FPL 2021/22: Tackling the GW7/8 Fixture Swing

In this article we will discuss the teams to target for Gameweek seven and beyond (GWs 7 – 12). At various points throughout a typical season there are significant fixture swings which can influence your decision-making. When targeting players or teams it is certainly worth considering not only their fixtures but also a team’s form and underlying statistics.

In GW5, both Wolves and Leeds Utd saw the start of a favourable run of fixtures and the arrival of GW7 will see several other clubs start a favourable run of games. Below you will note the top eight teams with the best overall fixtures between Gameweeks 7 – 12 as per Fantasy Football Hub’s fixture ticker.

Top 8 teams with the easiest fixtures GWs 7 – 12

Even though these are the eight teams regarded as having the best overall fixtures between GWs 7 – 12, it is also worth noting the best attacking and defensive teams. As per FF Hub, the following six teams are regarded as the best attacking teams – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester Utd, Tottenham and West Ham. The six best defensive teams include Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester Utd, Brighton and Wolves.

I have also examined the (FDR) Fixture Difficulty Rating on fantasy.premierleague.com and established those teams with the best fixtures between Gameweeks 7 – 12. Of the ‘big six’ you will note that only Chelsea feature in the list of teams with the best fixtures whilst Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester Utd feature near the bottom of the fixture ratings. Chelsea top the list with the easiest fixtures whilst Manchester Utd have the most difficult run of fixtures.

Fantasy Premier League FDR

Chelsea

Looking at the fixtures for the period between GWs 7 – 12 it is certainly worth considering investing in both Chelsea attacking and defensive assets. Based on the statistics from the first five Gameweeks of the season Chelsea are ranked fifth for the number of shots (73) and third for their (28) attempts on target.

They are currently the joint-second highest goal scorers. with twelve goals, whilst their xG of 8.9 is the fifth highest. According to the FDR on the official site five of their opponents carry a rating of two and only Leicester City carry a rating of three.

Chelsea tackle Southampton, Brentford, Norwich, Newcastle, Burnley and Leicester in that period. Those teams are currently ranked twelfth, second, eighteenth, twentieth, sixteenth and fifteenth for xGC. Although Brentford are ranked second for xCS, the other five teams are ranked thirteenth or below.

Three of their opponents have failed to keep a clean sheet this season whilst Leicester have only kept one clean sheet, Southampton two and Brentford three. Norwich have conceded the most number of goals so far in the PL (14), whilst Newcastle have conceded the second most (13) and Burnley the fourth most (9).

Five of Chelsea’s six opponents feature in the bottom eight teams for the number of shots faced in the first five Gameweeks. Remarkably, Brentford have conceded the third lowest number of shots so far this season.

Therefore, on paper, Brentford are likely to be Chelsea’s biggest attacking challenge during that run of games. The statistics provide plenty of encouragement to suggest that Chelsea will register many attacking returns.

I would certainly consider investing in Chelsea’s attacking assets because goals could be plentiful. Chelsea are currently the joint-second highest goal scorers with twelve goals. Romelu Lukaku (£11.6m) is the fifth highest scoring forward in FPL with twenty-five points, comprising of three goals from his four Premier League appearances. There is a very high likelihood that he will significantly add to his goal tally in those six games.

Since taking the helm at Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel has done an outstanding job and he has transformed Chelsea into a formidable defensive unit. They have the joint highest number of clean sheets (4) and have only conceded the solitary goal, which was Mo Salah’s (£12.6m) penalty in the 1 – 1 draw at Anfield.

They are ranked fourth for xCS. All six of Chelsea’s opponents do not feature in the top ten for xG with Southampton being ranked the highest in twelfth spot with an xG of 5.8. Newcastle are currently ranked tenth for their (65) attempts on goal and none of Chelsea’s other five opponents better that. Investing in Chelsea’s defensive assets would be a sound move.

Given the fixtures and the strength of their defence you may even consider doubling up on their defensive assets.


Wolves

Regardless of the disappointing result against Brentford in GW5 Wolves still have a favourable run of games which could see them pick up a healthy number of points. You will note that they have the third best overall fixtures between GWs 7 – 12 and are regarded as having the sixth best defence.

Offensively, Wolves have failed to convert the high number of chances that they have created and one could consider that their fortunes are due to change.

Wolves have registered the third highest number of attempts on goal (82), the fifth highest number of big chances (12) and have the seventh highest xG (7.9). Even though they are ranked third for the highest number of attempts on goal they are the League’s joint bottom goal scorers with just two goals.

Over the next six games they face Newcastle, Aston Villa, Leeds, Everton, Crystal Palace and West Ham. Newcastle and Leeds are currently ranked 19th and 20th for xCS and only Norwich have conceded more goals than both teams.

It’s in defence where Wolves possess some impressive numbers. They are only second to Manchester City for the number of attempts conceded on goal (42) and are ranked joint fourth for the number of shots conceded on target (19).

Wolves have the fifth highest xCS even though they have only kept one clean sheet to date. They encountered a difficult start to the season with one nil defeats to Leicester, Spurs and Manchester Utd, hence the lack of clean sheets. Only six teams have conceded fewer goals than the five conceded by Wolves.

Out of their six opponents between GWs 7 – 12 only West Ham and Everton have a higher xG than them. Although the Wolves attack has been misfiring their defence offers a better opportunity to accumulate points.


Leeds Utd

To date, Leeds have failed to hit the heights of their 2020/21 campaign and they are currently struggling with several injuries most notably in defence. Their defensive numbers are poor and it would be a big gamble to invest in any of their defensive assets.

