Premier League Panic Level

Chuck Booth
Rotoworld

The international breaks are a good time to take stock of your FPL side as you have two weeks to mull over performance and data without a deadline to actually make moves. If your team is flying high, you're looking at how to sustain that start while if your team is having a less than stellar start this is a time to come up with an intricate plan of coordinated hits or take a mulligan and wildcard. 

In the Premier League Panic level, I'll be taking a look at each club ordered by position in the table. This will offer a look at who to trust for each club while also giving some projections on who to bring in on a wildcarded or transfers. I’ll be going in order through the standings so let’s get underway.

Liverpool: Top of the league and undefeated four games into the season, we’re going to begin with the Reds. The chief concern for Liverpool has been their defense but after a workmanlike performance versus Burnley, faith is slowly being restored. But who needs Liverpool defenders when Mo Salah is still a must-own, Sadio Mané is challenging him for must-own status and for another year running, Roberto Firmino looks like a sneaky entry into the Liverpool attack. With the international break passing, Allison is also a week closer to returning and it’s another week for Andrew Robertson to finally get his first return of the season.

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Panic Level: Chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool

Manchester City: Close behind the Reds are Manchester City thanks to a draw versus Spurs (considering Tottenham’s season so far, I can’t believe that I can say this). Top assets Raheem Sterling, Sergio Agüero and Kevin De Bruyne are performing as expected while David Silva has been a nice surprise so far. But it hasn’t been all roses for the Citizens as Americ Laporte is likely lost for the season Gabriel Jesus has also been out with an injury and they still don’t play well without a central defensive midfielder.

This may be nitpicking but its the status that a team earns by breaking almost every offensive Premier League record. We have reached a point where two Manchester City attackers are must owns, the questions are which two. I have de Bruyne and Aguero but would lean to de Bruyne and Sterling due to the threat of Jesus.

Panic Level: Good things come to those who wait

Leicester City: In third place in the Premier League, I bring you Spur… Leicester City! Just as we predicted. After getting off to a slow start with draws in their first two games, Leicester City has broken out with five goals in their last two games. Jamie Vardy has broken out of his slumber but new signing Ayoze Pérez has not. Looking at things the Foxes may be exceeding expectations by a hair but not enough to not invest in their players moving forward.

I still like Vardy and James Maddison first and foremost but I’m coming around to adding Ricardo Pereira to my team. Not to sold on Mr. Umlaut for FPL, however. 

Panic Level: Keep it steady eddy 

Crystal Palace: In fourth, we bring you… The fighting Patrick van Aanholts! Seriously, Patrick Van Aanholt is the only player on this team that I trust in my FPL side but there are a few guys who I’d add in a draft league. Jordan Ayew is worth rolling the dice but Palace defenders are steamable and Luka Milivojević will return to form for draft leagues.

Panic Level: It only gets worse from here

Arsenal: Feeling like winners coming out of the North London Derby the Gunners are getting their swagger back. A front three of Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe is among the best in the league while Dani Ceballos looks like the real deal setting them up. The concern here is with the defense not being up to par, (which will hopefully be helped with Kieran Tierney and Héctor Bellerín returning to fitness), and Unai Emery making very odd personnel decisions. 

With all that, Arsenal seems to be just about a lock to make the top four and Dani Ceballos is the most intriguing player for my FPL side. 

Panic Level: Just stay the course and play your best players

Everton: What are  Everton? Are they a top-six defense? Is Richarlison for real? As is the case every year, there are more questions than answers for the Toffees. They can start to answer more of them by starting Moise Kean and Alex Iwobi, who showed well in their full debuts, more but the team will go as far as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison take them. More games like the one versus Wolves prior to the international break would be welcome for Everton but more open displays like that would make me hesitant to back Lucas Digne in FPL so heavily. 

I just hope that Everton can figure out what direction that they’re going to trend in to make FPL forecasting easier to do.

Panic Level: Is Marco Silva for real?

West Ham: The Hammers may have the best attack in the Premier League that no one is talking about. Manuel Lanzini is fully healthy and showing that he can be a top 10 attacking midfielder in the league. Sebastian Haller is showing that he’s as good as advertised and then some with three goals in his last two games and Andriy Yarmolenko has risen from the dead to fill the void left by Michail Antonio’s injury. If you drafted Pablo Fornals hoping that he’d break into the attack, now is the time to drop him but otherwise, its all systems go as long as West Ham stays healthy.

