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Let’s be clear – if you’ve not got three Manchester City players in your fantasy football team then you’re not doing your job right.

But with Aymeric Laporte fully fit again and both Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero returning from injury, the question now is which three to go for to maximise those valuable City returns?

Due to their phenomenal defensive record a lot of managers, myself included, initially opted for the double City defence strategy – predominantly two of Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias and John Stones – plus Raheem Sterling or Ilkay Gundogan once De Bruyne was injured, but they’re now looking so good at both ends of the pitch that I’m tempted to switch that to one defender and two midfielders.

De Bruyne’s return shouldn’t impact adversely on Gundogan’s incredible form – as Statman Dave pointed out in this week’s Fantasy 606 podcast the two were dove-tailing beautifully earlier in the season. Gundogan started his scoring streak in gameweek 13 against West Brom and followed up with four goals in the next six games, while De Bruyne chipped in with a goal and four assists.

So my optimum City trio right now would be Cancelo, Gundogan and De Bruyne, with Cancelo getting the nod over the centre-backs for the potential attacking returns.

I wouldn’t worry about Aguero just yet. Let’s see how his comeback goes but he would certainly come into consideration if he can stay fit and get a run of games.

And I’ve not even mentioned Phil Foden or Bernardo Silva, who are both in sparkling form but who would still have to be behind Gundogan and De Bruyne in the queue.

Leeds and Saints players proving popular?

Raphinha has four goals and five assists for Leeds this season

Now on to gameweek 25 when a lot of managers will be banking on Leeds and Southampton players. Both clubs have two fixtures – Leeds are away to Wolves and Southampton host Chelsea before they meet each other at Elland Road on Tuesday.

It’s no surprise that Patrick Bamford, Danny Ings, Stuart Dallas and Raphinha are four of the five most transferred-in players this week and I wouldn’t sway you away from any of them. You may not necessarily fancy Leeds to keep two clean sheets but you’re really signing Stuart Dallas for his attacking potential.

Both managers are also very consistent in the line-ups they select so you’d hope to get two games out of all of them.

For that reason it’s probably also wise to make one of those Leeds or Southampton assets captain – I got burned last week by backing Bruno Fernandes away at West Brom over Gundogan, who would almost certainly have made that faux-pas more damaging had he not missed the Everton game. Bamford and Ings will undoubtedly be popular captaincy choices in gameweek 25.

If you are looking for a bit of differential with these two teams then Jack Harrison is a great option for Leeds, having scored three goals in his past five Premier League appearances and is only owned by 2.8% of managers, although Raphinha’s ownership is also low at just 5%.

There’s better differential available among the Southampton squad, with Takumi Minamino at 0.4% ownership and Stuart Armstrong at just 0.3%, so those are two options worth considering.

Elsewhere Brighton’s defence is definitely worth looking at, particularly as they are one of only six teams scheduled to play in gameweek 29 at the moment, which will be a home fixture against Newcastle.

All of the defenders and goalkeeper Robert Sanchez cost less than £5m and they’ve kept five clean sheets in their past six games. Dan Burn is yet to score for Brighton in 58 appearances but he’s been looking a real threat from set-pieces and Tariq Lamptey is on his way back to action soon and he would offer the potential of attacking returns down the right flank.

Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez has kept six clean sheets for Brighton in 2020-21

Rearranged could change the strategy

Finally, at the time of writing we’re still waiting for the Premier League to confirm some of the rearranged fixtures which will potentially make gameweek 26 a bumper double gameweek.

Hopefully that news will come before the gameweek 25 deadline at 18:30 GMT on Friday, which means you could play your second wildcard with all the knowledge at hand to then set your team up with 15 double gameweek players for a Bench Boost and hopefully a massive score in gameweek 26.

The Triple Captain chip could also be a good option in gameweek 26 but don’t forget you can’t play the wildcard and the Bench Boost or Triple Captain in the same week. You MUST play the wildcard this week if you want to use that strategy.

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