8 months ago
The wait is finally over — the English Premier League starts today! What better day to share my predictions for the season while every stadium is being sanitized from head to toe, players are putting on their mask and fantasy managers are applying finishing touches to their fantasy squads after a sleepless night. I have also asked some of the best Fanteam daily and season-long players and some members of our DraftGym crew to share their predictions, you will find them scattered in the article below. There is late registration available in FanTeam's €1 Million game in case you've missed the kick-off. Enjoy the season and stay safe!
The Cityzens finished last campaign first in xG (102,21) with 27 expected goals and 17 tangible goals more than Liverpool. They were also first in terms of expected points (86 to Liverpool’s 74 respectfully). After a smack right in the face in yet another Champions League campaign that I bet was felt all the way back in Australia, Pep will be out seeking revenge. A hungry tiger pouncing on a somewhat fat and content victim - Liverpool. I believe Pep’s ego needs a quick satisfaction and it will come in the form of annihilating anyone who stands in their way in the Premier League. At least until Champions Playoffs come round, but that is way off and a totally different story.
The Reds, arguably, won too many games they probably shouldn’t have. A mark of a true champion for sure, but I doubt it is sustainable two years in a row. Their postcovid form was much to be desired, and while Jurgen will no doubt make sure his team is hungry for another league title, the competition is too fierce. The team has had a fantastic 2-year stretch, I don’t think they will be hungry enough to take the league by the storm with City looking to bounce back and an Emerging Chelsea side. Their quality is enough to secure a 2nd place finish, but I was tempted to put Chelsea second instead of Klopp’s side. Speaking of which…
Wow, what a project this is shaping up tp be! If Werner, Zyech, Chilwell and Silva wasn’t enough, Kai Havertz transfer is imminent. With Pulisic, Mount, Kante and great quality on the bench (Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek), the only puzzle piece missing is a world-class goalkeeper. I strongly believe Chelsea can challenge Liverpool for 2nd this year and might become title-contenders when everyone gels with everyone. It might take time to create a well-oiled machine, but what a joy it is seeing a talented young manager in Lampard in charge of such talent. Defence needs a bit of tuning (54 goals conceded to Liverpool’s 33 and United’s 36) but it doesn’t look as bad if we consider last season’s xGC (41 to Liverpool’s 39 and United’s 38). If Chelsea manage to sign a keeper who at least tries to stop shots fired his way, they are set for an exciting season.
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The reason I rate Chelsea to do a bit better than United is the fact that their game is very dependant on Bruno as it stands now. 44 shots, 30 key passes, 8 goals (6,88 xG) scored in 14 appearances, 8 assists (2,88 xA) and 115 FPL points (18 bonus points) - he is integral to the way United play. If he is to get injured - he would be extremely hard to replace.
Other than that, Manchester United will give the top-3 a run for their money. An intriguing battle for the top keeper spot between De Gea and Henderson is also something to keep an eye on. Van der Beek’s signing will give United more options in midfield, although it is still uncertain what role Solksjaer has in store for the Dutchman. Greenwood is in my latest FPL draft, and, as an owner, I am very curious if he’ll be able to defy the xG metric with his finishing ability. He scored 10 goals in 39 shots (20 on target) on 2,91 xG. Seems like he had overperformed by a mile but Mason can certainly shoot which is proven by the xG on Target metric which measures the quality of shots landing on target. 5.2 xG on Target on 20 shots is not bad at all.
I am writing this under the influence of the ‘All or Nothing Tottenham’ documentary. Not that I’ve fallen in love with Mourinho or rate him higher than Arteta, I simply believe Tottenham don’t have to change much in their game and have a better finisher in Harry Kane. If Dele Alli, which Jose is fond of, finds his best game, that will be a huge factor as well. There are doubts surrounding Lacazzete future and Arsenal’s defense will need time with these new signings. I think Jose had less things to fine-tune, but it is still a tough call to put Spurs above Arsenal - the margin between the two is minimal.
