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Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 4

Gameweek Three provided the latest demonstration of the competitiveness of the Premier League. Crystal Palace and Newcastle unexpectedly secured respective victories at Manchester United and Tottenham, therefore crushing the many Fantasy Prem players who were relying on home clean sheets, and who had selected Harry Kane as their captain. The coming fixtures, beginning with Saturday’s early kick-off between hosts Southampton and Manchester United, offer similar potential.

Chelsea host Sheffield United, Bournemouth visit Leicester, Norwich travel to West Ham and Brighton have at least as difficult a task as Newcastle did at Spurs, when they visit Manchester City. Even if it remains premature to dismiss teams as certain contenders for relegation, Watford are in need of three vital points when they head to Newcastle; Palace will hope to build on shocking United by defeating Aston Villa at Selhurst Park.

Liverpool remain the only team to have won all three Premier League fixtures, and they visit Burnley for the late Saturday game. On Sunday, Everton and Wolves contest three points at Goodison Park in their pursuits of the top six. Most intriguingly of all, however, Arsenal host Tottenham in the north London derby.

Captain’s pick

Since Brighton’s promotion to the Premier League in 2017, five fixtures against Manchester City have yielded five defeats and 12 goals concededs. Graham Potter’s team have been using a 3-4-3 formation so far, and for large periods of Saturday’s fixture this can be expected to become a 5-4-1 – something City successfully overcame at Bournemouth. The £12.2m Raheem Sterling is particularly likely to thrive, because Brighton tend to defend man-for-man; if Kevin De Bruyne drops to receive he will be followed, creating the type of spaces City exploit so ruthlessly with rotations.

Runs into those half-spaces will almost certainly be followed by another of City’s strengths – a low cross along the six-yard box, from where the far-side winger is positioned to finish (above). The understanding between Brighton’s wing-backs and outside central defenders has so far this season proved problematic, with the wing-backs not always tucking in quickly enough. Unless this improves, City’s wingers and attackers will almost certainly capitalise.

Value pick

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Newcastle’s matchwinner at Tottenham next faces a team that has lost three of three Premier League fixtures so far. Watford have conceded seven goals during those three defeats, and last kept a clean sheet in the league on February 9, when they beat Everton 1-0. Joelinton offers a strong physical presence, and will therefore have relished watching West Ham’s Sébastien Haller make hay against Watford’s central defenders only last weekend.

The Brazilian’s ability to create space in one-on-ones, and to find and exploit spaces between opponents (above), should lead to more goalscoring opportunities, as was witnessed when he scored against Spurs. At £5.9m he potentially represents fine value as he grows still further into the Premier League.

Medium-term club watch

Burnley have had a promising start to the season – a 3-0 victory over Southampton was followed by a narrow defeat at Arsenal and a draw at Wolves – and their striker Ashley Barnes has so far scored four goals, owing partly to them playing to his strengths (below). The classy Dwight McNeil has also recorded one assist, while defender Erik Pieters has recorded two.

Sean Dyche’s men host Liverpool this weekend, but thereafter meet only one other top-six team before December. They can be expected to collect points before then against Brighton, Norwich, Aston Villa, Sheffield United, West Ham, Watford and Crystal Palace. Now could be a good time to introduce some of their bigger fantasy point-scorers into your squad.

Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 4

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