The fixtures, released at 9am on Wednesday, sent football fans scrambling around the internet to see who their team would be facing off against in the early stages of the season. Adding derbys to their diary and some even organising plans months in advance! But the real question is; how does this affect fantasy football? It’s well known that every manager needs to hit the ground running if they want to have a chance of topping their public and private leagues. A firm understanding of the fixture rotation will also ensure you have the best chances of securing a positive start to the season.
So, let’s see how each team starts the season, by analysing their first 5 fixtures:
Arsenal – West Ham/Crystal Palace/Liverpool/Newcastle/Stoke City
West Ham will still be recovering from the loss of Sam Allardyce and Palace ‘should be’ a win for the Gunners, unless Bolasie and summer signings make their mark early. Liverpool can be seen as the only early challenge for Arsenal but after a 4-1 win last season, they will be looking to make it 9 points out of 9 as they begin their campaign. I’m sure we will see many teams maxing out on 3 Arsenal players at the start of the season, which will possibly be a great way to grab some early points (if all goes as planned).
Aston Villa – Bournemouth/Manchester United/Crystal Palace/Sunderland/Leicester City
The big question is, will Benteke stay? If he does, will he hit the ground running or go back to a slump which he found himself in last season? Their biggest challenge is United in gameweek 2, but Sherwood will be looking to take at least 1 point to ensure Villa don’t find themselves in the same position as last season. On the opening day, they face off against newly promoted Bournemouth who will be looking to start the season strong after winning the championship. What do I think? It’s a big risk including Villa players knowing their inconsistencies but their fixture list doesn’t look too bad…
AFC Bournemouth – Aston Villa/Liverpool/West Ham/Leicester City/Norwich
Quite a tough start in my opinion, and who knows how they’re going to perform in the big league. Taking anything from the Liverpool game will give them the belief they need to fight against less talented teams, and with the possibility of a poor start it is essential they pick up points against Leicester and Norwich. This will give them the structure and starting point, to hold on for the rest of the season. Will Callum Wilson carry on from his 23 goals last season, now he has to play against higher calibre teams?
Chelsea – Swansea/Manchester City/West Brom/Crystal Palace/Everton
Last seasons champions, will expect nothing less than a 5-0 start as they look to build upon their successes and continue to rule English football Will their confidence turn into arrogance,as they face Swansea first who took all 3 points off United in last season’s opening game. Also the players will be in for an early test in gameweek 2 against last seasons runners up, Manchester City. However it is highly probable that they will be near pole position as the season sees out its first few fixtures.
Crystal Palace – Norwich/Arsenal/Aston Villa/Chelsea/Manchester City
Probably the worst start Palace could of asked for. Playing last season’s top 3 in their first month will likely see them trailing the pack if they fail to pick up points against Norwich. I wouldn’t be too hopeful as a palace fan,as they will need to quickly recover and pick up points against more reasonable opponents. But can they cause an upset everyone is hoping for? We’ll see. But for me, I wouldn’t touch these players with a 10 foot barge pole in the first few gameweeks. However as the fixtures pass, they will definitely be ones to keep an eye on.
Everton – Watford/Southampton/Manchester City/Tottenham/Chelsea
4 Massive games which could see Everton going 1-4 to start the season. Southampton is a tough fixture for any team and then the following 3 games will see the odds stacked against them, especially if they start doubting their ability and start another losing streak like last season. Another issue is their injury prone players, but can Mirallas make an instant impact? He’s the only player I would look for to score high points in the opening games, but it would be no shock to see low scoring games or just a simple loss for Everton resulting in a lack of points and confidence.
Leicester City – Sunderland/West Ham/Tottenham/Bournemouth/Aston Villa
Everyone knows the importance of getting off to a decent enough start, last season, they managed to grab 8 out of 15 points, and will be looking to improve upon this. Honestly, they have the chance to. With only Tottenham arguably being the toughest fixture, 12 points is quite achievable and essential if they want to forget about last season and not repeat their survival struggles. They have improved their defence in the summer, but is it a striker they need?
Liverpool – Stoke City/Bournemouth/Arsenal/West Ham/Manchester United
2 MASSIVE games for Liverpool as Rodgers looks to dismiss critics from a poor season, yet there is less pressure this season than the last so will this be the catalyst the team needed. Origi and Ings will look to make an impact if they are given their chance and so will James Milner Liverpool will need a successful start of the season, to try and cover up the dismissal of Gerrard and huge questions will be asked to see how Liverpool will cope without their experienced star.
Manchester City – West Brom/Chelsea/Everton/Watford/Crystal Palace
A promising few fixtures for City apart from the Chelsea game, a team I would look at to have 3 players from and maybe even Hart. He will likely be cheaper than Courtois and with his impressive record last season City, he will be excited to start the season. Aguero will likely be in high demand after competing in the Copa America and then it’s up to you. Do you go for the wizard of David Silva or a defender? My prediction is at least 3 clean sheets out of the first 5 games, but then again this is the Premier League…
Manchester United – Tottenham/Aston Villa/Newcastle/Swansea/Liverpool
United will be looking forward to the season after securing Champions League, but their first game is nothing to be confident for. An aggressive Tottenham and Harry Kane will be looking to pounce upon any unready players and new signings will be thrown right into the deep end when they come up against Spurs. Also Swansea and Liverpool seem like tough games back to back, so is it worth risking including players like Di Maria who struggled to keep consistency throughout the season.
