Welcome to my latest installment of the FPL Fixture Analysis here on FPL Updates. This is a look at the best upcoming games of teams and players – from a fantasy perspective – from all four corners of the Premier League table. After a few weeks away for this column, the domestic cup competitions have had a dramatic impact on the upcoming matches. Where this has an effect on the teams, I will ensure that this is mentioned.
Current Top Five
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are widely viewed as the champions elect. With 12 games to play, they’re ten points clear of Tottenham Hotspur, although Manchester City can cut that deficit slightly if they win their game in hand. The Blues are unlikely to care though, instead focusing, as they’ve done all season, on themselves. Their next five games are favourable, and could well see them wrap up the title before Easter weekend. Crucially, their cup commitments mean that they’re out of action in Gameweek 28 – though they’re one of 12 teams in that situation. It means that planning ahead is important, but they’re matches around that off week mean that Chelsea players are well worth owning and keeping. Next Monday they travel to West Ham United, before an away game at Stoke City after their FA Cup QF with Manchester United. They then host Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge before another game there against Man City. Bournemouth down on the south coast act as the fifth of their next five games, though a home game with Watford needs to be rearranged into the calendar somewhere. In terms of the team, there are literally no secrets to Conte’s lineup – it’s one of the most settled Premier League sides I’ve ever seen. I would say Cesc Fabregas (£6.9m) is the only player worth tracking, as he’s a cheap option that often offers decent attacking returns, but comes with no guarantee of minutes in comparison to some others.
I feel like Manchester United have been in sixth position forever – it’s not what Jose Mourinho envisaged and it’s probably not what Zlatan Ibrahimovic imaged either. That said, I really can see an end to their incredible stay in the same position, with their next few games finally propelling them into the top four. Again, they’re a side with no match scheduled in Game Week 28 but around that break their players are an enticing proposition. Saturday’s lunchtime kick off comes from Old Trafford, where they face Bournemouth. They then travel to Middlesbrough before a pair of home games against West Bromwich Albion and Everton. They then face Sunderland as the final game of their next five. I can’t see any less than 12 points here for United, and expecting them to get into those Champions League positions before their Easter weekend clash with Chelsea is not unrealistic. Much like Mourinho’s old club, there are few secrets within the squad, though Juan Mata (£7.2m) is still better value than the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum (£7.5m), David Silva (£8.6m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.9m) and has more points than all of them. Mata hasn’t always been Mourinho’s flavour of the month, but he’s a quality player that always offers attacking potential whenever he is in the lineup.
Whether you think the sacking of Claudio Ranieri is morally right or wrong, Leicester City looked a very different side during their MNF clash with Liverpool this week. Could it be the beginning of a corner turn for the champions, who have had relegation worries nagging in the back of their minds for some time now. Their next five games are huge and could well go a long way into them saving themselves from the drop. First up is a clash with Hull City at the King Power Stadium, before a week off due to the FA Cup. The Foxes then travel to Stratford to face West Ham United before consecutive home games against Stoke City and Sunderland. The toughest game of their next five is undoubtedly the trip to Everton on April 9th. It’s unclear whether Craig Shakespeare or Roy Hodgson or someone else will be in charge, but whoever is managing the team will be happy to see this run of upcoming fixtures to kick off their tenure. I’d still mostly stay clear of their defenders, who have mostly disappointed this season. I maintain my stance that Demarai Gray (£4.8m) and Marc Albrighton (£4.9m) offer better value than Riyad Mahrez (£8.9m), though perhaps I just feel that there are better options out there than what you can get for the Algerian’s price. That said, will we see a change in attitude from him alongside the change in manager? Time will tell.
A big part of me wants Marco Silva to lead Hull City to survival – mostly because of how the likes of Paul Merson and Phil Thompson wrote him off before he’d even managed his new team in a match. I have a couple of reasons for picking them in this section, because in fairness a few of the teams in the bottom five have nice upcoming runs, so they’re certainly worth taking a look at. Hull however are not impacted by the FA Cup, so they’re one of just a few teams in action in Game Week 28. As well as that, they have three home games and two on the road, which also makes them favourable in my view. This weekend they travel to Leicester, before a home game with fellow strugglers Swansea City. They then go away to Everton before home matches against West Ham and Middlesbrough. Silva and his side will look at this run as one where they can pick up a number of points as they look to boost their survival chances. In goal, Eldin Jakupovic (£4.1m) looks a bargain to me, and he’s averaged 4.6 points per game since he returned to the side in mid-January. Kamil Grosicki (£5.5m) in midfield is expensive in comparison to his teammates but that comes with reason, as he looks a very creative force. He has one assist in his three appearances so far, though he’s completed 90 minutes just once – in the last game against Burnley.
Good luck for the game week ahead.
Written by Joe (@JPMc99)