Duke previews the upcoming EPL season and breaks down the season’s first slate!!
I can’t write another MLS article. I can’t do it. Not until next summer. The level is too poor. The sides rotate too often. The contests aren’t big enough. Part of it is this weird need I have to keep you guys entertained and informed but part of it is the need for a mental break. Look, I’m glad to have that behind us and back to bigger contest sizes and the fun stuff….EPL BABY!
There has been SO much movement within squads so I figured since it’s only a 3 game slate for Saturday, we’d go through a quick preview of each team and how I have the Premier League finishing this season.
KEEP IN MIND – the transfer window is open until October 5th. There are many moves rumored to be on track to get done before this window closes but we won’t know until the last second! I’ll project standings based on what we know, not what we think might happen with transfers IN.
I hate to say this but I love Arsena’s transfer window. They’ve secured some talent at CB with Saliba returning from loans and Gabriel coming in from Lille. Willian joins from Chelsea on a free transfer. Soares joins for free as well. They’ve addressed quite a few needs but my biggest question is what about the Forward position?
There were rumors of Lacazette leaving that look to be false. Is Nketiah the guy after Laca? Arteta never really found the right mix in attack but with the additions in the window they’ve added some crucial quality and experience to go along with their current quality and youth coming through. Crucially they also brought back Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid after his initial loan ended.
Mikel Arteta is proving himself to be a growing influence on this squad and getting comfortable as the manager of a big club. The stock for Arsenal is on the rise.
I like the signing of Matty Cash but the main goal in this transfer window is to either get the fee they want for Jack Grealish or even moreso, hang on to him. It will be very tough to find a like-for-like replacement of a talent like Grealish for a club like Villa.
Next, they HAVE to address the forward position. Jack Grealish led the club with 8 goals. EIGHT! No wonder they were in the relegation zone for nearly the entire year. Trezeguet finished with 6 after his crazy end of the year and Wesley bagged 5 in 21 appearances. That’s an awful return for a forward at this level.
The fact of the matter is, quality in that area is quite expensive and Villa don’t have the money or the draw. They’ll have to bring in a cheeky loan or something creative to make the change. Perhaps year 2 for Wesley will improve his form. As it stands, I don’t have high hopes for this team staying up. (They’ve added Ollie Watkins for WAYYYY too much money from Brentford. He’s a British Wesley. I’ll be shocked if he bags 10 goals all year.)
Justtttt a bit of roster turnover here. I expect some more as well. Brighton have loaned out 4 players already, the most surprising being Shane Duffy who played a crucial role in last year’s campaign. This likely has to do with the return of Ben White who drew massive accolades for his time at Leeds.
Brighton sold Aaron Mooy to China and Anthony Knockaert to Fulham so they did have some funds to play around with. I like Adam Lallana coming in from Liverpool. Yes, he’s 32 but he still has quality in his boots if he can stay healthy. Joel Veltman joins from Ajax to give them some quality at fullback. They need to make more moves to stay up. I’m not loving their roster construction.
Such a Burnley window. Don’t rock the boat. Finish middle of the table. Keep cashing those checks.
They didn’t really lose anyone either. Ben Gibson heads to Norwich. Jeff Hendrick joins Newcastle on a free transfer and Joe Hart heads to Spurs on a free. The money doesn’t appear to be there but I’m not sure this roster needs a massive overhaul.
Ideally they finish 10th. They don’t make Europe but they are never in the relegation battle. It may sound like a lack of ambition but then you look at the relative small size of the club and applaud their efforts to get and stay where they are.
Welcome to FIFA 21 Career Mode for Frank Lampard.
I’m going to sound like a hater but this is TOO much change. As someone who generally says go get deals done, this transfer window deserves a standing ovation. They’ve added genuine World Class talent. Just look at this…
CB was a big issue. Zouma is a liability. Rudiger is fine but needs someone with a football brain next to him. Christensen seems like the manager doesn’t rate him. They add Thiago Silva to start next season and sign Malang Sarr on a free and will likely loan him out since he’s one for the future. Brilliant business.
Forward was a massive issue with consistency. Giroud was OK but Tammy lacked consistency. They go out and grab Timo Werner who might be a top 5 forward in the world soon. Timo starting and Tammy pushing him gives you two very good forwards for years to come. Brilliant business.
