Early Fantasy trends in the English Premier League

Between no fans, an explosion of offence, and a condensed offseason, there are some interesting early-season trends taking place in the English Premier League. We look at the ones impacting English Premier League fantasy football after the first three weeks of matches.

Highest Scoring Week Ever 

Week 2 of the 2020/21 Premier League season witnessed record scoring. The ten games combined for 44 goals in Matchday 2, topping the previous record of 43 goals set during the 2010/11 EPL season.

Matchday 3 saw offences continue to pour in goals, with five teams topping the three-goal mark, helping the week reach 29 goals with two games left to play on Monday.

Excluding Sheffield United, every single EPL team enters Monday, averaging at least one goal per match.

Clean sheets are challenging to come by early in the season, meaning a top-tier goaltender is more valuable than normal this early in the season. Everton’s keeper Jordan Pickford has been one of the few to shine early in the season.

Knowing whether record goals will continue to pour in is unpredictable. However, grabbing a quality keeper could help your team weather the storm if scoring continues in the EPL continues at a record pace.

Away Teams Dominate Early

Early in the EPL season, the term “playing the matchups” seems to have taken on a new aspect – and that is playing the away players.

Week 3 saw the first seven away teams get a result – after Newcastle scored at 90+7 to tie the Hotspurs and Leicester knocked in five goals against Man City to move atop the table. These outcomes make it three straight weeks where the away teams have looked superior – with 18 results in 26 games, compared to 10 results for home teams through as many games.

The lack of fans is the one glaring factor this season. Typically, a visit to Man City means a hostile environment. However, without any real fans in the stands, Jamie Vardy could just waltz his way to a hattrick in Matchday 3.

If you need to make a roster adjustment for the upcoming week, players on road clubs are outperforming home players early in the 2020/21 EPL season.

The Stars Scoring Early in the Season

Early draft predictions are looking pretty smart to start the EPL fantasy season, as top-rated players are lighting up the stat sheet. Mohamad Salah, Danny Ings, Jamie Vardy, and Son Heung-Min are off to strong starts, while Harry Kane has four helpers to lead the league early.

The strong starts from the stars coincide with the offensive explosive occurring early in the season. While the top guys should continue to produce throughout the year, some of the early season surprises – such as Neal Maupay and Patrick Bamford – may be worth shopping early with their value at an all-time high, especially if your team needs a keeper or defence.

“Manchester United Nani goal” by gordon2208 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Big Club Fantasy Disappointments so Buy Low

While some stars are producing early in the year, the big names on Man City, Man United, Arsenal, and Chelsea have yet to live up to expectations.

Both Manchester teams came into the year without much of an offseason. Still, Kevin De Bruyne – star of Man City – should not be outperformed by Jarrod Bowen on West Ham United.

The slow starts mean someone could be shopping one of these players for a low return. Even if Kevin De Bruyne is off to a slow start, he is still a fantasy stud. If you can survive his lower production now, you should see significant returns on your fantasy team later in the season.

Fantasy Trends and Soccer Betting

Much of the information above is useful for betting on soccer as well as playing EPL fantasy. Knowing that road teams are having early success and unusually high offensive production from just about every club can help you make better wagers.

Knowing where to bet is essential as well. The best Canadian sportsbooks for EPL odds offer a wide selection of quality markets on every single match.

Look for away underdogs and overs on the goal totals to offer the best soccer betting value as the 2020-21 EPL season heads into Matchday 4.

Premier League Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 2

Heung-min Son scored four as Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Southampton 5-2 and Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed a hat-trick as Everton beat 10 man West Bromwich Albion by the same score.

Clean sheets were hard to come by in the Premier League last weekend, with only Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea and Aston Villa keeping one.

Here’s a look at the players who made a real difference in the fantasy football last weekend:

Goalkeeper: Emi Martinez (Aston Villa) – 7pts
Aston Villa’s new signing introduced himself to the fans by saving a penalty and keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Sheffield United on his debut. Emi Martinez was one of only three goalkeepers to keep a clean sheet on matchday 2.

