Premier League Fantasy Picks: Keep Kane involved as World Cup break looms

With little over a week to go until the World Cup begins, this weekend represents fantasy football bosses' final chance to rack up points before the festive period.

The unprecedented timing of the tournament means uncertainty may reign when players return from Qatar, making a trusted fantasy favourite look appealing ahead of the Premier League season's 16th matchday.

With Harry Kane looking to maintain his fine run of form before jetting off to lead the line for England, can you really afford to overlook the Tottenham talisman?

For those seeking players going under the radar, meanwhile, could the improved form of two Midlands teams provide the answer?

Stats Perform is here to help, delving into the Opta numbers to identify four players to provide your fantasy team with the perfect pre-World Cup boost.

Aaron Ramsdale (Wolves v Arsenal)

Arsenal travel to Wolves looking to remain top of the Premier League for Christmas, and the division's joint-best defence (11 goals conceded, alongside Newcastle United) will be expected to shut out a Wolves side with just eight goals to their name this season.

Ramsdale – who has been included in England's squad for the World Cup – has played a key role for Mikel Arteta's side this campaign, keeping six Premier League clean sheets.

No goalkeeper has recorded more top-flight shutouts (six) than Ramsdale this season (joint with Nick Pope and Ederson), and the Gunners' shot-stopper has kept five of those clean sheets on the road.

Aaron Ramsdale
Aaron Ramsdale

Lucas Digne (Brighton and Hove Albion v Aston Villa)

Unai Emery made a dream return to the Premier League last week, leading Aston Villa to a 3-1 home win over Manchester United as Digne got on the scoresheet with an expertly taken free-kick.

Since the left-back made his Premier League debut in August 2018, only four players have bettered his tally of three goals from direct free-kicks in the competition – James Ward-Prowse (12), James Maddison (eight), Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier (both four).

During that same span, Liverpool duo Alexander-Arnold (54) and Andrew Robertson (48) are the only two defenders to better his return of 27 Premier League goal involvements.

Defenders with the ability to contribute in attack are like gold dust in fantasy football, and with Digne unlikely to cost the earth, the Villa man could represent a prudent budget pick.

Harvey Barnes (West Ham v Leicester City)

Leicester City continued their upward momentum by beating Everton 2-0 last week, with winger Barnes scoring his fifth league goal of the season to make the points safe late on.

Barnes has now hit the net three times in his last four league appearances and is averaging a goal every 200 minutes this term – his best rate across a single season in the competition.

This calendar year, meanwhile, only Kane (33), Maddison (22), Ivan Toney (21) and Bukayo Saka (19) have bettered Barnes' total of 17 Premier League goal contributions (nine goals, eight assists) among English players, and he may put out-of-sorts West Ham to the sword.

Harry Kane (Tottenham v Leeds United)

Finally, Tottenham striker Kane is among the favourites to win the Golden Boot at the World Cup, and he should be expected to continue his strong form against Leeds United.

Kane has scored in each of his last six home appearances in the Premier League – the longest such run of his career, and only Erling Haaland (18) has bettered his tally of 11 top-flight goals this term.

The England captain has averaged a goal every 113 minutes of league action this campaign, a rate he has only improved upon in the 2016-17 (87 mins/goal) and 2017-18 (103) seasons, and Leeds look unlikely to keep him quiet after conceding 22 goals in 13 Premier League games.

Harry Kane
Harry Kane