Championship Contenders

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Aug 06, 2019, 01:24

With every new Premier League season comes the introduction of three new teams of whom we have a diminished understanding of their qualities and potential. With a significant strain on our budgets again with notable price increases across the board, it is important to get the lowdown on the budget options that could be utilised from Norwich, Sheffield United and Aston Villa respectively. As such @FPLMane will provide statistic driven analysis in lieu with the opinions of Villa fan @FPL_JJ, Sheffield United fan @FPL_Blade and Norwich fan @FPL_Badger to provide an overview of how each team is likely to fare and who could be a potential FPL asset in our GW1 squads.

@AdsIyer provides the graphics.

Do drop them all a follow and we’re sure they’d be open to further questions.

Sheffield United

How will they fare?

MANE: Sheffield United return to the Premier League for the first time in over a decade. They are managed by Chris Wilder, ex Southampton defender. He was awarded manager of the year for his heroics in getting them promoted. They had finished 10th the season before and defied all odds to return back to the Premier League. Sheffield United line up in a very attacking 3-4-1-2 formation.

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Sheffield United were the joint best defensive side allowing only 41 goals against. They also earned 15 clean sheets, more than any other side. It is worth noting that 12 of the 15 clean sheets came at home (80%). United’s goalkeeper last season was an England under 21 player who was actually on loan from Manchester United (Dean Henderson). The defence is much to thank for the terrific defensive displays forcing the fewest saves per game (2.4) by any goalkeeper.

From the outside looking in, you’d think that a 3 back system with attacking minded centre backs would be an absolute failure defensively. However, these players are bought into the system and believe in what Wilder is doing and have made a success of it.

BLADE: I think we will surprise a lot of teams and finish 13th or 14th. We will be strong at home and keep 10-12 clean sheets throughout the season.

Who are the key attacking assets?

MANE: The Blades ranked 4th in goals scored, netting 78 times. Billy Sharp, one of the two main strikers, found the net 23 times in 34 starts along with 4 assists. David McGoldrick started 36 games and registered 15 goals and 4 assists. McGoldrick averaged 2.0 shots per game whereas Sharp averaged 1.5 shots per game.

Mark Duffy is the most advanced midfielder, however, don’t let this fool you. His attacking returns were pretty poor. He registered 0.8 shots per game, translating into 6 goals and 6 assists in his 36 matches played. His attacking threat is very limited and I would most definitely steer clear from him.

John Fleck and Oliver Norwood are the most defensive midfielders in the side. One of them will cover for the overlapping centre back when they decide to join the attack. Fleck finished the season with 2 goals and 10 assists in 45 matches. Norwood ended the season with 3 goals and 8 assists in 43 matches. Both of these players averaged 0.9 shots per game. Don’t expect these guys to be great attacking picks. McGoldrick is on penalties and Norwood/Fleck take the free kicks & corners.

BLADE: Billy Sharp has been our talisman for the last 3 seasons scoring 20+ goals in each season. He is now 33 and at £6M I can see him getting priced out. David McGoldrick is in contention for my 3rd striker ,although at £5.5M a tad expensive, as he will play more minutes than Sharp and will get some assists to go along with his goals. Fleck (£5M) and Norwood (£5M) both have potential has your 5th midfielder on the bench but usually play too deep. Norwood is great on set pieces.

Who could be a lynch pin in the defence?

MANE: United’s centre backs O’Connell and Basham are given the go ahead to overlap the wing backs and join the attack. It is quite odd to watch centre backs overlapping and getting into the attack, but it worked like a charm in the Championship. John Egan, Chris Basham, and Jack O’Connell combined for 8 goals and 5 assists. Jack O’Connell provided 3 goals and 3 assists. Basham added 3 goals and 1 assist whereas Egan only found the net 1 time and registered 1 assist. George Baldock, a right wing back, earned his spot mid-season and registered 1 goal and 2 assists. Sheffield’s left wing back found the net 4 times along with 6 assists.

BLADE: Stevens is a mainstay at the back but at £5M is a little overpriced. As a result I would go with Jack O’Connell at £4.5M as he gets forward with some regularity and is a threat from set plays, with potential to notch a goal here or there.

How much is success dependent on the potential of new signings?

BLADE: We will definitely sign 2 strikers to go alongside Sharp and McGoldrick as well as Dean Henderson or another goalkeeper of Premier League calibre. We have been linked with McBurnie and Maupay along with Charlie Austin. If we got McBurnie or Maupay they would start alongside McGoldrick and could be good options. Henderson I am pretty confident will sign in the next week or two and will offer a good £4.5M option. Signing Luke Freeman from QPR has been provides competition with Mark Duffy for the 10 role and ensures we are solid in midfield. A right wing-back to replace Baldock would be ideal. Jagielka as well as Stearman & Stevens provide sound defensive cover.