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Premier League’s Game of the Week: Southampton 2-5 Tottenham

Our memories of the beginning of the 2020/21 Premier League season will be about goals, there has been over 60 of them already with a goal average of 3.6 per game. You want lots of goals, come to the Premier League and the match between Southampton and Tottenham would be no different.

On Saturday we witnessed Everton come from behind to beat West Bromwich Albion 5-2 and the same scenario was repeated on Sunday when Tottenham travelled to Southampton. This was an edgy game of sorts even before a whistle was blown given that both clubs had lost their opening games. Southampton went 1-0 down to Crystal Palace and Tottenham were beaten by the same scoreline at their ground against Everton. A win was needed by both clubs, though you sensed Jose Mourinho at Tottenham was under more pressure to get it.

This was a game that felt like it had everything. Three goals, one for the home side and two for Tottenham were disallowed early on, Harry Kane thought he had put Spurs in front as early as the 3rd minute but VAR stepped in and it also denied Danny Ings for a handball. At the half hour stage the game was end to end but still 0-0 and nobody could have foreseen that there would be 7 goals to come on this Sunday afternoon. When Kane had another goal ruled out for offside it did seem like it was going to be one of those days.

But the Saints opened the scoring, their first goal of the campaign through Ings who got it right this time. Ings was one of the revelations of last season and he will hope to have a 2nd season just as good. Tottenham were able to equalise on the stroke of half time through Heung-Min Son and you have to wonder just how important that goal was for the Tottenham dressing room atmosphere.

In fairness Southampton seemed good to go in at half time in the lead because Tottenham on reflection had been the second best team in the first half, they managed just 1 shot on target. Still at 1-1 it felt that the psychology of the game had shifted, and with that goal which was Tottenham’s first of the season it seemed to be the switch that they were looking for. Within 2 minutes of the restart Son had pounced again to make it 2-1, Kane had assisted again. This was vintage Spurs or at least what fans had been expecting from the deadly duo in the first game.

If Tottenham were toothless in the first game then in this one they had teeth like a great white shark and they started to take the game to the home side. But Son completed his hat trick just after the hour mark. A fourth goal came ten minutes later for Son, by far the man of the match and yet again it was Kane who supplied the final ball. When Kane scored himself to make it 5-1 it felt that the team had come full circle and the defeat against Everton could be truly forgotten.

A small blip near the end of the game let in Southampton for a penalty in which Ings converted, but it was just a consolation goal, and there would be no miraculous comeback even in a season so far filled with goals.

It’s incredible in how just over a week Tottenham’s fortunes have changed, a win in the Europa League qualifiers and a league win is icing on the cake. But also the return of the prodigal son, one of Tottenham’s genuinely great modern stars, Gareth Bale is complete. Bale has joined the club on loan from Real Madrid. Injured at the moment, you get the feeling that the players have just welcomed him in the most perfect way possible.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 2

The Premier League is leaking goals, there have been 56 so far and that means an average of 3.7 per match. Last season that average was 2.7, and it has certainly been a fun start to the season.

Another round of games have been played so let’s look at who made the final cut in the team of the weekend, did you have any of the players?

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Alisson- Liverpool 7pts

It wasn’t going to be long until we saw Alisson make the team of the weekend and it’s only taken the 2nd week. Alisson collected 7pts and kept a clean sheet away to title rivals Chelsea in an important win for the champions Liverpool. He made some saves and was ever a presence. This will be the first of many player of the weekend selections for the Brazilian.

Defender: Virgil van Dijk- Liverpool 5pts

There were only 2 teams who didn’t concede at the weekend one was Liverpool and Virgil van Dijk was at the heart of the defence once again to ensure the club kept a vital clean sheet away to Chelsea in their 2-0 win.

Defender: Dan Burn- Brighton 5pts

With so many goals conceded during the weekend defenders were taking the brunt of losing points and the best was just 5. Dan Burn starred for Brighton who like Liverpool did not concede any goals at the weekend. Brighton beat Newcastle 3-0 and Burn had an excellent commanding game at the back.

Defender: Andrew Robertson- Liverpool 5pts

Robertson can sometimes be the unsung hero of a brilliant Liverpool defence but he put in a great mature  and solid game again to help earn Liverpool a clean sheet.

Defender: Fabio Tavares- Liverpool 5pts

Fabio Tavares may not get as many games as he would like for Liverpool but he earned the points as part of their defence from midfield and manager Jurgen Klopp will be keeping a keen eye on the player after a good performance away to Chelsea.

Midfielder: Neal Maupay- Brighton 12pts

What a weekend it was for Neal Maupay, not only did his side Brighton beat Newcastle 3-0 he was involved in every goal. He scored a penalty after just 180 seconds and had grabbed a brace by the 7th minute. It was evident that this game was going to be a special one for him and he assisted in the clubs 3rd goal, easily the man of the match.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane- Liverpool 10pts

Cometh the man cometh the Mane. Another 2 goals for the Liverpool player and these were two very important ones that broke Chelsea’s resistance and saw Liverpool beat the Londoners 2-0 away. A fantastic victory for the champions who like like they are on a roll once more and Mane is going to be a big danger again this season.

Midfielder: James Rodriguez- Everton 6pts

James Rodriguez has only been playing for Everton for 2 games but has put in two very good performances. He earned 6 pts at the weekend as he scored a cracking goal in Everton’s superb 5-2 win over West Bromwich Albion. He then assisted in Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s last goal, which was a hat trick.

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha- Crystal Palace- 8pts

A brilliant double for Wilfried Zaha scoring against his old club Manchester United. He slotted home a penalty and then scored late on to kill the game off as Crystal Palace stunned United at Old Trafford and won 3-1. Zaha now has 14pts and has started the season in incredible form.

Striker: Heung-Min Son – Tottenham 18pts

After having a quiet frustrating game on the opening weekend of the season Heung-Min Son showed his real qualities as he scored an incredible 4 goals for Tottenham who beat Southampton away from home 5-2. Son picked up an incredible 18 points and was absolutely relentless at the weekend.

Striker: Harry Kane- Tottenham 12pts

It’s a double for Tottenham up front with Son and Harry Kane taking the plaudits. It was really incredible team work to see Son score 4 goals but Kane set up all 4 and then score the 5th one, certainly Roy of the Rovers stuff, and Kane has had a superb weekend and bounced back from last weekend with a vengeance.

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Why Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane are England’s best strikers in a generation

Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy has finished the Premier League season as top goalscorer notching 23 goals. This is the first time that Vardy has earned the reward despite constantly banging in goals for the Foxes for a good few seasons now. Not even when Leicester won the league in 2016 was he able to finish on top of the pile. The man who stopped him was Harry Kane for Tottenham who claimed 25 goals that season.

Vardy’s success story is still extraordinary given that a decade ago he was playing non league football and rose through the ranks to not only play for Leicester but win the league with them, score plenty of goals and play in the Champions League- Hollywood would be hard pressed to have come up with that success story.

Vardy is 33 and still has a good few seasons left in him. He is a goal scoring machine that there is little doubt and he has scored 61 goals in the league for Leicester in his last 106 games. He just has an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time and can read the game so well. It’s true that some fans and pundits will never see him as world class because despite winning the league he isn’t playing for one of the top 4 clubs, but yet again he has proven his worth to Leicester this season. There is little doubt that when Vardy decides to leave the club, he will go as a legend.

This season Harry Kane blew hot and cold but the cold spells were mostly due to him picking up injuries. Still Kane who is England’s number 1 striker for the international team presently was able to score 18 goals he also assisted in a further 2, and all of this was achieved by playing 29 games, that’s an impressive return by all accounts.

