FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek11 2016-17
Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 11 2016-17. I think we can all agree that this last week went a little more according to the script that we all had in our heads when this season started. Arsenal, Liverpool, and Man City all getting 4 goals in easy wins? Check. Eden Hazard attacking the ball and looking like a true superstar? Check. Jose Mourinho completely making a mess of things? Check.
After the crazy season last year, it’s almost nice, comforting even, to be back in a predictable cycle within the Premier League. Sure, we’ll still root for that underdog team to make a bid for Top 4, and we’ll still root for a surprise promotion team to surpass expectations in their first year up; but when it comes to fantasy purposes, we have no qualms with things being a little more by the book than what we’ve seen recently.
So now that I’ve probably completely jinxed this little bit of refreshing normalcy we all enjoyed, here’s this week’s fixtures breakdown:
The Tracker in full…
Top 3 Best Bets
#1 Man City – MID (H), CRY (A), BUR (A)
Despite not winning a game in any competition for over a month, I made Man City my top pick last week because they were finally getting a massive shift in the level of their competition. It looks like there were a few who didn’t share my optimism though – hard to believe that Aguero was transferred out nearly 80,000 times prior to this last week’s match.
I’ll make the case again then: during that stretch where they couldn’t win, City played a congested schedule with Champions League and played against the three best (statistical) defences in the league (Tottenham, Everton and Southampton). But as soon as they were let loose against West Brom…magic. Now maybe this is an indictment on some level about City’s true ability to claim they are one of the world’s elite clubs – you could say that no matter what, a club of City’s stature should never go winless over a month, regardless of the opponent. I could maybe entertain that idea. But that really isn’t the discussion at hand. Whether or not you believe City are worth playing against the bigger competition, you have to concede that they take care of business against an obvious lower class opponent. And that’s what they still have on the horizon: a bunch of lower class opponents.
To start, we have to give their first opponent, Middlesbrough, a bit of credit – they gave a good account of themselves this weekend. But on the road against Man City, I don’t believe they have a chance. In fact, Middlesbrough only have one road victory this year – against Sunderland. So that about wraps up that argument. Palace on the road also shouldn’t be too much of an issue. It seems like Palace had a total of just a couple of counter punches this weekend against Liverpool – but over the course of 90 minutes against a superior side, they just fold up. Palace only have one home win this year, and that came in mid September against Stoke… who were going through whatever it was they were going through to start the year. Really the only game you have to worry about here is away to Burnley if Heaton decides to go into Superman mode while guarding the goal. But that’s so far off that it’s not worth worrying about quite yet.
#2) Liverpool – WAT (H), SOU (A), SUN (H)
Again, this might feel like a repeat of last week’s article, but my second top pick of the week has to be Liverpool. Don’t worry, my third pick of the week won’t be Stoke.
It’s just that it would be a blatant omission to leave Liverpool off for the sake of variety. And believe me, as an Everton fan, nothing would make me happier than to stop writing about the many merits of Liverpool. But they’re the real deal this year, and my journalistic integrity won’t allow me to pretend that they’re not. It’s not an accident that Liverpool are in the log jam of teams at the top of the table with 23 points on the year. Yet even though Liverpool are tied with Man City and Arsenal on points, they are distinctly unique in their fashion of play. In fact, Liverpool, based on their style of play and ‘attack from any position’ agenda, might have the more sustainable model for long-term success in the league this season.
Consider that Man City’s scoreline this week included 2 goals and an assist from Aguero. When healthy, their whole team attack seems to filter through that one man. Liverpool are a different story. Even though they scored the same amount of goals as City, they had 4 different goal scorers and 3 different assisters. And just when you think that such diversity in attack can’t continue on forever, it just seems to get stronger with each passing week.
As far as Liverpool’s upcoming opponents go, it’s looking very good. Watford are higher in the table than most people would think, but their form has fallen off in recent weeks – they couldn’t score against Swansea two rounds ago, and they only managed a single goal against Hull at home this week. Southampton might be a bit of a challenge, but if Liverpool follow Chelsea’s roadmap from this past week, it’s not an impossible fixture. And then lastly, that crown jewel of teams that just loves to give free points to their opponents: Sunderland. Will Liverpool get 9 points from this run? It’s definitely possible, but I think getting 7 points is nearly a guarantee.
