Most teams have completed their pre-season tours around the globe and as Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, we are always looking to gain whatever information we can from these warm-up matches.
The “it’s only pre-season” phrase is thrown about a lot so it is often difficult to know how much we can really discern from these games.
Indeed, there’s this excellent analysis done by the Opta Analyst account that shows that there is very little correlation between a team’s pre-season results and their form in the first 10 league matches.
I completely agree with what one Twitter user said in one of the replies: goals/assists/clean sheets are largely irrelevant but minutes, formation and fitness is what I think we can take from these games.
With that in mind, these are my thoughts so far…
As a Chelsea fan, it is only fair that I start by talking about the Blues first. It was always going to be a summer of transition after losing so many key players and there also being changes in the boardroom. We have an extremely bloated squad, full of players who are looking to leave but who nobody wants. It’s also the first time this group of players has had a manager for an extended period, so I don’t know if maybe they are just used to the constant shock factor that a change in head coach brings?
Either way, I know I said we shouldn’t read too much into the goal/clean sheet numbers but the performances in the games I watched were very poor and disjointed. Thomas Tuchel does not sound like a happy man and I am inclined to ignore the Blues’ assets early doors. Reece James (£6.0m) will likely be playing right centre-back until we get some reinforcements and Ben Chilwell (£6.0m) is nowhere near sharpness yet.
READ MORE: Team Profile – Chelsea
I blame my pod partner and fellow Pro Pundit Lateriser for this: I am quite bullish on United after what I have seen. Again, I am not reading too much into the goals they scored against Liverpool’s third-string team or Crystal Palace’s B team. I am looking at the patterns of play and the movement off the ball, and this team is completely unrecognisable. The manager let David de Gea (£5.0m) know in no uncertain terms how he wants to play and Erik ten Hag seems to me a manager with a clear philosophy, something Manchester United have lacked in the last decade.
Their assets are definitely under-priced after their disastrous 2021/22 campaign and I am undecided still who to go for between Marcus Rashford (£6.5m) and Anthony Martial (£7.0m). The elephant in the room obviously is Cristiano Ronaldo (£10.5m): he is still a Manchester United player at the time of writing and might be when the season kicks off but I think he will be gone by the end of the transfer window. However, it does raise some concern, as Martial could easily take Rashford’s spot on the left. Jadon Sancho (£7.5m), then, seems to be the most ‘stable’ of the lot.
READ MORE: Team Profile – Manchester United
The Gunners have had a great transfer window and I am very bullish about Gabriel Jesus’ (£8.0m) prospects this season. I really rate the player and breaking free from the shackles of a Pep Guardiola system should give him a lot more freedom. He has also already spoken about how he wants to add more goals to his game.
Along with Mohamed Salah (£13.0m), Joao Cancelo (£7.0m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m), Jesus is one of the few locks in my FPL side. I will likely double up on the Arsenal attack, keeping the fixtures in mind, but who I go for between Gabriel Martinelli (£6.0m) and Bukayo Saka (£8.0m) will probably be a late decision.
READ MORE: Team Profiles – Arsenal
READ MORE: FPL team guides: Arsenal – Best players, predicted line-up + more
Antonio Conte has transformed Tottenham Hotspur into a formidable outfit and their attacking numbers after his appointment were up there with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. I really want to invest in one of their wing-backs but the situation is a bit murky: Matt Doherty (£5.0m) was the only player not to come off the bench in their last pre-season game and Ivan Perisic (£5.5m) looks like he still needs to build some fitness. I am not convinced about the viability of a three-premium setup and really want to include at least one of their attackers, so it might have to be at Erling Haaland’s (£11.5m) expense.
READ MORE: Team Profiles – Tottenham Hotspur
ZOPHAR’S CURRENT FPL DRAFT
I will be back again next week with my thoughts after the final pre-season games and the Community Shield.
In the meantime, we have been churning out content over at the FPL Wire Youtube channel. We have covered the promoted teams, defenders and midfielders so far, with defenders to come later this week.
Check it out here: