EPL

Premier League fantasy picks: Man Utd to look to talisman, City duo can increase the heat on Benitez

By Sports Desk November 19, 2021

International football is officially over for another year. *Pauses for cheers or jeers*

With the November international break done with, we turn our attention back to domestic football, with a hectic period set to begin in the Premier League.

More fantasy points will be available over the next seven weeks or so than at any other period in the season, such is the jammed nature of the schedule, and there's no better time to get ahead of the curve.

Stats Perform has delved into the Opta data to pick out seven picks for this week, hopefully giving you the edge...

EDOUARD MENDY (Leicester City v Chelsea)

Leicester City may represent a tricky opponent for any team, particularly given their good options going forward, but if anyone can keep them at bay, it's Mendy.

Not only has the Senegal international conceded the joint-fewest goals (four, excluding own goals, minimum of three appearances) in the Premier League, he also leads the way with 3.4 goals prevented, according to expected goals on target data.

In terms of form goalkeepers this season, Aaron Ramsdale runs him close, but Mendy is the outstanding candidate.

JOAO CANCELO (Manchester City v Everton)

City's versatile Portuguese full-back enjoyed an exceptional 2020-21, but he seems to have stepped things up even further this term.

In 17 games in 2021-22 across all competitions, Cancelo has already reached seven goal involvements (two goals, five assists), just one fewer than his haul of eight in 43 outings last term.

He has been hugely influential at City, while it would also hardly be a surprise if they keep a clean sheet against an out-of-sorts Everton.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (Liverpool v Arsenal)

Liverpool's right-back became something of a scapegoat – fairly or not, that's a discussion for another day – in 2020-21. It is safe to say his critics are rather quieter at the moment.

Only Bruno Fernandes (37) can better Alexander-Arnold's 30 chances created in the Premier League this term, while no defender has more than his four assists.

A resurgent Arsenal could cause Liverpool issues, so a clean sheet is no guarantee, but there is no defender more likely to nab you an assist or two.

CONOR GALLAGHER (Burnley v Crystal Palace)

On-loan Chelsea youngster Gallagher has been a revelation for Palace this season, with his all-action style proving a great addition to Patrick Vieira's team.

He has also provided plenty of quality in the final third, having a hand in a team-high six goals (four goals, two assists).

Gallagher has already beaten his combined tally (two goals, two assists) from 2020-21 when he was on loan at West Brom, and he won his first England cap against San Marino earlier this week.

BRUNO FERNANDES (Watford v Manchester United)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have seemingly hobbled from 'crisis' to 'crisis' this season, and while Fernandes arguably has not been as impressive as last season, he is still essential to the Red Devils.

He leads the way with the most chances created (37) in the league this term, and that fits into his wider excellence ever since joining United, a period that has seen him supply the most assists (22) and craft the most goal-scoring opportunities (162) of anyone in the competition.

Additionally, only Mohamed Salah (55) has been involved in more goals than Fernandes (52) in the same period. Regardless of perceptions of his form, the Portugal star is a must-have, particularly given United will fancy their chances of bouncing back at Vicarage Road.

GABRIEL JESUS (Manchester City v Everton)

While he may not be playing in the striker role many might have expected before the season started, instead featuring largely as a right-sided winger, Jesus has made a strong start to 2021-22.

With the South American World Cup qualifiers not extended to a triple-header this month, Jesus is also less of a selection risk than he was after the international breaks in September and October.

But above all, he loves playing Everton. In eight Premier League games against them, Jesus has scored eight times, or roughly one every 69 minutes, and he will be aiming to give the Toffees plenty to chew on yet again this weekend.

SON HEUNG-MIN (Tottenham v Leeds United)

Among the players Antonio Conte will be hoping to get more out of after a slow start to the season, Son is surely near the top of the list.

Since the start of last season, no player has outperformed their expected goals (xG) tally by a greater margin than the South Korean (8.2), with 21 goals from 12.8 xG.

Obviously that can suggest a degree of unsustainable fortune on Son's part, but we all know he is an exceptional player capable of the extraordinary. Leeds are a side who let other teams play, and that might be just what the doctor ordered for Son and Spurs.

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  • 'We expect greatness from each other' – Mahomes wants improvements despite Chiefs' dominance 'We expect greatness from each other' – Mahomes wants improvements despite Chiefs' dominance

    Patrick Mahomes called for improvements and said the Kansas City Chiefs "expect greatness from each other" despite a record-setting victory over the Denver Broncos.

    The Chiefs cruised past the Broncos 22-9 to collect a franchise record 12th straight victory over Denver, a streak dating back to Week 10 of 2015.

    Kansas City also extended their winning run to five games on Sunday, despite quarterback Mahomes being far from his best.

    The 26-year-old may have rushed for a touchdown on four carries, but he did not throw for a touchdown and was intercepted once on 15-of-29 passing for 184 yards.

    Mahomes - who has already thrown 12 picks this season, as many as in his career-high 2018 campaign – was satisfied after yet another Chiefs win but called for improvements across the field.

