EPL

Premier League Fantasy Picks: Salah and Son to continue form

By Sports Desk April 01, 2022

It's matchday 31. The run-in requires points, and lots of them.

Of course, picking the players who earn surprise points is a big part of fantasy football, but at this point of the season, do you really want to be taking risks?

With that in mind, let Stats Perform lead you by the hand with Opta data as we pick four players who might just give you those precious extra points in the latest Premier League gameweek.

EDOUARD MENDY (Chelsea v Brentford)

Edouard Mendy provides value, given Chelsea have won their previous five matches and will be facing a Brentford severely down on form, having won only two in 11 (against Norwich City and Burnley).

Despite the turbulent circumstances the Blues have faced of late, they powered into this past international window, with four clean sheets in their past five league games.

Among all Premier League goalkeepers with a minimum of 450 minutes played in 2022, only Alisson has kept more clean sheets and conceded fewer goals per 90 than Mendy.

BEN WHITE (Crystal Palace v Arsenal)

Aside from their loss at home to a Liverpool side that is rolling at present, Arsenal have been in otherwise solid form of late.

Clean sheets against Aston Villa and Leicester City sandwich the Liverpool defeat, and Ben White has been a pivotal figure in the Gunners' defensive output.

Among Premier League central defenders this season, Ben White has the second-highest tally of clean sheets with 13, behind only Virgil van Dijk's 17. The last time Arsenal kept more in a single campaign was in 2015-16 (18).

MOHAMED SALAH (Liverpool v Watford)

This might be stating the obvious, but if you can afford Salah, bring him in and make him your captain straight away like he's an old professional playing Sunday League.

Mohamed Salah has been in intimidatingly great form this season, and in the thick of a Premier League title race, rotation from Jurgen Klopp coming out of an international break is unlikely.

The Egyptian attacker averages a goal or assist every 57 minutes against Watford, the fourth-best ratio one player has against a club in Premier League history, with a 600-minute cut-off.

With nine goals and two assists in seven games against the Hornets, only versus West Ham (12 goal involvements) has Salah been more productive since he arrived in Liverpool.

SON HEUNG-MIN (Tottenham v Newcastle United)

Despite Tottenham's somewhat volatile form in the New Year, Son Heung-min has been one of the few constants for Spurs since his return from a hamstring injury.

In the nine games since his February return, the 29-year-old has provided five goals and two assists. He has come to life under Antonio Conte in 2022, with his eight Premier League goal involvements this calendar year bettered by only Harry Kane (12).

Meanwhile, of the Premier League's top ten players in goal involvements, only Bruno Fernandes (29) and Kevin de Bruyne (23) have created more chances than Son (21), which is all the more impressive given he's not Spurs set-piece taker.

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    Michail Antonio felt West Ham were up against 14 players as they bowed out of the Europa League to Bayer Leverkusen.

    Antonio’s early header gave the Hammers hope of overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit and inflicting a first defeat of the season on Xabi Alonso’s new Bundesliga champions.

    But the bustling striker claimed he did not get a decision all night from card-happy Spanish referee Jose Maria Sanchez and his two assistants.

    “It doesn’t feel like you’re playing against 11 men, it feels like you’re playing against 13 or 14 including the two linos,” Antonio told TNT Sports.

    “You just have to keep pushing and try and make the decisions go your way. And they just weren’t. We had to keep playing our way and keep being professional.”

    West Ham pushed gamely for a second goal to take the tie to extra-time, but as they inevitably flagged Leverkusen substitute Jeremie Frimpong scored with a deflected shot in the last minute to make it 1-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate.

    It was a valiant effort but ultimately a sad end to another European adventure for last season’s Conference League winners.

    “We’re very proud of ourselves, to achieve what we’ve achieved over the last few years is incredible,” added Antonio.

    “Three back-to-back years in European quarter-finals I would never have thought that. We were a yo-yo team, fighting relegation, then into Europe.”

    Sanchez booked 11 players and sent off West Ham coach Billy McKinlay, and Sebastian Parrilla from Leverkusen’s staff after a touchline altercation.

    Asked if that skirmish had anything to do with some bad-tempered exchanges between the benches in last week’s first leg, Alonso said with a grin: “I wouldn’t say no.”

    Hammers boss David Moyes was not keen to be drawn on the officiating, but he did say: “I watch a lot of Spanish football but if that’s the way it is you wouldn’t want to watch too many Spanish matches.”

