Mikel Arteta gesticulates during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium, London, August 2022.

Ranking every PL club by difficulty of fixtures until end of Jan 2023

The Premier League will return on Boxing Day with each club facing a packed fixture list between now and the end of January but who has the hardest set of games after the World Cup? We’ve crunched the numbers to find out…

We’ve ranked every team in the Premier League by the difficulty of their matches between now and the end of January 2023, based on every club’s current position in the league table (a fixture against Arsenal is worth one point and a match with Wolves totalling 20 points).

These total figures were then divided by the number of matches each team is scheduled to play before the winter break and they’ve been ranked from weakest to strongest – the lower the number, the harder the fixtures.

At first glance, league leaders Arsenal will be doing very well to maintain their position at the Premier League summit; not only do they face Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United in January, they’ll be doing so without injured striker Gabriel Jesus.

On the other hand, nearest challengers Manchester City appear to have a comparatively gentle return to Premier League action with matches against bottom dwellers Everton, Leeds and Wolves before the end of January.

Clubs like Everton, Southampton and West Ham will hope to use a favourable fixture list to kickstart their seasons while Chelsea and Liverpool will hope to pick up maximum points to boost their Champions League ambitions.

Clubs will also have to deal with FA Cup and League Cup fixtures, in most cases, meaning squads full of players stretched by their World Cup excursions will be pushed to the limit. But why not make your own judgement, based on our findings below.

=19. Everton

Fixtures: Wolves (H), Manchester City (A), Brighton (H), Southampton (H), West Ham (A)

Average difficulty: 12.8

=19. Aston Villa

Fixtures: Liverpool (H), Tottenham (A), Wolves (H), Leeds (H), Southampton (A)

Average difficulty: 12.8

=17. Southampton

Fixtures: Brighton (H), Fulham (A), Nottingham Forest (H), Everton (A), Aston Villa (H)

Average difficulty: 12.6

=17. West Ham United

Fixtures: Arsenal (A), Brentford (H), Leeds (A), Wolves (A), Everton (H)

Average difficulty: 12.6

16. Nottingham Forest

Fixtures: Manchester United (A), Chelsea (H), Southampton (A), Leicester (H), Bournemouth (A)

Average difficulty: 11.8

15. Manchester City

Fixtures: Leeds (A), Everton (H), Chelsea (A), Manchester United (A), Tottenham (H), Wolves (H)

Average difficulty: 11.5

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14. Brighton

Fixtures: Southampton (A), Arsenal (H), Everton (A), Liverpool (H), Leicester (A)

Average difficulty: 11.2

=12. Brentford

Fixtures: Tottenham (H), West Ham (A), Liverpool (H), Bournemouth (H), Leeds (A)

Average difficulty: 11.0

=12. Manchester United

Fixtures: Nottingham Forest (H), Wolves (A), Bournemouth (H), Manchester City (H), Arsenal (A)

Average difficulty: 11.0

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) talks with Marcus Rashford (right) ahead of their match, Norwich, Carrow Road, 11 December 2021.

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=10. Bournemouth

Fixtures: Chelsea (A), Crystal Palace (H), Manchester United (A), Brentford (A), Nottingham Forest (H)

Average difficulty: 10.4

=10. Wolves

Fixtures: Everton (A), Manchester United (H), Aston Villa (A), West Ham (H), Manchester City (A)

Average difficulty: 10.4

=8. Chelsea

Fixtures: Bournemouth (H), Nottingham Forest (A), Manchester City (H), Fulham (A), Crystal Palace (H), Liverpool (A)

Average difficulty: 10.0

=8. Liverpool

Fixtures: Aston Villa (A), Leicester (H), Brentford (A), Brighton (A), Chelsea (H)

Average difficulty: 10.0

7. Newcastle United

Fixtures: Leicester (A), Leeds (H), Arsenal (A), Fulham (H), Crystal Palace (A)

Average difficulty: 9.8

6. Fulham

Fixtures: Crystal Palace (A), Southampton (H), Leicester (A), Chelsea (H), Newcastle (A), Tottenham (H)

Average difficulty: 9.6

=4. Leicester City

Fixtures: Newcastle (H), Liverpool (A), Fulham (H), Nottingham Forest (A), Brighton (H)

Average difficulty: 8.6

=4. Leeds United

Fixtures: Manchester City (H), Newcastle (A), West Ham (H), Aston Villa (A), Brentford (H)

Average difficulty: 8.6

3. Crystal Palace

Fixtures: Fulham (H), Bournemouth (A), Tottenham (H), Chelsea (A), Newcastle (H)

Average difficulty: 7.6

2. Tottenham

Fixtures: Brentford (A), Aston Villa (H), Crystal Palace (A), Arsenal (H), Manchester City (A), Fulham (A)

Average difficulty: 7.5

1. Arsenal

Fixtures: West Ham (H), Brighton (A), Newcastle (H), Tottenham (A), Manchester United (H)

Average difficulty: 7.2

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