The fixtures for the 2022/23 Premier League season have been announced.
If you missed our initial coverage on Thursday, in which we looked at the best and worst schedules and some early-season captaincy conundrums, here are some key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) takeaways.
Appeal of newly promoted sides dented
The lure of a shiny new toy from the Championship is sometimes too irresistible for FPL managers, particularly if the player in question came up to the Premier League with a prolific record.
The Premier League fixture computer has done its best to steer us away from Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest assets, however.
Scott Parker’s Bournemouth arguably have the worst opening four fixtures in the division, while Fulham meet four of the ‘big six’ in the opening seven Gameweeks.
Forest’s schedule is perhaps the best of the bad bunch but even they take on West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the first five Gameweeks.
In a way, this might be a blessing in disguise. While there are always potential bargains to be had from the clubs coming up from the English second tier, we’ve often had our fingers burned by assets who couldn’t make the step up. The schedule at least gives us more time to assess Aleksandar Mitrovic and co.
It does mean, however, that we’re going to have to source bargains from other quarters in order to fund the heavy hitters elsewhere.
We had a quick look at captaincy rotation in a kneejerk article immediately after the fixtures released.
The main takeaway from this seems to be that we may get a bit more variety when it comes to captaincy picks in the first few Gameweeks, chiefly thanks to the appealing early fixture runs for Liverpool, Manchester City and, to a lesser extent, Tottenham Hotspur.
City and Liverpool are also either both at home or both playing away all the way up to Gameweek 10.
You could, for example, equally make a case for not captaining a Liverpool asset in the first six Gameweeks as you could for leaving the armband on trusty old Mohamed Salah in at least four of the first five fixtures.
|Paired team 1
|Paired team 2
|Brighton and Hove Albion
|West Ham United
As usual, there are 10 pairings of clubs whose home and away fixtures rotate perfectly throughout the course of 2021/22 (see above).
This is Fantasy Football Scout user Portsmouth Bubblejet’s area of expertise and the 11-year site veteran duly delivered the goods again on Thursday morning.
Rotating pairs can useful for budget assets: the dream scenario is that a couple of low-cost players – typically defenders – have fixtures that dovetail to deliver a prolonged spell of favourable opponents.
They don’t have to be a perfect home/away pairing, however. For example, Newcastle and Brentford’s fixtures work quite nicely together from Gameweeks 1-15 and avoid any meeting with a side that finished in the top seven last season:
We’ll be taking more of a look at rotation pairings in an article on Friday.
GAMEWEEK 9 WILDCARD?
There are those FPL managers who prefer to use their Wildcard as a firefighting measure only when needed and then there are others who have a set date in mind to activate their chip.
If you’re in the latter camp, you’ve probably deployed the Wildcard during an international break before. These are popular windows as they not only allow more time to plan but can also be a handy troubleshooting measure when injuries and illnesses are being picked up abroad.
Usually we have three international breaks in the first third of the season but this year we only have one, which falls in between Gameweeks 8-9.
A much longer hiatus follows after Gameweek 16, of course, as the Premier League pauses for six weeks to accommodate the winter World Cup in Qatar.
Wildcard strategy therefore probably depends on what FPL Towers plan to do ahead of the Boxing Day restart. It wouldn’t be a surprise if, rightly or wrongly, they allowed unlimited transfers ahead of Gameweek 17, which effectively gives us a third Wildcard. If that happens, then dividing Gameweeks 1-16 into two smaller, more ‘attackable’ eight-Gameweek blocks is one possible strategy.
Fulham, Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Leicester City have favourable fixture swings around the Gameweek 8/9 mark.
LESS SQUAD ROTATION AT CHRISTMAS?
|World Cup final
Rotation has traditionally stepped up a gear in December as Premier League managers attempt to balance the workload of their players through a period of fixture congestion.
FPL managers, in turn, have had to make sure their benches had playing substitutes ready and waiting for emergency action.
The domestic Christmas calendar looks more threadbare this year, however, with none of the dreaded 48-hour turnarounds that prompted wholesale changes in previous campaigns.
The Premier League announced in an article on Thursday:
“Special arrangements have been made to allow more time between matches played across the three festive match rounds to allow squads greater time to recover. Previously clubs were given a minimum of 48 hours between matches.
“Boxing Day fixtures will be played on 26 and 27 December, with the following Matchweek played across 29-31 December. The New Year match round will be played on 2-5 January.”
On top of the above, many Premier League players will have been well rested throughout December.
There will however be the threat of some big names missing out, or having managed minutes, in Gameweek 18 itself, should their respective nations make it all the way through to the World Cup final on December 18. We only need to look back to the Africa Cup of Nations in January, for instance, when Mohamed Salah was benched on his return to Premier League duty after a month away with Egypt.
PACKED AUTUMN SCHEDULE
While the Christmas schedule looks more forgiving, the autumn calendar appears more congested.
From Gameweeks 4-15, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur will play Premier League and/or Champions League football twice a week, every week, except for during the September international break.
The elite clubs are used to playing at that frequency in the autumn months, of course, but there is usually an EFL Cup tie or three in which the big guns get a breather.
The seven clubs involved in European competition (the above four plus Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham United) don’t enter the EFL Cup till the midweek after Gameweek 15 this season.
SET AND FORGET BRENTFORD?
While the promoted clubs may be off the menu in Gameweek 1, Brentford are going to be more popular bargain buys.
Our ‘Frisking the Fixtures’ articles have concentrated on six-Gameweek lookaheads but the Bees have a more sustained good run lasting for much of the autumn, for those of us looking further ahead:
They don’t meet one of last season’s top four until Gameweek 12, while Manchester City, Spurs and Liverpool aren’t concerns until November onwards.
The ‘big six’ sides they do encounter in Gameweeks 2, 8 and 12 all have to come to the Brentford Community Stadium.
David Raya will surely be a popular budget goalkeeper pick if priced up at £4.5m, while Ivan Toney may have more suitors than anticipated in the mid-price forward bracket with Aleksandar Mitrovic‘s fixtures initially poor.
BLANK/DOUBLE GAMEWEEK PICTURE
Fantasy managers can be forgiven for feeling fed up of Blank and Double Gameweeks after a bombardment of them in 2021/22 but we already have a very good idea of when the main ones will fall in 2022/23:
- Blank Gameweek 25 (clash with the EFL Cup Final)
- Blank Gameweek 28 (clash with the FA Cup quarter-finals)
- Blank Gameweek 32 (clash with the FA Cup semi-finals)
- Double Gameweek 29 (free midweek)
- Double Gameweek 34 (free midweek)
- Double Gameweek 37 (free midweek)
Covid-19, of course, could affect the calendar for the fourth year running and add to the above, although postponements now look much less likely in 2022/23.