FPL Season 2020-21 – Gameweek 6 Preview

“On Friday at Villa Park, the home team will chase their fifth consecutive victory to make it 5 out of 5 since the start of the season” (CC by 3.0). Image by: Radi1981.

As if the FPL wasn’t enough of a minefield already this year, we will need to start taking European football into account from gameweek 6 and onwards. With Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea playing in the Champions League on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Leicester, Spurs and Arsenal coming into action in the Europa League on Thursday, many popular FPL assets will come into the weekend with just a few days of rest. Considering the impact this can potentially have on their spots in the starting lineups and their in-game performances, we highly recommend to keep an eye on the European competitions this week.

On top of that, gameweek 6 is not looking as straight-forward as many would like. It’s surprise package versus surprise package on Friday, followed by a few hard-to-predict encounters, including Man United hosting Chelsea, Leicester visiting Arsenal and hot-and-cold Man City going to an in-form West Ham side. Spurs playing at Turf Moor looks tasty considering the form of Harry Kane and co, but it could be a trap as the Claretshave just come off their first trademark clean sheet of the season. It’s probably the home games of Liverpool, Wolves and Brighton that will appeal most to FPL managers, though this Premier League campaign so far has been nothing if not unpredictable.

Don’t forget: the deadline for gameweek 6 is set for 18h30 (UK time) on Friday, October 23rd. Also do 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 transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per October 21st, 2020)

 TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
GKAlisson (LIV), Nyland (AST), McCarthy (SOU)Martinez (AST), McCarthy (SOU), Ederson (CIT) 
DEFVan Dijk (LIV), Alexander-Arnold (LIV), Söyüncü (LEI)Chilwell (CHE), Mings (AST), Digne (EVE)Injured and expensive defenders being replaced by in-form defenders.
MIDDe Bruyne (CIT), Aubameyang (ARS), Willian (ARS)Son (TOT), Grealish (AST), Rodriguez (EVE)KDB’s injury and underperforming Arsenal assets replaced by the many in-form midfielders.
FORVardy (LEI), Richarlison (EVE), Mitrovic (FUL)Kane (TOT), Calvert-Lewin (EVE), Werner (CHE)Expensive and injured forwards replaced by in-form attackers.

Premium pick

Despite Liverpool’s wobbly start to the season, it’s now 6 goals and 1 assist form five games for Mo Salah (£12.3m). With an ownership of close to 50%, the Egyptian is about the furthest from a differential as can be, but he is turning into an essential fantasy pick. This weekend, the Reds are hosting a struggling Sheffield United side and there could very well be attacking returns for Salah once again. The Blades have won just a single point so far and with just two goals to their name so far, it’s hard to imagine them causing trouble at Anfield. Liverpool will have the upper-hand in this one and Salah will be a captaincy favourite amongst FPL managers. He has returned in both home games this season (a hattrick against Leeds in GW1 and an assist vs Arsenal in GW3) and looks set to do so once again on Saturday evening.

Non-premium picks

As one of the most under-priced fantasy assets this season, Jack Grealish (£7.2m) will probably be featuring in this category a lot more often over the course of this season. Especially considering the red hot form Aston Villa are in at the moment. Last season’s strugglers have started the 2020-21 campaign in style, winning their four first games by scoring 12 goals and conceding just 7. As best player and main source of offensive creativity, Grealish has been directly involved in exactly 50% of those goals, with 3 goals and 3 assists. This weekend, Villa are facing Leeds, who have shipped 9 goals in five games, followed by Southampton who conceded 9 over that same period as well. Both of these games are at home and both of these games look very appealing for Grealish. The Villains are brimming with confidence at the moment and the young Englishman is playing some of the best football of his career, so we feel more FPL points are on the way for him.

Our second non-premium fantasy pick for gameweek 6 is less explosive and plays for a less explosive team as well. Wolves striker Raul Jimenez (£8.5m) is nonetheless one of the most reliable FPL assets around. Despite the team still trying to find a bit more of its groove, the Mexican has already scored 3 goals with a total of 24 FPL points from five games as a result. He slotted the only goal of the game past Leeds goalie Meslier on Monday and has three plum home fixtures coming up in the next four: Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Southampton. That could be just the kind of run that Wolves need to build their confidence and start flowing a bit more freely in attack, of which Jimenez would be the main beneficiary.

The budget enabler

For this round’s budget enabler, we’re looking at Brighton as they host new boys West Bromwich Albion on Monday. The Seagulls’ current position in the rankings does not really do justice to how well they have been playing so far. No team in the league has conceded less shots in the box than them and just one side has conceded less shots on target. This weekend’s opponents, on the other hand, are the team with the least shots on target and the least big chances created. In other words, a clean sheet looks more than possible for Brighton, which is why we figured Tariq Lamptey (£4.7m) could be an excellent budget pick. On top of the promising defensive stats of his team, the English right-back has 3 assists to his name already, more than any other defender in the official game, so there could be returns at both ends of the pitch for his this weekend.

A differential pick or two

It feels strange to write about Sadio Mané (£11.9m) being a differential pick in FPL, but he really is at this moment. His partner in crime on the other wing has been taking up most of the spotlight so far, but the Senegalese powerhouse has not been sitting still, either. On the contrary, he has already scored 4 goals this season and sits on a total of 31 FPL points. At the moment of writing and with a home game against Sheffield United coming up, Mané has been selected by just 8.1% of FPL managers. That’s 0.1% less than Burnley’s Dale Stephens, to give you an idea of the Liverpool ace’s differential status. He did, of course, feature in the Champions League encounter with Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday night, but we don’t see why he would not be starting again against the Blades on Saturday, just like we can’t imagine him remaining eligible for our differential category much longer.

The same largely goes for Marcus Rashford (£9.5m), who currently sits in just 6.2% of all teams while being classified as a midfielder this year. Up until last weekend,he was having a slow start to the season, but last weekend he rose and led the Red Devils to a very welcome 1-4 victory over Newcastle with a goal and 2 assists. Following that man-of-the-match display, the young forward also scored a 87th-minute winner in the Champions League outing against PSG to set United off to a perfect start in Europe’s most important competition. Rashford now has just over three days to rest and prepare for the home game against Chelsea, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him continue his good form against the Blues. Having conceded 9 goals in five games so far, Frank Lampard’s men are once again suffering from a fragile defence, which makes Rashford a very appealing and potentially explosive differential pick for GW6.

The captaincy

With Liverpool expected to dominate most if not all of the game against Sheffield United on Saturday, we have placed the captain’s armband on Mo Salah‘s reliable arm for gameweek 6. The Egyptian talisman has already scored six times and assisted once this season, and a struggling Blades outfit looks like a great opportunity for him to improve on those tallies. He is looking sharp and gets into plenty of scoring positions, even when Liverpool are not playing their best game. On top of that, he’s on penalties, so we expect him to be the most-picked candidate for the captaincy this GW6 weekend.

Should you not have Salah in your team and be unable to afford his more than premium price tag, worry not. As well as probably the next most-popular choice, Harry Kane, the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and even Timo Werner or Kai Havertz could deliver big in the clash between United and Chelsea on Saturday. At home to Newcastle, Wolves star Raul Jimenez looks set to get chances as well, just like Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins against Leeds on Friday. For a bit more of a high-risk-high-reward kind of pick, Danny Ings (at home to Everton) and Neal Maupay (at home to West Brom) look like decent picks.

FanTeam 2020-21: €100K Weekly Monster – GW5 – Sat 17 Oct 2020

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. This series will focus on FanTeam’s Premier League Classic Event, a daily fantasy league based on the EPL games using classic fantasy football rules. Our article will focus on an Early Entry for this weekly tournament 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 €20 entry (€100k prize pool) Main Event, which has a maximum entry limit of 6,332 participants. Every week, we’ll report back on how our team performed in the previous week. A finish in the top 1,264 would see us win part of the prize pool of which the winner takes home a cool €10,000. FanTeam also offer a €2 entry Weekly Monster with a lower prize pool (of which the winner should get about €1,300) for those who prefer to play with lower stakes.

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.

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 Defenders, which would see you incur just 2 single-point deductions if you nail both clean sheets correctly.

Our early team suggestion for the Weekly Monster in gameweek 5

Formation: 3-4-3

General approach

Gameweek 5 is a particularly hard one to predict in terms of results and potential star performers. The teams that would usually be considered clear favourites (Chelsea, Man City, Spurs, Leicester etc) are all either facing in-form opposition or have shown us over the past four weeks that their form is far from consistent at the moment. As a result, we are left with an abundance of expensive to very premium options carrying a relatively large risk of blanking. The question, most of all, was to what extent we wanted to stretch the very tight budget this weekend in order to bring in risky favourites and then compensating with very low-priced, no-expectation picks to fill out our 11-men squad.

One thing we do know this season is that goals are being scored and penalties are way up compared to previous seasons. Match of the Day even dedicated a short segment to it in one of their last episodes. Goals have been scored for fun this campaign and clean sheets have been rare, so we decided to try and pick a FanTeam squad based on these trends. The core of our team consists of Sheffield United and Manchester City picks, combined with a Spurs premium ace and a cheap goalkeeper as budget enabler. The rest of the squad is built up of picks based on individual (goal-scoring) ability and penalty duties. In other words, players who might not see 3 points coming their way this weekend, but who are likely to be involved in the goals should their teams score.

MANCHESTER CITY – The favourites

One of the main talking points in the FPL world in the build-up to gameweek 5 is the fitness of Man City star Kevin de Bruyne. The midfielder was withdrawn in the 73rd minute on Sunday in the Nations League encounter with England and then sent back to Manchester for further examination. Whilst several sources, including Belgian national team coach Roberto Martinez, confirmed that these were precautionary measures more than anything and recent reports have stated that the player has been suffering from muscle stiffness, Pep has today said that KDB will miss the Arsenal match. With KDB not fit for the game, then we’ve gone with Raheem Sterling. Should Sterling not start either, then Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva are next in line.

