We learned a lot from the opening weekend of the Premier League season, but took away even more from the second week. Much like peeling an onion, layer after layer, eventually you get to the heart of things... but hopefully you won’t be crying at the end, of course. What further gleanings have arisen in this latest stage of revelations? See below within the Player Picks for the upcoming week (and in many cases beyond).
Even when he didn’t give you the clean sheet you expected last weekend, he made up for it with an amazing assist. Wolves have some talent on offense, but it’s tough to do much but duck for cover when you're under constant fire. Also, with respect to the Citizens’ schedule over the next five fixtures, take a look here: at Wolves, v. Newcastle, v. Fulham, at Cardiff, v. Brighton. So if for some reason you don’t already have the maximum three Sky Blues, load up already, why don’t you?!
Alisson already has two clean sheets, and with Brighton coming to town, you’re going to count on a third. Sure, Brighton grabbed three goals against Manchester United, but that was at home. This one’s at Anfield.
I don’t foresee the Saints finishing anywhere near the leader board in clean sheets this season. But they got one in the opener, and this is the type of match where they have a decent chance to nip another: at home against a mediocre team missing its best offensive threat to red card suspension in Jamie Vardy. And even if McCarthy does end up conceding a goal or two, he’ll grab you some saves (6 and 5 in the first two games). If he does both, you’ll really be loving life.
Nine goals conceded in the first two games is a lot, an awful lot. An avalanche, really. But also... 10 saves... between the pair of results facing brutal competition at Chelsea and then at home against Manchester City. So, upon reflection, it’s really not THAT bad, right? Now the Terriers head back to Kirklees Stadium to host Cardiff, who have only scored once so far. Despite all the saves, Hamer did have a couple of howlers against the Citizens, so I think there’s a strong chance for Lossl to get his job back. And if last year’s #1 does well here, he may just keep the post. Sadly, that could mark the end of being able to have a starting keeper at the bargain basement £4.0 price. As always in a situation like this, hold your trigger finger for now and keep your eyes on team news as the deadline approaches.
Fabri (£4.5, Fulham v. Burnley)
Fulham concedes a lot of goals, and wow the Cottagers give up a boatload of shots, too: 20 SOT faced, 15 saves, 5 goals allowed for Fabri. So despite the goals shipped, Fabri actually has done fairly well, returning 8 fantasy points without benefit of a clean sheet or penalty save (or Ederson-esque assist!). With Burnley coming to town, the shots should come down a fair amount, but the real hope of course is for a clean sheet. Maybe don’t bet on it, but don’t bet against it either.
Marcos Alonso (£6.6, Chelsea at Newcastle)
Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta are the most expensive defenders in the game, and with good reason after last season’s fantasy bonanza in Antonio Conte’s five man (back three plus two wings) defense. In Maurizio Sarri’s four man line, it seems clear that Alonso is the one getting forward, while Azpi is stuck back with David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger. Sure, Azpi got an assist against Arsenal, but that was a pass from deep defense to spring Alvaro Morata for a breakaway from midfield. Meanwhile, Alonso’s two assists (one a PK drawn) plus his goal have come from racing deep along the left flank or raiding into the box itself. Aside from Alonso’s game-winning goal against the Gunners, he nearly missed another score, hitting the crossbar against Huddersfield. In total, Alonso has taken six shots (second most on the team, behind only Pedro), while Azpi has yet to remove the gun out of his holster.
Alonso’s fantasy returns realistically should actually increase compared to last year. Meanwhile, Azpi looks set for a decline. So if you have Azpi, swap him immediately for Alonso. If you have both, keep Alonso and strongly consider selling Azpi for someone else such as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Benjamin Mendy, Andrew Robertson, Kieran Trippier or even David Luiz (who is cheaper and will probably have a similar return as Azpi since he may also pick up the odd assist from deep service).
