Fantasy Football Fixtures Gameweek 8 – Fantasy Premier League 2014
As football fans we suppose we should embrace international football and be engrossed and we don’t know about you but in all honesty it’s becoming a bit of a needless bore in many cases. Let’s help ease those woes as we take a look ahead at who has good fixtures in the next few weeks and who may struggle…
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 fixture 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_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.
Liverpool – QPR (a), Hull (h), Newcastle (a)
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[/three_fourth]Struggling to adapt post-Suarez, Liverpool now find themselves in a transitional period having been title contenders last season. They look a long way off that at present. The imminent return of Daniel Sturridge will help their cause no end though as they have been accused of lacking pace and movement as of late and he has both in abundance. It is being reported that he may return this weekend at QPR but in what capacity remains to be seen. Many are hoping that the presence of Sturridge will herald a return to form for Raheem Sterling as he has looked a bit off colour in the last few weeks although he did still pull out an assist in the last game. In fact Sterling has been quoted this week as saying “I feel tired and I don’t think I am in my best form”. That’s quite worrying when the player himself is saying that. The hope is that fellow speedster Sturridge will reignite Sterling with their link up play and understanding and with Sturridge haring about there will once again be gaps created for Sterling to exploit. A ploy that has sadly been lacking with the less mobile presence of either Balotelli or Lambert.
There has been much talk on the chat boards as to whether it is time to off load any Liverpool assests should their poor form continue but a quick look at the fixtures suugests that this may be unwise or at least a tad premature as they have a good run ahead. This week they visit bottom club QPR, who have the worst goal difference in the league, followed by a home game against Hull and an away trip to ailing Newcastle. Those three games feel very winnable. Certainly last season those three are the sort of games that would see managers looking to acquire Liverpool players for, just after they locked the armband on Suarez for the foreseeable. Granted this is a different team now but even so they really should be taking 7-9 points from those.
It’s worth noting that the game after those is Chelsea at home but this is the only difficult one in their immediate future as they have Palace and Stoke after that.
Arsenal – Hull (h), Sunderland (a), Burnley (h)
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[/three_fourth]It’s fair to say that Arsenal have a very indifferent start to this campaign having won only two of their opening seven fixtures and their injury list is growing by the minute. Having already lost Aaron Ramsey to injury, the news this week that Mesut Ozil will likely be out until the New Year will not have helped cheer their fans. We could almost hear the groans from here from both Arsenal fans and fantasy managers alike at the sight of Danny Welbeck disappearing straight down an Estonian tunnel with the England physio. Woy has since assured us that it isn’t as serious as first thought and so he has a chance of being ok this week. Fantasy managers don’t like words like ‘chance’ though and this may deter potential suitors. Keep your eyes and ears peeled this week for news once he returns to Arsenal and is properly assessed. He and the aforementioned pair may or may not be joining the likes of Koscielny (doubt), Debuchy (ouch), Chambers (suspended), Arteta (traitor), Walcott (back soon), Diaby (always back soon), Gnabry (potential), Sanogo (no potential) and Giroud (wife, leash) on the sidelines.
That’s the bad news anyway! The good news is that for any players left they have a great run of fixtures ahead of them. Hull and Burnley at home in the next three with a trip to Sunderland in between is exactly what the doctor orders when you are out of sorts and a bit short on numbers we feel. Like with Liverpool above, if the Gunners are going to fire their season up to any extent then those three fixtures need to represent something in the region of 7-9 points and they should do despite the injury list. Let’s not forget that if there is one place Arsenal are ‘over-blessed’ it is probably in midfield and the likes of Cazorla (£8.2m) and The Ox (£6.4m) are two great examples of players who should benefit from the Ozil news. A cheeky punt on one of those may pay dividends over the next few weeks as they will likely see much more secured game-time and both are class acts in their own right.
