Fantasy Premier League: Assessing the August match-ups
Welcome to fixtures analysis Game-week 1 fantasy football tips. The last time we spoke to you about ‘fixtures’ it was May 3rd, 37 painstaking GW’s in and tempers were flaring. Keyboards were getting bashed. ‘Delete account’ buttons were being hovered over like no man’s business. Just two excruciating rounds of FPL remained before we could all take the much needed break to alleviate the stress and moisten our then dry tear ducts once again.
Now, having rebooted our interest and let the dust settle it’s time to get stuck back into the game we all love so much, and you know what that means; welcome back, one and all, to the FF247 FPL article merry-go-round. It is with great pleasure (and slight fear of new unknowns) that we bring you our first instalment of the upcoming season.
— The Boot Room (@tbrfootball) August 10, 2016
We’ve had an eventful summer break; managerial shifts, big money signings, the Portuguese winning the Euro’s and, above all, a promise of an even more action packed, unpredictable EPL season, due to the tasty new arrivals. Enter Pep Guardiola, King of the Swing. Jose Mourihno, Prince of the Prats and of course our first full season (the scousers hope) of everyone’s favourite barmy German, Jurgen “Gurn Master” Klopp.
What an interesting bunch. Thank Jeebus for Claudio Ranieri! Who knows what these first few weeks will bring, but one thing is for sure; we here at FF247 towers will once again do our utmost to bring you the best advice available, starting with this here round-up of which teams have the games to attack from the off and, of course, those who, on paper, may be worth shying away from for a few weeks at least. So, without further ado, lets have a look and see where we land…
Let’s begin as always with a helpful visual aid in the form of the fixture tracker for the next six GW’s before we get onto the wordy bit…
Manchester United – Bournemouth (A), Southampton (H), Hull (A)
Where better to start than the sleeping giant, that is Manchester United. Their sorry fans have been through the wars in recent years. From the stationary, defunct mess that David Moyes created to the pragmatic, almost depressing brand of the nutty Louis Van Gaal it really has been a total mess since the departure of the great Sir Alex Ferguson.
After God decided to close off his particularly glorious chapter of United history, the man who most if not all fans clambered for was one Jose Mourinho. The Special One. Three years later and the fans have finally gotten their wish, and more. Maybe. The Jose factor is apparent already as evident from the signings of the highly touted Ivorian defender, Eric Bailly, Dortmund midfield dynamo, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and of course, Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic from PSG.
What this means for the budding young and sprightly attack that Louis stumbled up is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure; there’s a certain air of danger about United all of a sudden, even more so as the record breaking deal for Juventus’ Paul Pogba has been finalised . Looking at the first three rounds, United have been dealt a kind hand and should really scoop maximum points from this lot, despite just one of these games being at Old Trafford. Lets have a look then shall we…
Starting a new season with a home game is what every manager in the league would hope for but if it’s not to be then there may not be many better places to start than at Dean Court versus Bournemouth. The Cherries narrowly, but altogether deservedly, avoided relegation last season by five points, which is rather impressive when we consider they were missing their main striker, Callum Wilson, for just about the entirety.
Still, survive they did, by hook or by crook, but there doesn’t look to be all that much in Eddie Howe’s roster to trouble Jose’s new look United. The loss of Matt Ritchie to Newcastle of all teams certainly wont help matters. United should win this one comfortably.
GW2 brings a potentially more difficult match, but it is at home this time at least. Koeman-less Southampton are the visitors and it remains to be seen whether the latest exodus from St Mary’s will be the straw that breaks the camels back. Whether that is or indeed isn’t the case, it has to be expected that any side with top four, or dare we say title winning ambitions should be viewing a home game with the Saints as one that should be won more often than not.
Lastly, and surely the most appealing of United’s opening three fixtures it’s an away day at the already crumbling Hull City. At time of writing, Hull have what looks to be one of the weakest squads ever seen in the Premier League era, and most of them are bloody injured!
Steve Bruce has already had enough and moved on so unless Abel Hernandez, Shaun Maloney and Robert Snodgrass somehow morph into the Premier League’s version of Messi, Suarez and Neymar then United, and just about everybody should be pounding this lot into oblivion. Easy win for United here and maybe Zlatan’s first hat-trick in a United shirt? Gulp. Careful now.
Manchester City – Sunderland (H), Stoke (A), West Ham (H)
From the Red half of the city to the Blue, and what promise there is at the Etihad going into this season. When compared to United and their potential upturn, City have the potential to become a roaring juggernaut this year, and beyond. The most sought after manager in world football, you know who, decided to leave the comforts of Bayern Munich to fulfil his long standing desire to work in the Premier League and what a squad he has acquired.
