Trying to identify those assets which hold appeal across the Premier League can be a daunting task.

So, to help simplify the process, I've analysed each team and offered my thoughts, underpinned by the data where necessary, into some of this season's best picks.

Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang:

The Gabonese striker was quiet by his high standards in 2020/21, and his goal tally of ten was his lowest across an entire campaign since bursting onto the scene at Saint Etienne.

However, while Auba may not have been firing on all cylinders, Arsenal also faltered under Mikel Arteta. When the Gunners play well, the skipper tends to profit, although previously, his data rarely suffered even if the team was misfiring.

There is no doubt that he is the sides' best striker, and if they can recruit well in midfield – James Maddison is heavily linked - he could have a great season.

The downside, he has been reclassified as an attacker once again, for no real reason, and his price tag makes him an incredibly expensive punt.

Emile Smith Rowe:

If the 21-year-old can nail down a regular starting berth, then he is priced incredibly well at £5.5m.

Arsenal played their best football when he was in the side last term, and the change in his squad number: No.10 indicates he will have an important role to play.

Kieran Tierney:

It may have slipped under the radar, but Arsenal's defensive performances improved massively during the second half of last season.

From GW19 onwards, the side was ranked in the Top Five and was only behind United, City, Chelsea, and Brighton for goals conceded.

Therefore, clean sheet returns are a strong possibility this season, especially with the addition of Ben White, and Tierney also offers a lot going forward.

His xA (expected assist) per 90 was an impressive 0.16, and he provided lots of opportunities for teammates with 1.29 key passes and 2.27 shot-creating actions.  

Aston Villa

Emiliano Buendia:

The new Argentine star of Villa Park has shown the intent of the club to further their progress.

On the face of it, Buendia looks under-priced based on his fantastic underlying Championship data and the limited numbers from his short spell in the Premier League with a struggling Norwich side.

He could be on a lot of set pieces, especially in the absence of the now-departed Jack Grealish, and be a centre point of one of last season's Top Seven attacks.

Danny Ings:

After an injury-hit time at Liverpool, the striker has reinvented himself and has demonstrated why the Villains were prepared to pay £30m for his services.

He is one of the most clinical finishers in the league. Niggling injuries meant he couldn't replicate the highs of 2019/20 last season, but he has been working hard over the summer, and I expect Ings to make a significant impact at Villa.

Ollie Watkins:

Ownership of Ollie plummeted following the news that the deal for Ings had been done, but I still feel there is a place for the striker, although it may mean an early-season watch to see how Dean Smith sets his side.

Despite the step up from the Championship, Watkins matched his xG last season, and with more opportunities coming his way, he could be scoring more regularly.  

Brentford

Ivan Toney:

The striker arrives on the big stage after tearing up League One and the Championship with 70 goal contributions from only 77 games.

However, the general rule of thumb: expect a 33% downturn in output for any player arriving from the Championship. But at £6.5m, you'd be happy to take the punt.

Brentford are a data-based team, their Moneyball moniker has been bandied around for a few years now, and this dictates their style of play where they produce high xG and low xGA.

Toney could be the latest in a long line of Premier League graduates from Griffin Park, but I would always advise caution with newly-promoted sides.

Bryan Mbeumo:

The former Troyes attacker has impressed since arriving at the club aged 19 returning 22 direct goal contributions (15-goals and 7-assists) in his first season before following that up with another 18 (8-goals and 10-assists) in 2020/21.

Mbeumo is vital to the Bees' style of play and can be deployed on the wing, as an inside forward or centrally cutting in on his left foot. He averages a league goal contribution of 0.6 per 90. 

Brighton and Hove Albion

Robert Sanchez:

The Spanish stopper was one of last seasons' best signings which was reflected in his FPL returns: he was one of the top performers with 22 points per million.

The Seagulls had the 7th best defence in terms of total goals conceded and eighth-best for clean sheets, but most of these performances came when Sanchez broke into the first XI.

He managed a 37.3% clean-sheet ratio in the league, which made him fourth-best overall. At £4.5m, there may not be a better goalkeeper, and he could be the piece of the puzzle that Brighton need to take them to the next level.

