The 2017-18 premier league fixtures have been released, with Chelsea opening at home against Burnley while Newcastle start with Tottenham Hotspur.
As we all know, we vary rarely choose our FPL players based on the one fixture. We tend to look at a batch of fixtures when buying players. Also, we know that the teams that have a good pre-season, where the players are gradually brought back to fitness, tend to do better in the opening 5 games. This are our early thoughts on the 17/18 fixture list.
This review focuses on these two elements:
- is the preseason good enough for the opening fixtures
- are the opening fixtures good enough to merit player selection
But why pre-season?
- In 2015/16 Chelsea and Everton had a really poor preseason while Arsenal and Leicester won nearly every preseason game, and all four teams carried their respective form into the season.
- In 14/15 Spurs had a really strong preseason run, and despite losing the opening Premiership fixture to Liverpool, they then went on to only lose 1 of the next 13 games.
- Indeed the number of games can make a difference too. In 13/14 Sunderland played only 2 preseason games, and subsequently did not win a premiership game until October.
The pre-season rule of thumb is to look for teams 5 or more pre-season wins; and avoid teams who lose most of the preseason games or who play 3 or fewer games. Therefore, pre-season is an important consideration when looking at fixtures.
Traditionally in articles like these I review the fixtures for a 6 week period. However, a lot of experienced managers play the wildcard in the early September international break. For the 17/18 season the international break runs from the 31st August to the 5th September, which is after game week 3. Therefore, I am going to try to identify the teams with the best fixtures from game weeks 1 to 3, and then 4 to 10.
Another curve ball most seasons is the UEFA Super Cup. This season it is Real madrid vs Manchester United, meaning it will be the point Real Madrid will realise they need to pay more to get the services of De Gea. Usually this game is around game week 2 or 3 and gives us a double game week, however, this season the game is on Tuesday 8 August at 19:45, making it nothing more than a pre-season friendly.
— Premier League (@premierleague) June 14, 2017
Good preseason, good fixtures
Back in 2014 we made a correlation between distance travelled preseason and early season performance. This was then jumped on by every media outlet going. However, the stats show that the further the travel, the less helpful pre-season is. So this UK based preseason list is fabulous for us FPL managers. The number of games is light, so we should assume a few closed-doors games.
On the assumption of some pre-season clean sheets for Bournemouth, then the first two games (against teams that don’t score loads) suggest to me that we should be starting with a Bournemouth defender, who we will then bench or sell. I also think there is merit in choosing Begovic rotating with the Palace, Burnley or Leicester.
Looking beyond the opening 3 weeks, Bournemouth face Arsenal, Everton and Spurs away and Chelsea at home, so I would expect we will sell in the international break.
One of the things I look for in a preseason is the games getting progressively harder, and this ticks that box given the Premier League Asia Trophy includes Liverpool, Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion. The distance is a concern, but it looks like Palace will return with 3 weeks to spare. If Palace can get a fixture at the end of July against someone like Real Sociedad then this preseason will certainly help the team prepare for the season.
Two good home games, and a test against “Leaky Liverpool”. If Benteke is scoring in preseason (and is still at Palace) then I think he is straight into our teams all the way out to game week 6, when Palace have the nightmare of City (A), United (A) then Chelsea (H).
Liverpool return from Asia in good time to recover. However, they then prove Brexit has no impact on Football by jetting off to Germany and Ireland. The quality of the preseason opposition is great, if a little too tough. The distance travelled is a surprise – it almost made me move Liverpool to the “Not good preseason” category.
Two great games. I think we should assume that the Liverpool players who burn a lot of energy will be subbed after 60 minutes in the early fixtures. Perhaps Liverpool’s new young striker will be given an early season run out while Coutinho and the others get to full match fitness. Liverpool’s very public preseason will tell us a lot.
Quality preseason opponents but not enough games suggesting lots of “behind closed doors” stuff. Everton with a similarly poor preseason suggests City are certain to be in our early draft teams.
— Sportdec (@SportdecApp) June 14, 2017
Not good preseason, good fixtures
I think this preseason is poor. There are not enough games and the standard of the opposition is not high enough. However, the opening fixtures are great. I will be watching the preseason to see which midfielder is scoring and then probably bring them into my team as a bench player.
The money-men strike! Great opponents but too many. This means the games will occur too frequently to allow time to learn new tactics, and not increasing in difficulty in order to practice the tactics. This will have the biggest impact on new signings.
