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Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 2

Premier League managers may have given an indication of their selection preferences for 2019/20 on the season’s opening weekend, but players of fantasy football should be wary of the mixed results those selections contributed to. If Sean Dyche, Graham Potter and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are likely to have been satisfied with their players’ performances, Ralph Hassenhüttl, Javi Gracia and Frank Lampard can perhaps be expected to change their teams.

Trying to predict what Pep Guardiola is thinking, and therefore Manchester City’s starting XI, increases in difficulty every week, as Bernardo Silva and Sergio Agüero being substitutes for their 5-0 victory at West Ham demonstrated. Gameweek Two could prove similarly difficult, owing to its many evenly-matched fixtures, of which City-Tottenham – following victories for both – most appeals.

Yet it is Arsenal-Burnley where the most fantasy football points may just be earned – even if newly-promoted Aston Villa, Sheffield United and Norwich City consider their respective home fixtures with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Newcastle fine opportunities to gain their first victories back in the Premier League. Manchester United and Liverpool will be full of confidence after victories of their own, but United next travel to Wolves, and Southampton-bound Liverpool are potentially still recovering from their journey to Istanbul, which involved extra time plus penalties in beating Chelsea in the Super Cup. Chelsea will target a first competitive win under Frank Lampard at home to Leicester.

Brighton’s victory at Watford makes it similarly difficult to predict what will happen when they host West Ham, and the tension surrounding Marco Silva’s eventual appointment by Everton gives their visit of Watford almost the feel of a derby, therefore making it equally unpredictable.

Captain’s pick

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a fine record against Burnley; he scored twice in both league fixtures against them in 2018/19. He poses his greatest threat during transitional moments (below, against Burnley), but is not the only Arsenal attacker who does so; Nicolas Pépé and Alexandre Lacazette may yet start and are similarly potent.

Aubameyang also threatens with his movement in the penalty area, which is a particularly useful strength against a side that is expected to defend deep. He drifts onto the blindside of opposition defenders – so that they cannot track him and possession at the same time – before making his final run to attack the ball. He was the division’s joint-top goalscorer last season, and last week at Newcastle scored the game’s only goal – during a transition.

Value pick

Norwich gained admirers despite losing 4-1 to Liverpool at Anfield, where the hosts hadn’t lost in their previous 40 league fixtures. They played with an attacking mentality, creating several opportunities during the first half, and Finnish striker Teemu Pukki particularly impressed.

His intelligent movement between and beyond Liverpool’s defenders (above) made him difficult to pick-up, even for the back four that conceded the division’s lowest total of goals during 2018/19. Their first fixture of the season is against Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, who will likely again start with a back three. The fluidity of Norwich’s attacking movements has the potential to draw those defenders, and ultimately to create the gaps through which Pukki relishes making his runs.

Medium-term selection

Everton appeared to largely dominate last week’s 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace; they had 65% possession and managed 10 shots to their opponents’ six. The way they attacked suggests Gylfi Sigurdsson will prove key; Everton demonstrated that they are looking to attack with width and behind the opposition’s full-backs, through Bernard and Lucas Digne, and Richarlison and Seamus Coleman, and Sigurdsson’s contribution is to arrive into the penalty area for cutbacks (below).

Those runs from deeper territory often go untracked, giving him significant goalscoring potential. He is also convincing from set-pieces – a corner he took almost led to an assist at Selhurst Park. Their coming five fixtures against Watford, Aston Villa, Wolves, Bournemouth and Sheffield United also likely represent fine opportunities for him to excel.

Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 2

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