Our second Man City pick is winger Riyad Mahrez, this round’s fourth-most expensive FanTeam asset. The Algerian wizard started in the last two Premier League games for Pep Guardiola’s team and looks set for another start against the Gunner with injuries and fitness doubts surrounding a number of attacking City assets. Besides that, the former Leicester star is simply a very good player who deserves a starting spot. He has a goal and an assist to this name so far, which both came against Leicester in gameweek 2, for a total of 12 FT points. Mahrez played two games and 180 minutes for Algeria over the break, and scored against Mexico, but both games took place in Northern Europe and he looked fit for his return to England.

SHEFFIELD UNITED – The defence

The 2020-21 campaign is looking like a tough one for Sheffield United, one of potential consolidation or suffering after a stellar return to the Premier League last season. The Blades were perhaps too hesitant this summer to bring new faces into the already rather stretched squad, though they did secure Rhyan Brewster’s signature towards the end of the window. In any case, it’s zero points from four games for them so far, with just a single goal scored and five conceded. Despite the disappointing start to the season, we find it hard to believe that all of last season’s qualities have just disappeared overnight and this weekend’s home game against Fulham presents a good opportunity for them to book the first points of the season.

The Cottagers are last at the moment, without points and a negative goal difference of -8, result of conceding 11 goals and scoring just 3. All three of those goals were scored in the 4-3 away loss against Leeds, by the way. That’s why we feel Sheffield United has one of the best chances on a clean sheet this weekend, and why we have doubled up on their defence: George Baldock and Jack Robinson. The former already has an assist to his name and ranks third amongst all defenders for touches in the penalty area, while the latter is the cheapest starting defender for the Blades. In case of a clean sheet, the Stacking Penalty will be applied, but a Sheffield United defensive double-up looks like a wise use of limited funds.

SOUTHAMPTON – The bargains

Besides Manchester City and Sheffield United, our FanTeam fantasy selection for gameweek 5 contains a third double-up, but for different reasons. Southampton are facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and despite being the clear underdogs in this one, the Saints roster does offer some potential, not in the last place due to the budget price tags of their players.

First off is goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, who’s been very good so far this season. Apart from the 5 goals conceded against Spurs in gameweek 2, the Southampton defence have conceded just 1 goal in three games. Their last two games ended with clean sheets and as a result, McCarthy currently sits on 18 FT points. Just three goalies have recorded more this season. Even though a clean sheet away at Chelsea would be considered a major surprise and a super achievement, it’s not completely out of the question. We have picked him for the combination of his low price tag, good individual quality and considerable saves potential. He has, so far, recorded 8 saves and even in the very possible absence of a clean sheet against Chelsea, we do count on a few save points from the Scot.

The story for our selection of Danny Ings is a bit similar, though instead of save points, we’re hoping for a goal. As we wrote earlier, Chelsea are the favourites here, but that doesn’t mean that the Saints don’t provide any potential for points. Where the Blues have already conceded 6 goals in four games, Southampton have scored 5 goals in four games. In other words, this encounter could end up being a high-scoring one and in that case, we want Ings on our team, especially at his current bargain price. He played 90 minutes over the international break and scored against Wales, while he already has 3 goals to his name in the Prem. With penalty duties in his pocket as well, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the score sheet against Chelsea.

THE INDIVIDUAL GUNS

As we said in our introduction, for various reasons, our team for gameweek 5 also contains a few picks based on individual qualities and the (offensive) importance of each of these players to their respective teams.

We’re starting with our captain for this round, Tottenham’s very own Harry Kane. Spurs have had a pretty spectacular start to the season with 2-5 and 1-6 victories away at Newcastle and Manchester United, combined with rather underwhelming home results against Everton in GW1 (0-1 loss) and Newcastle (1-1) in GW3. The consensus seems to be that Mourinho’s men thrive against teams playing a high defensive line, but suffer more against teams setting up a deeper-lying defensive block. This weekend’s visitors West Ham are in good form and expected to rely on a tight defensive set-up at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, so we definitely don’t expect this one to be a walk in the park for the home team. Still, Harry Kane is Harry Kane and in his current form, he seems hard to stop. He already has a whopping 3 goals and 6 assists to his name from just four games, and he has created more chances than any other player in the league so far. On top of that, No other player in the league has a higher expected goal involvement than the English international.

Our decision to go for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this weekend is very similar to the one justifying picking Danny Ings. The Gunners are the underdogs in Saturday’s away game against Man City, but it’s not like the home team has been so incredibly invincible so far this season. Guardiola’s men have taken just 4 points from their first three games and perhaps even more worrying, they have conceded 7 goals in the process. As a result, they currently boast a very uncharacteristic -1 goal difference. That’s also why we feel that, while City work on their defensive stability, the Gunners might be able to sneak in a goal or two this weekend and if they do, Auba is likely to be involved, especially because he takes the pens as well. Like Chelsea versus Southampton, this could end up being another high-scoring affair.

Next up is Matheus Pereira, the orchestrator of almost all of West Bromwich Albion’s attacking moves. The Brazilian is a bit of an outfield pick, especially at a relatively expensive 9.0m, but that has more to do with the team he’s part of than his individual qualities. The Baggies have had a tough start to the season with just 1 point from four games, but Pereira has been one of their positive talking points. After registering an incredible 16 assists in the Championship last season, he currently sits on 2 assists and 1 goal, giving him a direct goal involvement in no less than 60% of all of West Brom’s goals. There won’t be a lot of games this season in which the Baggies won’t be the underdogs, but this weekend’s home game against struggling Burnley might be one of them. The Clarets have taken just 1 point from the first three games and they have conceded 8 goals in the process. Again, this one could go both ways with two teams in dire need of points facing each other, and West Brom’s playmaker could be the one to mark the difference.

Picking Leandro Trossard to complete our midfield set-up has gone pretty much along the same lines, with the major difference being that Brighton are a better team than West Brom. The Seagulls are showing clear signs of improvement in comparison to last year and they were unlucky not to get more than their current 3 points from four games. Against the Man United back in GW3 alone, they hit the woodwork an incredible five times. Three of those attempts were launched by Trossard. The Belgian is generally positioned very high up the pitch, at times even higher than Brighton striker Maupay, and he is on several set-pieces as well. He has delivered returns in three of this season’s four games for a total of 21 FT points already and this weekend it’s Crystal Palace away for the Belgian. The Eagles have come off two back-to-back defeats against Everton and Chelsea, and even though there is no clear favourite for this encounter, an attacking return from Trossard is far from off the cards.

FINAL PICK

After selecting the above ten players, we still had one defensive spot left to fill and 6.1m to make it work. We ended up going with Wolves’ new acquisition Marçal, who is expected to return from injury and slot right back in at left-wingback. The team has had a bit of an underwhelming start to the 2020-21 campaign, but that is mainly due to their hampering attacking output. Defensively, they have conceded 7 goals, but all of those goals came in two games, namely the 4-0 defeat at West Ham and the 1-3 home loss versus Man City. The games against Sheffield United in GW1 and Fulham in GW4 ended with clean sheets. This weekend, the Wolves are up against Leeds at Elland Road. The Whites have been one of the revelations so far this season and they could very well end up putting a few past Wolves keeper Patricio, but with the remaining budget, Marçal is probably the pick with the highest points ceiling. Apart from the chance of a clean sheet as part of a pretty sound defensive set-up, he could also be involved in some attacking moves, as Leeds do leave spaces to exploit in every game.

Do check out FanTeam’s Predicted Line-Ups for the Premier League clubs before finalising your team. You will only be able to see the starting line-ups for the 1st fixture of the GW – Chelsea v Southampton.

FPL Season 2020-21 – Gameweek 5 Preview

“On Saturday, Goodison Park is the scene for the 235th Merseyside Derby” (CC by 2.0). Image by: Michael Graham

So goals seem to be a given for the time being, with gameweek 4 offering another incredible tally: 41 goals in total. A whopping 16 of those were scored in just two games! The 1-6 thumping of Man United at Old Trafford by Spurs was rather unbelievable but the 7-2 home victory of Aston Villa over reigning champions Liverpool in the following game was possibly even more baffling. As a result, there was another wave of hauls last gameweek, with Villa playmaker Jack Grealish delivering a shocking 2 goals and 3 assists for 24 FPL points, his teammate and Villa striker Ollie Watkins recording a hattrick and an assist for 19 FPL points, and the threesome of Heung-Min Son, James Rodriguez and Ben Chilwell all delighting their owners with 18 FPL points.

Gameweek 5 is going to be an interesting one (certainly for those playing FanTeam’s GW5 Monster) and a particularly hard one to predict, in a big part due to the current international break being the first one in the corona era. News reports, some more trustworthy than others, have already been coming in about Premier League players either testing positive or having been in close contact with a national team mate who tested positive, but we’ll only know the real truth once all players have returned to their clubs later this week. Just be aware of the fact that the resurging coronavirus can and most likely will have an impact on the Prem and therefore FPL over the coming weeks. See it as another unpredictable variable in your FPL planning schemes.

For the moment, professional sports leagues are continuing and that’s the most important thing of all.  Saturday starts off with a promising Merseyside Derby and later that day, Man City host Arsenal at the Etihad. From a fantasy point of view, Chelsea at home to Southampton, Spurs at home to West Ham and Leeds vs Wolves are just some of the appealing fixtures. We’re hoping all players return safely from their international duties and that the Premier League can continue in full, goal-scoring force this weekend.

Don’t forget: the deadline for gameweek 5 is set for 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, October 17th. Also do 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 transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per October 14th, 2020)

 TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
GKAlisson (LIV), Nyland (AST), Pope (BUR)Martinez (AST), McCarthy (SOU), Mendy (CHE) In form cheap Goalies.
DEFAlexander-Arnold (LIV), James (CHE), Van Dijk (LIV)Chilwell (CHE), Castagne (LEI), Saïss (WOL)Premium Liverpool defenders not really delivering.
MIDDe Bruyne (CIT), Aubameyang (ARS), Zaha (CRY)Son (TOT), Rodriguez (EVE), Grealish (AST)Injury doubts for KDB and Auba, excellent recent performances by the top-3 transferred-in midfielders.
FORWerner (CHE), Martial (UTD), Mitrovic (FUL)Calvert-Lewin (EVE), Kane (TOT), Wilson (NEW)In-form strikers bering brought in, non-scoring strikers being sold + Martial red-card ban.

