Fantasy football: Tips for picking your Premier League team

Raheem Sterling of Manchester City
Raheem Sterling is leading the way with six Premier League assists – the same number as Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser, who will be on the opposing side on Saturday

With December upon us, and Christmas around the corner, players, coaches and fantasy football managers alike are poised to enter a crucial period in the Premier League.

Games are about to come thick and fast and there are big points on the line as managers look to cement their place at the top of the table, or move away from the bottom of the league.

So what changes should you make this week? Here are five tips to help you get the balance right.

Sterling targets Premier League record

Manchester City stumbled to a 2-2 draw at Lyon in the Champions League in midweek, but the Premier League leaders are still swatting teams aside in the English top flight.

The defending champions cruised past West Ham last weekend – a result that maintained their two-point advantage at the top of the table.

Sterling, who scored one and made another two against the Hammers West Ham at London Stadium, is chasing records against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Should he find the back of the net, Sterling would become the first player in Premier League history to score in his first six appearances against an opponent, having netted in all five of his games against the Cherries so far.

Indeed, if you include a double against Bournemouth for Liverpool in the League Cup in 2014-15, he has scored nine goals in his past six games against Eddie Howe’s side.

We can’t guarantee anything, but leaving Sterling out this weekend might just be a mistake…

Most assists in the Premier League (2018-19)
Player Assists
Raheem Sterling 6
Ryan Fraser 6
Benjamin Mendy 5

Will Kane take centre stage again?

The latest instalment of the north London derby comes on Sunday as Tottenham travel to Emirates Stadium, and the stats suggest this one is in the balance.

Arsenal have won one of their past eight Premier League matches against Spurs, but the visitors have only claimed three points in one of their past 25 visits to their red and white neighbours.

One regular occurrence in this fixture is England captain Harry Kane finding the net – he has scored in six of his seven league appearances against Arsenal.

Kane failed to find the back of the net on Tottenham’s last trip across north London, but he couldn’t draw a blank for a second consecutive season, could he?

History favours the Reds

Liverpool appear to be the most serious challengers to defending champions Manchester City in the Premier League.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are just two points behind City after an unbeaten start to the season, and although they face the test of a Merseyside derby next, the form book favours the Reds.

Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in the derby at Anfield last season, before Wayne Rooney salvaged a point for the visitors

Everton are winless in 18 Premier League trips to Anfield, while Liverpool are unbeaten in their past 17 matches in all competitions against their rivals – their longest ever run without defeat in the fixture.

Talk about one-sided.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who will be fresh after missing the midweek defeat at Paris St-Germain, is part of a defence that has only conceded once at home in the league this season.

And the England right-back is also in good form at the other end, after scoring with a stunning free-kick against Watford last weekend.

Last season’s Golden Boot winner Mohamed Salah could be in line for his 50th top-flight appearance for Liverpool, and you wouldn’t bet against him adding to his 39 Premier League goals.

Could Vardy end his home drought?

Leicester City are four games unbeaten in the league and they entertain Watford this weekend.

Claude Puel’s men boast an impressive home record against the Hornets, winning all four of their meetings in the Premier League.

But Jamie Vardy has only scored one of his four goals at home this season and the former England striker is suffering his longest drought at the King Power Stadium since November 2016.

The 31-year-old will be eager to end his current barren spell of no goals in his last three home games.

However, if the Foxes’ lacklustre 0-0 draw with Southampton in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday has left doubt in your mind, Watford’s Jose Holebas could be a sensible choice as he has been directly involved in six Premier League goals this season, more than any other defender.

Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy scored in Leicester’s penalty shootout success against Southampton in the Carabao Cup

Benitez boasts unbeaten run against Hammers

By Newcastle great Alan Shearer’s estimation, the current Magpies squad are playing to avoid relegation this season.

But they have won their past three league games and manager Rafael Benitez is quietly going about his business in the north east, with the club in 13th place.

Newcastle welcome West Ham to St James’ Park this weekend and the stats favour the hosts.

Benitez has won six of his seven home Premier League matches against West Ham, with one draw, while the Hammers have won just one of their past 14 Premier League visits to St James’ Park.

Gameweek 14 might be your chance to stock up on Magpies, and Christian Atsu could be a contender, as the Ghanaian star was directly involved in three of Newcastle’s six Premier League goals against West Ham last season.

Matt Ritchie has more assists than any other Newcastle player, but after last week’s shocking miss at Burnley, he might not be your first choice.

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