Fantasy football tips: A rare weekend to avoid Man City's attacking stars?

James Milner, Joe Hart and Sergio Aguero

It is the big question facing millions of football fans every weekend: who should be included in the fantasy team for the next round of matches?

We’ve delved into the stats and the history books to give you some tips on who is likely to perform well – and who might be worth leaving out.

A rare weekend to swerve Man City’s attackers?

Huddersfield stop a shot by Kevin de Bruyne

Manchester City v Huddersfield – a chance for the home side to run riot, right?

Well, perhaps not. Huddersfield might have conceded more goals than two of the relegated teams last season, but they had a strangely stunting effect on the eventual champions.

City scored in 17 of their 18 Premier League home games last term – a total of 47 goals – but they could not do so against the Terriers in May (although they had secured the title by that stage).

Pep Guardiola’s side also found their away game against the same opponents a struggle earlier in the season, trailing at half-time before registering an 84th-minute winner.

In total, City had only seven shots on target in 180 minutes against Huddersfield in 2017-18, fewer than against any other side.

Going back a bit further to when Huddersfield were in the Championship in 2016-17, they again frustrated City, this time forcing a replay thanks to a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup at the John Smith’s Stadium.

On Sunday, City will have to do without the injured Kevin de Bruyne, meaning picking their attacking players might not be the no-brainer you’d have thought it would be.

Load up on Burnley defenders

For a team renowned for their solidity at the back last season (the sixth-best defensive record in the division with 39 goals conceded, one more than Liverpool and Chelsea and 12 fewer than Arsenal), it is surprising that Burnley have kept only one clean sheet in their past 10 home league games.

That might have seen a move away from having the likes of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski in your fantasy teams, but this could be a good week to get them back in.

Since Joe Hart’s arrival, the Clarets have not conceded a goal – three shutouts in a row totalling 300 minutes of playing time – and they are coming up against a side who just cannot score on their travels.

In fact, Watford have not scored in any of their seven away league games since Javi Gracia took over as manager, the joint longest wait a new Premier League boss has had for his side to score on the road (equal with Billy Davies and Mick McCarthy).

Add in the fact that Watford have not won any of their past 10 away games against Burnley – failing to score in 349 minutes of action at Turf Moor – and the signs look good for Sean Dyche’s back four and keeper to claim plenty of points.

Milner the creator

James Milner is noted for his understated persona, the Liverpool midfielder rarely hitting the headlines.

But the former England international did make his mark in the Champions League last season with one particular stat.

He provided eight assists – more than Cristiano Ronaldo, more than Lionel Messi. More, in fact, than anyone else in the competition, and all from a midfield role which often means he finds himself in deeper positions than many of Europe’s premier chance creators.

Was that statistic a one-off? Quite possibly not, if the opening day of the Premier League season was anything to go by.

The 32-year-old was again in fine creative form. His expected assists tally – the number of assists he should have had if the chances he created had been converted – was 1.15 in the 4-0 win over West Ham. No other player in the top flight managed more than 1.00.

Yes to Spurs but no to Kane?

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic celebrates promotion at Wembley in May

Everyone knows Harry Kane has never scored a Premier League goal in August – a run of 14 games, 988 minutes and 46 shots that surely has to end sooner rather than later.

His previously outstanding record in London derbies has also suffered of late – after a sequence of 17 goals in 16 matches against other clubs from the capital, he has scored a relatively paltry five in his past 13.

Whether you back Kane to break his August duck or not in Saturday’s game against Fulham, Spurs players certainly look to be a sensible inclusion in your fantasy team this week.

Put simply, Spurs always beat promoted clubs at home. They have done exactly that on the past 18 occasions they have met a new top-flight team.

So if you want to look for non-Kane options, then perhaps Hugo Lloris would be your best bet.

Tottenham have conceded only once in their past nine games against promoted teams and seven in that longer sequence of 18 games.

Added to that, Fulham failed to find the net in their opening game against Crystal Palace, with Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright saying their attacking play needed to be “a lot quicker” at Premier League level.

Newcastle’s Ritch vein of form

Got any Cardiff players in your squad? Might be time to take them out sharpish.

The Bluebirds play Newcastle this weekend – and have lost their past 10 meetings with the Magpies.

In fact, Newcastle are on their longest winning run in the league against one opponent, and manager Rafael Benitez has never lost to Saturday’s counterpart Neil Warnock.

All that points to the inclusion of a Newcastle player or two in your fantasy line-up. But who?

Winger Matt Ritchie could be a good shout – he’s had a hand in three goals in his past two league games against Cardiff, while Christian Atsu has netted in his previous two matches against them.

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BBC Sport – Football

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