Benjamin Mendy (£6.2, Manchester City at Wolves)
Pep gives us plenty of rotation worries, not only on offense but in defense as well. There is an overabundance of world-class talent at his disposal, and beyond that he is also flexible in changing from a four-man to a three-man back line with ease, both in choosing an XI but also within the game. Kyle Walker was sacrificed on the right wing against Huddersfield, but Benjamin Mendy was retained, and it would seem to appear that the latter will be the Citizens’ most reliable defensive starter as long as he stays healthy.
Elsewhere, in central defense, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have also earned two starts, but do not bring terribly much in the way of offensive returns and have to worry about Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi getting into the mix. Mendy, on the other hand, has absolutely terrorized opposing defenses from the left flank in the first two games, racking up three assists from his 16 crosses. His price has already risen two-tenths of a pound, but if you don’t have him yet, don’t let that dissuade you. You’ll feel even worse if you wait until his price is even higher.
Andrew Robertson (£6.0, Liverpool v. Brighton)
Two clean sheets. One assist. Three bonus points. Zero yellow cards (unlike opposite wing back Trent-Alexander Arnold, who has two of those). Home to Brighton. Done, done, done, done and done!
Ryan Bertrand (£5.0, Southampton v. Leicester City)
It’s the same logic as with McCarthy in goal, but instead of saves, Bertrand offers the possibility of getting an assist.
Ricardo Pereira (£5.0, Leicester City at Southampton)
Who’s the fifth highest scoring defender in fantasy? You may have guessed Ricardo Pereira, but you were cheating since his name is just above the text, after all. Leicester is away, but the Saints have scored only one goal in their opening two games. Pereira is cheaper than more-owned teammate Harry Maguire, and could easily end up with more fantasy points.
Mo Salah (£13.0, Liverpool v. Brighton)
No, I don’t have Salah in my team, owing to a principled price-based economic stand. But this is definitely one week where I wouldn’t mind having him one bit. And yes, I’d surely captain him. As they used to say back when Big Tobacco ruled the earth, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
Sadio Mane (£9.8, Liverpool v. Brighton)
Yes, you read that correctly. Mane’s price indeed has skyrocketed (by Official FPL standards, at least) from £9.5 up to £9.8 already in this young season. As with Mendy, it’s not too late to grab him now, but it may be too late, um, later.
Bernardo Silva (£7.5, Manchester City at Wolves)
Kevin De Bruyne was Pep Guardiola’s security blanket in midfield. Now unfortunately, KDB is set for a long spell on the sidelines. It isn’t definite by any means, but it seems like Bernardo Silva might, just might, be Pep’s new binky. Then again, he may be rotated with Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, Leroy Sane, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and even Phil Foden. But if Bernardo does turn out to be a regular starter, combining his eye for goal in City’s explosive offense with his moderate price tag is a golden ticket.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.0, Arsenal v. West Ham)
Arsenal lost both its first two games, but they were brutal (v. Manchester City, at Chelsea) especially under a brand new manager. Now the docket becomes significantly easier: v. West Ham, at Cardiff, at Newcastle, v. Everton, v. Watford, at Fulham, v. Leicester. So go ahead and load up if you had been Gunner-shy! I expect even Mesut Ozil to have a good game from the Arsenal engine room — he came close to scoring and getting an assist in the Chelsea game. But Micki is less expensive, and unlike Ozil, he ACTUALLY scored and assisted in the thriller at Stamford Bridge. Now he comes home to the Emirates to welcome a sloppy Hammer squad that has allowed 13 shots on target and conceded six goals already.
Richarlison (£6.8, Everton at Bournemouth)
Speaking of skyrocketing prices, the transfer from Watford is right up there with Mane in showing a rise of £0.3 already. The Toffees are away, but it’s not as if the Cherries boast a lock down defense. Sometimes you just have to keep rolling with the hot foot (and head), right?
Ryan Fraser (£5.5, Bournemouth v. Everton)
After scoring 100 points in under 1,800 minutes in 2016-17, Fraser was poised for a breakout 2017-18. What happened? Some injury problems, and sadly slightly fewer points in a few more minutes. But the bloom is back on the rose, as Fraser has started out with a goal, an assist and four bonus points already. Everton’s defense isn’t too shabby overall, but the Toffees were absolutely wretched on that side of the ball on their travels last season.
