Our “frisk” of the Premier League fixture list from a Fantasy perspective returns ahead of Double Gameweek 34.
In this abridged feature, we assess the top-flight clubs with not only the strongest and weakest runs of league matches over the coming weeks but also those with the most fixtures still to play.
Our focus will be on the remaining games of the season, using the Season Ticker as our guide – although the fixture schedule is far from straightforward.
Each Premier League team has the following number of matches remaining:
7 – Brighton and Hove Albion
6 – Arsenal, Cardiff City, Manchester City, Manchester United, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, Wolverhampton Wanderers
5 – Bournemouth, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace Everton, Fulham, Huddersfield Town, Leicester City, Liverpool, Newcastle United, West Ham United
The below table, meanwhile, ranks the average fixture difficulty rating (FDR) for all 20 clubs, based on the system used in FPL (one being the easiest, five the most difficult). The clubs in bold have Double Gameweeks:
2.40 – Bournemouth, Fulham
2.60 – Newcastle United
2.67 – Arsenal, Southampton
2.80 – Crystal Palace, Everton, Liverpool
2.83 – Cardiff City, Tottenham Hotspur
3.00 – Brighton and Hove Albion, Manchester City, Manchester United, Watford, Wolverhampton Wanderers
3.20 – West Ham United
3.40 – Burnley, Chelsea
3.60 – Huddersfield Town, Leicester City
Remaining games: WOL, new + wat, BOU, whu, HUD
With six fixtures against sides outside of the top half-dozen clubs and a Double Gameweek thrown in to boot, Southampton sit top of our Season Ticker from now until the end of the campaign.
It’s a half-and-half split for the Saints in terms of home and away games and the visits of Bournemouth and Huddersfield especially catch the eye, given the Cherries’ abysmal run of results away from the Vitality (ten defeats in 11) and Jan Siewert’s side’s recent predilection for shipping goals: the Terries have conceded an average of three goals per match in the last four Gameweeks.
What state of mind Wolves are in on Saturday remains to be seen, too, after their shattering late defeat to Watford in the FA Cup semi-final last weekend.
West Ham, Watford and Huddersfield sit in the bottom three for big chances conceded in 2019 and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side face all three of these clubs in the run-in.
Remaining games: wat, CRY + wol, lei, BHA, bur
Arsenal are one of three clubs – along with Southampton and Fulham – who avoid all other “big six” teams in the season run-in.
Of the teams with at least one Double Gameweek between now and the end of the season, the Gunners have the joint-best FDR and sit second in our Season Ticker.
It should be said, though, that four of Arsenal’s remaining games are away from home: the Gunners have won only one of their last nine league fixtures on the road and haven’t kept a clean sheet away from the Emirates this season.
A visit of a Brighton side with only one away shut-out to their name in 2018/19 is one to look forward to from an attacking perspective, although Palace have generally been better on the road this season.
That said, only three teams have conceded more shots in the box and efforts on target than the Eagles when filtered by last six away matches.
Remaining games: HUD, mci + BHA, WHU, bou, EVE
Four of Spurs’ remaining fixtures are at their new stadium, where they so far have a 100% record (after only two games, admittedly).
The visits of Huddersfield, Brighton and West Ham, who have one clean sheet between them in their last 18 away matches combined, are ones to relish in particular.
From a defensive perspective, Spurs’ four opponents at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium all sit in the bottom nine for big chances created away from home this season.
A trip to the Etihad is a little off-putting but the Lilywhites’ other away match is against Bournemouth, who are winless in their last four at the Vitality Stadium and who looked listless in their 3-1 home defeat to Burnley last weekend.
Remaining games: CHE, car, HUD, new, WOL
Of the top eight teams with the “easiest” run-ins (based on FDR), six clubs are without two matches in Double Gameweek 34/35.
Liverpool are one of those sides and once their meeting with Chelsea is out of the way in Gameweek 34, there is plenty to look forward to.
The Reds’ clean sheet prospects look positive: Newcastle, Huddersfield and Cardiff sit in the bottom four for big chances created in 2018/19 while only three clubs have scored fewer goals than Chelsea in their last six away matches.
The Bluebirds have lost all ten of their meetings with “big six” clubs this season, conceding 31 goals in the process.
Liverpool’s meeting with Huddersfield is a possible season-defining fixture for some Fantasy managers, particularly those with their Triple Captain chip still intact and unable to use it in a Double Gameweek because of a Wildcard/Bench Boost strategy in Gameweeks 34 and 35.
The Terriers have lost nine of their last ten away games and no club has allowed more big chances on the road in 2018/19.
