A fascinating game gets us underway this weekend, with the Manchester derby kicking off at 12:30pm on Saturday. This is the eagerly-anticipated first clash between José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola since they were appointed as managers of United and City respectively this summer and life has started well for both, with each club picking up 9 points from 9 in the league so far. They’re the two front runners in the betting for the title this season too; City are currently favourites with bet365 at 7/5 and United are available at 11/4. Those looking for an epic battle between two attacking sides could be disappointed though – Mourinho is well-known for setting his teams out to avoid defeat in the biggest matches and Man City are missing their biggest threat in Sergio Agüero. Only once in the last 5 meetings have both sides scored in this fixture, and last season the two sides played out a goalless draw at Old Trafford before United took the honours in the return fixture at the Etihad by a single goal to nil. So despite the wealth of attacking talent on display, it may be advisable to concentrate on defenders for points in this match and Eric Bailly (£5.5m) could be the best option. He’s established himself quickly in the Manchester United backline since signing from Villarreal in the summer and was outstanding in Man United’s last fixture, a 1-0 victory over Hull. He picked up 2 bonus points as well as a clean sheet in that fixture, and if he keeps the likes of Nolito (£9.0m) and Sterling (£8.2m) quiet then he’s got every chance of more bonus points this weekend.
Following on from that Arsenal’s fixture against Southampton is one that sees the home side well-fancied. They’re the shortest-priced favourite in the Premier League this week at 4/7 with bet365, and with this in mind their attacking players are worth serious consideration for captaincy. Southampton don’t seem as defensively sound under new manager Claude Puel as they’ve been in the past couple of seasons, starting with 1-1 draws at home to Watford and Sunderland and a 2-0 defeat at Manchester United. Things aren’t likely to improve on Saturday considering how impressive Arsenal were in their last game away at Watford, particularly in the first half when they cruised into a 3-goal lead. Alexis Sánchez (£11.0m) and Mesut Özil (£9.6m) are the big threats for the Gunners, and it would be advisable to have at least one of these in your team this week.
A source of potential points at value prices this week could come from Burnley’s defensive options. When they were last in the Premier League two seasons ago they were formidable defensively at Turf Moor – they kept 7 clean sheets and only 5 away sides managed to score more than once. If they are to stand any chance of survival this time around they’ll have to put in a similar effort at the back, and the early signs from this season are that they’re looking to do this. In their first two home fixtures of the season they’ve beaten Liverpool 2-0 and kept Swansea out for 82 minutes before a late goal condemned them to a 1-0 defeat. Their opponents this weekend are Hull City, who have been beaten 1-0 on each of their last 2 visits to Turf Moor and suffered a deflating loss to an injury-time winner against Man United in their last match. Burnely’s Tom Heaton (£4.5m) could be a shrewd choice in goal, and in defence Ben Mee (£4.5m) has 9 Fantasy Football points to his name already this season. He amassed 93 points in his last Premier League campaign, contributing to 9 of Burnley’s clean sheets, scoring 2 goals and assisting 1.
The late kick-off on Saturday should bring plenty of entertainment, with last season’s champions Leicester travelling to Anfield to take on Liverpool. Neither team look too solid defensively so far this year, with Liverpool conceding in all three of their opening fixtures and Leicester conceding in two of theirs. On top of this Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is an injury doubt and Liverpool are likely to be without Loris Karius, Ragnar Klavan, Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez from their backline. Attacking players are safer bets for points here, and the man who looks to be the pick of the bunch is Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (£8.9m). He’s seamlessly slotted into the Reds’ starting XI, and his absence from the line up against Burnley was at minimum a contributing factor in their defeat. He’ll be looking to announce himself to the Anfield faithful on his home debut and his pace will cause problems for a Leicester backline that’s not particularly blessed in that department. Jamie Vardy (£9.9m) will no doubt be a handful for the Liverpool defence too; he scored both goals as the Foxes won 2-0 the last time these two met, including a Goal of the Season contender, and bagged his first goal of this campaign last time out in the victory against Swansea.
To finish off, one Fantasy Football pick from each of the remaining fixtures:
Bournemouth v West Brom – Salomón Rondón (£6.5m)
Middlesbrough v Crystal Palace – Ben Gibson (£4.5m)
Stoke v Spurs – Erik Lamela (£7.1m)
West Ham v Watford – Dimitri Payet (£9.4m)
Swansea v Chelsea – Diego Costa (£9.7m)
Sunderland v Everton – Ross Barkley (£7.7m)