Premier League football returns after an exhausting international break, and with several first-team players set to be on the nursing table for Gameweek 9, it is high time we look at who we need to draft in our fantasy teams. Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah has been ruled out after contracting the virus while injuries to Joe Gomez has further put a dent to their defending campaign.

Further absentees include the likes of West Ham’s Michael Antonio, Southampton’s Danny Ings, Leicester City’s Caglar Soyuncu, Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny and Manchester United’s Luke Shaw. So with that being said, we look at five players who are tipped to shine in the upcoming matchweek of the Premier League.

Player: Ollie Watkins

Team: Aston Villa

Match: Aston Villa vs Brighton

Ollie Watkins has been a revelation for Aston Villa, to say the least. Thriving alongside captain Jack Grealish and new signing Ross Barkley, the 24-year-old former Brentford frontman has already chipped in eight goals in 10 appearances across all competitions. After scoring a hat-trick during his side’s 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool, Watkins has scored three goals in his last two outings, meaning he would be a total menace for Brighton, who have conceded 14 goals this season. With Villa enjoying a fine run of form, expect Watkins to be amongst goals against Brighton on Saturday.

Player: Kevin de Bruyne

Team: Manchester City

Match: Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City

In what has been a rather dull start for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, a certain Kevin de Bruyne has been their light this season. With three assists and a goal already to his name in six Premier League outings, the Belgian will be the key for City when they face Tottenham Hotspur away from home on Saturday. With Sergio Aguero absent and Gabriel Jesus expected to lead the attack, the onus will be on de Bruyne to deliver from the deep.

Player: Richarlison

Team: Everton

Match: Fulham vs Everton

Quick stat: Everton won four of their opening five games with Richarlison in the team and then went on to lose three back-to-back games when Richarlison was suspended. 

The Brazilian might have scored one and assisted two in five Premier League outings thus far, but his importance in Carlo Ancelotti’s setup is way beyond that. Everton face Fulham next, a team that has shipped in 15 goals already this season, and Richarlison will want to make his comeback a grand one. One can expect him to play a big role in Everton’s outing on Sunday.

Player: Sadio Mane

Team: Liverpool

Match: Liverpool vs Leicester City

Liverpool have suffered several injury setbacks this season, with as many as eight first-team players currently nursing their respective injuries. So as they face Leicester City next, a certain Sadio Mane will be expected to spearhead the attack which will be without Mohamed Salah. The former Southampton forward has either assisted or have scored a goal in all of his previous five outings against the Foxes, and we can duly expect more of the same from the Senegalese.

Player: Wilfried Zaha

Team: Crystal Palace

Match: Burnley vs Crystal Palace

Five goals and two assists in eight games this season means Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha is a must-have player in your fantasy team. Palace face Burnley away from home at Turf Moore, a venue where the Ivory Coast international has an impeccable record. He has scored two goals in his last two visits at the venue, and with Burnley’s form also down the wire (one of the three teams to have yet to register a win this season), Zaha remains one of the safest options in the fantasy team, to say the least.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Michael Regan