the prior season), and then that striker deciding not to turn up for the first training session after his holidays. Or the second. Or the third. Not cool, to say the least, but Espirito Santo has to deal with it and he’s doing it in his own style: calm, unruffled, positive. We will see if Kane will turn up in a Spurs’ shirt come gameweek 1, that’s all we can say for now.

Spurs’ tactics sheet

One of the major causes for doubts in regard to Espirito Santo’s appointment has to do with the fact that, after the largely negative approach to games under Mourinho, the club was supposed to move into a more attack-minded direction. That’s because the Portuguese manager is not exactly known for an especially attacking kind of football.

It’s not that Santo’s football is not attractive, because it can definitely be, but it’s based on fitness and tactical discipline first of all, combined with a solid defensive foundation. His statement at the start of his tenure about first getting fitness levels up to his standards before settling on a formation should therefore be taken seriously. Additionally, it shows another quality of the new Spurs coach, namely that he is not rigidly set on a certain shape or playing style. The result could be a very hard-to-beat, hard-working Spurs side in which the attacking assets, like at Wolves, can excel.

It remains to be seen how Spurs will line up in GW1, but we feel a five-men backline is most likely, considering both Nuno’s playing style at Wolves over the past four seasons and the player material available to him at Spurs. In goal, captain Hugo Lloris seems assured of another season as Spurs #1, despite him entering his final contract year. For the central trio, the club is looking for reinforcements with Atalanta defender Cristian Romero on the way and Bologna defender Takehiro Tomiyasu strongly linked to the North London side. Of the current squad, Ben Davies and Eric Dier look like the most likely candidates for a starting spot. Sergi Reguilón on the left and Matt Doherty, who blossomed under Nuno at Wolves, on the right fill the wing-back positions.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele look set to form the team’s double pivot in the middle. For the three spots left up front, Nuno has quite an abundance of talent at his disposal, though some of them will hope for a bit of a form revival after featuring on the fringes under Mourinho. Assuming Kane stays, he will lead the line with the other undroppable and outstanding performer Heung-Min Son behind him, around him or on the wing. Dele Alli, Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn and Giovanni lo Celso will be vying for the third spot in attack, either on the right flank (Moura, Bergwijn) or behind the Kane-Son duo (Alli, Lo Celso).

SPURS – Potential FPL targets

Obviously, Harry Kane (£12.5m) is Spurs fantasy pick number one. At the moment of writing he is still a Spurs player, and anyone Spurs-related will be hoping this will still be the case come the end of the transfer window on August, 31st. Kane became both the Premier League topscorer with 23 goals and the division’s assist king with 14 assists last season for a total of 242 FPL points. The season’s top points scorer Bruno Fernandes outdid him by just two points. Kane is Tottenham’s talisman, he is fixture-proof and he is on penalties as well as on more than a few free-kicks. Yes, he is very expensive and Spurs’s opening fixtures are not fantastic, but there a few safer long-term investments than Tottenham’s very own in the official fantasy game.

We generally try to focus on FPL assets besides the premium picks a lot, but in the case of Spurs, it’s just very hard to not mention both Kane and Heung-Min Son (£10.0m) when discussing their fantasy picks. With 17 goals and 11 assists, the Korean had a phenomenal 2020/21 campaign, scoring 228 FPL points, just 14 less than Kane. That’s also where much of Son’s appeal lies, because his price tag is a whole £2.5m lighter and he is registered as a midfielder in the official fantasy game. No other midfielder provided more value than him last season and with a current ownership of just over 17%, he is a relative differential pick as well.

To counter our two heavyweight fantasy picks, we are highlighting the potential budget-enabling value of Eric Dier (£4.5m). The versatile Englishman, who can play as a defensive midfielder as part of the double pivot, as one of the two central defenders in a four-men defence or as one of the three central defenders in a backline of five, was Spurs’ most-used defender last season in terms of playing minutes. He is not the one you should look for if you’re on a quest for attacking returns, in 2,520 minutes Dier recorded no attacking returns, but if Nuno manages to implement some of his much-desired tactical discipline and defensive solidity this season, the England international could be of excellent value to any FPL squad. Cherry on the cake is that Dier was raised in Portugal and came through Sporting Lisbon’s academy, so he is fluent in his new manager’s native language.

