Gameweek 1 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) is almost upon us and we’re profiling all 20 Premier League teams before the season starts.
From our top picks from each team to a predicted line-up for the opening weekend, we’ll be covering each top-flight side in detail.
Next up is Manchester City, who remain the team to beat after successfully retaining their title on the final day of last season.
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LAST SEASON: ATTACK
|Total||Rank v other Premier League clubs|
|Shots in the box||499||1st|
|Shots on target||246||1st|
|Expected goals (xG)||98.82||1st|
In the absence of a specialist striker, Man City still racked up a league-high 99 Premier League goals in 2021/22, averaging a very impressive 2.61 per game.
Their biggest win of the season was the 7-0 thrashing of Leeds United in Gameweek 17, while they also netted six against Leicester City on Boxing Day and five against Arsenal, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Watford and Norwich City.
It was a real collective effort, too, with Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m) their leading goalscorer with 15, followed by Raheem Sterling (£10.0m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.0m) and Phil Foden (£8.0m), with 13, 11 and nine respectively.
Their record from set-pieces is also worth noting, as they scored 22 times from free-kicks or corners, a league-high figure.
Summing up, their attack was brilliant.
However, two important squad members have since departed – Raheem Sterling (£10.0m) and Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) – with Erling Haaland (£11.5m) and Julian Alvarez (£6.5m) replacing them.
Haaland isn’t a natural fit in City’s current set-up, so it may take a bit of time for him to gel, but given his ability, it’d be a huge surprise if he doesn’t succeed at City.
LAST SEASON: DEFENCE
|Total||Rank v other Premier League clubs|
|Shots in the box conceded||164||1st|
|Shots on target conceded||85||1st|
|Big chances conceded||40||1st|
|Expected goals conceded (xGC)||26.18||1st|
Alongside Liverpool, Man City had the meanest defence in the Premier League last season, conceding just 26 goals and keeping 21 clean sheets in 38 Premier League outings.
They bossed the all-important underlying statistics, with their tactics and ability to keep the ball ensuring they controlled the vast majority of matches they took part in.
Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m) is the only Gameweek 1 absentee from their backline at the time of writing, with Nathan Ake (£5.0m) expected to slot in alongside Ruben Dias (£6.0m) until he returns.
Man City are the only Premier League team who avoid a ‘big six’ side in the first six Gameweeks.
They begin their campaign away from home, making the trip to the London Stadium to face West Ham United, before hosting newly promoted Bournemouth at the Etihad in Gameweek 2.
Appealing encounters against Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa then follow.
A trickier run between Gameweeks 7 and 14 is less appealing, but there is an argument to suggest City’s assets remain appealing regardless of opposition: neither Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool nor United could beat City home or away last season, while De Bruyne delivered six attacking returns in eight starts against big-six sides and averaged 7.0 points per game. Joao Cancelo (£7.0m) delivered nine returns in his 10 appearances in these matches, too.
PREDICTED GAMEWEEK 1 LINE-UP
Man City’s first-choice defence sees no changes from last season, but with Aymeric Laporte set to be out until September, it’s highly likely Nathan Ake will fill in alongside Ruben Dias.
With their move for Brighton and Hove Albion’s Marc Cucurella (£5.0m) stalling, Kyle Walker (£5.0m) and Joao Cancelo (£7.0m) will start as full-backs, with De Bruyne, Rodri (£6.0m) and Bernardo Silva (£7.0m) the likely midfield trio for Gameweek 1.
Guardiola may tweak his tactics to accommodate Haaland, although the 4-3-3 setup is likely to stay, with Mahrez, Foden and Jack Grealish (£7.0m) competing for the two wings spots.
This predicted line-up was compiled on August 2, so make sure to check out our Team News tab closer to the Gameweek 1 deadline for the latest updates.
BEST FPL OPTIONS
Erling Haaland arrives in the Premier League on the back of 49 goals and 13 assists in 52 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund over the last two seasons.
While he didn’t score against Liverpool in the Community Shield, despite getting three shots and creating two chances for his teammates, the fact he is getting into good shooting positions is encouraging, something Guardiola was quick to stress after full-time.
