We continue our analysis of the newly released 2019/20 Premier League fixture list with a look at which teams rotate well from a Fantasy perspective – as well as the pros and cons of doing so.
Many Fantasy managers will be familiar with the approach but for the uninitiated, we’ll begin by exploring rotation strategy in detail.
Selecting assets according to fixture rotation is a strategy that can only be applied to squad-based Fantasy games. It’s also often restricted to goalkeepers, defenders and assets in the budget end of the market.
The idea is to simply find a couple of low-cost players whose fixtures dovetail, either to offer successive home matches or, at the very least, a prolonged spell of favourable opponents. This allows for the selection of one player – with the other asset benched – to guarantee us a home encounter or a strong fixture.
A rotation policy tends to focus on the acquisition of budget options, mainly because many Fantasy managers will generally resist benching mid-price and premium assets.
Those playing Fantasy games limited to just a starting XI – such as Sky Sports – won’t need to turn to this strategy. But for Fantasy Premier League managers, rotation is a strategy to consider in certain positions.
In theory, it can help maximise the points returns from two budget options – freeing up funds for big investment elsewhere.
It should be said that the rotation strategy is shunned by some Fantasy managers.
As we will discuss below, anticipating where a clean sheet or attacking return will come from is often not as simple as picking the player with a home match.
The majority of us will, at some point in our lives, have been left cursing a benched goalkeeper’s away haul as the shot-stopper with a home fixture blanks.
With premium defenders very much en vogue now, plenty of us will also perhaps be overlooking the option of alternating between two £4.5m defenders come the start of 2019/20.
We’ll begin our exploration of rotation with a look at the defensive benefits that home advantage brings.
Home Advantage – A Season-by-Season Analysis
|Season||CS Home %||GC Home %||CS Away %||GC Away %|
CS = Clean Sheets
GC = Goals Conceded
The percentage of clean sheets being kept at home fell from 60.18% in 2017/18 to 57.49% in 2018/19.
The total of 119 home clean sheets last season was down 17 on the previous campaign and the lowest figure since 2012/13, when 116 clean sheets were recorded by sides on their own turf.
Newcastle United, relegated Cardiff City and champions Manchester City were the only three sides who conceded more goals on their own soil in 2018/19 than they did on their travels, which at least suggests some significance in home advantage when it comes to defensive statistics.
It’s hardly a revelation that a side playing on their own turf would stand a better chance of keeping a clean sheet or conceding fewer goals, of course, but as our team-by-team breakdown below illustrates, home advantage is more pronounced with some teams that it is with others.
2018/19 CLEAN SHEETS – HOME AND AWAY SPLIT
|Team||Home CS||Away CS||Diff||2017/18 Diff|
In 2017/18, four of the ‘big six’ hit double figures for home clean sheets – only Liverpool and Chelsea managed that feat last season.
Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal were again notably stronger on their own turf when it came to shut-outs.
Manchester City have become something of an anomaly in recent years: this was the fourth successive season in which they have kept more clean sheets on the road than at the Etihad.
Southampton repeated their trick of 2017/18 in registering more shut-outs on the road than at home, while Manchester United have now done this twice in the last three seasons.
The main concern to Fantasy managers who rotate goalkeepers and defenders would be the diminishing role that home advantage plays for budget options.
£4.0m and £4.5m-rated goalkeepers are generally the ones paired together for those FPL bosses who adopt this approach.
There were ten clubs whose first-choice goalkeepers were in this bracket at the start of 2018/19: Wolves, Brighton, Palace, Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham, Fulham, Huddersfield, Cardiff and Southampton (we’ve excluded Burnley, despite Joe Hart‘s early-season run in the first team).
In six instances, the difference between home clean sheets and away clean sheets was one or fewer – just proving how hard it can be to second-guess where a shut-out will come from.
As we have seen in the section above, the percentage of shut-outs in home matches fell to 57.49% and the total number of clean sheets kept by sides playing on their own patch fell to its lowest in six years.
ROTATION PAIRINGS IN 2019/20
There are ten pairings that alternate home fixtures perfectly next season:
|Team 1||Team 2|
|Crystal Palace||Norwich City|
|Leicester City||Brighton and Hove Albion|
|Manchester United||Manchester City|
|Newcastle United||Sheffield United|
|West Ham United||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
Some of these are decided by geographical proximity, created by the need to spread police resourcing: Liverpool/Everton, Manchester United/Manchester City and Spurs/Arsenal being notable examples.
Those three combinations plus Watford/Chelsea and Leicester/Brighton are largely irrelevant when it comes to rotation because of the price tags associated with at least one of the respective clubs’ assets and their ability to score points on the road – Fantasy managers aren’t going to bench Andrew Robertson or Aymeric Laporte simply because they have an away fixture.
The other five pairings give the following run of matches in the first half of the season (the graphics are from our Members’ Season Ticker):
Crystal Palace/Norwich City
Newcastle United/Sheffield United
A shout-out to user Portsmouth Bubblejet, who documented the 38-game rotating pairs soon after the fixtures were announced.
Burnley and Villa’s alternating home fixtures are perhaps the best pairing above but there are still off-putting games within that.
Wolves and West Ham’s match-up doesn’t look great at first but including favourable away fixtures where necessary gives the following run from Gameweeks 1 to 19, avoiding any of the ‘big six’:
lei | bha | BUR | NOR | avl |cry | WAT | CRY | SOU| SHU | NEW | AVL | bou | SHU | WHU | bha | sou | nor | cry
Given the relative dearth of clean sheets last season, Lukasz Fabianski and Rui Patricio may well be priced up at £4.5m again and could be rotated for the above run.
Away from the ten aforementioned pairings, Watford and Brighton’s fixtures give a decent sequence from Gameweeks 1 to 19 (with six meetings against the newly promoted clubs and none against the top half-dozen sides):
BHA | WHU | SOU| new | BUR | new |wol | SHU | avl | BOU | NOR |nor | BUR | sou | lei |CRY | cry | SHU | shu
As above, Mathew Ryan and Ben Foster could be paired in tandem to achieve the above run, although the rotating twosomes needn’t be limited to goalkeepers – two budget defenders or a cut-price fifth midfielder/third striker could be harnessed in the same way.
Subscribers can have a play around with their own combinations using the Season Ticker in the Members’ Area, details of which are at the bottom of the article.
Last Season’s Pairings
The exact pairings for 2018/19 – at least before blank/Double Gameweeks came into operation – were as follows:
|Team 1||Team 2|
|Manchester United||Manchester City|
|Newcastle United||Brighton and Hove Albion|
|Southampton||West Ham United|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||Leicester City|
To illustrate the problem with rotating players, we have looked at the case of Southampton and West Ham – a pairing we picked out in June 2018.
Selecting Lukasz Fabianski as a “set-and-forget” goalkeeper would have yielded 143 points over the season.
Alternating the Polish goalkeeper with whoever was between the posts for Southampton (Angus Gunn/Alex McCarthy/Fraser Forster) and playing the shot-stopper with the home fixture would have returned only 123 points.
Cherry-picking the best fixture, home or away, would have meant that Gunn/McCarthy would have been benched for clean sheets at Palace and Chelsea and owners of Fabianski may have missed out on shut-outs against Arsenal and Spurs.
Selecting the most favourable West Ham/Southampton fixtures (granted this is subjective) on any given Gameweek would, coincidentally, have yielded exactly the same score that Fabianski achieved on his own (143 points):
BUR (11) | BOU (2) | LEI (2) | WOL (3) | BHA (0) | CHE (11) | wol (2) | bha (3) | bou (6) | NEW (6) | BUR (1) | hud (5) | ful (1) | new (8) | CAR (9) | CRY (1) | ful (9) | hud (3) | WHU (2) | bur (2) | BHA (2) | lei (3) | EVE (2) | CRY (2) | bur (4) | CAR (1) | FUL (3) | FUL (7) |NEW (6) | car (2) | HUD (1) | bha (6) | che (2) | WOL (2) | new/wat (4) | BOU (1) | SOU (6) | HUD (2)
Rotating goalkeepers, then, wouldn’t have gained any advantage in this case although there may have been other pairings used with more success and few FPL bosses would have kept the same two shot-stoppers for the duration of the season.
The above example, though, at least illustrates the types of drawback associated with rotating assets, whatever the position.
USING THE FIXTURE TICKER
The 2019/20 Season Ticker is now live in the Members’ area. By selecting any side in the Ticker and clicking “Sort by Rotation”, you will be able to see teams ranked according to their suitability for rotation with the highlighted club.
You can apply this using both the attacking and defence filters to analyse rotation pairings in attack and defence. For a guide to using this feature, visit this chapter of our preview movie.
READ MORE FIXTURES ANALYSIS
- Our initial reaction to Fixture Release
- Who has the best fixtures in the first six Gameweeks of 2019/20?
- Who has the worst fixtures in the first six Gameweeks of 2019/20?
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