It is Game Week 4 in the English Premier League this week and things are starting to take shape early. After three impressive victories, scoring 10 goals and conceding 0, Manchester United are the early favourites to land the trophy this season.
Defending champions, Chelsea have returned to form after losing 2-3 at home to Burnley on opening day. Two wins have followed, the first a 0-2 away victory v Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, before hosting big summer spenders Everton at Stamford Bridge, and brushing them aside 2-0.
Tottenham have made an indifferent start to the season, beating Newcastle United 0-2 on opening day, before losing at their make-shift home the following week. A draw with Burnley, again at Wembley means they have accrued 4 points from their first three games but will hope Harry Kane puts August behind him and start firing.
Despite starting the season unbeaten with two wins and a draw, Manchester City have been far less convincing than their neighbours, relying on a Raheem Sterling winner deep into extra-time to beat Bournemouth last time out. After facing two relegation candidates in Brighton & Hove Albion and Bournemouth in their first three games, it was only going to get tougher for Pep Guardiola’s side and a visit from Liverpool this weekend will provide a sterner test. If they can overcome that obstacle with a big performance, they can send a strong message to their fellow title challengers, proving they mean business.
Liverpool have looked strong themselves so far, winning twice on the bounce at home, beating Crystal Palace 1-0 and Arsenal 4-0 the following week. The 3-3 draw with Watford on the opening day of the season will leave a sour taste in their mouth but with Watford unbeaten in their first three starts (1 win, 2 draws) it may not seem that bad of a result as the week’s progress.
The 4-0 loss to Liverpool in their last game has left Arsenal fans reeling and calls for Arsene Wenger to step down are ringing around North London again. Since overcoming Leicester City in a 4-3 thriller on opening day, Arsenal have now lost their last two, with the other loss coming at the hands of Stoke City, at the bet365 Stadium. The Gunners will look for a successful return from the International Break, as they host Bournemouth this week. Keeping Alexis Sanchez may well be key to their season, should the Chilean be in the right mind-set to help his current employers. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of course departed for Liverpool, but getting £35m for a want-away player in the last season of his contract looks good business. The Englishman has thus far failed to reach his potential and has a long way to go to prove he is worth the significant money paid for him.
Elsewhere, Huddersfield Town (2 wins, 1 draw), West Bromwich Albion (2 wins, 1 draw) and Southampton (1 win, 2 draws) are all unbeaten. Southampton have played out two bore-draws against Huddersfield and Swansea City, whilst Huddersfield and West Brom have both been more impressive in their two victories.
Huddersfield are the clear surprise package so far this season, keeping three straight clean sheets during their unbeaten run. Whilst any game was expected to be a tough affair for the Yorkshire-based club, we will only find out how good they really can be when they player a bigger opponent. That might have to wait another week though, as they travel to the capital to play West Ham, who are playing at the London Stadium for the first time this season.
West Ham sit alongside Bournemouth and Crystal Palace at the foot of the table, with all three sides sitting on 0 points. Brighton are the other side without a win, although they did get a draw and their first clean-sheet of the season against Watford last time out.
Here are three players in each position that I believe can impress in Game Week 4.
David De Gea (£16)
Until proven otherwise, the Manchester United defence looks extremely solid, with a rejuvenated Phil Jones partnering Eric Bailly in the centre-half roles, whilst Daley Blind and Antonio Valencia occupy the full-back/wing-back roles.
Stoke City are not the most prolific of scorers but Jese Rodriguez may just provide enough of a threat to force countryman, De Gea into a couple of saves this weekend.
After keeping a clean sheet away to Leicester City in their last game I see no reason why United cannot repeat that and make it four straight games without conceding. Jones looked assured once again for England in mid-week and no other member of that back-four has looked like putting a foot wrong so far either, so it is going to take a huge effort to be the first team to break them down.
The start his side has made will delight Jose Mourinho, who has always prided himself on his team’s ability to defend well and he will hope that continues against Stoke this weekend.
I can see De Gea being called into action enough to accrue some points for saves and he will hopefully add another clean sheet to make him worth the significant outlay.
The Value Play:
Ben Foster (£14)
At £14 West Brom stopper, Ben Foster looks a steal this week as his side face relegation favourites, Brighton. Brighton have still failed to find the net this season and whilst they will have home advantage, West Brom are always a tough side to break down no matter where the game is held.
Tony Pulis has always been a defence-first type manager, following the logic that if you can keep a clean-sheet, you stand a chance. Whilst this is often criticised as a negative mind-set, it often yields results and it has certainly worked so far this season.
Foster and co. kept a clean sheet against both Bournemouth (Home) and Burnley (Away) and Brighton offer less going forward than both sides.
