Today is the day it all kicks off again with Arsenal heading to newly promoted Brentford. The time for tinkering the fantasy team and being too optimistic about your team’s chances this season is upon us.
In the process of making every FPL team, there comes a time to look for the undervalued gems amongst the bunch to afford the big hitters of the league.
We’re talking the undisputed FPL goat Michu for 6.5, Mahrez for 5.5 at the start of Leicester’s title-winning season and even an old reliable like Leighton Baines back in his heyday.
The men in between the sticks, often a case of ‘set and forget’ for the season, is a good place to try to find a bargain.
As points are awarded for saves, clean sheets and penalty saves, there’s a case for going with a keeper from a lower team to rack up the save points and maybe even a few bonus points from being in with a shout of man of the match.
With that in mind, there are a couple of viable options under the £4.5 million mark.
First off, it’s Crystal Palace’s #1 Vicente Guaita at a price of £4.5 million. The Spaniard looks set to beat Jack Butland to start in net for the Londoners this season.
Under Patrick Vieira, Palace are an unknown quantity but Guaita’s price has dropped from the 5.0 bracket from last season to make him a viable 2021/22 option.
Granted, he ended up on an underwhelming total of eight clean sheets but on 164, he did sit in good company in twelfth place for goalkeepers total points last time out, narrowly beaten by Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel.
Vieira’s transfer business is also a reason to go with the Spaniard. Palace has bought shrewdly in defence with the youthful signings of the promising Marc Guehi from Chelsea and Joachim Andersen coming in from Lyon, a spend of over £36 million on what looks to be a strong centre back pairing on paper.
On 107 saves, Guaita was the sixth best in the league last season. In emulating anything like that, he’ll prove to be a cheap and worthy pick in goal for your fantasy side.
Brighton’s Robert Sánchez is also worth a look at for the GK slot on your team. Another Spaniard at the bargain price of £4.5 million.
The 23-year-old ousted Mat Ryan out of the Brighton side in late November last season to go on to keep 10 clean sheets in 27 appearances for the remainder of the season.
Scoring an average of 3.6 points per game and registering 66 saves, he looks to be a safe route to getting a cheap and reliable keeper.
With some favourable fixtures Burnley, Watford and Brentford in the first four weeks, not having Sánchez could hurt the early rankings if you decide not to go with the Brighton man.
Honourable mentions: Of the rest, whichever keeper Ole goes with for Man United looks to be a good choice. David De Gea and Dean Henderson are both priced at £5.0 million. It’s still not known who will be the man in net for United this season but with Henderson out for the Leeds game due to a contracting COVID, De Gea could be a shrewd purchase in the early gameweeks. For a safer option, Jordan Pickford (£5.0 million) looks a solid choice with Benítez renowned for building success from strong defence and good opening fixtures.
Having a good defence in FPL is crucial. When all of your pricey midfielders and forwards all blank in harmony for a gameweek, someone has to keep the show on the road.
It pays to have some defenders who contribute with a goal involvement or two in the locker, as well as being well able for a couple of clean sheets or man of the match performances.
In the last few seasons, some £4.0 defenders got off to stormers in opening fixtures, namely Aaron Wan-Bissaka in 2018, Lundstram in 2019 and Tyrick Mitchell in 2020.
Arsenal new boy Ben White (£4.5 million) is an absolute steal. The centre back was a Brighton player when the game was made, explaining his cheap price. Arteta forked out a reported £50 million on the 23-year-old and he looks set to cement his place in the Gunners defence for the season. White has been impressive in pre-season since returning from international duty and Arsenal were impressive defensively last time out. The youngster was targeted by Arsenal to replace David Luiz with his extensive locker of long passes, he could benefit in the game from playing balls over the top to the likes of Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pépé.
Perhaps a rogue shout but Konstantinos Tsimikas of Liverpool could be the beneficiary of Robertson’s untimely injury. One of the cheapest players in the game at £4.0 million, the Greek left back has played second fiddle for his Liverpool career but with Klopp full of praise for the 25-year-old, it’d be no surprise for him to start the season off well in Liverpool’s early fixtures. It must be said though, that the versatile James Milner could be preferred on the left side of defence.
Irish defender Andrew Omobamidele of Norwich got the most pre-season minutes for Daniel Farke’s side. He looks set to be a starter for the new boys and at £4.0 million, he’s hard to ignore. Norwich will struggle to keep clean sheets but players of Omobamidele’s ilk allow for more premium options elsewhere even though he may be a rotation risk. He came into the Norwich side last March due to a Ben Gibson injury and impressed. As well as that, Farke had tinkered with a back three which would favour more minutes for the 19-year-old.
Honourable mentions: Daniel Amartey (£4.0 million) of Leicester could get a few points in the first few gameweeks should he start in the place of injured Wesley Fofana & Jonny Evans. However, Leicester are on the verge of signing Vestergaard from Southampton who will taint Amartey’s chances of minutes. Another who looks to be good bang for your buck is West Ham’s Vladimir Coufal. Setting you back £5.0 million, he’s the most expensive mentioned but he looks to have made the right side of defence his own and is one of the first names on David Moyes’ team sheet. West Ham could find Europa League involvement difficult to deal with alongside the league but Coufal ended the 2020/21 Season with 9 assists after creating 45 chances. It’ll be difficult to go wrong with Spurs’ Sergio Reguilón at £5.0 million and Luke Shaw (£5.5 million) too.