Tariq Lamptey:

Injury upset what looked like a breakout season for the wing-back, problems that continue to hamper the defender. But, when he did play, he comfortably passed the eye test and had some excellent underlying numbers.

What could be good this year is that added clean sheet potential combined with his chance creation ability which has him in the 81st percentile of players from Europe's Top Five leagues.

His bargain price point makes him an extremely appealing asset. Still, Lamptey will be on the backburner early doors as his recovery from hamstring surgery takes longer than initially anticipated.

Leandro Trossard:

Neal Maupay garners the most of the attention, and rightly so, he was the Brighton player with the highest xGI last season, but the importance of Trossard, who can play in a variety of roles, cannot be understated.

Although he created 20 fewer chances than Pascal Gross, Trossard's were of higher quality, ranking him 7th overall for xA. I also like the fact he meets or slightly exceeds the majority of his expected metrics.

Finally, Brighton are set-piece specialists, and Trossard is often called upon for high-quality out swinging balls to their aerially gifted players. 

Burnley

Nick Pope:

A Premier League goalkeeper of the highest calibre, but one that may not be ready for the season opener as he battles to overcome the knee injury that forced him out of the Euro 2020 England squad.

Rated fifth overall last season, once fit, you can expect Pope to secure more clean sheets with lots of save points due to the Burnley style of play.

But, at £5.5m, he doesn't come cheap, and with other lower-priced viable options, it does make you question whether he is worth owning.

Matt Lowton:

The second-highest scoring Burnley defensive asset last season. This was ahead of the more expensive Ben Mee while he was only six behind the £5.0m priced James Tarkowski, demonstrating he is the best value in that backline.

One of the more fascinating insights from his data is that Lowton tied with Luke Shaw for Big Chances Created and was 7th best amongst all defenders'.

Chris Wood:

The striker was involved in almost half of Burnley's goals, and his 12-goal haul was fantastic.

He was a solid and consistent goalscorer who placed seventh in FPL last season for attackers: he slightly underperformed xG but marginally overperformed xA.

His involvement at the Olympics with New Zealand may delay his start, while the return to fitness of Ashley Barnes will help to share the attacking burden. 

Chelsea

Ben Chilwell:

One of the more solid picks in a defensive backline which Thomas Tuchel loves to tinker with, and at £6.0m, he is priced nicely due to his potential attacking output coupled with an incredibly well-drilled defence.

Three goals and five assists from 27 Premier League appearances in 2020/21.

Cesar Azpilicueta:

The Chelsea captain was one of the more secure picks under Tuchel, with Azpilicueta only missing two Premier League games since his arrival, which is why his price point (£6.0m) may seem a little high.

Mason Mount:

The most likely to start of all the attacking options at Tuchel's disposal. Last season he returned a fairly impressive 6-goals and five assists.

He will have his fair share of set-piece involvement, and as Chelsea kick on from a fantastic turnaround under Tuchel, Mount can profiteer. His £7.5m price also makes him an attractive prospect. 

Crystal Palace

Wilfred Zaha:

The Palace talisman was involved in either scoring or creating 38% of his side's goals last season: 11-goals and four assists.

And now, under the stewardship of Patrick Vieira, he will become more of a focal point as the new boss implements a more attacking philosophy.

Vincente Guaita:

After a tough season, the Palace shot-stopper finds himself with a price reduction (£4.5m). This could benefit those who are brave enough to take the plunge as Vieira will be tasked with remedying the defensive frailties of his ageing backline.

Guaita could be a decent shout if you are inclined to rotate your goalkeepers. However, be warned, Palace have one of the worst starts to the season where they play five out of the eight sides which qualified for Europe plus Arsenal.

Michael Olise:

It's hoped that the signing from Reading will be this season's Eberechi Eze. The fiercely talented No.10 is likely to create lots of opportunities for his teammates.

He averages 0.23xA per 90, and his off the ball movement is also as impressive as what he does with it.

This looks to be a very shrewd signing, although a persistent back complaint means Crystal Palace supporters may have to wait a little time before he dons the blue and red.  

