With Gameweek 1 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) days away, we’re welcoming back our stellar team of Pro Pundits, Hall of Famers and guest contributors for the new campaign.
Our writers will be providing regular articles and team reveals throughout the new season, with only Premium Members able to access every single one.
Next up is FPL Focal, who shares his takeaway points from pre-season.
After somewhere in the region of 100 pre-season matches, Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is ready to get underway.
Here I look at each Premier League club’s summer, highlighting the players who are in form (for what that’s worth in pre-season) and other important topics such as budget players who are getting game-time, tactics used and more.
Arsenal have had a confidence-boosting pre-season, scoring in every game and winning all but one – the exception being a 2-1 defeat to Brentford, which was basically a ‘B’ side match between the two teams.
New signing Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) has been sensational, with the seven goals bagged by the Brazilian including a hat-trick against Sevilla. In fact, he scored more goals from open play in that game than Alexandre Lacazette managed in the whole of the 2021/22 season. Typically, teams start with the first-choice XI for their final warm-up game and this was Arsenal’s line-up; I’m expecting the same 11 to face Crystal Palace on Friday.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (£5.0m) has played left-back in the absence of the injured Kieran Tierney (£5.0m), who has just returned to training. Zinchenko has played really well and linked up with Gabriel Martinelli (£6.0m) but from an FPL perspective, there has been nothing eye-catching from the Ukraine international. His heatmap was barely in the opponent’s half and interestingly, he tucked inside a lot, essentially playing centre midfield – but not in an area to pick up attacking returns. He’s prominent on my watchlist but for now, I’m siding with the set-piece threat of Gabriel Magalhaes (£5.0m).
Bukayo Saka (£8.0m) and Martinelli have had terrific pre-seasons too and look great picks for your Gameweek 1 draft. I can really see Arsenal starting this season well.
Aston Villa kept clean sheets in their opening three games, followed by a tougher test against an in-form Manchester United side.
Winger Leon Bailey (£5.0m) has been the stand-out performer out wide and is in my current draft. After a troubled first season with injuries, he recently said that he feels better and trusts his body considerably more. It looks like Villa could play with Philippe Coutinho (£7.0m) and Bailey either side of Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) against Bournemouth in Gameweek 1.
In the Man Utd game, Villa were two down at half-time but Bailey came on and got two attacking returns to level it. Post-match, Gerrard said:
“If I had to pick a team for the real thing tomorrow, Leon Bailey’s starting in my team”.
Bailey went on to start and score again in Saturday’s game against Rennes.
Cameron Archer is perhaps likeliest to get any minutes this season of the £4.5m forwards but don’t bank on it, as none are expected to be involved much at all.
Bournemouth have had an underwhelming pre-season, losing three and winning once. Scott Parker’s comments after the defeat to Real Sociedad should fill owners of Aston Villa assets with optimism.
The only player worth highlighting is Dominic Solanke (£6.0m), who has two goals to his name. The 24-year-old striker was Bournemouth’s main man last season in the Championship, scoring 29 goals and supplying seven assists; the Cherries will be counting on him if they are to stay up.
Bournemouth have some of the worst opening fixtures so he could be one to pick up a few Gameweeks down the line, potentially for £5.9m or £5.8m if he sees a price drop or two.
Bryan Mbeumo (£6.0m) has been the most impressive in the Brentford camp with three goals in pre-season, with just the one goal arriving for Ivan Toney (£7.0m). They would have otherwise been on two goals each if not for an Mbeumo penalty taken while Toney was off the field.
Keane Lewis-Potter (£5.5m) scored on his debut against Strasbourg and he could end up eating into the game-time of Yoane Wissa (£5.5m) this season, with the latter expected to start in Gameweek 1.
New goalkeeper signing Thomas Strakosha (£4.5m) has only made one appearance in seven pre-season games, which was the aforementioned match against the heavily rotated Arsenal side, so there’s little doubt that David Raya (£4.5m) remains the current #1 and in turn a great pick in the budget ‘keeper bracket.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Brighton finished their season on a high, winning 5-1 on Saturday – a match that included a Leandro Trossard (£6.5m) hat-trick from left wing-back. The Belgian really hit form towards the end of last season and is another one to keep an eye on.