“He is strong. He missed it and another time he will put it in the net. It happened – it’s football. He had another goal disallowed because the ball was out of the line. He has this talent and he will do it. I am not concerned or worried about that. I would be happy if he scored and we win but we have a long season ahead of us. It is so intense. He is going to help us, I am pretty sure about that.” – Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland’s late Community Shield miss
Finding space in behind defensive lines will certainly be harder at City, but with chances supplied by the likes of De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish, the goals will surely flow.
His expected goals (xG) stats at Borussia Dortmund also bode well, while let’s not forget that he racked up an xG of 1.6 in the Community Shield against one of the country’s best defences.
In the past two seasons, Joao Cancelo has become one of his team’s best performers as an attacking full-back, both on the left and right side.
The Portuguese finished second among FPL defenders for points in 2021/22, hitting 201, with his total of 11 assists just one short of what Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) managed.
His playmaking abilities, meanwhile, helped him scoop up a whopping 27 bonus points.
Despite registering 81 goal attempts, at least 30 more than any other FPL defender, some wayward shooting meant Cancelo was the biggest ‘underachiever’ among defenders for expected goal involvement (xGI, -3.70).
With a bit more luck, you’d expect to see one or two more of those efforts fly in next season. Indeed, Opta’s expected goals on target (xGOT) model, which measures the quality of a shot rather than just the chance, suggests he should have had 3.66 goals to his name based on the execution of his attempts.
Cancelo was also almost ‘nailed’ last season, starting 36 out of a possible 38 fixtures. Any new arrival at left-back would pose a little bit more of a rotation risk to Cancelo but his versatility means that he will likely still feature more often than not from kick-off.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE
Kevin De Bruyne chipped in with 15 Premier League goals last season, with his tally in all competitions rising to 19.
After a slow start, he contributed 21 attacking returns in 20 appearances from Gameweek 17 onwards, which included his ridiculous four-goal display in the 5-1 win at Molineux in Double Gameweek 36.
Notably, he was the best player in any position for bonus (33), and while he did significantly outperform his expected goals (xG, +8.77) tally, he is one of a handful of Premier League players – alongside Son Heung-min (£12.0m) and James Ward-Prowse (£6.5m) – who possesses such a dead eye from distance that he frequently makes a mockery of Opta’s expected numbers.
He also now has the prolific Haaland to feed, which could potentially boost his assist numbers given the Norwegian’s ability to overachieve on the xG front and turn half-chances into goals.
De Bruyne’s minutes-per-chance-created average of 26 was the best of any Premier League player who made more than one start last season.
Ederson (£5.5m) kept 20 clean sheets in 37 appearances last term, as he co-shared the Golden Glove award with Alisson (£5.5m).
However, a lack of save points (seven) and bonus points (four) meant that he failed to keep pace with the Liverpool stopper in the overall ‘keeper rankings.
Despite that, £5.5m is a kind price for the Man City number one, and with so much uncertainty at the beginning of the season, Ederson is a safe pair of hands who should reward his owners with a few clean sheets before the first Wildcard is activated.
DIFFERENTIALS AND PLAYERS FOR THE WATCHLIST
Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish are all appealing options in City’s midfield, but who starts on Sunday?
Foden developed into a key cog in Guardiola’s set-up last season, but hasn’t featured as much in pre-season, which maybe suggests Mahrez and Grealish will get the nod at the London Stadium despite so-so displays in the Community Shield.
However, longer-term, it’s still unclear who is favoured in the wide roles.
Elsewhere, Ruben Dias (£6.0m) and Kyle Walker (£5.0m) are alternatives at the back if your budget won’t’ stretch to Cancelo. Walker’s appeal would be boosted majorly if City don’t recruit another full-back after Oleksandr Zinchenko’s exit, while Laporte’s injury will surely see Dias form the bedrock of the backline until September at the earliest.
Watch out for Argentina international Julian Alvarez (£6.5m), too, who could make a big impact off the bench in the opening weeks.