Written by Jønathan Kahn. You can catch him on twitter @jkisthe1. Kahn has ranked as high as 211th on the All-Time FPL Manager list!
So the build-up to the new Premier League season and with it, FPL, began on Thursday with the reveal of the new set of fixtures for the upcoming season (See fixture tool here). But what can we glean early on? Who has the best and worst starts and when are the swings we need to look out for?
Man City (whm, TOT, bou, BRI, nor, WAT)
Let’s be honest, no one really cares about the fixtures when it comes to City, we are all going to have two or three players, anyway. But in this case, there’s an even greater attraction. City face a top six team just once in their opening 11 games (the GW2 visit of Spurs). We know City can put almost any team to the sword but those fixtures look primed for City to start strong. Sterling, Aguero and one of Ederson or Laporte look like featuring heavily in early teams.
Everton (cpl, WAT, avl, WOL, bou, shu)
Perhaps set to be this season’s early mid-priced darlings, Everton finished last season strong and will be hoping that a favourable run, that includes two of the newly promoted sides, sees them start the new one in the same way. The likes of Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman, Lucas Digne, Gyfli Sigurdsson and Richarlison could all be set for early popularity.
Liverpool (NOR, sot, ARS, bur, NEW, che)
For Liverpool, see Manchester City. They were going to be a staple in our teams anyway but some favourable opening fixtures create an opportunity to hit the ground running. Only Chelsea away really looks like it may pose a problem. Again, two or three of TAA, Robertson, Van Dijk, Mane and Salah are sure to be in our teams. Some may even be tempted to triple captain. Where’s Luis Suarez when you need him?
Newcastle (ARS, nor, tot, WAT, liv, BRI)
Newcastle had a terrible opening run last season. This season hasn’t been much kinder to them with three of the big six in their opening six games and another two straight after. Around that, they have to face Norwich in the Canaries first home game back in the Premier League. Admires of Schar, Almiron or Rondon may want to tread with caution.
Leicester (WOL, che, shu, BOU, mnu, TOT)
I debated whether to include Leicester here. On paper, the opening few look very tough, but Leicester have tended to produce their best results against the big six and they play three in the first six. But this is just a look at fixtures so paper is all we have to go on at this stage. Games four and five look ideal but these are the games that tripped Leicester up in the past. One to deter admirers of Perriera and Maguire (if he’s still there) though perhaps not Vardy.
Norwich (liv, NEW, che, whm, MCI, bur)
Norwich, poor poor Norwich. The prize for winning the Championship is a Premier League baptism by fire. Three of the top six plus tricky away ties at West Ham and Burnley mean things could very ugly for the Canaries early on. Admirers of Teemu Pukki may want to tread with caution in those early weeks. On the plus side, there’s no Luis Suarez this time.
The key swings
So the last question early on is about the key times for other teams. Is there a time when other members of the big six see an upturn in fixtures that provide opportunities?
For admirers of Chelsea assets (though at this stage it’s not clear who that might be) Gameweek seven is the week to look for. They face Manchester United in Gameweek One and Liverpool in Gameweek Six. After that, they play a top 6 side just twice until Arsenal away in Gameweek 20. Maybe by then, an option will have presented himself.
A great many will consider Kane. But with the early runs for Liverpool and City fitting him in may prove difficult. So when is the time to look at Kane (or other Spurs options such as Son)? Well, there doesn’t look to be a great run of fixtures so my advice here is Gameweek Seven again. It includes games against both Liverpool and Everton away in successive weeks
For United, the swing is sweet but short-lived. After Liverpool in Gameweek Nine, United face nor, bou, BRI, shu, AVL in successive weeks before another tricky run. Admires of Pogba, Rashford or Shaw should be looking at these games.
For those looking at Aubamayeng or Lacazatte, or even Kolasinac, Gameweek Eight is the time. From then until Gameweek 16 Arsenal don’t face another top six club.
For those wondering about a wildcard. Between Gameweeks seven and eight, which happens to be the second International break, could be the ideal time to take advantage of these swings.