Everton

Lucas Digne:

Since signing for the Toffees, Digne has never finished with less than eight direct goal contributions.

Even under different managers with differing styles, he has been a consistent performer, and the team struggles when he is not playing.

His underlying data is fiercely impressive, showing he is one of the best creative defenders in Europe with a Top 8% xA per 90 and a Top 6% actual assists per 90.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin:

The striker seems to be growing season-on-season, with 2020/21 being his best output yet with 16-goals and 6-assists.

He was the 5th highest scoring forward in FPL last term, and he could get off to a flyer with a favourable fixture start.

If Rafa Benitez can get Everton to perform more consistently, particularly at Goodison Park, then Calvert-Lewin could benefit massively as the team's primary outlet.

Jordan Pickford:

The arrival of Benitez has not been hailed on Merseyside, but Everton have landed one of the best tactical coaches in Europe.

His approach to building from the back with a solid foundation should increase clean sheet potential, and following on from a successful Euro 2020 tournament, Pickford may get some decent numbers on the board.  

Leeds United

Firpo:

A lot of attention has been cast onto Luke Ayling, who, although a good defender, has never put up numbers that suggest he will be a viable attacking outlet. However, this is where new signing Firpo comes in.

The Spaniard has sensational attacking data from the previous four seasons for both Barcelona and Real Betis. His xG and goals scored are Top 10% season upon season, plus he also has some fantastic xA data.

His speed and physique look to be an excellent fit for an aggressive Leeds side, while Marcelo Bielsa will be able to improve on this diamond in the rough.

Priced at £5.0m, I believe this could be a bargain as Leeds will push on from their great end of season form.

Patrick Bamford:

A striker who needs many chances, but a striker who finished as the second-highest scoring forward in FPL behind Harry Kane.

Leeds create lots of opportunities, and most attacks culminate with either Bamford or Raphinha taking the shot. Despite a hefty price hike, his £8.0m price could still prove to be a snip.

Raphinha:

As mentioned, when it's not Bamford getting involved in the attack, Raphinha is never far behind.

Every player in the Leeds side deserves plaudits for their explosive first season back in the Premier League, but Raphinha is rightly seen as one of the team's stars.

16-goal involvements for a £6.5m valued midfielder is an incredibly good price, and hopefully, with better fitness, he will return even more. 

Leicester City

Jamie Vardy:

The talisman of the Leicester side, and despite going from goalscorer to assister last season, he still finished as the third-highest scoring forward in FPL.

Guaranteed minutes and likely to start most matches; however, he can be rested around congested fixture periods and important cup games.

Kasper Schmeichel:

Nailed. No question. But a solid Foxes defence has been weakened in recent times due to the loss of Wesley Fofana (broken leg) and the ongoing situation with Jonny Evans (plantar fasciitis).

Kelechi Iheanacho:

The striker grasped the opportunity handed to him last season, making him almost undroppable. But Kelechi needs to maintain his high standards with fierce competition in the offensive third.

James Maddison and Harvey Barnes will be back to full fitness, and Brendan Rodgers is not afraid to deploy a variety of formations. Furthermore, new signings create strong competition, and Kelechi will be under pressure from the get-go.

FPL Weekly Tips & Articles:

Liverpool

Mo Salah:

Mr Consistent. The most expensive player in FPL, and deservedly so… Salah will punish the doubters and strikes fear into non-owners.

He is the focal point of an incredible Liverpool attack that found its feet again towards the end of 2020/21. With a bolstered squad and Virgil van Dijk returning to fitness, the Reds will be a force once again.

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

Returned the most points (107) during the second half of the season. An untimely thigh injury scuppered his chances of going to the Euros, but England's loss could be Liverpool's gain arriving at GW1 fully refreshed.

The flying wing-back posts ridiculous attacking numbers and will undoubtedly be a creative force to be reckoned with again.

Andrew Robertson:

Another consistent performer and a full-back whose positioning and output is more akin to a midfielder.

Robertson justifies his premium price, and surely the only debate is whether you can fit him, Salah and Trent in your team. 

