Choosing Fantasy Football Players

Recent tactical and formation changes (part 2)

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. Today we will cover the remaining teams. 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?

The big picture by SuperSaint

Spurs

Following last season’s disappointing collapse which not only cost Tottenham a chance of winning the Premier League title but were also embarrassed further by finishing below Arsenal once again. This season is a completely different story.

Pochettino has made a number of impressive signings: Victor Wanyama from Southampton, Vincent Janssen from AZ Alkmaar, Moussa Sissoko from Newcastle and George-Kevin N’Koudou from Marseille. Furthermore, he has tied down key players to new, long-term contracts such as Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker as well as being in discussions with Vertonghen, and Lamela over new deals.

On the pitch, Spurs are the only team in the Premier League to remain unbeaten as they’ve won 5 and drawn 2.

  • Pochettino started the season using the usual 4-2-3-1 formation for their first 5 games, which resulted in 3 wins and 2 draws. Since Harry Kane’s injury, Pochettino has experimented with the squad and the formation.
  • In their 2-1 victory against Middlesbrough, Spurs played a 4-3-3 formation with Janssen down the middle and Sissoko and Son down the flanks. Janssen couldn’t find the back of the net but the same can’t be said for Son as he scored a brace.
  • Next game, in Spurs’ impressive and somewhat unexpected 2-0 victory against Manchester City, Son was played as a lone striker in a 4-1-4-1 formation. He couldn’t find the back of the net, but he did provide a vital assist.

In terms of your Fantasy Football options, defensively Spurs can be slightly inconsistent but if your judgement leads you to feeling that a defender is necessary, then Lloris, Alderweireld and Vertonghen can provide the clean sheet bonuses whereas Kyle Walker can push forward and maybe provide an assist. Further forward, Son seems a solid option as he is a constant threat, he can provide an assist or score a goal and he stands top of Spurs’ midfielder’s points table, with 43 points. Janssen can’t seem to score a goal just yet, so he isn’t the best option at this moment in time.

Lastly, on Talk Sport this morning, one of the presenters gave the impression Kane won’t be back before the next international break in November.

Manchester United

José Mourinho has landed the “dream job” as he described it when he was appointed as Manchester United boss. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t enjoyed the best start. In fact, Van Gaal had picked up 16 points at this point of the season, compared to Mourinho’s 13 point tally.

Big-money signings haven’t been scarce for Manchester United as they have secured the services of Paul Pogba from Juventus (£89m), Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Dortmund (£26m), Eric Bailly from Villarreal (£30m) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from PSG for free.

It all started so well for Mourinho even before the season started, by winning 2-1 against Leicester in the Community Shield. Afterwards, he won 3/3 games against Bournemouth, Southampton and Hull, conceding 1 goal and scoring 6, making Bailly and De Gea good early defensive options.

However, Mourinho’s kryptonite Guardiola beat the Portuguese manager once again. De Bruyne was instrumental in their victory as he noticed Man United’s defensive vulnerability and unawareness in terms of positioning, especially from Paul Pogba as he gave himself a free roam creative role. This continued in games against Feyenoord and Watford where they lost 1-0 and 3-1 respectively.

Recently, Ander Herrera has been played in a central defensive role in order to protect the defence and allow Pogba to go forward. This has worked to good effect as Pogba found the net against Leicester and was a constant threat.

In terms of Fantasy Football, defensively United are conceding too many goals as the last time they kept a clean sheet in the Premier League was on the 27th August in their 1-0 victory against Hull. Pogba may seem like a good option, but he simply will not score enough goals and his price tag is rather steep. Better options include Zlatan, Rashford and Mata.

Liverpool

The man with the passion Jurgen Klopp is playing down the chances of winning the title, despite the fact that the majority of Liverpool performances prove that it isn’t out of their capabilities.

The signings of Sadio Mane and Georginho Wijnaldum have been key to Liverpool’s success as well as the acquisitions of Joel Matip, Lorius Karius and Ragnar Klavan.

Liverpool got off to a typically “Liverpool” start as they beat Arsenal 4-3 but failed to beat Burnley and suffered a 2-0 loss. This inability to beat the “weaker” sides was the reason why Liverpool weren’t able to secure Europa League qualification or win the Premier League title albeit under Brendan Rodgers.

This season they have looked like a team on a mission as they have won 4 of their last 5 games, the other game was a draw against Tottenham. So, Fantasy Football Managers, it seems that if you don’t have a Liverpool player in your midfield or attack, then you are making a mistake.

Mane, Coutinho, Firminho, Milner and Lallana seem to be “must have” players as they have scored 196 points between themselves. Sturridge isn’t getting the game time necessary to make a positive impact on games thus unable to score goals. Defensively, Liverpool’s top defenders are Clyne and Lovren with 28 points between them, however they are doubtful and the next player down the pecking order is Joel Matip with only 9 points. Therefore, aquire Clyne or Lovren once they are fit

Crystal Palace

It’s fair to say that Palace didn’t enjoy the second half of last season in the Premier League as they finished 15th, only a narrow 5 points from safety. There was a serious lack of creativity and goals as they relied on Conor Wickham for their goals, which didn’t really work out. Following the departure of 15 players including Bolasie, Gayle, Chamakh, Adebayor and Jedinak, Pardew managed to identify parts of the pitch where changes were needed and he didn’t hesitate on splashing the cash, £32m on Benteke, £13m on Townsend, £10m on Tomkins and an estimated £10m on Steve Mandanda, a total of £65m.

Currently, they sit 8th in the table, winning 3 games, drawing 2 and losing 2. Palace have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their 7 Premier League games this season therefore the defence isn’t worth considering. Offensively, Palace have scored an impressive 11 goals. Townsend and Zaha provide constant threat down the flanks and the big Belgian Benteke is always in the box to power the ball into the net. Yohan Cabaye uses his creativity to provide an assists and could sometime score a goal.

