Kevin de Bruyne

De Bruyne – is he the man to fill the Salah-shaped hole in your side?

Liverpool are in Qatar for the Club World Cup, leaving fantasy football managers with some selection decisions to make this weekend.

We’re here to help you through all the tough calls before gameweek 18.

Red alert

Any fantasy football player worth their salt with have at least one Liverpool player in their side.

But with the runaway league leaders taking a weekend off from the Premier League this weekend to compete in the Club World Cup, players will be left with a Sadio Mane/Mohamed Salah/Roberto Firmino-sized hole in their starting XI.

So who do you bring in to compensate?

The most obvious teams to explore are those placed second and third – Leicester and Manchester City – but with them playing each other, things are not so simple.

Even so, Kevin de Bruyne’s bumper points haul from his two goals and an assist at Arsenal in gameweek 17 makes him hard to ignore.

Spurs and Chelsea have candidates in their ranks – Son Heung-min, Dele Alli, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount – but they too are playing each other.

So how about Wilfried Zaha, who has three goals in his past five games and will play for Crystal Palace at Newcastle on Saturday? Or Diogo Jota, who has five goals in his past three games in all competitions and is at Norwich with Wolves?

Another option is Jack Grealish, who has looked very useful since returning from injury and will fancy his chances of producing something for Aston Villa against Southampton.

Playing for keeps

We know how it is, you stock up on goalscorers, assist-makers and defenders who can contribute at both ends, and only then think about what goalkeeper to bring in. The unglamorous man between the sticks is so easy to overlook.

You may well be considering your options in goal, though.

So we’ve compiled some of the most useful stats to help you pick the right one for the festive period.

Goalkeeper Team Next two gameweeks Avg shots faced per game Expected goals on target faced Goals conceded Goals prevented
Bernd Leno Arsenal Everton (a), Bournemouth (a) 5.82 26.08 27 -0.92
Tom Heaton Aston Villa Southampton (h), Norwich (h) 5.19 22.63 28 -5.37
Aaron Ramsdale Bournemouth Burnley (h), Arsenal (h) 5 24.67 24 0.67
Mat Ryan Brighton Sheff Utd (h), Tottenham (a) 5.35 28.02 25 3.02
Nick Pope Burnley Bournemouth (a), Everton (a) 4.41 22.15 29 -6.85
Kepa Chelsea Tottenham (a), Southampton (h) 3.29 17.87 25 -7.13
Vicente Guaita Crystal Palace Newcastle (a), West Ham (h) 4 18.41 15 3.41
Jordan Pickford Everton Arsenal (h), Burnley (h) 4.29 24.83 29 -4.17
Kasper Schmeichel Leicester Man City (a), Liverpool (h) 2.82 12.68 11 1.68
Alisson Liverpool Leicester (a) 2.56 3.55 5 -1.45
Ederson Man City Leicester (h), Wolves (a) 3.38 18.64 16 2.64
David de Gea Man Utd Watford (a), Newcastle (h) 4.12 18.8 20 -1.2
Martin Dubravka Newcastle Crystal Palace (h), Man Utd (a) 5.12 26.97 24 2.97
Tim Krul Norwich Wolves (h), Aston Villa (a) 5.87 26.36 28 -1.64
Dean Henderson Sheff Utd Brighton (a), Watford (h) 3.31 16.55 13 3.55
Alex McCarthy Southampton Aston Villa (a), Chelsea (a) 4.29 8.63 11 -2.37
Paulo Gazzaniga Tottenham Chelsea (h), Brighton (h) 5.18 12.89 16 -3.11
Ben Foster Watford Man Utd (h), Sheff Utd (a) 5 30.98 32 -1.02
David Martin West Ham Crystal Palace (a) 4.5 5.6 5 0.6
Rui Patricio Wolves Norwich (a), Man City (h) 3.82 17.99 21 -3.01

Other things to consider

  • In all competitions, Arsenal are without a clean sheet in their last 14 games, their longest streak since a run of 21 games between October 1983-February 1984.
  • Burnley striker Chris Wood has scored more Premier League goals than any other Clarets player this season (7) and has netted three goals in his four top-flight matches against Bournemouth.
  • Sheffield United’s John Fleck has scored four goals in his last seven Premier League games – as many as he had in his previous 98 in league competition for the Blades. Indeed, he’s already matched his highest ever goal tally in a single season in English league football (also four in 2015-16 and 2016-17). Don’t draft him in this weekend, though – he’s suspended.
  • Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero has scored five goals in his five home Premier League games against Leicester, despite the Argentine failing to score in three of those matches.
  • Tottenham’s Dele Alli has scored five goals in his last four Premier League meetings against Chelsea. Against no side has he scored more goals in the competition (5).

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