They lose Willian and Pedro for free. They go out and get Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech. Two sexy lefties who will walk into the first 11. They ooze quality. Hakim is so silky smooth and Kai Havertz can play basically anywhere along the front 3-4. This gives Frank tactical flexibility. Brilliant business.
Left back was certainly an issue. Marcus Alonso basically fits one particular formation that doesn’t fit what Frank wants to do. Emerson is OK but not spectacular and a liability defensively. Of course Azpi can play there but you’d prefer a left footed player there if you can. They go out and sign Ben Chilwell, a proven EPL player. Brilliant business.
If they address the GK position and sort out what they are doing with Kante they will be in prime position to push the top 2. Is it too much change? We’ll find out but the season is long. If it’s bumpy early, don’t fret. They will find their stride and have one run this season where they look like the best team.
This gets a giant question mark grade. Do they hang on to Zaha? He is their attack. He is wanted by almost everyone. He might be the replacement at Dortmund if Jadon Sancho moves to United.
Also, do they finally just roll with Alexander Sorloth? He’s been on loan at Trabzonspor and tearing it up. He fits their style of play perfectly. He’s Christian Benteke but decent at soccer. Palace are in real trouble next year. I like Eze coming in as long as he’s to compliment Zaha, not replace him.
There is nothing to get excited about here.
Woah buddy. Everton did a bit of this last year but these are some actual quality players. Allan is a very good CM. James was a $100m player just a few years ago. Doucoure, who will join soon if he hasn’t already, is Premier League proven and will be a better player surrounded by better players.
Ancelloti is bringing in his guys and not treading water any longer, he’s trying to win and push up the table. They lose 2 fullbacks with long time stalwart Leighton Baines retiring and Djibril Sidibe heading back to Monaco after the expiry of his loan deal.
Do these changes really address their needs? They help. I’m still worried about the center of defense and the depth throughout the squad but this is an improved team.
Have Fulham learned from previous mistakes? For those that forget, just a few years ago Fulham was promoted to the Premier League. They spent a ton of money and nearly completely turned over their roster and went straight back down to the Championship.
As of now, they haven’t done anything out of the ordinary. I like the addition of Antonee Robinson. He was a player who had a move to AC Milan fall apart literally after he flew to Milan. He’s that caliber of talent. He’s also relatively cheap. Lamina, Reed and Knockaert are all familiar faces and names to the club.
Will they stay up? Stay tuned.
I’m pretty excited for Leeds. They are not a small club. They have a great history. They have a great manager in Marcelo Bielsa. They brought in a big money forward in Rodrigo. He’s a 29 year old Spain international who’s a proven goal scorer. They grabbed Helder Costa from Wolves. Big centerback Robin Kock joins from Freiburg.
They are making some moves but come into the division with Premier League talent already on their roster. They’ll need to replace loanees Ben White and Augustin but Kalvin Phillips is a monster. Patrick Bamford never really made it work with Chelsea but has the talent to get it done.
I’m undecided on where in the table they finish but I have them staying up.
Out goes Ben Chilwell and in comes Timothy Castagne from Atalanta. I don’t think there is a major difference in terms of quality between the two players. English players always carry a premium. You look at Chilwell’s fee and Maguire’s fee last year and think, well done Leicester but those players are probably worth half that.
How do they spend the money? That’s the big question I have. They have several players returning on loan but none of which will make a big impact on the 20/21 season. SO, how in the world do they get better?
Brendan Rodgers is unlikely to sit by idle as those around him make severe moves to improve their roster. TBD
Lovren and Lallana leave but who cares? The rumor here is Thiago coming in from Bayern. Are Liverpool really that broke? They can’t pony up 30 million Euro for a player that can help push for another title? They are very much in the mode of not fixing what isn’t broken but I do worry about Liverpool in a few years.
Salah and Mane can both fetch some cash right now but you won’t get what they bring to your team in the short term. They also aren’t young, meaning in a few years their “worth” will be chopped in half. Who takes their place in this attack? I would think that would be the place that Liverpool look to improve. Shaqiri is a nice piece to have.
Let’s be honest, this team is stacked. They can improve the midfield but Klopp doesn’t ask them to do anything outside of their current skill set. Just don’t rock the boat for the Champions!!