WATFORD – FPL 2021/22 team preview

With Watford, we have come to the last of the three promoted sides for this series of Season Previews and to the best defence of last season’s Championship campaign. In 48 games, the Hornets conceded just 30 goals, six less than champions Norwich, and recorded the highest number of clean sheets in the division by some margin. Exactly half of their games, 23 to be precise, ended without them conceding a single goal.

A big role in this achievement was reserved for Spanish manager Xisco Muñoz, who was appointed in December 2020 following the sacking of Vladimir Ivic. He is the one who really turned Watford into a hard-to-beat side, though at times at the cost of an attractive playing style. He was in charge during 27 games last season, a run over which the Hornets conceded just 16 goals and scored 40. Though not always lauded for his approach to games, Xisco’s philosophy might be just what the club needs to survive on their return amongst the English footballing elite after a year of absence.

The fact that Watford took just a single season to bounce back to the Prem is interesting for another reason as well, because the club managed to keep hold of much of the team’s core from that 2019/20 season. Recent Premier League experience is not to be underestimated when it comes to newly-promoted teams, even if they did get relegated. It should also not be forgotten that Watford missed out on retaining their Premier League status by just a single point and that, just a few months earlier, the team actually reached the final of the 2019 FA Cup.

On top of their promotion-winning squad, Watford have also been very active during the ongoing summer transfer window. Around £8 million was spent on central midfielder Imran Louza from Ligue 1 side FC Nantes, Club Brugge striker Emmanuel Dennis was brought in for around £3 million, and several reputed names were acquired on a free, including former Spurs left-back Danny Rose, Premier League mainstay Joshua King and Boro centre-forward Ashley Fletcher. As far as outgoing transfers go, the permanent move of Craig Dawson to West Ham has been the only move of real first-team significance so far.

Watford’s tactics sheet

When Xisco arrived at Vicarage Road in December of last year, he was presented with a Watford side used to turning up in a 4-4-2 formation in which club legend Troy Deeney had a fixed spot with André Gray next to him. The Hornets were not firing though, and as pressure on the new manager rapidly grew despite a couple of decent results as well, he opted for a tactical change. Out with the two-striker system and in with a more dynamic, expansive 4-3-3, or perhaps an attacking 4-1-4-1 describes it better. That’s essentially a 4-3-3 with an attacking triangle on the midfield.

While remaining defensively sound, in great part thanks to the staff’s insistence on maintaining a tightly knit defensive block, this tactical change brought the talented Joao Pedro to the forefront, together with talisman Ismaila Sarr. Together with Sema, Sarr got more freedom to influence attacks and come inside from the flanks, while the full-backs were allowed to join in attack more often as well. Of course, it remains to be seen if Watford decide to confront their Premier League challenge as well or if they revert to a slightly more consolidated midfield to counter the stronger opposition.

So far, it looks like Xisco will be sticking to a three-men midfield, formed out of Tom Cleverly, Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah, though these last two players are still in negations for contract extensions with the club. The likes of Philip Zinckernagel, Domingos Quina and Dan Gosling are waiting in the wings, while new face Imran Louza should be slotted in step by step as well.

In goal, the Hornets can count on two very reliable shot stoppers in the persons of veteran Ben Foster and Austria international Daniel Bachmann. The latter seems to be Xisco’s number one since the second half of last season. In defence, Kiko Femenía on the right and Adam Masina on the left look nailed-on, while last season’s central duo consisting of William Troost-Ekong and Francisco Sierralta looks set as well. It’s proven to be a successful recipe last season, after all.

In attack, the mobile Joao Pedro leads the line, flanked by Watford’s talisman Ismail Sarr and his counterpart on the left flank, Ken Sema. The likes of Troy Deeney, Andre Gray, Emmanuel Dennis and Joshua King provide Xisco with both depth and variation in an offensive sense.

