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Fantasy

Stats Perform’s Premier League Fantasy Picks: Matchweek 18

By: Jamie Smith

The busy festive period is upon us, though Premier League leaders Liverpool are not in action this week due to being on Club World Cup duty.

Fantasy football leagues can be won and lost at this time of the year due to the pile-up of matches, so managers have to be fully clued up.

Check out our recommendations for Matchweek 18, powered by Opta, ahead of picking your team for the weekend:

GOALKEEPER – DEAN HENDERSON (SHEFFIELD UNITED)

Aside from that costly error at home to Liverpool, Henderson has been almost faultless for Sheffield United this season.

In the 16 Premier League games he has played, the Blades backline has only conceded 13 times, so he is a solid choice ahead of his game against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Only Alisson and Kasper Schmeichel can beat Henderson’s record of 111 minutes per goal conceded in the 2019-20 Premier League.

DEFENDER – JOHN LUNDSTRAM (SHEFFIELD UNITED)

Henderson has not been the only fantasy star for Sheffield United this season, with Lundstram close to must-pick status.

Although he is classified as a defender in fantasy football, Lundstram typically plays in a midfield role and has contributed three goals and two assists for the Blades this term.

With six clean sheets to boot, Lundstram has been great value for fantasy teams throughout the campaign.

DEFENDER – HARRY MAGUIRE (MANCHESTER UNITED)

Maguire is yet to score a Premier League goal for Manchester United, but Sunday’s game at struggling Watford might be the ideal time to break his duck.

Maguire has had 16 shots in the league this season, with Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold the only defender to have recorded more attempts.

The Hornets have also failed to score in 10 Premier League games this season, so clean sheet points look relatively safe for Maguire too.

Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates after scoring at Emirates Stadium on December 15, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.

MIDFIELDER – KEVIN DE BRUYNE (MANCHESTER CITY)

De Bruyne has already contributed nine assists and six goals this season despite Manchester City struggling to hit the heights of the last two years.

The Belgium superstar’s combined goals and assists total of 15 is second only to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy in this season’s Premier League.

Leicester are the visitors to the Etihad on Saturday but while City face a tough task, De Bruyne’s form almost makes him a mandatory pick right now.

MIDFIELDER – WILFRIED ZAHA (CRYSTAL PALACE)

With three goals in his past five games for Crystal Palace, Zaha is certainly one of the Premier League’s most in-form players at the moment.

Newcastle United’s defence will be charged with keeping Zaha out this weekend and the Ivory Coast star looks a solid bet to find the net again.

Since August 2014, Zaha has contributed 35 goals and 21 assists for Palace from 180 appearances in the Premier League.

FORWARD – MARCUS RASHFORD (MANCHESTER UNITED)

Moving into the strikers and Rashford will fancy his chances against a porous Watford defence.

The England international has scored seven Premier League goals and recorded two assists since the start of October.

Only Vardy can offer better numbers than Rashford’s in that period, with the Red Devils star recording 17 shots on target during that run.

Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton (left) celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal at Vitality Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.

FORWARD – RAUL JIMENEZ (WOLVES)

Last but not least is Jimenez, who comes up against Norwich City this weekend.

Jimenez, who was on loan at Molineux last season, has recorded 19 goals and 12 assists for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.

His 31 goal involvements is a club-record in the Premier League with only Steven Fletcher scoring more times in the competition for Wolves.