Time to think ahead – Fantasy football tips

Before you make any transfers this week see how your squad is looking for gameweeks 25, 27 and 28.

Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton and Wolves all double in gameweek 25 while Manchester United, Newcastle United, Brighton and Brentford all blank.

Brighton and Brentford then double in gameweek 27 along with Crystal Palace and Southampton.

The problem is that Brighton, Brentford and Southampton could then well blank in gameweek 28 along with Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham. Those fixtures will depend on the results in the fifth round of the FA Cup which takes place just before gameweek 25.

It may be that you will want to use your Free Hit chip if you’ve still got it to navigate your way through gameweek 28 and there is a viable strategy where you could wildcard in gameweek 27 to set yourself up for a Bench Boost in gameweek 29, which is likely to be a double gameweek for quite a few clubs, and play the Free Hit in between.

That all sounds rather complicated, but this is the time of the season where planning ahead really can come into its own.

One team that we already know will play in both gameweeks 25 and 28 is Chelsea.

FPL managers have already piled in on Kepa Arrizabalaga as a cheap goalkeeper and Reece James is currently their most highly-owned player.

Let me also point you in the direction of centre-back Benoit Badiashile at just £5m and Joao Felix who is listed as a forward in FPL and has already climbed in value to £7.6m after his goal against West Ham.

Manchester City definitely play in gameweek 25 but we don’t know about gameweek 28 yet.

It will be very tempting to go for Kevin de Bruyne or Riyad Mahrez this week after their hauls in double gameweek 23 but just be aware that rotation could strike at any time with the Champions League back on City’s horizon.

They’ve got a trip to RB Leipzig next week in between Premier League fixtures against Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth, so it could be risky to bank on a City player starting against Bournemouth in gameweek 25 when you might have the likes of Kieran Trippier and Marcus Rashford sitting on the bench in a blank gameweek.

Saying that the upside of owning any City attacker can be huge and Mahrez would certainly be my pick among them at the moment.

I think it’s probably wise to steer clear of that City defence at the moment though because it’s very tricky to predict who’s going to start from week to week and they’ve only kept two clean sheets in their last 11 Premier League games with none of the defenders having provided a single attacking return this season!

So let’s be bold and go for Liverpool players for their double gameweek 25 with fixtures away to Crystal Palace and at home to Wolves.

In any normal season we would be scrambling to make sure we had three Liverpool assets for a double gameweek like that and we’d probably also be considering Mohamed Salah as a triple captain.

That’s not the case this time around because of Liverpool’s struggles to this point, but there was encouragement to be had in the 2-0 win against Everton on Monday night and Salah would still be my number one target if you can afford him.

If not then Darwin Nunez would be my next choice, but it will be worth seeing how they line up at Newcastle this weekend with Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino back in the frame to provide competition for Nunez and Cody Gakpo in those attacking positions.

Taking a punt on Trent Alexander-Arnold or Andy Robertson is more of a risk with Liverpool only keeping six clean sheets in the league so far this season, but they both still possess that attacking potential and Alexander-Arnold was unlucky not to get an assist for Gakpo’s goal in the Merseyside derby.

Liverpool are at home to Manchester United in gameweek 26 followed by a trip to Bournemouth in gameweek 27, but they could blank in gameweek 28 if Fulham beat Leeds United in the FA Cup – if not then it will be a home game against Fulham for them.

Leicester City’s fixture list looks tricky but the goals are now flowing with James Maddison back in the team and there is some real differential value to be had there with Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho all owned by less than 5% of managers.

Ivan Toney’s another obvious target despite Brentford’s blank in gameweek 25 and potential blank in gameweek 28 because the fixtures around those weeks are against Crystal Palace, Fulham, Everton and Southampton.

Just be warned he’s currently on eight yellow cards for the season, so a couple more and that will be a costly two-week suspension.

Don’t make a transfer this week if you don’t need to so then you will have two free transfers going into double gameweek 25 and I think I will give my captain’s armband to Erling Haaland again for Manchester City’s game at Nottingham Forest.

Make sure you line up a good vice-captain this week though just in case he misses out and there are plenty of options – an Arsenal attacker away at Aston Villa, Rashford up against Leicester, Kaoru Mitoma at home to Fulham or maybe Felix for Chelsea’s home game against Southampton.

Alistair Bruce-Ball presents the Fantasy 606 podcast alongside former Premier League winner Chris Sutton and Statman Dave. The latest episode is available on the BBC Sounds app.

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