Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester City have the most gruelling festive fixture schedule in the Premier League this season.
That’s because the three clubs are set for a higher frequency of shorter rest times between matches compared to the rest of the division.
Now the Premier League has revealed the December television schedule, we can analyse the gaps between each Gameweek in more detail.
That includes measuring the distance between each team’s fixtures, so we can assess who will be the most and least likely to rotate during the Christmas rush.
Site regular and moderator Legomané has put together the FPL Matrix to visualise this information and help with our winter planning, which you can see below.
In order to assess the FPL implications of these fixtures, we have created three festive categories in which to place the teams.
- The Ebenezer Scrooge category: Teams with the shortest rest periods and those working the most over Christmas. Bah humbug.
- The John McClane category: Teams with medium rest periods. Things are quite balanced here. Yes, their situation is not ideal but, deep down, they put on a brave face and enjoy the relentless destruction for what it is.
- The Buddy the Elf category: Teams with the longest rest periods, those who treat every day like it’s Christmas and stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.
Accordingly, this article starts with assets to be wary of in terms of rotation, before finishing with the more reliable starters.
Arsenal: RAP | tot | dun | BUR | SOU | eve | MCI | CHE | bha
No team will suffer a harder test than Arsenal during the Christmas period as they face no fewer than nine fixtures between December 1 and December 29.
It is the Thursday nights that will haunt the Gunners like the Marley brothers, as it means they face rest periods of just two days on SIX occasions.
Every team will have tough turnarounds between Gameweeks 12 and 14 but Mikel Arteta’s men don’t get much time to prepare for the Christmas Past or Christmas Yet to Come either side of that run.
There are just two days between a trip to Dundalk on December and a hosting Burnley the following Sunday.
And just two days after travelling to Everton on December 19, Arsenal host Manchester City in the EFL Cup quarter-final.
Thankfully, Arteta’s men are playing so poorly at both ends of the pitch that whatever rotation comes their way, it should not affect our Fantasy teams too much.
Spurs: las | ARS | ANT | cry | liv | LEI | stk | wol | FUL
While our love is gone for the Gunners, Fantasy managers still hold a torch for Harry Kane (£10.9m) and Son Heung-min (£9.5m).
They have been dealt a similar deal to Arsenal, and we can expect Spurs to be working harder than a young Ebenezer Scrooge during Fozziwig’s rubber chicken factory Christmas party.
Their festive schedule is also chained up with Thursday-night commitments, making for five different occasions where Jose Mourinho will have just two days to prepare for the next game.
While Kane and Son are usually relatively rotation proof for the Premier League matches, assets such as Sergio Reguilón (£5.6m) and Gareth Bale (£9.5m) might be the main assets at risk.
But the Premier League games Spurs must play are challenging indeed, sitting third-bottom on the Season Ticker between Gameweeks 11 and 15.
Man United: PSG | whu | lpz | MCI | shu | LEE | eve | lei | WOL
The beginning and end of Manchester United’s Christmas journey looks the most difficult, as they face two-day rests between facing PSG, West Ham and Leipzig.
Then between Gameweek 13 and 16, it’s another gruelling run of two-day gaps between Sheffield United, Leeds, Everton, Leicester and Wolves.
In total, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men face six two-day gaps during this period which could seriously test Bruno Fernandes‘ (£10.9m) run of starts.
The presence of Donny van de Beek (£6.7m) may become more important during this run, while Edinson Cavani (£8.0m) and Anthony Martial (£8.7m) are sure to split centre-forward duties too.
With a few stand-in options on the flanks, Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) may even find himself deployed up-front in order to rest Cavani and Martial.
Man City: por | FUL | MAR | mun | WBA | sou | ars | NEW | eve
Pep Guardiola is unlikely to have much sympathy for Fantasy managers trying to guess his Christmas team selections.
‘Are there no poor houses?’ he’ll ask nonchalantly, upon watching the FPL community descend into decay at yet further benching for Raheem Sterling (£11.4m).
At no stage during the festive run will Manchester City get more than three days to rest ahead of a game and, while they get fewer two-day gaps than their city rivals (three), they must contend with just one day between the Gameweek 15 home clash with Newcastle and the Gameweek 16 trip to Everton.
Looking at their schedule is like staring into the formless face of the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come for owners of João Cancelo (£5.6m) and Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m).
Considering Manchester City rotate considerably anyway, their hectic schedule is sure to place more emphasis on the Bob Cratchetts in their team, reliable starters such as Kevin De Bruyne (£11.7m) and Rúben Dias (£5.6m).
After all, the Citizens are top of the Season Ticker between Gameweeks 11 and 16.
Leicester: zor | shu | AEK | BHA | EVE | tot | MUN | cry
Leicester are another team who follow up three two-day gaps with a one-day rest period between Gameweeks 15 and 16.
