Teams

Who are the most secure starters ahead of the FPL restart? Part four

With up to five substitutions allowed and nine Gameweeks crammed into little over a month, we’ve been looking at which players stand the best chance of regular starts when the Premier League resumes.

Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers are the focus of our final article in the series as we highlight who has clocked up the most appearances and minutes under their current managers.

You can read our analysis of the other 15 teams in the division via the links below.

READ MOREWho are the most secure starters, part one (Arsenal – Burnley)
READ MOREWho are the most secure starters, part two (Chelsea – Liverpool)
READ MORE: Who are the most secure starters, part three (Manchester City – Sheffield United)

We’re in unchartered territory given the circumstances of these remaining 92 games and there’ll no doubt be the usual end-of-season blooding of fringe players and academy products at some stage, particularly involving clubs who end up with little to play for.

Still, the below analysis should hopefully act as a rough guide as to which Fantasy assets are likeliest to rack up the most pitch-time in Gameweeks 30+ to 38+.

Southampton

After some early-season tactical experiments that veered from the moderately successful to the downright disastrous, Ralph Hasenhuttl has from Gameweek 13 onwards been one of the easiest managers to second-guess.

It was during the 2-2 draw at the Emirates in November that the Southampton boss settled on and stuck with his preferred 4-2-2-2 formation.

James Ward-Prowse (£5.7m), Ryan Bertrand (£4.8m), Jack Stephens (£4.4m), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£4.8m) and Alex McCarthy (£4.5m) have all been ever-present from that point onwards, while Nathan Redmond (£6.2m) had an unspoiled record until injury enforced his absence after Gameweek 25.

Ward-Prowse, indeed, hasn’t missed a single minute of league football all season.

Jan Bednarek (£4.4m) has also been a first-team regular, starting 27 out of 29 games in 2019/20; only an Achilles injury in Gameweek 24 and a tactical benching in Gameweek 26 have seen him drop out of the starting XI.

Stuart Armstrong (£5.2m), meanwhile, appears to have first dibs on the second ‘number ten’ slot alongside Redmond, having started nine of the last 10 league matches that he was fit and available for.

Moussa Djenepo (£5.2m) being suspended for the next three games should further aid his cause.

Danny Ings (£7.1m) would perhaps be the main concern from a Fantasy perspective.

Southampton’s talismanic striker is one of the first names on the teamsheet when the Saints are playing just once a week but with the fixtures coming thick and fast in July especially, we can most likely expect a benching or two for the mid-price FPL forward.

Ings was rested in both Gameweeks 19 and 24 and the thing that those matches had in common was that they fell within a period of fixture congestion for the Saints, be it in league or cup.

Hasenhuttl’s previous comments about Ings playing three times in a week should also act as a cautionary tale, although it’s perhaps now more the physical demands put upon the front two, rather than Ings being particularly injury-prone, that is the primary reason for an occasional refresh up top.

Ings has actually featured in all 29 league fixtures this season but has only lasted 90 minutes in nine of them.

Shane Long (£4.7m), who has been a regular starter from Gameweek 15 onwards, has also been hauled off in 11 of his 13 starts.

The one problem position is at right-back, with Cedric Soares’ injury and subsequent departure leaving a void that hasn’t convincingly been filled.

Ward-Prowse, loanee Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.4m) and the previously out-of-favour Yan Valery (£4.6m) have all had stints there this calendar year, with the latter starting in Gameweek 29 but gifting Newcastle what turned out to be the only goal of the match.

Tottenham Hotspur

Son Heung-min (£9.7m), Hugo Lloris (£5.3m) and Harry Kane (£10.8m) have started every league match that they have been fit and available for under Jose Mourinho, while Steven Bergwijn (£7.4m) also boasts a 100% record since joining the club in January – although his manager had little choice but to field the Dutchman with injuries rife in the Tottenham Hotspur squad.

Dele Alli (£8.3m) and Serge Aurier (£4.9m) have also been key cogs in the Spurs machine since Mourinho succeeded Mauricio Pochettino but did suffer benchings shortly before the mid-March suspension: Alli against Chelsea after a petulant reaction to being substituted in the Champions League and Aurier in Gameweeks 27 and 29, with Japhet Tanganga (£4.1m) taking his place at right wing-back.

We can probably expect Ben Davies (£5.3m) to start the bulk of the games at left-back based on Mourinho’s previous comments about the importance of the Welshman to his system, while Toby Alderweireld (£5.3m) has lined up at centre-half in all but one of the 17 Premier League games that his current boss has overseen.

Giovani Lo Celso (£7.3m) had also been finding favour and form in the second half of the season, starting five of Spurs’ last seven league games and only being benched around key FA Cup and UEFA Champions League ties.

With the Lilywhites now out of both of those competitions, of course, the entire focus will be on the Premier League and a tilt at the top four/five.

The schedule for Spurs’ opening three games has been kind, with generous recovery periods between them, although we can expect July to be a tad busier thereafter.

Watford

Unavailability has led to most of Nigel Pearson’s changes in his 13 matches in charge of Watford, with unenforced alterations at a premium.

Ben Foster (£4.9m), Etienne Capoue (£4.8m), Craig Cathcart (£4.3m) and Troy Deeney (£5.9m) are all ever-presents since Pearson succeeded Quique Sanchez Flores, while Kiko Femenia (£4.2m), Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.6m) and Gerard Deulofeu (£6.1m) have unblemished records when we remove injuries from the equation.

The only occasions that Will Hughes (£5.3m) and Ismaila Sarr (£6.4m) have been benched under Pearson have also come in their first games back from fitness problems, while Christian Kabasele (£4.3m) swiftly regained control of the second centre-half spot alongside Cathcart having initially dropped out through suspension.

