Preseason Analysis of the “Big 6”

With this being my first ever article, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Ronil and you can find me on Twitter as @fplcalgary. As in the name, I am currently living in Calgary, Canada but I follow the premier league religiously (albeit at really odd hours of the morning!) and have been playing FPL properly since around the 2014/15 season. In the last 2 seasons, I have finished inside the top 50k, and hoping this year to do even better!

Now that I have introduced myself, it’s time to analyze the pre-season of the “big 6” clubs and my view on which players have impressed so far and which players to target for the first few fixtures. I will also be looking out for teams that I think should be targeted due to their favourable fixtures but also to which players have stood out from these teams.

ARSENAL

Results: Arsenal 5-1 Ipswich Town, Nurnberg 3-5 Arsenal, Arsenal 2-0 Everton, Orlando City 1-3 Arsenal, Arsenal 4-0 Chelsea, Brentford 2-1 Arsenal, Arsenal 6-0 Sevilla

Arsenal has had a very strong pre-season. Their transfer window so far has been successful by adding Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko. They have scored 26 goals in pre-season and their attacking options are looking good for those first few gameweeks as they have favourable fixtures. The bulk of their goals has been scored by Jesus and Nketiah.

FPL options that I would consider: 

1)      Gabriel Jesus

–          At £8.0m price for a forward that has impressed during pre-season, no wonder he has become one of the most owned players so far. I find it difficult to go without him for the first few gameweeks of the season. Now playing for a team that he will regularly start for, this could be an amazing season for him and easily should be one of the forward spots for your FPL team.

2)      Bukayo Saka

–          During the 2021/22 season, Saka was one of my favourite players to own. Granted he was much cheaper than he is for this season but he is one of the best Arsenal players currently and he had so many attacking returns last season. So far in pre-season, he has been provided with 4 goals and an assist. The issue with Saka is that he is in the £8.0m bracket in FPL where there are so many good options this year. It should boil down to how many Arsenal players you really want for your team or are there much cheaper Arsenal options that can do just as good as him or better perhaps?          

3)  Gabriel Martinelli

–          At £6.0m this is possibly my favourite Arsenal option to consider and one I think is locked in for my first gameweek. He has had a goal and 4 assists and seems pretty nailed on for the start, especially during the first few weeks. His direct competition for minutes will be Smith-Rowe who hasn’t played a lot of minutes so should be perfectly safe. The other player who I think will take his minutes away might be Nketiah depending on tactics change during a game but Martinelli is explosive and only takes a few minutes to either score or assist.

4)      Gabriel

–          Last season he did well in defence with the occasional goal too. At £5.0m he could be a very good differential option. I have considered him in a few drafts of mine but I am not too keen on the Arsenal defence as a whole. If Tomiyasu was fit I would consider him over Gabriel but he is not a bad option if you’d like to spread your funds more in midfield and attack.

5)  Oleksandr Zinchenko

–          This player is the one to watch. Arteta may deploy him out of position and he is capable of an attacking return. Not seen a lot of him yet in pre-season since he has just joined but this option will be considered up until the last few minutes of the gameweek 1 deadline for me.

6)  Aaron Ramsdale

–          A solid pick for the goalkeeper spot at £5.0m and one that I have been considering strongly in my final few drafts. Last season he started strongly as a choice but then faded as the season went by. The only issue I have with this pick is that triple Arsenal might be a bit of overkill and their defence seems to be a bit leaky during pre-season.

CHELSEA

Results: Club America 1-2 Chelsea, Charlotte 2-1 Chelsea, Arsenal 4-0 Chelsea, Udinese 1-3 Chelsea, Udinese 0-2 Chelsea

From wanting two Chelsea defenders to possibly wanting none at all, it’s safe to say that Chelsea’s preseason has not been great. They have had a lot of issues off the field with failed transfers and the manager shouting to his players and stating they are still not ready for the first game of the season. I would not rule out any Chelsea players as I feel having Reece James or Mason Mount could still be good picks for the first few gameweeks. Chilwell was a consideration but he has not featured much during pre-season so I have ruled him out as a pick.

FPL options that I would consider:

1)      Reece James

–          For the price of £6.0m, he is a great choice to consider in your drafts. If he carries on playing at the wing-back position, he will get a good amount of attacking returns. The only thing to consider is that they are linked to Dumfries who also plays in that position and Tuchel could use him in RCB. Regardless, James is a great option for that price and the fixtures Chelsea has.

2)      Mason Mount

–          Mount has had a great preseason and is possibly the best option if you would like a Chelsea attacker. He had 11 goals and 11 assists last season and is another £8.0m option. He has had 2 goals so far and looks the sharpest of all the Chelsea attackers.