WATFORD – Potential FPL targets

We’re starting this segment about Watford with their Player of the Year of last season, Ismaïla Sarr (£6.0m), who was also voted the Player’s Player of the Season. The Senegalese international has been linked with a move away from Vicarage Road ever since the club relegated at the end of the 2019/20 season, but he stayed and subsequently played a key role in their lightning return to the Premier League. Sarr, who plays as a very advanced winger but who is listed as a midfielder in the official fantasy game, scored 13 goals and provided 4 assists last season, which represents a direct involvement of 27% in his team’s goals. He’s a dribbler and was the second-most fouled player in the Championship last season, winning five penalties in the process (of which he took two himself, by the way). With a relatively kind opening set of fixtures for the upcoming season, he’s a very interesting differential pick.

The main appeal when it comes to Watford fantasy assets comes from their defence, though. As part of the Championship’s most stable defence last season, right-back Kiko Femenía (£4.5m) also registered 4 assists, a total bettered by no one on the Watford roster. Many FPL managers might remember the Spaniard from the 2019/20 season, during which he was in and out of the team for most of the campaign, but he has become a nailed-on starter for the Hornets since then. Of course, defensive resolve in the Championship is no guarantee for a solid defensive performance in the Premier League, but if Xisco manages to adapt his defensive block to the elite division, Femenía could become a very interesting budget-enabling fantasy pick.

Further on in the budget category, we find Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann (£4.5m). At first glance, there is a strange thing going on at Watford from an FPL point of view. Despite Bachmann looking like a pretty secure bet for a starting spot between the sticks, in our opinion at least, it’s his £4.0m rival Ben Foster who currently sits in 27% of all teams. And the Austrian? In just 3.3%… Not too long after his arrival, manager Xisco replaced Foster with Bachmann in the starting lineup, giving him the opportunity to record 13 clean sheets in 23 Championship appearances, and we can’t imagine the Euro 2020 participant not being the Spaniard’s first choice come GW1. Foster’s price tag (meaning some FPL managers are just looking at the cheapest goalkeeper to sit on the bench all the time) and the fact that he got a start in last season’s final game probably explain his current ownership, but it’s Bachmann you should focus on if you’re in search of a starting budget goalkeeper in a potentially defence-minded side.

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FPL 2021/22 Season Previews: Part 8 Norwich and Southampton

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 eighth instalment, the spotlights are for newly promoted Norwich City and Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Southampton.

NORWICH – FPL 2021/22 team preview

Unless you only joined the thrilling FPL community fairly recently, say over the course of last season for example, you will surely remember the last time Norwich got promoted to the Premier League. Fondly even, if you were one of the clairvoyant fantasy managers who invested in Canaries striker Teemu Pukki from the get-go. He got off to a flying start to the 2019/20 campaign (pukki party!), and was even named both Premier League Player of the Month and PFA Premier League Player of the Month in August after scoring 5 goals and giving 1 assist in four first game of the season.

The Finnish international, who featured in every game of this summer’s European Championship, is still on the Norwich roster this season and, not surprisingly, their most expensive asset. More about him later though, because there could be more to Norwich than just their star forward. Last season, the Canaries won promotion to the Prem by crowning themselves champions in the Championship with 97 points from 48 games, a whole 6 points more than runners-up Watford. In the process, they scored 76 goals, a total only bettered by Brentford, and conceded just 36 goals, a total only bettered by Watford.

For what it’s worth, when the Canaries were promoted in the 2019/20 season and ended up being the leakiest defence in the league as they dropped straight back into the Championship, they conceded 57 goals in their promotion-winning season. If this is any indication of more defensive resolve this season, manager Daniel Farke’s men might just be more than mainly cannon fodder this season. With what is probably the hardest start to the season of any team in the division, consisting of Liverpool (home), Manchester City (away), Leicester (home) and Arsenal (away), Norwich’s progress and qualities will be put to the test straight away.

Norwich’s tactics sheet

Therefore, the first four games of the campaign are not likely to give us a very realistic idea of Norwich’s real chances of survival this season, but it can give us good indications of their qualities, both as a team and on an individual level. We doubt that many fantasy managers will be investing in Canary assets come gameweek 1, but looking at the current squad, there is clearly some budget and differential potential present.

