Fantasy football: Tips for picking your Premier League team

Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba has been directly involved in four goals in his last two Premier League games

We’ve reached the halfway point of the Premier League season and fixtures are coming thick and fast over the festive period.

League leaders Liverpool are six points ahead of second-placed Tottenham, while Huddersfield’s defeat at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United saw the Terriers sink to the bottom of the table.

So who impressed in gameweek 19? And who appears to be struggling after Christmas?

It is the one of the most testing points of the season for fantasy football managers and we haven’t got all of the answers, but we have got five tips that might help you solve a few dilemmas.

Brighton beware – in-form Sigurdsson targets Icelandic record

Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson has been in impressive form lately, scoring in his past two league games.

A third consecutive goal in Saturday’s trip to Brighton will see the 29-year-old move level with Eidur Gudjohnsen (55) as the highest-scoring Icelandic player in Premier League history.

Everton hit struggling Burnley for five on Wednesday and Sigurdsson was influential as Marco Silva’s men got back to winning ways after their 6-2 mauling by Tottenham.

And Saturday’s opponents do not boast the strongest record against the Toffees.

Brighton have won only one of their past 11 league matches against Everton (D4 L6), their last victory, 3-1, coming in February 1982.

Kane and Son central to Spurs’ title bid

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min celebrate after Kane scores against Bournemouth at Wembley

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino continues to play down his side’s title chances, but they are currently Liverpool’s closest challengers.

Spurs are second in the table – six points behind the leaders and a point ahead of defending champions Manchester City.

The Londoners have scored at least five goals in their past two outings and Son Heung-min has got two goals in both matches.

The South Korea international could become the first Spurs player since Dele Alli in January 2017 to score three consecutive doubles when Pochettino’s men face Wolves at Wembley on Saturday.

And even if the visitors manage to contain Son, they will also have an in-form Harry Kane to contend with.

The England striker has been directly involved in 11 goals in his past 11 Premier League appearances against newly promoted teams (10 goals, one assist).

Either way, this might be one week to leave any Wolves defenders on the bench.

Palace trip could be a Hazard for Chelsea

Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea recovered from their defeat by Leicester to beat Watford 2-1 on Wednesday.

And the Belgium international – who is reportedly of interest to Real Madrid – has been involved in more goals than any other player in the Premier League this season (19 – 10 goals, nine assists).

He is among the first candidates to be in any fantasy team, but history suggests this could be a tricky weekend for Hazard and his team-mates.

Palace have become a bit of a bogey team for Chelsea, winning two of their past four league encounters with the Blues, including a 2-1 victory in the corresponding fixture last season.

And Palace are of course buoyed by their stunning 3-2 win at Manchester City last weekend, a result they followed up with a dominant – if ultimately frustrating – goalless draw against Cardiff on Wednesday.

Hazard was selected as a striker in his side’s 2-1 win at Vicarage Road but he may have his work cut out if he is to end his side’s run of five away London derbies without victory.

Is the tide turning at Old Trafford?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won both matches in charge of Manchester United since taking over from Jose Mourinho on 19 December.

The Red Devils have beaten Solskjaer’s former club Cardiff, and Huddersfield, scoring eight goals in the process.

The Norwegian will face tougher tests, but history favours United in their next match against 12th-placed Bournemouth on Sunday.

United are unbeaten in their past six Premier League games against Eddie Howe’s men, and the Cherries have never won at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer says World-Cup winning midfielder Paul Pogba is “happy now”, and it might just be a good time to stock up on United players.

Pogba has been directly involved in four goals in his past two Premier League games (two goals, two assists), as many as in his previous 12 combined.

Defensive points on offer at Leicester v Cardiff

Harry Maguire
Harry Maguire tackles Bernado Silva during Leicester’s 2-1 victory over Manchester City

Leicester are enjoying a remarkable run of results, having beaten Chelsea (away) and Manchester City (home) in consecutive matches.

But Saturday’s meeting with Cardiff could be an altogether less dramatic affair, with goals likely to be in short supply.

The Foxes narrowly beat the Bluebirds 1-0 in the Welsh capital in November – the club’s first game following the death of their owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash.

No side has scored fewer goals in the opening 15 minutes of Premier League games this season than these two clubs.

And Leicester talisman Jamie Vardy has failed to score in each of his three games against Cardiff – he’s only faced Blackpool and Hull (four each) more often without getting on the scoresheet.

Cardiff are winless in 11 Premier League away games (drawn two, lost nine), with the Bluebirds failing to score on seven occasions in that run.

It will probably end 5-5 now we’ve said that!

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