As discussed in the article, he was favoured purely based on the fixture and his knack of grabbing hold of big games. He certainly delivered with two assists, the man of the match award and maximum bonus points for a total of 11 FPL points.
This week, I share five players who I believe, each in their own way, have the potential of wearing your armband in Gameweek 3. I will try to provide as much in-depth, useful information I can on each player and their opposition, but as I always say, the final choice is yours. No TLDR’s here!
Harry Kane (£11m)
Tottenham vs Newcastle
Unsurprisingly, Kane and his FPL ownership were brought back down to earth as the Englishman faced the toughest fixture in the Premier League, Man City away. He recorded 0.01 xG and 0.00 xA, with just a single penalty area touch and attempt on goal.
Following his brace versus Aston Villa, around 42,000 jumped ship to Aubameyang, however, Newcastle have lost their footing without Rafa Benitez and those who kept their feet firmly planted on deck can now take advantage of this plum fixture.
Tottenham had an incredible 31 goal attempts in Gameweek 1, as Aston Villa attempted to soak up the pressure and surge forward on the counter, with good effect for the games opener. Similar can be expected of Newcastle with Kane and co. camping in the final third. The return of Heung-Min Son from suspension is another positive for Tottenham.
There’s often this unfounded opinion that his presence is a significant hindrance to Kane, as he takes up advanced positions which the striker is expected to fill. Yes, he’s often higher up the field than his teammate, but to say this is a bad thing is foolish.
Harry Kane has provided multiple attacking returns at home six times in the last two seasons, five of these were gathered with Son on the pitch. Although he has also played the majority of matches, Son featuring doesn’t have a noteworthy impact on Kane and no correlation to the matches in which he gathered multiple attacking returns.
He is a solid captain in Gameweek 3 with lot’s of contributing factors and a favourable fixture pointing to plenty of FPL points and perhaps his second double digit return of the season.
Raheem Sterling (£12.2m)
Bournemouth vs Man City
What an excellent player and an excellent fixture. Kane is just edging it in the majority of polls, though it would likely be neck and neck if his Man City teammate, and third most transferred in player, De Bruyne wasn’t in the picture.
It’s obvious to the most simple-minded football fans that Sterling is playing ridiculous well, but nevertheless, his underlying statistics also back this up. He has recorded an xG of 2.36 with the closest midfielder and forward in the game managing 0.90 and 1.54 respectively.
Sterling also has the most penalty area touches (20) and big chances (5) in the first two gameweeks. As talked about last week, it’s worth taking advantage of his classification as a midfielder, as he doesn’t just better the forwards for returns, but also scores additional points for every goal and clean sheet.
As showcased below, he also has a fantastic record against Bournemouth. Sterling has only blanked on one occasion versus an Eddie Howe managed side, and contributed with 10 attacking returns in seven Premier League fixtures during his time at Man City.
It seemed almost impossible for Pep Guardiola to squeeze anything else out of Sterling after last season, though the one area which still needed work was his instincts in front of goal, particularly when he has time on his side or in a 1-on-1 situation.
After his opening goal against Tottenham, I literally had to do a double-take and rewind my stream for a rewatch, was that really Raheem Sterling cooly planting a header past Lloris like a number 9 centre-forward?
He has really upped his game and Eddie Howe will be quaking in his boots, or whatever footwear he wears pitchside, as he goes about instructing a backline of 4.5m defenders on the best way to keep out England’s best player in the last decade.
Mohamed Salah (£12.5m)
Liverpool vs Arsenal
Gameweek 2 ended in frustration for Salah owners. He was largely ineffective, and was limited to one big chance as his midweek Super Cup efforts had a more negative effect than first thought. Klopp replaced Salah on 78 minutes, in preparation for Arsenal.
This underwhelming result, in a fixture where he was frontrunner for captaincy, will have had a huge impact on this week’s online polls for the armband. The FPL community are as volatile as Matt Ritchie’s temper, so if you fancy Salah to bounce back right away, the rewards are very high.
Salah has historically performed well at home against Arsenal. He scored four minutes after coming off the bench the first time he faced them for Chelsea and now has multiple attacking returns (goal and assist) when hosting Arsenal as a Liverpool player.
Liverpool scored nine times in these two matches and I would put money on another flurry of them this weekend. In Unai Emery’s debut season, there was an average of 3.5 goals per game in his 10 fixtures against top six opposition – Arsenal conceding 21 of the 35 goals involved.
When I saw Southampton (a) on the fixture list last week and Arsenal (H) this week, I honestly get more excited for Salah’s FPL output in the latter. It plays completely to his strengths – lots of space, back and forth transitions and an opposition still ropy when passing out from the back.
Looking at the passes received heat map above, Salah picked up the ball in some very dangerous areas vs. Arsenal in the last two seasons, but especially in 2018/19 (check out the top left of the penalty area).
His xG shots, the green resulting in a goal, the blue being a shot on target and the red a miss. As you can see, almost all of his attempts come from inside Arsenal’s box and he’s rarely limited to long shot efforts in this fixture. He will get chances, it’s just a matter of taking them.
Anthony Martial (£7.7m) or Marcus Rashford (£8.6m)
Man United vs Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace are one of only two clubs who are yet to score in the Premier League. This is great news for your FPL attacking assets, as their fans will be on their team & managers back to attack the opposition and break this trend.
This will influence the way the game pans out and open up space for United’s frontline. Palace are very weak, particularly on the right side of defence, whereas United are arguably strongest on the left flank when attacking.
I have included the pair of United forwards, as during the opening two fixtures they have been interchanging from the inside left forward position (one for the FM fans) and centre-forward in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fluid system.
Looking at the ‘passes received’ heat map above, it’s almost like neither of the pair wants to actually occupy the CF space, instead preferring to drift in from the left. This might be seen as a negative, however their versatility and movement is difficult for the opposition to track.
I mentioned Crystal Palace’s frailty in this area, and although Martin Kelly performed admirably in their opener, I don’t have any faith in him and Joel Ward (RB) dominating Rashford and Martial.
There’s no doubt that both defenders are physically good athletes, but they will get pulled around the park by the United duo. Marking Lukaku out of the game would have been their preference, but Solskjaer has replaced his classic number 9 attributes with an injection of pace.
Picking between the two is perhaps the hardest task. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and although it’s largely a matter of which player you personally have a better gut feeling about, it’s worth reminding yourself that Martial gets an additional point for a goal and/or clean sheet.
Rashford has recorded a better, xG, minutes per attempt and big chances total, while suffers in terms of accuracy, whereas Martial betters his teammate for xG from open play, xA and has as much higher accuracy in front of goal. He also has nine more penalty area touches, although his FPL goal involvement sits at 40% compared to Rashford’s 60%.