Newcastle – Southampton/Swansea/Manchester United/Arsenal/West Ham
Possibly the worst start a new manager could ask for, Its an actual nightmare of a start! United and Arsenal back to back, walk in the park! The magpies barely survived last season so will need to start off strong to make sure history is not repeated. However they do have the”best coach in the football league”so we can guarantee a few wins this season. I wouldn’t say they have a stand out player, and their defensive record last year was quite abysmal, so stay away for now!
Norwich – Crystal Palace/Sunderland/Stoke City/Southampton/Bournemouth
Norwich have quite a warm welcome to the top flight with possibly some good rotational players if you watched the championship last season. They have the easiest set of fixtures they could of asked for, but what’s the catch? Not haddock. You don’t know what you will get with the newly promoted side, so its possibly a straight forward start to the campaign or a 0-5 entrance to the league being shell shocked by the change of intensity.
Southampton – Newcastle/Everton/Watford/Norwich/West Brom
Not a bad line up in all honestly, and after quite a surprising season last year, expectations will be high which could be their downfall. However their fixtures look promising, with the potential of some high scoring games if their strikers continue their terror of last season, or has their time come to struggle? Unlikely but definitely a possibility. A few players worth having as rotational players, they’ll definitely be cheap but this comes with a risk of low points.
Stoke City – Liverpool/Tottenham/Norwich/West Brom/Arsenal
Normally the first game would be a struggle, but is it after last season’s demolition? 6-1 would be an interesting repeat but it would take a miracle to score them goals again. Tottenham straight after could leave Stoke scrambling for points and with Arsenal only a few weeks later, it doesn’t look too bright for Stoke, one of my contenders for relegation.
Sunderland – Leicester City/Norwich/Swansea/Aston Villa/Tottenham
These first fixtures are crucial for Sunderland if they look to improve on last season’s performance. Their first 4 games are definitely winnable, but will they be able to handle the stress of a new season after constant manager changes? They will need points before facing Tottenham to ensure they have some safety foundations for the rest of the season.
Swansea – Chelsea/Newcastle/Sunderland/Manchester United/Watford
A tough first game against the champions will be a huge test for Monk, but after surprising England last season by setting real competition for big teams, there could be a shock. Chelsea will probably be just too much for the Welsh squad and its essential they regrow their confidence before playing United where they will look to take advantage of their double from last season and secure 9 points out of 9 against the Red Devils. Another strong team who perform dominantly week in, week out so quite a few rotational players worth putting some thought into.
Tottenham – Manchester United/Stoke City/Leicester City/Everton/Sunderland
Perfect fixtures if you cancel out the first game, so with this in mind, surely Harry Kane is a certain. The Englishman will be looking to grow his goal tally from last season and capitalize on both a successful domestic and international season. Goals will be flying in for Spurs as they play weaker teams and should look to take advantage of their godsend of a gift.
Watford – Everton/West Brom/Southampton/Manchester City/Swansea
Quite a tough start for the premier league’s newbies, West Brom is the only side I can see them taking points off as they will begin the season with a struggle. A win against a top team could give them belief to go on and give a good game against the top table teams. Honestly, I see this side lacking a goal scorer and don’t have the calibre needed for the premier League, Sorry Watford Fans!
West Brom – Machester City/Watford/Chelsea/Stoke City/Southampton
Almost done! West Brom is another side I can see struggling from the offset. With 3 very tough fixtures,you could suggest no more than 6 points, and that’s only if they do the business in the other games! Maybe they can recover after this start but I highly doubt it. Their players on average scored the lowest, apart from sides who were relegated, so stay away from these players as they may try their hardest, but they don’t get the points!
West Ham – Arsenal/Leicester City/Bournemouth/Liverpool/Newcastle
Finally, It will be a tough start for whoever manages the Hammers, with Arsenal and Liverpool being expected losses. Other teams in the same position as them will also be scrambling for points, and it will be vital they don’t find themselves trailing the pack. They need some points out of the situation though, and I’m sure some resilience from their players and new manager will give teams a good run for their money and most importantly come away with a handful of points.
As said, it is vital to have good rotational players within your fantasy football squads, and no more important than at the back. There are already some good rotational teams, such as Leicester City/Swansea, Stoke City/Crystal Palace and Chelsea/West Ham, however until prices for these players come out it can be hard to see what is feasible. Personally, I would also look at including Southampton and Manchester City players at the start, as both teams have a good start and both had a very impressive clean sheet record last season even against the big teams.
Key things to remember
These are only the first 5 games – Anything can happen after that! Teams can be created Mid July – You have lots of time to think about who you want
Any questions? – Feel free to contact @FPL_Updates on twitter and drop a follow for advice throughout.
By Morgan Kidson