Kane simply didn’t have enough games under him to be top scorer this season, but it is something that he has achieved on 2 previous occasions in 2016 and 2017 where he netted a combined 54 goals.

In Vardy winning the top goalscorer award this season he became the first Englishman to do so since Kane. And here is a fact, the only Englishmen to finish top of the goalscoring charts in the past 19 years are Vardy and Kane. Not even Wayne Rooney was able to achieve that. Still in his hey day he had to complete with world class players such as Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Still it is something to be celebrated especially for Vardy, who sometimes takes unfair criticism. It’s not another official piece of silverware for his club, but it is another personal badge of honour for the player.

Did you have either Kane or Vardy in your fantasy team this season? If not you might want to consider them in a months time when the Premier League kicks off the 2020/21 season. The official date is September 12th and you can check out the stats and all you need to know at the link below.

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Jose Mourinho will be delighted that Tottenham have qualified for the Europa League

When Jose Mourinho took up the job at Tottenham the London side were flirting with mid table, so he will be delighted that the team have advanced since his arrival.

In the end Tottenham found some great form and consistency to surge forward and qualify for next seasons Europa League. A step forward has been made which sounds bizarre given that Tottenham reached the 2019 Champions League final.

However under Mauricio Pochettino this season had started poorly and that was when Mourinho was brought in. How quickly things change in football, one moment Pochettino was the hero and the next, at least to the clubs owners he was the zero.

Maybe there will be a tinge of disappointment that Tottenham are not returning to the Champions League for next season, they did seem to have a genuine chance as the campaign restarted. But in the end too many draws and not losses stifled their chances- they ended up finishing 7 points off the Champions League pace.

But on recent form alongside the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham have looked like a team on a mission and in fact on form are the 3rd best side in the league. The club went their last 5 games without defeat picking up 11 points in that time. They even defeated Newcastle at St.James’ Park. That may not sound like an achievement for the club itself but for Mourinho it was huge. He had an uncanny record at Newcastle’s ground no matter what team he managed where he kept losing games their. This season Tottenham won 3-1 though.

The least Tottenham could have hoped for is European football next season and after finishing 6th they have it edging out Wolves on goal difference as they finished with 59 points.

Whilst Mourinho wants Champions League football he will realise that for now Europa League football is good enough. And of course he has won the Europa League with Manchester United in the past. For United the trophy always felt like a stepping stone, for Tottenham to win in Europe again (the first time since the 1980s) it would feel like something completely different- a justification of Mourinho’s appointment.

Of course we are getting ahead of ourselves, but after some difficult moments perhaps Mourinho being at Tottenham is not as bad as some pundits have suggested, perhaps there really will be a trophy of some sort at the end of his journey, and a trophy really is what the club need and want.

Mourinho will also be hoping that the prospect of European football will settle some of his players. It has been suggested that star striker Harry Kane may want a move away, as time is running out for the player to win some silverware. Qualification at least is another opportunity for Tottenham to pick up something.

The summer will be interesting transfer wise at Tottenham that is for sure.

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Tottenham fall 12 points behind a Champions League position and will have to accept defeat this season

This past weekend confirmed that Champions League football will not be present in Tottenham’s new stadium next season.

Tottenham lost 3-1 to Sheffield United whilst Leicester and Chelsea recorded wins and that means that the London club have now fallen 12 points behind. There is no way back considering still the teams between Tottenham and 4th place.

Jose Mourinho was brought in back in November to salvage a season where the club at that time were mixing with 11th place. But presently the club are in 10th and so on the face of it one could conclude not much has changed under Mourinho. Of course they do have a game in hand which they will play on Monday night against Everton at home. Win that and they would go 8th.