    On his side’s performance, he added: “It was a brilliant team performance, I have to say over the two games.

    “We played a really good team and we had chances to be two or three up. I couldn’t fault the players at all. If I was going out of Europe I wanted to go out like that.”

    In the first half Leverkusen looked as though they may have celebrated their first Bundesliga crown on Sunday a little too much, and Alonso admitted they needed to improve after the break.

    “For sure it was a thrilling game,” he said. “Two different halves. First half we knew West Ham would come with high intensity and we were not comfortable with that.

    “After they scored one we were lucky not to concede a second one. But we showed character in the second half and the substitutes had a good impact. It was a lesson for us.”

  • Jurgen Klopp accepts lack of threat cost Liverpool dear in European exit Jurgen Klopp accepts lack of threat cost Liverpool dear in European exit

    Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accepted their lack of goal threat failed to put enough pressure on Atalanta to help turn their Europa League quarter-final back in their favour.

    Mohamed Salah’s seventh-minute penalty had raised hopes of a Barcelona 2019-style comeback but the Egypt international missed a relatively straightforward lob to make it 2-0 towards the end of the first half and they faded badly after the break as they exited the competition 3-1 on aggregate.

    That meant for only the third time in the 21st century, England have no teams in the semi-finals of the Champions League or Europa League/UEFA Cup.

    “We didn’t lose the tie tonight, we lost it at home,” Klopp said after a 3-0 first-leg defeat proved decisive.

    “It’s very easy to congratulate Atalanta because they deserved to go through. When you win a tie against us 3-1 in especially this way you deserve it absolutely.

    “But I loved our game, especially the start. I loved the commitment, desire and power we developed in this game but it was clear we had better score from time to time otherwise it could be tricky over 90 minutes.

    “The second goal could have helped a little bit. We have to create a little bit more than we did in the first half as it’s clear you need a result to help destabilise the opponent.

    “If you have a second goal it’s a tricky one as the next goal is extra time but we didn’t get to that point and we will never really know how that would have looked.

    “Disappointed we didn’t go through but not frustrated or angry. If you don’t deserve it, it’s all good.”

    Salah has looked well short of his clinical best since returning from almost two months out with a hamstring problem.

    Even though he has scored six in 11 game since he came back two of those have been penalties and he is squandering more chances he would normally be expected to take.

    “I’m not particularly concerned. That’s what strikers do. That’s how it it is. We have to go through it, he has to go through it,” added Klopp.

    “He is one of most experienced players in the squad. That’s pretty much all.

    “It’s not that Mo didn’t miss chances before in his life, that’s part of the game. The penalty was super convincing, a super penalty then the next chance that was unlucky, but it’s not the first time has has missed chances like that.

    “I won’t make a big story of it. I’m not particularly concerned.”

  • Liverpool exit Europa League despite win at Atalanta Liverpool exit Europa League despite win at Atalanta

    Liverpool crashed out of the Europa League after they failed to turn around their 3-0 first-leg defeat to Atalanta despite winning 1-0 at Gewiss Stadium.

    Jurgen Klopp’s men took the lead from the spot in the seventh minute through Mohamed Salah but could not find the goals needed as they fell to a 3-1 aggregate loss in the quarter-finals.

    West Ham were knocked out by Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen at London Stadium, also going out 3-1 on aggregate.

    The Hammers gave themselves hope, both in the tie and of inflicting a first defeat of the season on Leverkusen, courtesy of Michail Antonio’s first-half goal.

    But it was not enough as Leverkusen scored late on through Jeremie Frimpong.

    Roma held off AC Milan to advance to the semi-finals.

    Daniele De Rossi’s side, who won the first leg 1-0, scored two quickfire goals through Gianluca Mancini and Paulo Dybala to strengthen their advantage.

    Despite Mehmet Zeki Çelik’s red card for a late challenge on Rafael Leao and Matteo Gabbia pulling one back in the 85th minute, the hosts managed to see out the match.

    Marseille had to rely on penalties to claim their last-eight win over Benfica.

    Benfica went to Stade Velodrome with a 2-1 advantage.

    Faris Moumbagna opened the scoring for the hosts but both defences proved to be stubborn as the match went the distance after extra-time.

    Antonio Silva and Angel Di Maria missed from 12 yards before Luis Henrique scored the decisive spot-kick to send the French club through.

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