Back to the Future - GW3

Welcome all!

I hope you all managed to take advantage of the mental weekend we just had with plenty of opportunities to win in tournaments on Footstock! Looking ahead to this weekend’s fixtures I’ve identified some players that have played well against their current opponents that you may want to target this weekend:

Liverpool v Arsenal

Mohammed Salah

Played: 7

Goals: 6

Assists: 4

Whilst Arsenal have undoubtedly improved under Mikel Arteta, nobody will relish a trip to Anfield this season and this game will not be any different.

Mohammed Salah’s home record speaks for itself with 15 of his 19 goals last season coming at Anfield. He looks well on his way to improving on that record this season already with a hat trick against Leeds United on the opening game of the season. When you focus on Arsenal specifically, his record looks even more appealing with six goals and four assists in seven games.

Combining his home form with his form against Arsenal already looks impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you compare Mohammed Salah in his three fixtures against Arsenal at Anfield:

2017/18 – Mohammed Salah scored two goals in a 4-0 victory at Anfield.

2018/19 – Mohammed Salah scored in a 5-1 victory at Anfield.

2019/20 – Mohammed Salah scored two goals in a 3-1 victory at Anfield.

All the signs are pointing towards some form of return for Mohammed Salah in a Liverpool side that have conceded the least biggest chances in the league over the course of the first two games this season.

Roberto Firmino

Played: 10

Goals: 8

Assists: 3

There is also another Liverpool player worthy of consideration based on previous form against The Gunners.

He may not have scored against Arsenal last season, but it is worth considering that Roberto Firmino has scored more goals against Arsenal than he has against any other team in the Premier League. This includes a spell of six goals in five games between March 2017 and December 2018. His most enjoyable spell came when he scored a hat trick in the impressive 5-1 victory on December 29th 2018.

Whilst his abilities in Liverpool’s current system often benefits the returns of those around him, Roberto Firmino does seem to act as a confidence player when it comes to his own returns. For example, eight of his nine goals came in away matches last season. With his previous form against Arsenal, Roberto Firmino will no doubt go in to this match with some form of confidence that could end in rewarding those that are brave enough to go with him.

Leicester City v Manchester City

Jamie Vardy

Played: 12

Goals: 5

Assists: 1

A lot of people will be aiming to target Manchester City players this weekend and they would be absolutely right too based on the way they played against Wolves on Monday. Kevin De Bruyne was a nutmeg away from a 10/10 performance in a more advanced role, Raheem Sterling looked lively, Phil Foden looked clinical and Gabriel Jesus got a goal return.

Leicester City themselves have an injury crisis in defence and looked very leaky against a Burnley side who aren’t traditionally known for scoring many goals. Everything is pointing towards a Manchester City victory this weekend, regardless of the fact Leicester City have two victories in two games this season.

That said, every game Leicester City have an anomaly that makes a mockery of Xg data and only needs a fraction of a chance to score.

Whilst the thought of playing Manchester City with several first team players injured will make most people want to vomit, it’s a game that could very much suit Jamie Vardy. He loves playing on the counter attack and breaking quickly against a high line which has traditionally worked against Manchester City. The Golden boot winner boasts a record of five goals and one assist in twelve games against Manchester City. In fact he’s scored over 50% of Leicester City’s goals against Manchester City in the last four seasons.

To put it simply, he is one of the very few striker’s in the league that Pep Guardiola will hate his team playing against. Whilst nobody is expecting Leicester City to perform a miracle this weekend, Jamie Vardy could be a very interesting differential if you are looking for an unexpected pick with a possible goal return.

Sheffield United v Leeds United

Billy Sharp

Played: 10

Goals: 7

Assists 2

David McGoldrick

Played: 13

Goals: 6

Assists: 0

If people are struggling for an additional player in their line up, and they want somebody in their team purely in the hope for potential goal points, then you could do a lot worse than two Sheffield United forwards.

A note of caution before reading on, both of these players remain a risk because it’s unknown how Chris Wilder will choose to utilise his front players as he looks to gain his first victory of the new season. He’s already started with three different strikers along with Oliver Burke up top over the last two fixtures. In addition, these returns are based purely on previous fixtures in The Championship and opposed to the Premier League.

Whilst Sheffield United have lost their first two games, they entertain a Leeds United side this weekend that have let in six goals in the last two games. Leeds United can be forgiven for letting in three goals against the Premier League Champions, however letting in three goals against a newly promoted Fulham does suggest that this is a defence that Chris Wilder’s team can exploit as they look for their first win this season. The Blades Manager will be boosted by the knowledge that two of his striker’s to tend to enjoy this fixture based on previous data.

Needless to say David McGoldrick is not exactly known for being prolific in The Premier League. He had an Xg of 8.51 last season but only registered two goals himself (courtesy of Kepa Arrizabalaga!). However, there is something about this fixture that David McGoldrick has traditionally enjoyed in The Championship. David McGoldrick, who was linked with a move to Leeds United back in January 2020, boasts a record of six goals in twelve games against The Whites throughout his career.

The more impressive of the Sheffield United striker’s however remains their Captain.

Before rejoining his boyhood club, Billy Sharp played for Leeds United in what was a rather traumatic time in their recent under Massimo Celino’s leadership where he played for four managers in a very short time period. Quite recently, Billy Sharp was asked about his time at Leeds United and he went on to describe former manager Darko Milanic as useless! To my knowledge, Leeds United fans do not hold his spell at the club against him. However, that doesn’t mean they look forward to seeing him play against them.

Since leaving Leeds United, Billy Sharp has been nothing but a thorn in their backside whenever he has played them. In the 2017/18 season he scored three of the four goals in both 2-1 victories and he ended up getting the winning goal the last time these two teams met in the 2018/19 season. In total, Billy Sharp has seven goals and two assists in ten games against Leeds United. The EFL veteran will be aiming to improve on that if he’s given the go ahead to start under Chris Wilder this season.

If you want to get an edge on your Footstock contests then check out Fantasy Football Hub.

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