Our regular frisk of the fixtures sees us assess the Premier League clubs and players with – in theory – the strongest and weakest runs of league matches over the coming weeks.
The primary focus in this article will be on the next six Gameweeks but we will scrutinise the longer-term prospects where appropriate.
Our colour-coded Season Ticker is the primary source for this piece; using this tool as a Premium Member, you can sort by difficulty, rank by attacking and defensive potential or find budget rotation pairings. You can also set your own difficulty ratings, should you disagree with our own.
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Wildcard or not, Gameweek 7 was seemingly the week to go all-in on Chelsea assets ahead of a fantastic run of fixtures. Over 2.8 million of last week’s transfers brought in Thomas Tuchel’s men, two million of which were for Antonio Rudiger (£5.8m), Marcos Alonso (£6.0m) and Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m). Saturday’s 3-1 win over Southampton disappointed many, with no goals or clean sheets for the trio – and Alonso didn’t even play, as the anticipated rotation with Ben Chilwell (£5.6m) begins.
Newly-promoted Brentford are up next but, such has been the Bees’ impressive start, it’s the three games after that which are worth targeting. Gameweeks 9-11 pit the European champions against the three teams currently in the relegation zone – Norwich City (H), Newcastle United (a) and Burnley (H). Lukaku will be the most popular captaincy choice, despite not scoring in his last three league matches.
Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.0m) set up two goals against Southampton for a 10-point return and he isn’t just the safe option: he has scored more points than any defensive teammate since Tuchel’s January arrival. His 118 pips the 112 of Rudiger thanks to one goal, four assists and 12 clean sheets.
Next six: LEE | BUR | wat | AVL | nor | LIV
A fortnight after getting a draw away to Manchester City, the Saints were about to snatch another point at Stamford Bridge until James Ward-Prowse’s (£6.4m) 77th-minute red card. Two goals in the final ten minutes brought about a defeat but they will relish home clashes against Leeds United and Burnley.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have struggled to score this season. Only twice have they found the net in open play, with their ‘goals for’ tally supplemented with two penalties and an own-goal. Yet they face a Leeds defence which has conceded the most shots of any team so far, boosting the appeal of cheap striker Adam Armstrong (£6.0m). The former Blackburn man scored 28 Championship goals last season and his 21 shots is beaten only by Michail Antonio (£8.0m) amongst forwards.
At the back, Alex McCarthy could be a solid £4.5m goalkeeping option should he continue to start ahead of Fraser Forster (£4.4m), with popular cheap pick Tino Livramento (£4.2m) getting forward regularly from right-back. He won the penalty at Chelsea and has delivered returns in three of his last four matches.
Next six: BUR | bha | CRY | mun | EVE | WHU
Pep Guardiola will be pleased to have gained four points from back-to-back away games at Chelsea and Liverpool. Man City have already won two of their three home matches 5-0 and up next is Burnley – an opponent who they have beaten by that same 5-0 margin on four successive home meetings, with an aggregate score of 30-1 over eight matches in all competitions. It’s a remarkable record but one that is hard to interpret from an attacking viewpoint, as 13 Man City players shared the goals and 14 provided assists. That general trend has continued this season, as no player has scored (or assisted) more than two of their 14 goals so far.
Despite Gabriel Jesus (£8.6m) quietly becoming the third highest-scoring forward, only Jack Grealish (£7.9m) compares well to others statistically, with his 51 penalty area touches and 18 chances created ranking highly. He has played most of their minutes but has contributed just one goal and one assist. It’s difficult enough predicting who Guardiola selects, never mind whose turn it is to score.
However, at the back, their defensive brings more reliability. They kept five clean sheets in a row before going to Anfield and have conceded by far the fewest goal attempts (43), shots in the box (26) and tally of expected goals conceded (4.01). Ruben Dias (£6.1m) and Joao Cancelo (£6.2m) will be popular transfers to make – maybe both – ahead of Burnley (H), Brighton and Hove Albion (a) and Crystal Palace (H). But this defence is so dominant, they can shut out any opponent.
Next six: CRY | AVL | lei | WAT | liv | NEW
Gameweek 4 was a turning point for Arsenal. Bottom of the league after losing all matches without scoring, Mikel Arteta handed debuts to goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale (£4.6m) and right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu (£4.6m). The match against Norwich also saw Ben White (£4.4m) and Gabriel (£5.0m) back from injury and so, with a new-look defence in place, it must be satisfying for Arteta to see the Gunners keep three clean sheets from the subsequent four games.