They face Manchester United (home) and Crystal Palace (away) in those matches, a run in which it would be hard to predict two starts for the veteran Jamie Vardy (£10.2m).
It is the European fixtures that put the spanner into the works for the Foxes, although considering Vardy appears to be the only one trusted with hefty ownership right now, the knock-on effect may only be on Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) owners, who have already felt the effects of Christmas rotation in Gameweek 10.
More than ever, Brendan Rodgers could do with having Tiny Timothy Castagne (£5.7m) back fit to help the cause.
Chelsea: sev | LEE | KRA | eve | wol | WHU | ars | AVL
It’s the start of December that looks the most challenging for Chelsea as they face three two-day rests and one three-day turnaround between their Champions League trip to Sevilla and a Gameweek 13 trip to Wolves.
Then they get five days and four days sandwiched between Gameweeks 13, 14 and 15 thanks to their elimination from the EFL Cup – but then it’s just one day in the middle of facing Arsenal (away) and Aston Villa (home).
Christian Pulisic (£8.2m) is back in the fold now so Timo Werner‘s (£9.5m) minutes could be managed while Olivier Giroud (£6.7m) is sure to surface to provide rest for Tammy Abraham (£7.2m)
Frank Lampard certainly has the option to rotate Reece James (£5.1m) and Ben Chilwell (£6.2m) if he so chooses, while even Kurt Zouma (£5.5m) and Thiago Silva (£5.5m) have dropped in and out of the side this year.
Considering Chelsea sit rather uninspiringly in the middle of the Season Ticker between Gameweeks 11 and 16, there might only be one more sleep until Fantasy managers start dismantling their triple-ups.
Liverpool: AJX | WOL | mid | ful | TOT | cry | WBA | new
Liverpool squeeze their way into football’s version of the Christmas Carol, making a Beaker-esque cameo appearance.
That’s mainly because of the sheer number of fixtures they face. Unlike many others in this category, they have a five-day wait between fixtures against Crystal Palace (away) and West Bromwich Albion (home) in Gameweeks 14 and 15 respectively and there are four days between a Tuesday meeting with Ajax and Wolves’ Gameweek 11 trip to Anfield.
However, there’s still a lot on Liverpool’s plate across the whole period, their eight fixtures only eclipsed by the north London and Manchester clubs. And, of course, the injuries continue to pile up at Anfield.
Everton and Newcastle
Everton: bur | CHE | lei | ARS | MUN | shu | MCI
Newcastle: avl | WBA | lee | FUL | brt | mci | LIV
Everton and Newcastle’s involvement in the EFL Cup is the reason for their rather middling schedule. The two clubs might think twice about scaling such a tall building (in this case, a cup-run) again at this rate.
They each have two two-day gaps while Everton have just one day between Sheffield United (away) and Manchester City (home). While the former looks a nice fixture, will Carlo Ancelotti want to waste his best team on that with Guardiola’s men to come? All things equal, they’d probably rather be in Philadelphia.
As for difficulty, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.9m) owners might want to consider using the emergency channel – provided it doesn’t sound like they’re ordering a pizza. Across Everton face Chelsea (home), Leicester (away), Arsenal (home) and Manchester City (home) between Gameweeks 12 and 16, putting them fourth-bottom of the Season Ticker for December.
Meanwhile, the Magpies can probably enjoy a trip to the coast, get together and have a few laughs. Despite the turnaround of that Cup tie, they still face West Bromwich Albion, Leeds and Fulham between Gameweeks 12 and 14, favourable fixtures indeed.
Palace and Southampton
Crystal Palace: wba | TOT | whu | LIV | avl | LEI
Southampton: bha | SHU | ars | MCI | ful | WHU
Southampton and Crystal Palace might feel like they’ve been invited to a Christmas party by mistake this year.
Their gaps at the start and the end of the month are relatively favourable but in the middle of December resembles crawling through the vents of a terrorist-infested skyscraper.
Two days after hosting Southampton, Che Adams (£5.9m) and Alex McCarthy (£4.6m) will visit Arsenal and two days after that Manchester City visit the Etihad Stadium.
The fact that the Saints’ goalkeeper has played a starring role in recent weeks could be exceptionally pertinent over Christmas with tough fixtures and rotation threat.
Meanwhile, Gameweeks 12 to 14 pit Crystal Palace against Spurs (home), West Ham (away) and Liverpool (home), each fixture two days from the last.
Provided Wilfried Zaha (£7.3m) is back to his best at that point, he could be the only outfield player likely to feature significantly as Roy Hodgson has options to cover central midfield, the wingers and most positions in the back-four.
