The Premier League resisted the push for the five substitutions rule per side for the last two seasons. As was always inevitable, that resistance was broken for 2022-23.
The argument for additional subs was aided by the altered schedule due to the controversial Qatar World Cup in the winter months.
Consequences of teams having five substitutes per match rather than three are far-reaching. Many have cited this as a threat to the league’s entertainment value, and a further way of skewing competition in favour of the richest.
While this isn’t our focus here, those topics are clearly intertwined with how extra subs influence FPL tips going forward.
Fantasy managers have a new regulation to consider, an additional layer which could enhance the value of some players and decrease the value of others.
Will the top managers be more willing to rotate in favourable fixtures knowing they can switch half of their outfield players if the match isn’t going in their direction? Could this make upsets even more unlikely?
There is some evidence from 2020 that being able to use two additional players off the bench will see the teams with the deepest squads completely dominate the end of matches.
Manchester City have an entire Champions League-quality attack on their bench. The same goes for Liverpool and to a lesser extent Chelsea.
The teams already favoured in football odds have again seen the Premier League move in their direction.
More Rotation In FPL?
While it almost certainly helps the bigger clubs overall, there are further questions for FPL managers to ponder.
Pep Guardiola, notorious among the FPL community for his rotation, already shuffles his pack on a weekly basis, but he now has even further flexibility to do so.
Leaving Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland on the bench for a rest is less of a risk if Guardiola has three other substitutes to play with once he introduces his megastar duo.
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De Bruyne and Haaland could come on with Guardiola still able to make a string of other changes like swapping Jack Grealish for Phil Foden or slotting Ilkay Gundogan into midfield.
There is already a considerable element of lottery when selecting City players. FPL managers should be prepared for this to get exaggerated in 2022-23, particularly as the schedule gets more gruelling with continental competition and domestic cups.
This logic, of course, can almost equally be applied to Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool have provided the charismatic German with further depth to play his own rotation game.
FPL favourites like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mo Salah are easier to leave on the bench when there’s that margin for error of the extra substitutes.
Starting line ups potentially become harder to predict.
In the case of Tottenham’s best FPL players, Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are still guaranteed starters, but Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison are potentially less valuable FPL assets with the knowledge that Antonio Conte can switch things up more often.
Players who were previously competing for minutes can take on more of a job share than with three subs.
Automatic Substitutions in FPL
On the other hand, this might not change that much. Football, and particularly the Premier League, can be reactionary. Has a mountain been made out of a molehill?
Some managers will be reluctant to make such drastic changes to their team mid-match.
Others simply do not have the squad depth for this to be relevant. For instance, it’s not something to worry about with the best newly promoted players in FPL.
From an FPL perspective, there should be a smidgen of concern about how this impacts automatic subs, however.
Previously, a premium player sitting out a match was frustrating, but if they were rested, it meant you could get some points from the bench.
Extra substitutions obviously make it more likely that players are brought on in the closing minutes for an infuriating one-point outing. This will be prevalent as a time-wasting tactic in close matches especially.
Again, though, this is only an occasional issue, and likely only something that will impact the top clubs who can afford to rotate their best players and premier FPL assets.
Do Your Research
Managers have different philosophies with substitutions. While most will still use their allocation of three in the majority of fixtures, that could be very different with five to experiment with.
It could be a period of adaptation for some managers, but plenty have had a taster of this regulation in 2020-21.
Only nine managers from that spell are still managing in the Premier League in 2022-23, and circumstances were obviously very different. Still, the statistics from those nine or 10 matches could help to inform early-season FPL decisions.
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Brighton’s Graham Potter and Klopp led the way with an average of 4.8 and 4.7 subs per game respectively. Potter used all five in eight of Brighton’s nine matches.
Guardiola, typically, delved into his bench with 4.1 subs per match, and would often ring the changes early when City had a comfortable lead. Eddie Howe and Mikel Arteta were active, too, with Howe using all five subs in six of his nine matches.
At the other end of the spectrum, look for Leicester and West Ham to be unaffected by the new rule.
David Moyes averaged three subs per game back in 2020, only once using his allocation of five. Brendan Rodgers averaged just 3.8 substitutes per game, thrice using all five.
Then again, the Hammers’ squad has improved since then, and Moyes has to deal with the stresses of European football this term. Rodgers, too, might adapt his approach with such a hectic schedule in 2022-23.
It will be several months before proper conclusions can be drawn on the impact of the five substitutes rule on FPL.
For now, it looks like a change which can further irritate FPL managers, and potentially restrict the value of players at weaker clubs given how this rule change should help the top sides.
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*
FIRST PUBLISHED: 27th July 2022