This continues a similar finish to last season and facing Crystal Palace (H), Watford (H) and Newcastle (H) over the next six games will provide a great chance for more. In midfield, there’s another promising cheap option in Emile Smith Rowe (£5.3m), although some managers may prefer to spend an extra million on Bukayo Saka (£6.3m), given his more frequent shots and chances created.
Next six: CHE | LEI | bur | NOR | new | EVE
Just like their Gameweek 8 opponents Chelsea, Brentford face the bottom three in succession – Burnley (a), Norwich (H) and Newcastle (a). Yet Thomas Frank’s bold side will be confident of breaching Chelsea and Leicester City, having scored two against the statistically strong Wolves defence, three against Liverpool and another pair in an impressive away win at West Ham. Ivan Toney (£6.3m) dominated Virgil van Dijk (£6.6m) in the air, is on penalties and has four goal involvements from the last five matches, with out-of-position bargain Bryan Mbeumo (£5.5m) playing beside him and finally converting shots that hit the woodwork (four so far) into goals.
David Raya (£4.6m) and his defence rank favourably in terms of shots conceded (85) and expected goals conceded (7.99). They have two representatives – Pontus Jansson (£4.6m) and Ethan Pinnock (£4.6m) – within the top five defenders, who have aadded a handful of assists to three clean sheets. The west Londoners have been a wonderful addition to the top flight and look strong at both ends, combined with a fearless mentality and highly-regarded transfer policy.
Leeds will also be confident of beating Southampton, followed by Wolves (H) and Norwich (a) afterwards. This pair also has good games, with Wolves four fixtures through an 11-match streak that avoids last season’s top five. Despite being rooted to last place, Norwich have a chance of making this season competitive by soon facing Brighton, Leeds, Southampton and Wolves at home.
Next six: lei | LIV | tot | MCI | wat | che
If the two blanks of Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.6m) already had you nervous, look away now. Here are the Red Devils’ next opponents: Leicester, Atalanta (twice), Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Man City, Watford, Villarreal and Chelsea. Lots of fixture congestion, lots of travelling and their only home league matches are against arguably the two strongest teams in the division.
Luke Shaw (£5.4m) lost almost a million owners before Gameweek 7 and there is set to be similar mass sales for Mason Greenwood (£7.6m), Bruno Fernandes (£11.9m) and Paul Pogba (£7.7m). Just one clean sheet has been kept so far and Greenwood hasn’t scored in four matches. It could be added that – after removing Watford – last season’s equivalent meetings with the five sides yielded seven goals and only one defeat.
Fernandes scored, assisted and brought home 12 points at Leicester, eclipsing his 11 points from the previous visit.
READ MORE: Is it time to sell Man Utd assets?
WEST HAM UNITED
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Michail Antonio is a classic FPL debate of form versus fixtures. He has five goals and four assists from six matches, narrowly coming second to Mohamed Salah for attempts (27) and shots inside the box (23). The third most-owned player in FPL has been outstanding but is about to be tested with some tougher fixtures. Four of West Ham’s next six league matches are away, with Liverpool and Tottenham at home.
Then sprinkle in three Europa League nights and an EFL Cup clash with Man City and it looks demanding, even for Antonio. Selling him would still be difficult to proceed with, despite a promising set of alternative strikers in Toney, Armstrong, Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) and Callum Wilson (£7.3m). The sale of Said Benrahma (£6.6m) may not be as difficult, having only provided one goal in five matches.
Next six: LIV | eve | SOU | ars | MUN | lei
It had been a respectable start for Watford back in the Premier League. Points were dropped against Newcastle and Leeds but two wins over Aston Villa and Norwich put the Hornets in 15th position. True to form, the club sacked Xisco Munoz on Sunday and replaced him with Claudio Ranieri. The Italian has been dropped into a terrible run of fixtures, facing Liverpool (H), Everton (a), Arsenal (a), Man United (H) and Leicester (a) during their next six.
Yet to keep a clean sheet, the only defensive asset with any appeal is Ben Foster because he’s the only £4.0m playing goalkeeper. Whilst strikers Joshua King (£5.5m) and Emmanuel Dennis (£5.3m) can be cheap enablers, the club’s talisman is Ismaila Sarr (£6.3m). Although he has already scored four times and ranks second for shots on target throughout the league, combining upcoming fixtures with the quality of his teammates may suggest it’s a good time to sell.
However, being on penalty duty does add a slight fixture-proof factor.
Leicester have had an underwhelming start to the season and are about to face Man United (H) and Chelsea (H) in upcoming weeks. Newcastle are seemingly devoid of hope, despite scoring in all-but-one match so far. Their games are about to turn, going against Tottenham (H) and Chelsea (H) in their next three.