Brighton failed to strengthen up-front before the window closed, missing out on a number of targets and until they prove otherwise, their current crop of strikers do not look up to Premier League standards. It looks set to be another frustrating afternoon for Chris Houghton’s side, and West Brom’s unbeaten league run can stretch to four games.
The Baggies have had a very successful transfer window adding talent in key areas, especially defensively with Kieran Gibbs another solid signing from Arsenal at left-back. Gibbs adds further talent to an already serviceable defence, whilst on-loan PSG midfielder Gregorz Krychowiak offers further protection in front of the back-four as well. All in all, these two signings should ensure Pulis’ side become even tougher to beat this season, making Brighton’s job even harder this weekend.
Lukasz Fabianksi (£14)
Swansea have kept two clean sheets this season, against Crystal Palace and Southampton and they will look to do the same when they host Newcastle United this weekend.
Newcastle did run out 3-0 winners’ last time out but that was against a struggling West Ham United and Swansea themselves have looked fairly solid so far.
With Newcastle buoyant from their last win, they will look to take the game to Swansea as they travel to Wales, but Paul Clement’s side will try their best to remain solid.
Manchester United put four past The Swans in their match-up in Game Week 2, but they have been steamrolling through most opponents and Newcastle are nowhere near the same level.
A plucky effort from the away team should see Fabianski called in to action on occasion but hopefully his side can hold firm again, and add their third clean sheet in four games.
Daley Blind (£17)
The aforementioned, Daley Blind has put in some impressive performances at left-back this season and as such has become a reliable fantasy option.
The Dutch international is averaging just shy of 10 points so far this season, recording 9+ points every game. He is also averaging three successful crosses each game, and eventually one of those is going to translate into an assist.
Whilst not a typical pacey wing-back, Blind clearly operates well in his new role and has become an enticing fantasy option since making the move from defensive midfield. A good passer of the ball, Blind can be just as useful in the attacking third as he is defensively and that means more fantasy points.
Should United keep up their good form defensively and keep yet another clean sheet, Blind should approach the 10-point mark again and could exceed that should be have his hand in a goal for the first time this season
The Value Play:
Davide Zappacosta (£13)
Davide Zappacosta was brought to the Premier League by Chelsea for around £25m on deadline-day and the Italian will add some much needed depth to the right side of the defence.
Victor Moses has played pretty well in Antonio Conte’s formation, however Zappacosta may well get the nod from now on. With Zappacosta more natural in the role, as opposed to Moses who has made the transition since Conte come in, the manager may well prefer his fellow countryman.
Zappacosta joined up with the Italy squad after his transfer and despite only playing the second half against Israel on Tuesday night, was named Man of the Match.
He has been in training today for his new team and will be in the squad against Leicester City, although it yet to be seen whether he or Moses will start.
Should Zappacosta play 90 minutes, he could well prove a bargain at £13, as he looks to have the same effect as fellow Serie A recruit, Marcos Alonso has had since his arrival at Stamford Bridge.
Zappacosta is known for his deliveries into the box and with Alvaro Morata a convincing aerial threat, he could well have a similar impact to Alonso from a fantasy perspective. He averaged a key pass every 56.9 minutes last season and put in an impressive 167 crosses. Of his crosses 28.7% were successful and this will be incredibly helpful for a Chelsea side that ranked dead-last in the Premier League for successful crosses last season (15.9%). Zappacosta provided more assists from crosses than any defender in Italy’s top league last season, which is no small feat.
There is a good chance Conte leaves him on the bench this week as he lets the new signing settle in, but at £13 he is worth consideration. If he proves to be the sort of player he is expected to be in Conte’s system, which expects a lot from his wing-back’s, he may not be £13 for much longer.
Matthew Lowton (£13)
Burnley are yet to keep a clean sheet this season but a home match up against a struggling Crystal Palace side may well provide them with a chance to secure one.
If that is the case full-back, Matthew Lowton may well outscore his price this week, given his tendency to get involved offensively as well.
He’s already got an assist to his name this season ( v Chelsea) and he may well get the chance to get forward again this week.
Lowton made 4 interceptions last time out, to double his tally for the season and if he can get near that number this week, in addition to keeping a clean sheet he could put together a seriously good fantasy week.
Until Palace show any signs of improvement, it is worth picking players from the defences they face this season.
Paul Pogba (£24)
Paul Pogba has perhaps the easiest match-up of the top midfield options this week and given his form in the first three games you’d expect him to play well.
Pogba received a lot of criticism last season, despite playing solidly throughout. With two goals already to his name in the first three games, it appears the Frenchman is keen to prove to the doubters he is worth his weight in gold.
