Now that we are coming to the midway point of the Premier League season, each team has played each other at least once, so we have a good feel for each club and how they will perform through the back half of the season where they’ll be taking on the other 19 clubs in the reverse fixture. Certainly not many of us would have been predicting West Ham to be sitting 4th on the Premier League table at Christmas, occupying one of the Champions League spots ahead of the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton etc. At the bottom half of the table we’ve had the three promoted clubs sitting amongst other relegation battling regulars. Not too many surprises at the bottom, but still plenty of time for some of the mid-table clubs to be dragged down into a battle for survival.
Just like our fixture analysis of Gameweek Fixtures 11-20 where we successfully predicted the collapse of Southampton’s mighty defense purely on fixtures, let cast our eyes over Gameweek Fixtures 21-30.
You can view our table of Game Week 21 – 30 Fixtures Here.
Hard Road Ahead
In terms of tough fixtures through the cold months of winter, it’s West Ham United who have arguably the hardest set of fixtures for gameweeks 21 through 30. West Ham has been a top performer this season, sitting 4th place in the table at Christmas. A memorable 2-1 win at home against Manchester City in October springs to mind as on example of how well Big Sam’s men have progressed this season. But they face the ‘big four’ (Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea) as well as facing potentially tricky away fixtures to mid-table clubs Swansea, Southampton and Spurs. This means that 7 of West Ham’s 10 fixtures have them at a low percentage chance of victory. Their other 3 matches are all a little easier given that they are all at home, against Hull, Crystal Palace and Sunderland. Also throw in the fact that West Ham are going to be without 3 members of their squad Alex Song, Cheikhou Kouyate, Diafra Sakho who all all off to the African Cup of Nations in January, even Stewart Downing’s wonderful form this season may not be enough to help West Ham keep up the pressure for a Champions League spot.
Another club with a tougher run of fixtures than most is Newcastle United. Newcastle’s manager Alan Pardew was the Premier League’s manager of the month for November 2014, after a run of winning 5 matches on the trot. Like West Ham, Newcastle also have 4 matches against the “Big” clubs; Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. They face non of the promoted clubs over the ten gameweek period, which means all 10 matches are against established Premier League teams. In addition to the 4 big clubs, Everton away from home will be a very tricky fixture, as will Southampton at home. And to make matters worse, Newcastle will also be without important first team squad members Papiss Cisse and Cheick Tiote while they travel to the African Cup of Nations in January 2015. So the odds are not looking good for a Newcastle charge up the table, but there are still some potential for points there…especially given Newcastle’s win against Chelsea at home in early December, (Chelsea’s first loss of the season).
Leicester City are another club with a touch than usual run. They have tricky away fixtures to Everton and Spurs, but also matches against the same 4 “Big” clubs as Newcastle United; Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. So that’s 6 fixtures were I would say Leicester do not have very good odds of picking up points. Given their position at the foot of the Premier League table at Christmas, they are going to find it very difficult to get on a run to overtake the fellow relegation battlers.
Bright Side of the Road
But for every West Ham or Newcastle, with the majority of their 10 matches against the bug guns or away t mid-table teams, there are others that have a more enticing looking list of fixtures. Arguable the club with the easiest set of fixtures are those red devils Manchester United. United avoid any of the big Champions League regular clubs until gameweek 30. Which means they have a run of 9 matches against lower or mid-table clubs, a run that includes matches against all 3 newly promoted clubs by gameweek 25. Certainly January and February look ripe for Manchester United to kick their attack to the next level and bang in some goals. Of course the challenge for Fantasy Premier League managers is the spread of points between the many quality attacking players in the united squad, from Mata, Di Maria, Rooney, Falcao and RVP just to mention a few. Should one of these players start to be the stand out performers, then they could yield a good points return in early 2015.
Our two other picks for clubs with an easier set of fixtures are Chelsea and Stoke City. Other than facing Man City at home in gameweek 23, Chelsea avoid any of their total rivals through the ten rounds. Burnley, Leicester, Hull and Aston Villa all look like they should be wins. Those will keep Chelsea in first or second place by the end of March 2015. Chelsea defense will be a good pick at the back, as always, by that run should keep the points flowing right across the park. Chelsea’s depth of squad means I wouldn’t expect any major transfer activity during the summer, but the are still active in 4 competitions so squad rotation will likely increase in the new year.
Stoke City were one of our ‘watch out’ tips for gameweeks 11-20. Things are looking a lot healthier for gameweeks 21-30 though. Stoke’s 10 matches consists of seven games against teams in the lower half of the table! Their remaining three games are against Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle. With that run, picking some cheaper options in your team may maximise your points return. Bojan Krkic at £5.0m has beeb particular impressive the past fortnight leading up to christmas.
Best of luck Fantasy Premier League Managers! Here to a great start to 2015!