We’re profiling all 20 Premier League clubs before Gameweek 1 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) gets underway this Friday.
From our top picks from each team to a predicted line-up for the opening weekend, we’ll be covering each top-flight side in detail.
Next under the microscope are Leicester City, who won’t have the distraction of European involvement this season.
Data in this article comes from our Premium Members Area, which you can access with a discounted subscription for as little as £2.49 a month today.
LAST SEASON: ATTACK
|Total||Rank v other Premier League clubs|
|Shots in the box||269||15th|
|Shots on target||166||7th|
|Expected goals (xG)||52.85||10th|
Leicester hit over 60 goals for the third season in a row under Brendan Rodgers, despite the UEFA Europa League/Conference League sideshow and myriad injury issues.
The underlying stats aren’t as impressive, with the Foxes ranked 15th for both goal attempts and shots in the box.
While the overall shot count was way down on those of many other teams, Leicester did carve out quality opportunities with the attacks they had.
Rodgers’ troops were fourth in the Premier League for big chances per shot (16.78%).
Despite the respectable rate of big chances, Leicester still had to spectacularly ‘overachieve’ on the expected goals (xG, above) front to hit the 60-goal mark.
No club came close to matching their whopping xG delta of +9.15.
But if you think that’s unsustainable, the gap between xG and actual goals was even more extreme (+11.86) in 2020/21.
Jamie Vardy (£9.5m) and James Maddison (£8.0m) were a massive part of last season’s overachievement: one’s a clinical finisher from close range, the other possesses a dead eye from distance.
Vardy and Maddison’s combined xG deltas were +7.92, accounting for a big chunk of the overall Foxes figure.
LAST SEASON: DEFENCE
|Total||Rank v other Premier League clubs*|
|Shots in the box conceded||392||=18th|
|Shots on target conceded||192||18th|
|Big chances conceded||88||16th|
|Expected goals conceded (xGC)||70.77||17th|
Far less impressive were Leicester’s defensive numbers, which are more relegation candidate material than top-eight challenger.
Ranked in the bottom four for the concession of shots, efforts on target, attempts in the box and expected goals (xGC), they were also 17th for clean sheets with a miserable seven.
It could even have been worse: Opta’s xGC data estimated that the Foxes should have shipped over 70 goals, rather than the 59 that actually flew in.
Set plays were a real Achilles heel, as no club allowed more chances from free-kicks and corners (176) or had a worse xGC from dead-ball situations (20.0).
There was some mitigation, however.
Leicester had rotten luck with injuries last season, with not one of what could feasibly be described as their first-choice back four – Jonny Evans, Ricardo Pereira, James Justin and Wesley Fofana (all £4.5m) – starting more than 16 league games.
Midfield shield Wilfried Ndidi (£5.0m) didn’t fare much better, only making the starting XI on 18 occasions.
Not once was Rodgers able to name those five players in the same team in 2021/22.
Pereira has already succumbed to injury before Gameweek 1, so the very capable deputy Timothy Castagne (£4.5m) looks set to take his place.
The Castagne-Fofana-Evans-Justin back four was in place on just three occasions last season, all of them without Ndidi, with Leicester conceding exactly one goal in each fixture.
The opening fixtures aren’t great, with four ‘big six’ sides to come in the first eight Gameweeks.
That sees the Foxes rank a lowly 17th on our Season Ticker for fixture difficulty.
A Brentford side missing arguably both their first-choice centre-halves and a Southampton outfit that the Foxes scored six goals against last season could be favourable opponents in Gameweeks 1 and 3, however.
The time to pounce would seem to be Gameweeks 9-16, the start of which is immediately after the September international break.
Rodgers’ side rise to second in our Season Ticker for that string of games, with two newly promoted sides and Leeds, Wolves and Everton among the opponents to come.
PREDICTED GAMEWEEK 1 LINE-UP
Pereira’s injury should make the back four easy to predict, if it is indeed a back four: Justin could alternatively play as a third centre-half, with Luke Thomas (£4.5m) or Marc Albrighton (£5.0m) fielded at wing-back.
The players further forward almost pick themselves, although Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) was a slight concern after Leicester’s final pre-season friendly on Sunday and will need to be assessed.
Youri Tielemans (£6.5m) was traditionally a secure starter for the Foxes but with the Belgian supposedly wanting to depart the club, he’s not been all that prominent in the pre-season line-ups.
Tielemans was with the weaker half of the squad when two friendlies were contested on the same day on July 23, while he was only a substitute for the final warm-up match against Sevilla on Sunday.
He was, however, the first man off the bench when Pereira got injured early on, so could still feasibly start against Brentford.
This predicted line-up was compiled on August 2, so make sure to check out our Team News tab closer to the Gameweek 1 deadline for the latest updates.