EPL

Premier League Fantasy Picks: Keep Kane involved as World Cup break looms

By Sports Desk November 11, 2022

With little over a week to go until the World Cup begins, this weekend represents fantasy football bosses' final chance to rack up points before the festive period. 

The unprecedented timing of the tournament means uncertainty may reign when players return from Qatar, making a trusted fantasy favourite look appealing ahead of the Premier League season's 16th matchday.

With Harry Kane looking to maintain his fine run of form before jetting off to lead the line for England, can you really afford to overlook the Tottenham talisman?

For those seeking players going under the radar, meanwhile, could the improved form of two Midlands teams provide the answer?

Stats Perform is here to help, delving into the Opta numbers to identify four players to provide your fantasy team with the perfect pre-World Cup boost.

Aaron Ramsdale (Wolves v Arsenal)

Arsenal travel to Wolves looking to remain top of the Premier League for Christmas, and the division's joint-best defence (11 goals conceded, alongside Newcastle United) will be expected to shut out a Wolves side with just eight goals to their name this season.

Ramsdale – who has been included in England's squad for the World Cup – has played a key role for Mikel Arteta's side this campaign, keeping six Premier League clean sheets.

No goalkeeper has recorded more top-flight shutouts (six) than Ramsdale this season (joint with Nick Pope and Ederson), and the Gunners' shot-stopper has kept five of those clean sheets on the road.

Lucas Digne (Brighton and Hove Albion v Aston Villa)

Unai Emery made a dream return to the Premier League last week, leading Aston Villa to a 3-1 home win over Manchester United as Digne got on the scoresheet with an expertly taken free-kick.

Since the left-back made his Premier League debut in August 2018, only four players have bettered his tally of three goals from direct free-kicks in the competition – James Ward-Prowse (12), James Maddison (eight), Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier (both four).

During that same span, Liverpool duo Alexander-Arnold (54) and Andrew Robertson (48) are the only two defenders to better his return of 27 Premier League goal involvements.

Defenders with the ability to contribute in attack are like gold dust in fantasy football, and with Digne unlikely to cost the earth, the Villa man could represent a prudent budget pick.

Harvey Barnes (West Ham v Leicester City)

Leicester City continued their upward momentum by beating Everton 2-0 last week, with winger Barnes scoring his fifth league goal of the season to make the points safe late on.

Barnes has now hit the net three times in his last four league appearances and is averaging a goal every 200 minutes this term – his best rate across a single season in the competition.

This calendar year, meanwhile, only Kane (33), Maddison (22), Ivan Toney (21) and Bukayo Saka (19) have bettered Barnes' total of 17 Premier League goal contributions (nine goals, eight assists) among English players, and he may put out-of-sorts West Ham to the sword.

Harry Kane (Tottenham v Leeds United) 

Finally, Tottenham striker Kane is among the favourites to win the Golden Boot at the World Cup, and he should be expected to continue his strong form against Leeds United.

Kane has scored in each of his last six home appearances in the Premier League – the longest such run of his career, and only Erling Haaland (18) has bettered his tally of 11 top-flight goals this term.

The England captain has averaged a goal every 113 minutes of league action this campaign, a rate he has only improved upon in the 2016-17 (87 mins/goal) and 2017-18 (103) seasons, and Leeds look unlikely to keep him quiet after conceding 22 goals in 13 Premier League games.

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    The EFL said its rules as currently written do not give it the power to apply any points penalty that may be ordered by an independent commission formed under Premier League auspices.

    Leicester, who are involved in a three-way automatic promotion battle with Leeds and Ipswich, had sought an interim injunction to prevent any sporting sanction such as a points deduction being applied this season, but that application has been dismissed after the EFL’s confirmation it had no power to apply the penalty in any event.

    A legal decision related to the injunction application published on Friday evening shows the Premier League initially sought an expedited process, and that its lawyers wrote to the chair of its independent judicial panel to say it was imperative the whole case – including any appeal – was concluded before the end of the Championship regular season on May 4.

    The Premier League letter to its judicial panel came after a letter from EFL chief executive Trevor Birch to his Premier League counterpart Richard Masters, prior to the charge being issued, saying the EFL would “seek to respect” any decision ordering a points penalty and apply it to the Championship standings.

    According to the written decision, in the same letter Birch urged the Premier League that, in the event it sought a points deduction in the current season, it should do so urgently to ensure it could be applied before the end of the Championship regular season on May 4.

    The legal decision states that the Premier League wrote to the club’s lawyers on March 26 to say it would no longer seek to expedite the proceedings, because the EFL no longer maintained its position that it would seek to apply any points deduction in the Championship.

    That means the case is extremely unlikely to be concluded until next season, and that any points penalty will only apply immediately if, by the point the hearing concludes, Leicester are a Premier League club again.

    The decision reveals that Leicester had accused the EFL of “conspiring with the Premier League to use unlawful means and to procure or induce a breach of contract by the Premier League”.

    The club are understood to remain extremely disappointed with the way they feel the EFL has acted.

    The Foxes were charged with breaching the top flight’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) on March 21 in relation to the assessment period ending with the 2022-23 season, when they were still a Premier League club.

    The club issued “urgent legal proceedings” on March 22 against that charge, and against an EFL transfer embargo.

    Earlier this month, Leicester announced a loss of £89.7million for the 2022-23 season.

  • Emma Hayes recites poetry following ‘irresponsible’ call from Jonas Eidevall Emma Hayes recites poetry following ‘irresponsible’ call from Jonas Eidevall

    Emma Hayes bizarrely recited part of a poem after Jonas Eidevall branded her accusation against him of male aggression “irresponsible”.

    Eidevall’s Arsenal defeated Hayes’ Chelsea 1-0 earlier this month in the Continental Cup final but the result was overshadowed by a spat between the two managers.

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    “I thought the comments that I heard after the game were very irresponsible and they were not mirroring the conduct that I had in the technical area,” Eidevall said on arsenal.com.

    “I think always when you make comments about other persons, you have to take into consideration what effects that may have. That’s why you need to be, especially when you’re a leader, you need to be very good with words.

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    “My son said to me after the game, ‘Mummy, when you push someone in school you’re asked to go and take time out’,” she told reporters.

    “And I said to him, ‘You know what darling, you can’t meet aggression with aggression. All you can do is tell the teacher’. I thought it was a really good conversation to have with my son.”

    Pressed further, Hayes indicated she regretted her reaction, saying: “I’ve had a fantastic break, I’ve already explained an important analogy that I shared with my son and the lessons learned and my focus is on moving forward and I’ve had time to look at my star.

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    The Foxes were charged with breaching the top flight’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) last month in relation to the assessment period ending with the 2022-23 season, when they were still a Premier League club.

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