If you’ve been attentive, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the defense at all and that’s because I trust them as far as I can throw them. Being that I’m writing this instead of being in a powerlifting competition, it’s safe to assume that I don’t trust them very much. Arthur Masuaku is worth a look in draft leagues due to attacking potential but that’s about it.

Panic Level: Don’t break the rudder! Stay the course!

Manchester United: Chelsea but in Red is how I’m describing United this season. Both teams get out to early leads and dominate games for the most part but then leave disappointed at the final whistle. Daniel James has already done more for the team than Alexis Sanchez ever did but without Anthony Martial, the attack isn’t getting it done. I think that Marcus Rashford will be fine as will Paul Pogba in togga leagues (The man still puts up 11 per game with no goals) but the cracks are there. The midfield isn’t good enough, the defense is wafer-thin and Manchester United will be lucky to sniff Europa League at this point let alone secure a Champions League berth.

Panic Level: Ole’s at the wheel but no one’s in the car

Tottenham: Ugh… if you haven’t figured out yet, I’m a Tottenham fan so the words that I’m about to write sting a bit. 

I’m not sure how to value this team so far. On their day with Christian Eriksen in the lineup, Spurs can beat anyone. Tanguay Ndombele looks like the signing of the season but the front three of Lucas Moura, Heung Min Son, and Harry Kane just don’t do it for me. They get in each other’s way and that leads to Harry Kane dropping deep instead of doing what he does best and shooting the ball six times per game. The issue here is that Erik Lamela and Dele Alli have been so injury prone that Spurs haven’t had much to work with in terms of options. Add in that new signing Giovani Lo Celso is possibly out until October and this team keeps playing games with one arm behind their back.

And don’t get me started on the defense. I’d take the back line on every team above Spurs in the table outside of Crystal Palace and Arsenal and that’d make Spurs a top-four team alone. If you own Eriksen, you’re praying that he stays on the team but at least September is here so Harry Kane’s season has begun.

Panic Level: the asteroid is closing in

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Sheffield United: With only one loss to begin the season, the Blades are flying high. We still know nothing about which striker is the must-own for FPL but Callum Robinson is doing the best that he can to become that guy. Oliver Norwood has become a gem for Togga leagues. Hopefully, once they play more bottom half teams Jack O’Connell and the defense can keep more clean sheets but as the highest placed newly promoted team at the break, Chris Wilder’s men are happy.

FPL owners are also happy as long as Lunstramania continues even if there’s only one goal to show from the 4.0m starter.

Panic Level: Swashbuckling their way through the schedule.

Chelsea: See United, Manchester. There are two players who I’d like to give plaudits to and they are Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount. Both are young players rewarding the trust given to them by Frank Lampard but they can’t carry this team alone. Pedro has been a good winger for Togga purposes while Willian has made Chelsea wish they sold him to Barcelona when they could but have no fear because Callum Hudson-Odoi is coming to save the day. Something needs to be done in defense but there’s not much in terms of options so hopefully, Chelsea can finish their chances to win more games by a 3-2 scoreline.

Watch Ben Dinnery’s timeline on Reese James’ recovery because while he’s not a defensive upgrade, if Chelsea decides to go all-out attack, James should become a regular in the lineup.

Panic Level: Not having expectations is fun

Burnley: The Ashley Barnes show has continued while Sean Dyche’s boys are back. Freed from Europa League play and with Nick Pope back in net things are going as expected for the Clarets. Fantasy wise things boil down to the defenders and Barnes so hopefully Chris Wood gets things going sooner than later. Dwight McNeil is the pick of draft leagues. 

Panic Level: Smooth sailing

Southampton: Stop me if you've heard this before but Southampton made good buys during the Summer and are underperforming so far this season. The draw against Manchester United was a wonderful result but this Southampton side is short on fantasy options and will also find themselves closer to the relegation zone than safety. The only thing that can save them is Che Adams and Danny Ings combining for around 25 goals but the two of them and Nathan Redmond aren’t enough to pull along a below-average defense.

