FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 13 2016-17
Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 13 2016-17. I think it’s best if we can all just agree that last round should just be written off in its entirety. It was evident that there were some tired legs out there from most of our key players. And there were also a few teams that really looked like they hadn’t played together for a while. Results didn’t go as planned, and many fantasy teams suffered as a result. On a normal week, Liverpool would’ve probably put at least 2 goals on Southampton given the form they’re in. And Chelsea probably would’ve scored more than a single goal on Middlesbrough. And nobody is quite sure how they feel about Yaya scoring two goals for City, but that stat alone should tell you how abnormal this last round really was.
So, we forget it. We brush it off and move on. In some ways, it’s comforting that nearly all of the big games were massive failures in some form or another. When you see that the average score is currently on 33 points (this being written prior to the WBA v Burnley game), it’s kind of nice to know that the majority of players didn’t anticipate how these games would go. And if you’re wondering how the current high score hit 98 points this week, it turns out it wasn’t that hard to do. All he did was take 19 transfers and will have a 72 point hit coming his way soon enough. So before you start to feel down about your own squad, make a note to take a look at that team and point and laugh for a bit of therapy.
Ok, onto the article. Let’s just get Liverpool out of the way now…
The Tracker in full…
Top 3 Best Bets
#1 Liverpool – SUN (H), BOU (A), WHU (H)
You know how tired I am about writing about the many wonders of LFC? It’s starting to pain my soul. We had a pretty decent discussion about being fans of rivalries in last week’s comments section, and a strong bias one way or another does get obnoxious. But ever since I fell in love with Everton, I’ve learned to have an appropriate level of animosity towards their rivals. What constitutes an appropriate level of animosity? Well, until the stink of the Roberto Martinez era washes off, it means all we can do is keep quiet and glare politely at the red shirts. Smart Everton fans know that we don’t have a leg to stand on in arguing any perceived advantage over Liverpool at the moment.
And the Liverpool pride nearly entered my home, it’s like I can’t escape it. The wife and I went out and bought new lights for the Christmas tree this year and she wanted to actually get red lights with gold bulbs – I’m not making that up. I talked her into Everton colours, silver bulbs and white and blue lights. That’s how wars are won people, one small victory at a time.
Ok, ok. Enough delay. You know that Liverpool are dominant right now. You obviously know that their schedule looks to be about the best of anybody on the board. Sunderland have been a bit of a run, but they’re nothing to worry about. Bournemouth are marginally the better team in this trio of opponents, but they’ve yet to win a match against a “big” club this year (they’ve only really played the two Manchester clubs and lost both of those matches handily). And West Ham nearly tricked people again this past weekend into thinking they were a decent team after all – until they gave it all away late. In all honesty, this is a schedule that Liverpool should be taking 9 points from. They don’t have to worry about European play this week and they’ll use this bit of rest to get their best players ready to go fresh this coming weekend.
#2) Arsenal – BOU (H), WHU (A), STK (H)
This is a tough pick for me this week simply because Arsenal didn’t look to be their normal selves this past round, and they jump right into playing Champions League midweek before facing off against Bournemouth. The rest that Liverpool will be afforded isn’t going to apply to Arsenal, and we’ll just have to wait and see how much that hampers them.
But again, this isn’t really a typical tips article in the sense that I have the obligation to bring all of those factors to the front, it’s really just about the fixtures. And if we’re just speaking fixtures, you have to love the way Arsenal are set up here, regardless of which players are fit and rested enough to feature on any given day.
Bournemouth and West Ham we just covered above. And Stoke’s last two matches ended in a draw to West Ham and a 1-0 defeat against Bournemouth. So none of these sides going up against Arsenal are anything spectacular at the moment. Just based on the congestion of schedule for a few of the Arsenal players leads me to think that they’ll get a draw out of this schedule in one of the games, but 7 points from this run seems to be pretty secure to me.
#3) Leicester – MID (H), SUN (A), MCI (H)
Really there wasn’t a truly great pick for the third spot this week – but Leicester are as good as we’re going to get I think. Leicester are still a fairly dominant home side, and it’s hard to look past them with a pair of home games. The obvious problem being that one of their home games is against Manchester City. It’s just a minor detail, but it should be noted, right?
In any event, Leicester have only had a single stumble at home this year with their 1-2 defeat against WBA. But even with that scoreline added in, Leicester have only conceded 4 goals while playing at home to go along with 3 clean sheets. Kasper Schmeichel should be coming back around in time for the match against City, and that should be a huge boost to the defensive effort in that spot.
The main issue with Leicester right now is finding goals. They’ve only put forward 14 goals on the year – and just like their defence at home, their offence at home counts for the bulk of those goals with 9. Hopefully having a pair of home games gives them an uptick on the stats that they’re so sorely lacking in; and with the rest of the fixtures board being a bit more muddled, Leicester are as good of a pick based on the scheduling difficulty metric as you’re going to find in this spot.
Teams to Avoid
#1) West Ham – MUN (A), ARS (H), LIV (A)
Nobody knows how Jose Mourinho is going to coach United on any given day, so there may be a bit of hope for the Hammers in their first match if things go their way. But if United bring their level of play in line to their payroll, they should steamroll West Ham easily. The problem is following up the match against United with matches against Arsenal and Liverpool. This is easily the hardest 3-game stretch on the board going into this round, and it’s not hard to make a case to avoid this team.
#2) Sunderland – LIV (A), LEI (H), SWA (A)
We can go ahead and include Sunderland here again. For a long time Sunderland were just sort of an ‘understood’ permanent addition for teams to avoid. But now that they’ve gone and rattled off a couple of wins and given some owners some Fool’s Gold to hold onto, we have to officially caution against them. Now you might look at this schedule and think that Sunderland are actually shaping up to have a good schedule after they get by Liverpool. But just look at the starting roster that Sunderland trots out there and honestly try to tell yourself that you’d bank on those players for another 3 games. If you’re being truthful with yourself, you won’t do it. They’ll maybe get 2-3 points from these next three matches.
#3) Bournemouth – ARS (A), LIV (H), BUR (A)
Even playing Burnley in three rounds time isn’t enough to save Bournemouth from being included on the list for this week. Playing away to Arsenal and then home to Liverpool is a kiss of death for any defence trying to find a bit of traction. Bournemouth have made a valiant effort thus far to get to the top half of the table, but they are one of two teams in the top half with negative goal differentials (Watford being the second team). Simply put, that GD is only going to take a further hit over the next two games and this team will probably be on its way to the bottom half here soon enough.
One Week Punt – Crystal Palace (away to Swansea)
This is a real punt simply because Palace currently hold the longest active losing streak in the league (5 game streak, dating back to October 15). As a result of this skid, Palace are now precariously close to slipping into the relegation zone (they are 1 point clear of relegation at the moment). And what’s the best way to turn your fortunes around? You play the worst team in the league – and that’s exactly what they’ll get with Swansea this week.
Now, I don’t actually count Swansea as being the worst team in the league, maybe they’re the most unlucky, but they hardly look to be the absolute worst. But that’s just the eyeball test. In statistical terms, Swansea have the worst record in the league and have to be considered the worst team until they show otherwise.
Palace have been involved in a couple of shootouts over the past couple of weeks that they simply couldn’t overcome. It’s not that Palace aren’t scoring, they just aren’t able to keep pace with how many goals seem to come their way. The benefit to playing Swansea is that the Swans have only averaged a goal per game over their last 5, so a shootout isn’t really in their projected scoring. I expect Swansea to get their average of a goal per game this round, but I think that Palace can easily sneak in a pair themselves to take this game 2-1.