Fantasy EPL: Burnley's Barnes burning bright

Burnley's Ashley Barnes has scored in three of four EPL games this season. EPA

We're only four weeks into the Premier League season, but Liverpool and Manchester City have already separated from the rest of the pack. Liverpool has won all four of its games, while Man City has three wins and a draw. Everyone else is at least two points behind. Thus, it comes as no surprise that these tow sides are, by far, the biggest favorites this coming weekend. Liverpool will host Newcastle in the early game on Saturday, while Man City will travel to Norwich City for the late game. My fantasy Tier 1 forward and Tier 1 midfielder will come from these teams -- one from each club.

Sergio Aguero is now leading the race for the Golden Boot, with six goals already this season. Aguero has scored in each of Manchester City's first four games -- including a brace in both of the last two games. Norwich City has already conceded 10 goals, the most of any team in the league. Aguero is a no-brainer at Tier 1 forward, and he'll be my captain as well.

You could certainly go with another Manchester City player at Tier 1 midfielder. After all, Raheem Sterling has scored five goals, just one fewer than Aguero. There's also Kevin De Bruyne, who leads the league in both assists (5) and chances created (16). However, Sterling still has days where he is practically invisible, such as in Man City's 4-0 win over Brighton prior to the international break. Sterling didn't take a single shot in that contest, despite playing the full 90 minutes. De Bruyne has looked great, but he's only scored one goal -- and he's never scored more than eight goals in any season in England.

Mohamed Salah, on the other hand, has already scored three goals this season. He also has two assists and nine chances created, so he's not far behind Sterling and De Bruyne in terms of fantasy production. Even more important is Salah's track record -- more specifically, sharing the Golden Boot with 22 goals last season and setting a new Premier League record with 32 goals the season before. Salah is my choice at Tier 1 midfielder this week.

While we're on the subject of Liverpool, I'm also going with Virgil van Dijk as my Tier 1 defender. Teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold is tempting, since he already has two assists and is tied for second in the league in chances created with 14. But Liverpool will be up against a Newcastle team that has the lowest possession percentage in the league (36.3%), meaning van Dijk is likely to rack up lots of points via passes completed. In Liverpool's 3-0 victory at Burnley prior to the international break, van Dijk had a team-high 73 passes completed, while Alexander-Arnold had only 33.

Goals, goals, goals!

Speaking of Burnley, they have a relatively even-looking matchup on Saturday, playing at Brighton. Both of these teams have collected four points from their first four games. Ashley Barnes did not score in Burnley's loss to Liverpool, but that was the first game in which he hadn't scored this season. Barnes got a brace in Burnley's Matchweek 1 win over Southampton and followed that up with a goal at both Arsenal and Wolves. He also took four-plus shots in each of those first three games. Barnes is coming off a breakout season in which he scored 12 goals -- including eight in his final 15 games. He'll be my Tier 2 forward this week.

My Tier 2 midfielder will be Richarlison. He picked up his first two goals of the season in Everton's 3-2 win over Wolves prior to the international break. Richarlison scored 13 goals last season, while taking 83 shots, a total which saw him tied for 13th in the league. This week, Everton is favored despite playing at Bournemouth, who have conceded eight goals in four games. Only two teams have conceded more (Norwich City and Chelsea).

Fellow Tier 2 midfielder David Silva was tempting, given he's picked up two assists in both of Manchester City's last two games. Unfortunately, Silva had only five chances created in those two games -- combined -- meaning four of those five chances were converted into goals. That's an extremely fortunate rate. Besides, Silva has yet to score a goal this season, and has taken only four shots. Richarlison has bigger upside.

Other picks

  • Youri Tielemans, Leicester City (Tier 3 midfielder): Tielemans got a goal and an assist in Leicester City's 3-1 win over Bournemouth prior to the international break. Those were his first points of the season, but Tielemans also has a relatively high floor. He has 11 shots and seven chances created in four games, while averaging 44.5 passes completed-per-game. Leicester City plays at Manchester United on Saturday, which isn't easy. Still, Leicester is the only team (besides Liverpool and Manchester City) that remains unbeaten -- with two wins and two draws.

  • Tyrone Mings, Aston Villa (Tier 2 defender): Mings continues to lead the league in clearances -- currently with 39, 12 more than any other player. He's had six-plus clearances in all four games this season, and is also averaging 35.3 passes completed-per-game. Aston Villa will host West Ham on Monday, the final game of the round.

  • Hugo Lloris, Tottenham (Goalkeeper): Lloris has yet to record a clean sheet, but he leads the league in saves with 19. I think he has a great chance of picking up his first clean sheet at home against a Crystal Palace side that has scored just three goals in four games. Only winless Watford (2) has scored fewer goals.