Should Tottenham fans be concerned though that Mourinho often touted as one of the best managers in the world has not been able to improve the side this season? Currently his win rate for the club stands at just 41% this is the lowest of his managerial career and it has been steadily declining since his days in charge of Real Madrid.

Mourinho himself would want to be cut some slack given a new set up, such a change of club and also he has been dealt quite a few injuries. Ideally a manager wants to start from the beginning of the season, but clearly there have been performances and results that have seemed underwhelming whilst he has been in charge.

It is interesting to see that in Mauricio Pochettino’s first 12 games of the season before he was sacked he earned 14 points with the club. Mourinho’s first 12 games brought back 17. It isn’t much of a difference.

Look at some of the points that have been dropped too? Did anyone expect losses against Southampton and Sheffield United? Or dropped points against the likes of Watford, Norwich and Burnley? Had those 3 draws been converted into wins Tottenham would have 51 points and be in 7th place hunting down Wolves and Manchester United.

It hasn’t been a disaster for Tottenham and Mourinho but maybe one was expecting a bit more magic in the dug out and with tactics. Mourinho will be more judged on what happens next season. For now confirmation that Tottenham won’t play in the Champions League and at least challenge for a top 4 spot has to be a blow for the fans.

In the end the club were simply not consistent enough either with Pochettino or Mourinho in charge.

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Tottenham beat London rivals West Ham but VAR grabs all of the headlines once again

For Jose Mourinho it was relief when the brilliant Harry Kane sealed victory over London rivals West Ham to make it 2-0 on the night near the end of the game. Three points had been achieved, and him and the rest of the team could breathe once more. But threatening to overshadow the game once more was VAR which affected one goal and could have done so with another.

Heung-Min Son for example had thought he had scored the opening goal, and a good one it looked too before replays showed that his toe nail was offside. At the end of the day VAR did its job, but again common sense and VAR do not go hand in hand. Offside surely should only be punished if a player is clearly offside and looking for an advantage. In this case like literally hundreds before it Son was not looking for an advantage, and he was offside due to luck, in his case bad luck.

That incident could have spelled disaster for Tottenham who really needed the win given that Chelsea had gone 9 points clear of them, and Mourinho wants a Champions League finish.

With Tottenham looking like the better side, West Ham still remained a danger with Pablo Fornals given a glorious chance to put the Hammers in front but he miss kicked the ball.

Tottenham eventually opened the scoring but it was an own goal by the Hammers Tomas Soucek just after the hour that provided it. It was unfortunate for the club but perhaps the goal was coming. However after the game West Ham manager David Moyes was enraged as he said replays could show Tottenham player Davison Sanchez had hand balled the cross. He demanded why VAR did not come into play, and by the laws that goal should not have counted. However the incident is not very clear as the ball moves so fast. The end result it looks like sour grapes from Moyes. However if VAR want to give Son’s goal offside, maybe Moyes has a point that it should have stopped the game and looked at the incident.

That goal took the stuffing out of West Ham and then Tottenham went onto win the game. It was an important win and keeps the club in the mix for a European finish.

As for West Ham they are hanging onto survival and are only in 17th place by virtue of goal difference. West Ham’s next game will be against Chelsea whilst Tottenham will play Sheffield United.

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Fan Zone: Kartik on City’s Sterling, Bernardo & David Silva as well as Fernandinho & more

A special guest for the latest Q&A is Kartik Krishnaiyer- heavily involved in soccer and politics in the state of Florida- and the author of Blue with Envy: My American Journey with Manchester City.

Instead of starting with how it all began for Kartik, the focus in this part of the Q&A is mostly on current Manchester City topics, in particular the key players. We discuss current stars such as David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero as well as some of the club’s key figures in the past such as Vincent Kompany, the former captain who left last summer, and of course Francis Henry Lee.

Kartik’s wealth and depth in information when it comes to discussing the Citizens is even more evident when you cover not just the club’s current era but the history of Man City. You can reach Kartik and Rami Soufi on their social media accounts and feel free to discuss further any of the points raised in the Q&A below.