Premium pick

It was strange what happened to Liverpool at Villa Park two weekends ago and manager Jurgen Klopp will surely have identified the glitch that caused their 7-2 loss by now, but as FPL managers, one of the main things we’re sticking with from that game is the brace scored by Mo Salah (£12.2m). Despite his team conceding seven, the Egyptian still managed to score two goals and record 13 FPL points in the process, including a bonus point. That puts him at 5 goals and 1 assist from four games this season, resulting in 41 FPL points. Only Spurs’ dynamic duo Son and Kane have collected more points each since the start of the campaign. Liverpool are gearing up for a visit to Goodison Park for a crowd-less edition of the Merseyside Derby next. With the Toffees in good form at the moment, this game is hard to predict, but we do feel there will be goals in this one. Neither of the teams has been particularly solid in defence so far (Everton have conceded 5 in 4 games, Liverpool 11 in 4), which could spell good news for the likes of Salah coming weekend.

Non-premium picks

Our first non-premium pick for gameweek 5 is one who might not be eligible for this category much longer. At the moment of writing, Heung-Min Son (£9.1m) has just risen £0.1m in price after two huge hauls in four weeks time, but with games against West Ham (home), Burnley (a), Brighton (H) and West Brom (a) in the next four, the Korean forward might continue this trend over the coming weeks. With 45 FPL points, he is currently the highest-scoring player in the official game, courtesy of 6 goals and 1 assist. All of these returns were recorded in away games though, while this season’s two home games resulted in just 3 FPL points. This weekend, Spurs are hosting an in-form West Ham side in North London, so this suggestion does come with a bit of caution and derby games are never easy to predict at the best of times. The Hammers recorded two impressive victories and two clean sheets in the last two gameweeks, against Wolves at home and Leicester away. Still, after their 1-6 destruction of Man United in GW4, Spurs are favourites for this one, just like they will be for the three games after that.

Our other non-premium fantasy pick combines decent form with a decent fixture, at least from an offensive point of view. Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha (£7.2m) has enjoyed a good start to the FPL season with 3 goals and 26 FPL points from the first four games. The Eagles started the campaign with two victories, but their last two games ended in defeats, against Everton at home (1-2) and versus Chelsea away (4-0). Zaha’s returns followed this trend, with just 3 FPL points from the last two, but he is now facing a set of more appealing fixtures again, starting with Brighton away. The Seagulls have had a difficult start to the season, but they are certainly showing some promise. One of their issues is their defence though, as they have conceded 10 goals in the first four games of the campaign. Result-wise, the Brighton – Palace game could go either way, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Zaha back amongst the attacking returns this weekend.

The budget enabler

We know it’s early to have a good idea of his real (potential) impact on his new team, but former Liverpool talent Rhian Brewster (£4.5m) could become an enormous FPL bargain and budget enabler after his transfer to Sheffield United. The Blades paid around £23.5 million for the 20-year old striker on their quest for goals. Despite the fact that he has not yet featured in the Premier League yet and that Sheffield United aren’t exactly a free-flowing attacking side, a £4.5m-striker with serious chance of playing minutes is definitely worth considering. On top of that, with McGoldrick and Burke being injury doubts at the moments, his playing chances increase further. In any case, Chris Wilder’s men really need to start scoring soon (they have scored just a single goal so far) and Brewster’s transfer fee coupled with a 5-year contract indicate serious confidence in the youngster. As a third striker in your squad, he could be a very useful budget pick.

A differential pick or two

West Brom have so far not particularly impressed this season and the new boys sit on just 1 point from four games, but the upcoming fixture list gives reason for hope. The Baggies are facing Burnley (home), Brighton (away) and Fulham (away), which looks like a good little set of games to work on their points tally. Should they do so, then attacking midfielder Matheus Pereira (£6.0m) will most likely have a lot to do with it. With a goal and 2 assists, he has been directly involved in three of the team’s five goals, and he has been one of the positives of West Brom’s campaign so far. The Brazilian is their main attacking outlet, and the combination of his current 3.4% ownership and the upcoming favourable fixtures make him an interesting differential pick for the short to medium term.

Earlier, we wrote about Crystal Palace versus Brighton being an unpredictable encounter this coming weekend, but one in which there could be goals. The away team’s Leandro Trossard (£6.0m) has rather quietly been making a really good start to the season with a goal and 2 assists from the first four games. His only blank came in the home game versus Manchester United, but he did hit the woodwork an unbelievable three times in that encounter. Nonetheless, the Belgian still sits on 20 FPL points at the moment of writing, while being part of just 2.2% of FPL teams. Between coming weekend and gameweek 8, the Seagulls are facing Palace away, West Brom at home and Burnley home. In his current form and as part of a Brighton side that definitely seems to have improved since last season, Trossard should definitely be on your watch lists as a major differential.

The captaincy

For a long time, we were going to put the armband on Spurs forward Heung-Min Son, especially when considering the fact that he did not have any games during the international break. The Korean has been in explosive form this season, but what worries us a little bit is the reality that he has blanked in this campaign’s two home games so far. West Ham is coming to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend and with the Hammers in good form, Son might end up disappointing us. Might. Instead, we’ve gone with Liverpool superstar Mo Salah, who plays away at Everton on Saturday in what could well become a goal-laden Merseyside Derby.

Of course, neither of these players has a clear “favourable fixture”, so you might want to place your faith in another fantasy asset. Kevin de Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez could be good picks at home to Arsenal, Vardy could deliver against Aston Villa at home and Kai Havertz could be up for his first goal at home versus Southampton after recording an assist in each of his last two Premier League games. For a bit more of a punt, Raul Jimenez away at Leeds, Matheus Pereira at home against Burnley, and the on-fire Dominic Calvert-Lewin at home versus Liverpool could be captaincy picks to see you gain ground this weekend.

FPL Season 2020-21 – Gameweek 4 Preview

“On Sunday, Manchester United are hosting Spurs at Old Trafford” (CC by 1.0). Image by: Ank Kumar

The Premier League season for 2020-21 campaign has gone off to even more of a crazy start than normal. After several more and less expected hauls in each of the previous gameweeks, GW3 saw Vardy score a hattrick against Man City for 17 FPL points, midfielder Jarred Bowen bag a brace against Wolves for West Ham, and West Brom’s Callum Robinson score two against Chelsea in just 65 minutes for a very differential 13 FPL points. On top of that, Villa’s Conor Hourihane chipped in with a goal, an assist and a clean sheet for 14 points.

If gameweek 3 is anything to go by in terms of what to expect of coming weekend, then hold on to your hat, because it’s going to be another good one. Gameweek 4 contains a bunch of juicy fixtures from an FPL point of view, with entertaining Leeds hosting a Man City side looking for a return to form, Wolves facing Fulham at Molineux and Spurs rolling up to Old Trafford on Sunday for the clash of the week, just to name a few. There are plenty of interesting fantasy picks out there, in all brackets, so here we go.

Don’t forget: the deadline for gameweek 4 is set for 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, October 2nd. Also do 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 transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per AM October 2nd, 2020)

 TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
GKPope (BUR), Ryan (BRI), Pickford (EVE)Martinez (AST), Alisson (LIV), McCarthy (SOU)Two clean sheets out of two for Aston Villa. 
DEFDoherty (TOT), Alexander-Arnold (LIV), Wan-Bissaka (UTD)Castagne (LEI), Lamptey (BRI), Justin (LEI)Premium defenders possibly not worth their investment yet, while other options are performing.
MIDSon (TOT), Aubameyang (ARS), Saint-Maximin (NEW)Rodriguez (EVE), Zaha (CRY), Barnes (LEI)Son and ASM are injured, Arsenal tough fixtures coming up.
FORWerner (CHE), Martial (UTD), Mitrovic (FUL)Calvert-Lewin (EVE), Bamford (LEE), Vardy (LEI)Budget strikers have been performing, Vardy as well, while more expensive options haven’t really yet.

Premium pick

On Saturday, the 12th of September 2020, the Premier League campaign 2020-21 kicked off and now, about three weeks later, it looks like we’re right back where we left the last season a few months ago. Well, at least in terms of Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) that is. Last season’s Golden Boot winner is back where he left off, at the top of the rankings (though sharing the spot with a later pick of ours) with 5 goals from three games. He made up for a slightly disappointing showing at home to Burnley in GW2 by netting thrice at the Etihad last weekend and bagging 17 FPL points in the process. The English striker is a slight injury doubt in the build-up to this weekend’s home game against West Ham, but we feel he could well be up for another goal or two against an admittedly improved Hammers side. They won’t be looking forward to visiting the lion’s (or better said, the Foxes’ den) with the main man up front in such blistering form.

Non-premium picks

Our two non-premium picks for this weekend are strikers as well, starting with Wolves talisman Raul Jimenez (£8.6m). After a blank plus a very unfortunate own goal last weekend versus West Ham, we feel this is just the moment to hold on to the Mexican striker. He is, after all, one of the most consistent FPL performers of the last decade. Jimenez scored a goal in each of the first two gameweeks for a total of 14 FPL points before his surprising 0-point hit last weekend and this weekend it’s Fulham at Molineux for the Wolves. The Cottagers are off to another rocky start in the Premier League this season with 10 conceded goals in the first three games and they are visiting a Wolves side that’ll be aching to set some things straight after their painful 4-0 loss at West Ham in GW3. Unless manager Scott Parker has somehow found a solution to the defensive fragility of his team this week, we can see a few goals being scored here coming weekend and Jimenez being among the scorers.

