Welcome back to our analysis of the player list, next up is the midfielders. We’ve already covered many of them in previous series such as fresh blood, transitioned players and most popular. You can check out our analysis of those players in our pre-season hub. Today I’m going to keep things as relevant as possible, meaning some players may slip under the radar. If you have any queries, just ask away in the comments!
Henderson (6.0) – There seems to be quite a bit of confidence coming from managers expecting a massive step-up this season from Hendo. 14% of managers have selected him for their opening day squads on the back of only 4 goals and 7 assists for 124 points last season. The logic is clear though, you know what to expect from him. He will be one of the top scorers in his price bracket, I suppose he’s consistent as well. A consistent fpl tease. He will have a month where he’s unstoppable, before going AWOL for the next 6 games. Personally when I’m selecting someone at this price, it’s because I think they can have a standout season. Sigurdsson is the perfect example, after scoring 15 goals and 10 assists in the EPL in only 800 minutes more than Henderson. The idea is that with a stable environment and plenty of game time, he can have a huge season. Nothing will change with Henderson’s role, so you’re backing him in to simply increase his scoring output. Toure was a perfect example that it can be done, but this is Jordan Henderson, not Yaya Toure. Too risky for my liking.
Shelvey (5.5) – I was all over Jonjo when the game came out, how he managed 6 goals and 7 assists (Bettering Henderson’s output in less game time) and stayed at 5.5 seemed illogical, especially since he should only get better at the age of 22. Sigurdsson’s arrival changed everything though. With such a fine eye for goal, you would think Sigurdsson will play in a more advanced role, with Shelvey slotting in behind him playing a box to box role. Gylfi’s arrival has me giving Shelvey a wide birth.
Puncheon (6.0) – Puncheon managed similar returns to Shelvey, scoring 7 goals and 3 assists in 2500 minutes, notching 131 points. That’s a fantastic output for a guy priced at 6.0. He grew with confidence as the season continued, made clear by the fact that he hadn’t even scored a goal until January, when he made his move permanent. In the final 19 fixtures of the season, he managed all 7 of his goals in an incredible turn around in confidence and form. He did have penalty duties for a brief period, but Jedinak seems to have taken over. There’s no doubt he could increase his goal tally into double figures this season, but I’ve seen many confidence players like this slip away into the abyss. Very risky, but a viable alternative to Sigurdsson in this price bracket.
Ward-Prowse (5.0) – Finally there’s Ward-Prowse, who will be looking to benefit from the mass exodus at the saints. There seems to be very little competition for his spot at this stage, making it his to lose. At 5.0 there’s certainly potential for a breakout year, however there is one pretty major issue. He made 34 appearances last season (Granted, 18 were from the bench) managing just 2 assists with no goals. If you were going to start him in your team, you’d be hoping for a massive increase in output. He should get a fair share of set-pieces though, making him one for the watchlist, but nothing more just yet.
Briefly on some of the bench options at 4.5, El Ahmadi looks to be the most promising option, playing 2000 minutes last year (scoring twice) and scoring in Villa’s final pre-season friendly. Albrighton limped off with a groin injury in Leicester’s final pre-season hitout and is in doubt for GW1. Their tough fixtures have me shying away in any case. If he nails down a starting spot then he has the most potential. Marney should be locked on for Burnley and is capable of the odd goal and a few assists.
We have covered guys like Sigurdsson and Snodgrass in previous articles. Personally I’m backing in Sigurdsson over all of the options in this price bracket. After what he did 2 seasons ago at Swansea and now under Monk’s attacking philosophy, I’m confident in backing him in to deliver once again. If you’re a serious differential, then Stephen Ireland should be considered. Selected by just 0.3% of sides, he was fielded in the hole once again by Mark Hughes. At just 5.0, he’s certainly one to watch.
