The 16/17 Premier League season is well and truly behind us. Alonso, Heaton, King and the other protagonists from last season have been resting up before their pre-season jaunts across the various the continents in preparation for the 17/18 Premier League season. Speaking of the 17/18 season, the opening fixtures for all sides were announced recently, providing FPL managers with a massive amount of planning to do before the game is released in a few weeks time. While form and ability are considered more important than fixtures, it’s hard to ignore teams that start off the season with a really solid set of fixtures.
Who has the best fixtures? Who should we avoid? We’ll take a quick look at that here, detailing the sides with the best set of opening fixtures for next season, looking at players worth picking up right away.
Opening 4 fixtures: WHU, swa, LEI, stk
The first team that most FPL managers will be looking at next season is Manchester United. They finished in a rather disappointing 6th place last season, though it is also Mourinho’s second season, which usually sees an upturn in fortunes for his sides. Well, apart from his second stint at Chelsea, but when it comes to that, I have nothing to say.
United are in the process of splashing the cash, with Ed Woodward whopping his chequebook on the desks of clubs all over the continent, already spending over £30m on Benfica’s highly-touted centre half Victor Lindelof, and £75m on Romelu Lukaku.
They’ve been linked with the likes of Perisic, Fabinho, Semedo, Morata, and even Ronaldo this summer, as they look to strengthen and improve on their poor finish in the league last time round.
Their fixtures are very pleasant for both United fans and FPL players, as they have a string of relatively great fixtures to kick the season off. They start with West Ham at home, with this streak of kind fixtures continuing for the first few weeks until Everton come to Old Trafford.
In terms of options, their defence is worth investing in. They conceded the second fewest goals in the league last season, shipping just 3 more than Spurs, even without the aforementioned £30m Swede.
Valencia, Bailly and De Gea are absolutely nailed on, though may cost around 5.5-6m each. Things get tricky going forward as they didn’t score too many goals last season, Zlatan aside.Lukaku, is vital this season due to his obscene ownership of almost 50%, with him being a huge captaincy choice for GW1. Aside from that, it’s not certain who will start. Pogba could be an option if they sign Fabinho/Matic, giving him more freedom to operate further forward up the pitch, with Mkhitaryan also being an option.
Opening 4 fixtures: SWA, WHU, hud, WAT
One of the more enticing sides to kick off with for the upcoming season will be Southampton, judging by their very kind start to the season. They were rather underwhelming last season, especially when it comes to their attacking returns. Their main targets were in defence, as even though they weren’t scoring too many, they weren’t conceding many either, with Yoshida and Stephens becoming superb differential shouts towards the backend of the season.
Southampton start off the 17/18 season with two home games against Swansea and West Ham. They were set to play West Ham away, but due to their fancy new stadium being in use still, it had to be rearranged, meaning that Southampton will be at home instead. They then go on to play Huddersfield away and Watford at home to round off their first few games.
They’ve got a new manager, Mauricio Pellegrino – who evolves into Manuel Pellegrini, who then evolves into Mauricio Pochettino; the final form. He overachieved with his Alaves side last season, getting to the final of the Copa del Rey, losing out to Barcelona. They finished 9th in the league, conceded just 2 more goals than Real Madrid, and 6 more than Barcelona.
This should bode well for Southampton’s clean sheet potential going into the season, with Yoshida being fairly nailed on.
The futures of Van Dijk and Bertrand are still up in the air, though if they stay, they should be fantastic shouts for the opening gameweek. Their forward options aren’t particularly exciting really. Gabbiadini has probably been blacklisted from most FPL teams due to his poor performances in the double game weeks from last season, though he could be a good shout. Ward Prowse could also be worth looking at, if only due to his excellent set pieces and his low price, if he can get into the side.
West Bromwich Albion
Opening 4 fixtures: BOU, bur, STK, bri
Pulis’ boys finished the season in (10)th position, employing the classic Pulis move of hitting the beach as soon as they notched 40+ points. They lingered in 8th for the majority of the season before the sun towels and SPF50 sunscreen came out. Here’s how they ended the season:
Before that point, a few of their players were quickly becoming huge FPL assets.
Brunt was listed as a defender but played on the wing, returning double-digit hauls on 3 different occasions. Phillips was a fantastic shout in the opening half of the season, McAuley scored 6 goals from centre half, and Foster/Evans were also solid options at the back. People even lucked out on Rondon when he bagged a hat-trick, before going almost 20 games without a goal afterwards.
A new season is here, which means that West Brom players are absolutely back on the FPL menu. They haven’t really strengthened as of yet, though they have been linked with the likes of Jay Rodriguez and Wilfried Bony, as well as John Terry. A defence of Evans, Terry, Dawson and McAuley would be slow as molasses, but it’d be worth it for the threat at set pieces.
In terms of options, their choices at the back will be on the wish lists of many FPL managers. McAuley, even at the ripe old age of 37, will still be going strong, and will be the primary target for each set piece. The same can be said for Dawson, as he’s always a massive threat at set pieces, too. We’ll see if Brunt plays at full back or on the wing, though if he plays at all he’s worth having due to his dead ball abilities.
Going forward, Phillips will be worth a look, as well as Chadli, who are both rather explosive – the latter picked up 21 points in gameweek 5 of last season.
Everton – Stay Away
Opening 4 fixtures: STK, mci, che, TOT
Just as a bonus, there’s a quick look at Everton’s fixtures. Just look at them, they’re fucked. Stay away from them for the first few weeks. That being said, if you fancy racking up some save points from your keeper, then Pickford is your guy – he’ll be busy.