Frisking the Fixtures returns as we take a look at the teams and players with attractive medium-term fixture runs from Gameweek 11.
An overview of the clubs with less appealing matches will follow later.
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SEASON TICKER OVERVIEW
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Brighton’s favourable run got off to a bit of an underwhelming start against their bogey team but there’s still a sea of blue awaiting Roberto De Zerbi’s troops in the next six Gameweeks.
The Seagulls don’t encounter any team higher than 10th, with the home fixtures against struggling Sheffield United and Burnley the stand-out matches.
And in the corresponding fixtures against Everton, Nottingham Forest, Chelsea and Brentford last season, for what that’s worth, Roberto De Zerbi’s troops scored 10 goals in four matches.
Brighton didn’t have any European football in 2022/23, of course, something that is a bit off-putting this time around. It’s not just the threat of rotation, of which there has been lots, but also the accumulated fatigue as we approach an even busier winter period.
Still, their attack is posting some excellent numbers – joint-third for goals scored, second for big chances – despite being ranked 17th on the ticker in the opening 10 Gameweeks.
And there are some players, namely Kaoru Mitoma (£6.5m) and Pascal Gross (£6.3m), who start a lot more matches than not. Between them, they’ve only been benched once in the Premier League this season.
Perhaps the easier fixtures can help matters at the other end, too, as they are one of four teams yet to keep a single clean sheet in 2023/24.
That lot up the A23, Crystal Palace, now embark on an excellent five-match run.
The Eagles meet four of the bottom six, while there’s also a visit to a West Ham United side who always seem to be a couple of bad results away from anti-Moyes mutiny.
Luton Town, Burnley, Bournemouth and West Ham only have two clean sheets between them this season, although whether or not Palace have the requisite firepower to exploit that is another question.
Roy Hodgson’s side are, however, solid at the rear, especially when facing the division’s also-rans. They have already played three clubs currently below them in the table – and they’ve kept clean sheets in all of them.
The other four teams are to come in Gameweeks 11-15.
For the rest of 2023, Wolves only encounter two clubs currently sitting in the Premier League’s top eight: Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
The best fixture of the lot is up first, as Gary O’Neil’s troops travel to an injury-hit Sheffield United side that has statistically had the worst 10-game start to a Premier League season.
The curious thing about Wolves is that their better performances have come against the bigger sides this season. Everton and Luton Town (even before Wolves were reduced to 10 men) laid siege to O’Neil’s side, while the Gameweek 9 win over Bournemouth was turned on its head by the dismissal of the Cherries’ Lewis Cook (£5.0m).
Finding a way to compete with the sides around them is going to be key in this upcoming run, then, and they’ll likely have to do without their star man, Pedro Neto (£5.8m), for the next two Gameweeks. Neto has either scored or assisted 69% of the goals that Wolves have plundered this season, so his creativity will need replacing in the short term.
WEST HAM UNITED
In the next seven Gameweeks, West Ham play six teams lying below them in the Premier League table.
Everton were that too, of course, but the Toffees departed east London with all three points on Saturday. That was arguably the Hammers’ first real blip of the campaign, as previous defeats to high-flying Manchester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa were more predictable.
How they respond to the meek surrender to Sean Dyche’s side – West Ham put up only 0.66 xG in that game – will be interesting. Perhaps an away match being next is ideal before the restless London Stadium faithful turn truly toxic.
Alphonse Areola (£4.3m) will be hoping to improve his meagre clean sheet count in the next six Gameweeks, with Forest, Burnley, Palace and Fulham all in the bottom six for xG this season.
Jarrod Bowen (£7.4m) meanwhile is perhaps even in the Gameweek 13 captaincy conversation, with Liverpool v Man City, Spurs v Aston Villa, Newcastle v Chelsea and Brentford v Arsenal all taking place that weekend.
Don’t be surprised to see him get a run-out through the middle sometime soon, as Michail Antonio‘s (£5.8m) non-performance in Gameweek 10 ended with his substitution being cheered by sections of the West Ham support.
Homer Simpson’s reaction to being gifted the Denver Broncos will be many FPL managers’ response to seeing the above favourable fixture run and then realising it belongs to Manchester United.
Sitting in 10th place, closer to the relegation zone than top-of-the-table Spurs, United have been woeful this season.
All five of their league victories, even the ones against struggling Sheffield United and Burnley, have been thoroughly unconvincing in nature and by a single-goal margin.
The fact that they have still, despite their awfulness, nosed over the line against such lower-table opponents raises the most modest of hopes that they can similarly see off Fulham, Luton Town, Everton and Bournemouth in the next six Gameweeks.
Fulham, Luton and Bournemouth are all in the bottom six for expected goals conceded (xGC), so perhaps the agreeable fixtures can kickstart some form.
Then again, Marcus Rashford (£8.7m) didn’t score a single goal in any of United’s previous encounters with sides beneath them, registering a total of just 1.34 xG across the Red Devils’ five victories. Phil Foden (£7.5m) managed more than that in Sunday’s Manchester derby alone.
The only reason Liverpool are so far down the Season Ticker is the Gameweek 13 trip to Manchester City.
Either side of that fixture are some very favourable match-ups.
The fact that the Reds already top the division for xG without having met any of the newly promoted sides is ominous for the coming weeks and months.
It’s Luton up next, a side without a clean sheet to their name as a Premier League club.
Brentford and Palace are the kind of B-listers who can prove tougher nuts to crack – both of them are top-half material for actual goals conceded and xGC – but Liverpool have found a way to score in every single league fixture this season, even putting a combined seven goals past their three nearest challengers for fourth place.
Sheffield United and Burnley both have four decent-ish fixtures coming up over the coming six Gameweeks, playing each other in Gameweek 14.
Even considering that, their struggles to adapt to Premier League life means that there’s not likely to be a huge surge in demand for either side.
All it may serve to do for most FPL managers is promote the likes of Charlie Taylor (£3.9m) and George Baldock (£3.8m) up the emergency substitute pecking order.
Nottingham Forest are worthy of mention due to their lofty positioning on our ticker. Aston Villa and Brighton will be huge tests of their defence but the two high-flyers are more vulnerable at the other end of the pitch, combining for only two clean sheets in the opening 10 Gameweeks.
Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.4m), back from injury early, will be hoping to kickstart his campaign after that run of five successive attacking returns at the beginning of 2023/24.
Arsenal also clash with Villa and Brighton in Gameweeks 16 and 17, and before that take on Burnley, Wolves and Luton.
The Gunners’ forthcoming trip to Newcastle will be their toughest test for a while but the Magpies failed to score a single league goal in their two meetings last season.