On top of that, Farke tends to stick to the same formation, which is usually good news for FPL managers. The German coach favours a 4-2-3-1 set-up in which ball possession and patient build-up play are key principles. Back amongst the English footballing elite, they won’t be able to replicate last season’s league-topping average of just over 58% of possession, though. Up to Farke and his men to come up with an approach that compensates for this in their fight against relegation.

One of Norwich’s best and most experienced players stands in goal and goes by the name of Tim Krul, the Dutch goalkeeper who was famously brought on by Louis Van Gaal just for the penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica during the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals and then went on to stop the decisive Michael Umaña spot kick. Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson are the first-choice central duo for the moment, with the talented Max Aarons on their right side and Dimitris Giannoulis on the left side.

The departure of Emiliano Buendia, who got 15 goals and 17 assists last season, was painful, as was the return of loanee Oliver Skipp to Spurs. Chelsea talent Billy Gilmour was brought in as an almost like-for-like replacement for the Spurs man and he should be forming the double pivot in the middle with Kenny McLean. The creative three between them and striker Teemu Pukki will likely be formed out of Milot Rashica (right wing), Todd Cantwell (left wing) and Kieran Dowell in the number 10 slot.

NORWICH – Potential FPL targets

We mentioned Teemu Pukki (£6.0m) earlier as the main man at Norwich, so it only makes sense for him to be our first fantasy pick from the Canaries’ roster. Last season, the Finnish forward scored 26 goals and provided 4 assists, which represents a direct goal involvement of 40% in all of his team’s goals. The last time he starred in the Premier League, he scored a total of 11 goals despite his side being the league’s whipping boys for much of the season. Six of those goals came in his first five games of the campaign, an impressive record he is unlikely to replicate this season with Norwich’ tough opening set of fixtures in mind. It also remains to be seen how the club will cope with the loss of Buendia’s creativity from the right side, but if you’re absolutely set on a Norwich asset for your gameweek 1 squad, Pukki is probably the way to go.

Having said that, Norwich do offer a few very good budget-enabling options if your minimum requirement for such a squad player is that he is a nailed-on starter. In that case, you could probably do worse than attacking midfielder Todd Cantwell (£5.5m). During the 2019/20 season, the 23-year old managed a very decent 111 FPL points (6 goals, 2 assists) in Pukki’s shadow, while he was instrumental to Norwich’ promotion last season with 6 goals and 6 assists. Cantwell looks set to become the Canaries’ playmaker with Buendia now at Aston Villa and if they can somehow continue their good goal-scoring record of last season in the coming season, the Norwich midfielder could be good value.

Now, for our final pick we were initially going with right-back Max Aarons, who looks like a clear stand-out pick in Norwich’ defence thanks to his qualities and attacking tendencies, but we’ve eventually chosen to highlight Andrew Obomamidele (£4.0m). The young Irish central defender is not a nailed-on starter under Farke, at the moment of writing at least, but he did get some minutes during pre-season already. Seeing as every serious FPL manager is looking for that one playing £4.0m defender as fifth defender for their gameweek 1 squad, we figured Obomamidele is an interesting to keep an eye on. He is one of the back-up options to fixed central duo Hanley and Gibson, and we’re not expecting him to get loads of minutes any time soon, but if he does, he could be just what your FPL squad needs.

SOUTHAMPTON – FPL 2021/22 team preview

Like several other teams (Burnley, Brighton, Palace etc), Southampton never really had to deal with any relegation battle fears at any point during the season, despite delivering a largely mediocre campaign and thanks to the sub-par performances by the three teams that eventually got relegated. The Saints finished the 2020/21 campaign in 15th place with 43 points, 15 points more than number 18 Fulham, but also 16 points behind 10th-placed Everton. After a 16th place in the 2018/19 season and an 11th place last season, one might conclude that Southampton have not progressed as much as they would have hoped in recent years.

A final position in itself does not tell the whole story though, and that is definitely the case for the Saints. Last season, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men were actually quite prolific in front of goal as 47 goals ranked them tenth in terms of attacking output. It’s in defence where things looked more worrying, as only relegated West Brom Albion conceded more than Southampton’s 68 conceded goals. Of course, a 9-0 demolition at the hands of Manchester United, Saints’ second 9-0 drubbing in as many season by the way, does not help.