We already mysteriously mentioned Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.5m) as “the pick currently on top of the Golden Boot rankings” together with Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, which explains why we really couldn’t leave him out of this section. The young Englishman seems to be one of the most under-priced FPL assets of the 2020-21 season, a theory underlined by the fact that he has already risen by £0.5m since the start of the campaign. No player saw his price tag increase by more. DCL has so far returned in every game, with his hattrick and the ensuing 17 FPL points versus West Brom in GW2 as the stand-out performance so far, and he is playing Brighton at home next. The Seagulls have had a decent start to the season in terms of their performances, though home games against Chelsea and United in the first three weeks saw them record just 3 points so far. Still, Carlo Ancelotti’s improving Toffees at Goodison Park will likely be a bit too much for them and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Calvert-Lewin return for a fourth time in a row.

The budget enabler

Burnley haven’t had the best of starts to this season with defeats against Leicester and Southampton, and this season might be one where the Clarets will need to battle more for Premier League survival than they’ve gotten used to over the past few years, but their fixture calendar has cleared up a bit now. They are facing Newcastle and West Brom in the next two weeks, and, albeit away from home, these look like games where they can grab their first points, as well as their first clean sheet. This brings budget enabler Jimmy Dunne (£4.0m) into the mix for those managers looking to free up a bit of budget over the coming international break. Of course, this comes with a major risk, as the young Irish defender filled in for the injured James Tarkowski up until now. The England international has now seemingly recovered and manager Sean Dyche is likely to revert back a central duo consisting of him and Kevin Long, but Dunne has definitely established himself as an FPL asset to watch. He is actually Burnley’s highest-scoring defender at the moment, thanks to his goal in GW2 against Leicester, and considering how highly Dyche rates him, he is definitely now a bad shout as fifth defender in your squad.

A differential pick or two

At Leicester, and as usual, star man Jamie Vardy is the talk of the town, especially after his hattrick away at Man City, but he’s not the only Fox off to a great start. There are, of course, defenders Timothy Castagne and James Justin who’ve been fantastic so far in terms of FPL, but we’re talking about Harvey Barnes (£7.0m). Despite not being amongst the goals or even the FPL returns during the 2-5 thrashing of City, the young forward had a very good game at the Etihad. With James Maddison still working back to fitness and form, Barnes seems to be Leicester’s main attacking outlet behind Vardy, which makes him an appealing fantasy pick. He has a goal and an assist to his name so far, for a total of 18 FPL points, and his price tag sits at a very affordable £7.0m. Combined with a current ownership of just 6.0%, the speedy winger represents quite a lot of differential value in our opinion.

The Leicester midfield looks like a bit of a differential goldmine at the moment, because besides Barnes, Belgian international Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) can represent excellent value as well. With the return to fitness of Maddison, the young midfielder will likely be playing a bit more central, but he will still be involved in plenty of attacking moves. His current price tag in combination with his upcoming fixtures (West Ham and Aston Villa, both at home) allows for a bit of a gamble and he currently sits in just 2.0% of all teams. He played the full 90 minutes in each of Leicester’s first three games and recorded his first attacking return last weekend when he scored against City. He is less attacking than the previously mentioned Barnes, but he also costs £0.6m less and could be a shrewd investment for the coming gameweeks.

The captaincy

As we wrote at the beginning of this piece, gameweek 4 offers us plenty of appealing fixtures and therefore an abundance of good captaincy picks. For our FPL GW4 Captain pick, we have personally gone with Wolves striker Raul Jimenez for his home game against leaky Fulham, but it wasn’t an easy choice. Kevin de Bruyne away at Elland Road was on our minds as well, as well as Jamie Vardy at home to West Ham and Sadio Mané for the away game at Aston Villa.

If you’re looking for a bit more of a risk-reward situation, there are some decent options available as well. We’re not sure Calvert-Lewin can still be considered a “risk” in his current form and with a home game against Brighton coming up, but he is definitely worth considering. Alexander Lacazette has scored in each game of the season so far and is facing a struggling Sheffield United side at the Emirates this weekend, which brings him into the mix as well. Danny Ings against West Brom and even the on-fire Patrick Bamford at home to City (why not?) could see you soar up the rankings as well after coming weekend.

FPL Season 2020-21 – Gameweek 3 Preview

“The clash of the week takes place at Anfield this week as champions Liverpool host Arsenal” (CC by 4.0). Image by: Rodhullandemu

With Man City, Man United, Burnley and Aston Villa also off the mark after their blank gameweek 1, the FPL 2020-20 season is now well and truly underway. Gameweek 2 saw a boat load of goals with no less than six games featuring 4 goals or more and an incredible four games seeing a minimum of 6 goals. As a result, we saw plenty of hauls, with Spurs star Heung-Min Son (24 FPL points), his team mate Harry Kane (21 points) and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin (17 points) forming the top-3 performers.

Gameweek 3 offers yet another set of juicy fixtures, including top-of-the-table clashes between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield and Man City and Leicester at the Etihad. Spurs could build on their 5 goals at Saint Mary’s with a home game against Newcastle, while from an FPL point of view, the Wolves game at West Ham and the Chelsea game at the Hawthorns offer plenty of potential. Before we move on to our picks for the weekend, don’ forget to check the lineups and results of the mid-week games in the League Cup. We don’t expect them to affect the lineups too much this weekend, but do keep them in mind nonetheless.

Don’t forget: the deadline for gameweek 3 is set for 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, September 26th. Also do 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 transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per September 24th, 2020)

 TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
GKMcCarthy (SOU), Ryan (BRI), Pope (BUR)Martinez (AST), Ryan (BRI), Guaita (CRY)Disappointing Saints and Clarets, defensively at least.
DEFAlexander-Arnold (LIV), Doherty (TOT), Egan (SHE)James (CHE), Mitchell (CRY), Castagne (LEI)Replacement of premium defenders for more budget-friendly picks after few clean sheets in the first gameweeks.
MIDAubameyang (ARS), Saint-Maximin (NEW), Son (TOT)Son (TOT), Rodriguez (EVE), De Bruyne (CIT)Looks largely fixture-based, with form included as well.
FORWerner (CHE), Ings (SOU), Mitrovic (FUL)Calvert-Lewin (EVE), Bamford (LEE), Kane (TOT)Performing budget-friendly options

Premium pick

Just two gameweeks is not a large sample to base trend predictions on, but with one home game and one away game played for Liverpool, Mo Salah (£12.1m) seems to be continuing his habit of saving his best performances for the home crowd. The Egyptian scored a hat trick and 20 FPL points at Anfield in GW1 and then blanked last weekend away to Chelsea. Last season, he scored 19 Premier League goals and 15 of those came at Anfield. This weekend, the Reds are hosting an Arsenal side that has conceded just a single goal so far, but their opponents have been of quite another calibre than Liverpool, namely Fulham away (0-3) and West Ham at the Emirates (2-1). The Gunners did not look particularly impressive against the Hammers last weekend, and there could be goals in this encounter on Monday. Finally, it doesn’t say that much, but last season, this fixture took place in GW3 as well and saw Salah scoring a brace.

Non-premium picks

Another player who seems to be continuing where he left off last season is Wolves striker Raul Jimenez (£8.5m). The Mexican netted 17 times and provided 7 assists over the 2019-20 campaign, and already has 2 goals to his name this season. He scored in the opener at Bramall Lane and then repeated that feat against Man City at Molineux last weekend. Simply said, there are very few FPL assets as reliable as Jimenez, though he is not generally the go-to man for a big haul. He usually bags a goal plus a bonus point or two. This weekend, Wolverhampton are visiting a West Ham side that has started the campaign with two defeats. In total, the Hammers conceded 4 goals against Newcastle and Arsenal, and to make matters worse, regular starting centre back Issa Diop will be missing on Sunday due to a positive Covid-19 test. Sounds like a good moment to bring in Jimenez if you haven’t yet.

One player we have been following closely since gameweek 1 is Everton’s new star James Rodriguez (£7.6m). The Colombian is a world class operator, there is no doubt about it, but we just wanted to see how fit he was after a few slow years and to what extent he would immediately fit into Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Well, he seems quite fit and the Italian manager seems to consider him as a key piece of his Toffees puzzle. James started with a modest 3-pointer against Spurs in gameweek 1, but followed that one up with a 12-point haul last weekend, courtesy of a goal, an assist and 2 bonus points against West Brom at Goodison Park. He seems to have quickly established himself as Everton’s main creative force and only Salah has attempted more assists than his 7 over the first two gameweeks. He also created more big chances than any other player bar Harry Kane since the start. Up next is an in-form Crystal Palace side, but Everton are showing good form as well and we feel they could make it 9 points out of 9 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The budget enabler

In the budget category, Wolves forward Daniel Podence (£5.6m) has been making some waves in the first two weeks of this season. With the acquisition of Nelson Semedo, the club may have found a definite replacement for Matt Doherty at right-back , meaning that Adama Traoré is freed up a bit more to be deployed up field in place of Podence, but the ex-Olympiakos looks safe for now. He has started the season in more than decent form with 2 assists in two games and a total of 11 FPL points. The Portuguese dynamo is classified as a midfielder in the game, which means he gets an extra point per clean sheet, and is up against West Ham on Monday. In our opinion, this is one of the most favourable fixtures in gameweek 3 and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him add a third assist to his total this round. Or who knows, maybe even a goal.

A differential pick or two

A bit to our surprise, considering the many new recruits arriving at Stamford Bridge this summer, academy graduate Mason Mount (£6.9m) has played every single Premier League minute so far for Chelsea. Manager Frank Lampard tends to start him as a left winger from where he has the freedom to either stay out on the wing to provide width or to come inside and combine with the likes of Werner and Havertz. The young Englishman hasn’t yet returned in terms of the FPL, but an away game against an out-of-sorts West Brom side is as good a fixture as any for him to get off the mark. The Baggies have so far played against Leicester and Everton this season, and conceded a worrying 8 goals in the process. At Chelsea, the new pieces will probably still need a bit more time to glue together nicely, but this encounter with West Brom could definitely boost the confidence. At £6.9m and with an ownership of just 6.2%, Mount could be a great punt for gameweek 3.