Norwich City

How will they fare?

MANE: Norwich manager Daniel Farke’s reputation has been on the rise for several years now and under his stewardship, Norwich have played some beautiful football. They finished first, 5 points ahead of Sheffield United. They achieved this with brilliant passing and fluidity in the attack which led to them scoring a league high 93 goals, 15 more than second place Sheffield United. They could feasibly have success back in the top flight due to their possession based style with technically gifted midfielders. However, Norwich did concede 57 goals, 16 more than second place Sheffield United.

BADGER: I think we’ll stay up – just about. We’ll need to ride the waves and are bound to have sticky patches in the season where we go a month or so without winning, no doubt taking a few hidings here and there. We’ll need a bit of luck with injuries, referees, rub of the green etc, but the same can be said for all of the other teams battling the drop. I see no reason why we can’t compete and match 6/7 of the other teams in the lower half of the league and take points off each and every one of them. Interestingly I don’t think we’ll just rely on our home form to save our bacon, having actually only lost twice on the road last season, so hopefully we can continue to pick up points on our travels. The fixture computer hasn’t been kind to us as we get things under way, but after GW5, the rest of 2019 is actually looking quite good. I’m confident the team can make the step up and cause a few surprises.

Who are the key attacking assets?

MANE: Norwich tend to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Emiliano Beundia, their right winger on corners. Beundia loves to whip in a cross, serving the ball into the box 35 times in their final 3 games. Vrancic, CDM, is on penalties. If he doesn’t take however, it’ll be Norwich’s striker Pukki to take. Pukki, ST, led the team in goals with 29 goals. He also had 9 assists. This was done in 43 matches. He led the team in shots per game, as expected, with 3.3 per game. Vrancic, CDM, had 10 goals and 7 assists and averaged 1.2 shots per game. Norwich’s CAM Stiepermann finished the season with 9 goals and 6 assists, averaging 2 shots per game. Emiliano Beundia led the team with 12 assists. He also found the back of the net 8 times and averaged 1.9 shots per game.

BADGER: A lot of the community will have heard the name banded about on their timelines, but won’t have seen him in action. 29 goals last year and if we are to survive, Pukki will need to once again deliver the goods and be on top form. Makes a right nuisance of himself, never stops running and is potent in front of goal. His goal scoring streak showed no signs of tailing off this summer, as he continued to bang them in for Finland on International Duty. We’ve signed Swiss International Josip Drmic as back up to keep him on his toes, but it is 18/19 Player of the Season Pukki who will begin the season spearheading the Norwich attack and rightly so. The goals are exactly the same size in the Premier league, so we’ve just got to hope the supplies don’t dry up too much.

Who could be a lynch pin in the defence?

MANE: Max Aaron’s, RB, is a very exciting prospect. He finished the season with 2 goals and 6 assists. He and his left-back counterpart Jamaal Lewis, who finished the season with 4 assists, will be solid value selections. Playing in an attacking minded side, they should get plenty of opportunities to create chances. The Premier League is a whole different beast however, so tread with caution. Their poor form in the back weakens their appeal as well.

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BADGER: Max Aarons is the one who is our biggest threat from the right back position. Only 19 years old, he’s been linked heavily with some of the big boys already this summer. He leads the way over the other City defenders for attacking returns, with 2 goals & 6 assists in the 18/19 season. The key thing about this though, is don’t go expecting too many clean sheets. We kept only 13 last year, conceding a whopping 57 goals – this despite cruising to promotion on 94 points. As all of our defensive assets (bar Hanley who is unlikely to get a look in) are 4.5m, therefore it makes it an easy choice to recommend Aarons.

How much is success dependent on the potential of new signings?

BADGER: It’s obvious we’ve needed to strengthen this summer and add some real Premier League depth, experience and quality to a pretty young squad. 3 signings have already came in through the doors to date.

Patrick Roberts the flying winger from Man City (season long loan) is likely to tussle it out with Onel Hernandez for a spot in the starting eleven. For a young lad, he’s already gained a lot of experience & is obviously well thought of at the Etihad as he remains contracted until 2022.

Another season long loan is the impressive capture of Schalke 04 goalie Ralf Fährmann. The deal will apparently cost 3m & we’re to cough up all the wages, but it is an area that definitely needed addressing. Tim Krul had a very good season on the whole & got better as the campaign went on, but I can’t help feel that the 6ft 5 German hasn’t come to just warm the subs bench. It will be a fascinating battle to see who Farke gives the nod to at Anfield on August 9th.

Finally as mentioned Josip Drmi? has joined on a free transfer from Borussia Mönchengladbach. As we only play one up front, expect him to take a backseat initially and provide cover as and when needed for Teemu Pukki.

