With coronavirus restrictions to be eased and fans allowed back into (some) stadia next month, matchday 10 will hopefully be the last of this season’s Premier League where every game is behind closed doors.
With that in mind, this weekend is likely to become something of a cut-off point in 2020-21 in terms of assessing how players and teams are faring, and whether the absence of fans has helped or hindered.
In other words, if anyone likes playing in front of empty stands, this will be their last chance to really enjoy themselves – and rack up some fantasy football points for the discerning manager.
Using Opta data, we’ve come up with our latest weekly selection, which might give some of you an edge heading into the festive period…
Newcastle United fans might not be fully behind Steve Bruce, but one most can agree on is that goalkeeper Karl Darlow is enjoying career-best form.
The 30-year-old has filled in admirably for Martin Dubravka this season, making more saves (41) than any other Premier League goalkeeper. In fact, only Edouard Mendy (87.5 per cent) has a better save percentage than Darlow (72.2 per cent).
Goals are usually at a premium when Newcastle play Crystal Palace – only seven have been scored in the previous seven meetings – so a Darlow clean sheet could well be on the cards.
Matt Doherty is one of only three defenders to have scored and assisted four Premier League goals since the start of 2019-20.
The Tottenham man has had 98 touches in the opposition box in that time, a tally bettered only by Andy Robertson when it comes to defenders.
However, nobody beats Doherty for shots on target over that time frame (17). As a defender for a resolute Tottenham side, he’s always worth including.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been plundering the goal trail this season, but Michael Keane might just be Everton’s most clinical finisher.
No Premier League defender has scored more than Keane (three goals) since June 2020, and those goals have come from only seven shots, giving him the best conversion rate (42.9 per cent) among defenders to score more than once in the competition in that time.
Everton have struggled for clean sheets lately but Keane at least could offset those defensive issues if he nets against Leeds United.
2 – Michael Keane has scored in consecutive home games for Everton in all competitions (2 goals) after managing just one in his previous 53 appearances at Goodison Park. Buses. pic.twitter.com/uJ6OjeYwoN
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 19, 2020
Burnley do not like playing Manchester City. They’ve won once in 12 Premier League meetings and lost the previous six in all competitions by an aggregate score of 23-1.
They are also sick of the sight of Riyad Mahrez, who has scored four goals in his most recent three league games against the Clarets. They are his second favourite opponents, behind Watford (he has seven goals against them).
Pep Guardiola could well rotate his side as the schedule continues to pile up, and Mahrez will be eager to impress.
Where would Manchester United be without Bruno Fernandes? Well, they’d be winless this season – he’s scored the winning goal in each of their four league victories in 2020-21.
In fact, Fernandes has been involved in more Premier League goals (24 – 14 scored, 10 assisted) than any other player since his debut. In the same period, only Kevin De Bruyne (74) has created more chances than the Portugal star (56).
Facing Southampton away is a tough challenge for any side at the moment, so a decisive Fernandes display could be crucial for United.
2011 – Bruno Fernandes’ goal at 99:45 is the latest scored in the Premier League since Juan Mata’s strike for Chelsea against Norwich in August 2011 (100:03). Drama. #BHAMUN pic.twitter.com/17NTb0qGkc
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 26, 2020
Dominic Calvert-Lewin leads the way for goalscoring this season, with 10 in nine games.
If he scores against Leeds United, he will become only the second player to score more than 10 in his side’s first 10 games, after Les Ferdinand, who hit 13 in 1995-96.
Leeds will be no pushovers, but Calvert-Lewin will take some stopping.
Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham is looking to score in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since last September.
Abraham has actually scored twice as many goals (18) as any other Blues player since the beginning of last season.
Frank Lampard has plenty of attacking riches at his disposal, but Abraham is out to prove a point to his boss.
3 – Tammy Abraham is the first player to score in three consecutive Champions League starts for Chelsea since Willian in 2015, and the first Englishman to do so since Frank Lampard in 2008. Magic. pic.twitter.com/oXhzTUvm9d
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 4, 2020
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