Fantasy football tips: What chips do you have left and how do you use them?

Alistair Bruce-Ball

There are just eight gameweeks to go in the Fantasy Premier League season but there are myriad ways to attack them considering what chips you have left at your disposal.

A common strategy seems to be using a Free Hit in double gameweek 33, focusing on Manchester United, Leicester and maybe Newcastle as the differentials. Then a wildcard in gameweek 34 or 35 to set up for a Bench Boost in double gameweek 36 when Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea could all have two fixtures.

The Triple Captain chip could equally be a winner then if you've still got it.

That's certainly not the only way to play it though and that Bench Boost plan for gameweek 36 could be somewhat negated by potential rotation for some of the big names - and the fact lots of your rival managers will already have many of the key players by then.

Squad rotation is something that's been playing on my mind as I consider my transfers over the next few gameweeks. Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, West Ham and Leicester all have European fixtures in between gameweeks 31, 32 and 33. City, Liverpool and Chelsea are involved in the FA Cup semi-finals in that time too.

So which players are going to be prioritised for those games and possibly rested in the Premier League?

It looks less of an issue for City and Liverpool because they are going toe-to-toe in the title race, so Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are still likely to select their strongest teams. And what is City's strongest line-up anyway?

As for Chelsea, can you be sure Reece James, Mason Mount or Kai Havertz are going to start all three games in gameweeks 31, 32 and 33? Or will James Maddison and Harvey Barnes start both games for Leicester in their double gameweek 33?

Some of that might depend on the results of the first legs in the European quarter-finals, but it's why it makes me think that Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United assets are the safer bets as those clubs now only have one thing to aim at this season and that's finishing in the top four.

It should be easier to predict their line-ups and their run-ins also look pretty favourable.

Bukayo Saka (centre)
Arsenal's Bukayo Saka scored against Aston Villa before the international break to take his goals tally for the season to nine

For example I'm about to move Philippe Coutinho on and I think I'm going to opt for Bukayo Saka over Havertz or Mount even though I've already got Gabriel Martinelli in my squad, which is going to give me the Arsenal double-up in midfield.

Dejan Kulusevski would be another one I might go for over a Chelsea midfielder even though I know, when they start, the Blues players are very likely to score well.

James is an interesting one in this scenario, with the likelihood of him getting rotated being even higher as he's also on his way back from another injury. But his points-scoring potential is so great that I think I would take the risk on him, even though you know he's going to sit out the odd game.

The key as always is to have decent back-up on the bench and hope if he does get rested then it's a proper rest with no involvement at all, rather than an annoying 10-minute substitute appearance.

On the subject of attacking right-backs it looks as though Trent Alexander-Arnold might miss Liverpool's game against Watford this weekend through injury.

Liverpool's fixtures after that are against the two Manchester clubs so you might consider selling him, particularly if you've already got Andrew Robertson or Virgil van Dijk in your defence, but don't forget he's likely to cost you more if you want to buy him back.

He's valued at £7.9m in my squad, but currently costs £8.4m on the transfer market. Robertson would be a great replacement though, if you don't already own him - as would James, Joao Cancelo, Aymeric Laporte or Antonio Rudiger, with the obvious caveats above.

Another popular move this week will be to get striker Wout Weghorst in as Burnley have two fixtures in gameweek 31 and gameweek 33, including home games against Everton and Southampton, plus a trip to Norwich.

Equally if you back the Burnley defence to keep clean sheets - over the Burnley attack scoring goals - then Nick Pope, Connor Roberts or James Tarkowski could be good options.

Everton also double up in gameweek 31, at West Ham and Burnley, and I think Anthony Gordon is the best pick for them at the bargain price of £4.5m although, I'm sorry Burnley and Everton fans, but I'm not going for any of them because I don't think their form justifies it at the moment.

Alistair Bruce-Ball presents the Fantasy 606 podcast alongside former Premier League winner Chris Sutton and Statman Dave. The latest episode previewing gameweek 31 is available to download on the BBC Sounds App.

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