Having refreshed the overall ratings that help power our Season Ticker on Monday, we now take time to offer an assessment of those teams who present the kindest schedule over the next four-to-six Gameweeks.
Faith in Arsenal’s key assets looks destined to be rewarded with strong returns, while West Bromwich Albion have the platform to deliver outstanding value from back to front, given their forthcoming run of opponents.
(swa, BUR, WAT, che, HUL, sot)
The next three home fixtures jump off the page when assessing the Gunners’ upcoming schedule.
From an attacking perspective, Arsene Wenger’s side will take on Watford and Hull City, who feature among the seven teams conceding the most goals and allowing the most shots inside the box over the last two Gameweeks.
Burnley, meanwhile, have conceded 11 times in their last five away matches, so you have to fancy the Arsenal attack to enjoy plenty of success at the Emirates over the next month or so.
But attacking returns are also likely to come on the road, given that Swansea City and Southampton lead the way for goals conceded over the past four Gameweeks with 11 and 10 respectively, leaving only the trip to Stamford Bridge as a testing fixture.
Despite a recent move to the flank, Alexis Sanchez should remain a key target, while Olivier Giroud is in great form and also looks a viable option, although the Frenchman may be a slight rotation risk, particularly in away matches, where pace could be favoured in attack.
Now down to his initial starting price of 7.5, Theo Walcott could also come into contention again if he shrugs off a calf complaint that has seen his miss each of the last three.
At the other end of the pitch, the prospects remain just as bright.
Watford, Hull and Swansea are all averaging less than a goal per match over the last four Gameweeks, while Burnley sit in the bottom five for both total goal attempts and shots inside the box over the same spell.
The Southampton clash also appears reasonably favourable given that Saints have only managed four goals in their last six at St Mary’s, so Hector Bellerin, providing he recovers from an ankle problem, or perhaps the cheaper Shkodran Mustafi, could bank at least a couple of clean sheets.
(bur, LEI, swa, WHM, sun, ARS)
For Southampton, it’s the away fixtures that stand out as being potentially profitable.
Swansea and Sunderland both remain in the bottom three and continue to look vulnerable at the back, having shipped 11 and nine goals respectively in their last four matches.
Burnley represent a slightly trickier away trip, given the Clarets’ form at Turf Moor but Sean Dyche’s side have only managed one clean sheet in their last 10.
The home fixtures are also fairly reasonable, with goals a strong possibility against a West Ham United side that’s allowed the second highest number of shots inside the box over the last four Gameweeks.
None of Southampton’s attackers are currently in great form, though, with midfielder Jay Rodriguez appearing the best option at this point, given his “out of position” potential playing as a central striker.
From a defensive standpoint, the away fixtures to Swansea and, to a slightly lesser extent, Sunderland, again offer plenty of appeal: the Welsh side have scored only once in their last two home matches.
Sunderland do offer more of a threat with the in-form Jermain Defoe in their ranks, though, while Burnley’s home form means that they could stretch the Saints rearguard.
The home clash with Leicester City could remain a kind fixture, however. The Foxes have only scored three goals in their last four encounters and will be without Algerian pairing Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani due to their participation in the Africa Cup of Nations.
As already mentioned, the Saints defence has been more obliging of late, and with Jose Fonte out of favour, it’s doubtful whether the 5.8 investment in Virgil van Dijk can be fully justified.
Maya Yoshida, at just 4.2, could be a far more palatable option should Fonte remain frozen out – the Japan international has now started three of the last four.
West Bromwich Albion
(tot, SUN, mid, STO, whm, BOU)
The Baggies’ forthcoming home fixtures are particularly strong, although their schedule as a whole remains kind following Saturday’s trip to White Hart Lane.
All three visitors to the Hawthorns – Sunderland, Stoke City and Bournemouth – have been among the leakiest defences over the past four Gameweeks, so Albion, who have scored 13 goals in their last five home matches, have to be backed to tally attacking points.
West Ham and Middlesbrough also both feature in the top three for shots conceded inside the box over the last four Gameweeks, so the likes of Matt Phillips and Salomon Rondon have the platform to continue to provide excellent value over the next month.
With four goals and seven assists in the last ten Gameweeks, Phillips is now the top value midfielder in the FPL game – still priced at just 5.8, he’s been acquired by a massive 175,000+ since the last deadline has passed,
The prospects also appear strong at the back, although Tony Pulis’ side have surprisingly only managed one clean sheet in their last 17 matches.
There’s no real standout fixture that offers obvious clean sheet potential, although Middlesbrough continue to struggle for goals.
The goal threat offered by both Chris Brunt and Gareth McAuley offers the alluring potential for attacking points, though, so they remain healthy options for the forthcoming spell.
With a share of set-piece duties, Brunt’s appeal remains strong even if utilised in defence, though should Allan Nyom be cleared to return after refusing to take part in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), the Northern Ireland international is likely to be moved into the attacking midfield roles, boosting his points potential even further.
The Eagles’ upcoming schedule (whm, EVE, bou, SUN, sto, MID) throws up plenty of decent fixtures, although arguably only the Sunderland match-up offers big potential.
The fixture list remains positive all the way up to Gameweek 27, though, so we are likely to see Palace remain in our thinking, particularly if Sam Allardyce can begin to show progress.
The Eagles boss has demanded that his side start to tighten things at the back, and with keeping clean sheets set to be a priority, the likes of Scott Dann and James Tomkins offer some appeal in defence.
Goals may be harder to come by if Allardyce shifts to a more defensive mindset, while Christian Benteke, the obvious attacking option, is also dealing with a shoulder injury and will have to produce returns without the creativity of Wilfried Zaha due to the latter’s AFCON involvement.
The Toffees away fixtures (cpl, sto, mid) look pretty favourable over the coming period, but only a home match-up with Sunderland looks to be an obvious source of returns.
Everton also host Man City on Sunday, but given that Romelu Lukaku has already scored against the Citizens this season, his 24% owners will be confident he can maintain the sort of form that has served up four goals and an assist in the last six Gameweeks.
Leighton Baines has also caught the eye of late, and while a clean sheet is unlikely this weekend, there may be one or two in the offing over the next six Gameweeks. Attacking returns for Baines also remain on the menu, particularly with the left-back reclaiming spot-kick duties from Lukaku.
Following Sunday’s huge clash against Liverpool, Jose Mourinho’s side face four soft fixtures, including two plum ties at Old Trafford, before taking on rivals City in Gameweek 26.
Those two home clashes, against Hull and Watford, could well see Zlatan Ibrahimovic rack up further double-digit scores to offer a strong captaincy option.
The underlying numbers also indicate that Paul Pogba could be set to profit, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be hoping to push on and stake a claim for our five-man midfields over the latter half of the campaign.
Clean sheets will also be expected in those home match-ups, although the trips to Stoke and Leicester appear trickier in that respect.
With Eric Bailly away at AFCON, Phil Jones looks likely to retain his place in the starting XI to offer strong value for his 4.9 price tag over this period.