While Fantasy managers have been busy restructuring their EURO 2012 McDonald’s squads ahead of tonight’s quarter finals deadline, our heads were turned to domestic matters on Monday after the fixture list for the upcoming 2012/13 Premier League season was unveiled.
With our season ticker now up and running for the new campaign, we thought we’d cast an eye over the first six Gameweeks and give the fixtures their first frisk, with the release of the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) player list now only a matter of weeks away:
The champions are handed a dream start against Southampton in their opener, with Sergio Aguero already looking like a strong Gameweek 1 captaincy option. Bearing in mind they dropped two points at home all season last time round, you’d expect Roberto Mancini’s to see off QPR and Arsenal at the Etihad, while the return of Carlos Tevez towards the close of the previous campaign saw an upturn in away displays – affording Fantasy managers plenty reason for optimism, then, ahead of trips to Liverpool, Stoke and Fulham.
An obliging early schedule means the Champions League winners are likely to be heavily backed at the beginning of the new campaign. With Eden Hazard and Marko Marin already on board and the Abramovich cash certain to be splashed again, home games against Newcastle, Reading and Stoke look enticing. Their away fixtures could be tricky, though; an opening day trip to Wigan may prove difficult if the Latics can start off the way they finished last term, while derby visits to QPR and Arsenal should test the Blues’ resolve.
An opening fixture at Everton is far from enticing but United’s following three fixtures (FUL, sou, WIG) are likely to bring plenty of Fantasy investment for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. A Gameweek 5 trip to Anfield and a home clash with Tottenham see out their first six fixtures – arguably, then, the couple of Merseyside clashes look the only downside for last term’s runners-up. If United can replicate last season’s superb start, Wayne Rooney looking a strong captaincy option from Gameweeks 2-4.
The north London outfit face a tough opener away to Newcastle and head to Old Trafford in Gameweek 6 but in between those two fixtures, the prospects looks strong. From Gameweek 2-5, Gareth Bale, Rafael Van der Vaart and co face a run of matches (WBA, NOR, rea, QPR) that affords them the chance to pick up the points and makes the above-mentioned midfield duo decent armband alternatives.
Swansea – Michael Laudrup has been dealt a kind opening schedule as he gets acquainted with the rigours of the Premier League. The new Swansea boss takes his team to Loftus Road on the opening day of the season but is then handed three fixtures at the Liberty Stadium in the following four Gameweeks, as West Ham, Sunderland and Everton all make their way to Wales. With trips to Villa and Stoke also on the agenda, Laudrup looks to have the opportunity to get off to a prosperous start.
Aston Villa – Paul Lambert has been handed a decent set of first six fixtures to impress the Villa faithful. The midlanders face trips to two of the promoted sides, with an opening day fixture at Upton Park and a Gameweek 5 visit to Southampton on the agenda. Villa’s opening three home games see them play host to Everton, Swansea and West Brom – all will be targeted as the source of three points by the new man in charge.
West Ham – The Hammers are afforded the kindest schedule of any of the promoted sides over the first few games. Sam Allardyce’s men kick off the campaign with a home clash against Villa and, with travel-sick Fulham and Sunderland both rolling up to Upton Park by Gameweek 5, have a trio of favourable fixtures in front of their own fans. Trips to Swansea and Norwich – teams likely to still be finding their feet under new management – look enticing, given West Ham’s strong away form under Allardyce last term, with the visit to QPR in Gameweek 6 possibly their only real headache.
The fixture list hasn’t been particularly kind to new Reds boss Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool face last season’s top three in their first trio of home fixtures, as City, Arsenal and United all roll up to Anfield by Gameweek 5. On the road, their season kicks off with a trip to West Brom – Steve Clarke will be desperate to continue the strong home form shown under Roy Hodgson towards the end of last season, while a visit to Sunderland looks tricky, given their upturn in Stadium of Light displays since the arrival of Martin O’Neill.
Nigel Adkins’ side have been handed a trio of tough looking away fixtures in the first six Gameweeks. An opening day visit to the Etihad, in addition to trips to Arsenal and Everton, could well prove problematic for the Saints, making their home form vital to a decent start. Games against Wigan and Villa at St Mary’s could harvest the points, though a Gameweek 3 showdown against United will have many steering clear.
The Royals are another of the promoted sides that have been dealt a tough opening hand. Their first fixture of the season sees Stoke roll up to the Madejski – Brian McDermott will be keen to capitalise on the Potters clash before a Gameweek 2 trip to Sunderland. After that, it doesn’t get any easier, with Reading then squaring up to three of last season’s top six (che, TOT, wba, NEW). The new boys will need to be fast out the blocks or the honeymoon could quickly be over.
Also Be Wary Of
Newcastle – The Magpies face a tricky pair of opening fixtures – games against Spurs and Chelsea mean they are the only side to face two of last season’s top six in the first two Gameweeks of the new campaign. With a Europa League match in between those two games, Alan Pardew could barely have asked for a trickier start to 2012/13. A trip to Everton is also thrown into the equation in Gameweek 4, though their schedule begins to pick up the following week, with a home clash against Norwich preceding a trip to Reading.
Norwich – Chris Hughton’s first few fixtures in charge at Carrow Road look relatively unappetising. The Canaries first three away fixtures (ful, tot, new) pit them against teams with strong home records last time round and could see them struggle to pick up the points. At home, showdowns against QPR, West Ham may prove prosperous, though a Gameweek 6 clash with Liverpool looks a potential stumbling block.
Mark Hughes’ side look to have a favourable Gameweek 1 fixture with a home clash against Swansea on the agenda but their fixtures stiffen significantly afterwards. QPR then travel to Carrow Road for Paul Lambert’s first home game in charge of Norwich before embarking on a trio of fixtures (mci, CHE, tot) that will instill little confidence in Fantasy managers.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
|Up||Robles||WIG||C, Vs, £|
|No Change||Lloris||TOT||C, Vs|
|No Change||Foster||WBA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Vorm||SWA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
|No Change||De Gea||MUN||A|
|Up||Boruc||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Kompany||MCI||B, Vs, Rest|
|No Change||Vertonghen||TOT||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Luiz||CHE||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Boyce||WIG||C, Vs, OoP|
|No Change||Cuéllar||SUN||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Rangel||SWA||C, Vs|
|Up||Clyne||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Mata||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Hazard||CHE||B, Vs, Rest, Inj|
|Up||Maloney||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Y Touré||MCI||B, Vs|
|No Change||Silva||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Tevez||MCI||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Koné||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|Down||van Persie||MUN||A, Vs|
|Up||Lukaku||WBA||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Aguero||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Rodriguez||SOT||A, Vs, £|
|Up||Defoe||TOT||B, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Ba||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|A, B, C||Current Form|
|Inj||Injured/Returning from Injury|
|OoP||Out of Position|
“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby