We take our regular “frisk” of the Premier League fixture list ahead of Gameweek 7.
In this feature, we assess the top-flight clubs with the strongest and weakest runs of league matches over the coming weeks.
Although our primary focus will be on a six-Gameweek lookahead, we will scrutinise the long-term fixtures beyond that point where relevant.
Next six: BHA | sou | NEW | bur | wat | CRY
Chelsea avoid not only the other big six sides over the next half-dozen Gameweeks, they also dodge any other club that finished in the top half of the Premier League table last season.
Further beyond this lookahead, a daunting trip to the Etihad in Gameweek 13 is a cloud on the horizon but there are still appealing home fixtures against West Ham, Aston Villa and Bournemouth before we get to the busy festive period.
The games at Stamford Bridge are particularly enticing as the Blues don’t meet any of last season’s top six clubs in west London until late-January.
Chelsea’s backline hasn’t convinced so far and they are still without a clean sheet under Frank Lampard but the next six matches look attractive from a defensive perspective.
Five of their next six opponents are currently scoring at a rate of one goal per game or worse, with all of the teams they face in Gameweeks 9-12 in the bottom six for big chances created.
Most of us are concerned with Chelsea’s attacking assets, of course, and the fixtures are tempting for those not already on the runaway Mason Mount (£6.6m) and Tammy Abraham (£7.5m) trains.
While Watford are the worst defensive team in the division this season, it should be said that Chelsea are likely to encounter a number of teams over the next two months whose primary objective will be to frustrate.
Burnley, Palace and Brighton are among the eight best clubs for fewest big chances conceded this season.
Next six: mun | BOU | shu | CRY | WOL | lei
And then: SOU | nor | BHA | whu
Monday’s trip to Manchester United precedes a run of nine league matches in which Arsenal avoid any of the ‘big six’.
From Gameweeks 8 to 16, Unai Emery’s side face the two newly promoted clubs and four of last season’s bottom ten.
With Arsenal’s defence still giving cause for concern, Fantasy managers will be likely be focusing more on the Gunners’ attacking assets for this run – although their next four opponents after United sit in the bottom six for attempts on goal this season.
Trips to Old Trafford and the King Power Stadium won’t be easy, with those two clubs having the best expected goals conceded (xGC) totals of 2019/20 so far.
Bournemouth, Palace and Wolves, Arsenal’s next three opponents at home, at least sit in the bottom half of the table for that statistic.
The Gunners put eight goals past those three sides in the corresponding fixtures last season.
No FPL forward scored more goals than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) against non-big six sides in 2018/19 (19 in 26 games).
Next six: eve | WOL | cry | AVL | SOU | liv
Manchester City sit second in our Season Ticker over the next five matches, although the trip to Anfield in November knocks them down a few places when we scrutinise the six-Gameweek lookahead.
City’s next two opponents haven’t kept a clean sheet between them in the last four Gameweeks, with Wolves and Everton’s early-season solidity giving way to some slack defensive displays.
Those two clubs have shipped a combined 19 goals in their last four fixtures.
Crystal Palace have been solid at the back at home this season but the Citizens are, to use a hackneyed word, surely “fixture-proof” given their attacking swagger: Pep Guardiola’s side have registered more than twice as many big chances this season than all Premier League sides bar Liverpool.
From a defensive perspective, the Citizens’ next five opponents are in the bottom half of the table for goals scored this season.
Next six: cry | AVL | bou | MUN | bha | WAT
For Norwich, read Chelsea.
Like the Blues, most Fantasy interest centres around the Canaries’ attacking assets, with Daniel Farke’s side still without a clean sheet.
Luckily, Bournemouth and Watford are also still yet to record a shut-out in 2019/20, so the omens look positive for the likes of Teemu Pukki (£7.1m) and Todd Cantwell (£5.0m) in those upcoming fixtures.
Norwich’s next three opponents at Carrow Road are yet to keep a clean sheet on the road, while Brighton haven’t recorded a shut-out on their own soil.
West Ham United
Next six: bou | CRY | eve | SHU | NEW | bur
Having recorded three clean sheets on the bounce, West Ham are suddenly the form defensive team in the Premier League.
A trip to Bournemouth is perhaps their biggest test before Gameweek 13 but there are positive portents for further shut-outs beyond that.
All of the Hammers’ opponents from Gameweeks 8-12 are in the bottom seven for expected goals in 2019/20.
Newcastle, Palace and Burnley are in the bottom three for big chances, with all of their next six opponents in the bottom 11 for shots on target.
At the other end of the pitch, four of their next five opponents sit in the bottom nine for big chances conceded.
