Fantasy Football Fixtures Gameweek 24
We need to talk about Jonathan. He’s generally a good lad and is a middle of the road achiever. He’s not exceptional, he’s not poor, he just does enough to get by. Now occasionally, such an average kid will turn up one day and completely out of the blue blow everyone else out of the water. For whatever reason, be it luck or timing he’s just found his mojo on that day. The percentages say that it’s a one off though and most likely Jonathan will go back to his average ‘C’ grades next week and plod on for the rest of term. The moral here is if that you lumped on Jonathan last week as a massive punt and were lucky enough to land on him in his ‘exceptional’ week then pat yourself on the back but if you were left on the sidelines of said punt, looking on aghast, then worry not as it was most likely a freak occurrence and don’t let that cloud your judgement too much because Jonathan will likely revert to type next week and for many after that. Don’t go chasing Jonathan is what we are saying. It happens, deal with it. No, but seriously, don’t go chasing Jonathan. On the flip side of that though is that if Jonathan’s classmate, let’s call him Santi for arguments sake, also had an exceptional week but this was becoming more and more of a regular occurrence for young Santi then there may be a case for chasing him. The skill here is simply in sorting out the one-offs from those genuinely building up a pattern. Anyway, let’s go and take a look at which teams and players we feel have the best fixtures ahead of them and who you may want to avoid for the next three weeks and see which players may be Jonathans and which may be Santis…
– If you haven’t played it yet you are in the last chance saloon!
– Use it or lose it basically and that has to be this week (GW24).
– It does not impact on your ‘season long’ wildcard, that will still be available if you haven’t played it yet.
Dates for your diary…
GW24 is a run of the mill GW and begins with the usual 11.30am deadline this Saturday (7th Feb).
GW25 however is hot on it’s heels and begins on the Tuesday following this (10th Feb) with a deadline of 7.30pm. The bonus here is that you will see the line-ups for all four of Tuesday evenings fixtures prior to the deadline.
GW26 – Once GW25 is finished there is then a break of about 10 days before GW26 begins on Saturday 21st Feb.
GW27 clashes with the League Cup Final so you need to keep an eye on this as Chelsea, Leicester, QPR and Spurs all miss this one.
GW28 then sees our first DGW of the season as the QPR vs Spurs fixture has been moved to this one and so sees both teams play twice in GW28.
Just before we examine the fixtures ahead, here is a reminder of a couple of essential Fantasy Football tools that you may wish to refer back to.
Mito produced some outstanding and detailed analysis on the best rotation pairs for the season which can be found here –
Rotation Analysis Home and Away and Favourable fixtures
Calvin Clyne devised an ingenious interactive fixture tracker which can be found here –
Fixture Tracker – Fantasy Premier League 2014-15
And so onto the teams and fixtures themselves. Let’s begin with a very straightforward fixture tracker…
We have colour coded the fixtures in a simple fashion to allow you to judge your transfer and team selection plans accordingly:
[highlight_blue]Blue[/highlight_blue] – These teams have either a double or a blank game-week to consider.
[highlight_green]Green[/highlight_green] – We deem these to be winnable fixtures for the given team and should, in theory at least (!), harvest good fantasy points for you in the opening games. Aim to have a good nucleus of these players in your squad.
[highlight_yellow]Yellow[/highlight_yellow] – These are the fixtures that could go either way and do not stand out as being either particularly good or poor. If you have a player from a team in this category then do not be afraid to play them but take a considered view that it may or may not not be an explosive week for them.
[highlight_red]Red[/highlight_red]- These are the teams that we consider to have a difficult fixture and as such may be best avoided from a fantasy perspective. Aim to minimise any players that have a run of reds in the opening games.
Arsenal – Spurs (a), Leicester (h), Crystal Palace (a)
[three_fourth padding=”0 20px 0 0″]
[/three_fourth]A 5-0 thumping of Villa was just what the doctor ordered. And many a fantasy manager too. Despite Sanchez sitting this one out with a minor hamstring strain the Gunners went on the rampage as many expected they might with bumper hauls from the likes of Giroud, Cazorla and Bellerin. And the lesser spotted Ozil and Walcott too. If you were lucky enough to own the first three they managed to garner 39 points between them which is better than some fantasy teams have managed from the whole 11 players in recent weeks. Ozil himself pulled in 13 and Wally eased himself back into the fold with a goal and a respectable 8 points. Given that Bellerin, Giroud, Ozil and Walcott have 132 fantasy points between them for the season now and combined still trail Sanchez on 144 we can but dream as to how many goals and points the main man himself would have got in this one!
