We take our first frisk of the 2020/21 Premier League fixture list following its publication on Thursday morning.
Here we identify the clubs with the most favourable matches, using the first six Gameweeks as our jumping-off point but looking beyond that where appropriate.
Another article will follow highlighting the clubs with the least appealing fixture runs.
For those who haven’t already seen, our Season Ticker has been updated. Fantasy Football Scout subscribers can use this tool to sort by difficulty, attacking and defensive potential and rotation pairings and are able to use their own custom fixture difficulty ratings.
Next six: EVE| sou | NEW | mun | WHU| bur
With all the talk of premium midfielders, the Manchester clubs’ delayed start and Chelsea’s new arrivals, Tottenham Hotspur have slightly gone under the radar this summer.
The Lilywhites sit top of our Season Ticker in the opening eight Gameweeks, however.
Jose Mourinho’s troops face six clubs who finished 10th or below last season and newly promoted West Bromwich Albion from Gameweeks 1-8, with a trip to Manchester United just before the October international break the one obvious hurdle.
Mourinho’s ‘second season’ is traditionally his best and, after some Jekyll-and-Hyde displays in the campaign just gone, there were signs of some improvement towards the end of 2019/20.
Four of the seven clean sheets that Spurs kept under their new manager came after the restart, while Harry Kane (£10.5m) plundered seven goals in the Lilywhites’ final eight games.
One downside to Spurs assets is that they are in UEFA Europa League qualifying action either side of their Gameweek 1-4 fixtures, which will likely mean a Thursday-Sunday turnaround for their opening matches.
Next six: cry | TOT | bur | WBA | che | EVE
With clashes against Spurs and Chelsea to come in the opening five Gameweeks, Southampton’s opening run might not initially leap off the page.
Look a little further though and the Saints sit third in our Season Ticker up until the November international break.
Six fixtures against sides who either came up from the Championship or finished 10th or below in the top flight punctuate those clashes with ‘big six’ opposition.
No FPL asset who was a forward last season scored more goals than Danny Ings (£8.5m) in the post-lockdown era, with the Southampton striker finishing just one goal away from a share of the Golden Boot.
Saints weren’t particularly solid at the back in 2019/20, with only five clubs keeping fewer clean sheets.
But their season effectively began in Gameweek 13 when Ralph Hasenhuttl switched to his now-familiar 4-2-2-2 set-up. From that point onwards, only six teams conceded fewer goals.
With the likes of Mohammed Salisu, Jan Bednarek and Kyle Walker-Peters all priced up at a reasonable £4.5m, their cut-price assets are possibilities for those managers looking to rotate budget defensive options around the more favourable games.
Next six: shu | MCI | whu | FUL | lee | NEW
Wolverhampton Wanderers kick the season off with an off-putting double-header against Sheffield United and Manchester City, two clubs who finished in the top four for fewest goals conceded in 2019/20.
Beyond that, though, the picture is rosier.
Clashes with newly promoted Fulham and Leeds United are sandwiched by matches against West Ham United, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, with three of those five games staged at Molineux.
The Hammers and the Magpies were in the bottom three for most ‘big chances’ conceded in the previous campaign.
Another tick against Wolves’ name is that they won’t be involved in European club competition this season, so they won’t be afflicted by the Thursday-Sunday turnaround that plagued them in 2019/20 and led to some early-season rotation from Nuno Espirito Santo.
From Gameweek 25 onwards, Wolves were one of the most in-form Premier League teams from a defensive perspective.
Nine clean sheets were kept in their final 14 games, a period that coincided with Willy Boly‘s (£5.5m) return from injury.
That total would have been higher had they not conceded last-minute goals to Sheffield United and Burnley.
In the Blades, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, Wolves will be facing three of the six clubs who scored the fewest number of Premier League goals in 2019/20.
Next six: ARS | lee | AVL | wol| shu | CRY
The jury remains out on Fulham assets ahead of their return to the Premier League.
They have been handed a fairly decent opening run of games, at least, to aid their cause.
It’s not all plain sailing, with the visit of Arsenal up first and a double-header of away games at two of last season’s tightest defences, Wolves and Sheffield United, to come either side of the October international break.
But medium-term, the outlook is better for Scott Parker’s side.
A trip to fellow new boys Leeds United awaits in Gameweek 2, with home matches against Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and Everton – all sides who finished in the bottom half of the Premier League or were promoted last season – to come between now and Gameweek 9.
The Cottagers sit top of our Season Ticker for the first quarter of the season as a result.
