EPL

Premier League Fantasy Picks: Cash in with Kulusevski

By Sports Desk May 06, 2022

We are in the home stretch in the Premier League, which means everything is at stake – in the fantasy leagues, that is.

It is that time of the year when fantasy managers start to go over which games matter at opposite ends of the table to maximise points hauls.

Stats Perform has you covered with some Opta-powered recommendations below, so here are our suggestions for a new goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker.

EDERSON (Manchester City v Newcastle United)

Following their dramatic Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid, there is a possibility Manchester City players might actually breathe fire on Sunday against Newcastle United.

It will likely mean sporadic and low-quality opportunities for the Toon and, ultimately, light work for Ederson in City's goal.

Another clean sheet for the Brazil international will see him record at least 20 in a Premier League season for the second time, the last being in 2018-19. The next best to Ederson's 90 clean sheets since 2017-18 is Liverpool's Alisson, with 64.

GABRIEL MAGALHAES (Arsenal v Leeds United)

Arsenal's Champions League hopes could hinge on this weekend, with nearest rivals Tottenham coming up against Liverpool. The Gunners need points against favourable opponents.

Only Chelsea's Reece James (five) has scored more Premier League goals for defenders this season than Gabriel's four for Arsenal, with all of them coming from corner situations.

With that in mind, Leeds are one of the five sides in the Premier League this season to have conceded at least 10 goals from corners.

DEJAN KULUSEVSKI (Liverpool v Tottenham)

However, Arsenal's need to pick up points against Leeds does not mean Tottenham players are off-limits, and Antonio Conte's side on the counter-attack are a tough proposition for any club in Europe.

Dejan Kulusevski has come to life at Spurs after a middling spell at Juventus, with no player in Europe's top five leagues providing more assists since his first start in the Premier League. 

On top of Kulusevski's eight assists, only Son Heung-min (15) and Harry Kane (14) have been involved in more Premier League goals than him (11) over the same period.

RICHARLISON (Leicester City v Everton)

Leicester's struggles in possession once again came to the fore on Thursday against Roma, and on Sunday they will have to back up against one of the Premier League's most dynamic players in transition.

Richarlison has almost single-handedly propelled Everton's push for Premier League survival, with six involvements in their last eight goals.

At this rate (12 goal involvements), the Brazil international is on track to match his tally of 16 from the 2019-20 season.

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  • Atlanta United v DC United: Valentino calls for focus on the present amid winless streak Atlanta United v DC United: Valentino calls for focus on the present amid winless streak

    Atlanta United interim head coach Rob Valentino expressed the importance of focusing on the present ahead of travelling to DC United at Audi Field on Thursday. 

    The Five Stripes have won just one of their last 12 league games, dating back to the beginning of April, but will be hoping to return to winning ways against their opponents, who they beat in May to end their last winless run in the MLS.  

    Atlanta are a point above bottom side New England Revolution, having played a game less, and know a win is a must to build momentum for the rest of the season. 

    However, Valentino was keen to focus on the future, and insists his side are continuing to push to get points on the board. 

    “In reality, what I talked about last week was that is the past,” said Valentino. “We obviously did our evaluation and now we have moved forward.

    "It is about how we can progress and get better. So, in that sense, it’s been about game one of Houston, and we have talked about being present.

    "We are going to keep pushing forward on how we can continue to get better and get the outcomes we want.”

    Meanwhile, DC United are enduring a losing streak of their own, having gone six games without a victory (D2 L4) following their defeat to Charlotte on Saturday.

    The Black-and-Red come into the contest sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference, but have picked up their last two points in front of their home supporters. 

    Despite their recent form, head coach Troy Lesesne believes improvements have been made on the pitch and is hopeful of returning to winning ways. 

    "You could see that there was progress," Lesesne said. "You could see that there were areas that we wanted to identify coming out of the first half of the season. 

    "We made some very good steps in a lot of ways, and we have to keep staying on that path because the difference is very small right now between realising the result we want, and feeling like how we did against Toronto.

    "We have to regroup, we have to reset, and we have to again against Atlanta."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    DC United – Christian Benteke

    The Belgian striker is coming up against one of his favoured opponents and scored a hat-trick the last time he faced Atlanta United.

    Since his arrival in the MLS, Benteke has only scored more goals against New England Revolution (five).

    Atlanta United – Xande Silva

    Silva has scored in each of his last two MLS matches after having scored only twice in his first 20 career league appearances.

    The only player since the start of the 2022 season to score in three straight league games for Atlanta was Giorgos Giakoumakis (twice).

    MATCH PREDICTION: ATLANTA UNITED WIN

    Both sides come into the contest at Audi Field in poor form, and are hopeful of returning to winning ways to move up the Eastern Conference table.

    DC United’s 3-2 win at Atlanta in May ended a six-match winless run for them against the Five Stripes (D1 L5).

    However, Atlanta are unbeaten in their last four matches away at DC (W3 D1) after losing each of their first four visits.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    DC United – 35.4%

    Draw - 26%

    Atlanta United – 38.6%

  • Houston Dynamo v Seattle Sounders: Olsen hopeful of replicating away form on home turf Houston Dynamo v Seattle Sounders: Olsen hopeful of replicating away form on home turf

    Head coach Ben Olsen is hopeful Houston Dynamo can carry their recent form on the road into their clash with Seattle Sounders when they return to home turf on Thursday. 