Adam Masina (£4.3m) has started the last eight games at left-back, meanwhile, and may still have the upper hand when we return.

It remains to be seen how much Daryl Janmaat (£4.0m) features in Pearson’s plans (particularly as Femenia has played at left-back under his current boss) but there is still doubt over whether the Dutchman will be fit for the resumption.

One other thing to note: Deulofeu looks set to miss the rest of 2019/20 through injury, so Roberto Pereyra (£5.6m) may well get an extended run in the side having deputised in Gameweeks 28 and 29.

Pearson does now have Tom Cleverley (£4.8m) and Danny Welbeck (£5.8m) to call upon, though, following their return to fitness.

West Ham United

A total of 20 West Ham United players have started a game since David Moyes took charge on New Year’s Day, which is as many as Nuno Espirito Santo has used all season.

Declan Rice (£4.7m), Mark Noble (£5.0m), Angelo Ogbonna (£4.5m) and Aaron Cresswell (£4.5m) have all been ever-presents since Moyes assumed control but we can add Lukasz Fabianski (£4.9m) to the list of secure starters following his return from injury and Issa Diop (£4.3m) has started the last eight games alongside Ogbonna at centre-half.

The ‘out of position’ Michail Antonio (£6.9m) should also start more matches than not but, given his track record with muscle injuries, Moyes may well be managing his minutes throughout the run-in.

A hamstrung Antonio wasn’t risked for the second of West Ham’s Double Gameweek 24 fixtures against Liverpool, for example, with the more winnable clash with Brighton following three days later.

In truth, there are few seemingly nailed options in the Hammers’ attack.

Even Sebastien Haller (£6.8m) dropped to the bench in Gameweeks 26 and 27 as Antonio led the line himself but did return to the line-up thereafter when Moyes rolled out a 4-4-2.

It might be carnage with the attacking midfield positions, meanwhile.

Any two/three of Felipe Anderson (£6.6m), Manuel Lanzini (£6.1m), Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m), Robert Snodgrass (£5.2m), Pablo Fornals (£6.0m) and the fit-again Andriy Yarmolenko (£5.2m) could be used in ‘the hole’ or out wide, while Antonio has spent a lot of his time in east London on the right flank too.

It was Bowen and Fornals who had impressed as the two wide-midfielders in Gameweeks 28 and 29, so those two may have the upper hand for now, but at the very least we’ll surely see lots of in-game substitutions in those advanced positions based on what Moyes has done so far.

Elsewhere, Tomas Soucek (£4.9m) will return from injury to perhaps put pressure on (or play in a three with) Moyes’ favourite Noble in central midfield, while Ryan Fredericks (£4.4m) is also newly available after a lay-off – which is timely, as Jeremy Ngakia (£4.0m) looks set to leave the club on a free this summer.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Eleven of Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad have started at least 20 league games this season, while Willy Boly (£4.8m) has played every match that he has been available for.

Many of us could probably take a decent stab at naming Wolves’ first-choice starting XI, depending on the formation.

Boly, Romain Saiss (£4.6m), Conor Coady (£5.1m), Jonny (£5.4m) and Matt Doherty (£6.3m) look to be Santo’s first-choice back five in front of Rui Patricio (£5.2m), while Raul Jimenez (£8.1m) and Diogo Jota (£6.4m) have been regular starters either in a two-man or three-man attack.

Of late, Santo’s main dilemma has mainly been whether to use Adama Traore (£5.7m) on the right wing in a 3-4-3 or pack the centre of midfield with a trio of Leander Dendoncker (£4.4m), Ruben Neves (£5.2m) and Joao Moutinho (£5.4m) in a 3-5-2.

The picture wasn’t always quite so straightforward.

In the first nine Gameweeks of 2019/20, Santo chopped and changed with alarming regularity, with only Patricio, Boly, Coady and Jimenez escaping a benching.

Wolves were juggling Thursday-Sunday Europa League commitments for the first time, however, as well as some other underlying fitness issues (i.e. Doherty’s knee problems).

In Gameweeks 10-19, Santo reverted to type, making one solitary change (an enforced one, at that) through that ten-match period.

Jimenez, as was the case last season, looks the safest route into the Wolves attack, with 28 of his 29 appearances coming from the start.

Expect plenty of in-game substitutions for him and Jota, though, as they have been withdrawn on a combined 28 occasions already.

Doherty’s early-season struggles were soon banished and he has completed 90 minutes in 17 of Wolves’ last 18 games, with his only benching coming in a Gameweek 20 clash at Anfield – a match in which Santo also opted to rest Jimenez and Traore amid some punishing scheduling.

With Wolves’ opening three fixtures so good, Fantasy managers will be hoping the atypical early-season rotation was just a mere blip and that Santo has reverted to his more predictable approach, even if we can perhaps expect some regular flitting between a 3-4-3 and 3-5-2.

If there is one club well-versed in playing twice a week, it’s the West Midlands side.


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1,110 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Grimo2
    • 8 Years
    1 year, 3 months ago

    WC thoughts:

    Pope (Ramsdale)
    TAA - Lundstram* - Boly - (Lascelles - AWB)
    Mahrez* - KDB*(C) - Son - Fernandes - Fleck*
    Auba* - Jimi (Samatta)

    *DGW

    1. RAFA THE GAFFA
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      1 year, 3 months ago

      Looks solid. Lundstram is a headache. No Kun is also a worry

  2. RAFA THE GAFFA
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    1 year, 3 months ago

    Bench Boost 30+ and 0.2itb for Mahrez >> Bruno for 31+ if I don’t use my WC straight away, look like a good plan?

    Leno. Henderson
    TAA. Stevens. Egan. Targett. Fernandez
    KDB. Grealish. Mount. Mahrez. Cantwell
    Auba. Agüero. Jimenez