EPL

Premier League Fantasy Picks: Son and De Bruyne can deliver, but so can Fulham's flying Dutchman

By Sports Desk September 30, 2022

The Premier League returns now the September international break is done and dusted, and it will be foot to the floor until the World Cup comes around.

With two disrupted months of the season almost gone, some teams are settling down at this stage, while others are continuing to tinker in the hope of igniting their campaigns.

The Qatar 2022 break is on the horizon, adding an extra dimension as many players jostle to earn tickets on the plane with their national teams.

Opta data points to familiar faces who may be primed to deliver those all-important fantasy football goals and assists this weekend, as well as a couple of less-vaunted prospects who could boost your points tally.

Jose Sa (West Ham United v Wolves)

Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa has seen his side struggle this term, with just one win so far meaning they sit a spot above the bottom three – but it has not been down to his own form, with only Manchester City's Ederson having kept more clean sheets than his three this term.

No side have scored fewer goals than Wolves' weekend opponents West Ham this season (three, tied with Wolves themselves) which suggests Sa could be on course to bank another strong performance between the posts.

West Ham have been wasteful with their chances, and are underperforming against their expected goals (xG) tally by 4.6 goals, the worst such record in the Premier League.

Kenny Tete (Fulham v Newcastle United)

Sitting sixth coming out of the international break, Fulham already look on course to avoid the drop back to the Championship, and that has come with a handy assist from their Dutch right-back.

No Premier League defender has more assists than Tete this season (three), with only Kevin De Bruyne (six) and Bukayo Saka (four) providing more among all players.

In addition, two of those assists from Tete have come in his last two games for the Cottagers, suggesting a rich chance he could maintain his form.

Son Heung-min (Arsenal v Tottenham)

Having endured a dramatic goal drought to start the season, South Korea international Son's freewheeling hat-trick off the bench last time out likely pushes him back to the forefront of Antonio Conte's plans.

If he bags three goals again in the north London derby, he would become the eighth player to achieve the feat in consecutive Premier League games.

What's more, he can continue to build on an exceptional 2022, where only team-mate Harry Kane leads him for overall Premier League goals (18) and involvements (24).

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City v Manchester United)

While team-mate Erling Haaland has been tearing up the goalscoring charts, the Belgian heart of Pep Guardiola's side remains a surefire bet for any fantasy football player.

No player has provided more assists (6) or created more chances (25) than De Bruyne this season – and after his prior exploits against United in March, he'll be eyeing up another superb performance.

In a 4-1 City win on that occasion, he scored twice and assisted once. Only against Wolves in May, when he scored four times, has De Bruyne had more goal involvements in a Premier League game.

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  • Record scorer Giroud proves doubters wrong to make France history Record scorer Giroud proves doubters wrong to make France history

    Olivier Giroud scores goals, and this is what he has done across his career.

    On Sunday, Giroud proved his timeless finishing qualities again when he overtook the great Thierry Henry to become France's all-time record goalscorer.

    His first-half strike against Poland made it 52 goals in the shirt of Les Bleus, writing himself into the history books as France continued their defence of the World Cup in Qatar.

    It is not something that many would have predicted years ago, with Giroud respected to a point, but never really being mentioned in the same breath as some of France's other attacking talent.

    Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and even Antoine Griezmann often steal the headlines where the national team is concerned.

    Giroud is considered to be a less glamorous name, which is quite the dichotomy considering there is a strong argument the Milan striker has the most impressive hair in world football.

    The numbers do not lie, though, and the 36-year-old now stands alone atop the scoring charts for the world champions. Above Henry, Platini, Griezmann, Trezeguet, and so on.

    After making a name for himself when leading Montpellier in their shock Ligue 1 title win in 2011-12, scoring 21 goals in 36 games, he made the move to Arsenal.

    Giroud's time in the Premier League had ups and downs, but he still notched 105 goals for the Gunners in his five and a half seasons there, before moving across London to Chelsea and scoring another 39 in three and a half years at Stamford Bridge.

    After heading to Serie A and Milan, there were still those left unconvinced by Giroud, though he has continued to score in Italy as he hit 11 in 29 league games in his debut season, helping the Rossoneri to win their first Scudetto since 2010-11.

    He has another nine in 19 games in all competitions at club level this season, and has carried that form into the World Cup.

