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FPL FORMATIONS: Could 4-3-3 be a new Favourite Formation?

Looking for the best fit for your Fantasy Premier League squad? Struggling to find money to stretch across your team? The 2016/17 season has seen an inflated rate of player prices, with players forced into playing a new type of game. This year your money only goes so far, and after much tinkering The Hype Train believes a profitable formation could be the 4-3-3. We evaluate the pros and cons of the formation, and why it might prove a popular formula. All aboard.

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek Deadline

For the 2016/17 Premier League season, the FPL deadline will be one hour before the commencement of the week's first game. The Premier League website lists each FPL deadline, you can always ask on social media, and you can also view a real time countdown on our Weekly Hype page.

In a change from last season, the early Saturday kick off time has now been moved back to 11:30am, meaning the weekly FPL deadline will also be moving 15 minutes back.

The transfer deadline for GW1 is Saturday August 13th at 11:30am.


If you are new to the traditions of the FPL, what you'll come to know is that traditionally speaking, FPL squads built on attacking formations are usually the most successful. Past champions of the game and most of the veteran fan base use the 3-4-3 formation because of the weighting of goals, bonus points, and keeping up appearances with rival players.

What formations are allowed in the FPL?

With a squad of 15 players and 3 forward players, the FPL is limited to 8 formations. In truth there is a 9th addition, the All Out Attack, which permits the use of a 2-5-3 for one Gameweek of the season. We have not included the formation as it is not a permanent feature.

1) 3-5-2

2) 3-4-3

3) 4-5-1

4) 4-4-2

5) 4-3-3

6) 5-4-1

7) 5-3-2

8) 5-2-3

Why has 3-4-3 been so popular?

- Each of the last 3 end of season FPL Dream Teams - the 11 man squad with the highest points total - have come in the shape of a 3-4-3 formation.

- Goals and assists are heavily weighted in the FPL, meaning Midfielders and Forwards are sought after more than defenders.

- Bonus points are often weighted towards attacking players. Reliable FPL defenders usually don't pick up as many bonus points as Forwards. Christian Fuchs and Ashley Williams are two exceptions to the rule.

- On a general standpoint, there is an ease of mind with the 3-4-3. Defenders are never guaranteed clean sheets or attacking returns. Defenders are also more likely to end a Gameweek with a single point. Even worse, with nothing.

- For every 2 goals conceded, defenders lose a point. It is realistic on occasion to only have a couple (if any) points in your back-line. Midfielders in turn only gain points, with a single point earned for clean sheets, but no points dropped.

- Set-piece takers are more likely to be forward players, and more likely to get points. Leighton Baines is one exception to the rule. The Everton defender often takes every set-piece opportunity for Everton.

- Value reigned supreme in the 2015/16 season. Mahrez, Vardy, Alli, and Alderweireld, are among some of the budget options that shone brightly in the FPL. You could put money in defence and attack, meaning the 3-4-3 was preferred because of the sheet attacking threat from a few select players that didn't break the bank or your spirits.

Are there any flaws to the 3-4-3 formation?

- Defenders don't have to do anything attacking wise to get clean sheet points. On a bad week when premium midfielders don't show up, defenders can bail out a squad and keep them competitive.

- You can run the risk of benching more points with Defenders on the bench, especially if your squad is built with depth. With 3 defensive players on the bench, there could be a minimum of 12 points trapped on the bench, compared to 4 for attacking players.

- If one of your 3 defenders doesn't play in the 3-4-3 formation, a defender is automatically drafted. It means the placement of substitutes is incredibly limited. A defender second on the list will be drafted instead of a 5th midfielder. This can waste a 5th midfielder's importance with defenders cutting line.

- The beginning of the season will see a lot of potential rotation, big marquee and players getting little game time. It could be argued that Defenders could be a safer bet, with a lot of big hitting and pricey midfielders potentially prone to rotation.

If we have forgotten anything that springs to mind, get in contact with us via email, or on our Twitter, @RealHypeTrain

Additionally, see below for our previous 2 season's Team of the Season squads. Both adopted the 3-4-3 formation.

The only 2 players to get the nod of approval in successive seasons is Kane and Aguero...


A while back we asked our following on Twitter about formations, for a good barometer of where people's interests lie in terms of formations and layouts. See below for what we found with two polls.

What are the positives of the 4-3-3?

- The season starts with a lot of uncertainty. Defenders are less likely to be rotated, if starting. Midfielders (wingers in particular) are more prone to being subbed. Mkhitaryan could see his minutes shaved for a Lingard substitution. A CB won't be subbed unless there is an injury or a change in formation late in the game, when the damage is done or the points are secured.

- The addition of another premium FPL option. With Midfielders and certain Forwards costing the sun and the earth, dropping 2 of your Midfield options to the bench frees up money for another premium defender.

- If a Specialist Defender is chosen, it could be just as rewarding (or more so) as a cheap to mid range Midfielder. The likes of Bellerin, Fuchs, and Alderweireld can wield more points than the likes of Redmond and Liverpool's rotation prone midfield. Leighton Baines and Charlie Daniels are likely to be among the penalty takers this season.