Stars like David Silva, Belgian wonderkind Kevin De Bruyne and everyone’s favourite hammy victim and FPL king, Sergio Kun Aguero, have been impressively added to by Pep to make what looks to be a ferocious beast in the making. Poor Raheem Sterling must be quaking in his boots after the recent additions of Spanish winger Nolito and the budding young German Leroy Sane to a group of attackers that the once fancied Englishman is already struggling to play his way into.
Another German, and currently typically injured, Ilkay Gundogan will, once fit again, provide another class addition to this City team. The silky midfielders skills became apparent to us all in that beaut of a Dortmund team from a few years back and he should provide guile to the City midfield once again. Like United, City’s opening three are a delight and two are at the Etihad. Pfft, starting with this lot, oh dear…
Look out David, your return to the Premier League is in all likelihood going to begin with an utter annihilation at the hands of Pep’s City. Another team who barely survived last season, the Black Cats will be ruing the loss of Big Sam who as we all know has finally been given a position of prestige in the world of football, as manager of England. It was the work of Sammy that kept Sunderland afloat and it remains to be seen whether Moysey can replicate that feat but whether he does or he doesn’t this game is one to scratch off before it even begins. Battered. Surely.
Next up for City is an away day at Stoke – not the easiest for destinations down the years. Sparky has been doing an excellent job at the Brittania since his arrival but can he mastermind an unlikely result here? It’s hard to see how in all seriousness, especially given that that particular brand of filth that Lord Pulis brought is all but dead. It might not be an utter spanking like GW1 but we’d full expect City to win here and win relatively easily.
Back to home comforts then for GW3 and what looks to be a very interesting match against West ham United. The Hammers are on the up and up recently, having acquired some tasty talents like French sensation Dimitri Payet, Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli and industrious midfielder Cheikou Kouyate.
The basis of a solid outfit, we think you’ll agree. All they need now really is a replacement for Aaron Cresswell and a new striker and we’re looking at a rather tasty team. Still, away at City, it’s going to be hard for even the best teams in the league to take any sort of points home so again we’re backing City for the win but it should be the most difficult of City’s opening three games. Boy, lets hope so. Blowing this lot away would be a big statement. Gulp.
Chelsea – West Ham (H), Watford (A), Burnley (H)
Moving swiftly on form all things Manchester, it’s now time to have a look at the 2014/15 Champions and, until last season at least, regular title challengers, Chelsea. In recent years the Blues have seen both the bright and the dark side of a Jose Mourinho era. On the one hand solid as a rock and almost unbeatable at times to the loose, floppy, incoherent mess from the early stages of last season.
Big Gus did what he could and now it’s the turn of one of the more impressive managers in Europe over the last five seasons, Italian legend Antonio Conte. Having reigned supreme with Juventus for umpteen seasons on the trot before taking up the national job, Conte has always fielded well organised, built-from-the-back teams and this kinda fits well with the current Chelsea crop.
Well, there’s no kinda about it really, it fits like a glove. True to his rep, Conte went straight after one of the defensive masters of last season, snapping up Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante to shore up that porous midfield. What a signing. Add to that Michy Batshuayi and the seeming resurgence of mercurial talent Eden Hazard and Chelsea are starting to look like possibly being their old selves again. The future looks bright and these here fixtures should be viewed as almost an ideal start to the new campaign…
Assuming The Bridge is to be the fortress of yesteryear, the visit of any team not challenging for the title should be an appealing one and despite the aforementioned qualities of West Ham, can they break down this impressive unit? (behave). A well placed Payet free kick or lunging, looping header from one Andy Carroll may scupper plans but in truth this game has a 1-0, maybe 2-0 written all over it.
Now, this is where things start to get really tasty for us fantasy folk; GW2 provides opposition tailor made for Chelsea. Watford impressed quite a bit last season in fairness to them but as the season wore on strike duo Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney dried up a hell of a lot. A few late flashes from Deeney fired the Hornets well clear of the drop zone but to put anything past Chelsea in this game would be a big surprise. Get your Hazards and you Terrys at the ready, this one is just what we’re looking for as FPL managers.
GW3 provides more opportunity at both ends of our FPL teams with Burnley being the visitors to Stamford Bridge this time for one of those games that the visiting team might as well just write off and look to next week. It’s been a long while since we’ve witnessed a Branislav Ivanovic or John Terry monster haul but this could well be the one where those tallies rear their ugly heads once again to go along with the goals the attacking talent will surely provide. It would be criminal to neglect to mention the bulldog that is Diego Costa in a piece on Chelsea, so there you have it. Leave it there. If he stays…
Leicester City – Hull (A), Arsenal (H), Swansea (H)
Now then, it’s a relief to get those three teams out of the way and take a look at a particular club that bring nothing but joyous thoughts and memories. It’s still hard to believe that Claudio Ranieri masterminded a league win from this group of players but that he did, and deservedly so. More so than any other in living memory in fact. It’s a crying shame (literally if Claudio is to be believed) that N’Golo Kante immediately jumped ship to join Chelsea but that looks like being the end of the outgoings as far as the main players are concerned.
