EPL

Premier League Fantasy Picks: Back Kane to find form at Everton

By Sports Desk April 16, 2021

Harry Kane continues to be linked with a move away from Tottenham and, after last week's defeat to Manchester United, his Spurs future looks little brighter.

Still, the England star has rarely allowed off-field rumours to influence his form, and he happens to be preparing to face one of his favourite opponents in Everton.

Liverpool forward Diogo Jota is another forward we are encouraging Fantasy Football players to select for this week, as the champions get ready for a tricky test at Leeds United.

Is there anyone else who offers good value for this week, we hear you ask? Read on for a handful of suggested picks, as powered by Opta data...

 

RUI PATRICIO

Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio has kept five clean sheets in his most recent 13 Premier League games. That might not sound like a lot, but he went 12 matches before there without keeping the ball out of the net.

Those shut-outs have come against some strong opposition, too: Chelsea, Leicester City, Leeds United, Aston Villa and Fulham have all failed to find a way past the Portugal international.

Given Sheffield United have failed to score in 17 league matches this term, the highest number in the division, Patricio is an ideal man for the number-one spot.

PABLO MARI

Backing Arsenal defensively is rarely the safest of bets, but they do have a strong record against promoted teams in the top flight, having kept four clean sheets in their most recent six meetings with such opposition.

Of their four main centre-backs, Pablo Mari has the best rate for minutes per goal conceded: one every 103.

Having helped the Gunners ease past Sheffield United last week, he could be in line for another outing against struggling Fulham.

 

ANTONIO RUDIGER

Antonio Rudiger has only started 14 games in the league this season, but Chelsea have kept clean sheets in nine of those matches, including in five of the most recent seven.

In the most recent game in which the Germany defender did not start, the Blues shipped five goals at home to a West Brom side who were made to look like peak Barcelona.

After their FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City, Chelsea resume league duties against Brighton and Hove Albion – a team with a frustrating habit of failing to turn promising play into goals.

 

DIOGO JOTA

Liverpool might have fallen from the lofty heights of last season, but few could blame their decline on close-season signing Diogo Jota.

The Portugal forward has averaged a goal every 103 minutes in the league this term, the best rate of any Liverpool player. He has also netted in each of his past three away games.

With Leeds United boasting an expected goals against figure of 48.94, the fourth-worst in the division, Jota will fancy his chances at Elland Road.

ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN

With a goal and an assist off the bench against Burnley last week, Allan Saint-Maximin proved just how valuable he could be to Newcastle United's survival hopes.

The winger has been involved in five goals (two scored, three assisted) in his previous six league matches, as many as he managed in 19 before then.

The Magpies face tough opponents in West Ham, but David Moyes' men have conceded nine goals in three league games - and each time after going 3-0 up.

 

HARRY KANE

Harry Kane cut a disconsolate figure after Spurs' loss to Manchester United, but this weekend could offer the chance for a pick-me-up.

Kane has scored nine goals in his past seven games against Everton in all competitions, including five in just three appearances at Goodison Park.

He also just one short of reaching 20 in the top flight in a single season for the fifth time.

KELECHI IHEANACHO

His two goals at West Ham were not quite enough to mount a comeback, but they did underline the red-hot form of Kelechi Iheanacho.

The striker has hit seven goals in five league games, as many as he managed in 63 previous appearances in the competition.

With eight league goals to his name in 2020-21, Iheanacho is just one short of his best ever return for a Premier League season. Next up for Leicester after their FA Cup final? Relegation-threatened West Brom.

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    Charles Leclerc was "incredibly happy" to claim pole position in Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, leading a Ferrari one-two – although Carlos Sainz felt he could have pipped his team-mate if not for a dramatic crash.

    Monegasque driver Leclerc qualified fastest at his home race after the final session was cut short due to a red flag.

    Sergio Perez hit the barrier, prompting a yellow flag that Sainz saw only in time to brake as he careered into the Red Bull.

    That brought a premature end to proceedings but ensured a fine result for Ferrari and, in particular, Leclerc, who secured a precious pole; while he has converted only four of his 13 previous poles into wins, some 15 of the past 17 winners in Monaco have started from the front row, including 12 from first place.

    For Leclerc to add his name to the list of winners, he will have to overcome an awful record which has seen him never manage to finish the Monaco race. Despite taking pole last year, his car also crashed heavily in qualifying, and it meant Leclerc could not take an active part on race day.

    This time it could be a different story.

    "It is very special. I'm so incredibly happy," Leclerc said. "It's been a very smooth weekend until now – I knew the pace was in the car; I just had to do the job, and it went perfectly.

    "That last lap, before the red flag, was really, really good, but it didn't change anything for us."

    That may be true for Leclerc, but Sainz felt he was on course to top the timesheets prior to the collision with Perez.

    "It's a shame – another year that a red flag cost us the end of a session, and we could not go for pole position," he said, "but it's typical Monaco."

    Sainz added: "I think we are in a great position to score a great result for the team. The car has been amazing all weekend, so we'll go for it."