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Another exciting project with a young and talented manager at the helm. This is primed to be the year when the team starts transforming, and it’s interesting to see which way Arteta takes them. They have created less big chances than Newcastle and West Ham post covid break, scoring just 3 goals more than the aforementioned sides. While the Londoners defense seemed to improve, they still conceded 99 shots in the box with only Brighton and Norwich conceding more post lockdown. Their expected goals conceded (17,18) was also the league’s 2nd worst during that period. They have lady luck and Emiliano Martinez to thank having conceded only 12 goals. Despite all the excitement surrounding Arsenal performance on the pitch and young blood - this is still very much a work in progress.
Quality acquisitions in Allan and James to spruce up the midfield is exactly what the team needed. Allan is the ball-winning midfielder that will solidify the middle of the pitch, while allowing the likes of Sigurdson (if stays and starts) and James to dictate play and create chances for Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin. The squad looks balanced on paper and will contest the somewhat weakened Wolves for 7th.
With European campaign ending on the low and no European commitments this year, I expect the Portuguese-flavored side to deliver another solid campaign. Doherty is a big loss, and Jonny Castro out for the foreseeable future is a problem as well. Wolves will rely on their tried and tested counter-attacking recipes to steal points a plenty from top-6 sides as usual.
This might be the year when Southampton make a leap into the top-10 with their distinct high-pressing energetic style of play. The players now have fully understood and embraced Hassehuttl’s system and are giving it all on the pitch. A solid defensive line, hard-working midfield and a quality finisher in Ings - there is a lot to like here. I am a bit worried about Ings delivering such solid numbers two years in a row (22 goals, 23,7% conversion rate, 16,3 xG, 78 shots in box), but the emergence of Adams gives Southampton another go-to attacking option. I won’t be surprised to see them challenge the likes of Everton and Wolverhampton.
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I am curious whether Rodgers can turn things around and make the team forget how they have blown their CL qualification chances post-covid (2 wins in 9 league games). Actually, playing in Europa League might do them a world of good. Unlike the Champions League, it is a competition they can actually win. I doubt the Foxes have enough juice (Vardy isn’t getting younger, Chilwell is a big loss, Pereira out for months) and depth to be competitive on both fronts. A comfortable top-10 finish and a deep run in the Europa League - that is my verdict here. And as always, no solid fantasy picks apart from Vardy.
My surprise package of the season. Yes, I might be influenced by the documentary on Leeds I watched this summer, but there is a lot to like about the team. A president who understands how he wants to develop his club and is good at setting realistic and achievable goals. A world-class coach respected by all the top-guns of the EPL (apart from Lampard, most likely). Smart transfers who will blend into the team without the coach having to change his style (Rodrigo, Koch, Meslier, Helder Costa, Harrison on yet another loan). They don’t look like your promoted Aston Villas and Fulhams (with all due respect), more like a solid Sheffield with belief in its own philosophy. That is the way the owner wants to go - strengthen what worked last year, staying true to the club values and style of play while making pinpoint purchases to strengthen the case. I really want Leeds to succeed this year and believe all puzzle pieces can fall into place.
West Ham look like a top-10 side on paper, but the same could be said at the beginning of last season. They were 4th worst in terms of expected goals conceded last season (64,49), and unless there is a significant improvement in this regard, there is little chance they finish within the top-10. They will keep banging the goals in, although the loss of a highly-rated youngster Diangana might hurt them in the end. Bowen, Antonio, Soucek - these are decent fantasy options once the Hammers get over their horrible run of fixtures from GW1 to GW7 where they face Arsenal, Wolves, Leicester, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool. It doesn’t get any worse than that really.
