EPL

Premier League Fantasy Picks: Back Coutinho to shine again against Saints... or pick Forster

By Sports Desk March 04, 2022

Time is ticking down on the 2021-22 Premier League campaign – and indeed on your chances of making up those valuable points in your fantasy football league.

While certain players are a must for any manager with serious prospects of finishing top of the pile (hello, Mohammed Salah), others often go under the radar.

And with a real rarity of all 10 gameweek 28 fixtures taking place across the same weekend – at the time of writing, at least! – it is important you get your selection spot on.

So why not let Stats Perform, led by Opta data, pick out four players – one for each position – that can help propel you up the standings. Come on, trust us.

FRASER FORSTER (Aston Villa v Southampton)

Five games without defeat, including back-to-back victories over Everton and Norwich City at St Mary's, have helped propel Southampton back into the top half of the division.

What makes those successive home wins all the more impressive is that Saints kept two clean sheets, having failed to record a single shutout in their previous 13 league matches.

Forster was in goal for both games and, while he only had to make one save across the 180 minutes, he has prevented the fourth-most goals in the Premier League this term.

Having conceded only 10 times, excluding own goals, from shots worth 13.5 expected goals on target, he has limited opponents to 3.5 goals fewer than expected.

Only Aaron Ramsdale (4.0 goals prevented), David de Gea (7.5) and Jose Sa (7.8) have fared better in that regard in the English top flight this term.

MATT DOHERTY (Tottenham v Everton)

Tottenham may be struggling for consistency, but right wing-back Doherty finally appears to be finding his feet under Antonio Conte – in the league, at least.

The former Wolves defender scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the first time in Tottenham's most recent outing in the competition against Leeds United.

Doherty now has three goal involvements in his past five league games, also supplying an assist at Leicester City, where he created four chances.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Aston Villa v Southampton)

Okay, okay – we know we have already selected Southampton goalkeeper Forster, but hear us out here.

By putting Aston Villa midfielder Coutinho in your side, you are hedging your bets, because if the Villans are to score then they need their Brazilian playmaker on top form.

He has four direct goal involvements in six games since returning to the Premier League in January – only Harry Kane (six) and Bruno Fernandes (seven) can better that return.

That should be of particular concern to Southampton as Coutinho has been involved in as many Premier League goals against them (five – four goals, one assist) as against any other side.

EMMANUEL DENNIS (Watford v Arsenal)

Long gone are the days of Watford being unable to keep a clean sheet for love nor money – the Hornets are now shutout kings under that up-and-coming boss Roy Hodgson.

Well, not quite, but Watford's three Premier League blanks since Hodgson's first game is the joint-most of any side, along with Liverpool, Manchester City and, eh, Burnley.

Now they just need to work on becoming more prolific at the other end of the field, and in Dennis they have a player potentially capable of firing them to safety.

The Nigeria international has scored nine goals and assisted five more in the Premier League this term – only five other players have been directly involved in more.

Related items

  • Zverev soars past Zhang to reach Hamburg Open semi-finals Zverev soars past Zhang to reach Hamburg Open semi-finals

    Alexander Zverev booked his place in the Hamburg Open semi-finals with a straight-sets victory over Zhizhen Zhang.

    The top seed - and reigning champion - kept his title defence very much on track, prevailing 6-4 6-3 after 66 minutes on Center Court.

    Zverev dominated on serve during the opening set, dropping just three points, while a break in game five paved the way for him to move halfway towards victory.

    The home favourite made another statement of intent when he broke in the opening game of the second set.

    Another break followed at 5-3 to secure victory and send the Italian Open champion through to his seventh ATP semi-final of the season - and third on clay, having also reached the French Open final.

    There, he will play Pedro Martinez after the Spaniard beat fourth seed Francisco Cerundolo in three sets.

    Data Debrief: Statement of intent from Zverev

    The German demonstrated his desire to maintain his hold on the trophy he won in front of his home crowd last season, and become only the third player this century to successfully defend the crown after Roger Federer and Nikoloz Basilashvili.

    Indeed, Zverev hit 10 aces and won 29 of 33 points on first serve (88%), while converting three of his four break-point opportunities.

  • Tsitsipas sets up Swiss Open semi-final showdown with Berrettini Tsitsipas sets up Swiss Open semi-final showdown with Berrettini

    Stefanos Tsitsipas will play Matteo Berrettini in the Swiss Open semi-finals, after seeing off Fabio Fognini in straight sets on Friday.

    The two-time major finalist, who is making his first appearance in Gstaad, took 66 minutes to wrap up a 6-4 6-3 victory over the Italian on Roy Emerson Court.

    Though he relinquished an early break in the opening set, Tsitsipas claimed a crucial one at 5-4 to edge his nose in front.

    Despite seeing another early break cancelled out in the second set, the Greek managed to earn another, and eventually progressed to the last four in comfortable fashion.

    "My returns worked pretty well, I was very consistent with them," he said. "I insisted on staying back throughout the match and giving it a bit of a loop, trying to get the angles from the very beginning. It worked pretty well.

    "I'm happy with how I started serving towards the end of the match. In the beginning, I was still trying to figure out how I was going to open up the court and create opportunities on my serve. It took me a while to figure out. I unlocked the code towards the end."

    Another Italian lies in wait for Tsitsipas in Berrettini, who overcame Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-2).

    The former Wimbledon finalist is seeking his second clay-court title of the season, having also triumphed in Marrakech, while he was runner-up to Jack Draper in Stuttgart last month.

    Data Debrief: Another Italian Job well done by Tsitsipas

    Reigning Monte-Carlo Masters champion Tsitsipas is through to his fourth ATP semi-final of the season, with three of those coming on clay, while recording his fifth straight victory in as many meetings with Fognini.

    The Greek now boasts an impressive 14-1 record against Italian opponents on surface - his only such defeat coming against Jannik Sinner in Rome four years ago.

  • Nadal comes from behind to seal Swedish Open semi-final spot Nadal comes from behind to seal Swedish Open semi-final spot

    Rafael Nadal booked his place in the Swedish Open semi-finals after coming from behind to deny Mariano Navone in Bastad.

    The 22-time major winner recovered from losing the opening set to prevail 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 7-5 in just under four hours on Centre Court.

    Nadal was slow out of the blocks against the fourth seed, who broke his opponent three times in the opening set for a 4-1 lead.

    The Spaniard dug deep and responded to lead 6-5 but Navone - a finalist on clay in Rio and Bucharest - dominated the tie-break 7-2 to draw first blood.

    Both players continued to struggle on serve in the second set, with Nadal crucially breaking in game 11 before holding to level.

    The 37-year-old recovered from an early break in the decider, reeling off five successive games for a 5-2 lead. Navone fought back to 5-5, but was broken in the following game with Nadal subsequently serving out to set up a semi-final clash with Duje Ajdukovic.

    Data Debrief: Comeback king Nadal seals semi-final return

    Not since Wimbledon in 2022 had Nadal reached an ATP semi-final, withdrawing on the eve of his clash with Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal injury.

    His hopes of doing so seemed bleak early on, with world number 36 Navone threatening to become the lowest-ranked player to beat him on clay since 2016.

    However, the 22-time major winner dug deep, and is now just two wins away from his first silverware since landing a 14th French Open crown 25 months ago.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.