Next six: avl | EVE | lei | CHE | shu | WHU
And then: wat | CRY
Having been at the foot of the Season Ticker in Gameweeks 1 to 4, Burnley’s fixture schedule is looking a whole lot more appealing now.
The Clarets meet only one of the ‘big six’ in the next eight Gameweeks, with that being a home fixture against a Chelsea side who are still without a clean sheet under Frank Lampard.
No other top-flight club has fewer meetings with last season’s top half-dozen teams between now and the end of November.
From a defensive perspective, four of the Clarets’ next five opponents sit in the bottom seven for expected goals this season.
At the other end, five of the next seven teams they face are conceding at least two big chances per game.
Wolves (WAT | mci | SOU | new | ars | AVL) and Leicester (NEW | liv | BUR | sou | cry | ARS) are two clubs whose fixtures are about to get very favourable and indeed both sides have appealing games in Gameweek 7.
Trips to the Etihad and Anfield in Gameweek 8 are obviously off-putting so for that reason, we will keep our powder dry for our next Frisking the Fixtures article during the October international break.
Suffice to say, both clubs only face Arsenal – who are hardly unbeatable themselves – of the big six between Gameweeks 9 and 16.
We can’t ignore Tottenham Hotspur‘s (SOU | bha | WAT | liv | eve | SHU) ongoing excellent home fixtures, with the Lilywhites’ next five in north London all against teams that finished outside of the top ten last season.
A double-header on Merseyside is a little off-putting, though, even if Spurs did win 6-2 at Goodison Park last season.
Next six: tot | CHE | wol | LEI | mci | EVE
And then: ars
Southampton’s forthcoming fixture run is a bit of a horror show as they face teams that finished in the top half last season in each of the next seven Gameweeks.
The Saints, unsurprisingly, sit bottom of our Season Ticker from Gameweeks 7-13 as a result.
Away matches at Spurs, Manchester City and Arsenal look particularly unappealing and their defence is surely a no-go zone until the fixture swing in Gameweek 14.
The four ‘big six’ sides they face in this run are among the top half-dozen clubs for goals scored this season.
Chelsea, Wolves and Arsenal can be got at defensively, of course, but there would seem little incentive to invest in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side at present given the wealth of mid-price options with much better fixtures elsewhere.
Next six: NOR | whu | MCI | ARS | LEI | che
And then: LIV
Crystal Palace face four big six sides in the next seven Gameweeks and languish second-bottom of our Season Ticker from Gameweeks 5-13.
Even the “winnable” games within this run come against teams who have impressed from an attacking perspective so far this season: Norwich and West Ham, for example, sit in the top half for shots on target so far in 2019/20.
City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are, to compound matters, all in the top four for that statistic.
No team has scored fewer goals than the Eagles this season and any little interest we have in their attacking assets is likely to be put on ice until Gameweek 14.
Jordan Ayew (£5.1m) could be a good benchable third striker for the coming months, at least, having started the last four.
Next six: LIV | wat | ARS | whu | BUR| tot
And then: MUN
John Lundstram (£4.4m) may find himself being benched quite a bit over the coming weeks, with Sheffield United’s fixtures stiffening.
All bar Watford of the Blades’ next seven opponents have found the net at least eight times already this season.
Five of the teams that United play in Gameweeks 7-13 sit in the top eight for attempts on goal in 2019/20.
There’s no escaping the fact that Liverpool‘s fixture run (shu | LEI | mun | TOT | avl | MCI) is far from ideal for those of us with assets from Jurgen Klopp’s side.
While the schedule from Gameweek 8-12 may be enough for us to swerve a triple-up, there will be many of us willing to stick with the likes of Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.1m) through the choppy waters ahead.
Klopp’s troops are, let’s remember, on a 15-match winning run in the Premier League.
The Reds face three other big six clubs between now and the November international break but games against newly promoted Sheffield United and Aston Villa offer promising clean sheet opportunities.
Brighton and Hove Albion (che | TOT | avl | EVE | NOR | mun) also face three of the big six in the next half-dozen Gameweeks.
While home games against poor travellers Everton and Norwich are more appealing fixtures, Liverpool and Arsenal await in Gameweeks 14 and 15.
As a result, the Seagulls sit bottom of our Season Ticker between now and early December.
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Lessons learned from Gameweek 6:
- Southampton 1-3 Bournemouth
- Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Burnley 2-0 Norwich City
- Everton 0-2 Sheffield United
- Manchester City 8-0 Watford
- Newcastle United 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Crystal Palace 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- West Ham United 2-0 Manchester United
- Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa
- Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool