Which Premier League players have played every minute of every game this season ?
With the fixtures coming thick and fast over the Christmas period, fantasy football managers will be fearful of the risk of rotation, since a lack of playing time can have a devastating effect on those fantasy line-ups.
This begs the question – is every player at risk of rotation or are some immune?
Well, after 17 rounds of the 2016/17 English Premier League season, there are only 19 players remaining that have played every minute of every game. Simply put, these are the only players that have kept their fantasy scoreboard ticking until the final whistle is blown in every fixture they have participated in, giving themselves the best possible chance of accruing those valuable bonus points or actual action points.
Their club managers clearly trust their physical conditioning but who are these players and what do they have in common?
List of ever-present Premier League players in 2016/17 (GW1-17)
The list is made up of 6 goalkeepers, 12 defenders, 1 midfielder and no forwards.
N’Golo Kanté needs no introduction and his boundless energy has been commented on before. Instrumental in Leicester City’s unprecedented title run, the diminutive midfielder has again proven his class, helping Chelsea to the summit of the Premier League table. However, Kanté will the miss the Boxing Day clash with Bournemouth after picking up 5 cautions, losing his ever-present status in the process.
Kanté’s team-mates Thibaut Courtois and César Azpilicueta also have 10 clean sheets apiece, emphasizing their importance to the Chelsea back-line and neither would appear in any danger of being rested.
Goalkeepers in general seem pretty safe, since they don’t exert themselves in the same manner as outfield players. Southampton’s Fraser Forster has an impressive 7 clean sheets to his name, one more than Manchester United’s David de Gea but Petr Cech might be disappointed to have only recorded 4 shut-outs.
The other two shot-stoppers on the list, Swansea City’s Lukasz Fabianski and West Bromwich Albion’s Ben Foster, have both recorded 3 clean sheets apiece.
Foster’s team-mate Gareth McAuley leads the way for goals scored, having hit the net 3 times already this season, a quite remarkable feat for a 37 year old defender, while Steve Cook of Bournemouth has also managed to get himself on the score-sheet twice.
Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne tops the ever-presents ‘assists’ chart and more can be expected in the second half of the season but Hull City’s Curtis Davies, who started the season in awesome form, has just one clean sheet to show for his efforts, playing in a Tigers’ team that already looks doomed.
Two players on the list are proving to be ‘undroppable’- Tottenham Hotspurs’ Jan Vertonghen and Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk. Vertonghen’s emergence as Spurs’ star defender was outlined in a recent WhoScored article but fantasy football managers may be put off by his perceived lack of attacking threat. Despite scoring 4 times and chipping in with 3 assists in his debut season, when he was deployed mainly as a left-back, the Belgian defender hasn’t added to this tally in the four subsequent Premier League seasons, since switching to a centre-back role. He is also one booking away from a suspension, so will need to tread carefully at St Mary’s Stadium, if he is to cling on to his ever-present status.
However, Van Dijk is probably the pick of the bunch. Like Vertonghen, he has 7 clean sheets to his name. He’s yet to find the net but does have 2 Europa League goals to his credit this season. The Dutch defender is dominant in aerial duels but the Saints may have their work cut out, to hang on to their prized asset once the January window opens.
Are these ‘ever-presents’ your safest bet for those fantasy football selections over the festive period?