When it comes to new players coming into the Premier League, we should always be a bit sceptical about picking them in our FPL teams.
This is because the quality, intensity and schedule is like no other league in the world. It can take time for even the best players to adapt.
We have seen players in the past who have ripped it up in their respective leagues but failed to deliver in the Premier League — for example, Timo Werner. The Germany forward has looked a shadow of the player he was in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig since coming to English football two years ago, and is unlikely to make Chelsea’s starting XI.
On the flip side, some players have hit the ground running, such as Bruno Fernandes, Ivan Toney and Patrick Bamford (in his first top-flight season with Leeds United anyway, before injury ruined his 2021-22 campaign).
The key is identifying the ones who will start strongly. There are a number of factors we should look at when attempting to decipher this, such as underlying stats, what position they play, and if they take penalties or set pieces et cetera.
In this article, I will pick out my top three new faces in the Premier League to keep an eye on.
Erling Halaand (£11.5million) — Manchester City
We will start with the obvious one. It’s no secret how good Erling Haaland is and how good a team Manchester City are. Yet these facts are no guarantee he will have a flying start to his first Premier League season.
Looking at his stats for both club and country, though, it’s very hard to see him not getting a lot of goals. City scored 99 last season with an expected goals (xG) of 93.40 — both figures being the most in the league — on their way to retaining the title.
The Norwegian scored 62 league goals and provided 15 assists with an xG of 49.52 and an expected assists figure (xA) of 11.46 in his two and a half seasons with previous club Borussia Dortmund.
That overperformance of goals to xG tells us one thing: he is a clinical finisher, one of the best in the world.
And that clinical finisher has now joined one of the best teams in the world, where he will play for Pep Guardiola, one of the greatest managers in the game.
It’s a pretty safe bet to say Haaland will do very well this season.
The only concern with the 22-year-old is his injury record. Since 2018, covering his time with Molde, Red Bull Salzburg and Dortmund, Haaland has been out injured for 203 days.
A chunk of that total came last season when he was on the treatment table for 95 days. He is likely to have his minutes managed at City and won’t play games in which he is not fully fit.
He played 45 minutes against Bayern Munich in his City debut at the weekend on tour in the United States and it took him only 12 minutes to get on the scoresheet.
With City having a relatively kind run of fixtures to kick off the season, Haaland is likely to be a popular choice for FPL players.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.5million) — Fulham
It’s usually a good idea to avoid picking players from promoted teams for your initial starting XI. The gulf in quality between the Premier League and the Championship is huge.
However, there are always caveats to rules, especially in FPL. Mitrovic broke the Championship scoring record last season with 43 goals, while also registering seven assists, as Fulham won the title.
The Serbia striker has had stints in the Premier League before, scoring 11 goals for Fulham in 2018-19 and nine as a Newcastle player in 2015-16. His most recent season in the division (2020-21) was more of a struggle — he only found the net three times, and he didn’t get much game time under Fulham’s then-head coach Scott Parker.
He has clearly improved and matured as a player over the years and now, as he turns 28 in September, seems to be hitting his prime. His goalscoring rate in the Championship is very impressive and I can see him hitting double figures one division higher. At £6.5million, he looks like great value.
He is also on penalties, nailed-on in that starting XI and the talisman for his club.
Fulham, having come up as champions, also look the strongest of the three promoted sides. They scored 106 goals last term — 32 more than runners-up Bournemouth, who scored the second-most.
The only downside is that their opening fixtures are as tough as they come. Fulham play Liverpool (h), Wolves (a), Arsenal (a) and Spurs (a) in their first six games.
Their fixtures pick up massively from gameweek eight, though.
Mitrovic, if fit, will certainly be in my team at some point in the coming season.
Ivan Perisic (£5.5million) — Tottenham Hotspur
The 113-cap Croatian has come into the Premier League as a £5.5million defender, which looks a very attractive price. He reunites with Antonio Conte after a successful spell together at Inter Milan.
Last season, he scored an impressive eight goals and made six assists for Inter Milan. He has averaged 0.23 goals per 90 minutes over the last two seasons.
He will come in as first-choice left-back for Spurs and is joining an improving and defensively-sound team — they conceded 40 goals (fourth-best) with an xGA of 43.70 (fifth) last season. With the additional signing of France international Clement Lenglet from Barcelona to further bolster that defence and in their first full season under Conte, you’d think they are only going to get better.
At the moment, the 33-year-old Perisic has Sergio Reguilon and Ryan Sessegnon as competition for a starting spot, so may be rotated on occasion. But with Reguilon left out of Spurs’ pre-season tour of South Korea, he does not appear to be in Conte’s plans.
Playing under Conte in Inter’s 2020-21 Serie A-winning season, Perisic averaged 75 minutes on the pitch per game. This is obviously important for FPL purposes as defenders need to last at least 60 minutes in a match to get clean-sheet points.
We know Conte loves his full-backs to attack. That, coupled with Tottenham’s solid defensive record, means Perisic is a great pick.
(Top photo: Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
Make sure to check out The Athletic Football Podcast, hosted by The FPL General, for all the latest tips and tricks. Catch that for free on all the usual listening providers and ad-free on The Athletic app.
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