The rammed festive fixture list is hard on the players, but Fantasy Premier League managers have it tough too.
With 39 fixtures taking place across a 13-day period, deadlines will sneak up, rotation will scupper plans and the minuscule gaps between games will be enough to throw the most diligent manager into a spin.
With that in mind, here are three key areas for bosses to be aware of ahead of the Christmas bonanza of festive football.
Pay attention to deadlines
Setting your team up is all well and good, but if you don’t do it before the weekly deadline then all your hard work could be for nothing.
With four deadlines in 12 days across the festive period there’s a strong possibility you could miss one without proper planning – so here are the all-important times and dates.
With all deadlines coming at 11:30am, that’s the easy part. Things become more difficult with one deadline on Boxing Day morning, one deadline the morning after gameweek 19 has finished, and one deadline on New Year’s Day.
Our advice? Set your alarms for each of those days and don’t get caught out.
Be aware of rotation
FPL bosses are constantly alert to rotation, but when it comes to Christmas the risks of your players being drafted in and out of the team are drastically increased.
To help managers work out which players are more likely to stay the festive course, it might be helpful to look back to gameweeks 14, 15 and 16, the only case so far this season where games have been played in midweek as well as both weekends either side.
During those three games, Leicester’s Jamie Vardy and James Maddison played 90 minutes on three occasions, while Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling got at least 60 minutes each game.
Elsewhere though, four Liverpool players managed just two 60+ minutes appearances, with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold all falling short on minutes during the clustered schedule.
Furthermore, of players to have started two consecutive Premier League games that took place four or fewer days apart (from the start of the 2015/16 season) just 63.3% of Reds players in that period started both fixtures, the lowest of all teams currently in the division.
So should you avoid Liverpool players this Christmas? If you’re still not convinced, you might be soon…
Beware the Reds
Liverpool have some of the most coveted footballers in the world and in the FPL, but none of them will be playing before Christmas.
The Reds have a blank in gameweek 18 (along with West Ham) due to their own festive fixture pile-up which has seen them compete in the Premier League, Champions League, League Cup and Club World Cup already this month.
That’s bad news for at least 20 per cent of managers, with Virgil Van Dijk, Mane, Alexander-Arnold, Salah and Andy Robertson each owned by at least a fifth of FPL bosses.
With more than 400 FPL points between them, you’ll have to look elsewhere for heavy hitters at the beginning of the Christmas period at least.
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