It is Game Week 6 in the Premier League and it is currently shaping up as the battle of Manchester, with Manchester City and Manchester United topping the table. After five games both sides have identical records (13 points, 16 goals For/2 Goals Against), which is a very bright start for both clubs.
Both sides won comfortably last weekend, with City winning 0-6 away to previously unbeaten Watford whilst United beat Everton 4-0 at Old Trafford.
Chelsea sit just 3 points behind on 10 points and are starting to find their feet once again and with the Diego Costa situation now finally resolved, The Blues can focus on their title defence. They were involved in a very competitive match with Arsenal at Stamford Bridge last weekend, with the away side putting in one of their best defensive performances in a long time, to nullify the Chelsea attack. Pedro went close on one occasion but took too long to get the ball out of his feet after being sent through on goal by Cesc Fabregas. Aaron Ramsey also went close for The Gunners, hitting the woodwork, before Alexandre Lacazette blazed the rebound over the bar.
All three clubs at the top of the table won in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday with Chelsea and United winning comfortably against Nottingham Forest (5-1) and Burton Albion (4-1) respectively, whilst City had a tougher time despatching West Bromwich Albion. They eventually did thanks to Leroy Sane who added his second goal of the game in the 90th minute to seal a spot in the fourth round.
Manchester City host strugglers Crystal Palace, who managed to score their first goal and secure their first win of the season against Huddersfield in the Carabao Cup with a 1-0 victory on Tuesday night. Chelsea and Manchester United travel to Stoke City and Southampton respectively, with the home sides looking to frustrate to title contenders.
The fixtures for Game Week 6 can be found below:
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
Burnley v Huddersfield
Everton v Bournemouth
Man City v Bournemouth
Southampton v Man United
Swansea City v Watford
Stoke City v Chelsea
Leicester City v Liverpool
Brighton v Newcastle
Arsenal v West Brom
Here are this week’s picks in each position.
Ederson will be looking for his fourth clean sheet of the season as City hosr Crystal Palace, a side that are still winless in the league.
Had he not have gone off injured half-way through against Liverpool, the Brazilian may well have had another clean sheet to his name but then again Sadio Mane would still have been on the field so the game may have been a more even contest.
Either way, Ederson has so far shown City were right to fork out the £34.7m they spent on him, as he looks the keeper Pep Guardiola has been after. Guardiola has always wanted a keeper that not only keeps well but looks assured on the ball, in order to launch attacks from the back. Ederson so far has provided this and looks to have settled into English football well.
Whilst Palace finally got their first goal and win mid-week against Huddersfield in the Carabao Cup, Rot Hodgson’s side still has plenty of work to do and City will not be the challenge they need whilst still in this transition.
A clean sheet is definitely on the cards for Ederson who has conceded just 2 league goals this season and as such looks a safe play this week.
Heurelho Gomes (£13)
Despite conceding six goals against Man City last time out, there is still every chance that Gomes can keep his third straight away clean sheet in the league this season as Watford travel to Swansea.
Swansea have been solid defensively but far from prolific going forward and as such may well frustrate the away side without putting too much pressure on Gomes’ goal.
Being the home side you will hope Swansea create some attempts on goal for Gomes to keep out and as a result accumulate some fantasy points. Despite conceding six, Gomes produced his highest amount of saves last week (4) and will look to build on that this week.
At £13 I think it is worth chancing that this plays out as a 0-0 bore draw, making Gomes’ counterpart a viable option in fantasy also.
Lukasz Fabianski (£14)
Apart from their 0-4 home loss to Man United in week two, Swansea have looked fairly solid defensively and will be hoping for back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season.
Fabianksi has kept three clean sheets in Swansea’s first five league games and whilst they have conceded five goals, four of those came against United so it looks as though Swansea can keep less prolific teams at bay.
They proved this in fine fashion last week, frustrating Tottenham at Wembley last weekend with Fabianski making an impressive 8 saves. This led to a 20-point outing for the Polish goalkeeper, which is his outstanding game of the season so far.
15 saves in his last two games suggest Fabianksi is in fine form and whilst Watford have won both of their away games 0-2 this season, Swansea should put up a better fight defensively than both Bournemouth and Southampton did in those two wins for the away side.
There is a danger that Watford come out with a point to prove after their embarrassing defeat last weekend but Swansea are unlikely to roll over and let their visitors run riot. Watford have enough about them to get shots in on goal, as Newcastle did in the last game at the Liberty Stadium and this provides Fabianski with a chance to score fantasy owners some vital points.
Marcos Alonso (£17)
It has been a few weeks since Marcos Alonso has featured in these previews but I am ready to put my faith back into the Spanish wing-back.