After just very narrowingly escaping relegation last season, Aston Villa started off their 2020-21 campaign with a good 1-0 win over Sheffield United. Remember, the Villains blanked in gameweek 1. Up next for them are Fulham at Craven Cottage and considering the Cottagers’ first two displays this season, Villa could be making it a very nice 6 points out of six this coming Monday. That is also why we are recommending their talisman Jack Grealish (£7.0m) to those looking for a differential with potential for gameweek 3. The English midfielder did not manage to get any attacking returns against Sheffield United, He did have two shots from inside the box in that game and we think he’ll have at least as many against a Fulham side that has conceded 7 goals in the first two games of the season. On top of that, Grealish is on most of Villa’s set-pieces. The game on Monday looks like the perfect opportunity for him to record the first returns of the season after scoring 8 goals and providing 7 assists last season.

The captaincy

Gameweek 3 offers a few very interesting fixtures from a fantasy football point of view and with them, a few appealing GW3 FPL captaincy candidates as well. We have gone with Momo Salah for this one as he faces an Arsenal defence we still consider a bit leaky, but there are good alternatives for the Egyptian as well. Kevin de Bruyne as playmaker at number 10 at home to Leicester is never a bad pick, while Salah’s team mate Sadio Mané is just coming off a brace against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. We also think Raul Jimenez’ right arm is a good spot to place the armband this round.

For those managers looking for a bit more of a punt, in order to play early-season catch-up for example, Spurs stars Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are very good options at home to Newcastle after their dynamic duo display against Southampton. With Chelsea facing West Bram at the Hawthorns, there could also be a first goal for Timo Werner and/or Kai Havertz as the Blues are working hard to make the many new faces form a solid unit. 

Fantasy Premier League 2020/21 – Games & Resources

List of the main season-long games & summary of rules:

FanTeam – €25 to play per team with a huge €1 million prize pot (including a life-changing €200,000 for 1st) and a maximum 75,000 entrants allowed (only 5,500 entries so far). Pick 15 players with 4 on the subs bench. 1 free transfer per gameweek and 2 wildcards for the season. Pick a captain for each gameweek, prior to the transfer deadline 90 minutes before the 1st kick-off of that gameweek. Player prices change during the season depending on transfers/form. Late registration possible up to gameweek 5 and receive 70% of average score in the previous gameweeks.

Fantasy Premier League (FPL) – Free to play – the official game from the Premier League and already over 3 million people have entered (1 team per person). 1st prize is a UK holiday with VIP tickets to 2 EPL matches. Pick 15 players with 4 on the subs bench and a captain each gameweek. Player prices do change during the season due to transfers made – keep an eye on FISO’s Crack the Code price change prediction page. 1 free transfer per gameweek (deadline 90 minutes before 1st kick-off of that gameweek) and 2 wildcards for the season. Extra ‘chips’ such as triple captain, bench boost and free hit also available.

Telegraph Fantasy Football (TFF) – Free to play (max 5 teams per person) with approx. £10k of prizes. Pick 11 players with 40 transfers for the season (max 5 per week).

Sun DreamTeam (SDT) – Free to play (max 10 teams per person) with a £100k prize pot. Pick 11 players and max 3 transfers per month.

SkySports Fantasy Football – Free to play (max 2 teams per person) with approx. £60k prize pot. Select 11 players and a captain each gameday. 40 transfers for the season.

Hopefully there is at least one game to suit everyone to increase your enjoyment of watching the English Premier League (EPL) in 20/21.

List of Resources to Help you

FISO’s Forum – FISO was started over 20 years ago and has a discussion forum for each game. Topics from FISO’s FPL forum include the extremely useful STC Shared Rate My Team topic started by one of the top ranked FPL managers (which itself has a long list of useful resources in the 1st post).

Predicted Line-ups – FanTeam’s prediction for which 11 players will start for each EPL Club.

Club Preview articles for FPL – an article on each EPL club with a focus for FPL.

Fantasy Football Hub – Many useful resources for most games including How to Win at FPL article.

Fantasy Football Scout – A wide variety of FPL advice, tips and tools.

Injury News Table – a summary of the FPL injury status changes for EPL players.

FPL Season 2020-21 – Gameweek 2 Preview

“After a 16-year absence, Premier League football returns to Elland Road this weekend” (CC by 4.0). Image by: Boxingfan1995

And we’re back! After a simply crazy 2019-20 campaign, the 2020-21 campaign was set into motion last weekend and it’s promising to be an amazing year once again. It didn’t take long for English football to remind us of the roller-coaster kind of league it truly is, with new boys Leeds almost matching Liverpool in a goal-scoring spectacle; Arsenal showing some serious promise against Fulham and Everton immediately setting the tone under Ancelotti with a 0-1 away win at Spurs, just to mention a few encounters. From an FPL point of view, we hope you had Momo Salah (as captain).

For this season, we have adapted our gameweek preview format just a little bit. We will recommend player picks in the build-up each week, as usual, and we’ll do so based on four categories instead of the previous three. We will pick a premium player each week (meaning priced £9.5m or higher, which at the moment are 9 players), two non-premium picks, 1 budget pick (the price to be included in this category can vary a bit based on position, but needs to be considerable as a budget enabler), and two differentials (because what’s more satisfying, really, than hauling with a player owned by 0.1% of all managers?). To end each piece, we’ll also quickly go over our captaincy thoughts.

Gameweek 2 offers a few juicy fixtures, so let’s get started! Welcome back!

Don’t forget: the deadline for gameweek 2 is set for 11h00 (UK time) on Saturday, September 19th. Also do 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 transfer(s).

Most transferred in/transferred out players (as per September 17th, 2020)

 TRANSFERS OUTTRANSFERS INPOSSIBLE REASONS
GKMcCarthy (Sou), Alisson (Liv), Ryan (Bri)Pickford (Eve), Leno (Ars), McCarthy (Sou)Could be fixtures, plus improved clean sheet potential after GW1
DEFAlexander-Arnold (Liv), Doherty (Tot), Egan (She)Gabriel (Ars), Justin (Lei), Mitchel (Cry)Shift to budget defenders who performed well in GW1
MIDSon (Tot), Mané (Liv), Aubameyang (Ars)Fernandes (Utd), De Bruyne (MC), Willian (Ars)The return to action of United and City premium options, Willian’s haul against Fulham
FORWerner (Che), Ings (Sou), Mitrovic (Ful)Bamford (Lee), Martial (Utd), Calvert-Lewin (Eve)Shift to scoring budget strikers, United’ return to action

Premium pick

Obviously, after starting the season with a hattrick, Mo Salah is an excellent premium pick for gameweek 2, despite his away fixture against Chelsea. We’ve gone with another “midfielder” though, one who is, strangely being dumped by a lot of managers this week. Arsenal got off to a good start, beating Fulham 0-3 away from home and star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£12.0m) notched one of those goals for a total of 7 FPL points. It’s true that he is expensive this season, but it’s also true that he is classified out-of-position as a midfielder, when in reality he will be the most dangerous Gunner most of the time. His yellow card was a shame, but he did get an extra point for his goal in comparison to a forward and another one for the clean sheet. In GW2, the Gabonese attacker is combining what looks like decent form with a strong home fixture against West Ham and he’s on penalties as well. Auba is not only our premium pick for gameweek 2, but our captain pick for as well.

Non-premium picks

Traditionally, we’re a bit wary of going big on Everton at the start of the season, as the Toffees can be deceitful at times. They usually boast plenty of talent and promise, but their performances are not always on par. This season though, we’ve got some hopes for them. It’s the first full season under seasoned manager Carlo Ancelotti and he seems to have wasted no time on moulding the team to his wishes. One player who could definitely benefit from the fresh Italian breeze at Goodison Park is striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.1m). The young Englishman got off the mark just after the break, scoring the only goal with a majestic header against Spurs to bring the three points back home. As you can see, he has already risen by £0.1m and we wouldn’t be surprised to see that trend continue for a while to come, especially if he delivers again versus West Brom this weekend. The Baggies didn’t look quite ready for the Premier League yet in GW1 against Leicester, and with the likes of James Rodriguez, Richarlison and Allan feeding the Everton attack, DCL might hurt them this Saturday as well.

Leicester’s Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) is another more than affordable player who could become a very appealing FPL asset. Out of all the players who didn’t get an attacking return last weekend, the young winger is probably the one who should have. The Foxes overwhelmed West Brom and Barnes could’ve netted a couple had he been a bit more clinical in front of goal. He got 8 touches in the penalty box, a joint third-best of all players, and he fired 5 shots in the box, a total bettered only by hattrick hero Salah. These are some very promising offensive stats, though worthless when not converted in returns. Barnes passed the eye test with flying colours nevertheless and despite coming weekend’s Burnley not being a fragile opponent by any chance, we feel he could be a good pick for GW2.

The budget enabler

In gameweek 1, there were a few serious budget picks that delivered points. The likes of Jeff Hendrick and Jorginho hauled at bargain prices, as did Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford (£5.6m). Thanks to his goal against Liverpool, after good pressing and a subsequent mistake by Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, his price has already risen by £0.1m. In the crazy 4-3 encounter, Bamford managed to snatch a single bonus point for a total of 7 FPL points. Up next for Leeds is fellow newly-promoted club Fulham and the West Yorkshire side will feel that this weekend presents a good opportunity for the first three points of the season. The club brought in Spanish international Rodrigo to bolster the forward line and Bamford’s starting spot might come under pressure at some point, but for the moment we can’t imagine manager Marcelo Bielsa dropping the Englishman. With a price tag of £5.6, he represents a huge potential bargain.

A differential pick or two

Newcastle had an excellent opening of the 2020-21 season by booking a 0-2 victory at the London Stadium against West Ham. The Magpies started the game with a four-men defence and it was former Norwich defender Jamal Lewis (£4.5m) who impressed on the left side. Against the Hammers, the talented Englishman created three chances for his team mates, which ranks him amongst the top three for defenders in gameweek 1. Next up for Newcastle are Brighton at home and based on last season’s defensive performances at Saint James’ Park, a second consecutive clean sheet is definitely a possibility. Last season, the club booked seven clean sheets at home, on par with Manchester United and Liverpool. Lewis currently sits in 3.1% of all FPL teams, which makes him an attractive differential and budget-enabling pick for GW2.

