How was the international break for you? Serene?

Well, you can forget those sleep-filled, blissful nights because the Premier League is back to reawaken all your fantasy football anxieties.

Where are the clean sheets coming this weekend? Are there any reasonably-priced midfielders to draft in? And can Crystal Palace just get a penalty already because what’s the point of Luka Milivojevic otherwise?

If these and other gripping questions are keeping you up past midnight, read on for some helpful hints and tips ahead of game-week five.

Liverpool players… obviously

Liverpool celebrate scoring the winner in a 4-3 win over Newcastle in 1996

Liverpool put four unanswered goals past Newcastle at Anfield last season. They netted two the season before. It is a fixture with a proud history of goals, including those two famous 4-3 home wins of the mid-90s.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 23 Premier League home games against Newcastle (W19 D4), scoring in every single one of those matches (58 goals), while keeping 12 clean sheets. In total, the Reds have netted 98 times against Newcastle in the Premier League.

Newcastle will strive to make it tough for Jurgen Klopp’s side, as they managed to do so effectively at Spurs last month, but any fantasy football manager worth their salt will have spied this fixture and grown greedy at its potential rewards.

So, this is your weekly reminder that Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are useful.

And if you’ve not got Trent Alexander-Arnold in your side yet, you may want to rectify that quickly. The full-back has created five more goalscoring chances (14) than any other defender this season, and has had the joint-fifth most shots (5).

You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.

Chris Sutton on the Fantasy 606 podcast: “My all-Liverpool defence is perfect. Newcastle at home, there you go. Says it all. Clean sheets and a couple of assists.”

Too long; didn’t read – stock up on Liverpool players, especially the front three if you can afford them. TAA is a good bet in your defence.

Manuel the magnificent?

Manuel Lanzini

If Manuel Lanzini keeps himself fit, he is a potential points goldmine, and a reasonably priced one at that (just £6.5m in Fantasy Premier League).

Fortunately – for West Ham and, potentially, for you – the Argentine looks to be in decent shape this campaign, playing in all four games so far, having managed just 10 appearances at the end of last season following a cruciate ligament injury.

Lanzini has created 14 chances for team-mates in the Premier League this season – of midfielders only Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne (16) has created more.

He’s very much looking the part for a Hammers side starting to kick into gear following the opening-day mauling by the reigning champions.

On Monday, they travel to face an Aston Villa side who have faced a Premier League-high 77 shots so far this season.

tl;dr – get Lanzini in.

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Sheffield United shut-out?

Sheffield United have faced 42 shots in their four games so far this season – this is the joint sixth lowest in the division.

Meanwhile, their opponents this weekend, Southampton, have produced 25 shots from inside the box this season – the joint fourth fewest.

Could this all add up to a Blades clean sheet? It certainly might be worth a gamble.

But if you do decide to plump for a Blades defender, which one should you go for? This might help you decide…

Sheffield United defenders attacking stats 2018-19
PlayerGames startedShots (inc. blocks)Shots inside box (inc. blocks)Shooting accuracyChances created
Jack O’Connell44433.33%1
George Baldock43150%1
Enda Stevens4210%2
Chris Basham4100%2
John Egan40000

The smart play, though, could be to pick up John Lundstram, who is playing in midfield, but is listed as a defender in many fantasy games.

tl;dr – Sheffield United defenders are worth having this weekend.

Are Watford back in the game?

Watford are bottom of the table with just one point, only two goals in the plus column and yet to keep a clean sheet – if you banked on any of their players in your initial fantasy team they are surely long gone by now.

But is the second coming of Quique Sanchez Flores enough to make you reconsider drafting Hornets players back in?

Many felt the Spaniard was harshly jettisoned from Vicarage Road over three years ago after a reasonable season in the top-flight.

One of his perceived strengths is sorting out a defence, so the likes of Kiko Femenia and Craigs Cathcart and Dawson now look more attractive propositions. You might want to steer clear of Jose Holebas, though, if judging by some of the headlines after Sanchez Flores left the club last time.

Another thing to factor in before you go all Hornets happy is that their next five league fixtures don’t make pretty reading: Arsenal (h), Man City (a), Wolves (a), Sheff Utd (h), Tottenham (a).

Statman Dave on the Fantasy 606 podcast: “I would wait and see with Watford, Gerard Deulofeu is the big one and if Troy Deeney can play like he did under Flores last time he may be worth a look too.”

tl;dr – don’t get seduced by a new manager, hold off on Watford players for now.

Some other thoughts

  • Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero has been involved in eight goals in his five Premier League starts against Norwich, scoring five and assisting a further three.
  • Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Man City’s David Silva has assisted 87 Premier League goals, 27 more than any other player. Silva has assisted two goals in each of his last two Premier League games – no player has ever set up two or more goals in three consecutive appearances.
  • Ashley Barnes has attempted 31% of Burnley’s shots at goal in the Premier League this season (15 of 48) – only Norwich’s Teemu Pukki has had a higher percentage of his team’s shots (14/41, 34%).
  • Only Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne (13) has created more chances in open-play than Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (11) this season, with the Frenchman top of this category since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in charge in December 2018 (48).
  • Leicester striker Jamie Vardy has scored more Premier League goals than any other player since Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge on 3 March (12 goals).
  • Only Leicester’s James Maddison (13) has had more shots without directing one on-target in the Premier League this season than Southampton’s Che Adams (7).
  • Wolves’ Raul Jimenez scored home and away against Chelsea in the Premier League last season, the only player to do so in the competition in 2018-19.
  • Bournemouth’s Joshua King has been directly involved in seven goals in his seven Premier League matches against Everton (4 goals, 3 assists), only failing to score or assist a goal in his last appearance against them in January 2019.

All information is correct at 22:00 BST on Thursday night