Fantasy premier league formations – thinking differently – 5-2-3 by Stephen Toumi

Here’s an article from regular site visitor Stephen Toumi about thinking differently with fantasy premier league formations. He’s specifically looking at his 5-2-3 formation

Fantasy premier league formations – thinking differently – 5-2-3 by Stephen Toumi


With anticipation and excitement, prices were released for FPL early July and speculation amongst manager was quenched and team building began. During the EPL off season, I spent more time engaged in player movement, as well as discussion with other like-minded managers. Prices at this point were nothing more than speculation. However, as fantasy football articles started to trickle out, as I learned of other enthusiasts who made me pause and look at the upcoming FPL season a bit differently.

Unlike the previous 4 years, I entered the upcoming fantasy with a strategy and a plan. Not that either of those equate to success, but it provides me with a conviction that my 5-2-3 formation can compete with those managers opting to run with the more favored, 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formations.

Backed by compelling statistics and underlying data, much of my off season was dominated by how to make a 5-defender set at the backline work. Based on the price increases across the board, most notably in the midfield and forward positions, the theme, “you can’t own them all” set the tone for my squad.

Building the defence

Based on early fixtures there were players I wanted to build around. Manchester United, Southampton, West Brom and Manchester City all have early, favorable fixtures I looked to take advantage of. While I was an early support of Chelsea’s, Marcus Alonso, a last-minute change due to their questionable fixtures I opted not to include him in my starting XI.

While I focused my attention on attack minded defenders, my back line went through various iterations costing £28.5m-£30.0m. Much more than a typical budget defense, but I felt confident in my team building. With no plans to transfer a defender through GW6 and strength of schedule in mind, I anchored my defense with Antonio Valencia (£6.5m) and Vincent Kompany (£6.0m). Valencia, nailed on down the right side, plays in an advanced roll and has great offensive potential, as well as clean sheet appeal. Kompany, injury prone the last 3 seasons, is the heart of the City defense. When healthy he can be a monster from set pieces, as witness during the final weeks of the 2016/17 season, as well as double digit clean sheets.

The injury to Kieran Trippier (£5.5) meant I jumped off the bandwagon and went in search of a replacement, selecting on Ryan Bertrand (£5.5m), based on his 2 goals/5 assist and 12 CS in 2016/17. This posed a bit of a problem, as I already had Cédric Soares (£5.0) and Maya Yoshida (£5.0), which meant a So’ton treble in defense. Their early fixtures, promising; SWA/WHM/hud/WAT/cry would allow the Saints to miss top EPL teams and potentially provide big returns.

Adding the attacking players

Starting with the risky proposition of a 5-defender set, I made another last-minute decision NOT to include Romelu Lukaku, putting my faith in back-to-back Golden Boot Winner, Harry Kane. I partnered him with Roberto Firmino (£8.5) and youngster, Gabriel Jesus (£10.5). Jesus was a hot prospect when he started last season, before injury with 7 goals/4 assists. The high-powered City offense should be at the top of the table with goals scored, meaning Jesus should get his fair share. Firmino, now listed as forward, playing out of position, leads a potent Liverpool attack that should see him improve his 11 goals/11 assists this season.

It appeared to be a revolving door in the midfield, while I would only be starting two players, I debated a few different strategies including using a 5-3-2 formation. The change in formation before Gameweek 1 was initiated by the fact none of the “budget friendly” forwards were enticing. Based on strength of schedule, I decided to introduce Kevin De Bruyne (£10.0) as my anchor in the middle. Much like the decision to bring in Kompany and Jesus, City has some excellent fixtures and should return good points

weekly. With £7.0 remaining, it came down to a handful of players; Wilfried Zaha, Willian, Cesc Fabregas and Aaron Ramsey. Community opinion appeared split on the Chelsea midfielders, with many favoring Willian due to the injury of Eden Hazard, still their fixtures were mixed. I saw Ramsey as a part time player for Arsenal and wanted to make sure I could get 90 minutes out of my second midfielder. By process of elimination I was left with Zaha to round out my starting XI.

fantasy premier league formations

As for GW1 I scored 58 points, sitting at 1.9m in the overall rankings. Not impressive by any stretch of the imagination, but I am confident in my squad based on the underlying stats. With £1.5m ITB I activated my FT, dropping Wilfried Zaha in favor of Henrikh Mkhitaryan ahead of their next 3 fixtures; swa/LEI/sto.

Thanks Stephen very interesting article

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  • Tumelo Makhalemele

    I played the same formation. For mathematical reasons, this formation makes sense. Investing in premium defenders as opposed to mid-priced midfielders. I will be playing 5-2-3 and 4-3-3 formations for the rest of the seasons depending on fixtures. I scored 69. I am not impressed, it should get better.

    • Stephen T

      In all the off season research it did make sense, although very different from what the majority of managers do. I feel very confident with my squad, while 58 points wasn’t impressive, the underlying stats and options I have available to me are plentiful. I could easily change formation to a 4-4-3 if warranted. We will see what GW2 brings.

