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.

Related items

  • 'World-class' Alexander-Arnold 'judged by the one thing he's not as world class in' – Klopp 'World-class' Alexander-Arnold 'judged by the one thing he's not as world class in' – Klopp

    Jurgen Klopp does not understand why anybody would focus only on Trent Alexander-Arnold's defending when he has "world-class talent" on the ball.

    Liverpool right-back Alexander-Arnold has been the subject of much debate this week after being left out of England's matchday squad to face Germany on Monday.

    Reece James started the match and Kyle Walker came off the bench, while Kieran Trippier was among the substitutes.

    James appears to be Gareth Southgate's preferred option in that position, but Walker has made 50 appearances under the Three Lions manager. Trippier has turned out 37 times for Southgate, starting in both the 2018 World Cup semi-final and Euro 2020 final.

    That leaves Alexander-Arnold – often outstanding for Liverpool – as fourth-choice and looking highly unlikely to feature at the World Cup, even if selected in the 26-man squad.

    Southgate handed Alexander-Arnold his international debut in 2018, but he has since earned just 17 caps for his country.

    While the 23-year-old's creative abilities are unquestioned – he leads the England quartet in chances created (2.4) and expected assists (0.32) per 90 minutes in the Premier League in 2022 – there are doubts around his defending.

    Klopp has accepted Alexander-Arnold has room for improvement, but ahead of Saturday's game against Brighton and Hove Albion, he also suggested "nobody mentions" when the Liverpool man defends well.

    "It's like you have a list, bad defending and good defending, and bad defending [is] massive, and the good defending [list] is like you can't even see," he said.

    "That's what I see, because I'm not dumb."

    Klopp was also keen to point out some of Alexander-Arnold's shortcomings are due to Liverpool's approach, as they are "extremely brave" in their pressing and "the pitch is too big to be everywhere".

    Yet even when Alexander-Arnold is directly at fault, his club manager believes there is too much focus on those shortcomings.

    "There are other situations where he was not aware of the situation, where they pass the ball through him, where it was a challenge he should've won – true," Klopp said. "Every player in the league has these challenges.

    "With him, you pick it out, analyse so easy. All the experts sitting there, 'in this situation, you see it's a weakness'.

    "Honestly, I just don't get it, I just don't get that part of it – that we just accept that a world-class talent gets judged by the one thing he's not as world-class as in other things."

    And Klopp added: "If he would not be a good defender, he wouldn't play."

  • Suarez wants answers from Koeman over Barca exit Suarez wants answers from Koeman over Barca exit

    Luis Suarez wants Ronald Koeman to tell him to his face why he showed him the door at Barcelona just over two years ago.

    Suarez joined LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid on a free transfer in September 2020 after being deemed surplus to requirements by Koeman.

    The Uruguay striker, now playing for his boyhood club Nacional, scored 198 goals in a trophy-laden six-year spell with Barca.

    Suarez hopes Koeman, who was sacked by the Blaugrana in October 2021 after just 14 months as head coach, will explain why he decided to get rid of him.

    He told Marca: "Time goes by, and yes, out of politeness and respect, I would greet him.

    "If I met him, I hope that Ronald would have the greatness, which he had as a player at the club, to tell me the truth to my face about why I left and that I didn't leave for footballing or technical reasons."

    Xavi replaced Koeman and has been given significant backing in the transfer market, bringing in the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha.

    Suarez feels Barca legend Xavi has everything in place to be a success.

    Asked if Xavi will produce the style of football fans of the Catalan giants expect, he said: "I think so. He is showing it, without being perfect. He is a coach who grew up there and knows what the club and the fans need.

    "I see many conditions for him to go far as a coach, and, in addition, they gave him good tools for it, they gave him the players that he needed and wanted. It's up to him to prove it."

    Suarez believes Barca have a good blend of youth and experience as they strive to dethrone LaLiga champions and fierce rivals Real Madrid.

    Quizzed how he thinks his former club will do, he replied: "Very well. They made good signings and the young players have two more years of experience: Pedri, Gavi, Ansu [Fati], who is coming back, plus the experience of Jordi [Alba], Busi [Sergio Busquets], [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen... It's a team that can compete for everything."

  • 'Incredibly humble' Jesus vowed to improve after Brazil omission 'Incredibly humble' Jesus vowed to improve after Brazil omission

    Mikel Arteta expects Arsenal to benefit from Gabriel Jesus' absence from the Brazil squad as he hopes to show Tite what he is missing before the World Cup.

    Arsenal are top of the Premier League ahead of the north London derby against Tottenham on Saturday, but none of their three senior Brazilian stars were called up by the Selecao last month.

    Gabriel, Gabriel Martinelli and Jesus had all been part of Tite's squad during the previous international window in June.

    Yet they now face a race against time to prove themselves before Qatar 2022, which kicks off next month.

    Jesus was a particularly surprising omission, having scored four goals and assisted another three in seven league appearances since joining Arsenal in July.

    But Arteta revealed a determined response from his number nine, telling reporters of Jesus: "He's incredibly humble.

    "He accepted the decision and the way he trained, it was just: 'Okay, I need to improve. I need to get better. I need to do more. I really want to be there [at the World Cup], it's a big aspiration for me, it's an incredible opportunity. And I'm in the right place to do that.'

    "So, I think we will see that on the pitch again."

    At international level, Jesus appears to be in direct competition with Spurs striker Richarlison, who has hit form at the right time with seven goals in his past six outings for Brazil.

    Jesus is set to come up against him this weekend, but Arteta says his striker cannot be concerned by how others fare.

    "He can only control what he can do. He cannot control what other players do," the Arsenal manager said. "And he's only focusing on that.

    "So, he has ambition. We know that he plays with incredible commitment. And [on Saturday] he will play that way."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.