While home advantage was largely wiped out during the pandemic and empty stadiums, the power of home support kicked back into gear last season.
In 2020/21, away teams won 40% of Premier League matches, compared with 34% in 2021/22.
And while there is no escaping the fact that home advantage generally remains on the wane, for most clubs outside of the elite, targeting wins at the location you know best still makes most sense.
With that in mind, this article aims to identify the teams outside of the traditional ‘big six’ who have the best runs of consecutive, winnable home matches at the start of the season – the types of games managers will be earmarking for three points.
You’ll also notice that we’ve tried to ensure a few reasonable away fixtures are thrown in too, and that all of the runs we highlight start no later than Gameweek 8.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Brighton and Hove Albion start next season’s Premier League campaign with a trip to Old Trafford and follow it up with a kind run of fixtures from Gameweeks 2-8. In that time, they face Newcastle United, Leeds United, Leicester City and Crystal Palace at the Amex, whilst also visiting newly-promoted Fulham and Bournemouth.
2021/22 was a season of extremes for Graham Potter’s side, as they went 11 Premier League games without a victory from September to December and then six straight defeats in February and March. However, they finished strongly, taking 18 points from a possible 27 at the end, raising interest in their Fantasy Premier League (FPL) assets.
Robert Sanchez ended last season with a creditable 11 clean sheets but wasn’t a prolific save machine. In fact, a total of 14 first-choice Premier League goalkeepers had a better points-per-match average than the Brighton custodian (3.4). There are other appealing options at the back, however, including Marc Cucurella, whose total of 21 bonus points was beaten by just four other defenders, Lewis Dunk and bargain buy Joel Veltman, who racked up 33 Premier League starts. Further forward, the form of Leandro Trossard is also worth noting: the Belgian ended the campaign with four goals and three assists in his final six appearances.
The Premier League fixture computer has done its best to steer us away from the newly-promoted teams at the start of the season.
Scott Parker’s Bournemouth have arguably the worst opening four fixtures in the division, while Fulham meet four of the ‘big six’ in the opening seven Gameweeks. Nottingham Forest’s schedule is perhaps the best of a bad bunch but even they take on West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the first five Gameweeks.
However, their opening schedules do at least give us time to assess their assets. And it’s Gameweek 5 (Bournemouth), Gameweek 6 (Nottingham Forest) and Gameweek 8 (Fulham) which we’ve earmarked as the best potential time to invest in Dominic Solanke, Brennan Johnson, Aleksandar Mitrovic and co.
The Cherries’ eight-game run between Gameweeks 5-12 is arguably the best of the lot, with five home matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Brighton, Brentford, Leicester and Southampton in that time, plus away trips to fellow new boys Forest and Fulham.
Everything you need to know about Fulham and Bournemouth can be found here, with our series of articles on Nottingham Forest kicking off later this week.
While the promoted clubs may be off the menu at the start of the season, Brentford are going to be more popular bargain buys. The Bees have a sustained good run lasting for much of the autumn, for those of us looking further ahead. In fact, they don’t meet one of last season’s top four until Gameweek 12, while Man City, Spurs and Liverpool aren’t concerns until November onwards. The big six sides they do encounter in Gameweeks 8 and 12 both have to come to the Brentford Community Stadium, too.
For those not wishing to pencil in future transfers, even the opening two fixtures against Leicester and Manchester United aren’t that bad, heightening the appeal of a Brentford asset or two in our Gameweek 1 squads.
David Raya had as good a points-per-match average as Aaron Ramsdale (4.0) last season and will be a popular pick if priced at £4.5m, Pontus Jansson started 37 matches, while Ivan Toney adapted to the Premier League as 2021/22 progressed and ended the campaign with 17 attacking returns.
Leicester’s 2021/22 Premier League campaign was a frustrating one, as they finished 8th in the table and were comfortably out of the running for qualifying for Europe throughout the season. However, free from any European distractions, Brendan Rodgers’ side could potentially supply us with a few attractive FPL options next season.
Between Gameweeks 6-13, the Foxes host Aston Villa, Forest, Palace and Leeds, whilst also visiting Brighton, Bournemouth and Wolves, a period which unsurprisingly sees them sit top of our Season Ticker.
As a result, the likes of James Maddison – who racked up 46 points courtesy of four goals, three assists, and eight bonus in the final three Gameweeks – Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy might be worth considering. The latter is of particular interest, given that he was a reliable bet against the ‘also-rans’ of the division in 2021/22, with all 18 of his attacking returns coming against sides outside the top five.
The addition of both Eddie Howe and five winter signings caused a dramatic shift in Newcastle United’s form last season, as only Liverpool, Man City and Spurs recorded more points in 2022.
And Gameweek 6 looks like the best time to invest in the Magpies, when they face successive home matches against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Brentford and Everton. Their St James’ Park form under Howe certainly strengthens their case: they won seven of their last eight Premier League home fixtures, only losing to Liverpool.
Callum Wilson played a part in less than half of Newcastle’s fixtures in 2021/22, but when he did make it onto the pitch, found the back of the net on eight occasions in just 16 starts, while Matt Targett, Kieran Trippier and Nick Pope provide interesting options at the back, especially if the latter is priced up at £5.0m.
WEST HAM UNITED
With Man City, Spurs and Chelsea in the opening six rounds, most will choose to avoid West Ham assets at the start of the season. However, from Gameweek 7 onwards, the fixtures ease, with a swathe of blue on our Season Ticker right up until Gameweek 21.
Their home run is particularly attractive, with successive matches against Newcastle, Wolves, Fulham, Bournemouth, Palace, Leicester, Brentford and Everton.
There is perhaps an argument to hop off their assets in Gameweek 12, when they face Liverpool and Man Utd in the space of three Gameweeks, but a set-and-forget approach might be best, meaning that transfers can be focused elsewhere.
Jarrod Bowen was one of just five players to break the 200-point barrier in 2021/22, as he produced 12 goals and a whopping 17 assists across the season. As a result, he ended the campaign with a very decent 5.7 points per match, a tally bettered by only Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min and Kevin De Bruyne among midfielders, while no player in his position could beat him for value.
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