Fantasy Football Game Review

Recent tactical and formation changes (part 1)

We are almost one fifth of the way through the season, so we thought we would review each team’s tactics, formations and player selections to see how these impact your fantasy football team. We have particularly focused on

  • Has the first 11 been stable over the first 7 games, and if not was this injury or tactics? Are there any high ownership players we should avoid as a consequence?
  • Has the formation been stable over the first 7 games, and if so, what positions are likely to get FPL points? Who are the tips, if any?

Today we will cover Watford, Leicester City, Bournemouth, Burnley FC, Hull City, Middlesbrough, Swansea City, West Ham, Stoke City and Sunderland. Later this week we will cover the remaining teams.

First lets check up on the recent tactical changes from this weekend:

Recent tactical changes

Manchester City made three changes after last weeks win at Swansea. Navas and Fernando replacing Gundogan and the injured De Bruyne. Pep Guardiola’s customary fullback rotation continued with Zabaleta replacing Sagna. Spurs meanwhile saw the return of left back Danny Rose while Janssen was dropped for Lamela. The in-form Korean, Son Heung-Min started upfront. The changes warranted success as they ended Manchester City’s 100% league record.

Just one change from Jurgen Klopp to a winning Liverpool side, Lovren replacing Klavan in defence. 23-year-old German, Loris Karius continued in goal but looked shaky throughout. Chelsea meanwhile, renovated a defence that had conceded 7 goals in 3 games. A change to a 3-4-2-1 formation with Ivanovic dropping to the bench and Alonso and Moses both starting brought about a win over a weak Hull City side. Hazard and Willian both started in more central attacking positions.

The Tigers resorted to a 4-1-4-1 formation with Clucas as the holding midfielder and Mbokani replacing Hernandez up front. Meyler replaced the suspended Elmohamady as right back and Henriksen took the place of Huddlestone. However, the changes failed to bring any big chances as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat. Everton utilised a 4-3-3 formation with Barkley and Bolasie the two attacking wingers. Crystal Palace meanwhile saw just one change, Zaha replacing Cabaye. Both sides proved evenly matched as they drew 1-1.

Swansea were forced into making a change, injured striker Llorente being replaced by Baston from Atletico Madrid. Leicester saw the welcome return of No.1 Kasper Schmeichel who kept a clean sheet on his return from injury.

A run of awful form for West Ham meant some big changes were needed from Slaven Bilic. Principally a swap to a 4-5-1 formation with Antonio as the sole striker. An uninspiring 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough saw a slight improvement.

Sunderland also required changes after a run of poor form and bad luck. A 4-1-2-3 formation with McNair coming into the central midfield and Khazri starting in an advanced role resulted in a meagre 1-1 draw with West Brom.

The bigger picture by SuperSaint


Burnley made a number of key signings: CM Defour from Anderlecht (6 appearances, one goal), Hendrick from Derby (4 appearances, one goal) and Gudmundsson from Charlton (8 appearances, 0 goals).

Dyche too opted for a 4-4-2 formation for the first four games with the duo of duo of Sam Vokes and Andre Gray in attack; which led to 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses, including the impressive 2-0 win against Liverpool at Turf Moore. Sadly, this victory was sandwiched between a defeat against Swansea at home, a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and a 1-1 draw against Hull at Home.

After these 4 games, Dyche went back to the drawing board and changed the formation to 4-5-1, playing Gray up-front until his ban. This has had mixed success as they lost 3-0 to Leicester at the King Power, beat a lackluster Watford side 2-0 at Home and were unlucky to lose against Arsenal after a last minute goal from Laurent Koscielny.

Tom Heaton is currently the highest scoring goalkeeper with 30 points following a string of impressive and numerous saves. Unfortunately, he was withdrawn from the England squad through injury a “minor” knock, so he is to be monitored. Burnley seem defensively vulnerable against the “top” teams and rely on Heaton’s impressive saving abilities therefore it is advisable to stay away from Burnley defenders, unless you are looking for a cheaper option and only 4 options fall into that category: Mee, Keane, Lowton and Ward.

Going forward, Defour is heavily relied upon due to his technical abilities as previously shown at Anderlecht. Hendrick is starting to show the form we all noticed at Euro 2016 and the Icelandic hero Gudmundsson was a direct threat against Watford so he could also be a fifth midfielder.

To summarise, it’s a case of intuition with Burnley, as statistics can’t prove whether they have the ability to beat the “lower” sides following a variety of results including the 1-0 loss to Swansea, the 1-1 draw to Hull and the 2-0 win against Watford.


The Tinker Man and the Foxes have endured a stuttering start to the season with mixed success in the Premier League and The Champions League. Following the high profile departure of N’Golo Kante to Chelsea for a fee of £32m and the extra pressure of mid-week games, many pundits expected Leicester to have a rough start to the season.

