Aren’t international breaks annoying? We all love our national team, although Scots must struggle at times. We get the need for them to play qualifiers throughout the season, they’re unavoidable if you want those hazy World Cup and European Championship summer days. Unless you’re Scottish, in which case they truly are pointless. There’d be no Three Lions on a shirt, no being in the pub at 7am during the 2002 world cup, no being so drunk by mid-afternoon following a 3-0 win over Denmark that you walk straight into a canal and end up in hospital. The last one may have been just me in retrospect, but you get the point.

What I do find international breaks in the Premier League schedule help with is planning around fixtures. There’s one more Premier League gameweek before the next break, during which your English players will be jetting off to the twin delights of the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Whilst they’re slumming it in Sofia it gives us chance to have a look at the next five gameweeks, to see where our trade and transfer targets should lie. By the time the Three Lions are back from the bright lights of Kosovo on 17th November, hopefully without shipping three goals this time, this article may well have helped you climb your RealFF league:

 

Attackers

West Ham – three plum home fixtures against Palace, Sheffield United and Newcastle. Two soft away ties at goal shy Everton and Burnley. What’s not to love? Given their great start to the season you may well find a lot of Hammers are owned, but I’d recommend Haller as a trade target given he’s nailed on and has been a little unlucky so far. Have a look on the scrapheap for Lanzini, an over-zealous manager may have dropped him during his recent brief injury, and there’s a chance Yarmolenko is still available despite his hot start.

Have a look on the scrapheap for Lanzini, an over-zealous manager may have dropped him during his recent brief injury

Arsenal – similar to West Ham, the Gunners have Bournemouth, Palace and a tired Wolves side visiting the Emirates. Away ties at Sheffield United and Leicester aren’t exactly scary from an attacking perspective either. I still have faith in Pepe and recommend him as a trade target, he’s adapting slowly to Premier League life but is nailed on and simply too good for some of those defences. Arsenal are too big a name for many of their players to be left available, but maybe the flying full backs Tierney and Bellerin could be picked up and give you some defensive attacking returns.

Chelsea – fixtures aren’t quite as juicy as the two above, with only two home games against Newcastle and Palace. Away from the Bridge they have Southampton, Burnley and Watford. I’m not sure the venue matters too much though, from an attacking perspective Frank’s lads are gung-ho. On the trade front it’s tricky, Tammy and Mount have started so well that they’ll be difficult to get at decent trade value. However there could be some gems available via transfers if you’re in a less active league. Hudson-Odoi is ready to make his mark on the season, and Willian is looking about as good as he ever has. There’s a possibility the recently benched Pulisic has been released by a manager in your league, which I think is a mistake. He’ll get starts during the busy periods around Champions League games, and is simply too good to not be utilised against some of these softer opponents. Hit the waiver wire and fill your boots.

Hudson-Odoi is ready to make his mark on the season, and Willian is looking about as good as he ever has

 

Defence

Man City – The reigning champions have three easy home games against Wolves, Villa and Southampton in their next four. It seems however many injuries they have, whichever ageing Brazilian midfielder plays at centre back, they get clean sheets. Given the ever-shifting team sheet there’s only a few safe options here. Trade for Ederson and Walker, then have a look on the scrapheap for the newly fit Ben Mendy who appears to be nearing cementing his spot. Just watch out for the 90 minute clean sheet rule, Mendy will get subbed now and then whilst he builds up to full power.

 

Teams to avoid

Looking at fixtures can also help tell us who to use as trade bait, the players we own who may have started the season well but are now running into a sea of tough games. Trade these players away whilst they look good, by November their shine may have dulled:

Crystal Palace – I’ve mentioned them a few times already, but not in a good way. Away at West Ham, home to Man City, away at Arsenal, home to Leicester, away at Chelsea. Yikes! At the back Palace have started well and so trade value may be available for Guaita, PVA and co if you own them. Get rid now as you ain’t getting many, if any, clean sheets or attacking returns over the Autumn schedule.

At the back Palace have started well and so trade value may be available for Guaita, PVA and co if you own them.

Liverpool – this might seem bold but look at the fixtures. Home to Leicester, away at Man Utd, home to Spurs, away at Villa (the exception!), home to Man City. They may look unbeatable so far, but will that still be the case when Henderson and co visit Kosovo? Certainly don’t give them away willy nilly, but maybe consider whether you can get e.g. Aguero for Salah whilst the fixtures are so bad for the Scousers…..

Cheers,
Gaffer

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