ESN – Ones to Watch!
Eliteserien Fantasy – The Shortlist – Pre-Season Ones to Watch
The excitement is building as we await the release of the Eliteserien Fantasy game, which judging by the fact that the season starts on the 5th of April, and the recent player price reveals, shouldn’t be too far away! Group chats and fixture planners are already being set up, and by the looks of it there will be many new people playing the game for the first time, which is great to see. The Norwegian league, however, is unsurprisingly not that familiar outside of Norway, and consequently the leagues players will also most likely be largely unknown to many. But fear not! Here in this article, I will be giving you my early thoughts before the season on 5 interesting players that you can consider putting into your drafts when the game drops.
Let’s get to it!
Eirik Ulland Andersen (Molde)
After being sidelined for most of last season due to injury, Ulland Andersen has returned with a bang! His masterful displays during the two-legged victory over Hoffenheim in the Europa League, where he managed to score a whopping 3 goals and provided 1 assist, showed a glimpse of what an explosive player he can be when he gets some game time. If he avoids injuries and keeps up this form going into the season, I reckon he will be a mainstay on the left wing. He also seems to have a chance of taking direct free kicks, which could bolster his opportunities even more. Ulland Andersen is not priced up in the game yet, but I suspect the 2 latest performances will drive up his price to the 10.5m mark.
One thing to be aware of is that Molde have a very strong squad with options on the bench that are ready to step in if the performances of the XI worsen, so don’t be surprised if there is some rotation in the easier games. However, if EUA (most used abbreviation) keeps on playing like he has in pre-season, I think he has a good chance of playing the main portion of minutes. A very interesting option for sure.
Amor Layouni (Vålerenga)
If you played ESN Fantasy during the 2019 season, this guy was a mainstay in your team for most of the season. Him and Håkon Evjen had a brilliant linkup, and they were a big part of propelling Bodø/Glimt to an impressive 2nd place finish. During the season both players got sold abroad, and Layouni went to Egypt to play for Pyramids FC, where he unfortunately saw limited play time. Now, however, he is back in the ESN, and he has signed for a very promising looking Vålerenga side that in my opinion are serious title challengers this season, as they have massively strengthened their side with their newest signings.
As aforementioned, Layouni has previous experience in this league. During his final season for Glimt, he netted 10 goals and provided 5 assists. He now will become part of a proficient attacking side, and his price should indicate what expectations we can have for him at a high but deserved 10.5m price tag. This could be a good season for him to get into the groove again, and I’m pretty sure he will be in my team come GW1.
Ola Solbakken (Bodø/Glimt)
Ola Solbakken was not part of the starting XI that Bodø/Glimt put out for a large part of last season, due to Jens Petter Hauge (one of the best players in the league in 2020) rightfully keeping him out of the side as they played in the same position. When he left for AC Milan in October however, that spot suddenly became available, and Solbakken capitalized on the opportunity in style. He started 11/11 of the remaining games in the campaign, and during that run he never played less than 63 minutes. Across the season he ended up at a very respectable 3 goals and 6 assists, which is impressive only having played for less than half a season. At only 7.3 million he could have been a bargain, had it not been for the fact that we only had 3 B/G spots in our teams, which were constantly occupied by Zinckernagel (legend and defo not a fraud), Saltnes and Junker, which we will get to know later in this article. He ended the season on only 1% ownership, but I can see this not being the case in the slightest this season, as he is now the first-choice left winger, which I also think will be reflected in his price. If B/G keep being as free scoring as they were last season, which remains to be seen, Solbakken could be a very important player to have to keep up with the pack.
Stefano Vecchia (Rosenborg)
Probably the player I know least about on this shortlist, but at the same time that makes him even more exciting, as Rosenborg must have seen something good in him that made him a player worth signing. He comes in as a 9.5 million midfielder in a RBK side that many will say underperformed last season. Before this season they have gotten rid of some of the deadwood, and if they can make their attack click again, the stage is set for Vecchia to set the world alight.
Vecchia signed during the January transfer window from the Swedish side IK Sirius in Allsvenskan, which I don’t really follow. Luckily however, my good friend Alfred Marsal aka @marsalito_ follows this league closely and gave me a good summary of the swedes playing style. He can report that he played very well, frequently cut inside from the left wing, which often lead to penalties created from getting fouled in the box. In addition to this he is an experienced free kick taker and loves a 1v1 with defenders. Alfred also mentions that Vecchia thrives when he has a good linkup with a playmaker, which he had at his old club. This led to him ending on an impressive tally of 12 goals and 5 assits.
The way RBK usually set up their team sounds complimentary to Vecchia’s playing style, which is a 433 formation with wingers playing off a target striker, supported by the creativity of the competent playmaker Kristoffer Zachariassen in midfield. Adding this all together sounds like a recipe for great things, and I think we could have a wonderful option in Vecchia when the season starts.
Kasper Junker (Bodø/Glimt)
Last, but certainly not least we have last seasons top scorer, the Danish super-striker Kasper Junker. The 2020 campaign was his proper breakout year, and he really stepped up his game, scoring goals for fun. This resulted in him winning the Golden Boot after scoring a staggering 27 goals, and as if that wasn’t enough, he chipped in with 10 assists aswell! This included 3 hat-tricks, and consequently 10 double-figure hauls, even though he had a brief injury spell during the middle of the season.
If you read the introductory article that @FPLTeenager wrote (which I really recommend reading btw if you’re new to the game!) then you now know that ESN have a history with under-pricing players. This was also the case with Junker, who came in at just 8 million! During the season he went up all the way to 9.9 million, and he was as close to essential (“he used the word!”) as you could get in this game.
Going into this season there has been some drama involving Junker, as he was on the verge of getting a move out of B/G that fell through. After some bad vibes between the club and him, which led many in the ESNFantasy community to doubt if he was going to be available for GW1, we have now gotten positive news regarding this issue. In the latest friendly he started and got a goal, so the issues seem to have resolved.
12.5 million might sound steep for a striker, with many other positions also looking to become expensive aswell, especially midfielders. He is priced like that for a reason though, and I think he is well worth every penny if B/G keep being as brilliant as they were last season.
So that’s it, these are my 5 players that I think can be good options! Hope you found this useful, learned some new names, and that you also are as excited as me for the coming season! Good luck with the preparations for the game dropping, and I’ll see you in the next article!