Arnautovic (6.5) – He’s certainly been a popular option throughout pre-season, thanks to his storming end to last season’s campaign. Things aren’t as straight forward as they look however. In Stoke’s final pre-season clash, Arnautovic was dropped to the bench for Odemwingie after the latter had only recently returned from World Cup duties. Without his spot guaranteed, let alone his point returns, he is a risk too far for my squad.
Mirallas (7.5) – With Deulofeu packing his bags back to Barca, Mirallas has only Pienaar and McGeady to contend with on the flanks. Without wasting your time, here’s my problem. Firstly Martinez rarely plays him for 90 minutes. Secondly he had a superb season last year, scoring 9 goals and 7 assists in just 2300 minutes for 144 points. Unfortunately as our hot tip for most of last year’s pre-season, his first few weeks were… Basically, shit. He is unbelievably unreliable. That’s what you get in this price bracket, and I can’t see him becoming consistent enough to warrant selection this season. I’m really not a fan of mid-pricers! Keep him on the watchlist though, if he can get some consistent starts together when he hits form, the points flow.
There are some names that people will consider, but I would want to skip straight past. Adam Johnson lit up the Premier League in a one month blitz, but aside from that he was inconsistent, consistently poor if anything. Nolan has passed his prime and often relies on the work of Carroll up front. It remains to be seen whether Valencia can give him the same kind of assistance, I would be avoiding. Odemwingie is up against Bojan and Arnautovic, so he is a no go zone for me. Wilshere could be set for a breakout season, but it remains to be seen where he fits into the Arsenal squad. The attacking positions are completely filled, with Ramsey surging past him and taking over the central midfield role that was meant to be his. The pair look great together, but there’s no way he can push out class like Ozil with guys like Sanchez and in the near future Walcott to feed. He could get the season off to a flier without Ozil to contend with, but long-term I’d avoid.
We’ve covered Barkley, Tadic, Herrera and De Jong in previous articles, so be sure to check them out. My mid-price pick would be either De Jong or Tadic, and with De Jong’s fitness concerns we might have to wait and see beyond gameweek 1. I still reckon he can go close to replicating what Michu did back in 2012/13. Tadic certainly looks promising if Southampton can deliver what their fixtures suggest they should, but is a risky pick in that price bracket. I tend to prefer avoiding starting with mid-pricers unless there’s an obvious candidate, the must haves will show themselves early in the season. Just be prepared to get on board.
Silva (9.0) – David Silva seems to be the forgotten man of pre-season. Caught up in all the hype, we seem to have glossed over him completely. 7 goals and 12 assists from just 28 appearances is a great return, and if he can stay fit and healthy he’s certainly underpriced for what he can produce. I tend to agree with those who are avoiding him though, we can easily bring him in at his price if he fires, and with City’s tough fixtures through until GW8 patience may be a key. He is certainly going to be in my team ASAP, and could prove to be a fantastic POD to start the season.
Gerrard (9.0) – I’ll be honest. I wouldn’t go near him. You’re picking him mainly for his dead ball duties. That’s a lot to pay for a player just for what they can produce from set-pieces. I think he can go only 1 way this season, and that is down. His role in defensive midfield is enough to put me off, especially without Suarez to earn him penalties. He’s been great, but at 9.0 I would be looking elsewhere.
Nasri (8.5) – Nasri clearly had a breakout season, notching 7 goals and 11 assists from 34 appearances. There is no doubt he’s in Man City’s best XI, creating the most chances in the Premier last campaign. Unfortunately that gets you nowhere in fpl. The way I look at it, you’re buying a poor mans David Silva. If you’re desperate for a Man City player and are short of 0.5, then I guess it’s a reasonable move. Otherwise I would be going after Silva, I can’t see Nasri surpassing his output. Warning: This is coming from one of those booing Arsenal supporters. Was he being serious? What an idiot Na$ri is.