Danny Welbeck (£6.5m) has lead the line on a few occasions, including the Espanyol game to end the pre-season, so looks set to start the season up top.
Budget forward Deniz Undav (£5.5m) unfortunately looks like an ‘avoid’ for now but is one to monitor in case he breaks into the first team later in the year.
Chelsea’s pre-season has been a bit of a mixed bag.
Mason Mount (£8.0m) has impressed, however, chipping in with a couple of goals.
Summer signing Raheem Sterling (£10.0m) has played well overall, linked up well with Mount and Kai Havertz (£8.0m), and taken up very dangerous positions, although that trademark wastefulness in front of goal was in evidence against Udinese.
Reece James (£6.0m) has looked the sharper between him and Ben Chilwell (£6.0m), who continues to build up match fitness after a lengthy lay-off in 2021/22.
The Chelsea side to take on Udinese side last Friday looked like it could be the planned XI for Gameweek 1, with Marcos Alonso (£5.5m) starting over Chilwell at left wing-back.
Chilwell is thus an avoid but James is still a good pick, and although Thomas Tuchel briefly experimented with a back four over the summer, it looks like he’ll revert to a three-man central defence with wing-backs for the Everton game.
Crystal Palace have been the busiest side in pre-season, although they’ve had to stage more matches than others due to half their squad jetting off to Singapore and Australia and the other half staying at home.
The penalty-taking Wilfried Zaha (£7.0m) has been absolutely flying with five goals and three assists. Palace’s opening four games are Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Man City, however, so despite the form, he’s an avoid for now. If he continues to impress even against tougher opponents, he’s a strong contender to grab around Gameweek 5 when the fixtures turn.
Eberechi Eze‘s (£5.5m) looked really tidy on the ball. His 2021/22 season was disrupted by an Achilles injury and he could be in for a great season if he can stay fit.
Odsonne Edouard, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Christian Benteke (all £5.5m) have all chipped in with goals over the summer so the rotation may well continue among the forwards as it did last season.
A pre-season of two halves for Everton, who lost their opening two games and won the final two matches.
Dwight McNeil (£5.5m) arrived from Burnley this window and promptly scored twice on his debut against Dynamo Kyiv.
Anthony Gordon and Demarai Gray could also be longer-term options at £5.5m but not from Gameweek 1, at least until we suss out which of the wingers looks most secure for game-time.
Everton’s fixtures are good after Chelsea so perhaps form player(s) will emerge, as they did under Rafa Benitez in the early weeks of 2021/22.
Budget FPL defender Nathan Patterson (£4.0m) has been one of few highlights and the 20-year-old has been playing at right wing-back with Seamus Coleman (£4.5m) currently sidelined. He’s done well too, with two assists in pre-season, although there will be that medium-term uncertainty about rotation when Coleman recovers.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.5m) set a Championship record last season, scoring 43 times in 44 appearances, and has continued to put them away in pre-season with four goals and an assist.
Fulham open their campaign hosting Liverpool, which is an off-putting fixture for the Serbian, but £6.5m is a fair price and he is one to keep on the watchlist. He’ll be playing under a manager who is more attack-minded than the one he served in 2020/21, too.
Andreas Pereira (£4.5m) has been eye-catching and looks to be the perfect bargain-bin bench player. In his first two games he picked up two assists, and both were from corner-kicks.
Leeds ended their pre-season on a high, beating Cagliari 6-2 with a Rodrigo (£6.0m) hat-trick. No one from the White has caught my eye as an option for Gameweek 1, with Brenden Aaronson (£5.5m) one to monitor after picking up three assists in the Cagliari game but not yet tempting me.
Illan Meslier (£4.5m) would be the only Leeds player I’d consider from Gameweek 1, with favourable fixtures and a predilection for picking up save points in his favour.
Patrick Bamford (£7.5m) registered a 194-point season a couple of years ago and if he can stay injury free, he may re-emerge as a great pick again. £7.5m is a tall ask for now, however, and FPL seemed to have somewhat overpriced him and other mid-price forwards considering that £7.0m gets you Andrew Robertson or Joao Cancelo.
New signing Luis Sinisterra (£6.5m) is currently out injured and it looks like he will miss Gameweek 1.
COMING SOON: Pre-Season Lessons – Leicester to Wolves