  • Yaniv Salo

    Very nice article stephen, also like your comments in every article in this site. Love your team although it is risky if soton gets a goal.
    What do you think about my team:
    De Gea (Elliot)
    Bailly Cedric Mee (Dawson, Hunemeir)
    KDB Willian Tadic Xhaka (Carrol)
    Kane Luk Firmino

    • Stephen T

      Yaniv, appreciate the comment. Yes, the treble on So’ton is a BIG risk, but one I am willing to run with through GW5 (WHM/hud/WAT/cry), as the fixtures potentially warrant doubling up at a minimum. I have an exit plan to move one or two of the So’ton defenders in favor of other attack minded defenders with favorable fixtures.

      Solid between the pipes and defensively, I see many with the Mee/Dawson combination and this week playing Mee at home over Dawson and the offensive potential he carries. Still I don’t think there will be much in the fixture and could easily end 0-0. Up front, that 3 man line looks like what I am going to move to soon, I like the flexibility of Firmino, with 11g/11a last season, I see him only improving on those numbers. Add in the pens duty and he’s a steal at 8.5.

      The midfield looks a bit concerning. I own KDB and like the City fixtures with such a strong offense. However there is a concern he might be playing too deep, compared to David Silva to finish with similar numbers from last season. Still, he’s my first choice in the City midfield. Willian, good underlying stats in GW1, but is just a short term fix until Hazard is healthy. I think his limited starts aren’t worth the 7.0m price tag but on paper he looks solid. Speaking of paper, Tadic is another who can put together good numbers but those fail to equate to points, which causes managers like us nothing but frustration! Xhaka, is a risky transfer (if indeed you brought him in). He’s now scored as many assists as he did last season, but he is a more defensive minded mind. Where was Ozil BTW? Not sure I would run with him for the long term and potentially could be this season’s Etienne Capoue.

      Now, this is the reason I went 5 at the back, to avoid these “average” midfielders priced from 6.0 to 7.0. It feels like a game of Russian Roulette, not know what’s going to come out of the chamber. Lots of options at this price range, but nothing that really gives us, as managers a sense of consistency. I really like Shaqiri, but Stoke’s fixtures are tough thru GW8, the addtion of Jese offensively could help replace the lose of Arna to WHM.

      Best of luck with GW2!

      • Yaniv Salo

        Cheers my friend , thanks for the detailed comment!
        Think like you that Xhaka is more defensive minded but i had before Iwobi and had only 5.5 (as Iwobi price fell down and Xhaka will be 5.7). Wish I could have Salah and Miki instead of KDB and Willian (was the same price toghether 17.0 before their prices raised.., but l needed to had 3 transfers has I have 3 other united players..). Best for you in GW2 , I will follow your team!

  • James R

    Nice piece Stephen, great to see you on here writing articles now 🙂
    I’m a fan of the 523 approach, am keeping tabs of many wing backs in my watchlist before I WC in gw6.
    When you consider Alonso posted almost as many points as Dele Ali last season yet it only £7m this season there will be similar bargains to be had I’m sure with defenders playing as midfielders this year. Walker played very high up the pitch for City last week. Good luck for gw2!

    • Stephen T

      Thanks James! I read a few articles about alternate formations and reasearching numbers it made sense to me, even if it were unconventional. Yet I must remain open and flexible to changing formation if this strategy goes south.

      As for Alonso, he was a cornerstone of my defense up to about two hours before the Friday kickoff. However the early Chelsea fixtures just didn’t feel right, especially with no scorer up top and minus Hazard. It was a gamble pulling him from the starting XI, but in hindsight it was a good move, bringing I. Bertrand and banking £1.5m for the first transfer. I will still consider him, but not until GW8 or so when things hopefully settle down for the Blues.

      Walker is still on my watch list but I love Kompany, obviously not an attack minded defender but solid defensively and on set pieces. Hopefully he can remain healthy, if not it might be Walker or Mendy when fit.

  • Cesspool

    I am playing a variation of the strategy with for premium midfielders It is my personal opinion that plane three defenders from one team is extremely risky in that one goal can deprive you of 12 points. Two goals against means zthree points from three players. At least early in the season, I think it makes more sense to spread the risk across a greater number of defenses.

  • James

    Good article Stephan! Definitely given me some food for thought.. I’m currently running the trusty 3-4-3 formation with J Rod Kane and Lukaku as my attackers. I will keep an eye on your team if you do any further articles and will possibly look to move into a 4-4-2 when i wildcard in 6 or 7 weeks time. Don’t think i am brave enough to line up 5 in defence however i do like the tactic of having 3 saints defenders- possibly equalling 18points for a clean sheet, i also like the fact that if they do let a goal in, you still have two other defenders and a goalie to gain your clean sheets from! Good luck for this week mate.


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