The FPL Restart: Who you should include in your fantasy football teams ahead of the return of the Premier League

Sadio Mane or Sergio Aguero? Mohammad Salah or John Lundstram? Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and protests about racial inequality, it feels like a lifetime ago when the decision of who to captain in your Fantasy Premier League team used to be one of your biggest concerns.

With the Premier League returning to action on Wednesday, many of us are getting prepared to allow FPL to consume our lives again. Before we immerse ourselves in the game again and submit to the reality that our mental wellbeing will henceforth be dictated by issues such as whether or not Sheffield United keep a clean sheet against Watford or if Danny Ings makes the Southampton starting XI, I’ve taken the time to outline some basic tips and a list of players who are worth considering ahead of the restart.

Be Aware of New Rules

With five substitutions permitted for the remainder of the season and an endemic lack of fitness, the likelihood of a player not playing the full ninety has significantly increased. This means it may be worth investing more time and money into your defensive options, as managers are more cautious about substituting them.

Additionally, consider attacking players who are indispensable and normally play every minute such as Jack Grealish, Wilfried Zaha, Teemu Pukki and Raul Jimenez.

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One Free Game

It is obviously to your advantage to choose some players from the five sides who have nine fixtures left as opposed to eight. These teams are City, Aston Villa, Arsenal, and Sheffield United.

But be sensible. If you’re feeling brave, I’d suggest including two or even three Sheffield United defenders.

Passion

It’s worth considering key players from sides like Chelsea, Man United, Wolves & Sheffield United who are battling for European spots, and relegation-battling teams like Bournemouth, Watford, and Villa. This means rotation and substitutions of important players is less likely, and the sides should be more motivated than other teams.

Avoid Swarovski players

Micah Richards once said that Roberto Mancini used to call him ‘Swarovski’ because his body was as fragile as glass. With such an intense schedule, injury-prone players are less likely than others to survive the physical demands unscathed; and, more likely to be protected by managers and rotated/substituted. At City, Benjamin Mendy would be an obvious example.

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(Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) 

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Players to Watch

So, with that said, let’s look at the players you should look to include in your squads and others who will be worth keeping an eye on once the first couple of GWs have been played.

Nick Pope – £4.9m, 128 pts.

Burnley have nine games left, and Pope is the highest scoring GK so far. Aside from away games at City and Liverpool, his fixtures are fairly kind.

Mason Holgate – £4.3m, 55 pts.

Everton have injury problems at the back with Mina out, so Holgate should provide a temptingly cheap route into Carlo Ancelotti’s defence.

Virgil van Dijk – £6.5m, 141 pts.

The second highest scoring defender so far, Van Dijk provides the cheapest but most reliable and rotation-proof option into Liverpool’s defence. A constant threat at set-pieces too.

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(Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

John Lundstram – £4.9m, 128 pts.

What a meteoric rise this lad enjoyed. Like a minor celebrity whose sex-tape leaked, he went from virtual unknown to worldwide notoriety within a matter of weeks. In a friendly last Wednesday, he scored twice as Sheffield United beat Hull City 4-0. He is still a must-have.

Kevin de Bruyne – £10.6m, 178 pts.

Best player in the league. If he keeps fit, he should start most matches. Too good to ignore.

Adama Traore – £5.7m, 108 pts.

City fans know this guy’s talent only too well. Traore is blessed with pace and physicality and he could thrive against defences struggling with fitness.

Jack Grealish – £6.4m, 118 pts.

Villa’s talisman and a self-confessed member of the Kevin de Bruyne fanclub. Expect him to play almost every minute as the Midlands side fight for Premier League survival.

Anthony Martial – £8m, 120 pts.

Often used as a striker this season, the Frenchman is still classed as a midfielder on FPL, which only adds to his appeal.

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Marcus Rashford – £8.8m, 134 pts.

When he’s not scoring goals, he’s tackling child poverty. It’s hard to dislike the United star, and even harder to ignore including him in your side.

Phil Foden – £5.1m, 19 pts.

With the title already decided and City’s top-four spot all but secure, Guardiola may seize the opportunity to give Foden more minutes on the pitch. Wait and see if that’s the case.

Mbwana Samatta – £5.8m, 14 pts.

Wesley is still injured, so January signing Samatta will spearhead Villa’s attack. Bagged against City at Wembley this season, he is one of the better options if you want a cheap striker.

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