Very refreshing, as usual with Leicester. Ahmed Musa has been drafted in from Russian side CSKA Moscow to add some sheen to the Foxes attack and on first sight, the Nigerian international should fit right in with whatever approach Leicester take to any given game. Pacey with a good finish and perfect for the counter attack is just what the doctor ordered. Whether the Foxes can repeat the glory of last season is up for debate but it would be almost foolish to assume a major drop in form. They are in the race until they prove otherwise and to start the season off they have a couple of very appealing fixtures sandwiching one that may not be as iffy as it seems…
The perfect start for the defending champions (it’s hard not to crack a smile at that, even now. Classic). The only way to make it absolutely perfect would be to change the venue to the King Power but, lets be honest here, Hull’s stadium is likely to be a home away from home for most teams. So, Hull. Against Leicester. Oh dear, could there be a more tailor made team? It certainly doesn’t seem that way and considering the gulf in class and confidence and all the rest of it, it really wouldn’t be a surprise to The Foxes attack this lot like they did everyone else towards the start of last season and just totally blitz them.
Onto GW2 now and the visit of Arsenal is usually a very tough game and, to be fair, Leicester haven’t beaten the Gunners since a way back in 2000, long before anything relevant to this season. However, despite losing twice to the Wenger-boys last season The Foxes did score three times in two games against them and gave them hell a lot of the time. Your Morgans and your Fuchs may not be appealing here, but by all means fear not for the Vardys, Mahrezes and Musas.
Sticking with home comforts, which is nice, t’is the Swans who rock up to King Power in GW3 and if ever there was a game to be totally into as an FPL manager then this one is it. Swansea didn’t enjoy playing Leicester last year. Not one bit. A Riyad Mahrez hat-trick at the Liberty Stadium sealed their fate that day and a 4-0 pounding in the reverse fixture shows just how much of a gulf there is between these two teams. Still worried about the Foxes? We may need to think again as they could very easily start this season providing a boat load of FPL points for us. Avoid at your peril.
Be wary of…
Watford – Southampton (A), Chelsea (H), Arsenal (H)
So, with the positives out of the way lets now have a look at some of those who may well prove to be worth avoiding for season start. First up, the Hornets. As we said earlier they did do pretty well for themselves at times last year but one look at these openers should be enough to shy us all away pretty damn quick. Except for maybe Potty! Maybe! Saints away is a rough beginning even with their usual mass exodus and then it’s on to a couple of home games back-to-back. Shame they’re against Chelsea and Arsenal though. Yikes, it makes for awful reading and the next two GW’s aren’t much better but we’ll save those for next week. Avoid like the plague unless it’s that Paredes dude as a filler.
Liverpool – Arsenal (A), Burnley (A), Spurs (A)
Now, here’s a murky one. If we learned anything form Jurgen Klopp last season it’s that he knows how to assemble an attack that is potent. However, Liverpool start with three away days on the bounce (due to expansion work on their Main Stand), starting at the Emirates in the tie of the round. Next up it’s a trip to Burnley which isn’t all that bad really. Liverpool should beat them. GW3 brings a trip to White Hart Lane for an evening with Kane, Alli and co to round off one of the more unfair opening set of fixtures we’ve seen in recent years. We wouldn’t totally shun the attack though as Firmino has shown ability to score whenever he feels like it. Just be wary, is all.
Bournemouth – Manchester United (H), West Ham (A), Crystal Palace (A)
Sheesh, another complete stinker of a start to the season here. The Cherries have been dealt the dirty end of the stick in GW1 versus Jose’s Zlatan-led United, who will be looking to make a statement to start the season and, as we said earlier, it’s likely that they will in some regard. Bournemouth are on their bike in GW2, travelling to a West Ham team that should have an up to speed Dimitri Payet by that stage and that spells enough danger as it is. Not good. Staying in London and next up it’s Palace, a team who were just barely pipped in the favourable section of this write up by the big boys. Palace are assembling a rather tasty team and even more so if a Benteke, or basically anyone but Wickham, is to start up front. Hard to see anything but three defeats and maybe a couple, at least, pastings for the Cherries here then. Charlie Daniels and Callum Wilson will no doubt be options for us at some stage, but not to start unfortunately.
One week wonders
Southampton v Watford
If looking for a cheeky one week punt, which many are judging by the RMT’s seen so far, then look no further than Southampton. A home game with Watford is a beaut of a start and we’d fully expect the Saints to do them with relative ease.
Crystal Palace v West Brom
Palace again. They too have a tasty GW1 fixture on their own patch against West Brom, a game not many outside of Hull will fear. They’ve never been big goal getters and last season we saw a sharp decline in defensive efficiency. They’ll need to change that damn quick or Palace will tear them a new one.
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