James Milner (£5.5, Liverpool v. Brighton)
In 2016-17, Milner made 36 starts and was listed as a midfielder. In 2017-18, his position in the game switched to defender, making him more attractive. Unfortunately, he only started 16 times, and it had nothing to do with injury, but rather team selection. This season he flipped back to midfield, seemingly erasing his value with the diminishment of the clean sheet bonus.
But so far now, he has started both games, leaving Jordan Henderson and newcomer Fabinho on the bench. On top of that, the wily veteran has an assist plus a penalty kick goal. At the start of the season, it was unknown whether Milner, Fabinho, Mane, or Salah would be the designated pen specialist; now the clarity seems awfully close to crystal. You can only have three Liverpool players on your team, and you may already be at the limit (and likely understandably happy with your trio). And Milner might not keep starting regularly. But if you feel like taking a chance, and if you have room in your line-up, Milner could very well turn out to be one of the best bargains of the season if Klopp keeps regularly rolling with him in the XI.
Sergio Aguero (£11.1, Manchester City at Wolverhampton)
There is always a risk that Aguero can be rested, but he has started both games so far. So until you actually see him on the bench (or hear bad news), it’s difficult to stop going with Kun, especially as he comes off a hat trick and faces a newly promoted side that has allowed two goals each to Everton and Leicester. Is Manchester City’s offense much, much better than those attacks? Don’t hurt your jaw nodding too hard now.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0, Arsenal v. West Ham)
PEA hasn’t scored yet, but as mentioned regarding Micki, the competition has been tough, and now it gets much easier. Last year, Auba scored 10 goals in 13 games on 31 shots (19 SOT), a remarkable conversion rate with only 6 big chances missed (an actual official Premier League statistic, I promise I didn’t make it up). He hasn’t scored yet this season in his 5 shots (2 SOT), with 2 big chances missed already. So he’s getting plenty of opportunities, and now you have to expect him to start converting at a nice clip.
Roberto Firmino (£9.5, Liverpool v. Brighton)
While Salah, Mane, Milner and even Daniel Sturridge have flown into action by scoring at least one goal each, Firmino has been waiting on standby, with only two shots (none on target) and one assist to his credit. Eventually he will get in on the fun. Why not this week?
Callum Wilson (£6.1, Bournemouth v. Everton)
Joshua King got an awful lot of love from initial fantasy rosters, thanks to a wonderful pre-season of friendlies. What does the summer have to do with the season? Apparently absolutely nothing. It’s Callum Wilson who has emerged instead as the Cherries’ main man up front, firing not only at will (8 shots) but also efficiently (5 SOT), notching two goals despite missing a penalty, and adding an assist for good measure. Meanwhile King has not yet registered a shot on target from his three attempts. Is it a fluke?
- Wilson: 63 games, 21 goals, 3 assists, 109 shots, 44 SOT
- King: 102 games, 30 goals, 7 assists, 175 shots, 72 SOT
Maybe. Those numbers look awfully similar, don’t they? So it would not be a shock to see King pick things up with Wilson falling off a bit. But as anybody who remembers King’s performance in the second half of 2016-17 will tell you, sometimes it’s all about momentum. Why not run with Wilson, since he is currently in much better form and cheaper to boot?
Danny Ings (£5.5, Southampton v. Leicester)
Ings does not have a prolific track record, given his recent injury problems. But in his only full season, he scored 11 goals plus 4 assists with low-octane Burnley. Overall, he has 15 goals and 4 assists in 51 games, about the same rate as Wilson and King. For only £5.5, that sounds like good value, doesn’t it? The match-up isn’t spectacular, but at St. Mary’s Stadium with a mediocre team coming to town, it’s not too shabby.
Which players listed above are you rolling with this week? Who else do you love? Are you blowing up your teams with a big dose of TNT or merely doing minor tinkering? Let us know in the comments!