Next six: tot | WBA | cry | BHA | LIV | sou
There’s a recurring theme developing here, in the shape of a club having a favourable stretch of fixtures in the opening six Gameweeks but not a completely clear run.
That’s the case with Everton, who face Spurs and Liverpool in Gameweeks 1 and 5 but who nevertheless have some appealing matches around that.
Newly promoted West Brom and four sides who finished in the bottom half of the Premier League last season also await the Toffees between Gameweeks 1-7.
Whether that is enough to warrant FPL investment is another question.
Everton ended 2019/20 in poor form (for what that was worth), winning just one of their last six games. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.0m) also blanked in every match after the restart.
With all of their first-choice defenders rising in price to at least £5.0m and the Toffees keeping clean sheets in just five of the 20 matches that Carlo Ancelotti oversaw (only six sides had a worse record in that timeframe), their backline doesn’t scream value for money.
Lucas Digne (£6.0m) did create more chances than all other FPL defenders bar one last season, at least.
Next six: bha | LIV | wba | CRY | SOU | mun
It could be argued that Chelsea have the most appealing opening sequence of games among the teams that finished in the top four last season.
Granted, there are meetings with Liverpool and Manchester United to come in their first half-dozen games.
But seven clubs who finished ninth or below last season (we include newly promoted West Brom among that contingent) also await the Blues in Gameweeks 1-9.
Four of the six sides that registered the fewest shots in the box last season face Frank Lampard’s troops in that period.
At the other end of the pitch, West Brom came up with the fewest number of clean sheets of the three promoted clubs and Palace didn’t register a single shut-out against the top nine.
Arsenal (ful | WHU | liv | SHU | mci | LEI) have arguably the most-appealing double-header to begin with and indeed sit top of our Season Ticker in the opening two Gameweeks.
A Fulham side who conceded the highest number of goals of the three newly promoted sides and a West Ham United outfit who have kept just two clean sheets in David Moyes’ 19 matches in charge are Arsenal’s first two opponents of the new season.
Beyond that, though, things stiffen up considerably.
The Gunners meet four of last season’s top five and Sheffield United between Gameweeks 3-7, so expect them to feature in our upcoming article on unfavourable fixture runs.
Crystal Palace (SOU | mun | EVE | che | BHA) warrant a mention, particularly for their home matches.
The Eagles sit top of our Season Ticker when we look at each side’s first five home matches only, with all five of their matches at Selhurst Park against clubs who finished in the bottom half of the Premier League or who came up from the Championship.
It’s particularly relevant as all ten of Palace’s clean sheets last season came in matches against teams who finished 10th or below.
It’ll be worth watching in pre-season to see if Nathan Ferguson (£4.0m) establishes himself in Roy Hodgson’s starting XI, as he could be the perfect bench fodder candidate who can be exclusively used for the more favourable Palace games on their own turf.
Leicester City (wba | BUR | mci | WHU | AVL | ars) rather stuttered over the finish line at the end of 2019/20, missing out on a Champions League qualification spot on the final day.
The Foxes won only four of their last 17 games, scoring fewer goals than eight other sides in that time.
Which Leicester will we get at the start of 2020/21, then?
Their Gameweek 3 and 6 fixtures away at Manchester City and Arsenal are the reason why the Foxes don’t fare better in our Season Ticker but there are some excellent games around those two clashes, starting with a trip to newly promoted West Brom.
Jamie Vardy (£10.0m), for so long a big-six conqueror, has been transformed into a flat-track bully under Brendan Rodgers, with 24 of his 30 attacking returns in 2019/20 arriving against clubs finishing 10th or below.
That’s particularly relevant in the opening five Gameweeks, with the Baggies, Burnley, West Ham and Aston Villa all facing Rodgers’ troops.
With the two Manchester sides amongst four clubs who are – we think – blanking in Gameweek 1, they are a bit of a unique case when it comes to fixture lookahead as many managers will be swerving assets from these clubs in their first drafts or, at the very least, benching them.
Manchester United (-| CRY | bha | TOT | new | CHE) have arguably the best run of the two cross-city rivals with Palace, Brighton and Newcastle, three of the six lowest-scoring teams of 2019/20, to follow their Blank Gameweek 1.
Home clashes with Spurs and Chelsea are less enticing but these were fixtures that United won last season and they had an excellent record against the big-six clubs in 2019/20: no-one scored more goals against these sides than Marcus Rashford (£9.5m).
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