That victory is their 5th straight win in all competitions dating back to New Years Day and in fact the defeat that day at Southampton is their only loss in eleven games since the beginning of December and that collapse at Stoke. A sequence that includes nine wins and a draw. This week sees them go to Spurs which of course is a tough one to call, as derby games often are, but this fixture has a history of goals and some high scoring affairs in recent years so we wouldn’t be too wary of playing any Arsenal attacking assets in this one. Next up is bottom club Leicester on the Tuesday and only QPR and Burnley have conceded more goals than them. Load up on Arsenal attackers for that one then. An away trip to Palace in another London derby follows that which again is a game they should win given current form and it’s worth pointing out that they also then host Everton and then visit QPR in the next two so overall this is a promising set of fixtures for them and we would for once perhaps advocate maxing out on your Arsenal coverage with the full compliment of three players. Which three is another matter altogether though…
Arsenal are a team in form and for once have a near fully fit squad to choose from which is good for them but perhaps less so from a fantasy perspective as it means rotation is much more likely especially with the amount of ‘N0 10’s’ Arsene has at his disposal. Giroud is probably the most nailed on starter funnily enough as he’s the Totem pole around which the others dance their merry tune. Assuming his ‘injury’ was nothing more than just a precautionary rest then you would have to think Sanchez is the next name on any Arsenal team sheet which in theory allows two more places to be filled in that 3 behind Giroud. Clearly Cazorla is the man in form and surely can’t be dropped which leaves Ozil and Walcott fighting out that last place. Good luck figuring that one out!
Man City – Hull (h), Stoke (a), Newcastle (h)
[three_fourth padding=”0 20px 0 0″]
[/three_fourth]A hard earned and well deserved draw at leaders Chelsea keeps the Champions within five points at the top and a great run of fixtures ahead should see them at least keep pace with Jose’s men and they will be hoping to capitalise on any slip ups. Despite that draw their recent form has been patchy at best with two defeats and a draw prior to that meaning that they haven’t actually won a league game since New Years Day which funnily enough is the last league game that Yaya Toure played for them. Lacklustre and lazy he may have appeared so far this season but those stats tell their own story as to the big man’s importance to City. The fact that Aguero missed much of the same period is probably no coincidence either but at least he’s back now and grabbed an assist in that Chelsea game. City fans will be watching the Ivory Coast’s progress in the ACON with interest and no doubt be ironically cheering on the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday so that Yaya and also new signing Bony can get themselves back to Manchester ASAP!
Given their recent form and run of fixtures City will have been overlooked a bit in many peoples wildcard teams but there will be a slow stream of suitors coming back to the well with games against Hull, Newcastle, Leicester and Burnley on the horizon. Aguero will be the first one back in if you haven’t done so already and we fully expect he will be the captain of choice this week with Hull at home. Silva will be hot on his heels with that goal at Chelsea a timely reminder that he is probably their most influential player behind Aguero with five goals and two assists in his last seven games since returning from injury. City are the league’s second highest scorers with 46 goals and Aguero returning will only bolster that. Anyone that managed to hang onto a City defender will be glad they did so as you would be happy to play them given this run and certainly Hull and Newcastle at home should offer good opportunities for clean sheets.
Chelsea – Aston Villa (a), Everton (h), Burnley (h)
[three_fourth padding=”0 20px 0 0″]
[/three_fourth]Shorn of the creativity of Cesc Fabregas and the ruthlessness of Diego Costa you’d suspect that Jose was quietly satisfied with the 1-1 draw with City and perhaps the substitution of Cahill for goal scorer Remy towards the end of the game said it all really. It keeps their nearest (only) title rivals at arms length for now and much like City, Chelsea have a decent run of fixtures ahead of them with three consecutive games against sides in the bottom half of the table. This weekend sees a trip to face the ever increasingly goal shy Villa and you would expect Chelsea will make a better fist of this one than they did last season when they lost a pivotal game in the title run-in. Jose managed to lose more than just the game that day as he managed to get himself sent off having already seen Willian and Ramires dismissed. The chaos of that particular day seems a million miles away from the relatively organised and ruthless outfit that Chelsea seem to be today. Costa aside! With Villa managing just 7 home goals this season as opposed to Chelsea’s 27 away goals this one should be a banker.
