EPL

Premier League Fantasy Picks: Alexander-Arnold to torment Albion, Aguero can make amends

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

Time is running out to secure precious fantasy football points as the Premier League season nears an end.

Manchester City have the title in the bag, but it may still be all to play for in fantasy leagues heading into the penultimate weekend of the campaign.

With some teams still having three games to play in a hectic schedule, it will be vital to make the right picks and ensure points could potentially mean prizes.

Here are a few tips to help you out, powered by Opta, as always...

 

EDERSON

City travel to Newcastle United on Friday for their first match since being crowned champions.

They have won 11 consecutive Premier League away matches and a 12th victory at St. James' Park would see them break the all-time record in the top four tiers of English football.

City have kept 16 clean sheets on their travels in all competitions this season and are one away from equalling the record by a top-flight team in a season.

Newcastle have managed just 41 shots in seven Premier League games against Pep Guardiola's side, so another clean sheet could be on the cards for Ederson, who has more than any other goalkeeper in the division this season (18).

 

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was outstanding in the 4-2 victory at Manchester United on Thursday.

With England boss Gareth Southgate watching on, Alexander-Arnold caught the eye with an influential display as Jurgen Klopp's side claimed three precious points in the battle for a Champions League spot.

The Reds travel to relegated West Brom on Sunday knowing a win would leave them just a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea with two games to play.

Since he was omitted from the last England squad in March, Alexander-Arnold has created more chances than any other top-flight player with 21, making him a necessity for your XI.

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Everton full-back Lucas Digne has enjoyed another impressive season for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

The Toffees entertain bottom club Sheffield United at Goodison Park on Sunday as they hunt a place in Europe next season.

France international Digne can make an impact at both ends of the pitch, with his seven assists the joint-highest by a defender in the Premier League this season, along with Aaron Cresswell of West Ham.

Everton have kept four clean sheets in their previous six matches with Digne in the side too, so will be aiming to blunt the Blades on Merseyside.

 

MATHEUS PEREIRA

Brazilian forward Matheus Pereira has been a shining light in a poor season for West Brom.

The Baggies were unable to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, a defeat to Arsenal last weekend consigning Sam Allardyce to a first relegation from the Premier League.

Albion will be desperate to keep hold of Pereira, who has scored five goals in six matches ahead of the encounter with Liverpool.

He has been directly involved in 15 goals this season, with only Peter Odemwingie (22 in 2010-11) and Romelu Lukaku (21 in 2012-13) managing more involvements for the Baggies in a Premier League campaign.

 

SON HEUNG-MIN

Tottenham face Wolves at home on Sunday smarting from a 3-1 defeat at Leeds United last time out.

Son Heung-min scored Spurs' only goal at Elland Road, where the London club's slim hopes of securing a Champions League spot were all-but ended.

The South Korea forward has been directly involved in four goals in three games under caretaker boss Ryan Mason, scoring three and setting one up.

Son has found the back of the net in three consecutive Premier League games and will be a major threat to Wolves. He had managed just one goal in his previous seven outings in the competition during the final stages of Jose Mourinho's reign.

 

SERGIO AGUERO

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero issued an apology after his embarrassing Panenka penalty gave Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy the simplest of saves last weekend.

Aguero will be determined to make amends as he nears the end of his time with City and could take his frustration out on Newcastle.

The Argentina striker has scored 15 goals in 14 Premier League games against the Magpies, averaging one every 61 minutes, and it would be no surprise to see him add to that tally.

 

MICHAIL ANTONIO

West Ham head south to face Brighton and Hove Albion on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Everton that left their chances of qualifying for the Champions League hanging by a thread.

They will need to respond on the south coast against a Brighton side who are safe now.

Antonio has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 away Premier League starts, netting 11 times and providing three assists.

He can trouble the Seagulls and improve those numbers. Indeed, the forward has scored 24 times for the Hammers on the road in the competition, five more than any other player for the club.

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    Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim insists his team are "not in the business of getting rid of good players", amid speculation over the future of Chandler Jones.

    Former New England Patriots pass-rusher Jones sat out OTAs and minicamp as well as reportedly requesting a trade as he entered this season, the last of his current contract.

    Last season, three-time Pro Bowler Jones suffered a torn bicep in Week 5 ending his campaign early.

    But the 31-year-old started 2021 with a bang, recording an astonishing five sacks as the Cardinals opened with a big 38-13 win at the Tennessee Titans.

    Ahead of the Cardinals playing the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Keim was asked whether the team would be able to tie Jones down to a new deal.

    "We are not in the business of moving on and getting rid of good football players," Keim said to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

    "You always want to get good players under contract, but there are always a million different moving parts. 

    "I have to continue to look at the roster moving forward, generally from a three-year standpoint."

    Per Stats Perform data, Jones' five-sack showing was just the eighth time this century a player has recorded that number in a single game. 

    The last player to achieve the feat was in fact Haason Reddick, also for the Cardinals, in Week 14 of last season against the New York Giants.

