FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 12 2016-17
Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 12 2016-17. It’s always a bit of a tough ask to write an FPL article when the international games are still taking place. Will a key injury happen (Eden Hazard) and ruin a team’s chances for the next round? Will South American players be given a bit of rest after their lengthy travel back to the UK? And will teams just not practicing together disrupt any rhythm they had prior to the break? It’s all very speculative. So just to be safe, I’ll go ahead and say that I will only accept responsibility for this article if all of my picks go off as projected. If some of these teams come back playing a reduced squad and blow it, I’m telling you now that it’s not my fault.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here, everything is probably going to work out just fine. I mean, in the grand scheme of everything that’s happened in this world over the last week or so, is a busted advice article really going to be the worst thing? Only one way to find out, I guess.
The Tracker in full…
Top 3 Best Bets
#1) Liverpool – SOU (A), SUN (H), BOU (A)
Again, let me apologise for all of the Liverpool coverage here in this article over the last several weeks. But I mean, c’mon, just look at that schedule that they have. How can I leave them off? It’s like some cruel, cosmic joke that the year that I get tapped to take over a weekly article here, Liverpool would have to be so dominant. I’m sure that this is payback for some awful thing I did in my past.
But here again, let’s list the merits of Liverpool – because they do, absolutely, deserve to be listed in the top spot this week.
It isn’t so much that Liverpool are now the sole holders of first place that should turn your head their way (though their 26 points are impressive), rather they deserve so much praise because they really have unleashed a videogame offence into the footballing world – and it’s paying off huge for them. When you look at the level of performance that they put in last game, it’s really no wonder that they’re the highest scoring offence in the land (their 30 goals on the year doubles the league average of 15.3 goals scored per team).
And when you look at their opponents coming up, you can’t think for one minute that any of these teams have anything in place to slow this offence down. Southampton were good early in the year…but they just lost to Hull (you probably heard people screaming out with all of the accumulators that died that day). Sunderland just won their first match of the year, but they’re still Sunderland, and they still have David Moyes in charge. And Bournemouth? They’re the team that lost to Sunderland, so I’m not worried about them finding a new gear to stop Liverpool.
#2) Tottenham – WHU (H), CHE (A), SWA (H)
This is a tough call for the second spot this week, as it’s hard to make an argument for any team travelling to Chelsea as part of their schedule. But I like the upside of Tottenham having two home games against West Ham and Swansea. In no way do I think that Tottenham get 9 points from this run, but I think 6 points are in the bag, and 7 points are possible if they play to the best of their ability.
The Spurs have been on a rough string of low-scoring draws lately, but that all kind of started when Harry Kane was out. Now that Kane is back, it’s a whole different story. In his return last week, he snagged a goal and helped Tottenham keep an away point against Arsenal. I think with a couple of very decent home outings, he should be back to producing at his proper level again. And this is all speculation, of course. But he’s scored a goal in 3 of the 6 games he’s played this year, and his reintroduction into the squad makes this team one to watch.
I think that Spurs count themselves lucky to keep the Chelsea game to 1-1 or 2-2, but against the other two teams here, I don’t see much of a problem at all. West Ham are a -8 in goal differential on the road this year, and the only game they’ve won while away was against Crystal Palace. And Swansea are only marginally better on the road (at least statistically) with their -4 goal differential. And Swansea’s only win on the road came in Round 1 against Burnley, so probably not too much to worry about there for those investing in Tottenham.
#3) Manchester City – CRY (A), BUR (A), CHE (H)
Ok, it’s Man City again in the Top 3, what else is new? But why did I decide to put them below Tottenham? Both teams play Chelsea and both have matches with otherwise lesser competition. But City have two away games whilst Tottenham just have the one. That’s really the only deciding factor.
And it’s not like playing away is some kind of obstacle for City, they’re a +8 while playing away, and they’ve only lost one match on the road. In fact, they’ve actually been better on the road lately. Their last three home matches have all been 1-1 draws, so maybe a little time away from the home faithful is just what they need to get centered again.
Looking at their opponents: Crystal Palace haven’t had a win since September, and they shouldn’t be looking at City as a means to turn that trend around. Burnley have actually been decent and find themselves in the top half, but against City’s attack I don’t expect Heaton can hold off every shot that’s going to come his way. And by the time City gets to Chelsea, that game will probably be decided by which team is healthier on the day – so there are a possible 9 points for City here.
3 Teams to Avoid
#1) West Ham – TOT (A), MUN (A), ARS (H)
I think that schedule is pretty self-explanatory. It’s not pretty. The only bright spot on the schedule might be in hoping that Jose Mourinho doing what Jose Mourinho does – he can gift away a game with the best of them. But aside from some fluke? It’s not looking good for West Ham loyalists right now. And with the calibre of defences that Tottenham and Arsenal have, it might not even be safe to keep around Payet for this stretch.
#2) Bournemouth – STK (A), ARS (A), LIV (H)
Bournemouth really have to be kicking themselves right now for dropping points against Sunderland last round. You have to wonder whether those three lost points will cost them dearly at season’s end. Bournemouth are just 2 points clear of relegation right now, and this stretch of schedule might see them stalled out on the same 12 points that they currently have for some time to come. Could a case be made for them to sneak in a draw here somewhere? I don’t see it. The most owned player from Bournemouth is their defender Adam Smith – but he’s suspended until the Arsenal game. So you have an extra week to start to offload him and/or Boruc before they start to become a major liability for you in the back – because the teams they are going up against are going to score in bunches.
#3) Swansea – EVE (A), CRY (H), TOT (A)
This third spot could’ve been filled with Burnley, Middlesbrough or even Southampton. But I went with Swansea because they have a couple of difficult road fixtures to play, and they’re the team that’s most recently in transition with new coaching. And Swansea are also in 19th place and are only above Sunderland because of goal differential. So yeah, they win the race to be a team to avoid. There are a couple of individual bright spots in the squad, but collectively this team isn’t built to even overcome what looks to be only a moderately difficult schedule.
One Week Punt – Chelsea vs MID (A)
Ok, this is kind of a joke, because obviously Chelsea aren’t a one week punt. But there hasn’t been much occasion to write about them here to this point, yet they are probably the best team in a one-week scenario this round (it’s a toss up between Chelsea vs Middlesbrough and Everton vs Swansea).
The problem with Chelsea (for the purposes of this article) is that they consistently outperform expectations when presented with a tough schedule. Having Liverpool as the top pick is easy because they’re in great form against an easy schedule. It’s a no brainer. But Chelsea are in equally fine form, but they have Tottenham and Man City in their next 3 matches.
Could Chelsea pull 9 points from this run? Absolutely they could, and nobody would be surprised. But with a Fixtures article, as opposed to a tips article, I can’t recommend Chelsea as a great buy when presented with a tough schedule. That being said, they are a great play this week against Middlesbrough, and as long as Hazard isn’t as hurt as we initially feared, they’ll breeze through this game.