Our frisk of the fixtures sees us assess the Premier League clubs with the strongest and weakest runs of league matches over the coming weeks – in theory, at least.
Our primary focus in this article will again be on a six-Gameweek lookahead but we will scrutinise the longer-term prospects where appropriate.
Just what constitutes a ‘good’ fixture is open for debate in 2020/21, with the proverbial freak results seemingly happening on a regular basis.
We will also be discussing teams with Double Gameweeks and teams that play in Blank Gameweek 29.
Next six: shu | mci | BHA | BUR | wba | CRY
Put simply, Southampton are in wretched form. Since defeating Liverpool in Gameweek 17 they have lost their last eight games in nine, conceding 28 goals in that time.
But the Saints have a near-perfect run of fixtures to rediscover their early-season form.
Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side sit top of our Season Ticker from now until Gameweek 32, with games against Sheffield United, Brighton, Burnley, West Brom and Crystal Palace along with a trip to Manchester City.
Other than their clash with the league leaders, Crystal Palace are the highest placed team the Saints will face in their next six, and their recent performances have been far from convincing.
But with Brighton, Burnley, West Brom and even Sheffield United fighting for their lives near the bottom, these games will be far from easy.
Southampton face a Double Gameweek in 27 but have no games in Blank Gameweek 29, so any Fantasy managers unconvinced by the Saints could take a short punt on the likes of Takumi Minamino (£6.0m) and ditch them if they fail to convince in three games.
The Saints are also one of four teams to blank in Gameweek 33 as well, so a short-term punt may be the best option.
Fantasy managers yet to use their Bench Boost could be tempted by Fraser Forster (£4.0m), as the keeper looks to have regained his place in the team at the expense of Alex McCarthy (£4.5m).
Next six: wba | AVL | bha | TOT | bur | WHU
Newcastle look to be in a similar situation to Southampton, having won twice in their last 14 games.
The next six games for the Magpies will likely decide their season, with matches against relegation struggles West Brom, Brighton and Burnley.
But they will likely head into these games without their three top attacking players.
Both Miguel Almiron (£5.6m) and Alan Saint-Maximin (£5.1m) will miss their first three games at least, joining striker Callum Wilson (£6.5m) on the treatment table.
It remains to be seen how Steve Bruce will adapt a system so reliant on Almiron and Saint-Maximin, but it could mean more game time for Dwight Gayle (£5.9m), Andy Carroll (£5.1m) and Ryan Fraser (£5.6m), who has created an impressive number of chances and assisted Jamaal Lascelles (£4.2m) in the 1-1 draw against Wolves.
The Newcastle captain looks to be a decent cut-price option in defence, with West Brom, Brighton and Burnley producing some of the worst attacking numbers in the league this season.
But with Bruce hardly known as a master tactician, the best option may be to wait at least until the West Brom game to see how he adapts his line-up.
Next six: bur | TOT | whu | LIV | shu | FUL
Arsenal face a mixed bag of fixtures over their next few games, with some decent away trips and tough home ties.
Two meetings with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham are followed by a home game against Liverpool, which represents a tricky run. But either side of this run are matches against strugglers Burnley, Sheffield United and Fulham.
With their top four dream all but over, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted their focus has now turned to the Europa League.
This was evident in their Gameweek 26 win over Leicester, where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.3m) and Bukayo Saka (£5.2m) were left on the bench.
In their place, two players who have come in for criticism this season, Willian (£7.5m) and Nicolas Pepe (£7.6m), delivered double-point hauls against the Foxes, so Arteta could have good rotation options going forward.
Both of Arsenal’s games against London rivals come three days after their Europa League fixtures against Olympiakos, so we could expect rotation to come into play here.
Next six: MUN | SOU | ful | lei | LEE | avl
With or without a good set of fixtures, most FPL teams are full of Man City players.
Following the Manchester derby, Pep Guardiola’s side face struggling Southampton and Fulham, then a Leicester side beset by injuries.
They also face games against Leeds and Villa, who have shown weaknesses in defence over the last few Gameweeks.
Like Arsenal, City are competing on multiple fronts, so rotation is bound to come into play.
26% owned Joao Cancelo (£6.2m) missed out in their last game against West Ham, and other than Ederson (£6.1m) in goal, Ruben Dias (£6.1m) looks to be the safest route into the City defence.
Returning stars Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) and Sergio Aguero (£10.3m) also muddy the waters for popular FPL assets.
In De Bruyne’s last two starts, popular midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (£6.2m) has only managed two attempts on goal, and created no chances, so the Belgian’s return could seriously blunt his attacking output.
And Aguero’s return to the City attack could lessen the minutes of Phil Foden (£6.1m), Gabriel Jesus (£9.2m) and Raheem Sterling (£11.6m), none of whom started the West Ham game.
Chelsea seem to have had a good run of fixtures all the way through Thomas Tuchel’s tenure, and this looks to continue.
After somewhat tricky games against Everton and Leeds, followed by a blank in Gameweek 29, Chelsea face West Brom, Crystal Palace and Brighton.
With Tuchel appearing to enjoy rotation as much as Guardiola, Antonio Rudiger (£4.6m) is one of very few players to have missed just one game.
