Using the secrets of the fixture list to bring the big points home

Imagine the scene. You’ve looked at the fixture list, realised Chelsea have got some easy opening fixtures and brought in Drogba and Malouda. Both have scored well in the opening few weeks, but by gameweek 5, they’ve started to go off the boil.

Some of your mates have used their wildcards to bring both players in and everybody’s becoming impatient as the 6-0 thrashings dry up. At least the poor souls below you in the table haven’t had the sense to bring in the obvious players. They’re probably out of the running already, right? Wrong.

Jimmy, struggling in mid-table, opts to go with Berbatov as captain in gameweek 5, who pulls off a sensational hat trick at Old Trafford and earns 34 points!

Insistent that this proves his assertion that the best players always perform in the big matches, Jimmy puts Tevez as captain in the home game against Chelsea the following week, earning him a further 18 points after Tevez scores the winning goal and gets 3 bonus points.

Jimmy moves up the table again, the jammy git. And his luck continues.

In gameweek 7, his captain choice of Van Der Vaart pays dividends when a brace at White Hart Lane earns 30 further points and Jimmy moves top after gameweek 8 when Nasri’s goal in a home game against Birmingham brings in another 14 points.

This 24 point average from Jimmy’s captains over 4 weeks is blowing everyone else out of the water, especially those depending upon Malouda and Drogba, who are earning little over 12 points a week from their captains over the same period.

So what’s changed? Is Jimmy just getting very lucky week on week? Or is he quietly gaining an edge somewhere? The answer is that he always has someone good available playing at home.

This is no coincidence. Since Arsenal and Tottenham are never scheduled to play at home on the same day, Jimmy always has either Van Der Vaart or Nasri playing at home.

Because Man Utd and Man City are never scheduled to play at home on the same day, Jimmy always has either Berbatov or Tevez playing at home.

Every team in the Premier League next season will be “paired” with another team who aren’t scheduled to play at home on the same day.

Most pairings are created because it’s easier to manage only one big match within a certain region on match days, but some are seemingly random.

The following pairs are not due to have home matches on the same day during any gameweek:

Arsenal & Tottenham
Aston Villa & Stoke City
Blackburn Rovers & Norwich City
QPR & Swansea
Bolton Wanderers & Wigan Athletic
Chelsea & Fulham
Everton & Liverpool
Man City & Man Utd
Newcastle Utd & Sunderland
West Brom & Wolves

The implications of this information go well beyond simply helping with the availability of captaincy options.

If you select Jaaskelainen and Al Habsi as your two goalkeepers, for example, you can rotate them so as to ensure your goalkeeper is always playing at home.

You can also pair “peripheral players” in outfield positions to ensure that one is always playing at home.

Choose between Coloccini and Bardsley for your 4th defender, or between Albrighton and Etherington for your 4th midfielder, or between Saha and Carroll for your 2nd striker.

The possibilities are endless!