Fantasy Premier League 2019-20 Maximising fixtures during the first 9 gameweeks

First goal
“The 2019-2020 FPL campaign has officially been kicked off with the launch of the new game” (CC by 2.0) by Tuan Hoang Nguyen

Well FPL 2019/20 launched yesterday 27 June, hardly giving us time to take a breath from the end of the previous season! Now as any experienced FPL manager knows, picking a good line-up for gameweek 1 (starting on August, 9th) can be crucial to success later on in the season. The obvious benefit of a bang-on starting line-up is that you’ll start off the season with a few nice scores, thus creating an immediate points cushion between your rivals and yourself. Another advantage is that it will allow you to save your chips for later in the season. The period between gameweeks 3 and 5 is usually when many FPL managers deploy a Wild Card to adjust their rosters after the smoke of the first few gameweeks of the new season has cleared up. When your team does not need too much tinkering after the opening weeks, you can save the first Wild Card for emergency situations later on, for example.

In order to help you maximise your start to the 2019-2020 FPL season, we’re going to take a quick look at so-called ideal rotation pairs among Goalkeepers/Defenders and Midfielders/Forwards. This strategy is basically aimed at selecting pairs of players in such a way that at least one of the two has a favourable fixture in each gameweek. In most cases, a favourable fixture will be a home fixture, though sometimes an away game against a theoretically weaker opponent might also qualify as  favourable. On top of everything, rotation pairing can also considerably benefit your budget, as two cut-price players might form an excellent pair. However if you’re only interested in maximising players that play at Home and avoiding those that play Away then consider the combinations below – this and other fixture planning is highlighted on the FISO FPL fixture planning forum topic:


Based on the volatile nature of the Premier League, we’ve decided to take the first nine gameweeks of the coming season (i.e. the first quarter of the season) into consideration for this article. In our opinion, if you manage to plan correctly for the first nine gameweeks, meaning you’ve correctly predicted a few good performers and managed to need little to no point hits for transfers, you’ve done a pretty good job. Nine gameweeks is quite a long period in the FPL universe.

Optimal rotation pairs: Goalkeepers/Defenders (defensive)

Especially in terms of your goalkeepers and your last defenders, defensive rotation pairs can reap relatively huge rewards. Whether you’re playing with three, four, or five defenders, some of your defenders will normally be lower-budget assets. Selecting the right pairs can guarantee that, despite their lower prices, you will have at least one lower-price defender with a favourable fixture every gameweek.

Despite Burnley’s up-and-down performance last season, we’re still quite confident that manager Sean Dyche can put together a solid defensive unit, like the one that formed the foundation of the club’s qualification for European football in the 2017-18 season. Aston Villa were not exactly kings of the clean sheet in the Championship last season, with 6 clean sheets in 23 home games, but a combination with Burnley defensive assets represents a budget-friendly rotation pair with a lot of promise. You could, for example, opt for Burnley goalkeeper Heaton (£4.5m) and Villa stopper Nyland (£4.5m), or for Clarets centre back Tarkowski (£5.0m) and Villans central defender Chester (£4.5) for additional aerial threat from set-pieces (Chester scored five goals from set-pieces in the Championship last season).

  GW1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
AST TOT (a) BOU (h) EVE (h) CRY (a) WHU (h) ARS (a) BUR (h) NOR (a) BRI (h)
BUR SOU (h) ARS (a) WOL (a) LIV (h) BRI (a) NOR (h) AST (a) EVE (h) LEI (a)

Our suggestion: SOU (h), BOU (h), WOL (a), CRY (a), BRI (a), NOR (h), AST (a), EVE (h), BRI (h).

Another attractive rotation pair for the opening nine fixtures could be Brighton and Leicester. The Seagulls put in some solid defensive displays at home, while the Foxes, besides some clean sheet potential, also offer considerable offensive potential from defence. Brighton booked 7 clean sheets last season (5 at home) and Leicester managed 10 clean sheets (6 at home). On the goalkeeper front, for example, a combination of Brighton’s Ryan (£4.5m) and Leicester’s Schmeichel (£5.0m) offers two fine goalkeepers with ample Premier League experience at a total cost of just £9.5m. In terms of defenders, a pairing of Foxes Pereira (£6.0m) or Chilwell (£5.5m), with their assist potential, and Seagulls Duffy (£4.5m) or Dunk (£5.0m), with their threat from set-pieces, could pay off handsomely.