Pep isn’t going to sit on his hands. He made the move for Nathan Ake to grab that left footed CB. He’s a young CB as well at just 25. They are also rumoured to be in for Koulibaly, the big CB from Napoli. He’s a world class player that would improve City right away. They also have Laporte obviously so this is a balance of depth and quality. Ferran Torres is one for now as well as one for the future. He’s only 20 but looked great for Valencia last year. This could be the steal of the summer if he continues to develop. Once they get Aguero back, he and Jesus can lead the line.
Obviously they sold Sane and lost David Silva but this is a team that top to bottom has pure quality. I did wonder if they would venture into the LB world. They have Mendy, Zinchenko and Cancelo has played there but that still appears to be a position they could improve.
Van de Beek is a quality midfielder to add depth to a position that was lacking last year. Does he start? I can’t see a midfield 3 of Pogba/van de Beek/Fernandez. Who plays more defensive? Donny is an attacking player. Is Pogba the deepest lying player? They need more!
Sancho is rumored to be coming in but I’m not holding my breath. There are rumors of a new left back. I’m not holding my breath. This is not a team that can contend for the title. They will be in a battle for the top 4 as the roster is currently constructed.
The future is bright for United but next season a finish in 3rd would be a big success. One last note, Dean Henderson returning from his loan at Sheffield is a welcome addition for United. He’ll either push to get the best out of De Gea or replace the Spaniard.
What a summer for Newcastle. They thought they were going to be purchased by a Saudi conglomerate and go after the likes of Fekir and Griezmann, etc. Instead they grab Jeff Hendrick and Ryan Fraser on free transfers. L O L. On their own, those are fine signings. If you add in the addition of Callum Wilson and it’s not the worst summer for Newcastle but it’s not one that will project them up the table.
If they don’t make significant additions, they will find themselves in the bottom half of the table and could end up in a relegation battle.
I don’t rate Aaron Ramsdale. I don’t quite understand the transfer fee that Sheffield paid here. It’s not my money so good on ya fellas. He’s a downgrade from Henderson who certainly won Sheffield points last season. I like the addition of Ethan Ampadu. He’s a young center back with a lot of hype surrounding him but he hasn’t played much the last few years. He really needs game time to develop and perhaps this 3 center back formation will hide his inexperience a touch while he works through that development.
They are very well coached. They are well organized. They still struggle on the attacking end and will have to rely on keeping the 0 more often than not to maintain a top half finish. Frankly, I think they’ll be closer to relegation than the top half but I was WAYYY wrong on them last year for what it’s worth.
I do like the addition of Salisu. He was rumored to be heading to some bigger clubs so either that was newspaper fodder or Southampton have pulled the rug out on this one. Kyle Walker-Peters is a downgrade from Cedrid Soares. He just is. Valery is young and coming on so perhaps Southampton are banking on one of the 2 hitting big. If they can keep Danny Ings healthy and replace the departing Hojbjerg they’ll be just fine.
Middle of the table here they come!
Lo Celso looks like good business and really came on late last season. Hojbjerg, who we just mentioned, provides some needed grit in the midfield. For Spurs fans, hopefully the Eric Dier experiment is over. Matt Doherty is an odd nut to crack. He flourished in Wolves’ wing back set up but will likely revert back to a more traditional right back role under Jose Mourinho. He has the engine to work up and down the sideline but he strikes me more as a depth signing than someone to push Spurs up the table. I’m a touch confused with the summer business here.
Jan Vertonghen is off to Portugal on loan but outside of that, Spurs haven’t seen much turnover with the roster. We know the quality they possess in the attack. Kane/Son/Bergwijn/Moura are a fearsome foursome. It’s simply getting them to gel and stay healthy that is the issue. Let’s hope they have some quality youth players available because one major injury could derail the season again.
Praying for top 4. Realistically it’s Europa or bust.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Welcome to the new boys of the division!
On paper, they have the least valuable roster. Literally. Former United GK Sam Johnstone should line up between the posts and it’s a mix of names from the past and new boys looking to break through that will round out the roster. The big signing is Grady Diangana from West Ham. At $14.85m, he’ll be relied upon heavily to influence the play in the attacking third. Matheus Pereira will line up opposite Diangana to form a dynamic attacking duo. Who bags the goals? Oli Burke looks destined for Sheffield Utd. Slaven Bilic has Premier League experience as a manager but this will be his toughest test to date. Can he keep the boys up?