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"I've been really impressed with the turnaround at Southampton since the 9-0 trouncing at the hands of Leicester last October. Hojbjerg's move to Spurs will undoubtedly leave a hole that needs filling but with the likes of Ings, Redmond, Ward Prowse and Adams in attack I think they could sneak a top ten finish! Particularly looking forward to seeing Will Smallbone's development continuing this season. He could be worth keeping a close eye on at just £4.5! I fear for Leicester unless they start splashing some cash. An injury stricken defence and real lack of depth through the Midfield and attack, they could be in trouble if the likes of Vardy and Maddison pick up injuries! I don't see them finishing in the top 8 this season!" — FPL_Corf
I doubt Sheffield will continue to battle on par with the big boys for the second year in a row. They haven’t really strengthened their squad and everyone knows what to expect from the Blades now. Chris Wilder’s system and closely-knit battle-hardened squad will be enough to comfortably reach the 40 point mark, but top-10 finish might be an unrealistic expectation. Ramsdale has a lot to live up to after a fantastic season from Dean Henderson returning to his parent club. Sheffield conceded only 39 goals (50,97 xGC) due to his heroics and a sturdy back line. A lot will depend of how stalwart they are this season again.
Seagulls were ranked within the top-10 side for PPDA (passe per defensive action allowed), and I am curious to see how the team evolves further under Graham Potter. They are a team who wants to press but fail to impress. Can Lallana become the creator Potter has perhaps been looking for? Maupay and Trossard will continue to be the go-to attacking options with everyone around them rotated mercilessly. I believe they have enough to escape the relegation dogfight, especially if Lalllana settles quickly and stay injury-free.
I wonder when Sean Dyche’s patience runs out with Burnley refusing to significantly strengthen the squad once again. Burnley were one of the sides to have barely survived the COVID-19 break and it shows. I doubt they sign any decent players until the end of the transfer window and will have to rely on Dyche’s magic and impeccable organization. They struggled against big sides last year conceding 30 goals against top-6 teams while battling hard against and getting their share of points against mid-table teams and relegation rivals. I am expecting much of the same this year.
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Can see them relegated for sure, but there were some good signs since the restart. They were 7th best for expected goals conceded with 11,80 (15 goals conceded) and looked more solid at the back. Scoring goals is still a problem, but they can probably barely escaped relegation if they can keep their talisman — Grealish fit.
I was tempted to send them down, but they managed to bring in Fraser+Wilson. A proven EPL goalscorer was what the Magpies needed. The showed a bit of attacking prowess post restart with convincing attacking displays against Bournemouth and Sheffield. What worries me is that the free-flowing attacking football is not what they will start the campaign with. They will focus on defense just like in the previous year and that is where the problem lies. They were one of the worst defensive sides in terms of xGC outperforming by conceding a total of 9 goals less than expected. They have Dubravka up their sleeve as always (but ruled out till October) but it will take a miracle for them to stay up nonetheless.
Zaha wants out, their head coach is as old as they come, they play unattractive, uninspiring football, sorry lads, but I hope you go down. Not much more to say.
A PSG goalkeeper on loan seems like a great acquisition and might be the thing that saves them in the end. They need Mitrovic to set the pace in the first 10 gameweeks when their fixtures are rather kind. If they are in the relegation zone come week 11, I don’t see them staying up. Defensive woes of their previous EPL campaign a few years back is well documented and remembered by FPL fans. Mitrovic still makes a decent fantasy pick, he might end up in my final draft. Can’t ignore a 6.0 penalty-taker even on an elevator team.
They look a one-man team on paper. Pereira might do the Grielish trick and keep his team stay up single-handedly, but I doubt it. They simply lack firepower upfront, who will be scoring goals for them? The only thing that I will be keeping an eye on is their new boy - a highly-rated youngster Diangana. I believe West Ham made a huge mistake letting him go. The Baggies look the weakest of the lot and I see them finishing last.
Alexey, also known as KJIIOIIIKA, has been playing daily fantasy football since 2015 on various European sites. Scratches his fantasy itch mostly on FanTeam, where he has a net profit of €6000+ with more than 2000 tournaments played and a 40% ROI. FanTeam's 2018 World Championship of Fantasy Football finalist. As Head of Content at DraftGym, his mission is to help our young European fantasy community grow. A proud father of two, plays ice-hockey at the regional level, loves board games.