Everton – Aston Villa (h), Burnley (a), Swansea (h)
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[/three_fourth]There definitely seems to be a theme developing here – ‘potentially good sides who are doing fairly average at best so far suddenly have great fixtures’. Everton join both Liverpool and Arsenal on the list of underachievers. Like the other two their squad list and past performances warrant more, certainly more than their current 17th position in the league. It was feared that Europa League football would be a step too far and take it’s toll on a small squad. Whether or not that has been a factor is difficult to tell but Everton have had a tough fixture schedule so far as well having already faced Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd. They did still manage two draws out of that lot though and were involved in one of the craziest games of the season against Chelsea and were unlucky to bump into an unusually inspired David De Gea performance last weekend at Old Trafford to deny them at least a point.
Much like Arsenal and Liverpool though the future looks much brighter as regard fixtures. Roy Keane has finally shaved his beard so Villa at home suddenly looks a lot more tempting and less intimidating than it did. We are thinking along Samsom lines here. We aren’t clutching at straws, honest. Burnley away follows which you expect Everton to be able to deal with. Swansea at home next is tougher but again despite Swansea’s lofted position Everton have some ridiculous historical record against them if you excuse the deliberate Milk Cup euthanasia the other week. (we think that may have been Swansea’s first ever win over Everton and it doesn’t count if you look at the team Everton put out that night. We have altered Wikipedia to reflect this fact!)
Everton have kept just the one clean-sheet all this season, in all competitions, which is quite shocking. As such there isn’t one single Everton defender we could recommend to you. None at all. That’s unless of course one of them happened to be on penalties. And corners. And free-kicks. And be an assist merchant. Oh ok, go on then….. Mr Baines is expensive at £7.0m but we feel that given his fixtures and all of the above duties he is at least worth consideration. He’s nowhere near a ‘must have’ status as some would have you believe but of all the defenders he’s probably one of the few that you could actually view as a ‘5th or 6th midfielder’ and he will almost certainly outscore the majority of them by the end of the season.
As for the rest we aren’t sure Lukaku is in any sort of form to warrant consideration above the likes of Aguero, Pelle or Welbeck to accompany Costa in attack just yet. Naismith continues to confound his critics though with yet another goal last week at Old Trafford and could be a great pick up if you are sat on someone like Ulloa and have limited funds.
Southampton – Sunderland (h), Stoke (h), Hull (a)
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[/three_fourth]Southampton buck the trend here. They are actually the polar opposite of the above three – ‘team expected to struggle find themselves in top 3’. The surprise package so far and they have some tasty fixtures ahead which will surely see some investment in their ranks. If you have the likes of Graziano Pelle you should be licking your lips at the prospect of two home games against Sunderland and Stoke. Southampton are undefeated at home whereas Sunderland are yet to win on the road and Stoke have won just one away. We would back The Saints to add to their recent good home form against both and we would think they should be good for some goals away at Hull as well in the third of these fixtures. Hull have the 6th worst goals against record with 11 conceded so we think Southampton should be capable of getting goals there.
Whilst Pelle is the obvious route into this Southampton attack it is worth noting that they basically play a 4-3-3 formation and the other 2 ‘strikers’ as such are actually midfielders and there is nothing a fantasy manager likes more than an ‘out of position’ player, especially when it’s a midfielder playing up top. The good news is that they have two of them. The bad news is that you probably have to pick just one! The two in question who have flanked Pelle in the 4-3-3 in the last few games have been Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane. If only Tadic could get himself in shape…
Tadic is seemingly the safer but more expensive option. He’s been here since GW1 and as such is bedding down nicely with 3 assists so far. He is yet to score but he is on penalties it would seem, should they get one. Mane meanwhile has only started two games since his arrival. He assisted on his debut and really, really should have scored against Spurs. He didn’t but assuming that doesn’t dent his confidence then we expect he will make an impact very soon given his fantastic stats from previous seasons. If you have Saints defenders then we say play them given this run.
