It’s the most wonderful time of the year… To many that means Christmas, to some it means a packed festive football schedule!
While the relentless flow of Premier League matches at this time of year might seem like overkill for the players, it’s a somewhat bizarre British tradition that shows no sign of stopping.
The swift turnaround between matchdays barely gives players a moment to catch their breath, and fantasy football managers (don’t say we’re not thinking about the big issues…!) have to react quickly as well if they’re to make the most of the action.
But if you’re one of those players who’s liable to forget to make changes around this time of year because you slept through the deadline after eating too much leftover Christmas dinner, Stats Perform has some player tips that might just come in handy for each of the next two matchdays…
EDERSON (Manchester City v Leicester City, and Brentford v Manchester City)
Sure, Leicester may have impressed against Liverpool in midweek, but Man City have been impressively resolute at the back again this season.
Unsurprisingly, Ederson leads the way with 10 clean sheets in 2021-22, making him virtually a must-select if you’re worried about potentially forgetting to change your goalkeeper between matchdays.
No on else in the division has reached double figures for clean sheets yet this term, and City will fancy their chances of getting a shutout at Brentford in their second game post-Christmas.
EMILE SMITH ROWE (Norwich City v Arsenal, and Arsenal v Wolves)
Christmas time, Emile Smith Rowe and wine…
Forgive us the bad pun, but like mistletoe, Smith Rowe is a solid choice for some festive joy, particularly given Arsenal have two very winnable matches on the horizon.
Ahead of their Boxing Day trip to Norfolk, Smith Rowe is the joint-second highest-scoring Englishman in the Premier League this term with seven goals, highlighting just how much of a threat he’s been in 2021-22.
Three of those have come in his last three games as well – hopefully he’s the gift that keeps giving.
MARCUS RASHFORD (Newcastle United v Manchester United, and Manchester United v Burnley)
Remember Manchester United? It feels like it’s been about two months since they last played, so they’ll surely be raring to go when they face Newcastle at St James’ Park on Monday.
Myrrhcus (sorry) Rashford will presumably be even more excited than the rest of the team, such is his record against the Magpies.
The England star has seven goal involvements in as many meetings with Newcastle (four goals, three assists), making them his favourite opposition.
Additionally, Newcastle have won just once all season, so there’s every chance it won’t just be the Christmas turkey getting stuffed.
HARRY KANE (Tottenham v Crystal Palace, and Southampton v Tottenham)
Spurs star Harry Kane loves Boxing Day, so much so that these days he’s arguably more synonymous with Christmas than his namesake, Candy.
He’ll be hopeful of stocking up again this year as he is just one behind Robbie Fowler’s record of nine Boxing Day goals – it’s worth saying he looked sharp against Liverpool at the weekend, so who’s to say he won’t sleigh Crystal Palace?
A trip to Southampton awaits after that, and Saints haven’t exactly been watertight at the back recently, conceding 12 goals in their past five Premier League games.
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