Anyone played their Fantasy Football wildcard yet? I’m considering it to be honest, it’s not been fun viewing heading into the Premier League Gameweek 3. I’m falling down the rankings faster than a BBC Commissioning Editor fixing an aerial.
It was a big weekend in the Premier League for fans of Both Teams to Score. Only the aforementioned Watford and a quite frankly pretty rubbish Crystal Palace failed to find the net in 10 matches this weekend.
Anyone that read and followed my picks will be pleased, a £1 stake on each selection would have doubled your money (£20.30 for £10 staked) Not bad, eh? Let’s have a look at the upcoming fixtures and see what we can do.
If I’d asked you at the start of the season who would be the only team after 2 match weeks to not have conceded a goal so far, I’d bet you wouldn’t have said Everton. You’d have to go back to February before they had conceded a goal at home.
In fairness, they’ve played the only two teams so far this season yet to find the net and only managed one so far themselves. The Toffees have looked like a settled unit in defense, Lucas Digne in particular impressing (17 points so far for Fantasy Football players like myself)
Villa on the other hand have yet to get any points on the board, games against tough opposition haven’t helped but conceding a penalty after 45 seconds doesn’t help either in all honesty. Villa enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half against Bournemouth and probably should have equalised after chances from John McGinn and Trezeguet.
One of what seemed like hundreds of new signings, Douglas Luiz failed to impress during the first half, directly contributing to Harry Wilson’s goal. He almost putting one into his own net minutes later, but managed to redeem himself somewhat by netting in the 71st minute.
Fridays match should be an interesting one and Villa will certainly be looking to get their first Premier League points on the board, John McGinn should build on his man of the match performance against Bournemouth and Villa will be buoyed by their home fans under the lights. Everton meanwhile are winless in their last 4 away trips in the league, their defensive solidity should see them through, however their run of clean sheets will be tested.
Selection: Everton win Goals Galore Plus @ 14/5
Interesting: John McGinn to score Anytime @ 16/5
Norwich bounced back from their opening day defeat to beat Newcastle 3-1 last time out, thanks to a Teemu Pukki hat-trick and they face a Chelsea team who are yet to record a competitive win under new manager Frank Lampard. In fairness to the Stamford Bridge outfit, they’ve had a tough run of fixtures, Liverpool in the Super Cup sandwiched between a visit to Old Trafford and a visit from Leicester leave Chelsea with just 1 point from 2 games.
It looks like goals could be a problem for this Chelsea side who have managed just 1 goal despite 25 shots over the 2 games this season. I’m by no means writing them off, but if this keeps up they could find themselves chasing the rest of the Top 4 pack pretty soon.
However if Tammy Abraham can rediscover his Championship goal-scoring form (26 goals in 40 appearances) that will change everything. Lampard knows his opponents well following his season with Derby so you’d expect some improvement.
Hat-trick hero Pukki has looked every inch a Premier League player so far this season and after his impressive performance against Newcastle will look to give the Chelsea defence the run around in the lunchtime fixture on Saturday.
When I eventually play my wildcard in Fantasy Football, he’ll be straight in there so back him at 4/1 to score first on Saturday before I jinx him, meanwhile Chelsea to win and both teams to score can be got at 9/4.
The first of our 3pm games on Saturday sees the first South Coast Derby of the season. Brighton had a great start running out 3-0 winners on match-day 1 but will be slightly aggrieved to only manage a draw thanks to the intervention of VAR against West Ham.
Summer signing Leandro Trossard saw his first half effort scrubbed for offside, however he would not be denied a debut goal rifling home in the 65th minute after Javier Hernandez put the visitors ahead in the 4 minutes earlier. Brighton fans will be hoping for more of the same against Southampton this weekend, fresh off a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool.
Southampton had a few moments that gave Liverpool trouble last time out even though their only goal came from a Loris Karius sized gaffe from goalkeeper Adrián. New singing Che Adams showed plenty of pace and James Ward-Prowse was relentless in midfield.
There are plenty of signs that Ralf Hasenhuttl’s side can give Brighton trouble. It’s been 9 games since they last kept a clean sheet in the league and are winless since April 13th. That poor run should hopefully end sooner rather than later. The Saints are 2/1 to win on Saturday while Brighton are 7/4 to continue their dream start under Graham Potter.
Selection: Yes – Both Teams To Score, No Draw
Interesting: Southampton win Goals Galore Plus @ 5/1
The Red Devil’s were denied a second win of the season on Monday night thanks to a fine save from Wolves keeper Rui Patricio after Paul Pogba’s penalty. The French midfielder taking spot kick duties from Marcus Rashford who put one past Chelsea on the opening day.
