Ranking all 20 Premier League clubs by how knackered they’ll be after the next seven weeks

Date published: Saturday 1st October 2022 12:50 - Dave Tickner

The international break is over, and it’s back to a nice quiet bit of of domestic football. For six mad weeks before we all have to stop so they can sneak a little World Cup in.

There is a really quite insane amount of football to get through before Qatar, so who’s got it worst?

 

20) Fulham
Total games: 8
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 2

The only one of the 13 top-flight teams forced into round two of the Carabao to manage to get themselves straight out of the Carabao. Marco Silva out here playing 4D chess when the other managers are playing checkers. Only the eight games in six weeks for Fulham’s merry band of Pleasingly Bright Starters. Not a bad run of games initially, either. Let’s ignore the consecutive games against the Manchester clubs in November and look at what is a very friendly October compared to most: Newcastle, West Ham, Bournemouth, Villa, Leeds and Everton. You’d take that schedule in most Octobers and you’d absolutely do so in this particular one.

 

19) Bournemouth
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 1
Carabao Cup third round: Everton (H)

Back-to-back games against Everton bring part one of Bournemouth’s season to a close. Spurs at home is the only game against the big boys, but the five-game run between now and that game could be absolutely massive for the Cherries’ overall prospects this season: Brentford, Leicester, Fulham, Southampton, West Ham. Those all feel quite six-pointy, don’t they?

 

18) Crystal Palace
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 1
Carabao Cup third round: Newcastle (A)

Yeah, that’s not too bad at all. Seven league games in a row against teams currently in the bottom half after Saturday’s home game against Chelsea. Man United and Brighton aren’t ideal fixtures for rearrangement, though. United because they are in Europe which makes potential space in the fixture list that much harder to find, Brighton because it’s a derby whether the rest of us like it or not.

 

17) Leicester
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 1
Carabao Cup third round: Newport County (H)

Forest, Bournemouth, Palace, Leeds, Wolves, Man City, Everton, West Ham. For anyone else, this would look like a really decent Premier League fixture list. It’s arguably the gentlest of the lot. The bad news, though, is that this is Leicester and all these fixtures are football matches against football teams and thus look absolutely horrible.

By virtue of not playing until Monday night this weekend and then playing on the Saturday on the final week of action in November they also have technically the most congested league schedule of anyone. Good Carabao draw if you actually want to stay in the competition, but the main takeaway is that if Leicester are still anywhere near their current league position after their next five games then they are deeply, deeply fucked.

 

16) Brentford
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 2
Carabao Cup third round: Gillingham (H)

Chelsea and Man City are the big boys on Brentford’s schedule and they’re a few weeks apart at least, while Gillingham at home is the sort of Carabao tie that you’d want this season, isn’t it? Eleven changes territory there. Having Man City and Tottenham in back-to-back games six weeks apart is a fun 2022/23 quirk as well. Doesn’t make winter World Cups worth it, but still.

 

15) Wolves
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 2
Carabao Cup third round: Leeds (H)

Not the worst by any stretch. The games against the big boys are separated nicely, and there look enough potential points on offer from a fixture list containing West Ham, Forest, Palace and Leicester to suggest Wolves could/should be a bit further clear of that bottom three before we all sit back to enjoy the Tainted World Cup.

 

14) Aston Villa
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 2
Carabao Cup third round: Manchester United (A)

Back-to-back games against Manchester United in the space of five November days form the ‘highlight’ of Villa’s schedule that features many games against other teams with upper mid-table aspirations: Brentford, Leeds, Fulham, Newcastle and Brighton are all on the pre-World Cup calendar for Stevie G and co.

 

13) Everton
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 2
Carabao Cup third round: Bournemouth (A)

Manchester United and Tottenham in successive games will test Everton’s admirable defensive resilience before a run of games that will need to yield some three-point hauls if the Toffees are to avoid the unpleasantness of another relegation scrap: Newcastle, Palace, Fulham, Leicester and then a double bill against Bournemouth to end Act One of the season.

 

12) Nottingham Forest
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 2
Carabao Cup third round: Tottenham (H)

It’s six-pointer central before back-to-back games against Liverpool and Arsenal that fall firmly into Not The Games That Will Define Their Season territory. The worry would be that by then the season has already been defined by the games against Leicester, Villa, Wolves and Brighton in the first 18 days of October. Forest also currently one third of the way into a three-game run of weekend league games that don’t actually take place on the weekend. They played on Friday night against Fulham before the international break and face Leicester and Villa on the next couple of Mondays. We have a sneaky suspicion they might accidentally win that Carabao game against a Much-Changed Tottenham as well.

 

11) Leeds
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 3
Carabao Cup third round: Wolves (A)

It’s… not too bad. Three of the big six is one more than you’d like really, but at least none of those games against Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs are back-to-back. All are sandwiched by at least one pretty winnable-looking game against your Leicesters and Bournemouths. Nothing about this fixture list suggests ‘horror run’ or ‘sucked into relegation strife’. Wolves away, though, is precisely the sort of Carabao game you end up taking quasi-seriously and then wishing you’d just sacked off completely when you lose it on penalties after a goalless draw.

 

10) Southampton
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 3
Carabao Cup third round: Sheffield Wednesday (H)

The Big Six games are spread out a bit, at least, with City on October 8, Arsenal a fortnight later and Liverpool on November 12, and if your Carabao draw is at home to lower-league opposition you can’t really grumble. All three of those games against the Big Six look distinctly 9-0ish, though, don’t they? Southampton surely won’t give up their mantle as the south-coast team most likely to randomly lose a game 9-0 without a fight.