Ranieri has opted for the traditional 4-4-2 for the first 7 weeks, playing the familiar faces who won the Premier League title last season: Schmeichel, Fuchs, Morgan, Huth, Drinkwater, Mahrez, Albrighton and Vardy; as well as new signings Hernandez, Musa, Mendy and especially club-record signing Islam Slimani. Ranieri doesn’t see any fixture as a “tough” or “easy” fixture as he has used a similar starting 11 for each game. Only enforced changes were made i.e.: replacing Schmeichel with Ron Zieler because of injury to the Manc-Dane.

Now that teams have discovered Leicester’s style of play which tends to be a long ball forward or a rapid counter attack, defenders tend to play a deeper line, which can’t allow Vardy to run in behind and Mahrez is also quickly pressed to minimise his impact on the game. So, what does this mean for the Fantasy Football Managers who are keen on Leicester players? Well, it seems that Leicester seem to struggle against “top” sides, considering the two 4-1 losses to Liverpool and Manchester United. Against the slightly “weaker” sides, Leicester found their fine form. For example, during their 3-0 win against Burnley, Mahrez was a constant threat down the wing, Albrighton and Fuchs provided good service and Slimani and Vardy formed a good partnership as Slimani scored a brace and Vardy provided an assist. Defensively, Leicester still have the physical presence of Huth and Morgan but the likes of Mane, Firmino, Zlatan, Coutinho are too advanced technically.

To summarise, it is advisable to have a Leicester player when they face “weaker” sides, especially at Home. The likes of Vardy, Slimani, Mahrez, Albrighton, Fuchs, Morgan and Huth are recommendable.


Newly promoted Middlesbrough have suffered a rough start to life in the Premier Leauge. Some would say that after signing the likes of Negredo, Ramirez and Victor Valdes they could potentially have stability and quality within their squad to help them through a very long season on the Riverside.

Karanka clearly analysed common formations used in the Premier League as he decided to go for a 4-2-3-1 formation for the first 6 games, which led to 1 win, 2 draws and 3 losses. In their most recent game against West Ham at the London Stadium, Karanka switched things up and decided to test out a 4-4-1-1 formation, playing new signing Viktor Fischer as a Centre Forward and Jordan Rhodes up front.

Having only kept one clean sheet in 7 games, defensively they seem unstable and an unattractive option in terms of Fantasy Points. Offensively, Negredo has proven that he can score goals in Spain and will be hoping to bring that form back to England following a spell with Manchester City has he scored 9 times in 32 Premier League appearances. He has found the net once for the Boro on the opening day in their 1-1 draw against Stoke. Other options include talented central attacking midfielder Viktor Fischer and Gaston Ramirez.

To summarise, Middlesbrough are a team that shouldn’t be touched as they tend to concede in the majority of their games. On the other hand, despite only picking up 6 points in 7 games, they have scored in 6 of them, therefore maybe an attacking player i.e.: Negredo, Ramirez, Fischer or Downing are recommendable has a fifth midfielder or third striker respectively.


Since David Moyes left Everton, it’s fair to say that he didn’t enjoy the best of times at Real Sociedad or Manchester United. He will be looking to make a name for himself in a positive way and win the fans over at The Stadium of Light. And… it’s not been the start he would have imagined. Sunderland currently sit rock bottom with only two points.

It seems that Moyes is still unsure about which formation to use as he has used not one, not two, not three, not four but five different formations: 4-2-3-1, 4-1-2-1-2, 4-4-1-1, 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1. Despite the positive looking signings i.e.: Januzaj, Love, McNair, Djilobodji and Gooch as well as keeping hold of the key players such as the likes of Defoe, Khazri, Koné and Watmore, the team has simply failed to gel. Goals haven’t been too scarce for Sunderland as they have scored 6 goals in 7 games.

The problem is the source of the goal, Van Aanholt has scored 2 of them and the other 4 were scored by Sunderland’s savior Jermaine Defoe. In terms of fantasy football, defensively if you are looking for clean sheets, you won’t be finding any in Sunderland. Van Aanholt is a good attacking full back as he gets forward the majority of the time which makes it likely for him to provide an assist or score a vital goal. In attack, only Defoe has proven that he can find the back of the net on a consistent basis, therefore he is a solid third striker option.

Apart from that options are limited in the Sunderland side and are un-recommendable either due to their lack of form or lack of technical qualities. It’s going to be another long year on Tyneside.

West Ham

West Ham have endured an absolute nightmare of a start. Following the hype around their new 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium, combined with high profile signings such as the likes of Simone Zaza, Sofiane Feghouli, Gokhan Tore, Alvaro Arbeloa and Andre Ayew, their performance on the pitch has been nothing short of embarrassing and abysmal. The disappointing low-lights include a 2-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge following a last minute goal from Diego Costa as well as being knocked out of the Europa League play offs by Astra.