Their home league form is their greatest strength though as they have won 10 out of the 11 at the Bridge with that draw against City the only ‘blip’. Everton and Burnley are the next two visitors after the Villa game and those two combined have scored less goals on the road than Chelsea have at home. News on the Cesc injury will be much anticipated this week but whether we get any official word will depend on Jose’s mood. Either way Chelsea should have enough with the likes of Hazard and Oscar to see off both Everton and Burnley and Mr Costa himself will be back for the Burnley game.
That one may present fantasy managers with something of a quandary though as a home game against Burnley, who have shipped the second most goal away from home, will surely make Costa a prime captaincy contender that week. The problem is that Chelsea then have no game the following week as they play the League Cup final in GW27. There is a possibility that they, like Spurs, could have a double GW28 but that depends on Villa beating Leicester in the FA Cup thus freeing up Leicester for the weekend of the 7th March. Confused yet?! Don’t worry we will tell you nearer the time once it becomes clearer.
Sunderland – Swansea (a), QPR (h), West Brom (h)
[three_fourth padding=”0 20px 0 0″]
[/three_fourth]Having predictably seen off Burnley at home last weekend things still seem to look rosy for Sunderland in the fixtures department. A trip to Swansea this week is not the easiest but that will depend largely on which Swansea show up – the one that basically didn’t against Chelsea or the one that fashioned a hard earned win at Southampton. Beyond that though the next two games look very enticing and have a 2-0 home win written all over them. QPR are now 11 games without a point on the road and have scored just 6 times which is the same amount that West Brom have managed so you will probably be wanting to play your Sunderland defenders in those two.
Patrick van Aanholt will probably be the defender of choice here as he’s cheap as chips at just £4.2m and offers an attacking threat which none of the other Sunderland defenders do. Wes Brown aside. But that tends to be for the opposition. PvA as he is known grabbed an assist and with it all 3 bonus points against Burnley. Adam Johnson showed some signs of life with 3 goals over the Christmas period but his owners will be getting itchy fingers now as he’s scored 2, 2, and 2 in his last 3 games. Team-mate Jermain Defoe notched his inevitable first goal in the win against Burnley to add to a debut assist at Spurs and at £6.0m he could be a tempting prospect with the games ahead.
LESS FAVOURABLE FIXTURES
Everton – Liverpool (h), Chelsea (a), Leicester (h)
An early Romelu Lukaku goal was enough to give Everton a much needed win at Selhurst Park at the weekend and those 3 points could be very valuable as they now face Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in the next four games. The one bright spot is that Leicester game at home in GW26 but we would advise staying away from them even for that one as the next game is a trip to the Emirates. Returns could be scarce at both ends of the pitch with this run although the corresponding Merseyside derby last season did produce a thrilling 3-3 affair.
Leicester – Crystal Palace (h), Arsenal (a), Everton (a)
Leicester stay rooted to the bottom of the league and that probably won’t change much this side of March because as well as the three fairly tough looking fixtures above they then also face Chelsea and Man City assuming the Chelsea game can be re-arranged. They’d probably rather hope it gets cancelled and forgotten altogether! The bottom line here is you don’t want or need any Leicester cover and if you have any then try and bury it deep on your bench.
Liverpool – Everton (a), Spurs (h), Southampton (a)
Never before has one player’s reputation and value to his team soared quite as much without managing to play a single minute for 5 months but Daniel Sturridge lived up to the hype and expectation as he clambered off the bench with 20 minutes to go to score and remind the Reds faithful just what they had been missing. His return allied to a general upturn in performances have seen many a fantasy manager cast an eye in their direction for the first time in a while. Unfortunately his return coincides with Liverpool having a tricky run of fixtures as they face Everton, Spurs and Southampton on the bounce before also hosting Man City in GW27. Things begin to take a turn for the better from GW28 onwards beginning with a home game against Burnley.
QPR – Southampton (h), Sunderland (a), Hull (a)
Two of QPR’s next three games are away from home. That’s all you need to know really as they are currently threatening to go the whole season without a single point away. It’s 11 games and 11 defeats now. Their home game isn’t the easiest either as high flying Southanpton come to town. Beyond those three it’s local derby time as they then face Arsenal and Spurs in GW28. A double for them but a horrible one at that. QPR have no game in GW27 due to Spurs’ involvement in the League Cup final.
This mid-week sees some of our Premier League teams in action in FA Cup replays. Sunderland and Man United play on Tuesday and Liverpool play on Wednesday so keep an eye out for any injuries or suspensions that may arise as a result of those games.