    When the injured Benzema was confirmed to be out of Qatar 2022, there was panic among France fans as this year's Ballon d'Or winner would not be there to help them defend their title from Russia 2018.

    However, Benzema also wasn't there in Russia. Giroud was.

    His presence up front may not have brought Giroud any goals in that tournament, or even any shots on target – somewhat remarkably from 546 minutes on the pitch – but he more than played his part.

    Giroud was a perfect foil for the teenage Mbappe, who thrived working off the big man's hold-up play, as did Griezmann as France went on to lift the World Cup for the second time, with Giroud creating seven chances from open play and recording one assist.

    This time, though, Giroud seems more focused on being the main man in front of goal, and he is already putting himself in the discussion for the Golden Boot, with the record-breaking strike being his third in Qatar.

    He may never be in the running for the Ballon d'Or, and is unlikely to be on many people's lists when selecting the all-time best French players.

    But with the 52nd goal coming in his 117th game at international level, there is no denying that Giroud scores goals, and as of now, more than anyone else in France's history.

  • Giroud breaks France's all-time scoring record Giroud breaks France's all-time scoring record

    Olivier Giroud etched his name into the France history books as he became Les Bleus' all-time top scorer after netting against Poland at the World Cup.

    The Milan striker equalled Thierry Henry's 51-goal record with a brace in a 4-1 win over Australia in his nation's World Cup opener, leaving him one shy of the outright benchmark.

    That made Giroud, aged 36 years and 53 days, the second-oldest player to score a double at the World Cup, after Roger Milla, who did so in 1990 for Cameroon aged 38.

    Giroud claimed the record outright with the opening goal in the round-of-16 clash against Poland, latching onto Kylian Mbappe's pass to fire Les Bleus ahead.

    The former Chelsea and Arsenal striker would likely have not started for Didier Deschamps' side if it had not been for pre-tournament injuries to Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku.

    Instead, Giroud and Kylian Mbappe have been tasked with carrying the attacking burden as France aim to defend their World Cup crown.

  • Bento hopes Neymar fit to face South Korea Bento hopes Neymar fit to face South Korea

    South Korea coach Paulo Bento hopes Neymar is fit to play his team in their World Cup last-16 clash with Brazil, even if he concedes it would better for them if he was absent.

    The Taeguk Warriors caused something of a shock by reaching the first knockout round of the tournament at the expense of Uruguay, with South Korea scoring a dramatic winner against Portugal on matchday three.

    Brazil await in the last 16 and there remains some doubt over the fitness of talisman Neymar, who injured his ankle in the Selecao's first match of the tournament.

    Neymar's involvement will be determined in training on Sunday, and Bento hopes he is ultimately passed fit.

    "It would be hypocritical if I said that it's better to play against Neymar than without him, but to be fair, I always prefer the best players to be on the field. If not, we hope it's not because of injury, that's for sure," he said.

    "It will be up to the coach, Tite, to decide whether he's in the starting line-up if he's fit to play, and we'll design the best strategy to play against a great national team that is full of balance and adding more and more talented players."

    Nevertheless, Bento clearly feels South Korea's chances of causing an upset have not been helped by FIFA.

    The Portuguese coach vented his frustration at the governing body scheduling games just 72 hours apart, particularly given the emotional exhaustion from their turnaround against Portugal.

    "Unfortunately, we don't have much time to train, because 72 hours is too little, I doubt any team can do that," he added.

    "After physical tiredness, and the emotional fatigue, we let the players rest [on Saturday] and only trained this morning, and of course that's a burden for the team.

    "We have an additional burden compared to Brazil because they changed their line-up in the last game.

    "They did something we couldn't do in the last game and honestly speaking, I was watching the 2018 World Cup and after the group stage, I do not remember seeing games played after 72 hours. The spaces between games was longer.

    "In my opinion it's not fair to play every 72 hours, it's something inhuman, it's something FIFA intends to create less conditions for those who already have less conditions, but we need to accept it if it's FIFA's decision.

    "It's difficult to play very a great team such as Brazil, who in my opinion they are the favourites, and if we add this burden, our task will be very difficult."

    But as irritated as Bento was by FIFA's decisions, he certainly is not worried about motivation.

    "I'm a realist. I conveyed we have a tough task ahead of us, but we have to try," he said. "If they needed me to motivate them for a last-16 game at the World Cup, they'd be in a bad spot.

    "What they showed already shows they are motivated. I get more motivation from them than they get from me."

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