Other notable fixtures for just this week…
Chelsea – Crystal Palace (a)
Chelsea are looking strong and despite Palace doing relatively well so far you have to think that Chelsea will see them off easily this week. Costa and Fabregas have been the stars so far but Hazard managed to stick his head above the parapet finally last week with a penalty and 3 bonus points. He’s been plagued by a toe injury in the break but if he can overcome this and grab another goal this week then perhaps the Fabregas love may have a rival. If you have Chelsea defenders then obviously play them here.
West Ham – Burnley (a)
We aren’t sure we’ve ever featured West Ham in any capacity here before. We probably have but the fact that we don’t even remember probably says it all. They’re a mid-table team who are capable of losing some they shouldn’t, winning some they shouldn’t and drawing all the others! It’s more the opposition this week that draws us to them rather than West Ham themselves. Burnley are without a win in seven league games, are in 19th place, have scored just once at home and only three in total. West Ham in contrast have scored twelve and are riding high (for them) in 7th. The Downing bandwagon is in full swing. We’VEe no idea why to be honest as he’s been useless for years now, but it is!
Man City – Spurs (h)
Spurs have a woeful record against the top sides and a capacity to capitulate. Whether that remains so under the new regime is a different matter but we fancy City will have too much for them at home and expect an easy-ish home win. Aguero has been consistent if not explosive so far. We feel he needs one break out week where he grabs something like two goals and an assist and he will suddenly catapult himself from his current status of an expensive handbag to a must have million dollar tiara once more. Could this be the one? Probably not but dare you miss it when he does?
LESS FAVOURABLE FIXTURES
Hull – Arsenal (a), Liverpool (a), Southampton (h)
Hull are an average side and have fittingly had an average start to the season. They won’t get relegated and they won’t trouble the Europa League positions come the end of it. They do however have three extremely tough looking fixtures on the horizon. Arsenal and Liverpool away on the bounce feels like two losses and Southampton at home will be difficult. If you have Hull players they will likely be defenders we imagine and as such we would be checking which position on your bench they are set at and pushing them further still toward the back of it.
Burnley – West Ham (h) , Everton (h), Arsenal (a)
DLDDDLL. Seven games in, a notable absence of a ‘W’ and just three goals scored (nobody has scored less, not even QPR). All this points to a long and miserable season for the Burnley faithful. They find themselves in 19th place and that may be as good as it gets any time soon as their fixtures aren’t exactly looking great. It felt for a time there that they had cracked the fine art of grinding out a 0-0, with three of those in a row, but West Brom of all teams went and burst that little bubble trouncing them 4-0. A valiant effort last time out saw them grab yet another draw with fellow ‘newly promoted’ Leicester in a 2-2 ‘thriller’. The next two games could well define the rest of their season as they are both at home and both relatively difficult given the opposition – a resurgent West Ham and a confused Everton. Should they somehow pick up a win in either it may give them a fighting chance going forward. Two defeats and we are afraid that the relegation curtains will be slowly drawing already. They will probably get hammered at Arsenal in the other.
Manchester United – West Brom (a), Chelsea (h), Man City (a)
They’re struggling to adapt to LVG. They say. They have major defensive issues. They say. ‘They’ may be right but the fact is that despite all this Utd still occupy 4th place in the table. The first game, West Brom away, is not why they sit in this section by any means. We actually fancy they may do well this week. That could depend on how the likes of Falcao and the mercurial Di Maria react to huge long haul air miles. It’s the two fixtures after that which look ominous. Any team with a dodgy defence doesn’t want to play either either Chelsea or City. Utd do, and have them back to back. It’s worth noting that the West Brom game is not until Monday evening which gives the travel wary a couple more days to recover themselves. It also throws up the enticing notion of a sacred ‘Monday Night Captain’, for those of you who are prone to this particular predilection!
This international break seems to be continuing forever and sure enough there are still games to come. Most notably the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Scotland, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Holland and France amongst others all have games this week and will all be likely to feature (risk) some of your players. Friday’s Team Talk will cover the fallout but be sure to keep everything crossed in the meantime that all your players return in one piece.
Good luck this week everyone!