Bilic is yet to find the formation that works for him and his players as he started with 4-3-3, then changed to a 3-5-2, to a 4-2-3-1 where they conceded 11 goals in 3 games against Watford, West Brom and Southampton. Most recently, they went back to a 4-3-3 formation in their 1-1 draw to Middlesbrough at Home.

Defensively, West Ham are a laughing stock, the full backs Arbeloa, Nordveitd and Masuaku are too attacking and are defensively vulnerable. A player who has earnt a large amount of praise is Michail Antonio, scoring 5 headed goals, attacking wise he can be deadly, but recently his form as been seriously affected and he often forgets to track back due to laziness and unawareness. Thankfully for West Ham they have their “Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free-Card” in the form of French midfielder Dimitri Payet. His stunning individual effort earned West Ham a draw against Middlesbrough and his stoppage time free kick against Accrington Stanley secured qualification to the next round of the EFL Cup.

In terms of Fantasy Football, defensively it’s not worth considering a West Ham defender due to the volume of goals they have conceded, 17 in 7 games. In terms of the attacking force, Payet and Antonio remain the obvious choices with 31 and 42 points respectively. Lanzini has returned from injury and his form is likely to pick up steadily. No striker is worth picking up right now as Fletcher, Zaza and Calleri have a combined total of 13 which is pathetic.

The bigger picture by Leon


Walter Mazzari’s side find themselves sitting comfortably mid-table with 8 points at GW7 of the season. With an impressive 3-1 victory over a strong Manchester United side in GW5 and putting 4 past West Ham the week before they have put in a few decent performances. However, a 2-0 loss to Burnley in GW 6 put a halt to that run of form and a disappointing 2-2 draw with Bournemouth mean improvement is still needed if they want a mid-table finish.

Their surprising in form man has been midfielder Etienne Capoue, scoring 3 goals in the first 4 games. However, despite enjoying a freer attacking role he too has suffered with a recent lack of team form. Experiments with 3 at the back and 4 at the back seem to favour a more traditional 4 man back four as most of the good performances have come from a 4-2-3-1. Cathcart and Janmaat are both injured, arguably their best 2 defenders so it is advisable to stay away from the Watford defence for the time being. Deeney remains the most stable and is almost certain to start given he stays fit. He has scored 3 goals so far and takes penalties. However, at £7.1m there are some better and cheaper alternatives like Defoe and Rondon.


The Cherries sit at 13th in the table with manager Eddie Howe dismissing talks of the England job. A 1-0 win over Everton in GW5 is the highlight so far but overall performance has been pretty average. Record signing Wilshere has failed to make a significant impact but the standout name is Josh King who, at £5.4m and listed as a midfielder, is a good differential. The formation has hardly been tampered with but King has often enjoyed starts upfront over fellow Englishman Callum Wilson.

Hull City

The Tigers never looked like a team fit for the Premier League at the start of the season with Steve Bruce sacked and most of the senior team (including captain Michael Dawson) injured. This is highlighted by the fact that, Livermore, a midfielder is playing at centre back, Clucas, a winger has been shifted to central midfield (and doing a good job of it) and Meyler, a centre-mid is currently playing at right back. 15th is good considering the circumstances. However conceding 11 in the last 3 games and scoring just one means it is hard to recommend anyone.


New manager Bob Bradley has no Premier League, or top European League experience at that, but has become the first American manager in the Premier League. He has a tough job with Swansea sitting just above relegation. Star man Sigurdsson, has failed to find form so far and Spanish strikers Llorente and Baston have yet to settle into the Premier League.

Their formation has been 4-2-3-1 for most of the season with £4.1m defenders Amat and Kingsley being employed in the injury struck defence. The loss of skipper Ashley Williams has really struck the team badly and they have only managed a 1-0 win over Burnley right at the beginning of the season. If you want a budget defender look to Amat as Fernandez has now replaced Kingsley. Otherwise avoid until form improves.

Stoke City

The Potters have suffered an abysmal start to the season gaining just 3 points in the first 7 games and sitting at 19th in the table. However a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford was a good result.

The formation has stuck pretty much the same but there just seems to be no success. However, one consideration is Austria’s Marko Arnautovic who scored a brace against Wales earlier this week. However both defence and attack have lacked quality and with holding midfielder Joe Allen now injured, it is hard to suggest anyone from the team even as a differential.


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Hull City till I die! FPL addict since 2014. Second year on FFF. Excited to be writing for the new season.
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Southampton Fan Till The End Of Time. Also Enthusiastic On All Leagues In Europe. Can Speak French English And Spanish! Life Would Be Empty Without Football!

7 thoughts on “Recent tactical and formation changes (part 1)

  1. i observe the top 10 managers in the world all have ARS & TOT defensive coverage!

    thinking to do the same by drafting in Mustafi or Vertonghen. Who is better?

    who should i give up to make the Mustafi/Vert upgrade?

    Williams – EVE (5.0) or Soares – SOT (5.0)

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