By Neil Leverett
- League leaders host top six contenders Leicester City at Anfield on Saturday afternoon
- Out-of-sorts Spurs travel to Brighton, whilst bottom of the table Watford entertain Sheffield United
- Manchester City face Wolves at the Etihad, as Arsenal play AFC Bournemouth at the Emirates Stadium
PREMIER LEAGUE – As the final Round of games before the international break approach this weekend, which five players are must-have for Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 8?
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After his debut season in East London was ruined through injury, the new campaign for West Ham United’s Andriy Yarmolenko has seen rather more fortune for the Ukrainian international winger, and as Crystal Palace visit the London Stadium this weekend, the Irons left-foot wizard could be in for more spoils.
Scoring in three of the last four league outings, Yarmolenko has picked up his left wing role with aplomb once more, and against the Eagles’ rather unpredictable defence, will fancy his chances of getting in behind the visiting back line on Saturday evening.
With Sebastien Haller slowly finding his way into life in the capital, the Frenchman has been a frequent target for Yarmolenko’s supply – when not scoring himself. Roy Hodgson’s men have conceded six goals on the road this season, and as West Ham seek to make their home more of a stronghold this term, the hosts will be looking to make a statement into the international hiatus.
After such an electric start for the Canaries’ live-wire Finnish striker this season, Teemu Pukki was always likely to have something of a fall-off in terms of goal-scoring. Having gone 180 minutes now without a Premier League goal however, fantasy league managers should be giving serious consideration to forward this weekend.
Netting six goals in five game to begin life in the top flight – including a sublime hat-trick in Gameweek 2 versus Newcastle United – Pukki’s side have suffered consecutive 2-0 defeats on the road to both Burnley and Crystal Palace.
However, as Norwich return to their Carrow Road birds nest, the Norfolk side will look to resume their goal-scoring proclivities on home turf, where Daniel Farke’s charges have allotted eight goals at home.
Pukki has not been bereft of chances in the past two Gameweeks and it would easy to blame Norwich for failing to create more for their potent talismanic striker, but in Gameweek 8 at least, the Finn may be back in the goals and with a vengeance.
It is slowly becoming somewhat a no-brainer to include the Gabonese striker in our fantasy squads, and though Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finds himself again in Britwatch Sports’ five for the weekend, the stats do not lie.
After the Arsenal striker’s crisp finish against Manchester United, the number 14 now has five goals in his last four games, in which he has scored in the last four league outings, but also in every one of the Gunners’ home games this term.
As the Cherries roll up to try their hand at the host’s frail back line – having kept just one Premier League clean sheet thus far – Arsenal may have a job in making that statistic tick over to two shut-outs, but at the other end of the field, Bournemouth have shipped 12 twelve top tier goals already.
Aubameyang has also scored in every game he has faced against Eddie Howe’s men, and given the fact the offensively buoyant Gunners thrashed their opponents 5-1 in the corresponding fixture last term, the Gabonese hit-man might be licking his lips once more.
Not having one of the Red’s front three in our fantasy Premier League squads in verging on naive, however picking the right one is becoming quite the dilemma for many a manager this season. However this weekend, Sadio Mane gets the nod for us.
With neither the Senegalese or Mohamed Salah scoring in the last two league games – but notching in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday against Salzburg – the visit of the top six-chasing Leicester City presents a different kind of test of their goal-scoring mettle.
The Foxes have began to build themselves as real contenders to challenge the elite this term, but still have their problems defensively, especially away from home. With reference to Mane, the number ten was presented with two clear opportunities against the Blades and will still be kicking himself for not making Liverpool’s Yorkshire venture more comfortable than it was.
As we have seen in the past two league games, Ricardo Pereira is becoming a menace to opposing defences with a goal in consecutive games, but given the Portuguese defender’s liking for an adventure into the opposition area, Mane might find himself with greater chances to steal in this time around. Whilst the game should be a spectacle in itself, it could be Mane as the stand-out man at Anfield.
Though he may be making a temporary return to the Chelsea XI this season, the Blues’ upturn in form with Emerson Palmieri’s absence at left back is perhaps no coincidence in the return to the fold of Marcos Alonso, and their roaming full-back makes his way into our picks for the weekend.
Since the Spaniard will re-installed, Frank Lampard’s side have lost just one game in all competitions to the league leaders and European champions Liverpool. Taking less than 90 minutes to get back on the assist rota against Wolves, Alonso then kept a clean sheet last week against Brighton, as well as leading the West Londoners to an impressive win in Lille in midweek.
As Chelsea make the trip to Southampton, the Saints’ wing-back system is likely to tick the boxes for the Blues’ attack. With Alonso in particular having lost none of his desire to get into the opponents area – and looking to regain set-piece duties from outside the box too – Alonso’s trip to the South coast on Sunday might be a fruitful one.
Fantasy Premier League Gameweek 8 begins on Saturday, as Brighton & Hove Albion host Tottenham Hotspur at the AMEX Stadium, kick-off 12:30pm UK time.
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