Anthony Martial netted his 50th goal for the club in response to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s declaration to the press that he would like to see both him and Marcus Rashford more clinical in front of goal. It was an excellent first half for United, a yellow card for Daniel James being one of the very few negatives.
They face Crystal Palace this weekend who haven’t managed a single goal this season yet somehow find themselves 14th in the table. Roy Hodgson opted to start wantaway Wilfried Zaha against Sheffield United on Sunday and found themselves frustrated to come away with nothing after an impressive defensive showing from The Blades.
I feel like I’ve typed “when Zaha doesn’t play, Palace don’t win” a million times before and I’ve been proven wrong this season. 2 games in, 0 points, 0 goals and I don’t see that changing against a United side that have added defensive solidity and pace over the summer window. Aaron Wan-Bissaka didn’t have to wait long to face his former side and I can see him keeping old teammate Zaha quiet and maybe grabbing an assist too, definitely one for the fantasy team. At 4/11, there’s little value in a United win unless you’re looking a home banker for your Saturday accumulator.
I’d be looking at the wincast market with Marcus Rashford scoring anytime and a United win looking attractive at 11/8.
Still winless this season, Leicester will count themselves unfortunate to only come away with a draw on Sunday. Once Wilfried N’Didi managed to redeem himself, equalizing after his brain fart for Chelsea’s opener.
The Foxes piled the pressure on Chelsea managing 11 shots in the second half alone, and there’s every reason to suggest that Brendan Rodgers’ side can end their 4 game winless run in the Premier League this Saturday. On paper they should have too much for Sheffield United and while there are very few of the title winning side from 2016 left, there’s still very much a quality side there. James Maddison being particularly impressive, unless you’re the ever-opinionated Jeremy Clarkson:
Sheffield United were expected to struggle and so far they’re the highest placed promoted team, managing a draw against Bournemouth on the opening day and frustrating Crystal Palace to a 1-0 victory last Sunday. They were able to pen back Wilfried Zaha and John Lundstram’s early second half goal was enough to give them the victory.
Northern Ireland’s Oliver Norwood excelled in midfield for The Blades as well providing chances for new singing Oli McBurney, while record scorer Billy Sharp was left on the bench.
Leicester will give them trouble, particularly if Maddison and Tielemans get off to good starts. Jamie Vardy should be a goal threat too as ever. He’s 4/1 to open the scoring on Saturday while new signing Ayoze Perez is 15/2 to open his account for Leicester. Both teams carry an attacking threat but I see Leicester’s Premier League experience serving them better here and fancy them to win to nil at 5/2.
While both sides haven’t had the best starts to the season, Watford are winless, goalless and generally a bit hopeless so far this season. Losing 3-0 to Brighton on the opening day and 1-0 to Everton last weekend.
Watford faced a West Ham side who lost to Man City on the opening day and were fortunate to get away with a draw when they visited Brighton, thanks only to VAR ruling out the Brighton opener.
The Hammers will come in to this fixture having conceded the most goals in the league so far, fair enough, considering they faced Man City on the opening day. They defended resolutely at times against Brighton but being without Felipé Anderson and record signing Sebastien Haller, they’re looking a bit blunt in the forward areas.
Watford’s winless run extends all the way back to last season where they’ve only won one of their last 8 games, including an FA Cup final undressing from Manchester City. If they have the same slow start against West Ham as they did against Everton which I see continuing. Danny Welbeck made his Hornet’s debut against Everton but was largely ineffective. Javi Gracia will be hoping the former Arsenal and Man United man will be able to stay fit and provide assistance to Troy Deeney.
Tough to pick anything out of this fixture since both sides have been pretty uninspiring so far this season. I usually never pick a draw from the 90 minute market but this has that written all over it. You can back a draw at 5/2, and for added dullness 0-0 in the correct score market is 11/1. Probably end up being last on Match of The Day too.
The last 2 teams with a 100% record play each-other in Saturday’s late kick-off. European Champions Liverpool play an Arsenal side who come into this game after a 2-1 win against Burnley in last week’s lunchtime kick off.
Unai Emery won’t be pleased with the manner in which Burnley got their equalizer, gifting possession to Ashley Barnes to put the ball past Bernd Leno costing me my clean sheet in Fantasy Football after 43 minutes *sigh*.
Goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were accompanied by fine displays from Dani Ceballos (go find that clip of his turn on YouTube, oofff) and David Luiz, who looked calm and collected, for the most part. Nicholas Pepe impressed too with a couple of blistering runs through the Burnley midfield.
Unai Emery joked, post match that he doesn’t like playing Liverpool and would rather not and given the previous game between the two sides ended 5-1, I can see why.