It’s not like the 2020/21 season was a complete nightmare for Southampton, because the club did get off to a flying start. After eight games, they were actually leading the Premier League (for a day) and they remained in the top three until gameweek 14. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from that point. As a matter of fact, looking at the final 25 games of the games separately, actually no team performed worse than the Saints, in big part due to an average of two conceded goals per game. They were especially terrible away from home, losing ten out of the final twelve games and winning just one.

Southampton’s tactics sheet

Solidifying the backline will naturally be a major priority for Hasenhüttl this season if he wishes to avoid the risk of being dragged into a relegation battle. Last season’s numbers are simply not good enough for a side in the top flight. At the same time, the departure of Danny Ings to Aston Villa on a free means that he will need to find a way to compensate losing 35% of last season’s goals, as the Englishman scored 12 and assisted 4.

Southampton are actually not a bad team and have an interesting set of players making up the squad with Ralph Hasenhüttl a very disciplined, attack-minded coach. More than a few times, the Saints were a pleasure to watch last season, in part due to the Austrian’s 4-2-2-2 formation and love for a high, intense press. They combine for lovely football at times, but with the big risk that the side can end up all over the place once the tactical settings don’t click almost perfectly.

Where the position in goal is usually pretty set for most teams, Hasenhüttl has hinted during pre-season that his rotation of goalkeepers Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster might continue this season. The backline will likely continue to be built of four players, with left-back Romain Perraud coming in to replace Ryan Bertrand, who transferred to Leicester City on a free. Euro 2020 participants Jan Bednarek (Poland) and Yannik Vestergaard (Denmark) form the central duo in the back, and Kyle Walker-Peters runs the right flank.

In the middle, the return from long-term injury of Oriol Romeu will make a considerable difference to Southampton’s shape and defensive solidity, and he will be partnered by captain and set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse. On the sides, Stuart Armstrong and Nathan Redmond provide both width and creative impulses. With the departure of Danny Ings, it remains to be seen who will join Che Adams up front. We can’t imagine the Saints won’t bring in a new striker for the starting eleven, but in case they don’t, the ultimate budget forward Michael Obafemi comes into consideration.

SOUTHAMPTON – Potential FPL targets

Danny Ings was obviously top of most Southampton season previews when it comes to interesting FPL assets, but seeing as he is no longer with the Saints, Che Adams (£7.0m) makes for a logical switch. Up until last season, the 25-year was not particularly known for his goal-scoring instinct or his direct goal involvement in general, but he changed that image by scoring 9 goals and giving 7 assists. A total of 137 FPL was more than decent for a forward who started at £5.5m in the official game. The competition in his price bracket is fierce this season, but the strongly-built Adams is nailed-on for Hasenhüttl and could once again represent good value if the Saints manage to keep up their attacking approach to games.

Ings or no Ings, the main man at Southampton is still James Ward-Prowse (£6.5m). After scoring 8 goals and providing 7 assists last season, the midfielder was in serious contention for England’s stacked Euro 2020 squad, which he eventually just missed out on. A shame for him, but not bad for FPL managers, because he will be fresher for the EPL season. When it comes to JWP, it’s important to realise that he’s an absolute set-piece expert, especially when you’re watching him live. His threat from open play is not very impressive, but his threat from free-kicks and penalties is something else. To illustrate: out of his 8 goals last season, 4 came from a direct free-kick and 3 from the penalty spot. At £6.5m, we wouldn’t be surprised to see his current ownership of 8.1% grow further in the build-up to GW1 although he has had a knee injury which has disrupted his pre-season so may miss out in GW1.

The other scoring midfielder on the Saints roster is Stuart Armstrong (£6.0m), though his style of play is entirely different. Contrary to Ward-Prowse, Armstrong does provide considerable threat from open play, which resulted in 4 goals and 7 assists last season. On top of that, both in terms of shots on goal and key passes made, the Scottish midfielder ranked amongst the best two of his team. We’re not sure if he will be able to surpass his FPL points total of last season (115), but he costs £0.5m less than JWP, is a nailed-on starter for a relatively offensive side and is currently part of just 0.4% of FPL teams.

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