We roll out our fourth article focussing on rotation pairs for the campaign ahead this afternoon. Having looked at Stoke and Swansea, Newcastle and Sunderland and Crystal Palace and West Ham, we now cast an eye over what’s on offer from Hull City and promoted Burnley:
In a similar situation to our previous three examples, both sides alternate perfectly on a home and way basis over the entire season. Looking at the Premier League schedule, a Hull-Burnley partnership would hand you 16 favourable fixtures (STO, WHM, SUN, CPL, WHM, EVE, SOT, HUL, TOT, AVL, NEW, WBA, SOT, SWA, LEI, EVE) in the first 20 Gameweeks of the season, leading into the winter wildcard.
Although this leaves you four tricky home matches to navigate, the upside is that your away team offers a viable alternative each time. For example, Burnley face Chelsea, United and Liverpool in Gameweeks 1, 3 and 18 respectively – weeks where Hull travel to QPR, Villa and Sunderland. The Tigers’ only testing KC clash over that period is in Gameweek 6, when Man City pay visit – Burnley make their way to West Brom that weekend and offer a viable option.
Alternatively, Hull and Swansea rotate home/away in 18 of the first 20 Gameweeks. On the two occasions where your players are on the road, the schedule remains strong – in Gameweek 1, Hull travel to QPR, whilst in Gameweek 8, the Swans make their way to Stoke, ensuring this is a viable option for those determined to invest in the Tigers.
Burnley also rotate with Stoke and Villa for 30 of the 38 Gameweeks of the season. Partnering them with the Potters would have you 18 home matches in the first 20, though six visits from last term’s top four over this period somewhat dents their prospects. Villa and Burnley also rotate home/away in 18 of the opening 20 Gameweeks but with Paul Lambert’s side also entertaining three of last term’s top four during that period, many may choose to ignore this option.
Sean Dyche’s side arrive in the top-flight on the back of 18 clean sheets and 37 goals against in the Championship last term. The Clarets were more resilient in front of their own fans, producing 11 shut-outs in 23 matches and conceding on just 14 occasions – affording a degree of optimism that they may just provide Fantasy managers with a legitimate cut-price option upon their return to the Premier League.
With a goal and 12 assists to his name in the previous campaign, hopes are high that Kieran Trippier will hit the ground running. The former Man City youth academy graduate stands head and shoulders above any other Burnley backline option, with his dead-ball ability and delivery from the flank teeing up chances aplenty for team-mates. His attacking potential suggest that playing the fixtures and benching Trippier could be a real headache, though – some owners may opt to field him regardless of fixture, for fear of missing out on points hauls on the road or against bigger sides at Turf Moor.
There is a chance that Trippier could come in at a higher price than the rest of his defensive team-mates, though, given his exploits last time around. If such a scenario transpires, centre-half Jason Shackell (who netted twice) and keeper Tom Heaton, certainly offer a security of starts that may well appeal to those looking for a cut-price option to field for home games alone.
Despite finishing just four points clear of the drop, Steve Bruce’s side were one of the most reliable around when it came to home matches. The Tigers kept out their opponents on eight occasions at the KC Stadium – only Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City managed more – and were relatively easy to predict, too; seven of those shut-outs arrived against the bottom 10. Hull’s exploits on the road highlight just why a rotation partner is required, though; Bruce’s troops mustered just two shut-outs away from home (both against bottom half opposition) and conceded on 32 occasions, the sixth worst away defence in the top-flight last time around.
Curtis Davies ended the previous campaign as Hull’s top scoring FPL player on 115 points – 25 more than any other backline option. With two goals, an assist and nine bonus points to his name, the centre-half missed just one league game all season and offers a security of starts greater than most at the back – whether in a 3-5-2 or four-man backline, his role in the heart of defence is unquestioned.
Between the posts, Allan McGregor has recovered from the kidney injury that curtailed his game time towards the end of 2013/14. Picking up save points in 13 of his 26 matches, the Scot also earned five bonus points, helping him to an average of 3.2 point per game – eclipsing Davies’ 3.1 ppg and underlining his potential. Having boosted his options out wide already, it remains to be seen whether Bruce will do away with a 3-5-2 formation altogether this season and opt for the security of a four-man backline – pre-season may tell us more but for now, looking beyond Davies and McGregor may be an unnecessary risk. James Chester may be an option if he can shrug off persistent hamstring problems but last term’s average of 2.3 ppg won’t convince many suitors.
The Lancashire outfit were relatively consistent in the final third of the pitch in last season’s promotion-winning campaign, notching 37 times at home and 35 on their travels. Championship Player of the Year for 2013/14, Danny Ings is the main contender for consideration up front. The striker racked up 21 goals and seven assists in just 40 appearances for Dyche’s side and with strike partner Sam Vokes (20 goals and five assists) expected to miss the first few months of the campaign with a knee injury sustained in March, Ings’ appeal has magnified as a potential cut-price option for our three-man frontlines.
Michael Kightly’s arrival on a permanent deal may afford us an option in midfield. The former Stoke man spent last season on loan with the Lancashire outfit and served up five goals and six assists from the flank – a security of starts looks on the cards as Dyche turns to his top-flight experience in the starting XI. Scott Arfield could be an under the radar option in the centre of the park. The Scot started 42 of the final 43 league matches last time around and served up eight goals and a trio of assists – only Ings and Vokes found the net on more occasions.
Bruce has moved quickly to strengthen his midfield options after seeing his side score just 38 times last term – the fourth worst offensive record in the Premier League. With 20 goals at home and 18 on their travels, it’s fair to say the Tigers desperately need improving as they prepare for action on the European and domestic fronts.
New boys Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince immediately arrive on our radars after being snapped up from Norwich and Blackpool respectively. The Scot is likely to be handed the majority of set-pieces and corners and, having netted six times in each of his two seasons in the top-flight with the Canaries, has proven himself as a viable prospect in the past. Ince has yet to deliver in the top-flight and managed just a goal and assist over limited game time on loan at Palace in the latter part of 2013/14 – potentially, he could come in at a cheaper price than Snodgrass and may appeal to those shopping on a budget.
Up top, Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long both netted four times after joining up over the winter transfer window. Granted, that’s anything but prolific form but with the likes of playmaker Snodgrass serving up a better quality of goalscoring opportunity, the pair may yet come into contention if favourably priced. If, as expected, he’s handed penalties, Jelavic could well be the one to watch as Bruce attempts to improve upon last year’s 16th place finish.