My Premier League Fantasy Football 19/20: August

Fantasy football is a game I take extremely seriously, so I thought it would be fun to show people how I set up my team throughout the season. This team is something I will attempt to update every month, to show my progress and how my team is consistently changing, and it will. I use the Sky Sports Fantasy Football app, in case it is different on other services.

My Team:

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Defence

Let’s start from back to front. Ederson has been my first choice since he arrived in the league and has failed to give me a reason to change. Pep is a known enemy of fantasy football players because of his habit to change his line up so often. Ederson is one of the few players Pep will never drop. While Ederson might not make the same amount of saves as Fabianski or one of the bottom club keepers, but makes a high number of passes and is apart of one of the best.

Van Dijk is a must inclusion. While he is the most expensive defender, I’ve come to realise how vital clean sheets and passes have become for gaining points, so having a player who is apart of the best defence in the league is the way to go. Van Dijk also has a habit of scoring for Liverpool, which combining that with the number of clean sheets he will keep, make him one of the players who are likely never to leave my team this season.

Coady and Diop are here for similar reasons. Both stood out for their sides last season, and I expect that to continue. Wolves are very organised and play a pragmatic system that enables their defenders to keep those precious clean sheets. Willy Boly’s price has increased substantially from last season, so bringing in his teammate for less was the sensible thing to do. I try to avoid having more than one defender from the same team. It could be useful in certain games, but wouldn’t work if the said team had an off-day.

Last but not least is Lucas Digne. He is the only full-back in the side, and his inclusion is primarily down to wanting at least one creative defender at the back. Digne was the creative hub for Everton last season, and while there are question marks over his defensive ability, he contributes so much for Everton in the final third that he is worth having in here. Wan-Bissaka was another full-back I was considering, but I feel his tackles numbers will drop and doesn’t contribute as much as Digne in the final third.

Midfield 

The centre of the park has always been the area I’ve struggled with regarding who to choose. You can either go down two roads in midfield; either go for players who will contribute in the final third, risking the occasional game where they won’t get more than 2 points, or go for a midfielder who will consistently get over 5 points but won’t get those goals and assists. What has made it even worse is the change of positions that Sky will do every season. While it makes sense to keep the game balanced, it can be frustrating when players who were guaranteed to start in the middle are now strikers.

After going through my pet peeves, let’s look at why I selected my midfielders, starting with Maddison. Last season, Maddison was the bargain I put straight into my team, knowing how well he would perform for Leicester. His price has increased from £7.5m to £8.6m, but he is still fantastic value for one of the best creators in the league. I’ve already discussed this before, but Leicester could do very well, and Maddison’s form is down to that expected success.

The next on the list is a player who is a must for all teams. After a fantastic debut season, this could be the season where Felipe Anderson takes that to another level. His goals did dry up near the end of the season, but with the improvements West Ham have made in attack with Fornals and Haller, that shouldn’t happen again. Anderson is the level of player that people think Wilfred Zaha is. The Brazilian is a fantastic dribbler, a great creator and has the coolness in the box to score plenty of goals. Last season, he even earned points from putting in 2.5 tackles per game. I expect that to drop with Fornals’ arrival, but it is an added benefit for an already complete skillset.

Last but not least is John McGinn. While many might prefer Grealish, McGinn, in terms of points, should do better depending on how well they follow up from their promotion campaign, with McGinn contributing to 16 goals, compared to Grealish’s 13. It’s unlikely to see the pair contribute to that many goals in a better league, but McGinn also did more defensive work than any other Villa player last season. That will likely increase with Villa not being able to attack teams similarly as they did in the Championship. Out of all my midfielders, McGinn is the most likely to change, but we’ll see how he does for the first few games.

Attack

Now to the most exciting part of the team. Attack is by far the area where it is most simple to judge how effective players are. I’ve chosen two players who I expect to get close to that 20 goal mark and another who should do well for the money. Let’s start with Salah. While I have my issues with him regarding his awful diving, it’s hard to deny just how good he is for Liverpool. His blistering pace and clinical finishing have made him one of the leagues best forwards, while also being able to create for his side. He began to be isolated by opposition full-backs, lowering his goal total, but it did mean Mane was able to reach double figures in goals for the first time in his career. What makes him such a threat is his left foot. It might be strange, but you rarely see right-wingers become the primary goal threat in the side. It’s why Messi, Robben and now Salah have been able to score so many goals. While expensive, he will make up for it in the points he will bring to my team.

Moving on to Sterling, who is another expected to score plenty of goals from out wide. Much to my dismay, he is now a striker. It makes sense considering he is far from a midfielder anymore, but it’s still a shame. It hasn’t stopped me from keeping him in my team for the third year, and we all know why. Sterling is one of the best attackers in Europe. His directness and intelligence have made him one of the most dangerous players to face on the pitch. He is a hardworking forward who can do just what Salah can while offering more versatility in attack. Sterling has always been excellent at finding space in the box, but his finishing has improved dramatically. Last season, he overperformed expected goals for the first time, showing how he has been able to score those more difficult chances. Salah does have the advantage of taking penalties, but Sterling will still stay close to the Egyptian forward.

Last but certainly not least is Sebastien Haller. While I love what he is offered a forward, using his colossal size to win the ball high up the pitch and feed his teammates, this choice is primarily down to price. Haller costs £8.2m, less than Pukki and Tosun and Ashley Barnes. It makes sense to add one of the best signings of the window, and while I’m not expecting him to score as many as Salah or Sterling, he should start a majority of West Ham’s games and contribute goals and assists for his side.

The areas I will eventually address is the lack of Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal players. It’s always good to have a player from each of the top 6 sides. While I might drop points when they play each other, they are still expected to dominate against the weaker teams, giving a perfect chance for goals and most importantly, clean sheets.

This team is by no means final. My goal is to give a monthly update, to show you all how I’m progressing and hopefully show which players are worth adding to your teams. The next update should be during the international break, so stay tuned!

PLAYER ANALYSIS: Ibrahim Sangare and The Best of Ligue 1 #2

After discussing Kenny Lala and his importance to Strasbourg, let’s look at Toulouse midfielder Ibrahim Sangaré. A player I’ve already discussed on more than one occasion, let’s look at why I rate him so highly among the young midfielders across Europe.

Toulouse have been a side surviving relegation by the skin of their teeth. In the last 5 seasons, they have finished no higher than 13th. It’s crazy to see a side which has produced some exciting talents in the last few years, with the likes of Ben Yedder, Issa Diop, Serge Aurier and Alban Lafont all developing for the southern French side. They always seem to trust their younger players with a high amount of responsibility, in a circumstance where clubs wouldn’t usually do so. While the signing of Max Gradel has given them that spark in the final third, it has been the breakout season of his compatriot that has been the most notable.

Calling last season Sangaré breakout season is incorrect to an extent. He did start 18 games in 17/18 and put in some very good numbers, but he took it to another level. While his tackle numbers have remained the same, it’s his ability on the ball that has seemingly been improving. His passes completed have gone from 40.4 to 54.1 per game. His shots, dribbles and long balls per game have all slightly increased and show a player who is developing. The Ivorian has played every game he can possibly play and has become an invaluable player to the team and it can be highlighted by how Toulouse played without him. During the 9 games Sangare missed, Toulouse only managed a single win and failing to earn victories over 2 relegated sides, drawing with Dijon and losing to Caen. Toulouse played 10 different formations last season, and he found a place in all of them. Whether playing as a single defensive midfielder or with a partner, he has shined wherever he has played.

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While looking at his insane defensive numbers show a player similar to a Ndidi or Kante, a player who specialises in breaking up play by tackling, Sangaré is more than that. He does put in an impressive 3.6 tackles per game, the most for his side, but he is great at reading the game as well. He will always look to position himself in front of the defence, to stop those dangerous passes to the strikers. However, it doesn’t change the fact that his tackling is by far his best attribute. Sangaré recovers the ball with ease when faces in one on one situations, never giving his opponent space to run beyond him. He rarely goes to ground and tries to stay on his feet, using his physicality as an advantage over smaller players. The Ivorian completes 75% of his attempted tackles, showing how he effectively recovers the ball for his side. One area that is rather disappointing would be his aerial duels. He wins 1.4 aerial duels per game but it could be down to long balls rarely landing in his direction.

Sangaré’s passing is another area which needs improvement. His pass accuracy has increased from 74% to 79% but it needs to be higher. The reason for his pass accuracy seemingly being low is his attempted long passes. He’s attempting 7.9 long balls per game, completing less than half of them. He constantly looks to quickly switch play and while he does fail a majority of the time, his ambition is notable.

He’s defensively solid, but his dribbling takes his skill set to another level. Sangaré’s completing over 70% of his dribbles. His strength and height give him a boost in this aspect, making it difficult for opposition players to dispossess him, with the Ivorian only losing the ball 1.2 times per game. For a player attempting so many, it’s impressive how little he is dispossessed. What makes his dribbling so impressive is his speed. Sangaré isn’t very quick, yet is beating players with ease. It shows how he doesn’t rely on pace to beat players and uses his ability on the ball instead.

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There are a lot of clubs that should be keeping tabs on Sangaré, with Everton, Arsenal and Tottenham already showing interest in the 21-year-old. While those are all destination in which he will start regularly, they are not the club I think he should join. If Atletico Madrid do end up selling Thomas Partey this summer, Sangaré would be the sensible replacement. Both players are strong physically, while the pair excel in recovering the ball and using their dribbling to help move the ball into the final third. While Partey has been a reliable player for Simeone, Sangaré would be an upgrade. He is 4 years younger, much taller, a better dribbler and does more defensive work. Partey is a better passer, his shot locations are awful. Sangaré also takes a majority of his shots from outside of the box, but it isn’t as bad as Partey, who out of his 1.1 shots per game, he is taking just 0.2 from inside the box. While the Ghanian has scored some beautiful goals this season from outside the box, a majority of them are wasting possession for his side.

Sangaré is a player who deserves to be playing at a better, and will hopefully be another Toulouse player to succeed in Europe, alongside the likes of Ben Yedder and Lafont, instead of ending up like Braithwaite or Gradel.