    Houston are now unbeaten away from the Shell Energy Stadium in their last two games with draws against Atlanta United and Portland Timbers.

    However, the hosts have won just three of their last 12 league matches, leaving them seventh in the Western Conference and level on points with Austin FC. 

    While Olsen was impressed with his side's display in their most recent outing, he insists that his players must put on a better display this Thursday. 

    "The goals we conceded were fairly naive on our end," Olsen said. "It was two poor giveaways that led to goals, and it is something we continue to have some issues with and not maximising the points when we play this well on the road. 

    "But again, then I switched to resiliency and being able to get something out of the game when it wasn't our best night. 

    "We will take the point, we have Seattle now at home, and we need to get a better performance from myself and this group at home, but on the road we have been pretty good."

    Meanwhile, Seattle come into the contest following an impressive win over Minnesota United, recording their fifth triumph of the season. 

    The Sounders have not won consecutive regular-season matches since July 2023 but will be hopeful of doing so, having lost just once in their last five MLS games. 

    Just two points separate the sides in the Western Conference table, and Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer is confident his side can continue their winning momentum.

    "We have evaluated the film, and we are going to get the guys recovered," Schmetzer said. 

    "We are going to come up with a strong line-up because the gap between Saturday and Wednesday is certainly better than Wednesday and Saturday. 

    "So, we are going to go down to Houston to try and collect points. 

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Houston Dynamo – Latif Blessing

    Blessing’s 89th-minute equaliser against Atlanta on Saturday was his third goal in his last four matches in the MLS.

    Prior to that, the midfielder had scored just three times in his previous 110 league matches for the Dynamo dating back to the start of the 2020 season, and he will be hoping to continue his hot streak in front of goal.

    Seattle Sounders – Jordan Morris

    The 29-year-old has scored four goals in his last five league matches, including finding the net in back-to-back matches.

    Morris has scored in more than two straight league games only once in his career, a four-match run he managed to achieve in 2016.

    MATCH PREDICTION: HOUSTON DYNAMO WIN

    Houston have recovered well after losing five of their last 12 league matches (D4 W3), and are now unbeaten in the last three matches (W1 D2), recording consecutive 2–2 draws in their previous two league games.

    While their recent form in the MLS has left a lot to be desired, the Dynamo have an impressive record over their opponents heading into the contest at the Shell Energy Arena.

    Seattle have won 12 of its last 13 meetings against the Dynamo (L1, incl. playoffs) dating back to June 2017. The Sounders have outscored Houston, 23 -6, during that run.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Houston – 48.1%

    Draw – 25.9%

    Seattle – 25.9%

  • St. Louis City v Colorado Rapids: Carnell desperate for response as winless run persists St. Louis City v Colorado Rapids: Carnell desperate for response as winless run persists

    St. Louis City will be desperate to snap a record six-game winless run in MLS when they host Colorado Rapids at CityPark Stadium on Thursday.

    The Missouri-based side have just three wins from their 17 league matches this term, falling down to 11th in the Western Conference standings.

    Bradley Carnell's men have not triumphed in MLS action since a 3-1 win over Chicago Fire in the middle of May, and were defeated 2-0 by FC Dallas last time out.

    St. Louis coach Carnell referenced injury struggles, however, as his side continue to battle through a troubling period.

    "Obviously, it doesn’t take a genius to look at the roster and see where we are. We're not the first team to struggle with this.

    "Now we get challenged and now get to prove what we are as a group, team, organisation and unit – sticking together.

    "We have a plethora of young players who are performing [for our academy] and we will keep some of those guys with us through the week."

    The Rapids have enjoyed a better season, sitting sixth in the West table after returning to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Austin FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

    That ended a four-game winless streak for Colorado, who secured a much-needed victory after a rocketed finish from Cole Bassett before Rafael Navarro netted his 10th goal of the season.

    The next challenge for the Rapids is to secure back-to-back victories for the first time since April, though they have lost three straight on the road.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    St. Louis City – Jared Stroud

    Jared Stroud was involved in a goal in both matches (one goal, one assist) against the Rapids last season.

    The St. Louis man has eight assists to his name in MLS this season, too, and will hope to deliver once more when Colorado come to town.

    Colorado Rapids – Djordje Mihailovic

    Djordje Mihailovic has scored in each of the Rapids' last three away matches.

    He is the first Rapids player to score in three straight away from home in a single regular season since Shkelzen Gashi scored in five straight on the road from June-October 2016.

    MATCH PREDICTION – ST. LOUIS CITY WIN

    St. Louis are the heavy favourites for victory in this encounter, considering their record against the Rapids.

    Carnell's side collected four points from their two matches against Colorado last season, including a 2-0 win at home last July.

    Colorado have lost their last three road matches, conceding 10 goals in those games, and that run of form comes as no surprise.

    Indeed, the Rapids have lost 15 of their last 21 away from home in all competitions (W3 D3), dating back to last May.

    Yet a home win is by no means a foregone conclusion.

    St. Louis are winless in six straight matches (D2 L4) for the first time in club history. They have just three wins so far, tied for the fewest in MLS this season, though all three have come at home.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    St. Louis City win – 48.8%

    Colorado Rapids win – 25.5%

    Draw – 25.7%

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