Gameweek 2 might also very well be the last time to see our second differential pick in this category. Manchester United’s top scorer Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) was re-classified as a premium midfielder for this season and that offers possibilities for FPL managers. The English superstar scored 17 goals and provided 8 assists last season, and he is facing Crystal Palace at Old Trafford for his first Premier League game of the season this weekend. Rashford is currently selected by just 6.0% of FPL managers, in big part due to the fact that United had a blank in gameweek 1, which creates a huge differential asset. We absolutely expect him to start against the Eagles and he will get some chances, coming in from the left side as part of a forward line containing Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, and possibly new star Donny van de Beek. He has a great set of fixtures coming up, so get him while still a differential.

The captaincy

As we wrote earlier, our FPL captaincy pick for gameweek 2 is Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gunner talisman combines a favourable fixture (home vs West Ham), a decent opening form coming off a goal in his first match of the season, and an out-of-position classification that we find too hard to ignore.

Of course, he is quite expensive, but fortunately, there are plenty of appealing alternatives this weekend. Martial and Rashford could explode against Palace in their first PL game of the season, while Salah could very well build on his hattrick with a good return at Stamford Bridge. Jamie Vardy is facing Burnley at home and is a pretty dependable pick for the captaincy as well. For those managers looking for an early-season punt, Calvert-Lewin (at home against West Brom), Bamford (at home versus Fulham) and whoever plays as left winger for Chelsea against Liverpool could represent fantastic differential value.

FPL 2020/21 – Pre-season Club Previews – West Ham & Wolves

“Is it going to be another tough season of top-tier football at the London Stadium this year?” (CC by 4.0). Image by: Hammersfan.

After last season and what was very probably the most unusual Premier League campaign any of us ever witnessed, the new 2020/21 season is now upon us. In the build-up to the season opener on Saturday, September 12th, at 12h30 (UK time), we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League with a special focus on their FPL potential to help you select your FPL team.

The EPL club previews could also be useful if you’re entering FanTeam’s massive €1 million prize fund Fantasy Premier League game for 20/21.

In this tenth and final instalment, a West Ham side in turmoil before we’ve even started and Nuno Espirito Santo’s impressive Wolves.

WEST HAM – The team

From the outside, things are not looking optimal at West Ham at the moment, in terms of the transfer window, team harmony and preparation for the coming season. This all came to the surface on September 4th, when the club announced the sale of talented winger Diangana Grady to West Brom, much to the discontent of captain and living Hammers legend Mark Noble. While public posts are usually not the way to communicate disappointment for contract players, this incident feels like a final straw kind of situation, especially when the likes of Declan Rice and Jack Wilshere openly voiced their support of the captain’s statement.

This all adds to the disappointment that was the 2019-20 campaign. Yes, West Ham secured Premier League status for yet another season, but the Hammers rarely played to what many still feel is their more than decent potential. They were underwhelming for most part of the season, though a decent run towards the end of the campaign saw them finish in in sixteenth place, five points above the drop zone. A resurgent Michail Antonio played a bit part in that (anyone picked him for his quadruple strike against Norwich back in July?).

Apart from the powerful English midfielder-converted-into-striker, there were more positive points for manager David Moyes. Jarrod Bowen emerged as an exciting prospect for the future on the wings, while Slavia Prague loanee Tomas Soucek turned out to be an excellent addition to the Hammers midfield, where he has started forming a promising partnership with Declan Rice in the middle. As a matter of fact, the attack is not a real issue for Moyes (particularly if Haller & Antonio stay fit!): only nine teams scored more than West Ham’s 49 goals last season.

The Scottish coach will be more worried about his defence. Only the four teams below West Ham conceded more than their 62 goals last season. The Ogbonna-Diop partnership at the centre of their defensive setup looked promising at first, but has been faltering too often. The wing-backs, though technically capable, are too frail at times and leave the backline too exposed, especially against the quicker teams in the league. Just recently though, the Hammers conceded five against relegated Bournemouth in a friendly game, which seems like a worrying omen for things to come.

On top of that, years of big spending have left the club with little budget to work with this summer. In that sense, the sale of Diangana did make sense. The likes of Manuel Lanzini, Felipe Anderson and Jack Wilshere weigh heavily, while they do not necessarily perform accordingly. The club has reported interest in Burnley defender James Tarkowski, but the arrival of the England international seems like an illusion for now, however much of a game changer it would.

Having said that, the squad boasts plenty of talent. Big transfer Sebastian Haller suffered from injuries last season, but looks posed for a return in style as the main man up front, while the likes of Antonio, Fornals, Bowen, and even Lanzini and Anderson can provide him with plenty service. As we wrote before, the Rice-Soucek partnership in the middle looks very promising as well. The goalkeeper is a mainstay as well, as Fabianski is regularly one of the best Hammers on the pitch. What the club needs most of all is some defensive reinforcement, either by first offloading some other players or by being creative on the transfer market. If they manage to do that, they could have a decent season. If not, it might be another year of looking back over their shoulders for most of the time.

WEST HAM – The FPL potential

It’s important to know that West Ham have probably the most difficult set of opening fixtures of all teams this season. Considering their pre-season and the wealth of alternatives in other teams, we would only possibly seriously start considering Hammers assets from around gameweek 8 onwards. Having said that, individually West Ham do seem to offer some potential value, forward Sebastien Haller (£6.5m) being one of them. For a first season in the Premier League, the French striker did not do too badly with 7 goals and 3 assists, especially considering his injury issues. For the 2020-21 campaign, he is expected to be the starting number nine for the Hammers, with Antonio playing behind/around him. Once the calendar clears up, he could be worth considering.

With Michail Antonio (£6.5m), we have immediately mentioned another Hammer that could get some returns for a good price. The English forward was classified as a midfielder last season and scored 10 goals (plus 4 assists) for a total of 111 FPL points, the highest of Hammers. He is a forward in the official fantasy game this season, but that shouldn’t hurt his potential too much (due to the lack of clean sheets West Ham get anyway). He could be an interesting differential for your gameweek 1 squad, especially considering his good form at the end of last season, but we think he should really start being on your watchlist from gameweek 8 onwards, when West Ham welcome Fulham to the London Stadium.

The best value though, is probably found in midfield. Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek (£5.0m) played for West Ham on loan last season and the club’s management knew that they hit the bull’s eye. They paid Slavia Prague around €16 million to make the deal permanent this summer and the player looks like he will be a big part of Moyes’ plans this summer. In half a season last year, the tireless Soucek managed 3 goals for a total of 41 FPL points, in big part thanks to his talent for connecting with the attack at the right moments. There seems to be a good understanding with the intelligent Declan Rice in the middle and with a price tag of just £5.0m, the Czech Republic international is perhaps the only Hammer we would seriously consider for our gameweek 1 squad. He is reportedly available for the opening match after a period of isolation. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team and due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a West Ham player with one from Newcastle.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Newcastle (H)
2Arsenal (A)
3Wolves (H)
4Leicester (A)
5Spurs (A)
6Manchester City (H)
7Liverpool (A)
West Ham’s opening EPL fixtures for September & October

WOLVES – The team

The Wolves story of the past few years is remarkable. Fuelled by Chinese investment and the seemingly endless connections of Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes, the club rose from the Championship two years ago to establish themselves as a consistent challenger of the Premier League’s top seven. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo has managed to create and nurture a kind of hard-working, no-complaining culture at the club that has resulted in very good performances. Last season’s seventh place finish is a very present reminder of that.

What impresses most about Wolverhampton Wanderers is their performances against the top sides, along with decent consistency. Sure, they have their relative ups and downs, and at times things don’t go their way, but that’s football. Overall, and especially from an FPL perspective, the club offers a kind of stability that has become rare in modern football. Practically the only thing that is a potential worry in regard to Wolves is their rather tight squad. Compared to other clubs in the top ten of the league, their squad depth is limited, even for a manager like Espirito Santo who likes to stick to a certain team.

There have nonetheless been some transformations within the Wolves roster this summer. The relatively cheap departure of club and FPL hero Matt Doherty was a surprise to most fans and followers, but apart from that, no regular players left. On the incoming side, the signing of 18-year old Porto talent Fabio Silva for a whopping €40 million, which made him the most expensive player younger than 20 years old in history, was a big moment, while left-back Marçal was signed for a modest fee from Lyon. The loan of Porto attacking midfielder Vitinha and the return of Ryan Bennett from Leicester have also bolstered the squad.

Wolves once again look like a strong unit and with no Europa League games to distract them from a strong start, we can see them once again finishing comfortably within the top eight. A challenge for a Champions League spot is a bridge too far, but Europa League qualification isn’t, nor is a good performance in one of the domestic cups. They could maybe do with a strong rival for superstar striker Raul Jimenez, who hopefully stays at the club this summer, but for the rest, Espirito Santo’s outfit looks ready to go.

WOLVES – The FPL potential

For anyone considering Wolves assets, forward Raul Jimenez (£8.5m) is probably the first name on their list. The Mexican striker is one of the most consistent performers in the league and practically fixture-proof. Last season, he was the highest-scoring Wolf of all, scoring 17 goals and providing 7 assists for a total of 194 FPL points. From players outside of the top four teams, only Ings, Aubameyang and Vardy beat that score, and the latter two did so carrying a much higher price tag. Jimenez is not cheap for the coming season, but the adds undeniable fantasy potential to your squad. He is as nailed-on as they come, he is involved is almost all of Wolves’ attacking moves (as he is their striker) and he plays in a genuinely good team.

The Wolves squad also boasts an interesting out-of-position pick this season in the person of Diogo Jota (£6.5m). The winger/forward is classified as a midfielder this season and an affordable at that. The most annoying thing about the Portuguese player as an FPL asset is that he rarely make it past the 80-minute mark, though this also means that he starts most of the matches. Last season, Jota recorded 7 goals and 3 assists for a total of 105 FPL points. A similar output this season would make him very good value, considering his relatively low price tag. From gameweek 3 onwards, he could be an excellent pick as fourth or even fifth midfielder.