Panic Level: Fighting as the underdog but about to fall

Newcastle: After taking Tottenham’s scalp, Newcastle must be given some credit after being penciled in for relegation to begin the season. Joelinton has looked bright, Jonjoe Shelvey continues to be class when picked in the starting 11 and the Magpies have the best collection of center backs outside of the top six. But there are no wingers to get the ball to Joelinton and the midfield is a crapshoot.

Miguel Almirón needs to rediscover his form of last season if Newcastle wants any hope of survival and I’m still backing him to do that. Newcastle has a chance but they need to get healthy and figure out a viable midfield pivot.

Panic Level: Still tinkering

Bournemouth: The question for Bournemouth is, “Who’s healthy to get a run out in week five?” The Cherries may want to look into a new medical staff as Simon Francis, Dan Gosling, David Brooks, Lewis Cook, Charlie Daniels, Adam Smith, Chris Mepham, Lloyd Kelly, Junior Stanislas, and new signing Arnaut Danjuma all have listed injuries. It’s tough to judge this team if they’re consistently without their best players but as long as Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser are on the pitch, Bournemouth has a chance. Props to Eddie Howe for fully dropping Asmir Begovic in favor of Aaron Ramsdale but Harry Wilson is close to becoming the most startable Cherry.

Panic Level: Where’s Pep’s surgeon in Spain when you need him?

Brighton: Brighton is fun again but is it enough? New signing Leandro Trossard has been a casualty of the international break and it seems that Graham Potter is still working on figuring out his best starting 11. He’ll need to use Pascal Gross in upcoming games and also has to figure out what to do about Shane Duffy as the defensive stalwart was dropped in favor of new signing Adam Webster versus Manchester City. Also, when will Aaron Mooy feature? This team has so many questions but I would like to say that if Neal Maupay is available in your 10+ team draft league, snap him up. With Florin Andone being loaned out, Maupay is at worse the second striker at the Amex but he’ll be the full-time sooner rather than later.

Panic Level: Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole

Wolves: Out of all of the teams flirting with relegation at this point in the season, I’m sure that we can agree that Wolverhampton Wanderers are the one team that won’t be anywhere near this spot at the next international break. But, Wolves are also getting the Burnley treatment in Europa League. But while they’re full-fledged Wolves in Europe, the Premier League has only seen puppies thus far. It begins with Diogo Jota not bringing his finishing boots and Matt Doherty being out due to injury and permeates down through the squad. New signings and young players will need to step up if Wolves want to qualify for the Europa League again.

Panic Level: Figuring out Priorities

Aston Villa: Well, the Villans have already been robbed of three points so they will feel hard done by their position in the table right now and for good reason. The midfield has been solid anchored by Jack Grealish and John McGinn while Wesley is starting to find his feet in the Premier League too. Add in Tyrone Mings and Tom Heaton and Aston Villa have something working in the midlands.

Panic Level: Give em competent officials

Norwich City: Ain’t no party like a Teemu Pukki party because a Teemu Pukki party gets you… into 19th place. Wait, that’s not how this was supposed to end. But for each goal Norwich scores, their League One defense (I’m not even sure that it can be called a Championship defense at this point) gives up two goals. Pukki, Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendía deserve better than this but Norwich is a team that deserves to be relegated. We’ll see if they can right the ship but I’m smelling a QPR relegation story all over again.

Panic Level: Where’s the Flex Tape?

Watford: Where to start with Watford… Javi Gracia was highly regarded by the board, or so we thought before he was sacked four games in. But looking at the team, Who though only adding Craig Dawson to the defense was a good idea? Or that relying on Gerard Deulofeu, who had his first double-digit goal season of his career last year, for the majority of your offense is a good idea? Deulofeu, in particular, scored four of those 10 goals last season versus Cardiff City so they don’t even count. But then to replace Gracia with a retread in Quique Sánchez Flores, relegate this team now. 

Watford probably won’t be relegated because Flores is actually a good tactical manager but I’d just like to state that they deserve to. Watch Danny Welbeck over the next few weeks if the 4-4-2 returns to Vicarage Road. 

Panic Level: Is the grass really greener on the other side?
 

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