I really liked the Soucek deal in January and to be honest, I wasn’t high enough on the player. He’s Fellaini-esque with his ability in the air but he’s far more than that as a player. He adds real quality to this midfield that was aging rapidly through club captain Marc Noble. Hanging on to Declan Rice is job one for David Moyes and with no movement to date, it seems like that will get over the line.
This is a roster that needs some small tweaks to break through. They were criminally under performing under Pelligrini last year before Moyes came in for the hero job of pulling them to safety. Sebastian Haller and Michail Antonio can do bits at the forward position. Felipe Anderson needs to find some motivation and Jarrod Bowen will look to build on a great finish to 19/20. They have money to spend. Let’s wait to see how they use it. As for right now, a top half finish would be great but no more than that.
I’m not going to pretend to have watched hours of Fabio Silva game film. I’m not even sure Wolves have to be honest. He’s only played under 800 minutes for the 1st team with 3 goals. I’ve watched every video on youtube on this kid, and he is a kid at only 17 or 18 years of age. Here is my assessment:
He’s good. He has potential. He’s big for his age at just over 6’1”. He has some technical ability but nothing that absolutely blew me off the page. He does show good instincts in the box and looks to be a true #9 who wants to score goals. He’s a good finisher. He can finish with both feet and is decent in the air.
Overly that’s a pretty good player for his age but I don’t think physically he’s ready for this level. I just don’t’! I could be completely wrong but for 40m euros I was expecting more. They can’t be buying him to replace Jimenez so the good news is that he’s likely staying.
They lost Doherty but brought in Marcal. That’s a downgrade in talent but not as much as some are claiming and they flipped a nice little profit in the process. This window appears far from over for Wolves. There are rumors of Alex Telles joining and my belief is he would flourish in this system. My question is why wasn’t this deal done with the Silva deal as well? They both play for Porto… an odd one there.
Wolves will be good. Wolves will be sort of boring until Adama Traore comes on and goes Hulk smash on the Prem. Do you think he stays? I do.
Top half for sure. Top 7 likely. A run at top 4? Nahhhh
PROJECTED TOP 4
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
PROJECTED BOTTOM 3 (in no order)
West Brom, Fulham, Aston Villa
ON TO THE SATURDAY SLATE!
- Crystal Palace +200 | 2,2.5 (-105o/-115u)
- Southampton +140
- DRAW +220
- Liverpool -400 | 3 (-120o/EVENu)
- Leeds Utd +850
- DRAW +500
- West Ham +110 | 2.5 (EVENo/-120u)
- Newcastle Utd +235
- DRAW +245
HERE. WE. GO!
The first game breakdown of the 2020/21 season is upon us. For those of you who are new, I tend to discuss projected game flow and how I think the game will finish. In theory this will help you make your own decisions when it comes to building your lineups. Typically we want to attack the higher scoring contests in GPP while targeting goalkeepers who will get the win and keep a clean sheet. If I project both teams to score, typically that isn’t where we head for GKs and to some extent cheap defenders.
There is a lot to go through when it comes to building a roster and as always, I’ll be in the soccer chat room on Elite Fantasy for the entire hour leading up to lock! I can’t wait…
I love this game. This is a test for Crystal Palace right out of the gate. It’s not Man City or Liverpool, games they are supposed to lose. This is a team in their range that are coming into Selhurst Park and are favorites. It tells you everything you need to know about this Palace team. I discussed the exciting signing of Eze but I’m still so curious who finds the back of the net for Palace. Post Covid they were absolutely abysmal. They beat Bournemouth out of the gate in late June before rattling off 7 straight losses. They did just enough to avoid the embarrassment of a relegation battle but the signs are there. It might be time for a change at the top and if Roy Hodgson doesn’t die of old age first, he’ll be fired by Christmas if they are near the bottom three.
