Fantasy Football Fixture Analysis Gameweek 30
Welcome to Fantasy Football Fixture Analysis Gameweek 30. Gameweek 29 saw Ben Davies – England’s best left-back – manage to clinch another clean sheet, although his performance was eclipsed by Heung-Min Son’s brace who confirmed that he really can only do it at home. Mohamed Salah scored again, but that ceased to be surprising back in August. West Brom lost again, but that ceased to be surprising at the back end of last season. Arsenal lost again, and that is just funny.
The first half of the City-Chelsea game saw every football twitter page take it upon themselves to offer a live commentary. Without them I would not have known that Leroy Sane is ‘soooo good’, or that ‘Chelsea have come for a draw’, or that Mito would end the game sober if he played a drinking game involving Chelsea’s passes. I rather enjoyed the last of those though. I actually played along myself, or at least I think I did: I didn’t watch the game but I didn’t drink on Sunday afternoon.
Everton’s fans are turning on the club as if they are making a bid for an Arsenal Fan TV spin-off series. In reviewing the Burnley game, ‘Toffee TV’ used the word ‘demeanour’ in a sentence; far too highbrow lads. Wait a minute, did they just say that Ashley Williams has a ‘stupid hairstyle’? Now that is more like it!
Gameweek 30 is really just a precursor to Gameweek 31, in every sense of the word. Unless your team is already brimming with Gameweek 31 players, you should probably be that way inclined with your transfer(s) this week. Unfortunately, Everton are naff, West Brom are naff, Palace are naff and Arsenal are naff. And before I read ‘Arsenal aren’t playing in GW31’ as the first comment on my article (maybe second to ‘that was a bloody long intro!’), I know they aren’t, but they are naff. Looking at Gameweek 31 then, in other words, once you have three Liverpool players, job done!
Sadly for you, and me, what I have written so far was rejected by the editor. Apparently a fixtures article should include fixtures. I then affixed Liverpool’s fixtures to the bottom of this passage and resubmitted it. The response was a threat that Rosco would be conscripted to write this article if I kept trying to find shortcuts (who would, in turn and rather ironically, rope in the rest of the team to flesh it out and pass it off as ‘bringing something new’ to the table). And with that I considered it my social duty to you, the readers, to persist with this unenviable task.
Why is it unenviable? Well, it is a bit hard to say that any of the sides with a blank next week have ‘favourable’ fixtures and some players with a blank will certainly still outperform many of those with a Gameweek 31 fixture over the coming weeks, given the calibre of the sides that actually feature in it. As such, this article seeks to serve two functions: (1) to highlight the Gameweek 31 sides you should be looking at, based on the fixtures for the next three; and (2) to mull over the teams without a game in Gameweek 31.
I would suggest that: the first function is relevant to those of us wildcarding in Gameweek 32 or using the free hit in Gameweek 31, the first and second are relevant for those wildcarding in Gameweek 33, and only the second is relevant to those who have already used their wildcard (although I am working off the assumption that you at least have a handful of Gameweek 31 players already). I bet you are wishing that you had not burned your wildcard to get Sanchez into your team, right?
Before we jump into it, apparently my articles have started appearing in Init’s junk mail, which puts this article on a par with those retail website newsletters you sign-up to for 15% of your first online order and ‘Important letters from hmrc’. Anyway, if I keep rambling on I will probably end up in his ‘blocked sender’ list, so let’s get on with it!
The All Important Fixture Tracker…
Gameweek Tracker GW30-38
(1) Teams with a fixture in GW31
I have deemed some teams to have neither ‘favourable’ nor ‘unfavourable’ fixtures, so have not included them at all.
Huddersfield – Swansea (H), Crystal Palace (H), Newcastle (A)
With two home games in their next two followed by a trip to Newcastle, Wagner’s men have the best of the fixtures. Indeed these three fixtures are followed by an away trip to Brighton and a visit from Watford.
In 14 home games Huddersfield have kept five clean sheets and only conceded five in their six home games against the bottom nine. As such, their defensive assets might be worth shot as they face two sides who find themselves at the bottom end of the table. However, Swansea’s resurgence has been terrifyingly good, and they have actually only failed to score once in their last seven on the road (against Liverpool). Similarly, despite Crystal Palace’s awful start to the season away from Selhurst Park, they too have managed to pick things up, scoring in their last six.
Newcastle have scored three in their last six and five in their last nine at home, so Huddersfield’s best chance of a clean sheet might actually come after the blank gameweek, although they have only managed one clean sheet since September on their travels.