- More minutes on the pitch, more chance for points? That is the argument with defenders. There is also the option to lose clean sheet points at the very last.

- Midfielders have to produce something (goals/assists) to get points. Defenders don't have to do anything in particular. If luck is on your side, you can get big returns at the back. Luck and the power of jam.

- The art of doubling down on defenders is a solid tactic. If a team gains a clean sheet, you get double the points, Highly recommended when teams such as Arsenal managed 18 clean sheets last season.

- Defenders can be very good differentials, without any associated cost. The most expensive defender is £6.5m, the same price as a value midfielder. In our Wildcard articles last season, defenders were big points earners.

- More defenders provides more money for premium Midfield and Forward options. The 6 attacking options can be worth more, particularly if you choose to have 2 budget forwards and a powerhouse midfield.

- With 2 midfield options on the bench, they'll be likely to stay on the bench. Defenders are usually constants, so one could argue that your midfield choices can be budget choices. Also, with 2 midfielders on the bench, they can be differentials with an eye to future fixtures should you wish to mix things up.

- The 4-3-3 is a versatile formation that allows you to take command of your substitutes bench. The ordering of your subs will actually matter. In a 3-4-3 if you put in a midfielder, he is overlooked should a defender not play.

- The 4-3-3 doesn't ruin your potential choices for Captain and Vice Captain every week.

- In our eyes, the 4-3-3 provides provides an overall squad balance that you might not necessarily find with other formations. It is a formation that balances attack and defence.

In order to make the most of your chosen Defenders should you wish to choose the 4-3-3 formation, below are some useful tips and player choices when stacking the deck at the back.

Specialist Defenders

There are a number of different defenders that can offer additional points throughout the course of the season. Some defenders love to score, some are assist kings, some acquire bonus points, and some are set-piece takers. We've listed some premium options and the reasons why below.

Goal Scoring Defenders

These players are usually CB's or attacking fullbacks that love to drift into the box at the right moment during set-pieces.

Scott Dann (Crystal Palace)

Price: £5.5m

Fixtures: WBA (h), TOT (a), BOU (h)

2015/16 Goals: 5

2015/16 Assists: 2

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 8

2015/16 Bonus Points: 11

- Dann goes up for corners and is Palace's central target in the box

- Every set-piece chance, Dann is in the box and can be lethal in the air.

Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)

Price: £6.0m

Fixtures: WHU (h), WAT (a), BUR (h)

2015/16 Goals: 2 (21 goals in total for Chelsea in the Premier League)

2015/16 Assists: 3

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 8

2015/16 Bonus Points: 13

- Ivanovic has historically played as a Right Forward more than a Right Back, playing as far up the pitch as possible.

- Ivan goes up for every corner and set-piece as if he is a CB.

Sheamus Coleman (Everton)

Price: £5.5m

Fixtures: TOT (h), WBA (a), STK (h)

2015/16 Goals: 1

2015/16 Assists: 3

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 8

2015/16 Bonus Points: 8

- Coleman is another Ivanovic mould, playing as high up from Right Back as possible.

- Coleman goes up into the mix for every corner and set-piece as if he is a CB.

- Crossing ability is a big plus for Coleman.

Toby Alderweireld (Spurs)

Price: £6.5m

Fixtures: EVE (a), CRY (h), LIV (h)

2015/16 Goals: 4

2015/16 Assists: 3

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 13

2015/16 Bonus Points: 16

- Toby is a ball playing CB, able to ping cross field balls to Forwards. He set Dele Alli up with this tactic last season against Everton.

- Toby also scored all 4 of his goals last season at home.

- The Spurs CB goes up for every set-piece and corner, usually lingers at the far posts and drifts in.

Virgil van Dijk (Southampton)

Price: £5.5m

Fixtures: WAT (h), MUN (a), SUN (h)

2015/16 Goals: 3

2015/16 Assists: 0

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 10

2015/16 Bonus Points: 16

- Virgil missed the opening 4 games of the season as he was bought in from Celtic at the close of the 2015 summer transfer window.

- Virgil is a threat from set-pieces and corners, going up as much as possible.

- Playing as a CB, Virgil is often in the Bonus Points rankings at the end of games.

Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland)

Price: £5.0m

Fixtures: MCI (a), MID (h), SOU (a)

2015/16 Goals: 6

2015/16 Assists: 4

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 6

2015/16 Bonus Points: 11

- A Left Back by trade, PVA oftens plays on the left wing.

- PVA is known for getting into the box at every possible chance and is a legitimate goal threat for Sunderland.

- PVA is a form player, having scored 4 goals in 4 consecutive matches.

Assisting Full Backs

These additions are usually Full Backs that like to bomb forward and provide crosses, getting involved whenever they can.

Danny Rose (Spurs)

Price: 6.0m

Fixtures: EVE (a), CRY (h), LIV (h)

2015/16 Goals: 1

2015/16 Assists: 7

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 8

2015/16 Bonus Points: 12

- Rose does not take any free kicks or set-pieces.

- The Spurs Left Back is occasionally prone to being rotated with Welsh international, Ben Davies.

