The Premier League elite are playing for prizes, along with Champions League and Europa League places, and at the foot of the table there may still be dreams of a great escape.
Reality brings its rewards and regrets, and managers across England, from Pep Guardiola to Big Sam Allardyce are hoping to end the season on a high note.
For fantasy football managers, the same applies. This is the run-in and the time when marginal gains could count for so much in your own rivalries and leagues come the season’s end. One masterstroke signing could make a world of difference and earn those bragging rights.
With that in mind, here is a look at some potentially shrewd picks for the weekend ahead, powered by Opta data.
Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy has a long way to go before he can be defined as a Premier League great, but the September arrival from Rennes is making a terrific impact in his debut season. Heading into Saturday’s derby with Fulham, Mendy has managed 15 clean sheets from his 27 Premier League games so far, with only Manchester City’s Ederson keeping more (17 from 32 games).
Of all goalkeepers to have started at least 25 games in Premier League history, Mendy is the only one to keep a clean sheet in more than half of them (56 per cent). Looking down the list, Ederson has an impressive 49 per cent from 141 games, while former Chelsea and Arsenal shot-stopper Petr Cech had a nifty 46 per cent clean sheet record from 443 appearances.
Tough love did not particularly work for Luke Shaw during Jose Mourinho’s reign, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has found a way to unlock the brilliance within Manchester United’s left-back, who was a £30million buy as an 18-year-old almost seven years ago.
Shaw, who looks likely to face Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday, has been directly involved in six goals (1 goal, 5 assists) in the Premier League this season. That is as many as he managed between the start of the 2016-17 season and the end of the 2019-20 campaign (also 1 goal, 5 assists). He is impressing going forward as well as when defending, so could bring valuable points to your team.
No Premier League defender has more clean sheets than Ruben Dias this season. With 14 so far, he is level with Aston Villa’s Matt Targett. Manchester City stifled Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on Wednesday, but can they keep Crystal Palace’s forwards at bay on Saturday?
The Premier League title is almost within City’s grasp, and Dias could be a great signing this weekend, but do bear in mind that Guardiola could shuffle his team given the second leg with PSG is coming up on Tuesday.
City have a strong Premier League record against Palace, having won 13 of their last 17 matches (D2 L2) against the Eagles in the competition, earning 10 clean sheets across that run of games.
COME ON CITY! pic.twitter.com/3nSkl97tG1
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 29, 2021
Going down with the Baggies? Even if West Brom are relegated, which seems likely, there will surely be top-flight teams eyeing Matheus Pereira.
The Brazilian has been involved in six goals in his last four Premier League games (4 goals, 2 assists), and he enhanced his hero status among supporters when he scored twice – both penalties – in the derby against Wolves earlier this season.
West Brom won that one 3-2 and the teams meet again on Monday. Pereira is a player to keep an eye on in that game.
Guardiola rhapsodised about Sterling after Manchester City’s win against Tottenham in the EFL Cup final, despite erratic finishing meaning the winger again finished without a goal. He has not scored for City since February, but one could spark a flood, such is his established talent.
Facing Palace could be the ideal game for Sterling, should he be selected this weekend.
The England international has been involved in seven goals in his last seven starts against Palace in the Premier League (6 goals, 1 assist).
Kelechi Iheanacho is the striker in form at Leicester City, but in horses for courses terms, Perez might be the man for Friday’s clash with Southampton.
Perez has scored more Premier League goals against Southampton than he has against any other side in the competition (7). This includes two hat-tricks against Saints, including one in Leicester’s 9-0 win in this fixture last season.
Did Kane look off the pace in the EFL Cup final after his recent ankle knock? It was so hard to tell, given it felt he was constantly having to come looking for the ball, the service to him so inadequate.
If caretaker boss Ryan Mason considered him fit for that one, then it seems safe to expect the Tottenham talisman to face Sheffield United on Sunday, and surely he will find more opportunities against the blunted Blades than he enjoyed against City.
Kane has been involved in 34 goals in 30 Premier League games for Tottenham this season (21 goals, 13 assists), only registering more goal involvements in a single campaign in 2016-17 (36 – 29G 7A). The England striker has been involved in nine goals in his last six league games (7 goals, 2 assists), netting three braces in that run.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 29, 2021
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