The German offers an excellent-value route into a defence that has conceded just two goals in seven league games.
We’ve also seen Tuchel select Marcos Alonso (£5.7m) at left wing-back against teams lower down the table for his added attacking threat, with Alonso having the most attempts in the box of all defenders in the last six Gameweeks.
Ben Chilwell (£5.8m) regained his place for the game against Manchester United, but Alonso could well be rotated back in for the games against the bottom half sides, especially with Chelsea still in the Champions League and FA Cup.
Chelsea’s opponents in Gameweek 27, Everton, also have a decent mini-run of games.
After facing Chelsea, the Toffees play Burnley and Crystal Palace at home before a seaside trip to Brighton.
Following the Brighton game, Everton’s fixtures take a nasty swing, with games against Spurs, Arsenal, Aston Villa and West Ham.
But anyone thinking about selling Everton assets like Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.8m) and Lucas Digne (£6.2m) for Blank Gameweeek 29 may want to hang on for another couple of weeks.
Wolves’ improved defensive performances are beginning to catch the eye ahead of some cracking fixtures.
If we cast the Season Ticker ahead to the next 10 fixtures, then Wolves sit top of the pile.
This is chiefly down to their run from Gameweek 31 to 35, where they play five of the bottom six.
Defensive stalwarts Conor Coady (£4.8m) and Roman Saiss (£4.9m) will be on the radar, as well as winger Pedro Neto (£5.7m), who has delivered impressive returns all season.
Next six: liv | MCI | LEE | avl | WOL | ars
Fulham face an almighty fixture swing after a decent run of games, starting in Gameweek 27 with their visit to Anfield.
They then host table-topping City and free-scoring Leeds, before games against Villa, Wolves and Arsenal.
However, with Fulham fighting for their lives at the bottom you wouldn’t be surprised if the Cottagers got a couple of good results from these games.
And they have already proven capable of taking points from teams higher up the table this season, with wins over Everton and Leicester, and draws with Liverpool and Spurs.
Anyone who has brought in Fulham assets for Blank Gameweek 29 may fancy their chances against an up-and-down Villa team and Wolves.
Fulham’s goal is likely to be peppered with shots over this period, so Alphonse Areola (£4.5m), their most owned player, could still be capable of bringing in returns.
But any gambles on Ademola Lookman (£5.0m) and Josh Maja (£5.5m) look risky, with Fulham struggling to score goals all season.
Next six: mci | WHU | BHA | tot | BUR | lee
The old argument of form vs fixtures comes into play with Manchester United. The Red Devils have scored the highest amount of goals over the last six Gameweeks.
But Fantasy managers are not convinced, and there is even chatter about people moving on Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m), this season’s top-scoring FPL asset.
The immediate future doesn’t look great for Man United, starting with the derby against City.
As we saw in United’s game against Chelsea, in big games they tend to play a cautious style, resulting in 0-0 draws against the Blues, Liverpool and Man City.
They then follow that up with a game against in-form West Ham, who proved to be no pushovers in their narrow defeat against City.
The Red Devils then don’t play in Blank Gameweek 29, so their immediate prospect for points isn’t great.
This improves from Gameweek 30, with games against Brighton and Burnley sandwiched between trips to Spurs and Leeds.
But a game against arch-rivals Liverpool follows this, so anyone with Red Devils assets could be tempted to sell.
Fernandes owners, in particular, could be tempted to hit the trigger, with the Portuguese international only scoring one goal against the traditional big six.
Next six: tot | WBA | eve | CHE | sou | lei
The news of Wilfried Zaha (£7.1m) returning to training may dampen what looks to be an awful run of games for Palace.
Excluding their home game against West Brom, Palace face tough matches against Spurs, Everton, Chelsea and Leicester, all of whom are fighting for a European spot.
As well as having bad fixtures, the Eagles have been in poor form of late, having the worst expected goals rating (xG) of all teams in the last six Gameweeks.
Results in their last two games may have masked their poor form, with their 2-1 win over Brighton coming after they had two touches in the box, and a 0-0 draw with Fulham where they were second best for much of the game.
Other than relying on Zaha to hit the ground running, it is difficult to highlight a Palace asset for inclusion.
Budget defender Tyrick Mitchell (£3.8m) appears to have lost his place in the team, and is also suffering with an injury.
And Jean-Phillipe Mateta (£5.8m) may have added himself to the shortlist for the Puskas Award after his backheeled goal against Brighton, but he has struggled to adapt to the English game.
Next six: ARS | eve | sou | NEW | mun | wol
Sean Dyche’s side have found themselves dragged into a relegation battle after a poor run of form.
Injuries have hit Burnley’s small squad, with first-team strikers Ashley Barnes (£6.0m) and Chris Wood (£6.2m) missing out through injury.
And their defence was uncharacteristically poor against Spurs in their weekend game, being torn apart by Gareth Bale (£9.3m) in a 4-0 rout.
This display will put most Fantasy managers off investing in their defence, with games coming up against top attacks like Everton, Man United and Arsenal.
But the Clarets have previously shown an ability to keep clean sheets against bottom-half rivals, so games against Southampton and Newcastle should not be written off.
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