Ralph Hasenhuttl hugs Che Adams after a match

9) Newcastle
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 3
Carabao Cup third round: Crystal Palace (H)

Travelling to Manchester United and Tottenham on successive weekends probably places more pressure than you’d like on the midweek home clash against an increasingly obdurate Everton that forms the filling for that particular sandwich. Fulham and Brentford aren’t ideal games to be kicking off this busy period either, given the way Newcastle have been drawing games this season. You’d want four points from those two games really, but that’s a pretty tall order. Chelsea rounds out the opening stanza for Newcastle, who are one of the unfortunate teams not to face Leicester at all until after Christmas when there is every chance they might once again be a vaguely coherent football team again.

 

8) Brighton
Total games: 9
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 4
Carabao Cup third round: Arsenal (A)

The most brutal schedule of those not in European competition. Brighton have made a wonderful start to the season but are beset on all sides here. They’ve obviously lost their inspirational manager, they are among the teams with two not one games already in need of rearrangement – their grudge match with Palace was already off before the Queen’s death due to a rail strike that didn’t end up happening – and they face four of the big beasts in the league plus another in the Carabao. And those four league games against Liverpool, Spurs, City and Chelsea actually take place within their first six games of this upcoming run.

 

7) Manchester City
Total games: 12
Premier League games: 7
Big Six games: 2
Champions League games: 4
Carabao Cup third round: Chelsea (H)

It may only kick a can down the road, but the postponement of the Arsenal game so the Gunners can get fulfil their Europa League fixtures is perhaps no bad thing for City. It saves them playing Liverpool and Arsenal back to back anyway, and gives them one game less to cram in between now and November 13 compared to the other sides with European commitments. United this weekend an obvious highlight, but it’s a fixture list that looks absolutely ripe for those games where City go 2-0 down before an Erling Haaland-inspired second-half fightback gives them a 4-2 win. This is guaranteed* to happen in at least one of the following October fixtures: Southampton, Brighton, Leicester (*not a guarantee).

 

6) Chelsea
Total games: 13
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 2
Champions League games: 4
Carabao Cup third round: Manchester City (A)

Manchester United before a potentially crucial Champions League trip to RB Salzburg is sub-optimal, as is Arsenal after the clash with Dinamo Zagreb. Although Chelsea will at least have had an extra day’s rest compared to their Thursday-afflicted Europa League London rivals. City away isn’t really anyone’s idea of a fun extra Carabao fixture to squeeze in either. It’s likely a problem for after Christmas, but there’s also a London derby against Fulham and a big old game against Liverpool to sneak in somewhere before it all ends as well.

 

5) Arsenal
Total games: 13
Premier League games: 7
Big Six games: 3
Europa League games: 5
Carabao Cup third round: Brighton (H)

Thirteen games in 43 days for the Gunners. And it all gets off to the gentlest possible start with Spurs and Liverpool in the league around the Europa double-header against Bodo/Glimt. They’ve got one extra European game to squeeze in as well, of course, after their matchday two game against PSV was postponed. Rearranging that to a pre-World Cup date has meant postponing a Premier League meeting with Manchester City and then kicking that particular can down the road to… some unknown point in the new year. When they will also at some stage have the Everton game to sneak into the schedule as well.

 

4) Manchester United
Total games: 13
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 3
Europa League games: 4
Carabao Cup third round: Aston Villa (H)

City away LOOMS LARGE this weekend, obviously, but playing Newcastle, Spurs and Chelsea in the space of seven mid-October days looks the chief unpleasantness on the United calendar over the next six weeks. This really was also a terrible season to get yourself stuck playing Thursday nights, but United have only themselves to blame on that score.

 

3) Liverpool
Total games: 13
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 3
Champions League games: 4
Battles of Britain: 2
Carabao Cup third round: Derby (H)

That is a big OOOOF. Their next five games look absolutely exhausting. In-form Brighton to get things back under way, followed by Rangers, Arsenal, Rangers and Manchester City. And that only takes us as far as the middle of October. And they’ve got to find somewhere in the post-Christmas schedule for a game against fellow Euro-fixture-clogged Chelsea. And another one against Wolves. And they’re not playing that well. And Gareth is being mean to Trent. Dreadful old time for Liverpool, it really is.

 

2) Tottenham
Total games: 13
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 3
Champions League games: 4
Carabao Cup third round: Nottingham Forest (A)

Yeah, it’s a tricky run that is going to test the squad depth. Playing 30% of your Big Six Mini League games in the space of 37 days feels some way short of ideal, while Spurs also have trappy-looking tests against in-form Brighton, uncharacteristically diligent Everton and could-get-good-at-any-moment-if-things-click Newcastle. Plus four Champions League games in what looked like an easy draw but one that Spurs have already made hard work of. As we’ve already said, we quite fancy Forest to do a Carabao number on a Spurs side that will contain all the changes three days after facing Liverpool.

 

1) West Ham
Total games: 13
Premier League games: 8
Big Six games: 2
Europa Conference games: 4
Carabao Cup third round: Blackburn (H)

Obviously the team least equipped for the 13-game barrage that faces (most of) the teams in Europe over the next seven weeks and being 18th in the league at the start of that run really does look like a bit of an error. If we were David Moyes, we would definitely have made sure to be higher up the league before starting this daunting run. But he’s an experienced coach, and he’s decided to go this way and we should respect that. The Hammers face Leicester on the final Premier League weekend before the World Cup, and you really do feel like whichever team loses that one is going to be feeling pretty miserable for the seven fallow weeks that follow with only the most joyless World Cup ever to sustain them.

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