The Wolves backline might also pack some serious FPL potential this season, as it has done since the club returned to the Premier League. Where last season Romain Saiss offered great value, it’s left-back Ruben Vinagre (£4.5m) who could represent the cheap way into one of the league’s best defences. First-choice left-back Jonny is still injured for the coming months and Vinagre looks like his replacement until then. Wolves did bring in Olympique Lyon’s Marçal, but he will probably serve as a back-up for the Portuguese defender. Vinagre could be the kind of fantasy pick that makes the difference this season, with FPL squad depth looking more important than ever. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a Wolves defender with one from WBA.

Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Sheffield United (A)
2Manchester City (H)
3West Ham (A)
4Fulham (H)
5Leeds (A)
6Newcastle (H)
7Crystal Palace (H)
Wolves’ opening EPL fixtures in September & October

FPL 2020/21 – Pre-season Club Previews – Tottenham Hotspur & West Bromwich Albion

“The Premier League has returned to The Hawthorns after a 2-year absence” (CC by 3.0). Image by: Mattd1991

After last season and what was very probably the most unusual Premier League campaign any of us ever witnessed, the new 2020/21 season is now upon us. In the build-up to the season opener on Saturday, September 12th, at 12h30 (UK time), we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League with a special focus on their FPL potential to help you select your FPL team.

The EPL club previews could also be useful if you’re entering FanTeam’s massive €1 million prize fund Fantasy Premier League game for 20/21.

In this ninth instalment, we’re going over José Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur and newly promoted West Bromwich Albion.

SPURS – The team

It’s been a strange year and a half for the Spurs. At the start of June 2019, the Londoners played in European football’s most prestigious game, the Champions League final. They lost it against Liverpool, but it was nonetheless the best performance in Europe’s most important tournament in their history. Less than half a year later, one of the big men behind Tottenham’s big project of the past decade, manager Mauricio Pocchetino, was fired and replaced by Mourinho after a horrible start to the 2019-20 campaign.

The Portuguese manager did not take too much time to let the world know that it was going to be something of a “best-we-can” performance for the rest of the season. He realised that some things needed to change at the club and what he wanted more than anything was to have a full pre-season with his team, including a summer transfer window. That’s also why it was hard to really judge his impact on the club last season. Spurs played poor football at times, but achieved the bare minimum: qualification for the Europa League by finishing in sixth.

Something else Mou didn’t doubt to point out once the season had finished, was that Spurs would have been fourth had the points count started at his arrival. That is, of course, rather useless rhetoric, but fourth is probably what they will be aiming for this season. He will not be happy with anything less than Champions League football next season and considering the quality of his squad, he shouldn’t be. The challenge will be a tough one, especially seeing the ways in which the direct competition for the top four have been reinforcing their respective squads this summer, but the Portuguese showman is nothing if not a natural competitor, and one who loves to compete from an underdog position. We’re not entirely sure to what extent Spurs will be able to challenge for a top-four spot, all we’re saying is: watch out.

In terms of regular first-team starters, 33-year old Jan Vertonghen left the club for free to join Benfica, but that’s it. On the incoming side, Spurs look to have done some very decent business. For a combined fee of around €65 million, they brought in on eof the fittest players in the Premier League, Southampton central midfielder Jan Hojbjerg, Wolves player, and one of the best right-backs in the league if not Europe, Matt Doherty, and Real Betis midfielder Giovanni Lo Celso, who was already on loan in London last season. Mourinho seems to be looking for more balance in his squad and we feel he’s on the right path. The new players definitely add quality and the necessary squad depth to be able to compete on several fronts at the same time during the season. If the manager manages to work his magic once again, Spurs could be one to watch. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

SPURS – The FPL potential

Out of the past six seasons, last season was the worst one for Harry Kane (£10.5m). That is, “the worst”, because despite some injury troubles and team form issues, the England striker still managed 18 goals and 2 assists for a total of 158 FPL points. His price was nevertheless lowered considerably and now sits at a very appealing £10.5m. With a pretty favourable set of opening fixtures, on papers at least, we suspect the number nine might be a popular pick come gameweek 1. At the moment he sits in just over 15% of all teams. Kane is a certainty in the Spurs starting lineup and it might just be that he won’t feature as much in Europe during the earlier stages of the Europa League in order to preserve him for the Premier League. There are few better forward options out there right now.

Another Spurs player who might be offering excellent value at the start of the 2019-20 campaign is South Korean international Heung-Min Son (£9.0m). Like Kane, Son is a nailed-on starter for Spurs and the type of player that Mourinho usually loves: tactically disciplined, hard-working, and, of course, of exceptional quality overall. Despite Spurs’ mediocre season last year, the forward  (who is classified as a midfielder in FPL, recorded 11 goals and 13 assets for a total of 169 FPL points. No other player on the Tottenham roster fared better. He’s currently selected by just under 30% of all gameweek 1 squads and we believe that’s for good reason.

While former Wolves star Matt Doherty is the major defensive signing for Spurs this summer, we believe his counterpart on the left of the defence could offer at least equal value. Ben Davies (£5.0m) is an integral part of Mourinho’s defensive plans in North London and represents a very affordable way into what could end up being one of the season’s most resilient defences. Due to injuries, a rivalry with Danny Rose and an overall leaky defence, the Wales international’s 41 FPL points last season don’t really tell the whole story. This season, Davies should be first-choice on the left side of the defence, though he could feature centrally at times as well when Spurs line up with three centre backs. Doherty’s past seasons indicate a higher potential involvement in the attacking third, but Davies feels like a stable pick. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a Spurs defender with one from Arsenal.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Everton (H)
2Southampton (A)
3Newcastle (H)
4Manchester United (A)
5West Ham (H)
6Burnley (A)
7Brighton (H)
Spurs’ opening EPL fixtures in September & October

WEST BROM (WBA) – The team

For West Brom, the Championship felt like it lasted just a few weeks too long. After a nine-game unbeaten run at the very start of the 2019-20 campaign, they lost to eventual champions Leeds. This dropped them to third in the league, but that was the only time the Baggies saw themselves outside of the top two for the rest of season. Slaven Bilic’s men looked destined for promotion most of the time, though a barren run at the very end of the season saw Leeds clinch the title early and Brentford come within touching distance. Still, West Brom held on and secured a return to the Premier League just two years after relegation.

West Brom’s preferred formation last year was an effective 4-2-3-1 with the double pivot lying rather deep, allowing the front four and at times the wing-backs to apply intense pressure on opposing defences. The forwards generally play quite narrow, which allows the full-backs to utilise the space on the wings. The Baggies preferred to dictate play from deeper on the pitch last season, which resulted in more patient build-up play and quite a lot of ball possession. We expect a very similar approach this season at the highest level, though we expect Bilic to adapt his preferred style to the higher demands of the Prem. After all, they will rarely be the team with most possession and lying too deep while allowing the full-backs to boom forward can be fatal against the speed that many of the first-tier teams possess.

The departures of regular starter Nathan Ferguson (right-back) and the young Jonathan Leko, and of experienced players like Gareth Barry and Chris Brunt will surely have left a mark on Bilic’ selection. In turn, the club did manage to turn loan contracts of two important players into permanent agreements: Grady Diangana from West Ham and winger/attacking midfielder Mateus Pereira, West Brom’s Player of the Year 2019-20. In terms of new faces, the Baggies have not made huge moves yet, but they did bring in experienced Brighton goalie David Button and young Wigan and centre back Cédric Kipré.

Looking at the current Baggies roster, we find it a bit hard to imagine the club spending much of the coming season outside of the relegation zone. They have a very experienced and successful manager in the person of Slaven Bilic, and the likes of striker Charlie Austin, winger Mattie Phillips and midfielder Jake Livermore are decent players, but overall, the current squad feels a bit… light. On the one hand, there is still some time for West Brom to look for reinforcements and they probably should. On the other hand, the Baggies did impress in the Championship last season and much of the team is still intact. It looks like it’s going to be a tough year at the Hawthorns, but they’ll surely be competitive.

WEST BROM – The FPL potential

Former Sporting Lisbon man Matheus Pereira (£6.0m) was West Brom’s Player of the Year last season and deservedly so. He scored 8 goals and provided an incredible 16 assists, and on top of that, he created 116 chances over the whole season, more than any other player in the league. The forward is classified as a midfielder in FPL, but usually operates as an advanced number ten or a winger, depending on the formation. With 111 attempts on goal, Pereira was also West Brom’s most prolific player. On top of that, he shares set-piece duties, especially when it comes to corners. Of course, it’s not realistic to expect the same kind of output from him this season, but the 24-year old will surely be a crucial part of West Brom’s fight for survival.

With starting budget goalkeepers a bit of a rarity coming season, Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) could be an interesting pick for FPL managers. The former Man United shot stopper is a nailed-on starter for the Baggies, as whilst Brighton’s David Button was brought in to provide some serious competition for the spot in goal he is still acknowledged as a back-up goalie. West Brom booked 14 clean sheets in 46 league games last season, which doesn’t point at a next Sheffield United for coming season, but save points will most likely be on the cards. Johnstone is a quality goalie after all, and he made a bit of a reputation as a penalty specialist for himself with six saved spot kicks over the past two seasons. With a price tag of £4.5m, he could be a decent option as second goalkeeper. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating Sam Johnstone with Patricio from Wolves.

