Fantasy football: Tips for picking your Premier League team

Burnley manager Sean Dyche
The international break is over and the Premier League returns this weekend

The first international break of the season has given fantasy football players a welcome 13 days of Premier League-free football in which to take stock.

Was it a wise choice to go with a Manchester United-heavy defence? Have I already missed Watford's purple patch? Where is Leroy Sane? And why oh why didn't I go with my gut instinct on Lucas Moura?

These are just some of the questions that may be flying around inside your head as we all prepare to go again.

We may not be able to give solutions to all your team issues, but after looking at the stats for this weekend we may be able to point you in the right direction on which teams - and players - might be worth investing in.

Goals galore at Wembley?

Premier League top goalscorers 2018-19
4Mane (Liverpool), Mitrovic (Fulham)
3Aguero (Man City), Lukaku (Man Utd), Moura (Tottenham), Murray (Brighton), Pedro (Chelsea), Pereyra (Watford), Richarlison (Everton)

Liverpool's trip to Tottenham on Saturday gives fantasy football players the chance to get some early points on the board. The lunchtime kick-off is an intriguing one as well, not least because the 149 goals scored in meetings between the two is second only to Arsenal v Everton for Premier League goals scored.

The Reds, in particular, have a healthy recent record in the fixture. They've only failed to score in one of their past 12 meetings with the men from north London - a 0-0 draw in Jurgen Klopp's first game in charge in October 2015.

But which of Klopp's men should you look to for a goal? Well, Mohamed Salah scored all three of his side's goals against Tottenham last season.

If you want a slightly more left-field suggestion, how about penalty-taker James Milner? There have been more spot-kicks awarded in Premier League matches between these two (22) than there have in any other fixture in the competition's history.

That also brings Harry Kane into focus. He has been directly involved in seven goals in seven Premier League appearances against Liverpool (five goals, two assists), including four in the past two.

Who can keep it clean?

Leicester and Bournemouth players compete in the Premier League
Games between Bournemouth and Leicester are historically short on goals

What about the other end of the pitch? Where are the clean sheets coming from this weekend?

Bournemouth v Leicester is a good place to start. There have been just seven goals scored in the six Premier League meetings between the two, with neither side managing to score more than once in a single match.

Time to give Ben Chilwell, big Harry Maguire or Nathan Ake a whirl?

Crystal Palace are another good option for a clean sheet. They have won all three of their top-flight away matches against Huddersfield, keeping a clean sheet on each trip.

Finally, Chelsea host Cardiff, who have scored just three goals in their past seven away league games against the Blues.

And if you have to pin us down to just one Blues man, it'd have to be Marcos Alonso, who has been directly involved in more league goals than any other defender in Europe's big five leagues (14 goals, 7 assists) since the start of the 2016-17 season.

Defenders involved in most goals in 2018-19
PlayerGoalsAssists
James Tarkowski (Burnley)20
Jose Holebas (Watford)14
Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)12
Michael Keane (Everton)11
DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)11
Steve Cook (Bournemouth)11
Kieran Trippier (Tottenham)11

Time to bail out on the Hornets?

Watford have been the surprise package of the Premier League season so far, winning all four of their fixtures to earn boss Javi Gracia manager of the month.

However, it might be time to cash in on the Hornets, who this weekend face Manchester United, against whom they have lost 12 of their past 13 matches in league competition.

Of teams they've faced 10 or more times, only against Wigan (94%) have United recorded a higher win rate in the Premier League than against Watford (90%).

Vicarage Road has proved a particularly happy hunting ground for Alexis Sanchez, who has scored in both of his games at the ground. He's had a hand in six goals in five appearances (three goals, three assists) against Watford.

Toffee Hammers

Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Calvert-Lewin made the most of Richarlison's suspension as he started and scored against Huddersfield two weeks ago

In total contrast to Watford, West Ham are yet to earn a point from four Premier League fixtures this season.

And history suggests they are unlikely to improve that run against Everton at Goodison Park, where they have won on just one of their past 11 Premier League visits.

Which Toffees players are most likely to do some damage? Well, since the start of last season, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been directly involved in more goals for Everton in all competitions than any other player (11 goals, 6 assists). He scored against Huddersfield in his side's last fixture before the international break.

On the other hand, Theo Walcott has scored more Premier League goals against West Ham (six) than he has against any other team. If he is fit - and there are major doubts about his availability because of a rib injury - he could be a sound investment.

Buy Man City players? Why didn't I think of that?!

If you have still to cotton on to the fact that Manchester City players are worth owning, it might be time to seek out an alternative hobby.

Granted, it is not always easy to second guess which of his many superstars Pep Guardiola will start, and they won't be cheap whichever ones you plump for, but once again they offer the prospect of big points.

City are unbeaten in their past 10 Premier League encounters with Fulham, winning the past five in a row.

Most minutes played by Man City players 2018-19
PlayerMinutes
Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte, Ederson, Fernandinho360
Sergio Aguero335
Bernardo Silva274
John Stones, Kyle Walker270
Ilkay Gundogan263

Forward Sergio Aguero, who has netted three times already this season, has scored 27 goals in 34 Premier League appearances against newly promoted teams, including 12 goals in his past 11.

Don't write off all of Fulham's players, though. Especially not Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has scored more goals (16) in England's top two tiers than any other player since his Fulham debut in February.

He also scored twice on Monday as Serbia drew 2-2 with Romania.

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