In Frisking the Fixtures, we look at the teams and players with unattractive medium-term fixture runs from Gameweek 23. The most appealing ones are featured in a separate piece here.
We’re focusing on our usual six-Gameweek window until Gameweek 28 but it’s important to have Blank Gameweek 29 at the back of our minds. That’s because up to 14 teams could be without a Premier League fixture.
And there’s the caveat that three previously postponed fixtures – Bournemouth v Luton Town, Liverpool v Luton Town and Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur – are yet to get a new date.
SEASON TICKER OVERVIEW
You can even set your own difficulty ratings, should you disagree with ours. Here is our tutorial on the ticker.
Chelsea aren’t expected to have their Gameweek 26 blank moved into Double Gameweek 25.
As neither they nor Spurs are in European competition, there’s less of a rush to rearrange their match that was originally scheduled for EFL Cup final weekend.
What complicates things for the Blues is their upcoming FA Cup replay with Aston Villa. Once that has occurred, we’ll know whether they play in Gameweek 29 and if the Spurs clash can remain in Gameweek 26, just nudged into its midweek instead.
FPL bargain midfielder Cole Palmer (£5.8m) has 14 goal involvements from 14 starts, with penalty duties alongside the occasional deployment up front. He seems essential but, outside of the 21-year-old, managers are advised to stay away from Chelsea assets.
For example, there are just two clean sheets from their last 15.
The sheer quantity of fixtures puts Brentford towards the middle of our ticker. But it says a lot about their difficulty that the Bees aren’t placed near the top with Manchester City.
Ivan Toney (£8.0m) is a good pick, knowing that penalty-takers feel fixture-proof and he has more time to collect some. The forward has a couple of goals and an assist from his comeback’s first two matches.
With Bryan Mbeumo (£6.8m) still injured, our attention then turns to defence. Facing Man City twice and Liverpool once during their next four matches looks brutal – especially when they’re without a clean sheet in 11 attempts.
Yet strangely they’re the fifth-best team for preventing shots inside the box (175) and conceding expected goals (xGC, 29.83).
Meanwhile, Everton’s defence is having a great time. Not that past Jordan Pickford (£4.5m) sellers are enjoying such form – he’d lost half a million owners by his Gameweek 10 clean sheet, with a further six arriving throughout the Toffees latest nine matches. He’s the top-scoring FPL goalkeeper.
It’s been a good time to own Pickford and bargain defender Jarrad Branthwaite (£4.1m) but maintaining this resoluteness over the next run of games will be tough. It’s Spurs at home, then Man City away.
Six-goal midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.5m) is injured, whilst Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.8m) hasn’t netted in his last ten starts. In terms of expected goals (xG), no player is underachieving by more (-4.89).
In his pre-match press conference, Vincent Kompany hinted that injured duo Charlie Taylor (£4.0m) or Jordan Beyer (£4.0m) might make the Fulham match and owners of either enabler will certainly be hoping so. Their weekend opponents have failed to score in five of the last six, with no Premier League team being goalless more often overall (10).
Beyond Saturday, games quickly nosedive for the Clarets. Cheap forward Lyle Foster (£4.7m) has four goals and three assists from 12 starts. Then again, a few similarly priced names could add better squad depth – the likes of Elijah Adebayo (£4.8m), Neal Maupay (£4.9m) and new Fulham loanee Armando Broja (£4.9m).
Elsewhere, even if Gameweek 25 does indeed become a double for Luton, the Hatters have a tricky few fixtures to follow up their brilliant 4-0 thrashing of Brighton and Hove Albion. Issa Kabore (£4.0m) is back from AFCON to mostly sit on FPL benches and, as mentioned, Adebayo has great momentum. Six goals in seven matches.
As for Spurs, they have fewer opponents than most but, on paper, the run still contains promise for attacking assets. However, the James Maddison (£7.9m) return could eventually affect Richarlison‘s (£7.0m) minutes and Pedro Porro‘s (£5.9m) set-piece dominance. Additionally, the Spanish full-back is part of a defence with one solitary clean sheet from their latest 13 outings.
Up in Nottingham, Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.3m) is back and immediately on the Forest scoresheet. Anthony Elanga‘s (£5.1m) reappearance could bring interest, as each of his three most recent league starts brought at least one goal involvement. Their backline is best avoided, as it’s hard to envision success in any of these half-dozen.