Time to switch to 3-4-3 in Fantasy with Holland back?

Erling HollandA return to training for Manchester City (£13.9m) is timely for managers Fantasy Premier League.

The Norwegian's improved prospects for Gameweek 21 come at a point where his fellow big-hitters Mohammed Salah (£13.2m) and Son Hyung-min (£9.8m) are not on domestic duty and are missing Gameweek 25 due to their participation in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and Asian Cup respectively.

Haaland's recent injury has led many managers to make a choice Ollie Watkins (£8.9m) and Dominique Solange (£7.1m) were their forerunners in a popular 3-5-2 formation in fantasy.

But Hollande's potential return boosts the appeal of moving to a 3-4-3 now, with a move for Salah or Son for a budget midfielder. Cameron Archer (£4.5m).

Having missed his side's last four matches, Hollande's ownership has shrunk to just 53 per cent from its previous high of 90 per cent. However, his emergence as a fixture-proof captaincy option, especially in the absence of Salah and Son, means he could be more important now than ever.

If he is, managers in Fantasy will need to find a way to get Holland back into their squad immediately.

Plan to revert to 3-5-2

While the 3-4-3 may seem like a better approach in the absence of both Salah and Son, looking at the position of the players as a whole, it shows why the 3-5-2 has been the most popular formation thus far and why it is possible. Very effective from Gameweek 25.

As shown in the table below, of the 44 players who scored 70+ points this season, 25 were midfielders and only eight were forwards.

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You can also see that this three-to-one ratio is maintained among the 23 players who scored at least 80 points. Only five forwards managed to do so compared to 15 midfielders.

This highlights the wealth of opportunities available to managers in midfield positions compared to forwards, giving them much wider targets when making transfers.

Number of players with 70+ points per level
Position 70-79 points 80-89 points 90-99 points 100+ points
GKB 5 0 0 0
DEF 4 1 1 0
MID 9 7 4 5
FWD 3 1 2 2

Pricing 23 players with 80+ points also shows the value available to managers in midfield.

Eight players worth £6.5m or less in Fantasy have reached 80 points this season. Seven of them are midfielders and only one is a forward.

Of the 15 players costing £7.5m or less in the 80+ points bracket, midfielders continue to lead the way with 11 compared to just three forwards.

Number of players with 80+ points per level
Position £5.0m-£6.5m £6.6m-£7.5m £8.0m+
GKB 0 0 0
DEF 0 1 1
MID 7 4 5
FWD 1 2 2

Salah and Son's huge potential for captaincy means managers will need to find a place for both alongside Holland upon their return.

The midfield duo are the only two players to have managed more than four double-digit goals in 2023/24, with Salah amassing seven compared to Salah's six.

The scoring system in Fantasy played a key role in their success and shows why they are such strong captaincy contenders for Holland.

Midfielders earn five points for every goal they score, and one point for keeping a clean sheet. Forwards are awarded just four points for every goal they score and do not benefit from clean sheets.

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Who gets more double-figure loads?

Statistics underscore the dominance of midfielders when it comes to getting big fantasy returns on a regular basis.

Of the 20 players who have collected 10+ points at least three times this season, 14 are midfielders and only three are forwards.

People like Anthony Gordon (£6.1m) and Cole Palmer (£5.6m) budget sensations, each matching Holland's four double-digit scores.

In comparison, Aston Villa's Watkins cost £8.9m but the same figure as Nottingham Forest with just three such hauls. Chris Wood (£4.9m).

Number of dual-image loads per position
Position 3 4 5 6 7
Goalkeepers 1 0 0 0 0
Guardians 1 1 0 0 0
Midfielders 10 2 0 1 1
Forward 2 1 0 0 0
So, what should managers do?

Bringing Holland in is no doubt the priority, and managers should use the funds from the sale of Salah or Son to facilitate the move.

But, while the 3-4-3 set-up will pay off immediately, it should be a very short-term move. With Salah and Son returning, managers may want to spend more in midfield and introduce a cheaper performer like Archer.

In terms of both size and value, midfield has far simpler options than the forwards, and a 3-5-2 formation is the best route to long-term gains.

Another factor here is the ownership of players in the forwards.

Both Holland and Watkins make up over 53 per cent of squads, while Julian Alvarez (£7.0m) and Solange own 35 and 27 per cent respectively.

Basically, forward lines of 3-4-3 forward lines are likely to have much less chance of climbing the ranks than a five-man midfield.

In contrast, Salah and Son's midfield positions will be shaken up, along with other assets. Hwang Hee-chan (£5.7m) and Mohammed Kuduz (£6.9m).

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Entering Holland should no doubt be an immediate priority.

But planning for the return of Salah and Son is crucial, and a 3-5-2 formation looks the best formation to accommodate the three big hitters from Gameweek 25.

Also in this series

Part 1: Best Alternatives to Salah and Son in Fantasy
Part 2: FPL Specialists Plans to Replace Salah and Son
Part 4: FPL experts: 3-4-3 the best formation now?

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