Our coverage of Premier League Fixture Release Day continues with the teams who have been handed tricky schedules to start the season.
We’ve pulled out five clubs who sit at the bottom end of our Season Ticker and assessed their Fantasy appeal accordingly.
What we have found is that pre-season interest in Teemu Pukki has been well and truly clipped by their opening set of fixtures.
However, options such as Raúl Jiménez and Jamie Vardy might be able to flip the Season Ticker on its head once again…
First six: liv | NEW | CHE | whu | MCI | bur
No team has a harder start to the 2019/20 Premier League season than Norwich City, who currently sit bottom of the Season Ticker for the first six matches.
Last year’s Championship title winners begin with one of the most difficult fixtures of the entire campaign as they travel to Liverpool on the opening night of Gameweek 1.
The Reds scored 55 league goals at Anfield in 2018/19, averaging 2.89 per game, while Norwich themselves had something of a dodgy defence, even in the Championship.
They conceded 57 goals across the 46 matches, at an average of 1.23 per game and kept just 13 clean sheets. Seven Championship sides registered more than that figure, despite the Canaries winning the league.
That demonstrates how at risk Norwich are of being thrashed in Gameweek 1.
Liverpool’s mean defence should also quell any interest in the likes of Pukki, Emi Buendía or Marco Stiepermann too.
They conceded just 10 times at home in 2018/19.
If Gameweek 1 didn’t already look bad enough for Norwich, their first six Gameweeks also features home clashes with Chelsea and Manchester City.
No team scored more Premier League goals on the road than the defending champions in 2018/19.
The 38 they registered across 19 matches averaged out at two per game.
Furthermore, the Canaries were actually more porous in home matches last season, perhaps as a result of their increased attacking mindset in front of their own fans.
Just under 60% of the goals they conceded in 2018/19 were let in at Carrow Road.
That particularly statistic also suggest Gameweeks 3 and 5 could be as damaging for Norwich assets as Gameweek 1.
Again, focusing on the attacking assets, Manchester City had the best away defence in 2018/19 (11 goals conceded), while Chelsea were inside the top four for that particular statistic (27).
Norwich don’t come off the bottom of the Season Ticker until Gameweek 8 when they host fellow Premier League newcomers Aston Villa – so really we will have to wait a considerable time before their assets can hold down regular spaces in our squads.
First six: WOL | che | shu | BOU | mun | TOT
Despite the promise shown in the last 10 Gameweeks of 2018/19, interest in Leicester assets may not be particularly high at the beginning of 2019/20.
They currently sit second bottom on the Season Ticker for the first six Gameweeks as, like Norwich, they face three of last season’s top-six in that run.
Two of those matches are away from home too, with trips to Chelsea and Manchester United scheduled for Gameweeks 2 and 5 respectively.
After that, it’s Spurs at home in Gameweek 6 and in Gameweek 8, Leicester then have to travel to Liverpool.
However, it is possible that Vardy’s record against the big clubs may well negate the difficulty of some of those matches.
Of the four top-six sides he will face between Gameweeks 1 and 6 in 2019/20, he has 19 goals in 34 matches.
Interestingly, Liverpool are his favourite of those, with seven goals in eight against the Reds, although he hasn’t scored one on them since the arrival of Virgil van Dijk.
Either way, for Vardy especially, the difficulty of the fixtures he has in the first six Gameweeks may not matter as much as it would for forwards of other clubs.
Remembering that there are also matches against Sheffield United and Bournemouth in this run, it may still prove a profitable period for him.
Using our brand new Flat Track Bully feature, we can see that in 2018/19, Vardy was involved in five goals (four his own, one assist) in seven appearances against his first six opponents of 2019/20 (excluding the Blades).
Given the off-putting nature of Leicester’s fixtures on the ticker, it could ensure that Vardy can act as a differential for the early part of the campaign.
First six: ARS | nor | tot | WAT | liv | BHA
Just as it was at the start of 2018/19, Newcastle are a team to avoid in the early weeks this year.
With the greatest of respect to them, the Magpies are not quite in the same bracket as Leicester – a tough fixture on paper is usually difficult in practice too.
Rafa Benitez’s men host Arsenal on the opening weekend of the season and have to travel to Spurs and Liverpool in Gameweeks 3 and 5 respectively.
In six matches against those three sides last season, Newcastle conceded 14 times, at an average 2.3 per game – certainly ruling out defensive options.
In those matches, the Magpies also blanked on three occasions.
It’s also worth pointing out that an away match at Norwich in Gameweek 2 may not be as easy as it looks. It will be the Canaries’ first at home since promotion and they will certainly be after a positive result following a likely loss at Liverpool in Gameweek 1.