3)      Eduoard Mendy

–          I think that he has been priced quite harshly at only £5.0m. He is a great goalkeeper and being so lowly priced, he is a strong option to have up to when you have to wildcard. With the arrival of Koulibaly, the Chelsea defence should be solid and I am pretty sure they will not leak as many goals as they have in preseason so far.

4)      Other Chelsea Picks: Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz

–          These two could be good differentials to choose from. Sterling is one to watch but at the £10m price range it slightly puts me off as I feel there’s better money to spend elsewhere. If he replicates some of his City form, he could be considered as an option down the line but not so much at the start of the season. For Havertz, he could be a decent option as a forward, and seems like Tuchel will use him in that position quite often. But he has not been having a great preseason so far and has had some terrible misses. Gabriel Jesus is a better option in the same price range as him.

LIVERPOOL

Results: Manchester United 4-0 Liverpool, Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace, RB Leipzig 0-5 Liverpool, RB Salzburg 1-0 Liverpool, Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City

I think it’s essential to have three Liverpool players for the FPL season. Whether you’d like to go Salah-Diaz-Trent or Salah-Trent-Robertson will all depend on whether you’d like to go big at the back or have a good £8.0m player that can easily be transferred to another £8.0m if they didn’t start the season well. Salah and Trent are two players that will punish you if you don’t choose them as options. Robertson looks very sharp and more attacking during pre-season and Diaz is capable of getting better as each gameweek goes on. There are even other options to consider such as Darwin Nunez or Virgil Van Dijk.

FPL options that I would consider:

1)      Mohamed Salah

–          Not much to write on but even at £13m he is the best FPL option to have and going without him, you would be setting yourself up for getting punished early. He is my pick for captaincy for gameweek 1 as he faces Fulham away and could see him get many attacking returns in that game alone. The fact that during pre-season he already looks dangerous will tell you something.

2)      Trent Alexander-Arnold

–          He is priced at £7.5m and I genuinely thought he would be higher. Looks extremely good during pre-season providing assists and a goal too. Like Salah, it would be extremely hard to go without Trent due to his ownership but I have seen some people opt for Robertson over him who is fine but I would rather have both of them than just Robertson alone.

3)      Luis Diaz

–          He is my pick from the best of the £8m slot and will be pretty much nailed the first few weeks due to Jota being out with injury. He has not had the best preseason so far but for that price and being a nailed-on Liverpool attacker, he is the one to go for. Liverpool will score lots in the first few gameweeks and I can see Diaz scoring and assisting a fair bit of them.

4)      Andy Robertson

–          Against Manchester City, he looks extremely good and even more attacking than I have ever seen him. If you’d like to go big at the back, Robertson should be one of the first names considered along with Trent. I had this pair for the last few gameweeks last season and they produced so many points between them. I am not ruling out considering for my gameweek 1 team but it will be the choice between him and Diaz for the third Liverpool spot.

5)      Other Liverpool Picks: Darwin Nunez and Virgil Van Dijk

–          As a Benfica fan, I will be biased but Darwin Nunez will be an absolute gem this season. I have seen a lot of him when he played for Benfica and he is always hungry for goals and is involved in a lot of the attacking play. However, I do not think he is a good option right from the start as I am unsure if he will be in the starting lineup or come off the bench. I will say that he is explosive so even if he comes off the bench, he is capable of getting a goal or two as you saw against Manchester City in the charity shield match. As for Virgil Van Dijk, he could be a great option if you’d like to go for a cheaper Liverpool defence option. He will provide many clean sheets and can come up with a goal or two, especially from corners.

MANCHESTER CITY

Results: Manchester City 2-1 Club America, Bayern Munich 0-1 Manchester City, Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City

Whether it’s in attack or defence, City has so many solid options. The problem we as FPL managers face is “the Pep Roulette”. It is not so clear who would be nailed each week as there are so many great options in each position but you just have to find the right combination of the players. For FPL, having double or triple city players would be great as they have decent fixtures.

City may have had quite a few significant departures such as Sterling and Jesus but they have added Haaland who would be a dangerous but exciting player to own especially in those opening gameweeks. So far in the preseason, a few players have stood out and one of them is Kevin De Bruyne who has had 2 goals, and Grealish is the other with an amazing assist to Haaland’s goal.