Remaining games: cry, TOT + mun, bur, LEI, bha
Manchester City are one of five sides with a Double Gameweek 35 whose average FPL fixture difficulty rating is a so-so 3.00 for the rest of the season.
Any other club with City’s upcoming half-dozen fixtures wouldn’t have featured in this analysis and to say the reigning champions’ run-in is “strong” is stretching it a bit.
Four of the Citizens’ remaining games are away from the Etihad, while Spurs and an in-form Leicester are the two visitors to Eastlands.
City have kept clean sheets against four of the five other members of the “big six” this season, however, and have more shut-outs (eight) than any other side in 2019.
The Sky Blues also top the underlying attacking statistics table for everything from shots on target to big chances this season, meanwhile.
Palace may very well have a second-string centre-half pairing against Pep Guardiola’s side this weekend, while only Fulham have kept fewer clean sheets at home than Manchester United in 2018/19. The Red Devils are without a shut-out in their last five Premier League games.
Burnley have tightened up considerably of late, however, and no club has conceded fewer big chances than the Clarets in their last six home matches.
No side has scored more goals than Leicester since Brendan Rodgers first took charge of the Foxes, meanwhile.
Watford (ARS, hud + SOU, WOL, che, WHU) have perhaps the best double-header in Gameweek 35 but some less-appealing fixtures around it, including a trip to a Chelsea side that have conceded just two goals and three big chances in their last six home matches.
A home fixture against Arsenal is perhaps more attractive than it first seems, however, particularly regarding Watford’s attacking assets: the Gunners have only one clean sheet on the road from January 2018 onwards.
The same could be said of Wolves (sou, BHA + ARS, wat, FUL, liv), who welcome Unai Emery’s side to Molineux in Double Gameweek 35.
Home fixtures against Brighton and Fulham, who have kept only two clean sheets in a combined 33 away matches (both against Newcastle) this season, also entice, although trips to Watford and Liverpool are obviously trickier.
Brighton‘s fixtures (BOU + CAR, wol + tot, NEW, ars, MCI) are a real mixed bag, with attractive home fixtures in Gameweeks 34 and 36 soured by three daunting away matches and a visit of title-chasing Manchester City.
We’ve a Members’ article on the Seagulls’ Double Gameweek credentials to read here.
Manchester United (WHU, eve + MCI, CHE, hud, CAR) are the opposite of some of the teams above in that their Double Gameweek 35 fixtures and their Gameweek 36 meeting with Chelsea have limited appeal, but the matches book-ending this run are among the best in the division.
West Ham, Huddersfield and Cardiff sit in the bottom four for big chances conceded this season.
Bournemouth (bha, FUL, sou, TOT, cry) and Newcastle United (lei, SOU, bha, LIV, ful) assets – we’ll discount relegated Fulham for obvious reasons – are in a strange position of having two of the best fixture run-ins based on FDR whilst also being largely overlooked for the rest of the season.
Eddie Howe and Rafael Benitez’s sides, of course, don’t have two fixtures in Gameweek 35 and face “big six” opposition in Gameweek 37 to further dent their appeal once the doubles are over and done with.
Cardiff City (bur + bha, LIV, ful, CRY, mun) have the same FDR as Spurs but it’s fair to say any appeal the Bluebirds’ assets have largely centres around their double-header in Gameweek 34 – although a trip to Fulham in Gameweek 36 is, of course, always enticing for their attacking players based on the Cottagers’ defensive record this season.
We won’t waste too much time on the teams to avoid, as the five sides with the toughest fixtures (based on average FDR) also happen to be clubs without a Double Gameweek to contest – so most of their assets are likely to be widely overlooked anyway.
Huddersfield and Burnley face three of the “big six” in their remaining five fixtures, although the Clarets at least have an appetising match at home to Cardiff before then.
An out-of-sorts West Ham United (mun, LEI, tot, SOU, wat) have three tricky away games, meanwhile, interspersed with visits from improving Leicester and Southampton sides.
The Hammers have scored only one away goal in 2019.
Chelsea and Leicester City are slightly different, in that many Fantasy managers will be currently sitting on assets such as Eden Hazard, Jamie Vardy and James Maddison.
The Foxes still have two appealing fixtures to come before their matches stiffen up, although a meeting with an Arsenal side that have been porous at the back away from home has its merits too.
Some FPL bosses may be tempted to retain the likes of Vardy for Friday’s game at least, then, before weighing up whether to move him on for a Double Gameweek striker.
Chelsea have trips to Liverpool, United and an in-form Leicester to come, although Burnley and Watford – who rank in the bottom five for big chances conceded away from home this season – still have to visit Stamford Bridge.