Fixtures are out! What a time to be alive! We can finally tinker until our fingers and thumbs fall off.
This is probably the most exciting fixture list we’ve ever had from an FPL perspective. The game has already been released and we were starting to create ideas in our heads that have now been destroyed. The blanks for United, City, Burnley and Villa also cause pure mayhem.
Understanding the fixture list along with when and where to buy players is going to be more essential than ever going into this season. Most teams would have started with 5/6 United, City, Burnley and Villa assets, so planning when to bring them in and nailing a strategy could be make or break for your seasons aspirations.
I have created my own fixture difficulty rating between 1 and 7. A fixture away to Liverpool is classified as a 1, and a fixture at home to Fulham is a 7. Using this metric, in the first 10 GW’s the sides with the best opening fixtures are Fulham, Everton, Leicester, Palace and Southampton.
Before the fixtures were released, I only had Alex McCarthy from these 5 sides. So my plans are likely to dramatically change. A player like Mitrovic for example seems an incredible £6m enabler at the start of the season, especially after his explosive start in 2018/19 (5 goals in the opening 6 fixtures).
A player like James Justin who deputised for Ricardo Pereira after lockdown, at £4.5m looks like incredible value too. With Ben Chilwell likely moving to Chelsea, Justin could fill in at left back when Pereira is back fit.
Similarly if Ferguson or Mitchell look to be starting for Palace at £4.0, they’d certainly be on my radar. You could start them in 6/7 of Palace’s first 10 games if needed, with the way Hodgson plays you could be looking at an AWB 2.0.
Everton are a difficult one to analyse, they looked much better after Ancelotti came in, but were awful after lockdown. I think they’re likely to be a wait and see for me. Luca Digne and DCL are potentially good value if Everton hit some form early doors.
With regards to the teams with the worst opening fixtures, the mighty Irons finally top a table. West Ham face 7 of last year’s top 9 in the opening 10 fixtures, 5 of which are away fixtures, it’s a pretty bleak start for West Ham. Michail Antonio and Tomas Soucek will be coming off of many people’s shopping lists.
Unfortunately for Leeds fans, their 16 year wait for Premier League football doesn’t start particularly brightly. Liverpool away is a pretty daunting test. Fixtures against City, Wolves, Leicester and Arsenal await in the first 10 as well. I can’t see many clean sheets coming their way early doors, so players like Ayling and Dallas won’t be in my starting squad, but may well come in when fixtures turn in their favour and they’ve dropped in price slightly.
Arsenal is a very interesting one. They probably have the best 2 fixtures of any side (Ful away, WHU home) but then face last year’s top 3 away from home between GW3-7. My initial thinking on this one is moves from Auba to KDB in GW3 are going to be incredibly popular, as City blank in GW1 and then play Wolves away in GW2. Taking a punt on a player like Pepe for 2 weeks before moving to Greenwood/Foden might also be an option.
One team that I think most FPL managers were looking to avoid were Tottenham, their opening 8 fixtures may well change that fact. This looks like a dream run for assets like Kane, Son and Aurier, but with Mourinho in charge do we punt on a double/triple up or would we be better off steering clear? I’d love to own Kane for that run, but I’m not sure I can trust Tottenham. Spurs will likely be the team I’m deliberating over for the next month the most.
Finding teams that rotate well is also key to our bench/fodder options. Every year there are 10 pairs of teams that rotate based on home fixtures each GW. These rotating pairs this year are Arsenal & Spurs, Villa & Palace, BHA & Leeds, Chelsea & Fulham, Leicester & Burnley, Liverpool & Everton, City & United, Sheffield United & Soton, WHU & Newcastle and finally, Wolves & WBA. The one that stands out most to me is Leeds and BHA, who both have £4.5m goalkeepers. So you could rotate your keepers all season for those 2 teams and get a home fixture every week.
Cheers lads, may your GW1-10 arrows be green!