Brighton and Burnley
Brighton: SOU | lei | ful | SHU | whu | ARS
Burnley: EVE | ars | avl | WOL | lee SHU
Brighton and Burnley have similar rest periods during December, each facing just one day between Gameweeks 15 and 16 while they are both afforded two five-day gaps between fixtures earlier in the month.
However, the Seagulls have a better deal when it comes to the difficulty of these fixtures, a Gameweek 12 trip to Leicester the only fly in the ointment.
They face Fulham, Sheffield United and West Ham between Gameweeks 12 and 14 and, based on his eye test and an injury to Neal Maupay (£6.3m), we could be saying “welcome to the party, pal” to Danny Welbeck (£5.5m).
Burnley have hardly inspired Fantasy ownership in a big way this season so festive meetings with Arsenal (away), Aston Villa (away) and Wolves (home) are unlikely to change that any time soon.
Fulham and Sheffield United
Fulham: mci | LIV | BHA | new | SOU | tot
Sheff Utd: LEI | sou | MUN | bha | EVE | bur
Fulham and Sheffield United were close to trading Nakatomi Plaza for the north pole with their relatively kind rest periods on offer.
However, it looks as if they’re stuck with Argyle for a chauffeur as their tough fixtures keep them in the world of Die Hard in December.
Fulham, who have an eight-day gap between Gameweeks 11 and 12 must also endure meetings with Manchester City (away) and Liverpool (home) respectively while the Blades face Leicester, Southampton, Manchester United and Everton.
West Ham United
West Ham: MUN | lee | CRY | che | BHA | sou
The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud about West Ham’s festive schedule for all to hear.
No Premier League team can offer as much rest as the Hammers this December, afforded two five-day rest periods and two four-day gaps to boot.
If Michail Antonio (£6.2m) can regain his full fitness soon, he looks as nailed-on as any asset during Christmas while defensive options such as Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m), Vladimir Coufal (£4.6m) and Aaron Cresswell (£5.2m) will bring comfort to their owners based on this run.
The fixtures themselves are a little mixed, especially when going up against Manchester United (Gameweek 11) and Chelsea (Gameweek 14).
However, facing Leeds (away), Crystal Palace (home), Brighton (home) and Southampton (away) could be as fun as pelting teenage kids with snowballs in Central Park.
Leeds: che | WHU | NEW | mun | BUR | wba
Leeds certainly weren’t on the naughty list this year as their Christmas looks as tasty as the world’s best cup of coffee.
Two five-day gaps, one four-day and one three-day rest period is helpful enough, before we consider how dedicated Marcelo Bielsa is to his first-team players.
While the formations and shapes often fluctuate at Leeds, their manager rarely makes changes to the personnel involved, if he can help it.
Kalvin Phillips‘ (£4.9m) return from injury has boosted the defensive potential of Illan Meslier (£4.5m), Stuart Dallas (£4.5m) and Luke Ayling (£4.5m) while Patrick Bamford‘s (£6.1m) league form surely make a benching unlikely during the festivities.
Wolves: liv | AVL | CHE | bur | TOT | mun
Wolves have the honour of being the only Premier League team afforded THREE periods of five-day resting this year.
That certainly goes a long way to boosting the likes of Pedro Neto (£5.6m) and Max Kilman (£4.3m), provided the latter can reclaim his place.
But, son of a nutcracker, do the fixtures themselves look difficult. To say the run itself is kind to Nuno Espirito Santo’s men would be to sit on a throne of lies.
Between Gameweeks 11 and 16, Wolves sit bottom of the Season Ticker, as they face Liverpool (away), Chelsea (home), Spurs (home) and Manchester United (away).
Aston Villa: NEW* | wol | BUR | wba | CRY | che
Following the postponement of Aston Villa’s Gameweek 11 meeting with Newcastle, there is a lot up in the air about their Christmas schedule.
On the surface, it looks promising, even if they were to face the Magpies at the back-end of Gameweek 11. The Villains would still be handed one five-day rest period and another lasting four days.
Although, until things are confirmed, I would feel like a cotton-headed ninny muggins by handing out too much Villa advice.
Either way, Jack Grealish (£7.7m) is an immovable object in the Villa team at the best of times so his place in our teams looks relatively locked in for Christmas.
Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) has not faced much competition for his place this season but, as the fixtures take their toll on squad fitness, Dean Smith could be tempted to use the recovering Keinan Davis (£4.3m) or Wesley (£6.0m) if they can get in time.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom: CRY | new | mci | AVL | liv | LEE
Two five-day rest period and one four-day is a relatively sweet deal for West Bromwich Albion.
However, the task that awaits the Baggies is akin to convincing a hard-nosed New York book publisher that an elf-like man-child is his son.
The Baggies sit second-bottom on the Season Ticker during this period, as they face Manchester City and Liverpool between Gameweeks 13 and 15, as well as a derby encounter with Aston Villa in between.