Poor Southampton! Just one week after being pummeled at home by Leicester City 9-0, equaling the biggest margin of victory in Premier League history, the Saints were tasked with playing at Manchester City -- not once, but twice! The first game, in the Carabao Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday, finished 3-1 in favor of the home side. However, it could have been far worse. Man City made nine changes from the starting XI they fielded last weekend against Aston Villa. Even so, they still maintained 76.2% possession and outshot Southampton 19-5.
Sergio Aguero scored two of Man City's three goals on Tuesday. He's been rested for their past two Premier League games, but I doubt he'll be benched for three league games in a row. Despite all that rest, Aguero is still tied for second in the league with eight goals, one behind Leicester City's Jamie Vardy -- despite Aguero having played 325 fewer minutes. Aguero will be my Tier 1 forward and captain this week. If for some reason Aguero doesn't start, I'll go with his likely replacement, Gabriel Jesus. As I mentioned earlier this week, Jesus is averaging 6.05 shots per 90 minutes (Aguero is averaging 4.70) and was unlucky not to score against Villa last week.
Moving on to Tier 1 midfielder, Raheem Sterling was rested on Tuesday, so I think he'll return to the starting lineup this weekend as well. Sterling did score one of Man City's three goals against Villa last week and got a hat trick in the Champions League against Atalanta four days prior. Sterling has seven goals in nine Premier League appearances, and is tied for second in the league in shots with 32 (one behind Liverpool's Mohamed Salah). Teammate and fellow Tier 1 midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is averaging slightly more fantasy points per game, due in large part to his league-leading nine assists. That said, De Bruyne has only scored two goals. Sterling has the higher upside due to his much bigger goal threat, so he'll be the one in my lineup this week.
Brighton sits only 14th in the table, but is coming off a 3-2 win over Everton. The team also beat Tottenham 3-0 earlier this month. Neal Maupay scored in both of those games and is quietly off to a very good start in his first season in the Premier League. After coming off the bench in the first two matches of the season, Maupay has started eight straight games. He's already scored four goals and is tied for seventh in the league in shots with 29. Plus, he took Brighton's one penalty kick so far this year.
Maupay finished third in the English Championship (second division) last season with 25 goals for Brentford, just one behind Tammy Abraham (who is now starring for Chelsea) and four behind Norwich City's Teemu Pukki.This week, Maupay will be at home against Norwich, who have conceded the second-most goals in the Premier League so far (24) and have the worst defensive record in the league in terms of xG (expected goals) conceded (according to TruMedia's model) at 23.57. Maupay will be my Tier 2 forward this week. Speaking of Pukki, he's still the top Tier 2 forward in terms of fantasy points per game, but he hasn't scored a goal in five straight games. That, combined with Norwich being away and Maupay's form, made me choose Maupay over Pukki this week.
Pascal Gross also scored for Brighton against Everton last week. It was his first goal of the season, but he had an assist the week before against Villa. He's also tied for fourth in the league in chances created with 25. With Brighton up against such a weak opponent defensively, Gross will be in my lineup this week as well, at Tier 3 midfielder.
Norwich's Todd Cantwell is the top Tier 3 midfielder in fantasy points per game, but he (like Pukki) has gone off the boil. Cantwell hasn't scored or assisted in the past five games either, and was hooked at halftime last week after a terrible 45 minutes -- including a failed clearance that led to Manchester United's first goal, and a hand ball which resulted in a penalty.
Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (Tier 2 midfielder): This is a relatively easy choice, given Pulisic is coming off a hat trick against Burnley last week. It was a good all-around performance from Pulisic, including a team-high five shots and three chances created. This week, Chelsea is up against last-place Watford.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool (Tier 1 defender): Alexander-Arnold had seven chances created in Liverpool's 2-1 win over Tottenham last week, and is now the league leader in that category with 37, one more than De Bruyne. Plus, this week Liverpool faces Aston Villa, who have the second-worst defensive record in the league in terms of xG conceded, at 20.79.
Çaglar Söyüncü, Leicester City (Tier 2 defender): Söyüncü is tied for sixth in the league in clearances with 51 and is sixth in passes completed, averaging 59.7 per game. Plus, Leicester is third in the league in possession at 58.0%. This week, they play Crystal Palace, who are fourth from the bottom with 42.7% possession. Söyüncü could post a huge passing total.
Ederson, Manchester City (Goalkeeper): Ederson is the league leader in clean sheets with five, after blanking Villa last week. That's two fewer clean sheets than he had at this point last season. Ederson has had to make nearly twice as many saves (27) compared to 14 at this stage just one year ago. That doesn't speak well of Man City's defensive performances this season, but it does make Ederson a better player fantasy-wise.