Whilst this all sounds rather pessimistic, their fixtures probably still bring one of the highest chances of collecting clean sheets across those with fixtures in Gameweek 31, and Jonas Lössl might get a few save points if Andros Townsend is playing!
Their attackers probably are not worth investing in, especially if Pritchard’s dead leg is considered to be more severe than first anticipated, as their main creative influence. They have managed to score 2+ in just three matches both at home (one being their most recent fixture at the John Smith’s: the 4-1 drubbing of Bournemouth) and away all season (they have only scored in four away games all season).
Liverpool – Manchester United (A), Watford (H), Crystal Palace (A)
A tough visit to Stagecoach’s main bus depot is followed by two kind fixtures (indeed their subsequent games are Everton away, Bournemouth at home and West Brom away).
Manchester United have only blanked once at home all season (against Southampton) and Liverpool have failed to replicate their home form away from Anfield, keeping just four clean sheets. I would be surprised to see them keep a clean sheet in this one. Crystal Palace have only scored twice in their last four matches though (granted the two times they drew blanks were against Tottenham and Manchester City).
At home, although the fortress has been infiltrated on four occasions in their last five, this has included visits from Leicester, Manchester City and Spurs. Watford come into the Liverpool tie with abysmal away form, having scored just twice in their last seven and they will also be without their creative influence in Gerard Deulofeu.
As for attacking prospects, most of you probably already have two of ‘the trio’ and intend to keep it that way, or add the third. However, the United game really could go either way; the Red Devils having only conceded on four occasions at home all season yet Liverpool have scored 3+ in 8/14 away from home and ten in their last four (which actually looks a bad patch of form!). Palace have only actually conceded two in their last four at home, although Liverpool’s attack hardly plays by the statistics book these days.
Watford have conceded ten in their last six away games, and Liverpool have scored 19 in their most recent six home matches. Liverpool could easily keep a clean sheet in the games against Watford and Palace, which (excluding bonus points, not that anyone can possibly predict them anymore) would probably require a goal and an assist from your third Liverpool attacker to accrue more points. It is as good a time as any to take the risk with only Liverpool’s attackers appealing to me out of those playing in Gameweek 31. It is a bit like when you get a treble in a club; you probably don’t need the extra shot of Jonno’s night club’s (probably bath-brewed) vodka in your miserably boring vodka-coke, but you want it. That was actually quite a good analogy now that I actually think about it; everyone has the same boring vodka-coke team at the moment, and most will bring in a Liverpool defender, so treble up (on their attack) instead!
Bournemouth – Tottenham (H), West Brom (H), Watford (A)
Bournemouth have a visit from bottom of the league in Gameweek 31 and a visit to Watford the following Gameweek after a tough encounter with an on-form Spurs side. Spurs have kept three clean sheets and scored nine in their last five away games. Their midweek tie against Juventus could be a factor though. Bournemouth have conceded in their last eight home matches, although scored 2+ in their last five, so they may well be able to unlock Spurs’ defence and Josh King’s return to the squad is welcomed to anyone with Bournemouth attacking assets. They may see greater success on the defensive front against West Brom as Pardew’s side has not managed to score more than one goal in any away match all season, scoring just seven. The side at the bottom of the league has also conceded 13 in their last six away games – the days of their cheap defensive gems are but a distant memory. Whoever brought in Junior Stanislas a few weeks ago looks to be in great position for Gameweek 31 (it would be free-riding to join
us me now).
In their last eight home matches the Cherries have only kept one clean sheet too (against Chelsea) and Watford have scored in their last ten home matches, so I am not overly convinced by their defensive prospects over the coming weeks. Bournemouth have promisingly scored eight in five away from home, although don’t expect lots of goals as Watford have only conceded 3+ at Vicarage Road against Liverpool, City, United and Spurs, and two against Swansea and Southampton all season.
West Brom – Leicester (H), Bournemouth (A), Burnley (H), Swansea (H)
Some great fixtures on paper, but unfortunately their inclusion is more to highlight what we already know: they are bottom of the league! The Bournemouth fixture has been dealt with directly above. At home they have five clean sheets but Leicester have only blanked on the road three times (United, Bournemouth and Chelsea). From an attacking point of view, the Foxes have shipped eleven in their last five away, although five of them did come against City. It might also be worth noting that Leicester have only kept two clean sheets away from home all season and the Baggies have scored on all but four occasions at the Hawthorns this term. Burnley have only conceded 2+ on three occasions away and Swansea on six. Swansea have also scored in six of their last seven away matches. Offensively, no one in West Brom’s side would tempt me, although their defenders are often worth a roll of the dice and given that you have to go back to September to find an away game in which Swansea kept a clean sheet and Burnley have only managed four away all season, maybe they are worth a punt for the set-piece(s) they will inevitably score from over the coming weeks.
