PINCH, punch, first of the month and all that waffle. Any self-respecting Dream Team managers knows that flipping over the calendar means a fresh batch of transfers are imminent. Gaffers will be able to make changes from Friday morning ahead of Game Week 21. As always, it’s best to consider the schedule for the month ahead when deciding on a strategy so let’s whip through the fixtures that await each of the teams currently in the top half. ARSENAL Everton (a) Brentford (h) Man City (h) Aston Villa (a) Leicester (a) 5A huge game awaits It’s worth noting that the Gunners don’t have any European commitment to fulfil until March because they have already qualified for the Europa League round of 16. In terms of Premier League fixtures, one match-up sticks out like a sore thumb. It could be argued that the visit of Pep Guardiola’s men to the Emirates on the 15th is Arsenal’s biggest game in years – victory would make them huge favourites to claim the league title. Elsewhere, the Bees are not as threatening away from their hive and there should be plenty on points on offer against Everton, Villa and Leicester, three sides currently in the bottom half. Most read in Dream Team MANCHESTER CITY Spurs (a) Aston Villa (h) Nottingham Forest (a) Arsenal (a) RB Leipzig (a) Bournemouth (a) Four consecutive away days, starting with that trip to north London, will be a test for the defending English champions – Leipzig can be a tricky place to go in the Champions League knockouts. Saying that, Erling Haaland (£9.1m) will be confident of adding to his goal tally and may even be earmarking Villa, Forest or Bournemouth for his next hat-trick. NEWCASTLE 5Dream Team’s king of defenders West Ham (h) Bournemouth (a) Liverpool (h) Man United or Southampton (n) It’s highly likely the Magpies will meet Erik ten Hag’s side in the Carabao Cup final at the end of month – that matter will be confirmed this evening. Those first two fixtures look ripe for yet more returns from the likes of Kieran Trippier (£6.6m) and Nick Pope (£5.3m) – Jurgen Klopp’s mob are miles off their best right now as well. However, Newcastle will not be as busy as several other teams this month so it will be interesting to see if their assets can maintain their dominance at the top of the defensive rankings. MANCHESTER UNITED Crystal Palace (h) Leeds (h) Leeds (a) Barcelona (a) Leicester (h) Barcelona (h) Brentford (h) Be aware that final fixture against Thomas Frank’s side is likely to be replaced by the Carabao Cup final, assuming the Red Devils finish the job in tonight’s semi-final second leg against Nottingham Forest. A two-legged meeting with La Liga’s leaders in the Europa League ensures Man United have a busy schedule in the coming weeks. They have an excellent record against Leeds since the Yorkshire club returned to the top flight so backers of Marcus Rashford (£5.7m) and Bruno Fernandes (£5.8m) should expect more points from that double header. 5A healthy allotment of Man United assets could be the way to go for Dream Team gaffers this month TOTTENHAM Man City (h) Leicester (a) AC Milan (a) West Ham (h) Chelsea (h) A relatively tough month for Antonio Conte’s men to negotiate here with the visit of City, a European away day, and a brace of London derbies. Harry Kane (£7.9m) missed the last game through illness and his owners should certainly keep an eye out for updates but the England skipper is expected to return to the starting line-up this weekend. BRIGHTON Bournemouth (h) Crystal Palace (a) Fulham (h) The Seagulls’ game against Newcastle has been postponed because of the latter’s appointment at Wembley. Kaoru Mitoma (£2.6m) and Solly March (£2.8m) provided superb value for money throughout January but the midfield pair will struggle to maintain their impressive pace this month with so few fixtures to fulfil. FULHAM 5A lean spell Chelsea (a) Sunderland (a) Nottingham Forest (h) Brighton (a) Wolves (h) An FA Cup replay against the Black Cats helps bolster the in-form Cottagers’ schedule. Aleksandar Mitrovic’s (£4.8m) owners may be concerned that the Serbian target man has mustered just one point across his last five outings – keep an eye on his returns in the coming weeks. BRENTFORD Southampton (h) Arsenal (a) Crystal Palace (h) Man United (a) Generally speaking, the Bees are a force to be reckoned with at home but vulnerable on the road. That pattern could well extend this month with difficult trips to the Emirates and Old Trafford offset by two favourable home fixtures. LIVERPOOL Wolves (a) Everton (h) Newcastle (a) Real Madrid (h) Crystal Palace (a) 5What can Liverpool muster from this season? Dream Team bosses simply don’t know what to make of the Reds right now. It’s been a bitterly underwhelming campaign so far but the potential of their most-popular assets can never be ignored – Mohamed Salah (£8.3m) has 151 points to his name. Liverpool enjoyed themselves in the Champions League during the group stage (for the most part) but a meeting with the competition’s specialists will paint a clearer picture of their fortunes. CHELSEA Fulham (h) West Ham (a) Borussia Dortmund (a) Southampton (h) Spurs (a) No fewer than three London derbies guarantees a mightily competitive month for the Blues, whose squad has been recently bolstered by yet more expensive arrivals. Truth be told, Thiago Silva (£5.8m) and Kepa Arrizabalaga (£3.4m) are the only two players who have made a positive impact in the realm of Dream Team recently. February will be a litmus test of Graham Potter’s side; fans will be desperate for significant improvements.
Dream Team tips: Which teams have the most favourable fixtures this February?
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