Well, well, what have we here? No early Friday game. No late Monday game. Just Saturday and Sunday, just like the olden days.
Of course, for those of us in the U.S., we really wouldn’t mind a Monday game, since it’s our Labor Day holiday. What the heck are we supposed to do now, actually have to hang out with family and friends all day? Watch Baseball?
Nathan Redmond and Moussa Djenepo scored their first goals of the season last week in the 2-0 victory at Brighton, but both will miss the weekend with injury. That leaves Danny Ings as the only Saint who has a goal to his credit so far remaining.
Manchester United has already had three penalty kick attempts (and if VAR were more friendly, it could easily have been more). Unfortunately, they’ve only converted once, Marcus Rashford missing one of his two tries and Paul Pogba failing on his single attempt. With Anthony Martial out injured, will we see Mason Greenwood or Juan Mata have a go if the Saints provide yet another chance for the Red Devils?
Following a dispiriting 4-0 loss at Old Trafford, Frank Lampard’s men responded with a 1-1 draw against Leicester and a 3-2 victory at Norwich. While big money transfer Christian Pulisic has been quiet, the charge has been led by youngsters Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham who have scored a pair of goals each.
Sheffield has been led from the defensive end, having conceded only three times so far. Goal-scoring “defender” John Lundstram has seen his selection by FPL managers rise to 20.0%. Interestingly, the only other two players who have scored — Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp — have each failed to play more than 36 minutes in a single game so far.
Palace isn’t doing much on the offensive end, while Villa has been somewhat porous in the back, which means that fantasy managers holding Wilfried Zaha or Luka Milivojevic will be counting on hitting pay dirt for this trip to Selhurst Park.
With the Eagles having given up only two goals so far and Villa hitting the road, hopes for John McGinn, Jack Grealish, and Wesley Moraes may be more muted.
Leicester is in 4th, so it’s time to dream of a repeat of the miraculous 2015-16 EPL championship, right? Um, maybe calm down a bit. The Foxes have one win and two draws. Staying unbeaten seems like an excellent formula for success, but winning only a third of the time, not so much. Jamie Vardy scored his first goal in Week 3 in the 2-1 win at Sheffield United, and James Maddison enjoyed his second straight game with an assist, but Ayoze Perez and Youri Tielemans have yet to contribute in attack. Instead, Leicester has been getting the job done on the defensive end, conceding only two goals total so far.
Bournemouth somehow sits in 11th but feels like a tremendous disappointment, having faced two promoted sides. Callum Wilson has chipped in with a fantasy assist in every game, but Joshua King (one PK goal) and Ryan Fraser (no goals or assists) have been busts for managers who put faith in them. Midfielder Harry Wilson has been a revelation, scoring each of the past two games after arriving on loan from Liverpool; selected by only 3% of FPL managers, there will be plenty of interest to see if he can continue his fine form.
So far the Manchester City offense has revolved almost entirely around Raheem Sterling (5 goals), Sergio Aguero (4 goals), and Kevin De Bruyne (4 assists). It’s almost as if we’re forgetting about all of those other stars, so don’t be shocked to see some highlights from the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, and/or David Silva.
Brighton started the season by thumping the Hornets 0-3 at Watford, but that victory looks less impressive in retrospect thanks to the Hornets’ continuing poor form. After drawing 1-1 with West Ham and losing 2-0 to Southampton, both at home, Seagulls’ fantasy interests will now surely be left on the bench for this daunting trip.
Yeesh, 19th place hosting 20th place, this relegatioon 6-pointer is a game for partisans and nobody else. Newcastle was expected to struggle after losing manager Rafa Benitez along with top scorers Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon, and they have. Except somehow Steve Bruce’s men beat Tottenham 1-0 last week in London, so they will certainly have momentum on their side. Newcomer Joelinton nabbed his first goal of the season in that one, but left himself an injury doubt.
Meanwhile, Watford is tied with Everton for the fewest goals scored (1) and 7 allowed (fewer than only Norwich City), so by any metric it’s a horrible start. This comes from two home games out of the three, and they were fairly attractive match-ups on paper (v. Brighton, v. West Ham). Gerard Deulofeu has the most fantasy investment at a meager 3.1%, so at least the Hornets aren’t really hurting anyone except Elton John and the rest of the Vicarage Road faithful.
West Ham v. Norwich
Summer import Sebastien Haller exploded at forward with a brace for the home side, and his 15 fantasy points are tied by talented midfielder Manuel Lanzini who is coming off an injury-marred campaign. Last season’s breakout star, midfielder Felipe Anderson, has yet to contribute a goal or assist, but of course the hope is that he can turn things around in what promises to be an open affair.
For Norwich, the game is all about Pukki-mania. As last season’s Championship stud, Teemu Pukki leads the league in goals (5) and fantasy points (35), which has seen fantasy managers grab him to the tune of 38.4% as his price has risen from £6.5m up to £7.0m already. Midfielder Todd Cantrell (1 goal, 2 assists) has also attracted a fair bit of interest, so don’t forget about him!
Burnley v. Liverpool (late game)
Fantasy managers holding Nick Pope were mere seconds away from another clean sheet win last week, only to see a Wolves’ penalty equalizer ruin everything. With the high-octane Reds coming to town, chances are that the shutout will disappear much sooner in the game. After never scoring more than 12 goals in an entire EPL season, Ashley Barnes now has four goals in only three appearances, so he will be the focus of the visitors’ defense.
Speaking of the Liverpool back, Alisson’s injury seems to have hurt quite a bit as the Reds have failed to keep a clean sheet yet. But they are the only team with 9 points, thanks to the offensive heroics of Mo Salah (3 goals, 1 assist), Sadio Mane (1 goal, 1 assist), Roberto Firmino (1 goal, 1 assist), and yes, defenders Virgil van Dijk (1 goal), Joel Matip (1 goal), and Trent Alexander-Arnold (2 assists).
Everton v. Wolves (early game)
If you are a fan of seeing the ball go into the net, you may want to avert your eyes for this one. Both Marco Silva and Nuno Santo approach tactics with a defensive mindset, as their squads have scored three goals between them. Yes, that’s combined, one for Everton plus two for Wolves... in three games each... six games total. Zzzzzz... As the old joke has it, these teams couldn’t hit water from a boat in the middle of the Thames.
Raul Jimenez got his first goal of the season on a late penalty at Burnley, but Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison, and Diogo Jota have yet to score. Fantasy managers holding those players will be watching intently. The average impartial EPL fan will instead be looking ahead to the next one...
Arsenal v. Tottenham (late game)
It’s the north London derby!
A loss for either team would be a second defeat in four games, which would be a very problematic start. For the home side, plenty of eyes will be on newcomer Nicolas Pepe who flubbed an early one-on-one with Adrian last week and otherwise was bottled up by Virgil van Dijk and company.
As for the away team, it will be extremely interesting to see if Christian Eriksen starts, or even suits up at all. The offense has looked woeful without his creative magic during his time languishing on the bench for much of the Aston Villa and Newcastle United matches. But if Spurs are about to sell him to a team outside Britain, they would almost certainly have to rest him, as an injury could throw a wrench into the works.
What games are you watching as an EPL die-hard and fantasy manager? Please join in the live fun and chat along with us as the action unfolds!