Poor Danny Ings. He finally gets a call up to the full English National Team, which was well deserved, and then gets like 20 minutes over the course of 2 games. Give the man a shot. It was good to see him bounce back from his checkered injury history to perform on the top level. Southampton will need more of the same if they want to finish in the top half. Oddly enough, it was away from home where they absolutely brutalized the bottom of the table. Against teams 14th or lower in the final standings, they won 6 games and lost 1 to West Ham away from home. One of those games was a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Look at this momentum map from that 2-0 win by Southampton. At what point was Crystal Palace in this game? They were outshot 15-6. Can I see a similar outcome? Of course. What has changed outside of a few minor pieces? Can Eze make that big of a difference? I don’t think so. It’s game 1 of 38 but this isn’t quite like previous season openers. These teams and players just finished up at the end of July.
The champs are back and there is absolutely no time to be hung over. In almost stunning fashion, Liverpool ran over the entirety of the table. They are fit for another run at the title but can expect a much stiffer test from the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Manchester United. Dropped points against a newly promoted side is not how Klopp will want to kick off the season. They come in healthy and ready to roll.
For those that forgot, Liverpool didn’t lose a single match at home last year. That’s 18 wins and 1 draw! Against the bottom half of the table they won their games with by the following scores:
Notice anything? Sure they conceded the odd goal but there weren’t many games in danger of drawing, let alone losing. They scored at least 2 goals in each match and averaged 3.1 goals per game. Even the most optimistic Leeds fan has them right around the middle of the table or lower. Liverpool are -400 for a reason. We need shares.
Leeds aren’t a walk over for most teams in the division but Liverpool are a different animal. Last season in the Championship, Leeds were comfortably the best team. They amassed 92 points from 46 games through 28 wins – 9 draws and 9 losses. They scored 77 and conceded only 35. They have quality and as mentioned above, their manager is one of the most creative and detailed minds in modern day football management. Bielsa will give these boys a shot to compete but talent wins out.
Congrats on the 3 points Liverpool and welcome to the Prem Leeds!
I like the West Ham side here. +110 is right on the number that I made this game. The thought here is that West Ham pick up right where they left off. After months of mediocrity they completely changed their fortunes thanks to the form of Jarrod Bown and Michail Antonio. Covid 19 might have actually saved their Premier League life!
We can’t put too much emphasis on friendly results but Newcastle lost back-to-back contests and were smoked by Middlesbrough 5-1. The new ownership still hasn’t finalized any deals and anything happening at this point would be a shock. This is what Newcastle have moving forward. I do like the addition of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser provides some depth. They both need to be integrated into the squad and I expect a similar team to what we were used to last year which wasn’t great towards the end of the year. The good news for Newcastle is Miguel Almiron started to find his goal scoring boots and Allan Saint-Maximin looked very dangerous when healthy.
Ultimately these are two teams with similar ambitions, big stadiums and high hopes. A draw here wouldn’t shock me. West Ham score for sure. Newcastle I’m not as sure. This should be the most competitive game of the day and it’s the afternoon hammer.
Mane – LIV – $9.5k
Leeds have displayed such tactical flexibility that it’s really hard to predict where the success will come from in the Liverpool side but there will be success. With that in mind, here is my advice if building three lineups…build 1 with Mane, 1 with Salah and 1 with both. It’s really hard for me to argue AGAINST Mane and Salah so why Mane? Price, namely. Mo Salah does generally take the penalty opportunities so you can give him the edge there but for the $800 you save you can and should improve your roster.
Bowen – WH – $8.3k
Is this dude for real? I believe he is. He’s bagged a couple of goals in pre-season friendlies and that’s the last piece he needs to take his game to another level. Post-COVID break he was one of the standout performers. He averaged 8.4 crosses per game in a 5 game stretch to close out the year. He also had 14 shots in those 5 games with only 2 shots on target and 0 goals. He did pick up 2 assists but at this price we need the end product. I love his floor. I like his upside.
Ings – SOU – $9k
You know I love confident forwards. You know what else I like? Forwards with a chip on their shoulder. Ings will feel proud about the call up and limited minutes but they were just that…limited. He’ll have a point to prove. Palace are also dreadful in the back and haven’t made many significant changes in the area. Whether it’s a worldie or a tap in doesn’t matter – go get your goal Danny.
