A key part of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) success comes down to choosing the right players from the Top 4 clubs. It makes sense, doesn’t it? The better a team performs, the more chances their players have at racking up the Fantasy points. Over the last three seasons, an average of seven out of the ten highest scorers in FPL played for a Top 4 club, and the Top 4 clubs averaged 81 goals scored per season.
With so many points coming from so few teams, it is important for FPL managers prioritise their budgets to include as many of these players as they can. To aid your decisions we will preview the Top 4 clubs from last season and highlight their most popular FPL prospects.
The sky is blue. Water is wet. Liverpool players are essential. In a game that is so unpredictable it is nice to have something we can count on. They have had no fewer than two and as many as five top ten scorers over the last three seasons. Only the Reds have had a defender finish in the top ten since the 16/17 season—and they did it four times.
We expect Jürgen Klopp to deploy a 4-3-3 formation with little to no changes from last season. The only uncertainty is which combination of three central midfielders we will see. At time of writing, it appears that Georginio Wijnaldum (£5.5m) may be on the way out and Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara may be on the way in. Naby Keita (£5.5m) could also see more opportunities this season to secure a starting role. Whatever the midfield combination ends up looking like it is unlikely that a viable FPL option will emerge, as no central midfielder for Liverpool has scored more than 116 points in the last three seasons.
The big points will come undoubtedly come from familiar names. The only question is, will you get two or three of them?
- Mohammed Salah (£12.0m) – It is hard to make an argument against a player who has scored a combined 795 points since joining Liverpool in the 17/18 season. Nevertheless, many brave (or insane) FPL managers are ready to cut ties with Salah, presumably out of boredom. But since when did scoring loads of points become boring?
- Sadio Mané (£12.0m) – It is unfortunate that Mané comes into this season with the same price tag as Salah, forcing most into an either/or decision between the two. Bold managers who trust their luck enough to transfer back and forth between the two may see Mané as the occasional differential pick, but it is difficult to argue that he will outscore Salah by season’s end.
- Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) – More than 50% of FPL managers have selected Liverpool’s right-back for their Gameweek 1 team, and deservedly so! Despite being the second most expensive defender in the history of FPL, he far and away provides the most value. There is a chance he could have to share his set piece responsibilities more than last season, but it should not significantly affect his output.
- Andrew Robertson (£7.0m) – Robertson’s only FPL weakness is playing for the same team as Trent, who has overshadowed two incredible back-to-back seasons where he finished as the #1 and #2 highest scoring defender, notching 12 assists in both. The Liverpool left-back actually outperformed Trent post-break in the 19/20 season (see comparison below from the Hub’s Comparison Tool) and found himself on some set pieces and more involved in the attack. If those trends continue and Liverpool can keep a couple more clean sheets, he will make surely rejoin the 200-point club.
- Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) – Unlike his peers in the defence, the Dutch centre-back makes his FPL living primarily off clean sheets and bonus points. He could very well have another fantastic season, but the three-player limit per team makes it difficult to select him when you have more attack-minded options available.
- Alisson Becker (£6.0m) – Alisson has a good chance of finishing as the #1 goalkeeper in FPL but the price you have to pay might be better spent elsewhere on your team. Read my previous article on goalkeepers here on why premium goalkeepers are a trap.
At time of writing, Lionel Messi has not joined Manchester City. If he does, scrap everything you’re about to read and get him straight in your team. Otherwise, read on…
Man City averaged 101 goals scored over the last three season, far more than any other team in the league. This means that there are plenty of Fantasy points to be had, especially among their attacking assets. However, Pep Guardiola’s infamous proclivity for rotation and the uncertainty surrounding several starting spots will make it difficult for FPL managers to feel confident about many of their choices. To further complicate things, City starts their season with a blank in Gameweek 1 and a fairly difficult run of fixtures through Gameweek 10.
FPL managers will have some difficult choices ahead. Here are the players to keep on your shortlist.
- Kevin De Bruyne (£11.5m) – The game’s leading point scorer delivered on the high expectations FPL managers had for him since rejoining the league a few seasons ago. We have always known him to be a world-class passer of the ball, but it was his eye for goal that set him apart last season. His new role as penalty taker and his higher position up the pitch should continue to give him plenty of opportunities for goals and assists, but it would be a truly incredible feat to improve on last season.
- Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) – It was a peculiar season for Sterling. On one hand, he scored a career-best 20 goals. On the other, his assist tally sharply fell from 15 to six. He also seriously underperformed his xA and recorded the lowest amount of key passes per game in his career. Historically, Sterling is a better FPL asset when Sergio Agüero is on the pitch, so perhaps the rotation of forwards is making it difficult for him to maintain some consistency. Yet there were signs throughout the season that a new partnership between Sterling and Gabriel Jesus could blossom.
- Sergio Agüero (£10.5m) – Injuries plagued Agüero’s 19/20 season, but this is nothing new. He has averaged only 27 league appearances in the last three seasons and has not appeared in more than 34 since his 11/12 debut season for City. Also, his 5.5 points-per-game was the second lowest of his FPL career. We all know he can haul double-digit point tallies any given Gameweek, but the pattern of unreliability and time share with Gabriel Jesus is certainly becoming a concern.