Stoke – Manchester City (H), Everton (H), Arsenal (A)
Despite Everton’s downturn in form (since they were good, which was a long time ago), this trio of fixtures probably makes Stoke a side to avoid for Gameweek 31, which is exacerbated by their tie against Spurs in Gameweek 33. Stoke have blanked in four of their last seven home ties, and kept just three clean sheets there all season (their recent two were against two of the worst travellers in the league: Huddersfield and Watford) and City’s form, at home or away, is not even worth repeating. Everton are on a losing streak of six away and have only scored four over that period, although that does include trips to Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal, across which they shipped eleven goals. Arsenal have only failed to score once at home all season (against City), and only managed one just twice (against Manchester United and Newcastle). ‘Wenger in for home games’ could work. The Gunners’ solidity at the back has been undermined by leaking goals in their last five at home, although that has included Liverpool, Chelsea, (Everton) and City. You have to go back to October to find a clean sheet on the road for the Potters (Watford) since their most recent bore-draw against Southampton, which has become the norm for the south-coast side. Scoring three in their last six away games hardly fills you with hope for their trip to Arsenal.
Watford – Arsenal (A), Liverpool (A), Bournemouth (H)
Watford’s fixtures look okay after they have negotiated Gameweek 31, with three home times against Bournemouth, Burnley and Crystal Palace and a journey to Huddersfield from Gameweek 32 onwards. Unfortunately, away trips to Arsenal (depending on if Wenger has been sacked or not) and Liverpool beforehand do not bring promise of points hauls, at either end of the pitch. All these fixtures have been dealt with above and so I have run out of stats.
Have no fear though for I have come up with a brilliant way to pad out my article. Basically, I asked all the contributors to tell me if they thought Watford had bad fixtures. ‘Yes’ was the resounding answer. Hmm… not quite the masterstroke I had hoped for. I will learn from Rosco for next time.
(2) Teams without a fixture in GW31
After seeing six teams already, you are probably either bored, have stopped reading, or cannot believe I am still writing. Unfortunately, I promised from the beginning that this article would serve two functions, and obstinacy has got the better of me. I will keep this short and only look at teams with favourable fixtures without a fixture in GW31. I can be succinct when I want to be…
Arsenal – Watford (H), BLANK, Stoke (H), Southampton (H)
With three home games in their next four, Arsenal really are worth investing in. Seriously. It has come to the point in the season where I am willing to throw others under the (metaphorical) bus in order to achieve the rank I set out to get but Arsenal really should romp through these fixtures (or am I throwing you under the bus?).
It is unlikely that you will bring in their assets for Gameweek 30, but a trio of home games is too good an opportunity to miss out on given that they have scored 2+ in 11/14 home games and they now have Aubameyang in the side (who is ‘SICK blud’). Couple this with a guaranteed HOME TIE against West Ham in Gameweek 35 and it really is a no brainer. Stoke’s and Watford’s shortcomings away from home have already been dealt with. The issue might be which Arsenal assets you should actually get in, which will take a thorough cost-benefit economic analysis. I was about to embark on this gallant task, but remembered that GP is writing in Gameweek 32! Ha, at least the name gives off the aura that he should be up to the task.
Leicester – West Brom (A), BLANK, Brighton (A), Newcastle (H), Burnley (A)
Three away games and a blank hardly get the senses tingling, and Leicester have only scored four in their last five on their travels. However, those games included Liverpool, Chelsea, (Everton) and City, and they scored 12 in their preceding five matches against weaker, more ‘West Brom, Brighton, Newcastle and Burnley’-esque sides.
West Ham – Burnley (H), BLANK, Southampton (H), Chelsea (A), Stoke (H)
In stark contrast, West Ham’s set of home games, which have coincided with the return of Manuel Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic, sees them roped in too. With eight goals in their last five home games, we can expect more of the same with a similar standard of opposition coming to the Olympic Stadium over the next few weeks. The Chelsea game is bit of a blip (and, who am I kidding, the Southampton game will almost definitely end 0-0), but their players hardly break the bank and are therefore great enablers if it means being able to draft in Auba or a double/triple up on Liverpool/City attack.
Thanks for reading Fantasy Football Fixture Analysis Gameweek 30. This article was written by AT.
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