Fantasy football tips: Do not be dazzled by Man Utd's fixture pile-up

Alistair Bruce-Ball

On the face of it, three matches for Manchester United in gameweek 35 seems like a gift from the fantasy football gods and just reward for all those managers whose plans were wrecked by the postponement of the game against Liverpool at Old Trafford last Sunday - but I'm not popping open the champagne just yet.

If you have your Triple Captain chip still to play then it might be wise to stick that on Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford or Mason Greenwood, but are any of the key assets really going to play in all three matches with just 50 hours between the two home games next week against Leicester and Liverpool, and Champions League football for next season all but secured?

I am viewing it as more of a double gameweek for United players with the potential bonus of some extra minutes for some of them if we're lucky. The most likely to start all three games in my book would be Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and possibly Dean Henderson if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sticks with him as his Premier League goalkeeper.

The other thing to remember, particularly if you're lucky enough to still have your second wildcard, is that Manchester United then have a blank gameweek in 36, along with Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester, so be careful not to end up with five or six players in your squad who then don't have a game the following week.

That's why I'm thinking of going into gameweek 35 with just two United players in Luke Shaw and Fernandes and resisting the temptation to bring in Greenwood as well.

Harry Maguire in action for Manchester United
Harry Maguire might be your best option if you want to take advantage of Manchester United playing three times in five days

The ideal situation would be to play a Free Hit chip this week to maximise this huge double gameweek but what I'm trying to say is don't get dazzled by the United triple-up and then forget the eight other teams who have two fixtures - Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester, Liverpool and Southampton.

Palace look to have the friendliest games with trips to Sheffield United and Southampton but they've not got that extra motivation of battling relegation or pushing for Europe, so I would probably avoid them. Goalkeeper Vicente Guaita (£4.8m), star man Wilfried Zaha (£7.2m) or a rejuvenated Christian Benteke (£5.5m) as a cheap third striker could be the way to go if you do decide to go down that route.

Chris Sutton and Statman Dave agreed in the latest edition of the Fantasy 606 podcast that Everton are definitely a tempting prospect in gameweek 35 - they've shown better form on the road this season and have two away games, at West Ham and Aston Villa. Those two sides have not kept a clean sheet between them in their past 14 games.

Lucas Digne has provided nine assists so far this season and Dominic Calvert-Lewin thrives on his deliveries so they would look to be your top two picks, although we mentioned Gylfi Sigurdsson on these pages last week and Richarlison could be your differential signing at 8.1% ownership.

I'm keen on bringing Calvert-Lewin in this week to replace Keinan Davis and he would then partner Harry Kane and Kelechi Iheanacho in my attack, but it means I would have to swap Son Heung-min for James Ward-Prowse to do it. Son only has the one fixture, away to Leeds, and I do have Tottenham coverage with Kane, but it's quite hard to sell Son after his 12-point haul against Sheffield United and home fixtures against Wolves and Villa to come.

Ward-Prowse has two fixtures in gameweek 35, away to Liverpool and at home to Crystal Palace, followed by two more home matches against Fulham and Leeds. He's currently the sixth highest-scoring midfielder in the game and has been on penalties in the absence of Danny Ings. I'm tempted.

If you're in a similar sort of predicament then remember the decision is not just for gameweek 35. Ward-Prowse and Calvert-Lewin vs Son and Davis - which combination is likely to get me more points for the rest of the season? That's the question.

The captaincy conundrum is another interesting one - Fernandes seems the obvious choice but if, like me, you're only thinking of Manchester United as a double gameweek team then others definitely come into the equation. Trent Alexander-Arnold or Mohamed Salah with a home game against Southampton followed by the trip to Old Trafford, Iheanacho or Jamie Vardy with Leicester at home to Newcastle before their own trip to Old Trafford, or Calvert-Lewin as mentioned above. Gareth Bale and Kane only have the one game at Leeds but with just four gameweeks to go maybe you're prepared to roll the dice.

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

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