The Premier League is almost back! After a 99-day long hiatus, the most-watched league in the world returns on Wednesday, and fans from all over the world will be tuning in to watch their favourite teams back in action. Liverpool’s inevitable title win, a five-way race for Europe and an unpredictable relegation battle are just some of the thrills in store for football starved fans across the globe, in addition to the characteristic argy-bargy of English football that we’ve fallen in love with over the years. The anticipated return of the Premier League is made sweeter with the return of FPL – the fantasy component of the Premier League, and an essential part of the complete footballing experience for many.
Even the most addicted FPL managers have been inactive during the break, even though they were allowed to make the customary transfer per week. This was mainly due to the clouds of uncertainty hanging over the fate of the Premier League because of the COVID 19 pandemic. Although the Premier League announced that it would be returning in June, no real guidelines had been established for the fantasy game. The remainder of the FPL Cup was also decided by way of Virtual Coin Toss, which led many players to wonder whether the Fantasy season would even resume since the games would start long after the deadline of GW 38 in May.
But the Premier League put all doubts to rest in an official statement on June 8th. The authorities confirmed that the FPL season would indeed resume with the restart of the league on June 17th. To add to the delight of the eager fantasy managers, they would also be allowed to make unlimited transfers till the deadline of the new GW 30+ on June 17th – an hour before the 10.30 kickoff between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park.
But how does one make changes after such a long break? The state of play has completely changed, and managers find themselves in unknown waters. Here at EADF, we’re addressing four key points to help you navigate your season after project restart. Here are four key points to help you navigate your season during project restart.
1. Fixture congestion –
The Premier League aims to finish the season by July 26th, which means teams will have to play around three matches in a week till they finish their 38 games. Players are likely to be rotated during this time, and it may not be possible for teams to field their best players every game due to their packed schedules and weary squads. Managers should aim to get in players who are nailed on and assured of a spot in the starting XI every time. There might even be a case for a shift from attacking defenders to centre-backs due to the lower possibility of getting rotated. Even the premium Liverpool assets like Mo Salah, Sadio Mané and Trent Alexander-Arnold are at risk of rotation, should the Reds wrap up their title charge with many games to spare, so a stacked bench will be essential in order to provide backup in the unlikely scenario that one of your players doesn’t start. Pay attention to your Vice-captain picks as well, which is something that tends to get forgotten by managers often.
2. Injuries –
Players are going to be injury-prone after such a long break in the middle of the season. Chances are there will be a lot of rotation to prevent their chances of picking up knocks, but injuries will be inevitable. But teams will be strengthened by the return of some of their key players, who have used the break to recover from their season ending injuries. Premium assets like Harry Kane, Son Heung Min and Marcus Rashford might prove to be key differentials when the season resumes, and all of these players are potential captain picks as well. Budget options like John McGinn and Christian Pulisic have also returned from injury and might be potential contenders for a spot in your squads to free funds for more expensive assets. Bournemouth’s David Brooks has missed the majority of this season after his stellar 2018-19 campaign and is a great budget option, provided he gets adequate game time.
3. The five-substitution rule –
Teams will be allowed to make five substitutions at three intervals in the game to lessen the physical burden on the players. For fantasy managers, however, this is a bittersweet change, as their players will get limited game time. If a team has a comfortable lead at halftime, it won’t be surprising to see their key players being taken off, so that they’re fresh for the next game. Pep Guardiola will be relishing this opportunity to torment FPL managers more than ever before.
4. Fixtures and form –
The form factor has been wiped clean. Player’s last competitive matches were three months back, and their performances then will have little impact on how they perform after the restart. The empty crowds may also mean that teams, which perform, better at home may lose that edge. Leicester City have won 30 points out of possible 45 at home as opposed to 23 from a possible 42 away, whereas Wolves have been better on the road than at home, a stat which may indicate that they might handle the situation better than the other teams.
FPL is all about the highs and the lows. It’s like that crazy rollercoaster, which twists and turns unexpectedly, but you take the ride anyway for the thrill. Our beloved Fantasy Premier League is back, and let us welcome it with open arms.
Written by Hrishikesh Chaudhuri | Feature Image by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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