We continue our analysis of the newly released 2021/22 Premier League fixture list with a look at which teams rotate well from a Fantasy perspective.
The idea here is to simply find a couple of low-cost Fantasy Premier League assets whose fixtures dovetail, either to offer successive home matches or, at the very least, a prolonged spell of favourable opponents.
For example, rotating Watford and Aston Villa players (as shown in the graphic above) in the first six Gameweeks serves up some appealing home fixtures.
We’re focusing on budget options (and mostly goalkeepers/defenders), mainly because many Fantasy managers will resist benching premium assets.
While we’ve not got the FPL prices for 2021/22 to hand just yet, we can make an educated guess (and keep our fingers crossed, in some cases) as to what some players will be listed as.
In theory, this approach can help maximise the points returns from two low-cost picks – freeing up funds for the premium assets like Mohamed Salah and Bruno Fernandes.
It should be said that the rotation strategy is shunned by some Fantasy managers, as anticipating where a clean sheet or attacking return will come from is often not just as straightforward as picking the player with a home match or ‘better’ fixture.
HOME ADVANTAGE – A SEASON-BY-SEASON ANALYSIS
We’re not just looking at perfect home/away pairings in this feature but it’s worth a quick glance at what defensive advantage playing on your own turf brings.
|Season||CS Home %||GC Home %||CS Away %||GC Away %|
CS = Clean Sheets
GC = Goals Conceded
The percentage of clean sheets being kept by host teams in a normal season is generally around the 60% mark but that was not the case in 2020/21, with a year of behind-closed-doors games almost completely negating that home advantage.
Should spectators return to stadiums in the upcoming season as planned, then we’d expect to see that slight superiority restored.
HOME/AWAY ROTATION PAIRINGS IN 2021/22
There are ten pairings that alternate home fixtures perfectly next season (with thanks to moderator Rotation’s Alter Ego):
|Team 1||Team 2|
|Brighton and Hove Albion||Watford|
|Crystal Palace||Newcastle United|
|Leeds United||Norwich City|
|Leicester City||West Ham United|
|Manchester United||Manchester City|
Some of the above couplings are decided by geographical proximity, created by the need to spread police resourcing: Liverpool/Everton, Manchester United/Manchester City and Spurs/Arsenal being notable examples.
And a number of these combinations are largely irrelevant when it comes to rotation pairings because of the price tags associated with at least one of the respective clubs’ assets and their ability to score points on the road – Fantasy managers aren’t likely to alternate benchings for Luke Shaw or Ruben Dias simply because they have an away fixture, for example.
So for more realistic pairings, we have to box a little bit more clever.
BEST ROTATION PAIRINGS FROM GAMEWEEK 1 ONWARDS
We’ve picked out three rotation pairings here, each with a different timeframe of ‘usefulness’ but all starting from Gameweek 1.
Given that FPL managers have weekly free transfers and a first Wildcard to burn, we won’t look too far ahead in terms of planning.
Then there’s also the small matter of simply not knowing at this stage who the cost-effective surprise packages will be (eg West Ham and Leeds in 2020/21) and which budget options are best avoided (eg Sheffield United).
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION AND LEEDS UNITED
It’ll be interesting to see how FPL price up the defensive assets of both Brighton and Hove Albion and Leeds United, two clubs who made significant improvements at the back in 2021 but who struggled for consistency before that.
Nine of the the Seagulls’ 12 shut-outs last season came this calendar year, for example.
We can, of course, kiss goodbye to Leeds’ Stuart Dallas as a budget ‘out of position’ defender.
But there remains hope that the likes of Luke Ayling, Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk could swerve significant prices, given their lack of attacking returns.
We’ll similarly have our fingers crossed that Albion’s new-found solidity at the back will have passed under the radar and that the likes of Joel Veltman, Ben White and perhaps even Tariq Lamptey are all listed at the £4.5m mark.
Pairing Leeds and Brighton players gives a run of 11 matches in which the opposition consists of five newly promoted sides and six clubs who finished in the lower reaches of the Premier League last season.
We can even look beyond that if necessary, with a Gameweek 12-15 run of Aston Villa (a), Brighton (a), Crystal Palace (h) and Brentford (h).
ASTON VILLA AND WOLVES
Aston Villa’s fixtures not only rotate quite well with those of Watford (as mentioned in the introduction) but with Wolves’ matches too.
Pairing the two Midlands sides in the first eight Gameweeks would see a rotating Fantasy asset face Watford (twice), Newcastle (twice), Brentford (twice), Southampton and Wolves.
Only two teams kept more clean sheets than Dean Smith’s troops in 2020/21.
There seems little chance of Villa’s first-choice defenders being found in bona fide budget country, however, with the £5.0m-mark the bare minimum for Matt Targett and co.
We’re also in unknown territory regarding a new-look Wolves, who will be without Nuno Espirito Santo in the managerial hotseat for the first time since their promotion back to the Premier League in 2018.
BURNLEY AND WATFORD
Burnley’s uncharacteristically poor late-season defensive form saw the Clarets keep only four clean sheets in their last 20 matches.
That may well see defensive assets such as Matthew Lowton and Charlie Taylor remain at the £4.5m price bracket and could ensure that Nick Pope moves down a rung to £5.0m.
That barren run of shut-outs is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to Sean Dyche’s side, who have generally been excellent defensively over the last few seasons.
Most of Watford’s backline are also likely to be priced at £4.5m and are potentially ones to watch under head coach Xisco.
The Hornets have conceded just 15 league goals in 26 matches since the change of manager in December, shipping on just three occasions in their last 13 games at Vicarage Road – a run that includes seven consecutive clean sheets on home soil.
Rotating assets from these two clubs gives a semi-decent sequence in the first seven Gameweeks, with Brighton (twice), Newcastle, Norwich (twice) and Wolves among the opposition.
USING THE FIXTURE TICKER
The 2021/22 Season Ticker is now live in the Premium Members Area. By selecting any side in the Ticker and clicking “Sort by Rotation” (see above), you will be able to see teams ranked according to their suitability for rotation with the highlighted club.
You can apply this using both the attacking and defence filters to analyse rotation pairings in attack and defence.
Are there are any more rotation pairings you have spotted? Let us know in the comments section below.