Arguably the hardest positions to fill in this year’s iteration of the game. There are plenty heavy hitters that are worthy of a portion of your £100 million budget, such as Mo Salah & Bruno Fernandes. Having said that, there are a litany of diamonds in the rough that are sure to rack up a few goals and assists. It’s important to remember that midfielders also get a point for a clean sheet for their team too. There’s also an argument to be made for splashing out on goal getters in the middle of the park as they get awarded more points than forwards for hitting the back of the net.
Diogo Jota at £7.5 million represents excellent value. With Sadio Mané priced at £12.0 million, there’s no way that Jota should be this cheap. Should the former Wolves man find his way into Klopp’s plans, he could be captain material some weeks and at his price, that’s hard to be ignored. It is reported that Jota has been putting in extra work in this pre-season to be at his best and he has been in fine form as the season approaches, the forward was impressive last season barring the games he missed with injury and with Firmino and Mané underperforming, he surely has to start. In particular when you compare his stats with Salah, the evidence is clear to see.
Salah v Jota 20/21
Shots in the box per 90: 2.8 v 3.1
Big chances per 90: 0.9 v 1.1
Non pen xG per 90: 0.5 v 0.7
FPL points per 90: 6.75 v 7
Straight out of the bargain bucket comes Burnley’s Josh Brownhill. Sean Dyche is a big fan of the midfielder and he is primed to start for Burnley this season. At £4.5 million, he’s a great enabler for at least a place on your FPL bench. Last season was his breakout one and he played in many positions so there’s OOP (out of position) potential. He played in the centre of midfield, the right and there was even a stint up top for the 25-year-old. The versatile Brownhill also just scored a brace in pre-season.
Emile Smith Rowe (£5.5 million) looks like Arsenal’s starting #10 for the start of the season. The 21-year-old has recently signed a new contract and has been given the coveted #10 shirt. Smith Rowe came into Arteta’s plans after an impressive display in their 3-0 win over Chelsea last Christmas and he hasn’t looked back since. Goal involvements haven’t been Smith Rowe’s forte with just seven last season but he will be looking to improve on that in his first full season. Arsenal have some difficult fixtures early on with Chelsea and Man City early on but after that, there’s a real chance for them to push on early. The arrival of another creative midfielder in James Maddison or Martin Ødegaard looks likely but for now, Smith Rowe looks well worth a punt.
Nuno Espirito Santo looks like he’s going to give Spurs the shake-up that they need and Dele Alli could benefit from that. With talisman Harry Kane’s future in doubt amid Manchester City links, it could leave room for Alli to find his old form. Priced at £6.5 million, should he cement a starting place, he could be a bargain. It’s hard to forget the 25-year-old at his best and he is said to be hungry for more of the same.
Honourable Mentions: Another viable cheap option is Chelsea loanee Billy Gilmour (£4.5 million). At Norwich, he could be set for plenty of minutes this term. The newly promoted side may struggle to get on the scoresheet often but of they do, the creative youngster will be involved in a lot of it. There’s also a good chance that Harvey Barnes of Leicester won’t be £7.0 million for long. He has been a mainstay in Rodgers’ plans for a long time now and it’s coming to fruition. He was impressive in pre-season and with 9 goals and 5 assists last campaign, it’d be no surprise to see him improve on that. Should Leeds keep up their good run under Bielsa, Raphinha will be a solid option at £6.5 million. The Brazilian racked up 0.54 goal involvements per 90 last season. Does have tough fixtures to start with however. Bukayo Saka (£6.5 million) also looks underpriced. The Arsenal youngster does look set to miss out on a start in the first game against Brentford but when fir, he’s one of the first names on Arteta’s teamsheet and he loves an assist. A great asset to own after GW3 for sure.
With Kane likely to be in limbo between moves early on, there’s few nailed on strikers that can be a sure fire way to get points in the early gameweeks so it’s well worth taking a punt on a few lower-priced players up front. If Kane does get his City move, he will be a popular choice along with Chelsea’s new old boy Romelu Lukaku.
The £6.5 million Ivan Toney of Brentford is a popular choice with around over 30% of managers selecting him. Brentford’s talisman clocked up 33 league goals last season and is expected to do well in the step-up to the Premier League. Manager Thomas Frank recently declared the striker fit to face Arsenal on Friday night and with some favourable fixtures against Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Brighton coming up, Toney could be a big success this season.
Under Benítez, Everton will be looking to reignite their form of the first half of last season. Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be central to their plans. Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray have been brought in, perhaps a nod to the Spaniard’s plans on his return to Merseyside. The fast wingers could be utilised to DCL’s advantage, expect him to score some headers. At £8.0 million, he’s not cheap but good value early on given Everton’s fixtures.
Honourable mentions: Kelechi Iheanacho (£7.5 million) finished last season with a flurry, racking up 11 league goals in the last 12. Should he cement his place in the side, he’ll prove good value but with Jamie Vardy still doing well and new signing Patson Daka expected to get plenty of minutes, perhaps it’s best to steer away from the Nigerian for the early gameweeks. If a cheaper option takes your fancy,
Irish international Michael Obafemi of Southampton looks like he could get a game time if he stays with the Saints, priced at £4.5 million. Brighton were renowned for performing well on XG (expected goals) last season but never quite scoring that many goals. Should their fortunes change, Danny Welbeck at £6.0 million could prove a shrewd buy when he returns from injury after the international break. Forking out for Teemu Pukki at the same price perhaps a safer investment though, if you can look past a nightmare start.