    Perez still qualified in third, ahead of an out-of-sorts Max Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton's practice woes shifted only enough for him to make eighth before his final flying lap was halted.

    PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

    1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:11.376
    2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.225s
    3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.253s
    4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.290s
    5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.473s
    6. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.736s
    7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.871s
    8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.184s
    9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.356s
    10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +1.671s

  • Salah reveals Kane motivation after Premier League Golden Boot win Salah reveals Kane motivation after Premier League Golden Boot win

    Mohamed Salah has revealed how missing out on the Premier League Golden Boot in the 2020-21 season, when Tottenham's Harry Kane pipped him by just one goal, motivated him to enjoy an incredible individual campaign for Liverpool this time around.

    Salah finished as the Premier League's joint-highest goalscorer this season, matching Son Heung-min's tally of 23 goals as Liverpool finished just one point short of champions Manchester City.

    The forward also edged out team-mate Trent Alexander Arnold by one league assist, laying on 13 goals to emulate Kane's feat of winning both awards in the 2020-21 campaign, as he led Liverpool's fight for silverware. 

    Having already lifted the EFL Cup and FA Cup this season, Jurgen Klopp's team could add the Champions League when they face Real Madrid in Saturday's final, with the Egypt winger looking for revenge after sustaining an injury in Liverpool's 2018 defeat to the same opponents.

    Speaking to Rio Ferdinand for BT Sport ahead of that contest in Paris, Salah revealed how missing out on topping the Premier League's goalscoring charts last season motivated him to "work like crazy" to outdo his fellow forwards this term.

    "When I signed here, I can't say I thought 'I expect myself to go and win three golden boots!'", Salah said. "But in the first season [2017-18] I was fighting with Kane in the beginning, and I thought I had a big chance to win it.

    "When I won it from Kane – and Kane was winning it [each of] the two years before – in the summer I went on holiday and said, 'look, why not?' I did it one time, I took it from Kane, a top goalscorer, so give it a try for a second one.

    "I won it the second year, and once I won the second one, I said, 'you've got to go for four or five!' I think in my mind, for five years now I've always competed for it. I lost some, [like] last season in the last game to Kane.

    "That last year was painful for me, trust me! It pushed me to be who I am now, this year. 

    "I believe that last season as a team, it was not really good, but for the golden boot, in the last game, with one goal difference... that's not good.

    "It didn't kill my summer, I was so motivated, I was working [like] crazy. I said 'look, next year I'm going to win both things – golden boot and assists. I'm going for both from now'. I was working like crazy and I did it."

    Despite Liverpool finishing third last season after enduring an injury-hit campaign, Salah scored 22 league goals, only to see Kane net his 23rd in a final-day 4-2 win over Leicester City.

    But the Liverpool star responded to win his third Golden Boot in five seasons this term, drawing level with Kane and Alan Shearer with three such awards. Only Thierry Henry, with four, has won more.

  • Deschamps expects Pogba to change club after Man Utd struggles Deschamps expects Pogba to change club after Man Utd struggles

    France coach Didier Deschamps has backed Paul Pogba to find a new club and arrest his slump in domestic form, as he hailed the upcoming Aurelien Tchouameni.

    Pogba endured another frustrating season with Manchester United, who finished sixth in the Premier League and will hope Erik ten Hag can transform their fortunes next campaign.

    World Cup-winning midfielder Pogba is widely expected to depart Old Trafford when his contract expires in June, with Juventus seemingly in the running to bring the 29-year-old back to Turin, while Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked.

    Pogba has come under scrutiny for failing to replicate his international performances for France, who he will not feature for in upcoming Nations League games due to injury.

    Deschamps heaped praise on Pogba's efforts for his country and expects the France star to move on from United after another underwhelming campaign.

    "Pogba has had a lot of injuries, with his club's results not up to par," Deschamps told a news conference on Saturday.

    "He too will have to change scenery this summer."

    Deschamps additionally spoke of players who may have struggled on club duty, saying: "There has to be credit for what they have been able to do with the France team."

    Tchouameni has enjoyed another productive season in Ligue 1 with Monaco, leading to reports he could join Liverpool, Chelsea or Real Madrid in the next transfer window.

    The midfielder appeared 35 times in Ligue 1 this campaign, with only Wissam Ben Yedder (37) and goalkeeper Alexander Nubel (38) featuring more for Philippe Clement's side.

    The 22-year-old represents a threat at both ends of the pitch, leading Monaco's charts for successful opposition-half passes (932), while making the most tackles (86) and winning the most duels (260).

    Tchouameni will compete with the likes of N'Golo Kante, Adrien Rabiot and Matteo Guendouzi for a spot in midfield, and Deschamps is delighted to see the Monaco man coming into contention.

    "He doesn't have the experience of Pogba and Kante, but he has potential... I took him on quite early, and in his head, he has the necessary maturity," Deschamps said.

    "It's good to have these young people who make sure the older players do not rest on their laurels! The young players continue to grow, and even the others who are not selected are also growing.

    "It's the new generation. Today a 19-year-old, it can seem a bit presumptuous, they go to the big clubs, but they have no worries, they do everything to succeed."

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