- Jesus (£9.5m) – The price tag seems like a bargain for a City forward. However, Jesus seriously underperformed his xG and only managed 4.3 points-per-game despite Guardiola giving him the most minutes he has had since joining the club. Could he finally become the star we expected him to be? Sure. But there is little evidence pointing to that outcome and our patience is wearing thin.
- Riyad Mahrez (£8.5m) – Points-per-90’ is not always the most reliable statistic to rely on, but 8.1 points-per-90’ certainly grabs our attention. Just imagine the possibilities if Guardiola would only give Mahrez more minutes!
- Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) – A knee injury kept Laporte out for much of last season. However, let us not forget what the 18/19 season showed us he is capable of—177 points, 18 clean sheets, three goals, and three assists. Should he remain fit, the French centre-back could become a big differential for FPL managers who are looking to go “big at the back” this season.
It was a tale of two halves for United last season. The return of Paul Pogba (£8.0m) and the arrival of Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m) completely transformed the Red Devils into one of the most entertaining and attack-minded teams in the league. Without Fernandes, United averaged 1.5 goals per game. With Fernandes, they scored 2.14 goals per game over an undefeated 14-game run to finish the season. The arrival of Donny van de Beek (£7.0m) in the central midfield should only strengthen the team’s attacking potential.
United led the league in awarded penalties two seasons in a row. A look at penalty records over recent seasons seems to indicate this comes down to playing style more than preferential treatment (despite what the conspiracy theorists would have you believe). That aggressive playing style in the box is not expected to change anytime soon. Reports suggest that the sole right to the penalty spot does not belong to any single player, but with Bruno taking two-thirds of the penalties (and converting all of them), it seems like he has first dibs on the opportunity should he want it.
With all the potential points to be had—not to mention the high ownership percentages—FPL managers will want to get one or two of the names on this list. But they will also need a strategy for navigating around United’s opening blank Gameweek 1.
- Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m) – Bruno’s six goals and five assists over 14 games completely transformed United into one of the most entertaining teams in the league, while also improving the performance of his teammates around him. Performing at 8.8 points-per-game has never been seen before now, so one can be forgiven for doubting whether he can sustain that rate over the course of an entire season. But at only £10.5m Bruno could do much worse and still be a bargain for that price.
- Anthony Martial (£9.0m) / Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) – One of the more interesting changes FPL made to the game was the reclassification of Martial as a forward and Rashford as a midfielder. The effect would have been about a 20-point difference, essentially swapping each other’s points totals from last season. However, Martial benefited from the arrival of Bruno far more than Rashford—a difference of 7.6 points-per-game to 4.8, respectively.
- Mason Greenwood (£7.5m) – Ole Gunnar Solskjær put his trust in Greenwood during Project Restart and the 18-year old returned the favour, scoring five goals and an assists over nine games for an average of 6.1 points-per-game. If he can lock down a regular starting role and keep up this form, he will finish as one of the best value players in the game.
The best form is defence is attack, or at least that appears to be manager Frank Lampard’s strategy going into the new season. Chelsea finished the 19/20 season with the second highest xG in the league, and new arrivals Timo Werner (£9.5m), Hakim Ziyech (£8.0m), and Kai Havertz (TBA) will be hungry to capitalise on that potential.
Chelsea also brought in Ben Chilwell (£5.5m) and Thiago Silva (£5.5m) to help improve their leaky defence, though it will take a lot more than that to fix their back line. Youth academy product Reece James (£5.0m) has an opportunity to lock down a starting role on the right side of Lampard’s defensce this season and could provide some attacking threat from his fantastic crossing. The situation at goalkeeper is still uncertain and we might see competition for the starting spot between Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.0m) and Willy Caballero (£5.0m), but both are probably worth avoiding for now.
The team starts the season with a very easy run of fixtures, so it might be worth picking up one or two of these players before everyone else catches on to just how good they are.
- Timo Werner (£9.5m) – Werner scored 28 goals and 8 assists in 34 appearances for his final season with RB Leipzig, and now he joins a Chelsea team with even better weapons around him. The German international most often plays as a centre forward but can also drift left or deeper into the midfield. Premier League defences are more physical and stingy than the Bundesliga’s, but it is hard to imagine a player of his quality not succeeding in a situation like this.
- Kai Havertz (TBA) – Chelsea’s latest arrival is another young phenom from the Bundesliga. The versatile 21-year old played many roles for Bayer Leverkusen as a midfielder and right-winger, but showed his best quality late in the season as a centre forward. Wherever Havertz finds a spot in Lampard’s starting squad, all signs point to him being a future star for the Blues.
- Christian Pulisic (£8.5m) – Pulisic tore his hamstring in the FA Cup final, a disappointing end to what had been a breakout season. With the new transfers, there is some uncertainty about how Lampard will fit him into the starting lineup and what role he will be given. But the bigger concern is how long it will take the American winger to fully recover from his injury, and also the high risk of re-injury that often comes with torn hamstrings.
- Hakim Ziyech (£8.0m) – The Moroccan midfielder absolutely dominated the Dutch Eredivisie over the last seven seasons for three different clubs. Similar to Chelsea’s other summer transfers, Ziyech can play in a variety of roles and flourishes in a high-pace, high-possession system. He assisted a Werner goal in Chelsea’s friendly versus Brighton & Hove Albion and fit in nicely to the team. Expect him to play in an advanced midfield role, drifting to the right-wing at times, with some set piece duties.
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