Frisking the Fixtures continues by looking at the teams and players with unattractive medium-term fixture runs from Gameweek 13. The most appealing ones are featured in a separate piece here.
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Of this season’s promoted trio, Luton are top for points and have conceded the lowest number of goals. They’re still without a clean sheet though, allowing the most big chances (46) and fourth-most shots (198).
Cheap enabler Issa Kabore (£4.0m) bagged eight points versus Liverpool recently, while fellow defender Alfie Doughty (£4.4m) is the league leader for attempted crosses (87).
Mirroring what we saw in the Championship, the Rob Edwards game-plan is clear: Luton are the most frequent crossers in the division (272), with Carlton Morris (£5.3m) often the target.
Not only that, the Hatters aren’t amongst the bottom five for either attempts (140) and big chances (22), meaning there’s some slight promise that Morris can add to his respectable three goals.
But the nasty-looking fixtures mean that it’s hard to recommend even getting Kabore as bench fodder, with similarly priced options having more appealing medium-term matches.
Even in the one week when we might be considering blooding our emergency substitutes, in Blank Gameweek 18, the Hatters have an off-putting fixture against Newcastle United.
In fairness to the champions, they’re arguably fixture-proof and their position on the ticker is heavily influenced by their Blank Gameweek 18. Without that, Pep Guardiola’s side ranks a so-so 11th between now and Gameweek 17.
A pair of 16-point hauls from the last three matches may have made non-Erling Haaland (£14.0m) owners nervous. However, those with the forward will also feel uneasy at the ankle knock that forced him to withdraw from the Norway squad. International coach Stale Solbakken’s comments make it sound precautionary.
With the next game being a big one against Liverpool, expect Haaland to start and perhaps have minutes managed in the Champions League now that progression to the next round has already been sealed.
Doubling up on Man City attackers might need questioning, though. The team is way ahead for shots on target (84) but outside of the best two for big chances (39) and expected goals (xG, 24.83), while Julian Alvarez‘s (£7.1m) 10 returns greatly exceed his expected goal involvement (xGI) of 5.67. One solitary assist has arrived in his last three, while he has accumulated just three big chances all season.
In defence, they have conceded the fewest attempts (90) but produced only two clean sheets from the latest ten matches. With their next three opponents all scoring at a rate of 2.0 goals per game or higher, even the relatively safe Kyle Walker (£5.3m) – playing every minute bar Gameweek 1’s stoppage time – can be easily avoided for now.
Tough fixtures mean that Ollie Watkins (£8.4m) may not be the obvious Alvarez alternative. The forward erupted with five goals and four assists between Gameweeks 6 and 9 but netted only once afterwards despite facing Luton, Nottingham Forest and Fulham.
Having said that, Watkins is second overall for penalty area shots (35), big chances (14) and shots on target (16), whilst Aston Villa’s 13 consecutive home Premier League wins means neither he nor Moussa Diaby (£6.8m) will feel intimidated when Man City and Arsenal soon come to town.
What may hold Diaby back is his inability to complete matches as we enter the busy festive season. Yes, all 12 have been started but he has exceeded 80 minutes on just six occasions. One goal from the last nine dents his appeal, just like attacking defender Matty Cash (£5.2m) is neither keeping clean sheets nor contributing further upfield.
Villa are without a successful shut-out in six outings and Cash is averaging 2.2 points over his last five. His total xGI during those is a disappointing 0.95. With less of an attacking upside to compensate for the probable paucity of clean sheets in Gameweeks 13-17, could it be time to sell him?
Man City’s original Gameweek 18 opponents were Brentford before the Club World Cup dates were locked in.
Like City, the Bees’ low Season Ticker ranking doesn’t tell the whole story. After the imminent Arsenal meeting, their attack in particular actually has a nice run between Gameweeks 14 and 21 – if you can navigate the blank.
That’s why a popular replacement for the hurt Jarrod Bowen (£7.7m) and Kaoru Mitoma (£6.6m) will be Bryan Mbeumo (£6.8m). He faded between Gameweeks 5 and 8 but surrounding that is six goals and three assists from eight matches. It places him as FPL’s sixth-highest scorer and – scarily – he’s still underachieving compared to a 10.79 xGI. Just Haaland and Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) better this amount.
The Bees’ inclusion here is mainly for their backline, with attack-minded sides Arsenal, Brighton and Aston Villa to come before the blank.
Centre-back Ethan Pinnock (£4.6m), like Mbeumo, does at least feature in our look at who the safest players for game time are during December’s tough schedule. The latter already has a goal to his name, while Mark Flekken (£4.5m) is one of the better goalkeepers at his price point.
Clashes against the newly promoted pair of Luton and Sheffield United offer the hope of a clean sheet, even if no other game does before Christmas.
Elsewhere, Manchester United are quietly in some good form. Four league wins from five, with recent Harry Maguire (£4.3m) buyers enjoying consecutive 1-0 clean sheets. Not that any midfielders or forwards can be recommended: Rasmus Hojlund (£7.1m) is yet to deliver any attacking involvements, Marcus Rashford (£8.6m) is without any since Gameweek 4 and Bruno Fernandes (£8.3m) is only marginally doing better.
Four of their next six games are away from Old Trafford, while they are yet to take a point from anyone in the top half – so that doesn’t bode well for clashes with Newcastle, Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham.
Crystal Palace have one of the league’s best defences, which helps over the next three but probably not beyond those: seven of their subsequent nine matches are against teams in the top 10.
Cheap forward Odsonne Edouard‘s (£5.5m) prospects could be boosted by the much-needed returns of the creative Eberechi Eze (£6.1m) and Michael Olise (£5.8m), at least.
Finally, Liverpool assets have provided mixed emotions in recent times. Fixture-proof star Salah has blanked just twice and is on his second-best FPL Gameweek 12 total – all six full seasons have gone on to end with at least 230 points. But Konstantinos Tsimikas (£4.7m) was benched by 356,000 managers for last week’s 15-point haul.
The Reds’ upcoming six-match run is bookended by two of the toughest games in the division, while a stubborn Palace should be a test of Salah and co’s mettle.