Sterling (8.5) – There’s a lot of managers who are up and about surrounding Sterling’s chances, but I’m not so keen. Liverpool have strengthened in depth significantly over pre-season with an upcoming UCL campaign to focus on. This will mean rotation will come into play, and as a developing 19 year old you would think Sterling will be subject to much of it. There will come a time in the near future where he is one of the premium picks of the competition. The issue is he’s been massively overpriced (Consider that Mirallas scored 9 goals and 7 assists as well in less appearances, scoring more points), meaning you’re almost paying a premium already. It’s asking a lot of him to match his 9 goal season last year, I can’t remember many 19 year olds surpassing that mark. Perhaps Messi. Comparatively he should have been priced at 7.5, 8 max. A pass for me.
Lamela – He’s been the hype of pre-season, banging in goals for fun. Spurs didn’t pay 25 million on him for no reason, he has some serious talent. There is one pretty major problem. How somebody who played 331 minutes for just a single assist and 14 points can be priced 8.0 is beyond any kind of reasonable explanation. His teammate who I will look at in a second contributed towards 16 times as many goals in a shortened season, yet is priced at the same level. If you’re really keen for a risky POD then Lamela could be this season’s breakout player, I’m just devastated he wasn’t 1.0 less.
Coutinho – If you’re after some investment in Liverpool’s young exciting midfield, then here’s your man. With Lallana missing the start of the season (Approx. 2 months) Coutinho should have the role in behind the striker to himself. He was brilliant against Dortmund in Liverpool’s final pre-season clash, scoring 1 and assisting 1 against quality opposition, earning Rodgers praise (calling “just magical”). His last season wasn’t ideal, however he proved he has what it takes in the Premier League with 3 goals and 7 assists in a quick fire debut campaign. He should benefit from Suarez’s departure, and is certainly worthy of serious consideration for your opening squads. He’s a great chance to breakout into a premium mid with another year’s experience under his belt.
Eriksen – Speaking of blokes who could become premium midfielders, Eriksen is an ideal candidate. If you’re looking to invest in this price budget, then this guy should be your first port of call. He thrived under Tim Sherwood, regaining his first team place and rewarding his manager with 7 goals and 9 assists in two thirds of a season. Pochettino should only benefit his game style further, playing with a system allowing him to roam free behind the striker. Considering what Lallana managed to do last season, it only bodes well for Eriksen. He is definitely underpriced for what he can produce, I expected him to come in at 0.5 higher. Definitely solid value, could prove to be a must have if things click for him early.
I would be avoiding the following. Oscar faces even more competition with the introduction of Fabregas to Chelsea’s loaded squad. It remains to be seen how Mourinho will accommodate his new squad, but there’s too much risk involved in selecting him. Fabregas and Hazard are the only 2 locked on, but Fabregas’ position is up for debate. If he sits deep his potential is reduced. Cazorla is definitely an option to consider starting off with, but once Walcott comes back his place in the side will be under threat. I’m not sure it’s wise to be selecting an Arsenal player in the short-term with their reasonably tough fixture set. I like Theo’s prospects once he returns, hopefully by the end of September.
Seeing as Ozil won’t be seen for the first 2 gameweeks, I won’t be going in depth with his prospects either. That can wait until his expected return against Leicester. While we’re on the topic, make sure you don’t own any players who made it into the semi-finals of the World cup. Even those who made it to the quarters may be under some risk for GW1 if they played a major part in their teams success. If you’re unsure, check if they played in their clubs final pre-season match. If not, you can make a fairly sure bet they won’t be lining up for GW 1.
We’ve covered most of the other key options in Toure, Sanchez, Fabregas, Mata, Ramsey, Hazard, and Lallana elsewhere. Be sure to check those reviews out in the most popular and fresh blood series. With our team reveals coming up later this week I won’t give too much away, but I like the prospects of Sanchez, Mata, Ramsey, Hazard, Eriksen and Silva. There will be some midfield dilemmas ahead, certainly 3-5-2 isn’t out of the question!