Chelsea will be looking to find the net as they travel to Stoke this week after drawing a blank against Arsenal at home last weekend and their superior wing-back play will be a vital part of that.
Stoke are a notoriously difficult side to break down and Alonso is the sort of player that can pop up with a vital assist or goal at an opportune time.
With Alvaro Morata such a threat in the air, Chelsea should be a consistent threat from crosses this season, unlike last year where they ranked 20th in cross completion. Alonso can deliver a good ball in, as can Davide Zappacosta, but such is the uncertainty of who starts on the right-hand side between Zappacosta and Victor Moses, Alonso is the safer option.
Chelsea are starting to look like the championship-winning side of last season but will need to make up ground on the Manchester clubs soon, so these potential banana-skin games are must-wins already.
Nacho Monrael (£13)
Nacho Monrael has played very consistently in his new role as one of three central defenders, whilst Sead Kolasinac is operating in Monrael's previous role at left wing-back.
Monrael is averaging over 7 points a game so far this season but has posted two 9+ point games in his last two league starts, thanks to clean sheets against Bournemouth and Chelsea.
Arsenal are hosting West Brom on Monday night and the away side have laboured to a 3-1 away loss to Brighton and a 0-0 draw with West Ham in their least two games.
The Gunners have looked very solid defensively in their last two league games which is somewhat out of character for them, but Arsenal Wenger will be hoping it continues and the new system continues to work.
The central-midfield pairing of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka is helping provide cover for the defence and Monrael is benefiting in fantasy terms as a result.
At £13 you are getting a player that is part of an in-form Arsenal defence who could well claim another clean sheet Monday night.
John Stones (£15)
Whilst we cannot expect Stones to keep scoring goals (2 against Feyenoord), he is part of a defence that looks to have settled after a shaky start, conceding just 2 league goals this season.
City shouldn't face too much of an attacking onslaught from Palace who may well look to tighten up at the back, rather than attack as they transition to Hodgson's style of play.
Although his 10.55 point average this season is bloated by the 31.55 point showing against Feyeenord, fantasy owners can fully expect Stones to still get near the 10-point mark this weekend.
At £15 Stones is worth coupling with Ederson in your line-ups in the hope the pair keep another clean sheet between them, without even considering the possibility that Stones gets a goal at the other end.
Kevin De Bruyne (£26)
De Bruyne is the most expensive midfielder this week but for very good reason. The Belgian playmaker has picked up exactly where he left off last season, recording four assists in his last three games across all competitions.
With the potent attack of Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero, De Bruyne has quality finishers to supply and given his proven set-piece ability, there is every chance he can match or even better the 18 assists he posted last season.
Palace are a fragile side at the moment and look like they can be taken apart, especially given City’s effort on the road against Watford last time out and a similar result is by no means out the question.
Palace’s defence will be bolstered by the return of £30m signing, Mamadou Sakho at centre-back which may well improve his side, but City could still prove too good going forward even with the Frenchman in the heart of defence.
Both Manchester sides have been running riot this season and City have scored 11 goals in their last two league games without response so you wouldn't bet against them scoring a couple this weekend.
Should this match run to form, De Bruyne will have ample opportunity to not only keep up his current fantasy scoring (12.3 point average) but possibly eclipse the 18.55 point showing against Liverpool which is his highest output so far this season.
Pascal Gross (£15)
Pascal Gross has been essential to Brighton’s chances of scoring this season and has actually been directly involved (2 goals, 2 assists) in all four goals Brighton have scored in the league this season.
Gross scored 2 goals and assisted the other in Brighton’s 3-1 home win over West Brom and chalked up another assist in their 2-1 loss to Bournemouth last weekend.
With another home game for him to get his teeth into there is a good chance Gross keeps up this good run of form, and he will be hoping to be involved in another goal this weekend.
Home form will be key to Brighton’s survival chances this season and with Newcastle potential relegation candidates as well there is no playing down the importance of this game. As such, Brighton will be looking to Gross to get the job done again, and will hope he finds the ball at his feet more often than not Saturday afternoon.
All the time he is available at such a modest price it is worth taking the chance on Gross, as he has quickly established himself as the key player in a side that will be looking to put their slow start behind them.
Matt Ritchie (£18)
Newcastle winger Matt Ritchie is starting to come into his own once again this season and has now recorded four assists in his last three games, including two last time out against Stoke.
The Scotland international has generally been involved in anything good about Newcastle this season, proving a reliable set-piece taker and will no doubt chip in with some goals as the season goes on. A visit to Brighton this weekend will provide Ritchie with another chance to star in what looks to be an improving Newcastle side.
