With the first month of the new season approaching, it’s the perfect time to look at fixtures for August in advance for planning an initial team and any transfers to be made in August. Below I’ve focused on the top seven teams from last years Premier League season and sorted them in terms of teams with the best fixtures:
Liverpool (5 games)
Champions League Qualifying
Champions League Qualifying
With two additional Champions League qualifying games in August, Liverpool top the list of teams with the best fixtures. Qualification will be a high priority and from past experience I’d expect them to comfortably get through but also play a strong side. Last season favouring Man City players in August when they had similar qualification games paid off with a good return of points.
Clyne – I’d certainly have some form of Liverpool representation defensively, if they manage a few clean sheets this could be an easy way to get the season off to a good start. Clyne featured in the most games last season for Liverpool and should be certain to start at right back.
Mane/Coutinho/Salah – Mane and Coutinho looked strong last season. However both were also hampered by injuries at times. I think having one or two of these three for the qualifying fixtures is vital. If I did go for two I’d probably be looking to transfer one of them out towards the end of the month to balance the team out. Salah also looks like a bargain at 4m compared to Coutinho and Mane who are both priced at 6m.
Firmino – wouldn’t be the first name on my team sheet under normal circumstances but given the additional two games I could be tempted to put him in temporarily. He’s certainly capable of scoring goals but I don’t see him being as prolific as other strikers over the duration of the season.
Man Utd (3 games)
West Ham (H)
Out of all the top seven teams in the Premier League, Man Utd have the easiest start. For me personally they are one of the most difficult teams to choose stand out players from. Defensively other than Valencia (who may not be classified as a defender) it’s difficult to pinpoint who will start most games. They don’t appear to have a midfielder who consistently gets assists and goals, someone like a Hazard or Eriksen. With Ibrahimovic leaving the club I also struggle to see a striker who will be consistently scoring goals.
Valencia – he’s not classified as a defender and should dominate the right back position. His price tag of 4m is a little off putting but he should get a lot of game time at Old Trafford.
Pogba – accumulated a lot of points last season with plenty of star man awards and tons of 7+ ratings. However for me I’d question if he scores enough goals from midfield. I personally can’t see him scoring as many points this season but out of all the Utd midfielders he looks most likely to score the highest.
Rashford/New signing – as mentioned above, at this stage I can’t see a striker who will be playing week in week out like Ibrahimovic was. This could result in a lot of points spread over all the strikers who are rotated in this position. It’s worth keeping an eye on if Man Utd sign an out and out striker over the summer.
Everton (5 games)
Europa League Qualifying
Man City (A)
Europa League Qualifying
Everton have 5 games during the month, however unfortunately they face both Man City and Chelsea away as part of these fixtures. I’d also question if a full strength team will be selected for the Europa League qualifying games. We’ve seen West Ham field weakened teams at this stage in the past two years and crash out. Having said that there’s a chance they could field a full strength team and perform well in the Premier League despite difficult opposition.
Pickford – regardless of opening fixtures, Pickford would be my first choice for a keeper at this stage. He’s the most reasonably priced keeper at 3m with the likes of Forster priced at 4m. He could be an absolute bargain if he also plays in the Europa League.
Williams – performed well for me last season, Everton should be fairly strong once again in the Premier League. However should he not play in the Europa League and Everton get off to a bad start with tough fixtures in the league this could make it a low point scoring start for Williams. Having said that this should even out over the course of the season as I try not to change my defenders too often.
Lukaku – as I write this blog, Lukaku is still an Everton player. This could well change before the start of the season but with 5 fixtures in August he’s difficult to overlook while he’s still at the club. He’s also a good price at 6m.
Man City (3 games)
Man City have a reasonable start to next season in the Premier League, they face two away fixtures to teams I’d imagine will finish in the bottom half of the table and a tricky home game against Everton. A few players worth considering may be:
De Bruyne – the 5th highest scoring midfielder last season and should hit the ground running. He’s a little pricey at 6m but he could have another fantastic season at City.
Jesus/Aguero – at this stage it’s incredibly difficult to imagine who will be the main man up front for City next season. Aguero finished the season strongly but Jesus looked to have finished his career at Man City before picking up the lengthy injury. I’d personally favour Jesus who is available at 5m.
Arsenal (3 games)
Arsenal have a couple of easier games to kick off the new season then an away trip to Liverpool at the end of the month. With no Champions League football and no real idea when it comes to team selection for the Europa League it’s a bit of a lottery picking Arsenal players. At this stage there is also a lot of speculation around Sanchez’s future.
Sanchez – despite speculation around his future, while Sanchez remains at Arsenal he’s a difficult player to overlook. He finished last season as the highest scoring player (by some margin) and it’s hard to imagine him not doing well again next time.
Spurs (3 games)
Despite relegation and a subsequent promotion back to the Premier League, an away fixture at Newcastle could still be a tricky opening game for Spurs. They then host the league Champions and Burnley at home (Wembley) to finish the month. This could be a difficult month for Spurs but after their finish last season it’s hard to write them off too soon.
Alli – I would favour Alli slightly over Eriksen this time around. Purely because there was so little between them in terms of points last season but Alli is slightly cheaper at 6m.
Kane – his goalscoring form last season says it all really. After two successful campaigns in the Premier League I’d imagine he will be up there again in terms of most points scored over the course of the season. Could be the first name on my team sheet despite being 8m.
Chelsea (3 games)
The league champions have the most difficult start compared to the other clubs in the top seven. They start with a relatively straightforward fixture at home to Burnley but then travel to Spurs and host Everton towards the end of the month. Regardless of this tricky start I still imagine Chelsea will get off to a strong title defence.
Cahill/Azpilicueta – it’s almost vital to include at least one Chelsea defender for next season considering the points they accumulated last season. However this could be a big ask with their starting prices so high.
Based on the number and fixtures and ease of fixtures I’ll be looking to create a team that looks something like this:
DEF: Liverpool, Man Utd, Stoke, Everton
MID: Liverpool, Man City, Liverpool
ST: Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea
And then use my August transfers to readdress the balance of the team once the Champions League qualifiers are over to create something like this:
DEF: Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd
MID: Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd
ST: Man City, Spurs, Chelsea
As always, share your thoughts/ideas in the comments below.
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