Manchester City

Ruben Dias:

The main problem at City is Pep and his particular penchant for rotation. Joao Cancelo is the more attacking option here, but he is not a guaranteed starter, and in Dias, we have as close to a set and forget defender as you could want.

Cancelo fell out of favour in the latter part of last season.  The output of Dias may be a little lower from his more attack-minded teammates, but you shouldn't mind too much with a high percentage of clean sheets incoming.

Ederson:

City are a side you love to invest in, but you need certain guarantees given the premium outlay. Ederson gives you that, and even though many may baulk at his £6.0m, what price can you put on removing this selection headache?

And who knows, we may even see him finally take that penalty Pep has hinted at for many seasons.

Kevin De Bruyne:

Simply put - one of the best players to ever grace the Premier League. An essential pick for many managers' due to his individual attributes and the City style of play.

His stock will soar even further if Pep signs a big striker – ahem, Harry Kane - but no matter, KDB will deliver regardless.

Looking for the cloud on the silver lining, injuries seem to be the only worry here, although the arrival of Jack Grealish gives Pep the option of resting key players more frequently.  

Manchester United

Bruno Fernandes:

The Portuguese star has cemented his position as another asset of the hallowed must-haves. The main attraction is that Bruno seems to bag the points and bonuses even on a quiet day!

He is on set pieces and penalties, and unlike Kevin De Bruyne, he can be counted on to start each week without rotation or as much of an injury risk.

Luke Shaw:

United have their sights set on improvement at both ends of the pitch. In attack, Jadon Sancho has arrived while Raphael Varane will bolster Solskjaer's backline.

The new centre-back could see Ole ditch the double-pivot allowing for a more expansive, attacking style of play, with Shaw being one of the main benefactors.

Harry Maguire:

I do like the appeal of the centre-back, who grew in stature last season.

A new set-piece coach tells us that Ole will focus more on free-kicks and corners this season following a paltry return of just seven in 2020/21, which can only be good news for those who own Maguire.  

Newcastle United

Callum Wilson:

A lot will rest on the shoulders of United's leading man, especially in the absence of Joe Willock, who helped secure the club's top-flight status with seven goals in seven consecutive games to equal Alan Shearer's record.

Typically, Wilson starts strongly, although niggling hamstring issues have tempered my enthusiasm somewhat.

In 2020/21, he was 11th overall for points per million, and Wilson was Top Five in the Premier league for non-penalty xG per shot with 0.19.

Martin Dubravka:

A phenomenal shot-stopper who will rack up plenty of save points in a Newcastle team that allows many chances to be conceded.

Dubravka has a history of preventing expected goals, but the worry is that Steve Bruce's tactical changes towards the end of the campaign left the team more open.

Question marks remain on when the goalkeeper will be available after undergoing surgery to remedy a foot complaint.

Matt Ritchie:

With Paul Dummett currently sidelined and no obvious incomings, Ritchie looks set to begin the season on the left.

He is incredibly attack-minded and, along with Willock, was the standout player following his return to the XI.  

Norwich City

Teemu Pukki:

Last time Norwich were in the Premier League, many people jumped on the early season Pukki party. But alas, it was short-lived, as injury, plus lack of team quality, meant the Canaries went down without too much of a fight.

Pukki had a decent season in the second tier and will be leading the line again, but his output will be affected without his chief creator, Emiliano Buendia.

Todd Cantwell:

Behind Buendia and Pukki, Cantwell was the third top-scoring Norwich player last term.

The 23-year-old made a pretty good impression on his previous appearance in the Premier League with a string of performances that had the likes of Liverpool watching closely.  

Southampton

James Ward-Prowse:

A leader on and off the pitch for the Saints, and despite heavy speculation linking him away from St Mary's, I can't see a move happening.

JWP has not missed a single Premier League minute in two seasons but is currently struggling due to a knee injury, and Ralph Hasenhuttl is not confident his skipper can make week one.

Fantastic from open play with a wide array of set-piece deliveries, he is the reason why Southampton had the second-highest dead ball goals.  

Tottenham Hotspur

Heung-Min Son:

A world-class performer who looks set to thrive again regardless of whether Harry Kane remains at the club.

