Don’t get caught out by a Friday night deadline as fantasy football returns this week – but who should you be bringing in? And did anyone catch your eye during the FA Cup break?
Runaway leaders Liverpool have a tricky away game at Tottenham to negotiate, while Chelsea, Everton, Leicester and Wolves are among those playing at home.
We’re here to help you make some tough calls.
Kane out as champions elect hit the road
It seems only a matter of time before Liverpool end their long wait for a Premier League title – and even though they head to Tottenham Hotspur this weekend the stats suggest you’d do well to keep faith with the men in red.
Obviously, Jurgen Klopp’s side have only dropped two points all season for starters.
But Spurs have won just one of their past 14 Premier League meetings with Liverpool – 4-1 win at Wembley in October 2017 when Reds defender Dejan Lovren had a tricky afternoon – and have lost nine of the other 13.
There should be goals – only bottom of the table Norwich have kept as few Premier League clean sheets this season as Tottenham (two), while Liverpool have scored in 29 consecutive matches.
The last team to have a longer scoring run in the Premier League was Manchester United in November 2008 (36). Sadio Mane (11) and Mohamed Salah (10) remain the men most likely to score for the Reds, while only Kevin de Bruyne has more assists than Trent Alexander-Arnold (eight).
Spurs have problems though. Their boss Jose Mourinho has won just two of his 10 games against Klopp in his managerial career – among the 114 managers he’s faced more than twice, only against Ronald Koeman does he have a worse win ratio (17%, one in six).
More pressing is the injury to Harry Kane. The England captain has scored 11 times in the league this season but is now out with a torn hamstring.
If you need to replace him in your side, the strikers with more goals this season are Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham of Chelsea (both 12), Southampton’s Danny Ings and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (both 13) and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy (17).
Rashford’s United host Norwich this weekend, Abraham’s Chelsea take on Burnley at Stamford Bridge, Aubameyang’s Arsenal travel to Palace, and Ings and Southampton are at Vardy’s Leicester.
The Moyes bounce to continue?
So far, so good for David Moyes, who has won two out of two without conceding a goal since returning to manage West Ham United.
If you’re tempted to make changes with the Friday night game in mind, you may be keen to hear that captain Mark Noble’s two goals against Bournemouth took him to 45 Premier League goals, just two behind Paolo di Canio, who is the Hammers’ record scorer in the competition.
Fancy him to score at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United?
Having said that, Moyes hasn’t won any of his past 24 away Premier League games against teams starting the day in the top eight of the league (eight draws, 16 defeats), with this run spanning four different teams (Everton, Manchester United, Sunderland and West Ham).
The Blades, on the other hand, have only lost three consecutive league games under Chris Wilder once before and know that a win could take them back up to fifth.
It could be time to load up on Sheffield United defenders – only Leicester (eight) can beat their record of seven clean sheets this season, while wing-backs Enda Stevens and George Baldock have five assists and three goals between them.
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It was the most remarkable scoreline of the season so far – Leicester City went to Southampton on 25 October and whacked them 9-0.
If you’re a horses-for-courses kind of person you may well consider bringing in Ayoze Perez for this weekend. Perez scored a hat-trick in that win, and got one against the Saints for Newcastle back in April as well.
No player has ever scored three or more goals in three consecutive games against an opponent, with Luis Suarez against Norwich the only player to score three hat-tricks against a side in the competition.
However, if you’re feeling brave and want to try and make up some ground on the rest of the teams in your league, perhaps you could chuck in a Saints defender or two.
Why? Since that 9-0 defeat Southampton have conceded just 13 Premier League goals in 11 matches – in this time, only Liverpool (seven) and Leicester (11) have conceded fewer.
Who else to consider…
- Since Carlo Ancelotti’s first Premier League match in charge on 26 December, Everton have had more shots than any other team (50).
- Joao Moutinho has 14 Premier League assists for Wolves, the most of any player for the club. Since the start of November, only Alexander-Arnold (six) has more Premier League assists than Moutinho (five).
- Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in eight of their past 10 Premier League meetings with Aston Villa, including the past three – and have won their past two by an aggregate score of 7-0.
- Aston Villa have won only three of their 49 Premier League matches against the reigning champions, and have lost their past 11.
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