Continuing in the budget category, but at the other end of the pitch, Charlie Austin (£5.5m) might turn up in a few teams as a third forward. In 34 Championship games last season, the Englishman scored 10 goals and provided 2 assists. He recorded 42 shots in the box and had 24 attempts on target, placing him in second place in the entire squad, behind Pereira on both accounts. There is an important note to take into account should you consider Austin for your FPL squad: Hal Robson-Kanu provides serious competition and chances are that the club will still be bringing in offensive reinforcements over the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for Baggies team news and do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Leicester (H)
2Everton (A)
3Chelsea (H)
4Southampton (A)
5Burnley (H)
6Brighton (A)
7Fulham (A)
WBA’s opening EPL fixtures in September & October

FPL 2020/21 – Pre-season Club Previews – Sheffield Utd & Southampton

After last season and what was very probably the most unusual Premier League campaign any of us ever witnessed, the new 2020/21 season is now upon us. In the build-up to the season opener on Saturday, September 12th, at 12h30 (UK time), we will be taking an in-depth look at each of the 20 squads competing in the Premier League with a special focus on their FPL potential to help you select your FPL team.

The EPL club previews could also be useful if you’re entering FanTeam’s massive €1 million prize fund Fantasy Premier League game for 20/21.

In this eighth instalment, we’ll be talking about last season’s surprise package Sheffield United and Danny Ings’ Saints.

SHEFFIELD UNITED – The team

Obviously, for many FPL managers, the 2019-20 Premier League campaign will forever be remembered as “that season in which John Lundstram started as a £4.0m defender”. The English box-to-box midfielder ended up recording 144 FPL points, courtesy of 10 clean sheets, 5 goals and 4 assists, as well as 15 bonus points. Despite losing his spot in the starting eleven in the second half of the season, he represented incredible value, especially for those managers who had him since gameweek 1.

His misclassification as a defender clearly played a role in all this, but the overriding reason for Lundstram’s FPL success was that trainer Chris Wilder managed to mould a team that took the Premier League by storm in their first season at the highest level after a 12 year absence. From a collection of players with very little PL experience, he created a solid unit that finished ninth last season, just five points off the top six.

For the Blades, last season’s success depended for a large part on their advanced tactical discipline and their sturdy defence. In 38 games, they conceded just 39 goals. Only the top three teams conceded less and what’s especially remarkable about it, is the fact that United managed to do without employing a negative game approach. On the contrary, the wingers got plenty of freedom to boom forward and even the three central defenders often overlapped with their midfield partners to join in attack. Combined with a meticulously put together midfield, this provided a unique and stable foundation. Maintaining this type of defensive organisation and discipline will be a major priority for Wilder.

At the same time, the manager will be looking at ways to improve his offensive output. Where 39 conceded places Sheffield United amongst the league’s top four, their tally of 39 goals scored places them amongst the five most goal-shy attacks. Despite their tactics, the Blades create relatively few chances, which explains why no team had less attempts on goal last season. They are a patient side and wait for high-quality openings to strike. This requires clinical strikers though, and despite the fact that the likes of Oli McBurnie, David McGoldrick and Lys Mousset provide certain quality up front, neither of them managed to score more than 6 goals last season.

This is why we wouldn’t be surprised to see the club bring in an attacking reinforcement still this summer, though none have arrived yet. United did react efficiently to the inevitable return of loanee goalkeeper Dean Henderson to Manchester United by resigning the talented Aaron Ramsdale from Bournemouth. Besides that, Wilder brought in two Derby full-backs in Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle for undisclosed fees, and Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu on loan to bolster his defensive options as well as acquiring forward Oliver Burke from WBA in a swpa deal for Callum Robinson.

The logical thing for Wilder and his Blades would be to continue on last season’s (and the previous seasons’) path and it looks like they will. All of their players now have a full season of Premier League football under their respective belts, for many the first in their entire career, and one more year of experience with the manager’s intense tactical concepts at the highest level. They were a very hard-to-beat, attractive-to-watch side to watch last season and we feel the 2020-21 campaign will be more of the same, or better. Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

SHEFFIELD UNITED – The FPL potential

Keep in mind that the excellent Dean Henderson is no longer at the club, but as a result of last season’s excellent performances, most of Sheffield United’s defensive assets have been upgraded to (almost) premium level in FPL. If you’re investing in a nailed-on starter in one of the league’s best defences, our first pick is Mr. Sheffield United himself, Chris Basham (£5.0m). The 32-year old already sits on 282 games for the Blades and featured in every Premier League game last season. It’s true that, compared to his teammates in defence, his attacking output was rather negligible with just a single assist, but with Basham, you’re going for security of starts and clean sheets at a very affordable price. The central defender will once again be a key cog in Chris Wilder’s machine and we wouldn’t be surprised to see him record a few clean sheets in the first weeks of the season.

For a bigger threat going forward at just £0.5m more, either one of the wing-backs Enda Stevens (£5.5m) or George Baldock (£5.5m) is a great option. We mention both, because from an FPL point of view, there is barely a difference between them. Both were part of 13 clean sheets last season, both scored 2 goals and both provided 4 assists. Where Stevens got a total of 8 bonus points, Baldock got 7, but at the end of the ride, both defenders ended with 142 FPL points. Baldock got 75 more Premier League minutes to his name than his counterpart on the left, but that is really about it. Stevens sits in a few more teams at the moment (6.0% vs 5.6%), but either player could be an excellent pick for your gameweek 1 squad. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a Sheff Utd defender with one from the club below, Southampton.

In the middle, Oliver Norwood (£5.0m) is a fixed part of Wilder’s starting eleven and with good reason. The 29-year Northern Ireland international conducts play superbly from a central position and doesn’t shy away from a set-piece either. At a price of just £5.0m, this makes him an appealing option as fifth midfielder in your gameweek 1 squad. Of course, his attacking output is not huge, with a goal and 3 assists last season, but if he can repeat a score 98 FPL points this season, he represents more than decent value. For a bit more goal involvement, but also a million more of your budget, you can opt for John Fleck as well.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Wolves (H)
2Aston Villa (A)
3Leeds (H)
4Arsenal (A)
5Fulham (H)
6Liverpool (A)
7Manchester City (H)
Sheffield Utd’s opening EPL fixtures in September & October

SOUTHAMPTON – The team

When Southampton lost 0-9 (nil to nine) at home to Leicester in the early stages of last season, things looked kind of grim at Saint Mary’s. Manager Ralph Hasenhüttl allegedly offered his resignation after the unprecedented destruction of his team, but the club’s management refused to accept. A project had been started and a single, albeit devastating defeat, wasn’t going to change that. Maybe this symbolises that something is missing from English football: patience, and belief in a project.

Eight months after the “Leicester” away match (they won the return match!), the Austrian extended his contract with Southampton by four years. The Saints ended up in eleventh place, well above the drop zone and seven points off Spurs in sixth, in big part thanks to an impressive run at the end of the season that saw them lose just one in nine. As a matter of fact, they lost just six of their last 21 Premier League games last season. Things could look good this season if Hasenhüttl manages to continue building on that positive trend, one that he started, with the support of the club’s management.

Of course, it helps when you have a killer present up front. Possibly no other player on the Saints roster was so positively affected by Hasenhüttl’s change to the 4-2-2-2 system he favoured at RB Leipzig than Danny Ings. The high-energy press and quick transitions fit the English striker like a glove and he showed it by scoring 22 goals, just one shy of Golden Boot 2019-20 winner Jamie Vardy. In a season in which he finally managed to avoid serious injury trouble, Ings elevated his entire side to another level.

The Saints have already made two astute signings this summer, the first being the permanent signing of on-loan Spurs right-back Kyle Walker-Peters and the second being talented central defender Mohammed Salisu from Spanish side Valladolid for a combined €25 million. Though we don’t expect too much more incoming transfers in South England and a continued focus on the club’s prodigious youth academy, one or two more relatively major signings could be on the way. One of those could be a direct replacement for Emil Hojbjerg, who left the club for around €17 million to join Spurs.

In any case, the atmosphere at and around Saint Mary’s feels positive during the pre-season. The club ended last season on a high note, it has been relatively calm regarding Ings and the team’s other key men up until now, and their set of opening fixtures has potential for a good start. Whether Southampton are ready to challenge the top eight is something we’re not entirely sure of yet, but equalling (or even bettering) last season’s eleventh place is definitely a possibility.

SOUTHAMPTON – The FPL potential

Last season, Danny Ings (£8.5m) was one of the biggest bargains available, even once his price started rising from its initial £6.5m point. The English number nine surprised fans, opponents, FPL managers and FPL towers alike with his prolific season. In 2,800 minutes of Premier League football, he scored 22 goals and provided 2 assists, while no single player in the official game beat his total of 40 bonus points. Ings ended the season with an incredible 198 FPL points to his name. As a result, his price has risen substantially for this season, but that doesn’t mean his appeal has therefore decreased. With a decent set of opening fixtures and a certain role as key men in Ralph Hasenhüttl’s setup, he could very well hit the ground running this season.

We already mentioned Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.5m) before and at this current price tag, we think he is worth mentioning again. The talented right-back joined the Saints in January 2020 on loan and didn’t need much time to make the spot on the right-side of Hasenhüttl’s revamped defence his. He ended up playing 944 Premier League minutes in which he recorded 32 FPL points, thanks to being part of 2 clean sheets and providing 1 assist. This summer, Southampton made his loan deal permanent for a fee of €13 million and he looks to be going into the 2020-21 as the manager’s preferred choice at right-back. He could be great value as your fourth or even fifth defender. Due to the 20/21 fixtures if you think playing at Home will be an advantage, consider rotating a Southampton defender with one from the club above, Sheffield Utd.

Another budget option definitely worth considering is midfielder James Ward-Prowse (£6.0m). The 25-year old Englishman has developed into a key part of Hasenhüttl’s midfield setup and was even named club captain in the final stages of last season. He barely missed a minute whole season, and rewarded that faith with 5 goals and 4 assists for a total of 112 FPL points. The issue with JWP from an FPL point of view is that he is sometimes deployed further away from the opposition’s area, but that is also reflected in his price tag. To counter that, he is also on plenty of set-pieces, apart from penalties which are for Ingsy, obviously.

Do check the predicted starting line-ups for before finalising your team.

GAMEWEEKOPPONENT
1Crystal Palace (A)
2Spurs (H)
3Burnley (A)
4West Brom (H)
5Chelsea (A)
6Everton (H)
7Aston Villa (A)
Southampton’s opening EPL fixtures in September & October