Great fixtures. A defender and a striker for our first drafts, and also beyond the wild card.
If Manchester United have too many preseason games, Newcastle have too few. However, the fixtures from game week 2 to 10 are brilliant. A Newcastle defender for the bench?
Same problem as Newcastle. I honestly believe more Southampton fixtures will be announced. Also, keep in mind there is a risk the West Ham game could be moved, giving us a blank game week.
West Bromwich Albion
A lot of games, and interestingly two games on one night! We have seen this in the past where managers either split the team into first 11 / second 11 or into attacking 11 and defencive 11. However, given the opponents I suspect this will be on over/under 21 basis.
Great fixtures. I’ll have a baggie in my team from the start!
Erm! Not sure why they play the same team twice. I guess the fixtures are not set in stone yet. However, one game is a little strange. Last season West Ham did not have many preseason games and their initial form was poor compared to the season before (where they had what I would term as a great pre-season).
I think West Ham’s fixtures are good from game week 2 onwards. However, I don’t think I will look to the Hammers to fill my team at the start of the season. The preparation is not there. Also, keep in mind there is a risk the Southampton game could be moved, giving us a blank game week.
Do Man United have the easiest start and end to next season?
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 14, 2017
Good preseason, not good fixtures
I think a lot of Burnley’s first 10 games are tough and we will only be looking at them for rotations and bench players.
Some tough games in China, a rest period with weaker opponents to test pairings and tactics, and then a challenge in Borussia Monchengladbach. I would have liked to have seen the Burton game swapped for a tougher fixture, but it’s a good preseason.
The good preseason is let down by this tough set of away games, which does not improve until game week 6. Indeed, the fixture difficulty for a few teams seems to inflect on game week 6, suggesting a later wild card might be the way forward this season.
A good preseason. I am most impressed with the inclusion of Red Bull Leipzig, a team who’s playing style I feel Hughes is trying to emulate.
Followed by United, Chelsea and City in the next 6.
I struggled with where to place Swansea. The preseason games are good. The team return with 3 weeks to spare and the fixtures then get progressively more difficult. The opening Premier League fixtures are OK: Swansea always do well against the Saints away and Swansea seem to upset United. However, two aways and one hard home game is in reality a tough fixture list for a team that were almost relegated.
There is room for another fixture on Watford’s list, and I hope it is against a quality opponent. This should set Watford up well for the season, where they seem to face one difficult opponent each month.
Those Premier League games after a daunting European match can be tricky… pic.twitter.com/VqZBHxRedN
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 14, 2017
Not good preseason, not good fixtures
Great teams, but not returning to the UK until after the 29th July, I think this is a pre-season designed by the money-men at Chelsea, and not the manager.
After the Burnley game, things get tough for the Champions. Moreover, the subsequent games include Arsenal and City at home. Now it is a brave manager who leaves Hazard out of their opening 11, but the fixtures and preseason could be a lot better.
Returning late from international travel where the time zone change is harder to get accustomed to than compared to travelling the other way, and limited preseason games, this is not a well planned start for Spurs. I suspect the two weeks between the City game and the end of July to the Toon game at the start of the season will mostly be used up with light training and drills!
From game week 3 onwards the fixtures look good. Perhaps include Kane from the start and hope Chelsea are as tired as Spurs.
A pre-season in Australia and China is not helpful. On the bright side, Arsenal do return to the UK 3 weeks before the start of the season, and Benfica plus Sevilla represent a good level of opposition in which to get players match-fit. So I am 50:50 on preseason.
I am not a fan of these opening games; two aways including Liverpool. At this time I am tempted to think of the Leicester and Stoke games as an extension of pre-season. Add to this Arsenal’s history of buying players late in the transfer window. It leads me to conclude that we should “wait and see” with Arsenal.
However, after the international break the next 6 fixtures are great. Bournemouth, West Brom, Brighton, Swansea all at home, with only Chelsea and Everton away to cause any worry. My feeling is Arsenal are ones for your wildcard team.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Other than the Madrid game, the preseason fixtures are not tough enough. The season then starts with a difficult home game and two away games. I see no need to bring any Brighton players into your team, other than because they are cheap and fill the bench.
Two preseason games followed by these fixtures. Avoid until game week 6 (Benteke to Lukaku, you heard it hear first).
— Sky Football ⚽️ (@SkyFootball) June 14, 2017