Starting Eleven: Sunday EPL Breakdown
Starting Eleven: Sunday EPL Breakdown

This article is part of our Starting Eleven series.

MATCHES (EST)

7:00 a.m: Liverpool v. Fulham
9:15 a.m: Chelsea v. Everton
11:30 a.m: Manchester City v. Manchester United
11:30 a.m: Arsenal v. Wolverhampton

FORWARDS

Sunday's four-game slate is absolutely loaded with elite forwards, which isn't surprising since the four highest-scoring teams are not only playing, they're all playing at home, where they've scored a combined 62 goals while allowing just 16. The fireworks don't end there, as the four away teams have taken the third-most (Wolves), sixth-most (Everton), seventh-most (Manchester United) and ninth-most (Fulham) shots this season. And from a player perspective, it doesn't get any easier, as there are 17 who have scored at least five goals this season, and 12 are available on Sunday's slate, including 11 forwards: Sergio Aguero (seven goals), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (seven), Eden Hazard (seven), Sadio Mane (six), Raheem Sterling (six), Richarlison (six), Aleksandar Mitrovic (five), Mohamed Salah (five), Alexandre Lacazette (five), Alvaro Morata (five) and Anthony Martial (five). Phew.

Whatever you think about the differences between Manchester City and Manchester United, there's no doubt that Sunday's game will be tough for both sides. City are coming off a dominant 5-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday, while United grabbed a very surprising 2-1 win away to Juventus on the same night. The star of the City match was Gabriel Jesus, who bagged a hat trick on six shots (four on goal), but even that doesn't guarantee he'll get a start Sunday, especially since he hasn't had a Premier League start since Sept. 1. Instead, City are likely to have Sergio Aguero, who had a goal and two assists last weekend against Southampton, lead the line. If there are goals in that match, Aguero certainly has the best odds to score.

However, there's no denying that Liverpool's home match against Fulham is the most lopsided of Sunday's four fixtures. Liverpool come in as the third-highest scoring team in the league, while no teams has conceded as many as Fulham. Additionally, Fulham have allowed the third-most shot and second-most shots on goal, leading to the belief that this match could be a bloodbath. Needless to say, Mohamed Salah will likely be the most popular forward on Sunday's slate, and I couldn't fault anyone who pairs him with Sadio Mane, though two shots in his last two games is a tad concerning. Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic is always a volume shooter and can score against anyone, but I don't see how you prioritize him over the Liverpool guys, or the ones from Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Speaking of Chelsea, Eden Hazard looks likely to start after doing so and playing 62 against against BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday. Hazard has been arguably the best player in the Premier League this season, making the scoresheet in eight of 10 appearances, and his 3.64 fouls drawn per 90 minutes leads the league among those who have played at least 180 minutes. And while Richarlison constantly gets looks because of his shots and duels won, Hazard is averaging more shots and only 0.46 fewer duels won per 90 minutes and Chelsea have had the second-fewest duels won against them this season. You could also pile on Everton with Alvaro Morata, who has four goals on 14 shots, including nine on target, in his last three appearances (three starts), though if I'm stacking a forward line it's likely Liverpool instead of Chelsea.

Arsenal are the odd men out despite a decent home match against Wolverhampton. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged five goals in his last four games, while Alexandre Lacazette found the back of the net against Liverpool last weekend. Both would be strong options on a normal slate, but with the firepower in Liverpool v. Fulham, Chelsea v. Everton and a Manchester derby, how do you justify fitting them in?

