February means that every competition for the football (soccer) season is in full swing. The League Cup is coming to an end. The FA Cup is interrupting the Premier League's season like it always does. The Champions League and Europa League are in the knockout stages. All of it adds up to lots of fun to watch, as well as a massive struggle for Fantasy Premier League owners.
League Cup (Carabao Cup)
This competition is down to the final, which is going to be played this coming Sunday, 2/25. Arsenal meets Manchester City at Wembley. Interestingly, these two teams will play again in a Premier League fixture on Thursday, 3/1. You have to believe that both clubs will put out their best starting XI for this match, which makes you wonder who will play in the PL on Thursday.
We are down to the final 10 clubs. Swansea and Tottenham have to play a 5th round replay on 2/27 and 2/28 (next midweek). Manchester United, Brighton, Leicester City, Chelsea, and Southampton are already in the quarterfinals, to be played the weekend of 3/17 (GW 31).
There are two reasons why this competition makes the FPL so tricky. First, those clubs will have these additional matches to play for as long as they remain in the competition.
Plus, the Premier League's fixture list gets crazy when the FA Cup reaches this point. There will be either 4 or 5 Premier League fixtures during GW 31. That is the week when you, as an FPL owner, should play your Free Hit chip. This gives you the ability to take a one-week mulligan with your lineup to account for the reduced fixture list.
But then you still have to wait and see when those 5 or 6 postponed PL fixtures get scheduled. That will result in double gameweeks for those clubs at later points in the season. Those are times when you strongly consider playing your Triple Captain chip (if you haven't already).
Needless to say, the FA Cup tournament is making all of our lives difficult...and really fun.
England's gain in Europe is an FPL owner's struggle. Manchester City, Liverpool, and Tottenham all played well in the first leg of their Round of 16 matches last week. Chelsea and Manchester United play this current midweek. The longer these clubs stay in this tournament, the more congested the fixture list gets for them as their midweeks fill up.
And of course, they are going to prioritize this competition as much as possible, which makes your FPL lineup that much more unpredictable.
Take everything written above about the Champions League and multiply it by 2 for Arsenal in the Europa League. This competition has 32 clubs in its knockout rounds, which means that Arsenal will play 4 matches over 4 midweeks when their Champions League club counterparts play only 2. That makes a big difference when you consider playing Arsenal players in your FPL lineup.
It is great having matches to watch nearly every day of the week. Managing your FPL lineups, however, becomes so much harder. If we're being honest with one another, though, would you want to have it any other way?