FPL options that I would consider:

1)      Erling Haaland

–          The shiny new toy for FPL this season. At £11.5m price range, the forward will be considered in many people’s teams this season due to his amazing goal-per-game ratio that he had in the Bundesliga for Dortmund. It took him only 12 minutes to score against Bayern Munich. Granted he did not do as well against Liverpool but I saw that he had a few good attempts that could have been goals on another night and he did look hungry. I fear that he will go mental in gameweek 2 against Bournemouth so having him in your team for that gameweek would be essential. A lot of people are choosing between him and Kane for the forward spot and to me, it’s a 50/50 call.

2)      Kevin De Bruyne

–          So far in the preseason, he is playing behind Haaland in an attacking midfield role. KDB is an assist king and I can see during the season that he will score a lot of FPL points. To me, he will be a great differential premium player to have. I feel like he has slightly been ignored due to his price and also due to people not being keen on having a threemium draft. Haaland at £0.5m cheaper and being a forward is a better option in that sense but KDB will most likely cause a lot of damage to FPL teams who go without him.

3)      Joao Cancelo

–          If you’re looking at a solid City defender option, Cancelo is the best one to own. He comes in at £7.0m and is more than capable of attacking returns as you saw last season. I currently have him nailed in my drafts and I do not think he will be going anywhere.

4)      Other Man City picks: Dias, Walker, Ederson, Mahrez, Grealish, Foden, Alvarez

–          The hardest part of this section is that there are too many options for Man City that we can go for if looking for differentials. If you’d like a double city defence then Cancelo plus either Dias, Ederson, or Walker is the way to go. Dias at £6.0m is great as he will provide clean sheets, Ederson at £5.5m is a solid choice as again you can count on his clean sheets but unlikely to get many bonus points. Walker is the differential defensive choice as City is a bit short on the defence and Walker seems to be nailed on in the last few games at right back. He only costs £5.0m. If you’re looking more into midfielders/attack for City then Mahrez or Grealish have stood out during preseason so far and have been involved in some attacking returns. If Mahrez plays more regularly, he’d be in my team but again, pep roulette puts me off this option. Foden will probably be a great choice later down the line but he hasn’t had good preseason minutes so I’d rule him out as an option for now. Alvarez looks quality but most likely will be subbed in and won’t get as many minutes despite scoring a goal against Liverpool.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Results: Manchester United 4-0 Liverpool, Melbourne Victory 1-4 Manchester United, Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace, Manchester United 2-2 Aston Villa, Manchester United 4-1 Wrexham, Manchester United 0-1 Atletico Madrid, Manchester United 1-1 Rayo Vallecano

A new life for Manchester United under Ten Hag and they look very sharp during the preseason, especially in front of goal. Sancho, Martial, and Rashford seem to all start well with Sancho and Martial scoring three times and Rashford getting two goals and an assist. In defence, they are still vulnerable and have leaked a few goals. The prices for United players in FPL are fairly cheap so going for Rashford at £6.5m, Martial at £7.0m, or Sancho at £7.5m could be quite the bargain. The issue that United face is whether Ronaldo will stay and will these options become less of an appeal to go for.

FPL options that I would consider:

1)      Jadon Sancho

–          If Sancho can find his Dortmund form under Ten Hag then expect to see lots of goals and assist as a winger. At £7.5m he just misses out on the £8m bracket and if you’d like to save on that £0.5m for another position then Sancho is a great differential to have. I am quite sceptical with United assets in general and they’re in the category of waiting to see what will happen as the season progresses.

2)      Anthony Martial

–          He is having a brilliant pre-season with 3 goals and an assist so far and is only priced at £7.0m as a forward. He could be a good differential option for the season but it all depends on if Ronaldo stays at United or not. The problem with Martial is that over the past few seasons, he can have a massive dip in form so I am unsure if he can carry his preseason form into the new season.

3)      Marcus Rashford

–          Rashford could be a bargain buy at £6.5m and I will not be surprised to see him in quite a few gameweek 1 teams. He had a terrible season last year but which United player apart from Ronaldo hadn’t? My worry with Rashford is his minutes and also I feel that there are much better options to go for near his price range such as Martinelli but he could be a good differential player to have in your FPL squad.

4)      Other Man United picks: Dalot and De Gea

–          Dalot at £4.5m has been getting quite a few positive reviews during the preseason. He seems to be the nailed-on right back of choice for Ten Hag and although he hasn’t had a lot of attacking returns, he seems to be involved in the attacking side a lot and could be a very good option to go for if you would like a cheap attacking right back. As for De Gea, people have not considered him at £5.0m and have gone a bit under the radar. United have leaked a few goals so it’s understandable why he’s not considered but he can be a great option for the save points alone. To me, he is not as good as the other £5.0m options in Ramsdale and Mendy.