Newcastle’s fixtures actually remain really tough for a long time. On our Season Ticker, they don’t get a stretch of blue longer than three matches until Gameweek 10 to 13.
Between Gameweeks 1 and 14, they face a total of six meetings with top-six sides.
First six: mun | LEI | nor | SHU | wol | LIV
As we creep further up the Season Ticker, we are seeing slightly more shades of blue but still enough red to put us off.
Chelsea’s first six matches are bookended by tricky top-six clashes that will certainly discourage extensive Fantasy investment.
They begin the 2019/20 campaign away at Manchester United and host Liverpool in Gameweek 6.
Between the fixtures are somewhat mixed.
A home clash with Leicester in Gameweek 2 is unlikely to be a walk in the park considering the impact Rodgers has had on the Foxes since his arrival.
Also, the Gameweek 5 trip to Molineux might prove tough given Wolves’ results against the top clubs last season.
Indeed their last visit to the home of Old Gold resulted in a 2-1 defeat with FPL hero Jiménez and colleague Diogo Jota both getting on the scoresheet.
However, Chelsea do have the advantage of facing back-to-back matches against newly-promoted opposition in Gameweeks 3 and 4.
The Blues visit Carrow Road before hosting Sheffield United.
Whether these are fixtures Fantasy managers can conceivably capitalise on is questionable though.
With Manchester United and Leicester beforehand and Wolves and Liverpool afterwards, investing in this run of matches is probably not a good idea.
That is especially true for Chelsea with plenty of unknowns about them going into the new campaign. How will they cope without Eden Hazard? Will Christian Pulisic settle in quickly enough? Will they suffer from not being able to sign any new players?
First six: lei | MUN | BUR | eve | CHE | cry
Wolves could be a tricky prospect for Fantasy managers in 2019/20 – and their opening fixtures certainly complicate matters.
As already mentioned, the meeting of them and Leicester in Gameweek 1 is quite tough to call, home matches against Manchester United and Chelsea look difficult on paper, and there’s a trip to a potentially in-form Everton side too.
As many of their options look destined for significant price hikes, we may be forced into higher standards for our Wolves players in 2019/20.
That is why it’s easy to be put off by these six opening fixtures, especially with just four teams ranking lower on the Season Ticker than them.
However, as was the case with Leicester, Wolves are one of those teams whose modus operandi is to flip the Season Ticker on its head.
For example, last season FPL hero Raúl Jiménez did particularly well in matches against Wolves’ first six opponents of 2019/20.
In 11 appearances, he scored five times and assisted on another five occasions, totalling an involvement in 10 goals.
However, Wolves kept just two clean sheets in 12 matches against them, which could certainly count against Matt Doherty and Rui Patrício – both of whom are certain to receive price boosts in 2019/20.
Finally, all of this should also be viewed in the context of Wolves’ involvement in the Europa League.
Their season will start in earnest on July 25 as they participate in the first leg of the second qualifying round.
As things stand, Wolves’ squad remains fairly small so unless they engage in serious recruitment, we will have to monitor whether or not fatigue will set in even during the early Gameweeks.
Watford find themselves in the bottom six of the Season Ticker for the start of 2019/20.
That is due to the fact that they host Arsenal in Gameweek 5 and travel to Manchester City in Gameweek 6.
If we are classing Everton as a promising team this season, then the Hornets trip to Goodison Park in Gameweek 2 is probably also off-putting.
However, they only get a passing mention here because they also have three fairly favourable fixtures within the first four Gameweeks.
They start the campaign at home to Brighton, host West Ham in Gameweek 3 and travel to Newcastle in Gameweek 4.
Tottenham also deserve a passing mention when it comes to off-putting fixtures.
Much has been made of their outstanding run of home matches between now and Gameweek 19.
During that period, and with such criteria, they are top of the Season Ticker and they don’t host a team from last season’s top 10 until Chelsea in Gameweek 18.
However, before we can truly capitalise on that Spurs have to endure a mixed bag in the first four Gameweeks.
After hosting Aston Villa in Gameweek 1, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have to travel to Manchester City in Gameweek 2.
Their next away trip, in Gameweek 4, takes them to Arsenal for a North London derby – arguably one of the most wildly unpredictable fixtures in Premier League football.
Owning Spurs assets during this period could prove tricky and it would be hard to rotate them on and off a bench given their prices.
Perhaps it seems best to hold off on their players for the early period and invest on the first Wildcard instead.
Mention should also be made of their rivals Arsenal.
During the first four Gameweeks, they start against stingy defences at Newcastle (away) and Burnley (home) before facing Liverpool (away) and Spurs (home).
Meanwhile, Southampton’s easiest fixtures during the first four Gameweeks are both away from home, at Burnley and Brighton – with their two home matches seeing Liverpool and Manchester United coming to St. Mary’s Stadium.
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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