Wilson – NEW – $6k
A new team with limited training sessions is typically a worry but not for a player like Callum Wilson. He essentially stands between the 2 center backs and tries to find space. If the ball goes wide he gets in the box. He needs someone else to create but for under $7k to get a finisher on a live dog is good value for GPP contests.
Saint-Maximin – NEW – $6.5k
Want to pair someone with C Wilson? Here’s your boy! You can grab the pair for less than $13k. Considering a goal + an assist is at least 18 points, that’s decent value right there! ASM runs hot and cold. It’s hard for me to invest my money in cash here but for GPP you bet your butt I’ll be grabbing solo shares and pairing him up with a teammate.
Ward-Prowse – SOU – $9.2k
This price is out of this world. He’s not KDB but he can be KDB lite at times. At $8.2k I’m considering an all in situation but away to Palace who typically don’t score, meaning JWP won’t be lumping in crosses from half field limits the upside. OK to good for cash.
Soucek – WH – $5k
We know about his ability in the air and his overall presence in the box. That alone presents value at $5k but he’s listed as questionable after a Czech staff member tested positive. That sent Tomas to quarantine so we’ll know what happens in the coming days but I expect him to play. GPP only.
Keita – LIV – $6.2k
I hate him as a player but every time I don’t roster him he grabs a goal or assist. I likely won’t have much, if any on Saturday morning so feel free! This price along with the upside of grabbing Liverpool shares in a potential multi-goal win is the value here.
Phillips – LEE – $4.6k
How much will Leeds create? I have no idea. Liverpool were the best defensive team in football last year and bring everyone back. I don’t expect Leeds to cause them a ton of trouble but Kalvin Phillips was a premier league level player playing in the championship. He took 202 corners last year, nearly 80 more than the second closest competitor in the Championship. This price presents some value.
VALUE is plentiful – Considering we’ll likely be paying up at F, it’s necessary to take a dive in the dumps to round out the roster. Depending on team news, there are plenty of options down here.
Schlupp, Milivojevic, Anders, Wijnaldum, Romeu, Lanzini, Harrison and Boufal just to name a few.
Alexander-Arnold – LIV – $8k
You’ve probably noticed quite a few names on the GPP only list. Some are cheaper value plays but there are some expensive players on the GPP only list as well because the first name I’m putting in my cash lineup is TAA. $8k for defense was madness at the start of last season. 382 crosses later and he’s maybe the second best cash play on the slate.
Fredericks – WH – $4.6k
I don’t love this but they are at home and Newcastle aren’t a heavy possession based team which should allow Fredericks to get up and down the right side. 2x is closing in on a ceiling without a goal or assist but the defender isn’t exactly great this week.
Van Aanholt – CP – $5.2k
Is he back? This is quite expensive for his ability but assuming no Milivojevic and Eze not being given the trust of set pieces right away, this price makes sense. If any of those qualifiers are out, so am I.
Gomez – LIV – $3.7k
The assumption here is that he starts in front of Matip. Gomez looked sharp for England on international duty and will be pressed with winning tackles on any counter attacks Leeds might put forward. This is strictly a value play with an assumed clean sheet. Without it he’ll struggle to hit 2x.
Salisu – SOU – $2.7k
6’3” and pretty decent in the air with a potential clean sheet? I’ll take a chance here or there. He did bag one goal last year! Decent to pair with JWP and McCarthy in goal.
We’ll have to take a really hard look after team news here.
Alisson – LIV – $5.9k
Cash forwards stink this week or this would be far more viable. I want to pay up there and I’ll likely have TAA as I mentioned so there simply isn’t enough money. If team news breaks and we can reasonably afford Alisson I like the play. He’s the only “sure thing” this week at the position, a position I pride myself on getting right more often than not.
McCarthy – SOU – $4.9k
Under $5k threshold but not cheap and playing away. Not exactly a huge selling point but he’s the best of the rest for me when considering price, production and potential ownership. You don’t have to pair him with a SOU forward either.
Casilla – LEE – $3.6k
Why not go ALL the way down to Kiko? He’s not a nobody, the guy came in from Real Madrid and spent last season with Leeds. We know he’ll get save opportunities. The juice is worth the minimal squeeze to your salary cap.
New to DFS Soccer? Here’s an intro with Duke’s Rules & Strategies.