While some get a slightly longer break, the Premier League returns this week for the majority.
Champions Liverpool get going against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, back in the big time for the first time since 2004, while plenty of eyes will be on Frank Lampard’s lavish new Chelsea side.
With the Manchester clubs, Aston Villa and Burnley not involved, this is an opening matchweek where you can afford to be a little more selective as you look for names to get you up and running.
If you need a little advice, then look no further – this Opta-powered selection is sure to get you off to a flying start.
— Premier League (@premierleague) September 9, 2020
While there might be one or two too many of those ‘rare errors’ in Hugo Lloris’ form over the past two years, he is undeniably still a hugely capable goalkeeper.
Don’t believe me? Well, based on Expected Goals figures, he prevented 9.5 goals for Spurs last season, the most of any keeper in the Premier League. He also had the highest save percentage (79) in the competition. And he only played in 21 games.
Given Spurs are unbeaten in 15 league matches against Everton, Jose Mourinho has managed 10 opening-day Premier League games without losing, and the Toffees have won once in 19 top-flight visits to London, Lloris looks a pretty safe bet between the posts.
A goalscoring defender in a Jose Mourinho team? You’d be mad not to consider him.
Matt Doherty has scored 15 goals in all competitions since 2018-19, more than any other Premier League defender in that time. Looking at goals and assists (eight each) in just the league in the same time frame, only Andrew Robertson (25) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (30) have more goal involvements than Doherty’s 16.
Given Spurs’ recent good form against Everton (see above), Doherty represents a solid selection.
Yes, he’s expensive, but really, there are few reasons to leave him out.
With five goals and 25 assists since 2018-19, Trent Alexander-Arnold leads the way in Europe’s top-five leagues for goal involvements from a defender. He’s hit double figures for assists (12 and 13) in each of the past two seasons, too.
Liverpool have not lost on the opening day of the top flight as reigning champions since 1924, and while Leeds United could make things tricky, Alexander-Arnold is almost certain to be involved in the Reds’ best moments.
13 – In 2019-20, Trent Alexander-Arnold broke the record for most @premierleague assists by a defender in a single season (13). He’s the first @LFC player to be named PFA Young Player of the Year since Steven Gerrard in 2000-01. Emulating. #PFAawards pic.twitter.com/cWmTP3sVur
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 8, 2020
There’s a real Spurs flavour to this week’s picks – as we’ve established, Everton have a pretty lousy recent record against them – and Son Heung-min is another worth considering.
So often Spurs’ go-to attacking star when Harry Kane is sidelined, last season saw Son register 21 goal involvements (11 scored, 10 assisted) in 30 games, his best record in England’s top flight.
That works out at 118.3 minutes per goal or assist, which is enough to make the Everton defence feel more than a little nervous.
Look no further for your first-week captain.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in 16 goals in 13 Premier League games against newly promoted opponents. In two matches against Fulham in 2018-19, he scored three and set up another across 5-1 and 4-1 victories for his side.
The Gunners have lost once in 13 league meetings with Fulham and are unbeaten in 24 matches in all competitions in September, so it seems like now is the time to give Aubameyang the armband – assuming he stays at the club, of course.
5 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is now Arsenal’s joint top scorer in games played at Wembley Stadium (5, level with Alexis Sanchez). Aubameyang’s five goals at the ground have come in the space of 42 days. Crucial. #ARSLIV pic.twitter.com/cvWCL1FidE
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 29, 2020
Brighton, beware: only four players scored more goals than Timo Werner (28) in all of Europe’s top-five leagues last season.
A very expensive new starting line-up is likely to be fielded by Lampard against Brighton and Hove Albion and you can bet Werner will be front and centre (or maybe front and left – we’re not second-guessing your formation, Frank).
Chelsea’s defence might not be trustworthy, but backing Werner to hit the ground running is a safer bet.
Danny Ings got 22 goals in the Premier League last season, the most by a Southampton player since James Beattie in 2002-03. And Beattie was a real fantasy favourite.
Southampton start away at Crystal Palace, where they have won in each of their past three visits without conceding a goal, and their nine away wins last season (a tally bettered only by Liverpool and Manchester City) suggest a fourth in a row at Selhurst Park is forthcoming.
With Ings having been directly involved in 14 goals (12 scored, two assisted) in 14 top-flight away games, there is every chance he could be matchweek one’s top performer.
Published 11 Sep 2020, 12:32 IST