- The LB likes to drift forward as much as possible, gaining most of his assists from open play on the left.

Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Price: £6.0m

Fixtures: WHU (h), WAT (a), BUR (h)

2015/16 Goals: 2

2015/16 Assists: 5

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 8

2015/16 Bonus Points: 15

- Last season was a good season for Azpi, given that Chelsea struggled so much for large parts of the season.

- Azpi played both LB and RB, and would get into the box as much as possible from open play situations.

- Azpi does not go up for corners or set-pieces.

Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)

Price: £6.5m

Fixtures: LIV (h), LEI (a), WAT (a)

2015/16 Goals: 1

2015/16 Assists: 6

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 18

2015/16 Bonus Points: 18

- As Bellerin progresses, the Spanish full-back is becoming a force on the right of Arsenal's back four.

- Transfer rumours linking Bellerin with Barcelona will most likely persist until the end of the transfer market, but we're not expecting him to leave the Emirates.

- A large chunk of Bellerin's form came at the end of the season.

- Bellerin does not take any set-pieces, and stays back for corners.

- Like an Ivanovic or Coleman, Bellerin likes to track forward as much as humanly possible in matches.

Set Piece Takers

Usually taking free kicks, corners, and penalties, these players will be more likely than any other to get in and amongst the points.

Leighton Baines (Everton)

Price: £5.5m

Fixtures: TOT (h), WBA (a), STK (h)

2015/16 Goals: 2

2015/16 Assists: 2

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 4

2015/16 Bonus Points: 7

- Baines resumed penalty kick duty for Everton at the end of the 2015/16 season. It is unknown if he'll be back on spot kicks for Koeman's first season. Faces competition from Lukaku should the Belgian stay at Everton.

- Baines usually takes free-kicks for Everton.

Charlie Daniels (Bournemouth)

Price: £5.0m

Fixtures: MUN (h), WHU (a), CRY (a)

2015/16 Goals: 3

2015/16 Assists: 5

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 7

2015/16 Bonus Points: 20

- Callum Wilson is the primary penalty taker at Bournemouth, with Daniels as back-up on spot kicks.

- Daniels takes a majority of set-pieces, mainly free kicks.

- Daniels does not take a lot of corners for Bournemouth.

- Most assists and goals are from open play on the left.

Bonus Points Kings

Bonus Points are gained by match performance (tackles, headers, passes, goals, contributions, everything really). These players have it all and are in the thick of the action.

Ashley Williams (Swansea)

Price: £5.0m

Fixtures: BUR (a), HUL (h), LEI (a)

2015/16 Goals: 2

2015/16 Assists: 1

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 9

2015/16 Bonus Points: 24

- Williams's Bonus Points haul is only bettered by Leicester defender Christian Fuchs.

- Despite only 9 clean sheets, Williams managed his joint-best ever FPL season, matching his 123 tally from the 2011/12 season.

- Williams goes up for every set-piece and corner.

Christian Fuchs (Leicester)

Price: £5.5m

Fixtures: HUL (a), ARS (h), SWA (h)

2015/16 Goals: 0

2015/16 Assists: 4

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 15

2015/16 Bonus Points: 25

- Fuchs didn't feature properly for Leicester until GW7 last season, so his end of season points haul could have been even higher.

- Fuchs is priced £1.0m cheaper than Bellerin and Alderweireld, despite being just as prolific in gaining points.

- Fuchs takes a lot of free-kicks from deeps, and corner kicks.

- Fuchs is a Bonus Points king due to his heavy involvement in every game.

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

Price: £6.0m

Fixtures: LIV (h), LEI (a), WAT (a)

2015/16 Goals: 4

2015/16 Assists: 0

2015/16 Clean Sheets: 15

2015/16 Bonus Points: 18

- The French international gained just 1 bonus point on 9 occasions last seasons, on average earned bonus points from 1 in 3 matches.

- Koscielny goes up for every set-piece and corner kick.

- The CB managed 3 less clean sheets than Bellerin for the 2015/16 season.

- Is rumoured to be missing the start of the season due to his involvement in France's run to the final of Euro 2016.


To show you in practise what we've been talking about, here's a few methods that we are putting into practise when setting up our squads with this method. Below are some bullet points to consider when drafting a squad.

- The depth of your squad with a 4-3-3 depends on how much money you want to throw at your Forwards. If you pick the likes of Aguero and Zlatan, you have to have a 3rd striker who is a budget option (£6.5m or below). See below for a poll that we produced asking if people were considering this formation.

- A 4-3-3 with only one premium Forward frees up funds for a 2nd, and maybe a 3rd premium midfielder.

- Choosing a 4-3-3 with 2 premium Forwards (£10m plus), you are likely left with the budget for 1 premium midfielder and 2 mid-range Midfielders (or 1 differential and 2 Essentials).

- We are always wary to pick Defenders that pack a threat in front of goal. A lot of set-piece takers and those who attract Bonus Points, have made our drafts.

Want to know more about The Hype Train?

The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015 specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, television, live music, festivals, and any relevant topic in the public eye.

You can follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, or visit our website here at

All aboard.


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