The first of nine Gameweeks in the space of 36 days takes place this weekend and we’re readying ourselves for the festive fixture frenzy ahead of Saturday’s Fantasy Premier League (FPL) deadline.
Visits from the extended family, a Mrs Brown’s Boys special, bin collection day mayhem: there’s lots to dread about the Christmas period and top of the naughty list for FPL managers is rotation.
This is traditionally the period when starting XI changes ramp up a gear, with the matches coming thick and fast not just in the Premier League but also in cup competitions at home and abroad.
We’ll be looking at which players stand the best chance of avoiding a benching or two in a separate piece but it’s the fixture calendar itself that we’re focusing on here.
We’ll assess the clubs with the tightest and most generous turnarounds in this article, using moderator Legomane’s rather excellent ‘Fixture Crush’ matrix.
Our thanks go to him for allowing us to use this graphic as the focal point of this feature.
FPL FIXTURE OVERVIEW
(click the above image to expand)
CLUBS WITH THE MOST MATCHES FROM GAMEWEEKS 13-21
|Chelsea, Leicester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United||12 (nine league matches, two European ties, one EFL Cup quarter-final)|
|Manchester City, Manchester United||11 (nine league matches, two European ties)|
|Arsenal, Brentford||10 (nine league matches, one EFL Cup quarter-final)|
|Aston Villa, Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Southampton, Watford, Wolverhampton Wanderers||9 (all league matches)|
CLUBS WITH THE TIGHTEST TURNAROUNDS
In this table, we look at the clubs who have the highest number of ‘tight’ turnarounds from the Wednesday before Gameweek 13 onwards. For this, we’re taking tight to mean two recovery days or fewer (eg Saturday-Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday etc).
|West Ham United||7|
|Chelsea, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur||6|
|Burnley, Manchester United||5|
|Brigthon and Hove Albion, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Watford||4|
|Arsenal, Everton, Leeds United, Norwich City, Southampton||3|
|Aston Villa, Brentford, Wolverhampton Wanderers||2|
It’s no surprise to see the clubs involved in European competition up there at the top, with West Ham United leading the way – a bit of a concern for owners of Michail Antonio (£8.2m), perhaps, although David Moyes can at least afford the luxury of resting him in the Europa League with qualification to the knockout rounds assured.
Manchester United’s non-involvement in the EFL Cup means that they have a full seven days of rest in between Gameweeks 18 and 19, which represents the longest recovery time given to any top-flight team throughout the period studied.
Tottenham Hotspur, by contrast, don’t have more than three days of rest, playing Thursday-Sunday for the next month and then having an EFL Cup clash with West Ham ahead of a three-game week between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Aston Villa, Brentford and Wolves have been dealt the best hands if we follow the table above, with the Bees even afforded an extra day of rest between Gameweeks 19 and 20 (more of which below).
Arsenal deserve a mention, too: they might be in EFL Cup quarter-final action in between Gameweeks 18 and 19 but they have been gifted a home draw against League One side Sunderland, so there’ll surely be a few breathers handed out to some key personnel in that tie.
TIGHTEST TURNAROUNDS FROM GAMEWEEKS 19 TO 20
The tightest of all the tight turnarounds comes between Gameweeks 19 and 20, with FPL managers faced with two deadlines in the space of 48 hours.
The clubs’ recovery time in between these two Gameweeks are detailed below (hours are given between full-time and kick-off, rounded up to the nearest half-hour):
|Team||Hours between GW19-20|
|Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers||46|
|Leeds United, Leicester City||51|
|Brighton and Hove Albion, Newcastle United||69.5|
|Brentford, Manchester United||70.5|
Arsenal are the worst hit: they are in action at the traditional 3pm kick-off time on Boxing Day and then have a lunchtime match against Wolverhampton Wanderers on December 28.
Seven clubs’ fixtures kick off at the same time, two days apart, in Gameweeks 19 and 20, affording them less than 48 hours of recovery.
Burnley and Everton are on easy street by comparison, with matches on Boxing Day and December 30.
Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs also get off relatively lightly, with around three days of recuperation time in between their respective games.
CLUBS WITH SUCCESSIVE ‘RED ZONE’ TURNAROUNDS – AND WHEN THEY FALL
The below table looks at when Premier League clubs have successive ‘red zone’ turnarounds – that is, when there are only two recovery days between matches.
The game ranges in italics indicate that one of the three consecutive fixtures is a cup tie, so rotation could theoretically be more widespread outside of the league matches involved.
For example, Liverpool have three fixtures between December 1-7 – but the last one of those is a Champions League against Milan, so with qualification for the knockout rounds assured, Klopp may look to rest some key players in Italy.
Manchester United have also secured top spot in their Champions League group, so the home fixture against Young Boys in between Gameweeks 15-16 allows whoever is in charge to run wild with the starting XI alterations and focus on the four Premier League matches around it.
|Team||Successive ‘red zone’ Gameweek turnarounds|
|Manchester City||GW13-15 (plus UCL after GW15)|
|Manchester United||GW14-17 (UCL in between GW15-16)|
|Liverpool||GW14-15 (plus UCL after GW15)|
GW17-18 (plus EFL Cup after GW18)
GW17-18 (plus EFL Cup after GW18)
|Leicester City||GW13-14 (plus UEL before GW13)|
GW17-18 (plus EFL Cup after GW18)
|West Ham United||GW13-15 (plus UEL before GW13)|
GW16-18 (plus UEL before GW16)
|Tottenham Hotspur||GW17-18 (plus EFL Cup after GW18)|
|Arsenal||GW17-18 (plus EFL Cup after GW18)|
|Brighton and Hove Albon||GW16-18|
Manchester City, Chelsea and West Ham are three of five clubs who play Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday in Gameweeks 13-15, which may set alarm bells ringing for FPL managers who own players from any of those teams. Burnley and Watford are the other two sides with the same schedule.
The Hammers have exactly the same timetable in Gameweeks 16-18, along with Crystal Palace, Brighton and Burnley.
The spectre of Pep rotation then rears its head again from Gameweeks 19-21, when the Citizens once more have to negotiate league fixtures on the Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday. Newcastle United are also on a tight turnaround from December 27 to January 2 inclusive.
Ready those FPL benches…
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