  GW1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
BRI WAT (a) WHU (h) SOU (h) CIT (a) BUR (h) NEW (a) CHE (a) TOT (h) AST (a)
LEI WOL (h) CHE (a) SHE (a) BOU (h) UTD (a) TOT (h) NEW (h) LIV (a) BUR (h)

Our suggestion: WOL (h), WHU (h), SHE (a), BOU (h), BUR (h), NEW (a), NEW (h), TOT (h), BUR (h)

Optimal rotation pairs: Midfielders/Forwards (offensive)

Apart from the top clubs, which we generally don’t include in rotation pair analysis pieces due to their relative immunity to fixture difficulty, there are not a lot of teams with a opening run of fixtures that stand out in the attacking sense. One of the mid-table club with a decent opening quarter of the season is Everton and the Toffees also boost a few interesting offensive options, like Richarlison (£8.0m), Sigurdsson (£8.0m), and even Calvert-Lewin (£6.0m), of which only the latter is classified as a forward in the official game. It could be worth looking at pairing an Everton player with an attacking asset from Bournemouth, whose schedule seems quite complimentary to Everton’s. Like the Toffees, the Cherries also boast a few attractive attacking players, such as Fraser (£7.5m), Wilson (£8.0m), and King (£6.5m). With the budget looking tighter than ever this season, a pair of Fraser and Calvert-Lewin(as a third striker), for example, could offer considerable value for money. The same would go for a combination of Richarlison and King.

  GW1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
BOU SHE (h) AST (a) CIT (h) LEI (a) EVE (h) SOU (a) WHU (h) ARS (a) NOR (h)
EVE CRY (a) WAT (h) AST (a) WOL (h) BOU (a) SHE (h) CIT (h) BUR (a) WHU (h)

Our suggestion: SHE (h), AST (a), AST (a), WOL (h), EVE (h), SHE (h), WHU (h), BUR (a), NOR (h)

A more budget-friendly option could be a pairing of West Ham and Southampton attackers. The Hammers scored a decent 54 goals in 38 games last season, while the Saints netted 45 times. It should be noted though, that the latter have looked a lot more threatening in the final third since Ralph Hasenhüttl took over as manager in gameweek 16. Up until that point, Southamption had scored just 13 goals in 15 games, meaning that they scored 32 times in the remaining 23 games under Hasenhüttl. West Ham were largely unreliable as far as their results went, but the attacking quality in their roster gives them decent scoring potential in the majority of games. Stand-out West Ham offensive options are Arnautovic (£7.0m) and Felipe Anderson (£7.0m), while Redmond (£6.5m) and Ward-Prowse (£6.0m) could offer value for Southampton. The Saints also have Austin, Long, and Ings at their disposal, but it remains to be seen which of these strikers will be starting up front. As soon as that’s clear though, have a look. New signing Djenepo is not yet included in FPL and, with him coming from the Belgian league, we recommend to give him a few games before considering him for your FPL team.

As you can see below, this pairing is more about avoiding top six opposition than focusing on home games. This can be interesting when you’re looking for a fourth or fifth midfielder, or a third attacker. With a total investment of £13m, for example, you could get Arnautovic and Ward-Prowse, as a second or third striker and a fourth or even fifth midfielder, respectively, which would give you considerable squad depth.

  GW1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
SOU BUR (a) LIV (h) BRI (a) UTD (h) SHE (a) BOU (h) TOT (a) CHE (h) WOL (a)
WHU CIT (h) BRI (a) WAT (a) NOR (h) AST (a) UTD (h) BOU (a) CRY (h) EVE (a)

For further comment and discussions about FPL check FISO’s FPL forum.