Hi there, I’m Joe and welcome to my first FPL Fixture Analysis column for FPL Updates. I’m absolutely delighted to join the team and hope that you will enjoy reading my pieces about forthcoming games in the Premier League. Without further ado, lets crack on!
Ok so a big reason for this column is the simple fact that a lot of FPL players play the game on a week-to-week basis, meaning that they base their transfer business purely on who a player might be facing during the upcoming weekend. It’s a short sighted tactic and although it can bring some success, is it worth shuffling things around for a player who may be facing a relegation candidate this week, but has away games at three of the top four in the weeks to come? I’m here in an attempt to help you the best I can, though you should be warned that I very rarely win accumulators, so maybe I can’t spot a good fixture after all? Actually, maybe the FPL Updates team have made a mistake here… Hopefully they don’t notice!
Predominantly when you’re bringing players into your team, and particularly when you take a dreaded points hit, you want the guy coming in to be worth the transfer. Obviously, this beautiful game can be difficult to predict, as those with Romelu Lukaku as their captain at home to Swansea City last weekend would surely testify. My main point is, if you’d brought the Belgian into your line-up with just that fixture in mind, you’d be pretty disappointed right about now.
There are two things I’d like you to know about the way this article is going to work. Firstly, I’ll be focusing each piece by splitting the Premier League table into four quarters. This allows me to focus on different teams each week and gives you a more detailed insight into the upcoming fixtures from different parts of the table. Secondly, I will only look at the next five games because although seven day short-termism should be frowned upon, seeing that Arsenal have a nice home game against Sunderland in late April helps nobody at this stage!
Top Five (Chelsea/Liverpool/Man City/Arsenal/Tottenham)
Though their stay at the top of the table ended when Chelsea beat Middlesbrough on Sunday, Liverpool’s chances of returning to the summit look good when you consider what they’ve got coming up. In the run up to Christmas, Jurgen Klopp’s charges face Sunderland and West Ham at home and Bournemouth and Boro away before the Merseyside Derby on December 19. Liverpool have only failed to score in two games at Anfield since Klopp arrived and both of those were when Manchester United came to town. Meanwhile Sunderland and West Ham have just one clean sheet on the road between them this term, so you would fancy the Reds to score in both those games. They also did the double over Bournemouth last season and although Aitor Karanka’s Boro side have looked hard to beat lately, Klopp’s record against newly promoted outfits is generally very good. Everton, off the boil recently with a single win from seven games, were easily dispatched when the two last met, Liverpool running out 4-0 winners in April. I think they can take at least 11 points from this set of games, my only concern being the impact Adam Lallana’s injury has on the way the team play. If Klopp can overcome this slight issue, I expect Liverpool to be full of beans as we approach the festive season.
6th-10th (Man Utd/Everton/Watford/West Brom/Bournemouth)
Bit of a left-field choice this, but West Brom look as if they have a more favourable stretch coming up than the other sides around them, even with a trip to Stamford Bridge included. They’re picked here due to having three home matches over this period, against Watford, Swansea City and Manchester United – a team the Baggies beat at The Hawthorns when the sides last met in March. Their next game at Hull City should be one they are confident of taking points from too, especially after their Monday night mauling of Burnley earlier this week. The Chelsea game is the only one of these five that doesn’t look too promising, but it’s certainly better than Everton’s run of having to face United, Liverpool and Arsenal all before Christmas. Considering the Tony Pulis suffocation approach, I definitely think a couple of clean sheets are possible here and I was quietly impressed by their play on the break during Monday’s game. The likes of James Morrison, Salomon Rondon and Matty Philips are all worth consideration if you’re shopping in the bargain basement.
This is the reason why I’m writing this column! You might look at Southampton’s next game – at home to Everton – as a potentially tricky one, and you’d be right, it’s not the easiest fixture they could have. But if you look past that, their following four games are nice and welcome ones after recent matches against Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool. Once Everton have visited St Mary’s, the Saints then travel to Crystal Palace, who have lost at home on four occasions already. After that comes a home clash with Middlesbrough, before trips to Stoke City and down the road to Bournemouth. Don’t be fooled, Stoke’s Bet365 Stadium is not the testing place it once was under its former name! Claude Puel’s team are a talented side, so the upcoming stretch will be one that they will be licking their lips at I think. They’re tied second for the most clean sheets so far with four, and I’d be stunned if they didn’t pick up at least two more as they negotiate their way through these games. At the other end, record signing Sofiane Boufal will be looking to make an impact having finally made his full debut, while Charlie Austin will like his chances of adding to the five goals that he’s notched so far.
Bottom Five (Crystal Palace/West Ham/Hull/Sunderland/Swansea)
I feel sorry for Bob Bradley. The American was ridiculed by some sections of the media because he got the Swansea job over the likes of Ryan Giggs, which is of course extremely harsh. He’s an experienced coach and is more than qualified for the role. But there’s no denying that it’s been a tough start in charge, with a late Everton goal denying him a first win last Saturday. Things might be about to get slightly easier though, with three of their next five opponents being teams that occupy the five places above them. As well as home games with Crystal Palace and Sunderland, away clashes with West Brom and Middlesbrough will also be seen as potentially winnable. Only a trip to Tottenham will be seen as really difficult, but even they have been giving a few points away lately. These are the kinds of fixtures Bradley needs to start picking up points in, ensuring his side win their first game since the opening weekend of the campaign. Personally I feel that the Palace and Sunderland games at the Liberty Stadium represent their best chance of earning a win that might lift them off the bottom of the table.
Written by Joe McPhee (@JPMc99)