EPL

Premier League Fantasy Picks: Fernandes a vital choice as Man Utd get started

By Sports Desk September 18, 2020

The new 2020-21 season is really kicking into gear as Premier League matchweek two approaches.

After prior European commitments delayed Manchester City and Manchester United starting their respective campaigns, there is a full slate of matches this weekend.

That means there is plenty of opportunity for fantasy managers to make up for missing out on Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy or even Jeff Hendrick last week.

Need to get back on track or build on a strong start? This Opta-powered selection provides some must-haves for the coming round of matches.

 

EMILIANO MARTINEZ

Picking an Arsenal goalkeeper heading into the campaign was slightly risky business with two vying for the first-choice spot. Fortunately, with Emiliano Martinez leaving for Aston Villa, the matter has been settled.

From his first start last season on June 25, following Bernd Leno's injury, Martinez made more saves (31) than any other top-flight keeper and only trailed Nick Pope (85.3) and Ederson (81.8) in terms of save percentage (81.1). He kept three clean sheets, too.

Only Bournemouth and Norwich City - both relegated - managed fewer clean sheets than Villa's seven last term, yet one of those came at home to Monday's visitors Sheffield United.

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Everton left-back Lucas Digne was certainly worth having on the opening weekend. He contributed to a clean sheet at Tottenham and also supplied the assist for Dominic Calvert-Lewin's decisive goal.

But that display was no one-off.

Only Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (both 13) have more Premier League assists from defence than Digne (eight) since the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

Over that same spell, the Frenchman ranks second for chances created (73) and passes played into the box (320) by defenders and third (150) in terms of open-play crosses. He can test out that supply line at home to West Brom.

 

TARIQ LAMPTEY

Although beaten against former club Chelsea last time out, Tariq Lamptey continues to show himself to be an all-round package for Brighton and Hove Albion.

From right-back, the 19-year-old has created the most chances from open play (eight - tied with two others), supplied the most crosses (24), completed the most dribbles (17) and made the most interceptions (19) of any Brighton player since June 2020.

If Brighton get a result at Newcastle United, Lamptey is likely to be in the points.

 

WILLIAN

New signing Willian gave Arsenal fans and fantasy managers alike a taste of what they can expect on opening day.

At Fulham, he became the first player to contribute two assists on his Premier League debut for Arsenal since Ray Parlour against Liverpool in August 1992.

Since June 2020, Willian trails only Robertson (six) in terms of assists (four) and Kevin De Bruyne (40) for chances created (28), with struggling West Ham up next at home.

 

BRUNO FERNANDES

Joining in January, Bruno Fernandes quickly established himself as a star fantasy performer last season. There is little reason to suggest he will not be similarly effective this term.

The Manchester United midfielder has been involved in 20 goals (including eight assists) in all competitions since his arrival from Sporting CP, the most of any of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's players.

Indeed, Fernandes leads the way across the whole Premier League in that regard, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (17 involvements) second. United face Crystal Palace.

 

HARRY KANE

Tottenham talisman Harry Kane has tended to start Premier League seasons slowly, but his record against Southampton - this week's opponents - is particularly impressive.

The England captain has nine goals in his past nine league games against the Saints, only tallying more often in clashes with Leicester City (14) and Arsenal (10).

Kane will no doubt be determined to continue that scoring streak this weekend, having suffered a torn hamstring at Southampton in January that checked his 2019-20 campaign.

 

JAMIE VARDY

Needed to check he has still got it? Vardy again proved his worth with a brace for Leicester against West Brom last week.

Those strikes improved his total since the start of last season to 25 in the league, while he also leads the way for shot conversion rates (27.47 per cent) among those with 10 or more goals in that time.

Even at 33, it is too early to write off Vardy, who will aim to dampen Burnley's new-season optimism on Sunday.

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    Ed Woodward revealed Manchester United are committed to "playing a constructive role in helping the wider football pyramid" as the club revealed the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

    United announced results for the 2019-20 financial year on Wednesday, including a £70million drop in revenue as it counts the cost of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. 

    The club posted total revenue of £509m, a significant dip on the initial forecast of £560m-£580m.

    It comes a year on from a record £627.1m figure, albeit a drop was always expected without Champions League football. 

    Net debt has risen to £474.1m, an increase of £270.5m over the course of the year, as broadcasting revenue dropped to £140.2m. 

    United's commercial revenue increased by £3.9m to £279m, while a £23m dividend was paid out. A six-month extension to the shirt sponsorship deal with Chevrolet was also announced, meaning the partnership will run through until December 2021. 

    Exceptional costs for the prior year were £19.6m, attributed to the departure of former boss Jose Mourinho and his coaching staff.

    Prior to a conference call with investors, a statement from executive vice-chairman Woodward said the club will "drive forward" the strategic vision for the future of English football, having been at the forefront of the Project Big Picture proposal that was unanimously rejected by the Premier League.

    United and Liverpool, the two clubs at the centre of the Big Picture plan, have also been in talks over the creation of a breakaway European Premier League, Sky News reported on Tuesday.

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    "This requires strategic vision and leadership from all stakeholders, and we look forward to helping drive forward that process in a timely manner.

    "On the pitch, we have strengthened the team over the summer and we remain committed to our objective of winning trophies, playing entertaining, attacking football with a blend of academy graduates and high-quality recruits, while carefully managing our resources to protect the long-term resilience of the club."

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    "We are a very exciting team to watch, I believe. That is very important and that's the DNA that we want to have.

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    Ozil felt his performances had reached a high level prior to the coronavirus-enforced break in Premier League action. 

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    Ozil's view of his improved performances are backed up by the Opta data for his 18 Premier League appearances in the 2019-20 season. 

    He created 2.36 chances for every 90 minutes he was on the pitch, comfortably more than the second-placed player on the list, Nicolas Pepe (1.79). 

    Of Arsenal players to feature in at least 10 games last season, Ozil ranked second for successful passes in the opposition half (30.33 per 90 minutes), behind only Dani Ceballos (34.33). 

    The former Germany international added: "Before the coronavirus break I was really happy with the development under our new coach Mikel Arteta. 

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    Since making his debut in September 2013 after signing from Real Madrid, Ozil has played more Premier League games (184) than any other Arsenal player.

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