Ritchie’s crosses in open-play still come under scrutiny and he has proved to be very one-footed (left) at times, but should he improve on this over the course of the season he can become even more integral to his side’s campaign.
As nominated penalty taker there is always a chance he can find himself on the scoresheet that way, but for now it is his ability to provide chances for others that we should rely on.
Whilst he has averaged 11.8 points a game over his last three league outings he has still only peaked at 13.95 points, so there is still room for improvement in terms of fantasy and a game against weaker opposition may provide him with that opportunity.
Brighton have kept just one clean sheet this season, when drawing 0-0 with Watford in week 3 but will look forward to playing at the Amex Stadium once again after winning 3-1 in front of their own fans against West Brom two weeks ago. A 2-1 loss to Bournemouth followed last weekend but this was on the road and Brighton should be much better at home. They have only played at home twice so far, losing 0-2 on the opening day against Manchester City before getting that win against West Brom.
Newcastle broke down a resilient Swansea side on the road three weeks ago, which was the start of their current three-win run, so whilst Brighton should put up a good fight and a close game can be expected, there is a good chance the away side breakthrough. A set-piece may be the difference between Newcastle scoring or not and as Ritchie is so involved in those, he looks to be the player to have from The Magpies.
Sergio Aguero (£29)
Like De Bruyne there is no real surprises here but Aguero looks the best pick this week given the current form of the Argentine striker.
Aguero has now scored 6 goals in his first 7 games in all competitions this season, with a hat-trick and two assists in his last showing against Watford.
Despite suggestions the two couldn’t play together, Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have formed a formidable strike partnership so far this season and both are greatly benefitting from the other’s performances.
With the likes of De Bruyne and David Silva constantly feeding balls through, there is no worries about whether Aguero will get chances and all City need to worry about is keeping these four players fit in order to stand a clear chance of winning the league this season.
At £29 you are looking at not just the most expensive forward but the most expensive player overall which will take up a large chunk of your salary cap. Both Aguero and De Bruyne can be put in the same line-up if you make use of the value picks elsewhere though and as a result they look must-starts against a desperate Palace side.
Laurent Depoitre (£14)
After a 7-minute cameo appearance against West Ham United two weeks ago, Laurent Depoitre made his full Premier League debut against Leicester City and made an immediate impact for his new club, scoring the opening goal in the 1-1 draw.
The striker, who was used sparingly by Porto last season (2 goals in 13 apps) has been subject to fitness concerns this past week, with fatigue cited as the issue and that had fans worried. This makes sense given his lack of playing time last season but he has now had plenty of time off, after being left out of the squad for Huddersfield’s Carabao Cup tie with Crystal Palace and is expected to start this weekend.
Burnley look a decent defence and are generally expected to play well at home, as they did so often last season but despite their best efforts they have only kept the one clean sheet so far this season and that was against Crystal Palace. They defended well to keep Palace at bay that game, as the away side had 23 shots but only 4 were on target. Palace were the better side that day and had it not have been for a poor back pass from Lee Chung-yong the result may well have been different.
The Belgian striker should get some opportunities to score and if he can take a chance as well as he did against Leicester on his full debut, a goal could well be on the cards again here.
With Steve Mounie out through injury, Depoitre should be the focal point of Huddersfield’s attack, as they look for another impressive result to start their season. They looked average away to West Ham two weeks ago but that was The Hammers’ first home game of the season, leading to a more inspired performance from them.
At £14 Depoitre has the potential to be a very useful Utility player or second Forward, saving you salary that you can spend effectively elsewhere.
Jermain Defoe (£17)
Jermain Defoe got his first goal since his return to Bournemouth, as his side brushed aside relegation and South-Coast rivals, Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 last weekend.
Bournemouth travel north to play Everton, who have been struggling no-end this season and do not look like picking up in a hurry. Everton did get their second win of the season, beating Sunderland 3-0 in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night but their form in the league and in Europe has been woeful so far.
Since beating Stoke on the opening day of the season, Everton have drawn 0-0 to Manchester City before losing three straight league games, either side of their 3-0 loss to Atalanta in the Europa League.
Everton have played City, Chelsea, Tottenham and United in their last four league games so couldn’t expect an awful lot points-wise, but it is the manner of their last three defeats (9 goals conceded, 0 scored) that has raised concern.
Defoe is exactly the sort of striker that can feast on a shaky defence and Everton look exactly that at the moment, so the English international looks a good bet to double his tally this season.
Bournemouth will be hoping to keep the momentum going after winning their first league game last weekend and adding another win against the same opposition in the Carabao Cup Tuesday night.