    Reddick has since moved on to the Carolina Panthers, but having Jones back with a point to prove should be of huge benefit.

    While Jones is focused on what takes place on the field, he acknowledges the contract situation is hard to ignore entirely.

    "I'm just playing football, honestly," Jones said. "I just let my agent take care of that – the contract situation – but it is the last year of my contract and I just let that take care of itself.

    "Is it something that, I mean, [I think about] off the field? Yeah, I mean, of course. I don't know where I'm gonna live next year. 

    "But in the same situation, I think, when the season starts, I tell my agent let's put all that to a side, you take care of that.

    "If you want to talk about it, you talk about it. As far as for me, I'm going to play, and I'm going to play my best football, and we'll see what happens then.

    "When it comes to the season, I think doing your job is essential, putting the team first, ignore the noise and just managing expectations.

    "I think I play best when I don't go in thinking about the deal or the contract."

    The Cardinals' Week 1 win was their second largest victory since Kliff Kingsbury became head coach in 2019. 

    They play a Vikings team who suffered a disappointing overtime defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals to begin the season.

  • I'd lost my mind completely – Phil Jones reveals torment of injury hell as Man Utd return approaches I'd lost my mind completely – Phil Jones reveals torment of injury hell as Man Utd return approaches

    Phil Jones has revealed how injury hell left him feeling "the lowest I've ever been" and that his career was "finished" as the Manchester United defender at last closes on a first-team return.

    The 29-year-old has not played for the Red Devils since January 2020 due to a debilitating knee problem that has dogged him throughout his career.

    First identified during his academy years at Blackburn Rovers, Jones had an operation after Euro 2012 to remove the meniscus in his right knee. He was forced to manage the problem for years, playing at "60 per cent" because he would "do anything for United", even though, by 2016, "any resistance against the knee was just agony".

    Jones then recovered fitness during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown last year but, when he had to stop running in training, he sought further treatment that culminated in surgery last August. The centre-back has been battling to recover again in the 14 months since and has now played two matches for United's Under-23s, most recently against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

    Retelling the story of his progress and setbacks to the Times, Jones said the moment his knee gave up again last May left him considering whether the fight was worth it.

    He said: "I'd lost my mind completely. I'm thinking, 'I'm finished, can't be bothered with all this anymore'. I went straight to the doc and said, 'Enough's enough. I've had too many anti-inflammatories, too many injections, too many close shaves. I need this sorted.'

    "It was the lowest I've ever been as a human being. I used to come back [from the training ground] and be in bits. My head was an absolute mess. I'd be in tears. I'd say to [wife] Kaya, 'I don't know what to do'. I remember us both crying.

    "She has kept the ship together while I got my s*** together. I feel guilty because she didn't deserve having to deal with me every day and then look after the kids."

    Jones, who has just under two years on his contract, was prompted to speak out when former United team-mate Rio Ferdinand described him as a "waste of time" who was blocking a youth player's passage to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's senior side. Solskjaer himself was angered by Ferdinand's comments.

    "Listen, the respect I've got is enormous," Jones said of Ferdinand. "I've shared a dressing room with Rio – great professional. Loved playing with him. Great lad, good humour. Learnt so much off him. But what he said was poor. Really poor. 

    "I've done my absolute utmost. From tablets, to my diet, to setting up my house so that every time I get back from training I'm sitting in recovery boots and have my ice machine ready. Nobody can say, 'You didn't do enough'.

    "I'll fight for United until someone tells me, 'Go somewhere else'."

    Jones, who was also heckled in the street while walking with his infant daughters, added: "In this society we're living in at the minute, all the racism and stuff that affects mental health – I'd just say be careful. You don’t know how it's going to affect players: physically, mentally, emotionally. 

    "Listen, my problems are not bigger than the problems someone has to deal with in an office, I know that. But they are problems. Footballers have problems like anybody else, and maybe me talking can help players.

    "Every footballer has a tag and unfortunately mine is, 'Let's have a laugh at him'. But – and I say this in the nicest possible way – I know who'll have the last laugh. I'm proud of my career and when it finishes and I'm enjoying my life – and by the way I'm super fortunate that I'll be able to do that, because footballers are fortunate – [the keyboard warriors] will still be in their mum's spare bedroom, sipping Diet Pepsi that's flat, eating a Pot Noodle, sitting in their boxers, tweeting."

    Jones, who has only played eight times since the start of 2019-20, won the Premier League title during Alex Ferguson's final season at the club and it was a meeting with his old boss that helped to boost him on his journey back to playing.

    "He was just unbelievable for me," Jones added. "I went to the premiere of his film with a few players and he came over, we shook hands and then out of the blue he said, 'Hey, you were f****** terrific against Real Madrid away [in 2013]. F****** marking [Cristiano] Ronaldo.'

    "It just gave me so much confidence. To be honest, I didn't even watch his premiere, I was just sitting there thinking about his comment, thinking, 'He remembers it... someone of his magnitude remembers that'."

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