1)  Choose 2 players from David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez for your team. Explain why?

I am going with Sterling and Bernardo Silva though at one point it would have been Sterling and David Silva. Sterling’s off-the-ball runs are among the best in world football, something England fans and many in the British press didn’t quite understand in the World Cup in 2018.

Sterling didn’t score so they couldn’t understand why Gareth Southgate kept picking him then came the Colombia game. Sterling was replaced by Jamie Vardy and that absolutely gutted England’s play going forward. It was then that people started to notice Sterling’s role and significance. Bernardo Silva has a different game than peak David Silva did. Bernardo has more bite to his play without the ball but he is not as creative a player in the final third. They aren’t like for like, but both complement Sterling very well.

2) Choose one from Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho, and explain why?

Fernandinho is the heart and soul of Manchester City. An outstanding two-way player, he’s a master of keeping the ball moving, winning the ball and if needed cynically breaking up play. Also, he is a leader on and off the pitch.

3) Who is in your opinion the best player to ever wear the City shirt, and why?

So this is a difficult conversation because it’s probably Franny Lee – who also later as Club Chairman presided over the worst era in the club’s history largely due to his decision making. Don’t get me wrong he inherited a really bad situation from Peter Swales but he had no idea how to fix it. The most lamentable era in City’s history coincided with his tenure.

Still, as a player he was brilliant. A forward who could score and link play and seemed to reserve his best for the biggest occasions – cup finals, Manchester derbies and other key matches. His partnership with Colin Bell was off the charts.

4) What are City’s weaknesses? Is it the full-backs or the central defensive pair looking shaky? Did losing Kompany hurt City’s title defense?

It is the central defense for sure. Losing Kompany has taken away an important dressing room figure and deprived the Starting XI of the glue that keeps together the team’s core defensively. This has continued to be an issue with City’s transfer failures in the center-back position go back to selling Matija Nastasic to Schalke and buying Eliaquim  Mangala as a replacement. The miscalculations in the market have finally caught up with City.

5) I know you follow Bundesliga closely so you’ve seen Erling Haaland & Achraf Hakimi play. Would you rather sign Haaland or Hakimi? 

Hakimi fits Pep Guardiola’s style of an advanced fullback working a lot in terms of crossing and tucking into midfield. Cancelo was a bad experiment and will likely be moved. Hakimi can be explosive going forward, but I am not in love with his defending.

6) City built a reputation playing the possession game. Do you think this focus on possession at the expense of being more pragmatic has hurt City’s quest to defend the Premier League title?

Yes, and even hurt City’s chances in Europe to be honest even more since counter-attacking wins trophies, particularly in critical and tight games. Frankly, same thing happened to Pep at Bayern Munich. His Bayern teams kept the ball all day long but whenever faced with the counter-attacking ability of the Spanish opponents they played in the semi-finals, the Spanish clubs tended to counter them to death.

7) What do you make of Gabriel Jesus? His stats are great despite being mostly used as a substitute. Would you keep Jesus or go for someone like Harry Kane?

Jesus is a better all-around No. 9 for the modern game than almost anyone we could sign. It’s the stuff he does off the ball and his ability to adapt tactically (as seen in Madrid) that make him suitable for Pep.

Sergio Aguero scores a ton of goals and he’s tough to drop but I would argue Jesus is a better overall footballer at this stage of their careers. At the same time Kane is a wonderful player who doesn’t have to be a No. 9. He can play deeper and already understands Sterling’s game from England duty where the two of them lead the line.

Fan Zone: Alberto returns to discuss Sarri, Higuain, the market and more!

In the second part of our Q&A, Alberto- you can follow him here @alljuvecast- discusses Juve’s weaknesses, coach Maurizio Sarri, Gonzalo Higuain and a few other topics! Without wasting more time. Here goes:  Continue reading