However, even though Leeds have not found the back of the net on a regular basis the good run of fixtures provides FPL managers with a good opportunity of picking up some good FPL points.

The likes of Patrick Bamford (£8.0m), Raphinha (£6.5m), Jack Harrison (£5.8m) and Dan James (£6.0m) could all offer some useful attacking returns. A the time of writing, Bamford has an ankle injury, Raphinha has a minor hip injury whilst Jack Harrison missed the Newcastle game after returning a positive Covid test.

Leeds face Watford, Southampton, Wolves, Norwich, Leicester and Tottenham over the next six games. Leeds are currently ranked tenth with an xG of 6.1 whilst of their next six opponents Wolves are ranked the highest for xCS in ninth place. Even though Leeds have had a difficult opening to the season whilst conceding twelve goals, the fixtures provide an ideal opportunity for Bielsa’s men to regain some form and consistency.


Aston Villa

After the loss of Jack Grealish (£8.0m) to Manchester City The Villains have had a disrupted start to the season compounded by the loss of Ollie Watkins (£7.3m) through injury. They also lost Emi Martinez (£5.5m) and Emi Buendia (£6.4m) after their trip to South America to play for Argentina.

A much improved performance at Chelsea and a three nil victory over Everton indicates that they are on their way to regaining some form. Over the next six Villa play Tottenham, Wolves, Arsenal, West Ham, Southampton and Brighton.

Even though Villa have conceded seven goals in their first five games they currently have the fourth best xGC with only Liverpool, Brentford and Manchester City ranked higher. They are also ranked sixth for xCS. Only Manchester City, Wolves, Liverpool and Brentford have conceded fewer shots than them. In contrast, their opponents are ranked third, fifth, seventh, thirteenth, fourteenth and nineteenth for the number of shots taken.

The Villains are currently ranked twelfth for the number of attempts on goal and only fifteenth with an xG 5.3. Although their eight goals scored sees Villa ranked seventh. Their next six opponents are ranked sixth, ninth, tenth, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth for xCS. No doubt that with the return of Ollie Watkins the Watkins/Ings partnership could re-energise the Villa attack and make them a more potent force.


Liverpool

Even though Liverpool face both Manchester clubs between GWs 7 – 12 there is still the opportunity to accumulate some healthy returns. The Reds have been formidable going forward this season. They are currently ranked first for the number of attempts on goals (124), the most shots on target (44) and they have created the highest number of big chances (18).

They are also ranked first for xG (14.6) whilst they are the joint second highest goal scorers with twelve goals to their name. In their four other games they face Watford, Brighton, West Ham and Arsenal who are ranked fifteenth, fifth, tenth and twelfth for xCS. The same teams are ranked eleventh, ninth, eighth and fifteenth for the number of shots conceded. Attacking returns are in the offering.

The Reds also have some impressive defensive numbers. They have conceded the third lowest number of shots, are ranked third for both xGC and xCS. They are ranked joint first for the least number of goals conceded (1) and also joint first for registering four clean sheets.

Four of their opponents in that six game period are ranked eleventh, eighth, fourth and eighteenth for xG. Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m) has made an outstanding start to the new campaign and there is a strong likelihood of regular returns.

Manchester City

Even though City face both Liverpool and Manchester Utd between GWs seven and twelve City assets are still capable of generating a high number of points. In the other four games they face Burnley, Brighton, Crystal Palace and Everton. City are second for the number of shots on goal (100), fourth for the number of attempts on target (27) and second for the number of big chances (17).

They have the second highest xG (11.3) and they are the joint third highest goal scorers. Meanwhile, their opponents are ranked sixteenth, fifth, seventh and eighth for xCS.

The City defence has made an outstanding start to the season having conceded the lowest number of shots (31). Remarkably, they have only conceded five attempts on target. They are also ranked first for both xGC (2.0) and xCS (3.4) whilst their opponents are ranked ninth, eighth, sixteenth and sixth for xG. Investing in both the City attack and defence could pay dividends with the possibility of some big points.

Teams With Good Fixtures

Of the other teams with the lowest FDR and best fixtures none stand out as likely to generate a high number of points. However, its worth noting that Arsenal have kept two consecutive clean sheets. It may well be worthing targeting individual players, the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.7m) who is on a good run of form for Newcastle whilst Teemu Pukki (£5.9m) scored in his last appearance for Norwich.

Brentford have a number of difficult games coming up, however, they have shown that they are a solid defensive unit and are capable of recording clean sheets. Their defensive assets make an attractive proposition.


Conclusion

Chelsea have by far the best set of fixtures between Gameweeks 7 – 12 and they also have the form to go with it. I would certainly consider at least doubling up on Chelsea assets or even a triple up over that given period. You could accumulate a large number of points by investing in both their attacking and defensive assets.

Even though the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City do not have the best fixtures, what they do have is some decent form. I would certainly consider retaining those assets that you currently own and investing in their most reliable assets if you have no other burning issues.

The Manchester City defence looks particularly strong and owning City defensive assets would be a sound investment. Liverpool have produced some outstanding attacking numbers and it’s likely that they will remain a formidable attacking force spearheaded by Mo Salah and Sadio Mane (£11.9m).

Both Liverpool and Manchester City have strong attacking and defensive resources and as such both teams warrant investment.

*Underlying statistics and tables obtained via the author’s paid subscription to Fantasy Football Hub*

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