The start of the group stage in UEFA competitions this week could impact how managers assess their squads in Fantasy Premier League.
As the schedule gets busier for a host of clubs, the likelihood of domestic rest and rotation will increase.
Pep roulette set to return
Managers are all-too-familiar with Pep Guardiola’s rotation at Manchester City over the years.
Although Erling Haaland (£14.1m) is near-certain to avoid being benched, his fellow attackers Julian Alvarez (£6.8m) and Phil Foden (£7.6m) may have their minutes managed.
Alvarez has started all five of the opening Gameweeks and is the second top-scoring player in Fantasy on 37 points. He is the most-bought player ahead of Gameweek 6, brought in by more than 300,000 managers.
The Argentinian's owners will have been encouraged by Guardiola's words after Saturday's 3-1 win at West Ham United, when he described Alvarez as "almost undroppable". But the Man City boss is renowned for springing surprises and disappointing Fantasy managers.
Meanwhile, Foden’s three assists in the last four matches have taken his ownership to 13 per cent.
Backers of both players should either prepare themselves for the occasional benching in the coming period or look for more secure alternatives.
Packed schedule for Newcastle
Newcastle United’s first foray into the Champions League is also likely to impact their team selections at both ends of the pitch.
The Magpies’ 1-0 home win over Brentford on Saturday was the first of seven matches in 18 days across all competitions before the next international break.
Newcastle’s fixtures before next international break
|16 Sep||Premier League||Brentford (won 1-0)|
|19 Sep||Champions League||AC Milan (A)|
|24 Sep||Premier League||Sheff Utd (A)|
|27 Sep||Carabao Cup||Man City (H)|
|30 Sep||Premier League||Burnley (H)|
|4 Oct||Champions League||Paris Saint-Germain (H)|
|8 Oct||Premier League||West Ham (A)|
As evidenced towards the end of last season, head coach Eddie Howe has a tendency to rotate his forwards during congested schedules.
Alexander Isak (£7.6m) started Newcastle's first four league matches this campaign but was rested against Brentford and is expected to be their first choice in Europe.
That can lead to more minutes for Callum Wilson (£7.8m), who started against the Bees on Saturday, scored the decisive penalty and now has three goals this season compared with Isak's two.
Meanwhile, Howe could also decide to manage the pitch time of Kieran Trippier (£6.5m) during the upcoming spell.
The 33-year-old may occasionally sit out a league fixture, with summer signing Tino Livramento (£4.5m) his likely deputy at right-back.
Be wary of Brighton rotation
Managers should also be monitoring Brighton & Hove Albion’s line-ups ahead of the start of the UEFA Europa League group stage.
Roberto De Zerbi rotated his XI towards the latter stages of 2022/23 when the Seagulls were faced with three Double Gameweeks in the final nine rounds of matches.
Ahead of Brighton's European debut, he made a number of changes for Saturday's 3-1 win over Manchester United, including benching left-back Pervis Estupinan (£5.3m), who is owned by almost two-thirds of Fantasy managers.
Brighton's attackers are likely to be impacted, in particular.
Kaoru Mitoma (£6.5m) is Brighton’s most-popular midfielder or forward, with an ownership of almost 40 per cent. The Japanese winger has started each of the opening five Gameweeks, claiming a goal and three assists.
Evan Ferguson (£6.0m) was the second most-bought forward in Gameweek 5, earning a huge 310,000 new owners after his hat-trick against Newcastle.
Yet De Zerbi has been cautious with the 18-year-old’s pitch time, starting him only twice, and he was used as a substitute once again against Man Utd.
Target in-form stars not in Europe
The increased doubts over pitch time only strengthens the appeal of players at clubs who are not involved in Europe this season.
Tottenham Hotspur’s poor final campaign under Antonio Conte last season can now prove a blessing for James Maddison (£7.9m) and Son Heung-min (£9.1m).
Indeed, having already been knocked out of the 2023/24 Carabao Cup, Spurs’ key players only have Premier League matches on their schedule until the FA Cup gets under way at the start of 2024.
Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo (£6.9m) is also without European duties and has the short-term schedule to retain his place at the top of the midfield standings.