All these signings fit into the mould of our other pieces of business by Daniel Farke. Young and hungry players with a point to prove, who may have lost their way slightly over the last year or two and their careers in need of resurrecting. It may take a while for these summer acquisitions to break into the starting line-up though, as Farke is expected to remain loyal to the team who got promoted – the role reversal of Fulham’s activity & 100m shambles in last summer’s transfer window.

I think we are still in need of right back cover in case Aarons gets injured, a top quality defensive midfielder to give Trybull some fierce competition & a top notch centre half to battle it out with Klose, Godfrey and Zimmerman at the heart of the defence. It’s been all quiet on the transfer rumours over the past couple of days apart from a reported sighting of Carl Jenkinson in Norwich today, but it’s only a matter of time before things start to rumble again.

Aston Villa

How will they fare?

MANE: Aston Villa have finally returned back to the premier league. There is great optimism in the club now as they hope to establish themselves back in the Premier League. Aston Villa are managed by Dean Smith. Smith plays a very high press, possession based style of football. Albeit, not at quite the same level that Manchester City play it…

Villa line up in a 4-1-4-1 formation. They did however tinker with a 4-3-3 at the end of the season so it’ll be interesting to see how they decide to line up come pre-season. Aston Villa conceded 61 goals this past season which is pretty poor compared to the other top sides in the Championship. However, this data is skewed in my opinion due to their horrific start to the season. They were not even in the top 10 after the first 23 games.

It is safe to say, they have bought into a system and have found what makes them tick. The deepest midfielder sits deep and provides defensive stability. This allows the two central midfielders, but in particular Grealish, the freedom to bomb forward. If they can continue to execute this system effectively in the Premier League I think they can find great success.

JJ: Our three year stint in the Championship has provided our fans with a fair perspective on where we are as a club; the fact that a record breaking 30,000 season tickets have already been sold tells you everything you need to know about the excitement around Villa Park. My heart tells me that we will surprise many pundits this season and replicate the sort of form that Wolves showed during the previous campaign. However, simply avoiding relegation and finishing 17th or higher is certainly the primary aim. My realistic prediction would be a low mid-table finish.

Who are the key attacking assets?

MANE: John McGinn, central midfielder, registered 6 goals and 9 assists, and averaged 1.8 shots per game. He also registered 40 shots in the box and more shots on target than any other villa midfielder. Defensive midfielder Hourihane produced 8 goals and 11 assists. He led the team in assists and loves to take long range shots. I’m sure we will see some worldies from him this season. He averaged 1.3 shots per game. Grealish finished the season with 6 goals and 6 assists in 34 starts. He missed a couple months due to injury but was a very important piece to their promotion back to the premier league. He averaged 1.3 shots per game and looks to be an intriguing pick for this coming season. Tammy Abraham, the man who scored 26 goals and produced 3 assists in 40 starts, was their main man up front but his loan has expired and as things stands will return back to Chelsea. He is a future superstar and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to Chelsea and take off.

JJ: Following Jack Grealish’s return from injury in our 4-0 home win over Derby on 2nd March, our form turned dramatically. A ten game winning run propelled us into the playoffs and highlighted just how instrumental he is to the side. Everything we do in an attacking sense will come through our captain and he could even be on penalties now that Tammy Abraham has returned to Chelsea. At £6.0m he could be an absolute bargain. Other assets to look out for are Anwar El-Ghazi (£5.5m) and Wesley (£6.0m). The last time we signed an unproven striker from the Belgian top flight he turned out to be a FPL gold. That man was of course Christian Benteke and Villa fans are hopeful that Wesley can have a similar impact upon the Premier League.

Who could be a lynch pin in the defence?

MANE: Loanees Tyrone Mings and Axel Tuanzebe (both centre backs) were absolutely superb last season and if either return for next season should be mainstays at the back. As an England supporter, I’m very intrigued by Tuanzebe. Born in 1997, he is a young talent with lots of potential. El Mohamady will be returning to the premier league for what seems like his 100th season. He had a superb season providing 2 goals and 8 assists in his 35 starts. He was one of the most influential defenders attacking wise this past season. Neil Taylor, left back, provided 3 goals and 3 assists. However, his attacking influence is very weak compared to El Mohamady.

JJ: The nailed on & reliable Tyrone Mings was an absolute rock at the centre of our defence last season. Although he has not yet signed from Bournemouth, it seems highly likely that the 26-year-old will be joining us sooner rather than later. He could prove to be a viable FPL asset, particularly if Dean Smith can ensure Villa Park remains the fortress it was during our time in the Championship.

How much is success dependent on the potential of new signings?

JJ: I am hopeful that we can sign Jack Butland from Stoke City as I believe he will be an excellent addition to our backline. Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips proved his outstanding potential last season and I would love to see him in the claret and blue. Signing Mings has to be a priority as he was so instrumental following his January loan move. Dean Smith has a particular way of playing and if he can sign players who fit perfectly into that role then we are hopefully going to surprise many people next season.

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