    "I think they know, from me and from all of us, and it's the same towards me as well, it's that they just have to be themselves," Mahomes told reporters. 

    "There's nothing they have to do extra. They have the talent, they have the playmaking ability to just continue to go out there and be themselves. I think we'll continue to get better and better. 

    "We're still winning football games. We don't want to get lost in that - we're winning a lot of football games, and we're winning by pretty big margins. 

    "But we expect greatness from each other. We want to continue to get better as an offense and the defense to continue to get better and hopefully create a great football team."

    Mahomes has only thrown for more than 300 yards once in his past six games, while Kansas City have registered over 22 points just once at home this season against the Cleveland Browns.

    In their previous five games, the Chiefs have allowed 17, seven, 14, nine and nine points, having given up 29, 36, 30, 30 and 38 in the team's opening five games. 

    They are the first franchise in NFL history to have a five-game winning run conceding 25-plus points and a five-game victorious streak allowing less than 20 points in the same season, per Stats Perform.

    But 2018 MVP Mahomes insisted all the Chiefs are working on different ways to tighten up plays at both ends, despite Kansas City having an 8-4 record to top AFC West.

    "You figure that when you get to, hopefully, the playoffs and kind of try to make a run that guys are going to try to take away those two guys," he added. 

    "We'll do our best job of still trying to get them open, scheming them open in different ways. 

    "But other guys are going to have to step up, and this week it was running backs out of the backfield. Next week, it might be other receivers, it might be different tight ends. I think we have the guys to do it, we just have to continue to go out there and do it."

  • Jackson takes blame after costly failed two-point conversion in Ravens loss Jackson takes blame after costly failed two-point conversion in Ravens loss

    Lamar Jackson blamed himself for not executing the pass for a two-point conversion that would have seen the Baltimore Ravens edge past the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Baltimore attempted the two-point conversion after Jackson had led the Ravens to a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining, only for the 24-year-old's throw to narrowly miss Mark Andrews' fingertips in the endzone.

    The Steelers therefore squeezed to a 20-19 victory, snapping a two-game losing streak after being inspired by Ben Roethlisberger, who threw two fourth-down touchdowns on Sunday.

    But 2019 MVP Jackson, whose 60-yard drive during the closing two minutes set up a tantalising conclusion, bemoaned his lack of cutting edge as Baltimore opted for the winner-takes-all two-pointer as opposed to kicking for a point.

    "I was in the moment," Jackson told reporters. "We just scored. I was cool with it. I wanted to win. I didn't want to go to overtime anyway.

    "T.J. Watt's got range. He's a long guy. I had to throw around him and try to make something happen. That's all, I just came up short.

    "We're just not finishing. We're always one play away. When we get down in the red zone, we've just got to fix that. We've just got to get in the lab and find ways to keep our drives going, try not to have sacks.

    "I'm very confident. You saw the last drive. We were rolling, hitting passes, guys running their routes, catching the ball and getting YAC. We just do that consistently, we'll be fine. We just have to do it early and finish the whole game like that."

    Jackson continues to be Baltimore's main outlet, once again making eight carries for 55 yards as the Ravens' lead rusher.

    But the quarterback's passing was slightly off, throwing an avoidable pick in Baltimore's opening drive while he has now been sacked an already career-high 37 times in 11 starts this season, compared to the last when he suffered just 29 in four more starts.

    Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, though, believes his team and coaching staff need to do more to protect Jackson.

    "We can put him in a better position too in terms of getting the ball out quick with some of those calls," Harbaugh added. "Seven sacks is too many. It's way too many. That's on us as a coaching staff to get that cleaned up."

    The Ravens (8-4), despite the loss, still lead the AFC North by one game as they next prepare to face the Cleveland Browns (6-6).

  • Rumour Has It: Liverpool plan move for Napoli's Spain international Fabian Ruiz Rumour Has It: Liverpool plan move for Napoli's Spain international Fabian Ruiz

    Liverpool are in the market to add depth and quality to their midfield.

    The Reds are currently second in the Premier League, after four straight wins.

    Liverpool have scored a Premier League-high 44 goals in 15 games.

     

    TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL CHASING FABIAN RUIZ

    Liverpool want to sign Napoli's Spain international Fabian Ruiz next off-season to bolster their midfield, reports Fichajes.

    The Reds view the 25-year-old as an ideal player on an upward trajectory in his career.

    Georginio Wijnaldum exited Liverpool for Paris Saint-Germain last off-season with no obvious replacement added.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Fichajes reports that Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Ajax's Argentinean left-back Nicolas Tagliafico.

    - Milan are interested in Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic and Real Madrid's Luka Jovic as they look to add depth to their squad reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

    - Inter are tracking FC Zurich's 20-year-old Switzerland international defender Becir Omeragic claims Calciomercato.

    - The Athletic reports that Southampton will sign ex-Chelsea and Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero as emergency cover. Caballero, 40, is a free agent.

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