TOTTENHAM

Results: K-League All Stars 3-6 Tottenham, Tottenham 1-1 Sevilla, Ranger 1-2 Tottenham, Tottenham 0-1 AS Roma

Under Conte, Spurs look like a very dangerous and fit team during pre-season. Kane and Son once again are proving to be two of the best players you would want for your FPL team. Kane has had 5 goals and an assist whereas Son has had 2 goals and 4 assists so far in the preseason. They’ve had a very busy transfer market as they’ve signed quality players and added to their squad depth by signing Richarlison, Perisic, Bissouma, Spence and loaning in Lenglet.

FPL options that I would consider:

1)      Harry Kane

–          The number of times that I have changed Kane to Haaland and vice-versa during the drafts is too many times to remember. Since the pre-season has been concluded, I am now really set on having Kane as the £11.5m forward I would like over Haaland. That game against Southampton looks juicy and I can see Kane scoring. From what I have seen so far during pre-season is that Kane is not dropping as deep as he was during last season and he is on penalties and will play 90 minutes each game. Saying all that, if Haaland scores in gameweek 1 against West Ham and Kane does not score against Southampton then gameweek 2 will be a scary watch as Haaland faces Bournemouth and Kane faces Chelsea.

2)      Son Heung-Min

–          He was the joint top scorer last season and if anyone owned him over Kane, they did extremely well to jump up the ranks. But this is a new season and so far, Son is playing a lot deeper than last season and looks like he will be helping Kane score more goals. He is a great option of course but at £12m, it will be very difficult to get him in your team unless you go for the threemium draft option or go for cheap forwards or defenders. One thing I have seen in a few drafts is going for Son over Salah which I think will be a terrible mistake in the long run. I agree that Son ended better than Salah last year but Salah looks hungry again and is my pick to be the top scorer for the upcoming season.

3)      Ivan Perisic

–          If he gets the minutes during the first few games of the season, he would be a lock-in for my FPL team. Against Rangers and Roma, he got some minutes in and looked very attacking. At £5.5m, he could be essential to have in your squad and I can see him providing a goal or two and a few assists at WB. The minutes are a worry but he is the best in that position of all wingbacks that Spurs have so I am pretty sure he will be playing most of the time.

4)      Other Tottenham picks: Doherty and Kulusevski

–          For £0.5m cheaper than Perisic, you could have Doherty instead for your team. For a few gameweeks last season he looked impressive under Conte. However, Spurs put him on the transfer list so it seems like he isn’t as valued as I thought he was. I am unsure if he will be a nailed-on starter due to this but if he was, he could be a great option. I do think that Perisic is the Spurs defender to own, he has looked extremely comfortable in the wingback position. Kulusevski was amazing last season when he played alongside Kane and Son. He is a little unfortunate that his price range is at £8.0m with so many other amazing options in that bracket and his minutes may not be as nailed anymore with the signing of Richarlison. He would be an amazing option if he was priced slightly cheaper.

OUTSIDE OF THE BIG SIX

I think the majority of us will be targeting the players from the big six clubs but of course, there will be options across the board at other clubs that will be in your FPL squads come gameweek 1. Here are the lists of players that have impressed me so far, have favourable fixtures and could be in your FPL squads:

1)      Leon Bailey

–          3 goals and one assist in preseason so far. He is priced at £5.0m and could be a bargain for the first few weeks of the season. It seems like he has found his Leverkusen form and I am sure he will be in the starting line-up for the first match of the season against Bournemouth.

2)      Brenden Aaronson

–          Leeds new signing is proving to be quite a good purchase. He has looked very sharp during the preseason and against Cagliari, he assisted three times! £5.5m could be the differential that you may need for your team. He will have very low ownership as he is a bit unknown.

3)      Kieran Trippier

–          Provided 2 assists in the preseason against Benfica and could be a great differential defensive pick for your FPL team. Newcastle does have Liverpool and Manchester City in the first few gameweeks but aside from that, their other fixtures look good and I can see Trippier getting some attacking returns.

4)      Miguel Almiron

–          Scored 4 goals during the preseason and could be another differential for your team. He costs only £5.0m but could compete with other of your £5.5m or £5.0m midfielders of choice.

5)      Pedro Neto

–          Out of all the £5.5m options, he is the best choice with the favourable fixtures. He is proving it too in the preseason with 3 goals and an assist. The only worry is that he may not be as effective with Raul Jimenez out but I think he is pretty much locked into my gameweek 1 team.

6)      Daniel Podence

–          Podence has gone a bit under the radar but he has matched Neto’s goals and assists during the preseason. He is at the same price range but if you’d like to go for someone with very low ownership then Podence could be a strong option for that last midfielder spot in your FPL squad.