The Reds come into this fixture having comfortably beaten Southampton away last weekend. I say comfortably, Southampton capitalised on a goalkeeper error to pull one back forcing a nervy last 10 minutes.
Having had a week to recover from their 3 games last week Liverpool will look to take advantage of Manchester City dropping points in what’s their first Top 6 clash of the season. This fixture that traditionally brings goals at both ends of the pitch and I fully expect that to continue with Liverpool’s net-minder Alisson still out injured.
The hosts have shown that they can be vulnerable down the wings when Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson both get forward leaving gaps. Liverpool’s much lauded front 3 have looked sharp from the off this season and I like Mo Salah to score first in this game (4/1), he scores the majority of his goals at Anfield and has been dangerous so far, finding the net against Norwich on the opening day.
For those who want to sit on the fence and not pick a result, Yes in the Win Galore market can be backed at EVENS, but anyone seeking value should look at the Goals Galore Plus market as there’s little chance of a clean sheet in this game. There’ll be plenty of match specials in shops on the day so keep an eye out for those too!
The first of 3 Super-Sunday games sees defending champions Manchester City travel to Bournemouth after a 2-2 draw with Tottenham that saw a 90th minute winner cancelled out by VAR (AGAIN!)
I’m not going to discuss it in this piece as I’d be here all day but City will be going into this game angry and that spells trouble for Bournemouth in all honesty. They’ll want to prove a point and not drop anymore points this season, if the pace that they set for the rest of the league in recent years is anything to go by. This is a team who have managed over 198 points since the start of 2017 don’t forget.
Sunday’s hosts beat Aston Villa last time out thanks to goals from Josh King and Harry Wilson yet were wasteful in front of goal seeing quite a few chances go begging. They won’t get as many chances against City this weekend and if you’ve any Bournemouth defenders in your Fantasy Football line-ups, I’d move them sharpish.
City have an excellent record against Bournemouth and you have to go back to 1999 to find the last time The Cherries managed to come away with a point, although that was in League One. I picked Raheem Sterling to score 2 or more last week and I was only half-right. After Pep Guardiola’s public spat with Sergio Aguero during the Tottenham game, I’d expect Sterling to start in a more attacking position again so Sterling to Score First @ 10/3 looks good to me.
Spurs came away from the Etihad with a point at the weekend and having managed only 3 shots in total against City and will be looking to put on a show in front of their own fans. They play a Newcastle side who are still looking for the first win and points of the season, falling to a Teemu Puuki hat trick last Saturday. Newcastle failed to deal with any sort of threat from the Norwich striker and the pressure will be on Steve Bruce to deliver a performance on Sunday.
There were encouraging signs against Arsenal on the opening day but any progress from then was not apparent as they were overrun by last season’s Championship winners. Miguel Almiron was anonymous when coming on after Joelinton was forced off after a heavy challenge.
The North London outfit struggled to get out of their own half in the first 45 against City, and Harry Kane was limited to just one touch in the final third of the pitch. Hugo Lloris was instrumental in keeping the City score down thanks to some inspired goalkeeping and I’d imagine he’ll be looking forward to what basically amounts to a day off in this game.
I’d expect Kane to be a lot more involved in this match and he can be backed at 17/2 to score a Hat Trick on Sunday. Lucas Moura is 4/1 to repeat his Last Goalscorer feat from last weekend and if he isn’t in the starting line up, that could be worth a shot.
Wolves arrive at this fixture looking for their first win of the season after a fruitless draw with Leicester on the opening day and having held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw on Monday night. The clip of Ruben Neves’ equalising goal has done the rounds on social media thousands of times, and rightly so it was an absolute belter!
They should be pleased with their performance against United though, especially in the second half when Adama Traoré’s introduction turned the game in the hosts favour with his electric pace. Sunday’s game against Burnley is a good opportunity to get some points on the board.
Burnley may not see it that way however after a decent showing against Arsenal in Saturday’s lunchtime kick off where they defended admirably, with goalkeeper Nick Pope made a couple of excellent saves to keep the scoreline down. Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood offer an aerial threat to Wolves’ back-line and if they can take advantage of set piece deliveries I’d expect one of them to end up on the score sheet. As mentioned, Ruben Neves is interesting in the anytime scorer market and if you can get a price for him to score from outside the area, take it, he’s got more of them than he has touches in the opposition box!
Wolves travel to Italy midweek for a Europa League qualifying first leg and Burnley will know exactly how that feels having done the same last year. 18/5 for Burnley to win the match looks an interesting prospect given how often we see teams fail to perform when playing Thursday – Sunday.
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