Consistently outperforming his xG with an amazing ability to score from difficult situations, the Spurs sharpshooter looks primed to lead the Tottenham attack.

My only reservation would be the arrival of Nuno Espirito Santo and a period of transition.

Harry Kane:

The best points per game of any player last season bar none, and the second-highest scoring player in FPL during 2020/21.

Kane holds massive appeal should he remain at the club, but if he joins someone like City… then we're talking next level.

He could easily score 40+ goals if he remains fully fit - a doubt for the opening fixtures due to his involvement at Euro 2020.

Sergio Reguilon:

A price reduction (£5.0m) and a new manager renowned for being a stickler for defensive fortitude could make the Spaniard a very good target.

There are many question marks around Spurs at the moment, but Reguilon should be a regular starter, and following the arrival of Christian Romero, they will be a lot tighter. 

Watford

Joao Pedro:

Watford have been rewarded for allowing their very talented Brazilian time to develop. Pedro was the second-highest goalscorer last season, and he performed well, outscoring his xG throughout the campaign.

He may share spot-kick duties with Ismaila Sarr if Troy Deeney is phased out of the side as an extra appeal.

Ismaila Sarr:

The Hornets star man in 2020/21 with 13 goals and three assists.

The Senegalese international attracted much attention in his first Premier League season, most notably in the shock win over Liverpool, and Watford have done well to hang onto their prize asset.

Listed as a midfielder in FPL, he seems to be one of the players who has enjoyed playing under Xisco Munoz the most.

Daniel Bachman:

After an injury forced Ben Foster to sit out in January, Bachman grabbed his opportunity with both hands, cementing his place as Watford's No.1.

The goalkeeper is attracting interest from across Europe following a string of superb performances for Austria, and he could get quite a few save points throughout the season.  

West Ham United

Aaron Cresswell:

Last season, the full-back proved his worth in both defence and attack. He was incredibly creative, and with David Moyes focusing on set-piece returns, Cresswell will again be an essential cog in the Hammers machine.

The only concern is West Ham's early season defensive solidity fell apart during the closing weeks, and this will need to be addressed.

Tomas Soucek:

A player who adapted to the rigours of the Premier League seamlessly and a player who should benefit from the absence of Jesse Lingard, which saw him play in a deeper role.

A slight rise should not put you off; at £6.0m, his set-piece threat due to his height should pay you back by the bucket full.

Vladimir Coufal:

This was another one of the Hammers' excellent signings last season that blended so well into the team.

He was a wonderful creator in a reasonably good attack, and he will be hoping West Ham can stay strong throughout 2021/22.  

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Conor Coady:

Priced very well (£4.5m) as a sure starter, and if Wolves can recapture the form that saw them finish seventh in consecutive seasons, he could return decent defensive points.

Coady does not offer the same threat going forward as, say Willy Boly, and he is unlikely to get many attacking returns, but you at least have the certainty that he will be starting week in week out.

Ait Nouri:

The youngster impressed greatly last season, and his loan spell has become a permanent acquisition.

And, what may suit him more in the upcoming campaign is a new approach from manager Bruno Lage. Locked in, while Jonny (ACL knee) remains on the sidelines.

Adama Traore:

There is no doubting the Spaniard's quality, but his inclusion is only out of necessity following a poor campaign.

With Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto injured, and Raul Jimenez still working his way back to full fitness, the speedy winger will be looking to make amends.

His return of only two goals and 4-assists was insufficient for a player of his calibre, and for those that like an early-season punt, then Traore could be that man at £6.0m.


*Credit for the main photo belongs to Michael Regan / Pool via AP*

 

FIRST PUBLISHED: 8th July 2021

About the Author
By
Ben Dinnery Football Expert

Ben Dinnery is the founder of Premier Injuries, a website used to track and record injury data for the British Premier League.

Described by The Telegraph as the “country’s leading data injury analyst,” Ben provides statistic insight and data to a host of broadsheet outlets and some of the world’s leading media organisations.

A regular contributor on talkSPORT radio and BBC Radio 5 Live, Ben’s data is published globally through his work with Sky Sports, NBC Sports and ESPN plus a host of other leading media broadcasters.