Liverpool will go for its ninth win in a row to start the season when the team plays Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. Although this fixture ended in a scoreless draw last year, it's still expected to be the highlight of Matchweek 9 in the Premier League. Before that, though, there will be eight games on Saturday -- including second-place Manchester City versus Crystal Palace.
Man City is the biggest favorite of the week according to the bookmakers, despite being away from home. Sergio Aguero is tied for the league-lead in goals with eight, and is the sole league-leader in shots with 30. He hasn't scored in his past two starts, but still took seven shots in those two games combined. He'll be my Tier 1 forward and captain this week, as long as he starts. Teammate Raheem Sterling will be my Tier 1 midfielder. Sterling is tied for fourth in the league with six goals. He's also tied for fourth in shots with 25 and ranks second in the league in xG (expected goals) according to TruMedia's model at 4.98, behind only Aguero (6.82).
No, Manchester City is not off to a great start, as they're already eight points behind Liverpool. However, offensively they've been as good as ever -- if not better. Man City has scored 27 goals, seven more than any other team in the league. They've also taken 35 more shots than any other team. When it comes to building a Premier League fantasy lineup each week, they're the first team you should visit.
Callum Wilson's scoring streak was snapped in Bournemouth's 1-0 loss at Arsenal just prior to the international break. Before that, though, he had picked up a goal in each of his previous four games. He has five total goals on the season. That said, Wilson's shot total is troubling. He's only taken 14 so far this season, and only once in eight games has he taken more than two. Wilson is still ninth in the league in xG at 4.03, so his shots have been relatively high-quality ones. More importantly, perhaps, Bournemouth is at home this week against Norwich City, who have conceded a league-worst 21 goals. That total includes five to Aston Villa at home in their last contest. As such, Wilson will be my Tier 2 forward this week.
Speaking of Aston Villa, John McGinn will be my Tier 2 midfielder. He didn't score against Norwich, but he had scored in both of his previous two games. McGinn has three goals and an assist on the season, and is tied for sixth in the league with 24 shots. Plus, he got a hat trick on international duty with Scotland last weekend, albeit against San Marino. Aston Villa is at home this week against Brighton.
A pair of Foxes
Leicester City went into the international break in fourth place, despite their 2-1 loss at Liverpool. They've conceded just seven goals in eight games. Only Liverpool (6) have conceded fewer on the season. Part of the reason for that is possession. Leicester sits sixth in the league in that category, at 55.6%. This week, they're at home against Burnley, who are second-to-last in possession, at 39.0%. In other words, Leicester should have a lot of the ball on Saturday.
Leicester's two starting center backs, Çaglar Söyüncü and Jonny Evans, have virtually identical stats so far this season. They check in at 13th and 16th in the league in passes completed, respectively. They're also both in the top 10 in terms of clearances. Söyüncü's numbers are slightly better, so he gets the nod as my Tier 2 defender this week.
Teammate Kasper Schmeichel will be my goalkeeper. He only has two clean sheets in eight games, but has conceded more than one goal only once, against Liverpool. Schmeichel looked to be in great form during the international break, making some excellent saves in Denmark's 1-0 win over Switzerland. Plus, Burnley is fifth-worst in the league in xG, at 10.20.
Jorginho, Chelsea (Tier 3 midfielder): Jorginho is ninth in the league in passes completed, averaging 57.4 per game. Chelsea is at home against Newcastle, who has by far the lowest possession percentage in the league, at 32.8%. Jorginho has only taken six shots in eight games, but he is on penalties for Chelsea. So he's got a high floor, with some upside, too.
Nicolas Otamendi, Manchester City (Tier 1 defender): Otamendi was exposed defensively in Manchester City's 2-0 loss to Wolves prior to the break, but he's still among the best options in this tier. That's because he's fifth in the league in passes completed, averaging 70.3 per game. Man City leads the league in possession percentage at 63.9%, and Crystal Palace are 15th at 44.5%. Man City had 78.3% and 72.4% possession rates in the two matchups last season between these sides.