The new 2020-21 season is really kicking into gear as Premier League matchweek two approaches.
After prior European commitments delayed Manchester City and Manchester United starting their respective campaigns, there is a full slate of matches this weekend.
That means there is plenty of opportunity for fantasy managers to make up for missing out on Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy or even Jeff Hendrick last week.
Need to get back on track or build on a strong start? This Opta-powered selection provides some must-haves for the coming round of matches.
Picking an Arsenal goalkeeper heading into the campaign was slightly risky business with two vying for the first-choice spot. Fortunately, with Emiliano Martinez leaving for Aston Villa, the matter has been settled.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) September 16, 2020
From his first start last season on June 25, following Bernd Leno’s injury, Martinez made more saves (31) than any other top-flight keeper and only trailed Nick Pope (85.3) and Ederson (81.8) in terms of save percentage (81.1). He kept three clean sheets, too.
Only Bournemouth and Norwich City – both relegated – managed fewer clean sheets than Villa’s seven last term, yet one of those came at home to Monday’s visitors Sheffield United.
Everton left-back Lucas Digne was certainly worth having on the opening weekend. He contributed to a clean sheet at Tottenham and also supplied the assist for Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s decisive goal.
But that display was no one-off.
Only Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (both 13) have more Premier League assists from defence than Digne (eight) since the start of the 2019-20 campaign.
Over that same spell, the Frenchman ranks second for chances created (73) and passes played into the box (320) by defenders and third (150) in terms of open-play crosses. He can test out that supply line at home to West Brom.
Although beaten against former club Chelsea last time out, Tariq Lamptey continues to show himself to be an all-round package for Brighton and Hove Albion.
From right-back, the 19-year-old has created the most chances from open play (eight – tied with two others), supplied the most crosses (24), completed the most dribbles (17) and made the most interceptions (19) of any Brighton player since June 2020.
If Brighton get a result at Newcastle United, Lamptey is likely to be in the points.
New signing Willian gave Arsenal fans and fantasy managers alike a taste of what they can expect on opening day.
At Fulham, he became the first player to contribute two assists on his Premier League debut for Arsenal since Ray Parlour against Liverpool in August 1992.
@alanshearer‘s Team of the Week
— Premier League (@premierleague) September 15, 2020
Since June 2020, Willian trails only Robertson (six) in terms of assists (four) and Kevin De Bruyne (40) for chances created (28), with struggling West Ham up next at home.
Joining in January, Bruno Fernandes quickly established himself as a star fantasy performer last season. There is little reason to suggest he will not be similarly effective this term.
The Manchester United midfielder has been involved in 20 goals (including eight assists) in all competitions since his arrival from Sporting CP, the most of any of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s players.
Indeed, Fernandes leads the way across the whole Premier League in that regard, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (17 involvements) second. United face Crystal Palace.
Tottenham talisman Harry Kane has tended to start Premier League seasons slowly, but his record against Southampton – this week’s opponents – is particularly impressive.
The England captain has nine goals in his past nine league games against the Saints, only tallying more often in clashes with Leicester City (14) and Arsenal (10).
Kane will no doubt be determined to continue that scoring streak this weekend, having suffered a torn hamstring at Southampton in January that checked his 2019-20 campaign.
Needed to check he has still got it? Vardy again proved his worth with a brace for Leicester against West Brom last week.
Those strikes improved his total since the start of last season to 25 in the league, while he also leads the way for shot conversion rates (27.47 per cent) among those with 10 or more goals in that time.
Even at 33, it is too early to write off Vardy, who will aim to dampen Burnley’s new-season optimism on Sunday.