In Frisking the Fixtures, we take a look at the teams and players with the worst fixture runs over the next six Fantasy Premier League (FPL) Gameweeks. This follows our look at the best upcoming runs.
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SEASON TICKER OVERVIEW
WORST FPL FIXTURES
WEST HAM UNITED
If any FPL managers watched Gameweek 2 debutant James Ward-Prowse (£6.0m) combine his set-piece expertise with West Ham’s tall squad and thought about buying him, you might want to take a look at the fixture list.
The Hammers face four of last season’s top six during their next half-dozen outings, so it’s tough to take advantage of the Luton Town (a) and Sheffield United (h) games placed in between.
Ward-Prowse’s presence also slightly dents Jarrod Bowen‘s (£7.0m) appeal, following pre-season optimism that he could return to 2021/22 standards. In that campaign, Bowen exceeded 200 points with 12 goals and 17 assists.
But Bowen – who took a club-high 90 corners in 2022/23 – was immediately replaced at dead-ball situations in Gameweek 2 by Mr Set Play himself.
Alphonse Areola is one of the game’s two playing £4.0m goalkeepers, so he’ll not be judged too harshly on fixtures. A penalty save against Chelsea means he’s the second-best shot-stopper for points so far.
Upcoming opponents Brighton, Man City, Liverpool and Newcastle all ranked in the top five for expected goals (xG) last season.
The only Sheffield United players exceeding 0.4% ownership are those of each position’s very lowest price. Interest in the Blades is already low, so meetings with Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United won’t change the tide.
A semi-decent run occurs between Gameweeks 11-14 but the top-level opponents generally seem spread out.
As feared, the newly-promoted outfit have had the fewest shots of those that’ve played twice (15) and Bournemouth are the sole side to have conceded more chances (40).
Given that Palace and Forest have provided the so-so opposition, it doesn’t bode well for the visit of the champions this weekend.
Perhaps £4.0m defender George Baldock can be used in Gameweek 4 versus Everton (if fit), with the imminent Cameron Archer arrival ensuring FPL managers will soon have a leading £4.5m forward to pick up appearance points and possibly more.
The Blades did manage to score in Gameweek 2, on a night when many FPL managers rotated in cheap Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Matt Turner (£4.0m) with expectations of a clean sheet.
They may not be repeating that tactic anytime soon, outside of a home match against Burnley in Gameweek 5.
As the team with the least points (eight), fewest goals scored (11) and most goals conceded (44) from last season’s away games, the prospect of visiting Chelsea and both Manchester sides during their next four matches feels grim. Hometown star Brennan Johnson (£6.0m) could be off to join the Blues, as suggested by the press.
A nicer set of fixtures would likely have seen interest in forward Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.5m) skyrocket. When given a run of consistent starts to close 2022/23, he scored six goals in the final four matches. It’s continued into this campaign, the striker netting on both occasions so far.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Decisions are less straightforward with league leaders Brighton. Both matches have been resounding 4-1 wins, where they rank first for attempts (43), big chances (11) and expected goals (xG, 6.23).
In Pervis Estupinan (£5.2m) and Solly March (£6.6m), the Seagulls have FPL’s top-scoring defender and midfielder so far, with Kaoru Mitoma (£6.6m) in close pursuit.
No player has created more big chances than left-back Estupinan whilst March has the most shots on target.
So should managers abandon in-form players when Newcastle (h), Man United (a) and Liverpool (h) are on the horizon? Last season’s equivalent matches brought two wins and a draw.
But, as Joao Pedro (£5.6m) owners have already discovered, rotation may be rife once Roberto De Zerbi considers their Europa League commitments.
“I think we are building a very strong team with many players in every position on the pitch. We’ll play four competitions and we have to be ready to change many players every three days.” – Roberto De Zerbi
This uncertainty spreads between the sticks, where neither Jason Steele (£4.5m) nor Bart Verbruggen (£4.4m) are nailed-on starters.
So it’s arguably not fixture difficulty that’s the main issue here, as Brighton are turning it on against everyone. It’s the busy schedule that may instead lead managers to find an exit strategy. With many similarly-priced midfielders looking good – Bryan Mbeumo (£6.7m), Moussa Diaby (£6.6m) and Eberechi Eze (£6.4m), for example – promising alternatives are available.
Elsewhere, Wolverhampton Wanderers are goalless but sit joint-second for shots (39). Similar to Sheffield United, their squad has barely been touched by the FPL community.
Home form was key to their survival in 2022/23 but their next four matches at Molineux are against teams involved in Europe, so results will have to improve on the road.
The sale of Aleksandar Mitrovic (£7.4m) will concern Fulham fans, as their 3-0 home loss to Brentford is followed by successive trips to Arsenal and Man City. Their 17 shots on target conceded is comfortably the most in the division so far.
Gameweeks 5-8 offer short-term respite before the schedule gets iffy again thereafter.
Bournemouth forwards Dominic Solanke (£6.5m) and Antoine Semenyo (£4.5m) both have a goal and an assist from the first two Gameweeks. It’s the latter, in particular, who’ll intrigue managers once fixtures improve from Gameweek 8. He could be a bargain pick at that point but until then, based on the upcoming matches, little more than bench fodder.
The fifth-worst run belongs to Liverpool. Again, the Reds face four fixtures against sides who finished in the top eight in 2022/23.
Even though Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) has proven to be a fixture-proof asset over the years, owning him without any plans to captain him may be hard to justify. His latest penalty miss could jeopardise future involvement on spot-kicks now that Alexis Mac Allister (£6.0m) and Dominik Szoboszlai (£7.0m) are around.