EPL

Premier League Fantasy Picks: Saint-Maximin key as new Newcastle era begins, Raphinha worth the risk

By Sports Desk October 14, 2021

A lot can change over the course of the international break – Newcastle United have gone from losing 2-1 at Wolves to becoming the world's richest football club, in a sense.

It's all change at St James' Park and you can guarantee a charged atmosphere for the first match of a potentially exciting period for a club that has underachieved for years, with Tottenham the visitors on Sunday.

A couple of Newcastle players might be worth your consideration, while Leeds star Raphinha – who would ordinarily be an easy pick – this week represents something of a risk.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform picks out seven players for your consideration.

AARON RAMSDALE (Arsenal v Crystal Palace)

His signing was scoffed at by many in pre-season, probably partly due to the significant £24million fee Arsenal spent, but Ramsdale has enjoyed an encouraging start after dislodging Bernd Leno for the Gunners.

He has featured four times in the Premier League and conceded just once, giving him the best minutes-per-goal-conceded ratio in the division (one every 360 mins).

Ramsdale will be confident of continuing that theme on Monday against Crystal Palace, whose open-play expected goals (xG) of 5.2 is better than only five teams this term.

MATT RITCHIE (Newcastle United v Tottenham)

Now, selecting a Newcastle defender might ordinarily be considered something of a risk, but it's fair to suggest there may be a slightly more positive aura around the team – for obvious reasons – when Spurs visit.

If the feel-good factor at the club following their takeover does translate into a strong performance, the early signs this season would have you believe Ritchie will be influential.

The converted left-back's 21 chances created is second just to Bruno Fernandes, while only Trent Alexander-Arnold (2.6) and Mason Mount (2.1) have better expected assists (xA) records than Ritchie (2.0) – he's also played the third-most amount of passes into the box out of everyone in the top flight (63).

KIERAN TIERNEY (Arsenal v Crystal Palace)

Another left-back who is pretty effective going forward is Tierney, who has widely been considered one of few consistently solid performers for Arsenal during his time at the club – when he's fit, that is.

As mentioned previously, Arsenal's next opponents Palace aren't among the league's most threatening team, so there's undoubtedly potential for clean-sheet points, though Tierney also provides plenty in attack.

Among defenders yet to score or assist, only Everton's Lucas Digne (17) has recorded more than Tierney's 15 shot involvements (shots and key passes), while the Scotland international is third among defenders for chances created (nine, two less than Alexander-Arnold).

RAPHINHA (Southampton v Leeds United)

Admittedly, this one's a bit of a gamble. With Raphinha away with Brazil for their World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on Thursday night (early Friday morning UK time), roughly 36 hours prior to Leeds facing Southampton, Marcelo Bielsa has already acknowledged Raphinha's status is at the very least unclear.

But he's looked exciting in his Brazil cameos so far, and his form in 2021-22 would leave few doubting Raphinha has the ability to have a decisive impact on Saturday even if just playing as a substitute.

Currently, he tops the rankings among Leeds players for goals (three), shots (24), chances created (14) and passes into the box (59) – he's surely too important for Bielsa to leave out entirely.

JESSE LINGARD (Leicester City v Manchester United)

After a brilliant few months at West Ham, Lingard is still waiting for a proper run of games this term at United, but he's already chipped in with a couple of goals in just three league appearances.

The second of those came against the Hammers, and up next is another of his former loan teams: Leicester.

He already boasts a great record in meetings with the Foxes, having been involved in six goals (three goals and three assists) against them – that's a joint-personal best (also six versus Arsenal).

ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN (Newcastle United v Tottenham)

If there's one member of the Newcastle squad who promises to be the most buoyed by the club's new situation, it's surely the one who wouldn't look out of place in a team of expensively assembled superstars.

Saint-Maximin is box office – he's an entertainer and always looks like he's having a rollicking good time on the pitch, but this season the Frenchman has added a little more substance to his play as well.

With two goals and three assists already in 2021-22, he has an involvement every 126 minutes, massively improved on 2020-21 (one every 224 mins). In front of new owners, few would bet against Saint-Maximin dazzling as he looks to prove he'll be right at home in the new era.

RAUL JIMENEZ (Aston Villa v Wolves)

Back from a serious head injury, Jimenez did not have much luck during his first five Premier League appearances of the season, not getting a single goal or assist despite attempting 14 shots and delivering 15 key passes.

But since then, the Mexico international has been involved in all of Wolves' three most recent goals.

Jimenez has been something of a double-threat under Bruno Lage, with his shot involvements tally of 36 bettered by only Bruno Fernandes (47), Mohamed Salah, Michail Antonio and Raphinha.

Related items

  • MLB playoffs 2021: Soler cleared to return for Braves ahead of NLCS Game 5 MLB playoffs 2021: Soler cleared to return for Braves ahead of NLCS Game 5

    Former World Series champion Jorge Soler has been cleared to return for the Atlanta Braves ahead of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.

