Thanks for joining me again for my fixture analysis here on FPL Updates. This is a look at the potential best matches, from a fantasy perspective, of a team from each quarter of the Premier League table. It’s a view of each club’s next five, because remember that it is important to look at games from a longer term perspective rather than just transferring players in because they’ve got Burnley at home next! Let’s see what we’ve got over Christmas and into the New Year…
Top Five (Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham)
Of Tottenham’s next five fixtures, three come at White Hart Lane. They boast the second best home record in the division, having taken 20 points from eight matches so far, including thumping victories in their last two. A 5-0 win over Swansea City and a 3-0 defeat of Hull City were sandwiched either side of a loss to Manchester United, but Mauricio Pochettino’s team do appear to be getting back into their stride a little. Their upcoming games should help too, starting with Burnley’s visit to north London this weekend. The Clarets are shocking on the road, so this one looks like a home banker; goals, clean sheet, loads of points. Following this are two trips away, first to Southampton on the 28th before Watford at Vicarage Road on New Years Day. Their hardest fixture comes against Chelsea a few days later, but the Blues haven’t won at the Lane for over four years and if Spurs have any sort of title aspirations this season, this will be a must-win match. After the Chelsea game – and the FA Cup third round – West Bromwich Albion will be their next opponents on home soil. This is a decent stretch for Spurs, and I fully expect them to take advantage over the next few weeks.
6th-10th (Manchester United, West Brom, Everton, Southampton, Bournemouth)
In beating Spurs, I heard many a Man United fan proclaiming they were back. I’m not exactly sure where they’d got back to, because it wasn’t the top four. Not yet anyway. However, their next run of games might place them there. The Crystal Palace match on Wednesday was a good test and they passed it, and now a few matches of similar ilk are on the horizon; and by that, I mean they could very feasibly win their next four games. First up is a trip to West Brom, before two lovely looking home games against Sunderland and Middlesbrough to finish the calendar year. They then travel to West Ham on 2017’s second day, before a massive clash at Old Trafford against Liverpool after the cup break. United can really make a statement over this period I feel, and we’ll know more about whether they are ‘back’ yet or not. Somehow, we’re back to a stage where Phil Jones (4.8m at the time of writing!) looks fit and firing, and Eric Bailly’s latest knock will only help him retain his place. Up top, Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn’t appear to ever need a rest and if you’re still rolling with Sergio Aguero – and almost a fifth of teams still are – then I suggest you swap him for the Swede until the end of January and then play your wildcard if you decide you want the Argentine back in.
11th-15th (Watford, Stoke, Burnley, Leicester City, West Ham)
Wednesday’s fixture with Burnley was welcome relief for West Ham, having faced Liverpool, Arsenal, Man United and Spurs in their previous four. That quartet had produced two points – both coming on the road, and back at home in midweek they were able to register their first win since late October. It’s been a really tough second season for Slavan Bilic and the Hammers faithful, but things may start to look up over the next few weeks. Next to visit London Stadium is Hull City, who have lost their last six on the road, scoring twice and conceding a whopping 19! Following this are trips to Swansea and Leicester, before two home games to kick off the new year. United are first up, before a London derby with Crystal Palace on the 14th. Now four points clear of the relegation zone, Bilic will be keen to lift his side away from danger during this more favourable looking stretch. At 6.1m, Andy Carroll will be worth a look until the next time he pulls a muscle in his hair.
Bottom Five (Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Swansea, Hull City, Sunderland)
Middlesbrough are one of the division’s strangest sides. I watched them against Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea and they looked brilliant, taking two points from these three – two more than any Boro fan expected surely? Then I saw some of the Hull game and it was pretty horrible, but they won and I concluded that there are three worse teams than them this season and I think they’ll stay up. They have a chance to really make a statement over the festive period and beyond, starting with a home clash with Swansea City on Saturday. Don’t underestimate how big this one is, with a win for Boro meaning they’ll pull themselves six points clear of their opponents. Then comes a trip to Burnley before their first visit to Old Trafford since they won on penalties there in the League Cup 14 months ago. The shootout followed a 0-0 draw – a result I’m sure they’d be happy to match this time around. Aitor Karanka’s troops will then host Leicester City at the Riverside before a trip down to Watford after an FA Cup game with Sheffield Wednesday. There are plenty of midfielders to keep tabs on, with Viktor Fischer finally starting a run of games, Adama Traore always looking a threat and Gaston Ramirez soon back from injury. If you’re looking for budget options, there are certainly a few here that might be worth keeping tabs on.
Written by Joe McPhee (@JPMc99)