MIDFIELDERS

The midfield is where we can find our consistent fantasy scorers, because as much as we want the plethora of goals that could come from players like Salah, Aguero and Hazard, it's certainly possible that their teams cruise to victories and they don't play a major part (crazy, I know!). That doesn't mean we should be shying away from those teams, so we'll start with Chelsea's Jorginho, who is averaging a ridiculous 96.42 passes completed per 90 minutes this season, trailing only Man City defender Nicolas Otamendi, who has played just 270 minutes this season (versus Jorginho's 968) and is not expected to start against Manchester United anyway. While he isn't much of a goal scorer, Jorginho's average passes completed per game equate to almost the same fantasy value as a goal (eight points for the goal, two points for the shot on target), and there is full expectation that Chelsea will dominate possession Sunday, possibly allowing him to eclipse the 100-pass mark for the fourth time in 11 starts. If you want upside from the Chelsea midfield, Ross Barkley has been really good of late, with three goals and three assists in his last four Premier League appearances while averaging over 70 completed passes and 2.50 shots per 90 minutes this season. With Chelsea a heavy favorite over Everton, it's tough to make a viable case for Gylfi Sigurdsson or Idrissa Gueye despite the former's attacking upside and the latter's floor from tackles and duels won.

David Silva is often an overlooked member of the Manchester City attack, especially with options like Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne (when he's fit), but he's been excellent this season, and especially of late, scoring three goals on 12 shots, including five on goal, and creating 11 chances in his last four games in all competitions, completing at least 50 passes thrice in that span. It's not always easy to find a differential in a dominant team, but Silva may provide that.

The Liverpool midfield is actually the weakest part of their team, at least from a fantasy perspective, and if you don't want to go all-in with Chelsea and Manchester City, Arsenal seem like the better way to go, especially with Granit Xhaka averaging 70.25 passes, 5.94 duels won and 1.17 shots per 90 minutes this season, while Lucas Torreria is averaging 61.62 passes, 6.90 duels and 1.28 tackles. Both players should be very busy against a solid Wolverhampton side, but it's still a situation Arsenal should be in control of throughout. Mesut Ozil is always a possibility for getting on the scoresheet, but he doesn't contribute enough in other categories to take the risk on a slate like this.

In terms of the underdog teams, Wolverhampton don't offer much in terms of safe options, even if Adama Traore is averaging a ridiculous 14.06 duels won per 90 minutes this season, and while Andre Schurrle is taking a healthy 3.62 shots, including 1.24 on goal, per 90 minutes, how many opportunities is he really going to get against Chelsea? If you think the Manchester derby is going to be close, you can almost never go wrong with Paul Pogba, who may still be running up for his penalty attempt against Everton on Oct. 28.

DEFENDERS AND GOALKEEPERS

With Liverpool such overwhelming favorites against Fulham, who have been shut out in back-to-back matches, there are likely to be plenty of Liverpool defensive stacks, highlighted by team passing leader Virgil van Dijk, who is averaging 65.21 passes and 5.37 duels won per 90 this season. Van Dijk is sixth in the Premier League in completed passes, and with Liverpool likely to have the ball for a majority of the match, there is not a safer Liverpool defender. And while Andrew Robertson continues to play very well, the same can't be said for Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was pulled at halftime of Tuesday's Champions League match against FK Crvena Zvezda and may not start Sunday, giving more possibility that Joseph Gomez could be back in the lineup. Both are strong plays, but just be sure to check lineups when they're announced an hour before kickoff.

Chelsea's passing numbers continue to be ridiculous this season, and while Jorginho leads the league in completed passes, Antonio Rudiger is third, David Luiz is fourth, Cesar Azpilicueta is seventh and Marcos Alonso is ninth, a pretty staggering statistic ahead of a match they should control comfortably. Unsurprisingly, they should be very popular, especially given Arsenal's occasional defensive troubles (and tougher matchup against Wolverhampton), while anything can happen in a Manchester derby, making a clean sheet a tough bet.

With Liverpool and Chelsea strongly favored at home, it's expected that Alisson and Kepa Arrizabalaga will be the most popular choices in goal, with the former having a better opportunity for a clean sheet while the latter is likely to be forced to make more saves. I don't think you can go wrong with either.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Andrew M. Laird plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: kingmorland, DraftKings: andrewmlaird, Yahoo: Lairdinho.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew M. Laird
Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 and 2018 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Head of DFS Content and Senior Soccer Editor. He is a seven-time FSWA award finalist, including twice for the Football Writer of the Year Award.
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