There is no doubting his abilities and when he goes on the marauding runs everyone know he can, he often looks unstoppable. This combined with his ability to shoot from long range makes him an exciting fantasy option each week.
Stoke are a hard team to break down, especially at home but with so much talent in this year’s Manchester United side, it is impossible to contain everyone.
Pogba has taken 9 shots over the first three games in the league this season and although he fired five against Leicester last week without hitting the target, he surely won’t be so wasteful again.
At £24 I think Pogba is the best value at the top of the list in midfield.
The Value Play:
Nathan Redmond (£16)
Nathan Redmond scored 7 goals in his debut season for Southampton and he will be hoping for an even better output this time around.
Redmond has not opened his account yet this term, but can get off he mark against Watford this weekend, in what should be a close encounter.
Redmond took 3 shots last time out against Huddersfield and 2 in each of his starts before that, so it is clear he still has an eye for goal.
The winger already has one assist to his name this season, which matches his total for the whole of last season and he will be hoping to improve in that area during this campaign.
At £16 it is worth chancing that Redmond gets forward and gets himself on the scoresheet for the first time this year, in a decent match-up at home.
Tom Ince (£19)
Tom Ince was always influential in the Championship, most recently with Derby County and while he may not yet have reached the heights expected of him, he has shown promise so far this season.
Heavily involved in all three of Huddersfield’s first three games, Ince will be hoping to translate his good form into goals and assists, which will in turn elevate his fantasy potential.
A constant threat to defences on his day, Ince can open his account against a very fragile looking West Ham side. The winger will relish the chance to spoil the occasion, as West Ham play in front of their home fans for the first time this season, where nerves will no doubt creep in.
At £19 he is certainly not the cheapest option this week, but if he can keep showing promise and find the goal scoring touch he showed on a consistent basis in the Championship, he may well end up reaching those lofty expectations and goals surrounding him.
Harry Kane (£25)
What’s that? Oh it’s September calling, which means Harry Kane can put the supposed curse that hits him in August behind him and start scoring some goals for Tottenham.
He got two goals for England V Malta last Friday and whilst he drew a blank against Slovakia, he was starved or service, something that shouldn’t be the case with his club side.
With the likes of Christian Eriksen and Deli Alli in behind him, he is always likely to have at least a half chance during a game and given his goalscoring ability, he will soon start to take them.
Tottenham visit Everton this weekend and whilst the latter should be tough opponents, it should be an open game which will play into Kane’s hands.
At £25 it is worth plugging Kane into your side, in the hope that he can get finally open his Premier League account for the season this weekend.
Even without scoring, Kane managed to score 14.00 fantasy points against Burnley last time out and a goal will open the floodgates to some much better scoring.
Kane has won the Premier League Golden Boot for the last two consecutive seasons, so it surely won’t be long before he gets off the mark, as he looks to make it three-in-a-row.
The Value Play:
Chris Wood (£19)
Chris Wood made his Premier League debut for Burnley when they faced Tottenham last time out, with the New Zealand international introduced to the game for the last 33 minutes.
In the short time he was on the field, Wood managed to make an impact for his new side, scoring the equalising goal in added time.
It has already been reported that this could be a make or break game for Frank de Boer, needing a win to save his job so nerves are bound to run through this Palace side. Regardless of the position the manager finds himself in, Palace would still need to improve greatly on their first three performances in order to go to Turf Moor and take all three points.
Palace have conceded six goals in their first three games and I cannot see their fortunes changing this week, so a clean sheet for the away side looks unlikely. With this in mind, having Burnley’s record signing and main focal point of attack in your line-up seems wise.
Should Wood continue to adapt quickly to the Premier League and impress in the same way he did in the Championship in the last two seasons, he will be a valuable player to have in fantasy.
Alvaro Morata (£23)
Whilst it was reported in the pre-season that Alvaro Morata may struggle to adapt to life in the Premier League, the Spanish striker seems to have found his feet ok.
Morata came on for the last half hour in Chelsea’s season-opener against Burnley and scored a goal and also added an assist, but it was too little too late as the away side took the spoils.
A blank v Tottenham Hotspur saw him score just 4.55 fantasy points but a week later Morata put in a performance very similar to that of his debut, scoring a goal and again adding an assist.
In two of the three league games he has played so far, Morata has exceed 16 points twice and a goal against Leicester City this weekend would see him put up similar numbers once again.
At £23 you are getting one of the league’s most talented strikers at what looks to be a discount price. Leicester are no pushovers but the 2015/16 champions conceded three away to Arsenal in week one, and two at home to Manchester United last time out, so there’s a good chance Chelsea will find the net this week.