With the conclusion of gameweek 19 on the 30th of December, we’ll be half way through the EPL season – with each team having played all the other 19 clubs once. This gives us a good perspective on how teams will fair in the reverse fixtures kicking off in 2016. Certainly not many of us would have been predicting Leicester City to be sitting top of the Premier League table at Christmas. Analyzing the fixture list is important for Fantasy Premier League managers in order to see which clubs have clusters of ‘easier’ fixtures against lower table clubs, or hard runs of fixtures against form teams, in order to pick the best starting 11 each gameweek to yield maximum points. We’ve done an analysis of the first 11 rounds of the season in 2016, Gameweeks 20-30, so you can hit the ground running in the new year.
Gameweeks 20-30 Fixture Analysis
Which Teams Have the Easiest Start to 2016?
It’s good news for EPL fans of Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and West Ham United who all have a friendly looking set of fixtures to start 2016.
Manchester City look to have the pick of the bunch, with fixtures against all of the bottom four teams in the league table to date, including Sunderland, Newcastle Utd, Norwich City all away and Aston Villa at home. They also avoid all the traditional champions league clubs except an away fixture at Liverpool in gameweek 28. Their remaining matches are against mid-table teams, most of which are at home where City are at their most dangerous. Manchester City are an obvious pick for points anyway, as they consistently perform well in front of goal throughout the season – so no surprises there. Keep an eye on Sergio Aguero’s fitness, as if he can get himself fit he could quite easily band in 20 goals before the end of the season, such is his skill.
Tottenham Hotspur also have a very nice looking run of fixtures across gameweeks 20-30 compared to other clubs. They have two tricky fixtures against Man City & Arsenal but those are not until gameweeks 26 and 29. That means they have a nice stretch of fixtures against mid-to-lower table teams at he start of the year, including a run of Sunderland (Home), Crystal Palace (Away), Norwich City (Away), Watford (Home) across January & February. Spurs are currently in 4th spot on the table, and this fixture list should see them stay in the top four until March. Safe bets look like Spurs striker Harry Kane £9.8m who is starting to hit form again, at the back Toby Alderweireld £6.0m has added quality to their defense which is now the best in the Premier League having only conceded 14 goals in their first 18 league matches. Bamidele Alli £5.3m has been the surprise package in midfield for Spurs, and offers great value for money for managers wanting to take a gamble in search of value for money.
AFC Bournemouth and West Ham United round out the teams with favorable fixtures starting 2016, though both have struggled at times this season. Bournemouth only face Arsenal from the big clubs in gameweeks 20-30, avoiding all the other big clubs. So someone like Matt Ritchie £5.5m could be an outside shout, but I can’t see them scoring a lot of goals and their defense hasn’t been amazing. It’s a similar story at West Ham, who had a great start to the season but injuries have help them back. 5 draw’s in a row leading up to boxing day show that they lack the goal scoring edge, so your best bet would be looking at an attacking fullback such at Aaron Cresswell £5.5m to pick up some points for you in select matches.
What teams should I avoid? Who has the hardest start to the 2016?
At the opposite end of the fixture difficultly scale for gameweeks 20-30 are Crystal Palace and Newcastle United who stand out with a hard looking run, but also Liverpool and Arsenal have some tricky tests coming up.
Crystal Palace have been a revelation under Alan Pardew and currently sit in 5th place in the table. They face Chelsea, Man City and Spurs all in January, then face Liverpool and Manchester Utd in gameweeks 29 & 30. They’re currently without Yannick Bolasie which is hurting their goal scoring potential, but that run of tough fixture is also likely to keep the goal tally down. It’s a similar story at Newcastle United who are really struggling this season under Steve McLaren in 18th place in the relegation zone. Newcastle will face Arsenal and Man Utd in January, and then Chelsea and Man City in February. That means there is no clear run of easier fixtures for Newcastle United to find some form and build up some confidence. Avoiding Newcastle defenders in 2016 is a absolute must in our minds.
Compared to Tottenham and Manchester City who face just two bigger champions league clubs, both Arsenal and Liverpool have four of those types of matches from the 11 gameweeks we’re focusing on. Arsenal will face Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd and Spurs in a run that only really offers 3 straight forward looking fixtures that you’d feel confident of them winning. Liverpool’s four tricky fixtures are Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea at home. Similar to Arsenal, I can see 4 hard, 3 easy and then 4 mid-table matches that could go either way in the end. There are enough fixtures to keep the points flowing, but looking to the clubs with an easier run will most likely reward FPL managers with more points come gameweek 30.
Best of luck in 2016 fantasy league managers!