Hi everyone, I hope you have been keeping well over the break. Presented below is an overview of this season’s promoted teams as we head closer to Gameweek 1:
I start with Leeds United. Leeds were the winners of the Championship last season, and come into the Premier League for the first time since 2004 under the tenure of enigmatic manager Marcelo Bielsa, who favoured a 4-1-4-1 formation last term. Leeds had the best defensive record in the Championship, keeping 22 clean sheets and conceding just 35 goals.
To put this into context, Sheffield United conceded 41 goals when they won the Championship, and were able to carry forward their defensive form in the Premier League. Not only this, Leeds come into the top-flight with the best defensive record of a Championship-winning defence since 2010/11. Unsurprisingly, Leeds kept the bulk of their clean sheets at Elland Road – their record of 13 home clean sheets was four better than what any other Championship club managed at home. Further, Leeds had nine clean sheets in their last 12 games which shows that they are a side full of confidence.
The loss of Ben White might be huge for them, but Bielsa will be hoping new signing Robin Koch can make up for that. Both full backs, Ayling and Dallas, like to push up and have the potential to be this year’s Matt Doherty as both averaged approximately a key pass per game last season. Which one of the two to pick? Overall, Dallas has the better stats over the season, creating 11 big chances to Ayling’s 8. However, it’s important to put things into context. Dallas scored three of his five goals from midfield last season. That seems unlikely now, as Leeds seem to have a settled midfield so Dallas is highly likely to start as full back.
It’s also worth noting that Dallas played 29 games at full back, a spell during which he scored twice and assisted just once. Tellingly, when both Ayling and Dallas have played together in defence, Ayling has the higher expected goals (xG) and assists (xA). I think this will be the case at the start of the season, based on the fact that Bielsa has indicated in his press conference that Koch is in great physical condition, so I expect the defence to be Ayling-Koch-Cooper-Dallas. So to begin with I think Ayling might be a better asset to own, particularly for FPL managers wildcarding early.
There’s a chance that later on in the season Dallas starts playing in midfield or Ayling starts playing as the centre back which is when the dynamics might change. For now, I think Ayling has the most potential and is the more nailed asset. Attacking wise, Leeds scored 40 goals at home vs 37 away last season, which tells me that Bielsa doesn’t set up too defensively even in away games so there is potential for attacking returns away from home too. Leeds created at least 27% more big chances last season than Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa in the Championship in 2018/19. Astonishingly, Bamford missed 77% of the big chances afforded to him last season (34 of 44) which indicates that a better striker, perhaps Rodrigo, might be worth keeping an eye on once the season commences because as of now, it remains to be seen whether he starts right away.
Slaven Bilić – now that’s a name we’ve heard before. The Baggies come into the Premier League having scored the highest number of goals on home turf in the Championship last season while being ranked fifth for away goals over the season. Defensively, even though they conceded only 45 goals in 46 matches, this was split between having the best away defensive record in the division (18 conceded) and the 11th best record for home goals conceded (27 conceded).
This tells me that the Baggies are far more open at home, which leaves them exposed on the counter. Bilic initially started out with a 4-2-3-1 system but moved towards 4-3-3 in the latter half of the campaign. West Brom were heavily reliant on two strikers last season – Austin and Robson-Kanu, both of whom are likely to struggle in the top flight. The lack of a reliable striker and just 14 clean sheets over the season (58% less than what Leeds managed) suggests that there are not too many options worth considering. The only West Brom asset who catches eye is Matheus Pereira, who is likely to start as a right winger in a 4-3-3 or as the #10 in a 4-2-3-1 should Bilic decide to change formation. His total of 116 chances created was the best in the Championship and he was ranked eighth for shots in the division (111).
Note that half of his 111 attempts (55) came from outside the area yet just three long shots found the net. His total of 20 big chances created was another figure that was unsurpassed in the English second tier in 2019/20. So was his total of 16 assists – the most by any player in a single Championship season for five years. On free-kicks and corners, and Slaven Bilic is expected to build his attack around him. LEI, eve, CHE, sou is a tough run to begin though, so it will be interesting to see if Pereira can replicate his Championship form to some extent.
If you were playing FPL back in 2018/19, you might still must be scarred by the traumatic experiences of owning Fulham assets back in the days. Fulham’s defensive record, like West Brom’s, wasn’t the best either as eight more sides conceded fewer goals than them in the Championship last term. Bryan’s price tag of £5.0m is too high and is inflated largely due his playoff final heroics. Hence initially, the defence is a write off for me. Up front, there’s only one guy to talk about and you know who – Aleksandar Mitrović.
Mitrović registered 26 goals and two assists last season, with a 49% goal involvement rate, so it’s clear that he’s the talisman. He also topped the charts for shots in the box per appearance in the Championship last year. Not only does he have penalties in his locker, what’s also impressive about him that he got subbed just once in the 40 games that he started and that was due to injury. What concerns me about him is Fulham, more than himself though. Last season, Fulham were ranked fourth for goals scored at home (40) but just 17th for away goals scored (24).
That tells me Leeds away in Gameweek 2 might actually be a tough fixture for Mitrović and a good one for the Leeds full backs, if you own them – as Parker likes to go safety first away from home. Parker favors a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation with a possession-based approach, but worryingly, no side created fewer chances on the counter-attack than Parker’s troops so it would be interesting to see how they cope in the Premier League given that they are highly unlikely to be able to play possession football here.
Thank you for taking the time out to read! I would like to credit FFHub and Twitter posters Zophar, FPLChef and FPLSwede for helping me in my work. If you are looking to follow more of my content, follow me at:
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