#3) Leicester – WBA (H), WAT (A), MID (H)
I know that you’re thinking Leicester simply aren’t worth it. We’ve all moved on from the Mahrez and Vardy days of last year. But like I touched on a few weeks ago when I listed Leicester as one of my punts, you can’t count this team out at home this year. Not only is their defence better at home than it is on the road, their defensive home form is simply amongst the best in the league.
On the road this year, Leicester have scored 4 and given up 14 goals. Not once have they kept a road clean sheet and not once have they scored more than a single goal in any of those games. But at home, they have allowed 2 goals and scored 8 while keeping 3 clean sheets. It simply doesn’t get more night and day than that. With GD splits of +6 and -10, it’s remarkable that they simply haven’t found a way to apply their talent to road fixtures in the same way they play at home.
So the recommendation for them this week comes from the fact that they have two home fixtures lined up with WBA and Middlesbrough. Neither of those sides look very well equipped to handle the superior home form Leicester have this year. And as far as Watford away goes, we’ll just have to hope that Leicester play a bit more like they played against Tottenham this last week. Even if you don’t want to try to accommodate a player like Mahrez or Vardy into your squad, you should at least consider a defender to take advantage of a clean sheet or two.
Teams to Avoid
#1) Tottenham – ARS (A), WHU (H), CHE (A)
Everybody has a fantasy angle when it comes to Arsenal and Tottenham playing each other – and all of the pundits will be going over 10 years worth of past meetings to try to find some trend. But that’s garbage, and I’m not factoring in past meetings between these two teams, I’m just looking at current stats and form. And the fact of the matter is that Tottenham have only allowed 5 goals on the year (crazy, right?), and that stat is coming up against the 23 and 21 GF that Arsenal and Chelsea bring. Something has to give. And in this case, since Tottenham are travelling away to both of those matches, I’m giving the nod to the home sides. Tottenham could totally prove me wrong here, but I really think that their defensive numbers are going to be under some serious attack here, and it’s fully conceivable that they’ll concede as many goals in the next 3 matches as they have conceded in the first 10 matches of the year.
#2) Middlesbrough – MCI (A), CHE (H), LEI (A)
Let’s hope that Middlesbrough enjoyed their 3 points this last weekend, because those are probably the last points they’re going to see until December. This is a brutal schedule. City and Leicester away are two of the worst teams you could face for different reasons: City won’t stop scoring and Leicester won’t allow a score. And then having Chelsea be the only home game seems a bit unfair with Hazard suddenly coming into the form he has. It’s not hard to see 0 points for Middlesbrough through this stretch, and even trying to see them getting 1 point from this run seems a bit unlikely given the stats.
#3) Manchester United – SWA (A), ARS (H), WHU (H)
Now is this schedule the worst thing in the world? A match against Swansea and then a pair of home games? No, there are definitely worse schedules out there. But when looking at recent form and stats, you can’t really endorse Man U to win any of these games outright. Over the 4 matches that Man U played in October, they only managed to score a single goal. And nobody is saying that United should’ve won every game they played, but only scoring a single goal over 4 matches that included Burnley and Stoke? Not good enough by far. Given that information, the Arsenal and West Ham matches look to be in favor of the road sides, and the Swansea game looks to be a 1-1 draw at best. Until United figure out exactly what they’re doing, they deserve this spot here this week.
One Week Punt
Bournemouth – SUN (H)
I mean, it’s pretty self explanatory, isn’t it? A home fixture against Sunderland is the right type of medicine for any team out there. This really is a punt though because not many people (rightly) have invested into anything related to Bournemouth for their fantasy squads. Regardless of fantasy interest, I have a feeling that their board is perfectly content being a mid-tier club at this stage of their development in the Premier League. They’re not flashy, but they’re consistent. They have managed to secure the #10 spot in the table right now and have put forth 12 goals and conceded 14 (really not bad for them after the 10th round).
But even mediocre, middle of the table teams can look stellar against Sunderland, so look for 3 points for this side in the coming round.