International football is officially over for another year. *Pauses for cheers or jeers*
With the November international break done with, we turn our attention back to domestic football, with a hectic period set to begin in the Premier League.
More fantasy points will be available over the next seven weeks or so than at any other period in the season, such is the jammed nature of the schedule, and there’s no better time to get ahead of the curve.
Stats Perform has delved into the Opta data to pick out seven picks for this week, hopefully giving you the edge…
EDOUARD MENDY (Leicester City v Chelsea)
Leicester City may represent a tricky opponent for any team, particularly given their good options going forward, but if anyone can keep them at bay, it’s Mendy.
Not only has the Senegal international conceded the joint-fewest goals (four, excluding own goals, minimum of three appearances) in the Premier League, he also leads the way with 3.4 goals prevented, according to expected goals on target data.
In terms of form goalkeepers this season, Aaron Ramsdale runs him close, but Mendy is the outstanding candidate.
JOAO CANCELO (Manchester City v Everton)
City’s versatile Portuguese full-back enjoyed an exceptional 2020-21, but he seems to have stepped things up even further this term.
In 17 games in 2021-22 across all competitions, Cancelo has already reached seven goal involvements (two goals, five assists), just one fewer than his haul of eight in 43 outings last term.
He has been hugely influential at City, while it would also hardly be a surprise if they keep a clean sheet against an out-of-sorts Everton.
TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (Liverpool v Arsenal)
Liverpool’s right-back became something of a scapegoat – fairly or not, that’s a discussion for another day – in 2020-21. It is safe to say his critics are rather quieter at the moment.
Only Bruno Fernandes (37) can better Alexander-Arnold’s 30 chances created in the Premier League this term, while no defender has more than his four assists.
A resurgent Arsenal could cause Liverpool issues, so a clean sheet is no guarantee, but there is no defender more likely to nab you an assist or two.
CONOR GALLAGHER (Burnley v Crystal Palace)
On-loan Chelsea youngster Gallagher has been a revelation for Palace this season, with his all-action style proving a great addition to Patrick Vieira’s team.
He has also provided plenty of quality in the final third, having a hand in a team-high six goals (four goals, two assists).
Gallagher has already beaten his combined tally (two goals, two assists) from 2020-21 when he was on loan at West Brom, and he won his first England cap against San Marino earlier this week.
BRUNO FERNANDES (Watford v Manchester United)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have seemingly hobbled from ‘crisis’ to ‘crisis’ this season, and while Fernandes arguably has not been as impressive as last season, he is still essential to the Red Devils.
He leads the way with the most chances created (37) in the league this term, and that fits into his wider excellence ever since joining United, a period that has seen him supply the most assists (22) and craft the most goal-scoring opportunities (162) of anyone in the competition.
Additionally, only Mohamed Salah (55) has been involved in more goals than Fernandes (52) in the same period. Regardless of perceptions of his form, the Portugal star is a must-have, particularly given United will fancy their chances of bouncing back at Vicarage Road.
GABRIEL JESUS (Manchester City v Everton)
While he may not be playing in the striker role many might have expected before the season started, instead featuring largely as a right-sided winger, Jesus has made a strong start to 2021-22.
With the South American World Cup qualifiers not extended to a triple-header this month, Jesus is also less of a selection risk than he was after the international breaks in September and October.
But above all, he loves playing Everton. In eight Premier League games against them, Jesus has scored eight times, or roughly one every 69 minutes, and he will be aiming to give the Toffees plenty to chew on yet again this weekend.
SON HEUNG-MIN (Tottenham v Leeds United)
Among the players Antonio Conte will be hoping to get more out of after a slow start to the season, Son is surely near the top of the list.
Since the start of last season, no player has outperformed their expected goals (xG) tally by a greater margin than the South Korean (8.2), with 21 goals from 12.8 xG.
Obviously that can suggest a degree of unsustainable fortune on Son’s part, but we all know he is an exceptional player capable of the extraordinary. Leeds are a side who let other teams play, and that might be just what the doctor ordered for Son and Spurs.
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