With so many blank and double gameweeks on the horizon, Fantasy Premier League managers need to plan as meticulously as ever.
We need to strategise how to maximise points potential and avoid the risk of leaving ourselves short. To achieve that, here are some players who could help you shoot up the rankings in the coming weeks.
Manchester City still lead the way
City have one of the best fixture runs in the next five gameweeks. Not only do they double in Gameweek 25, but they also have a game in Blank Gameweek 26.
Their fixtures read:
I still feel Phil Foden (£8m) is the best midfielder to own from Pep Guardiola’s side when you take into account his expected minutes and price. Kevin De Bruyne (£10.7m) is back fit now and will be a key player for them — but his minutes will likely be managed for the coming weeks, especially with such a packed schedule.
This isn’t to say Foden won’t get a rest in one of the games coming up. Most City assets will be prone to an odd benching due to the depth they have.
Foden has five goals and seven assists and has been one of the most nailed-on attackers for City. I don’t see that changing over the medium term. City are the best attacking team in the league and he is sure to be involved, given the plum fixtures.
Kyle Walker (£5.5m) started every game in the league up until this last gameweek.
If you are looking to bring in a defender, Walker would be one of my first picks: he is by far the most consistently played City defender and should prove great value over his side’s upcoming fixtures. City have conceded the third-least (24) goals with an xGC (expected goals conceded) of 19.34 (second-best).
Although Walker doesn’t offer a lot of attacking threat, he can still chip in in the final third. He has two assists this season with an xA (expected assists) of 2.4, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks up an attacking return or two during the next five gameweeks.
Erling Haaland (£14m) managed 19 minutes against Burnley and came through unscathed. If you don’t own him and can get him without taking a hit next gameweek, it’s worth doing.
But as we don’t know for certain if he will start against Brentford, I think it’s fine to wait until Gameweek 24 to buy the Norwegian.
Newcastle assets are back on the menu
Eddie Howe’s side recorded their first win last gameweek after four losses on the bounce. It was an impressive victory away to Aston Villa and they also recorded an xG of 2.54. If you still own any of their assets, I wouldn’t be looking to transfer them out just yet.
Kieran Trippier (£6.7m) was also back in on the returns as he picked up an assist and two bonus points (seven FPL points in total). These were his first points returns since Gameweek 14.
Newcastle now embark on a great run of games as they play Luton (H), Nottingham Forest (A), Bournemouth (H), Arsenal (A) and Wolves (H) in the next five. They have a good run of games long term too.
With this upturn in fixtures, Trippier could profit defensively and offensively. He has eight assists, has created 58 chances with an xA (expected assists) of 6.39 and ranks first among Premier League defenders for all these metrics.
Also with Sven Botman (£4.5m) and Dan Burn (£4.4m) back fit, Newcastle have their first-choice back four. This will no doubt see them keep more clean sheets going forward. Trippier’s ownership has also fallen quite a bit in the last 10 gameweeks, so he is somewhat of a differential now.
Anthony Gordon’s (£6.1m) stock will have gone up, especially if Alexander Isak’s (£7.6m) injury is a long-term one.
Gordon was shifted upfront again against Villa when the Swede was taken off with a groin issue. Callum Wilson (£7.8m) has been out with a calf injury since Gameweek 19 so Gordon might well continue leading the line.
However, he is still a good option playing in his usual position on the left, given the fixtures.
Top Liverpool picks (instead of Salah)
Liverpool are very likely to double in Gameweek 25 — but they also have a blank in Gameweek 26 due to the Carabao Cup final. With careful planning, it’s still fine to safe to select Liverpool players for their next few fixtures.
They play Arsenal in Gameweek 23 but then come up against Burnley in Gameweek 24. And if the double lands in Gameweek 25 as expected, they will play Brentford (A) and Luton (H). Therefore, Gameweek 24 would be when I would be looking at buying their players.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£8.5m), Diogo Jota (£8m) and Darwin Nunez (£7.5m) would be my top picks from Jurgen Klopp’s team as things stand.
Nunez has seven goals and nine assists with an xG of 11 and an xA of 2.9. The Uruguayan does miss a lot of chances but he also gets in a lot of goal-scoring positions, and 16 returns in 14 starts is great.
Alexander-Arnold has two goals and four assists with an xG of 1.9 and an xA of 4.2 (third among defenders) and we know he possesses an immense attacking threat. He has started on the bench in the last two games, but I don’t see him losing his place in the starting XI despite Conor Bradley’s superb performances when deputising for Alexander-Arnold.
Bradley has come of age at Liverpool – how can Klopp drop him now?
Jota will be a fine option too — as long as Salah is out. He has three goals and three assists in his last three games and his minutes look secure at the moment.
Coming up to Gameweek 24 and 25, we should have a much better idea of Salah’s fitness levels. But with the Egyptians’ current return date being February 17, Jota is going to be one of the best midfielders to own from Gameweek 24.
Remember, plan well but don’t be afraid to take a hit
With Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea blanking in Gameweek 26, we will likely need to take hits around this period as many of us will have several players from these teams. However, owning the right double gameweek players and planning your transfers for the weeks ahead will make it worth it.
If Liverpool get a double in Gameweek 25, it is too good to ignore and I think we should have at least two of their players in our sides. (The points gained in the double should make up for any future points deductions.)
Striking the right balance between doublers and single gameweek players is key. This is team-specific, so I would advise planning your transfers up until Gameweek 27 to see how many double gameweek players you can get for Gameweek 25 and how many you can get for blank Gameweek 26.
For guidance, I have four players who blank in Gameweek 26 and plan to get three players from Liverpool (if they double). I also have three Manchester City assets.
It means I’ll still be able to field 11 players in blank Gameweek 26 for free or with a four-point hit, depending on who I get rid of.
(Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)