To summarise, there are better teams to rely upon other than Palace for cheaper options, but if you are keen, then Benteke, Zaha and Townsend seem the best choices for you.

Southampton

Another season of change down on the South Coast. The departure of Ronald Koeman to Everton was then followed by a typical Southampton summer, Mane to Liverpool, Wanyama to Spurs and Pelle to China. However, Southampton heavily invested in young prospects: Hojbjerg from Bayern, Redmond from Norwich and Sofiane Boufal from Lille for a club record £20m.

New boss Claude Puel has replicated the same system he used in France for the first 5 games of the season which has a 4-4-2 narrow diamond, playing Redmond as a striker despite being a winger by trade. This resulted in 1 win, 2 draws and 2 losses, a disappointing start to another ambitious season for the Saints.

Momentum started to swing in Southampton’s favour following a 3-0 win against Sparta Prague in the Europa League. Puel then switched to a 4-3-3 where Saints won against West Ham and drew against Leicester where Charlie Austin found the net against West Ham and should have scored against Leicester.

Defensively, Southampton remain solid with Jose Fonte and Virgil Van Dijk providing protection for Fraser Forster. Southampton have kept a clean sheet in 6 consecutive games in all competitions.

In terms of Fantasy Football, Van Dijk seems to be a good option as he is a very solid defender as well as a threat on set pieces. In midfield, Dusan Tadic will be coming back from International duty full of confidence after scoring a goal and providing two assists in Serbia’s 3-2 win against Austria.

In attack, Redmond hasn’t found the net much but is a constant danger, whereas Charlie Austin is always at the right place at the right time. Despite not playing yet, Sofaine Boufal has been compared to Dimitri Payet so when he is fit, he could have a positive impact on your team.

The big picture by Leon

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s side enjoyed a blistering start to the season with a 6-match unbeaten run, with Spurs putting the run to an end with a 2-0 defeat in GW7. Yet the future still looks rosy for City, who sit 1 point ahead of Tottenham at the top of the table.

Guardiola has mainly been utilising a 4-1-4-1 W-W formation with Aguero up-top and Fernandinho as the holding midfielder. However, with De Bruyne’s injury we saw Fernando taking up the CDM role and Fernandinho being shifted to midfield with Silva.

Sterling has been getting some good gametime over the likes of Leroy Sane and Jesus Navas, and provided Sterling can recover from a minor injury he should continue his run of decent form.

With Pep’s tactics we often see the fullbacks drifting into the central midfield at the centre of the pitch when City are in possession. This increases pressure in the midfield area and leads to more intricate play. This has benefited De Bruyne and Silva the most because they have been allowed to roam further up the pitch and thus increase the goal threat.

One last thing to mention about City is that Stones is getting good game time and is currently the second most popular defender in the game. He often roams into midfield with the CDM slotting in at centre back, as seen on England duty. His agility, quick feet and aerial threat mean he can also provide the occasional assist or goal, which is important given clean sheets are in drought.

Arsenal

The Gunners have enjoyed a good start to the season sitting at 3rd in the table, 2 points behind City.

Wenger’s preference is the 4-2-3-1 formation which has been utilised in every game against different defences. There midfield has been highly impressive, Santi Cazorla making 504 passes (second most in Premier League) and Sanchez completing the most through balls in the Premier League (13). They have also played 4139 passes, second most in the Premier League.

Sanchez has fitted well upfront and Arsenal seem to have found a winning combination, winning the last 4 games including a 3-0 win over Chelsea. Alex Iwobi is a good differential, so far having 3 assists to his name.

Everton

Everton sit comfortably at 5th in the league and new signing Bolasie making a difference upfront.

The Toffees have mainly utilised a 4-2-3-1 against most teams with Barkley playing just behind Lukaku, although against weaker opposition they have tried a more attacking 4-3-3 formation with Bolasie getting a more advanced role (for example Crystal Palace). However, the 4-3-3 didn’t quite gel as they succumbed to a dreary 1-1 draw.

Barry has been outstanding in holding the midfield, orchestrating the defence and helping the attack. He has completed an outstanding 395 passes so far this season and remains crucial to the Everton side.

Chelsea

Antonio Conte’s side has had a mixed start to the season as they sit at 7th in the table. They conducted an impressive victory over Hull City but have not managed to perform against stronger sides like Arsenal and Liverpool.

Conte seems to stick with the 4-2-3-1 most of the time but after the defence which conceded 3 to Arsenal, Conte reconsidered and decided to opt for a totally new 3-4-2-1 formation. This saw Ivanovic dropped to the bench and Azpilicueta slotting into central defence with Cahill and David Luiz, while Moses got his first Premier League start since signing for Chelsea 4 years ago.

This new formation was victorious against a weak Hull side but is yet to be tested against stronger side. My advice is see what happens in the Champions League before investing in anyone. Hazard has not performed consistently and so the best picks look like Willian and Diego Costa.

West Brom

The Baggies sit at 9th in the League drawing 1-1 in the last 2 league games against mid-lower table teams. They managed to put 4 past West Ham a couple of weeks ago which shows they can score more than 1 goal in a game.

Pulis’s tactics so far have been to stick to a defensive 4-5-1 formation even against lower teams and try and hit on the counter. It has been partially successful but has meant their attacking players often fail to produce.

Darren Fletcher remains a good bargain £4.4m pick in midfield, with guaranteed game time, but other than that there are no standout options. Rondon could be a good budget striker but his place is still contested for by Berahino.

Authors

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Leon24

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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supersaint

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!

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