It’s that time again! Whilst the world continues to adjust to a new normal, the new football season has arrived on the scene with the previous edition barely out of earshot. Managers have been busy wheeling and dealing, preparing their squads for what looks like a crazy season ahead but now it is your turn. Yes, Fantasy Premier League is back and it promises to be trickier than ever.
The fundamentals of the game haven’t changed for the new season. Whilst the Premier League toyed with extra subs and water breaks, the best FPL towers could come up with is changing the gameweek deadline to 90 minutes before the first game of that particular week. That means you have 30 minutes less to agonise over team selection and has presumably been adjusted to account for the growing number of team news leaks.
You still get two wildcards, one for the first 19 weeks and one for the second. I’m expecting record numbers of wildcards being used early on, especially after the transfer window shuts.
What has changed though is the position of a number of players. For years debate in the FPL community has been whether wide forwards like Salah would be amended to be forwards. The answer is a resounding no and in fact other wide forwards like Aubameyang, Rashford and Greenwood have been moved to midfield. Whilst this may seem incidental, a midfielder gets five points for a goal rather than the four a striker will get plus the additional incentive of a point for a clean sheet. It can make all the difference.
Going the other way are Anthony Martial and Michail Antonio. Both were deployed as centre forwards for the majority of the season so it’s not really a surprise, but does it lessen their appeal to you?
As with every summer the Premier League is blessed to welcome new talent from all over the world. Chelsea have been particular active with striker Timo Werner already boasting an ownership of over 45% with his price of £9.5m. Kai Havertz will set you back £8.5m but at least is a midfielder along with fellow new boy Hakim Ziyech, who is £8m. Defender Thiago Silva is a more modest £5.5m. Two new midfielders on either side of Manchester, Donny Van De Beek and Ferran Torres, will both take £7m from your budget. Wolves new boy Fabio Silva is a £5.5m forward whilst Leeds record signing Rodrigo is £6m.
Who to Pick?
What makes this year particularly tricky is the short pre-season programme. It’s been very tricky to gain much intel from a handful of kickabouts from squads that have been missing players due to poor holiday decisions, International duty and injuries. Having said that I was fairly hopeless last season with all of that information at my fingertips, so maybe it’s the less you know.
My own personal strategy will be to play it safe. I’ve always had a rule of not picking players new to the league in case they are being eased in, something I might have to reconsider over Werner in particular as his massive ownership has me worried. A further curve ball is the transfer window doesn’t shut until October, so some of your squad might end up being transferred.
Something else to keep you up at night is that neither Manchester club (and therefore Aston Villa & Burnley) play in week one due to their European commitments. Whilst that will be very good news for double gameweek fans later in the season, for now it poses a dilemma of whether to keep some of those assets on your bench for week 1 or carefully plan to transfer them in before week 2 and hope you don’t get stung by any price changes.
Most importantly of all, you can play along with the OffsideRulePod team in our mini-league! The code to join is klq4up and there’ll be regular updates throughout the season.
That’s all for now. Good luck with your teams and remember the new deadline is 11am on Saturday 12th September
You can follow Dave on Twitter @CM9798