    The Braves opened up a 3-1 NLCS lead with Wednesday's 9-2 victory, leaving the World Series champions needing to win three elimination games to progress.

    Soler has been absent for the Braves after testing positive to COVID-19 during their National League Division Series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

    The 2019 American League run leader hit .269 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs across 55 games for Atlanta after his trade deadline deal from the Kansas City Royals.

    "He's been working out on his own," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I think he's good to go. That's a great weapon off the bench right there."

    The Dodgers have lost third baseman Justin Turner to a hamstring injury, with Andy Burns added to their roster to replace him.

    Turner hit .278 with 27 home runs, 87 RBIs and 148 hits across the regular season.

  • Gerrard: Rangers close to perfect after kick-starting Europa League campaign Gerrard: Rangers close to perfect after kick-starting Europa League campaign

    Steven Gerrard says Rangers were close to perfect as they claimed an important victory over Brondby in the Europa League.

    First-half goals from Leon Balogun and Kemar Roofe sealed a 2-0 win at Ibrox – and the hosts' first points of this season's competition.

    That helped Gerrard's team move off the bottom of Group A at the halfway stage, while closing the gap on second-placed Sparta Prague to just a single point.

    The Rangers boss admitted the pressure was on his side, who began their campaign with defeats against Sparta and runaway leaders Lyon.

    But he was ultimately delighted with the way his players rose to the occasion on Thursday.

    "I thought it was a strong home performance in Europe," Gerrard told BT Sport.

    "We've kick-started our Europa League campaign. The first two results haven't been good enough, which put a lot of pressure on us tonight.

    "But we've got to go and replicate this performance and result [away at Brondby] in a couple of weeks' time.

    "I thought the fans were magnificent. The game plan we set out to do, the players have delivered.

    "It's really close to the performance we're looking for. 

    "We've played well for halves and 60 minutes, but tonight was really close to a perfect 90-minute performance."

    Gerrard also hailed the display of Joe Aribo, who provided a constant threat to the reigning Danish Superliga champions with his pace and power.

    No Rangers player was involved in more duels (15) than the winger, who also completed 58 of his 62 passes and only James Tavernier (111) among the hosts' team bettered his tally of 93 touches.

    The 25-year-old has recently been linked with a move away from Ibrox, with Gerrard admitting it will be difficult to retain his services should he continue to perform to a high level. 

    "He's a great kid; he wants to learn and he wants to grow," the Rangers boss added.

    "What I've said to Joe is: 'you're a much better player when you play angry in a nice way. You're a big strong lad; go and put yourself about' and when he does, he's a joy to watch.

    "I thought his first 45-minute performance was outstanding. That's probably the reason why he tired a little bit, but he's played a lot and he's been away on international duty [with Nigeria]. 

    "But if he can find that performance consistently over 90 minutes, we'll be lucky to keep hold of him."

  • Mourinho hit for six in Norway as Roma boss says: 'Blame me!' Mourinho hit for six in Norway as Roma boss says: 'Blame me!'

    Jose Mourinho said he would shoulder the blame for Roma's humiliating 6-1 defeat to Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League.

    The shock result in Norway came as a largely second-string Roma side crumbled woefully, although they still sit second in Group C after three games.

    It was the first time in his 1,008-game coaching career that Mourinho has seen one of his teams concede six goals.

    Mourinho said he expected more from his players, but told reporters they now knew why he usually selected the same group for games, rather than being a coach who rotates his squad.

    On the night when his former team Tottenham also lost in the competition, Mourinho was left to accept responsibility for his Serie A outfit's embarrassing away trip.

    "I decided to play with this team. The responsibility is mine," he said. "Obviously I had done it with a good, double intention. On the one hand, giving an opportunity to people who work a lot and don't play a lot. On the other hand, consider our squad and all the games we have to play, I let people who play practically always have a rest.

    "Then, we lost against a team who have more qualities than us. It's simple. The main Bodo team is better than ours who started the game.

    "If I could always play with the same men, I would. I believe that doing so is a great risk, however. In a group-stage game, with six games and six points already acquired and two more games to play in Rome, I decided to make these changes.

    "I knew about the limitations of some of our players, it's nothing new, but obviously I expected a better response. But as the decision is mine, so is the responsibility."

    Bodo/Glimt lead the way in the Norwegian Elitserien, and Mourinho saw his team go into half-time trailing 2-1, with a flurry of second-half goals showing the Portuguese the limitations of his fringe players.

    Mourinho added: "I had never hidden it, I knew that the team had many limits. The good thing is that now at least none of you will ask me why I always play the same players."

    Two-time Champions League winner Mourinho said Roma would face pace-setters Napoli in Serie A on Sunday "with the weight of a defeat that I would define as historic".

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.