FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 15
Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 15. We’re coming into a bit of a log jam for fixtures here in the next three rounds. GW15 will start this coming weekend, but GW16 will then take place midweek with GW17 starting the weekend after. For active players, this is always a good time to shoot above some of those managers who only check in on their teams on Fridays. Without a doubt, there will be managers who completely forget to check their teams for midweek adjustments. So when you see the three matchups listed for each of my selections this round, know that you’re really looking at one full weeks worth of fixtures.
Because of this, there won’t be a typical fixtures article going into GW16, but I’ll still have some tips for you for GW16 in lieu of fixtures analysis next Monday. It’s a busy time for FPL players, but what else are you going to do? Plan for the holidays? Shop for presents for your loved ones? Attend a stupid Ugly Sweater party? C’mon, we have bigger things to worry about. Here are this week’s best and worst teams based on their fixtures:
The Tracker in full…
Top 3 Best Bets
#1) Chelsea – WBA (H), SUN (A), CRY (A)
It’s almost not even fair, is it? When the schedule begins to get truly congested, the first place team in the league gets these three opponents. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever seen “The League” before, but I call ‘Collusion’! Let’s be fair though, I think Chelsea have just confirmed with their 3-1 away win against City that it doesn’t really matter who or where they play, they’re getting wins one way or another. The fact that a team in such fine form gets to play against these three clubs is just icing on the cake.
West Brom are probably the only team here that even have a puncher’s chance at getting a result against Chelsea – and even they’re not going to get any kind of real shot to pull something off on the road. WBA have already played against two of the Top 4 teams in the table this year, and they lost both of those matches (0-4 against City, 1-2 against Liverpool). So even though people are falling over themselves to add Brunt and Phillips from WBA, the truth is that they’re really good at beating other teams on their level – but they’ve yet to turn in anything convincing against a club of real quality. And what can we say about Sunderland and Palace? Both teams pulled off surprising wins at home this past weekend, but they’ve conceded 24 and 26 goals on the year, respectively. It’s not a stretch to think that a Chelsea team that owns the best goal differential in the league (+21) is going to be able to shut those teams down and find ways to score in bunches themselves.
#2) Tottenham – MUN (A), HUL (H), BUR (H)
So far we’re doing back to back picks from last week’s article – but since those picks worked out so great last week, can you really blame me? The truth is that Tottenham, like Chelsea, still deserve this spot in the list of Best Buys because they continue to improve each and every week now that Kane is fully reintegrated into the lineup. Tottenham have had the best defence (statistically speaking) all year, and now that they have an offence that can put up good numbers again, there’s no reason to doubt this team if you plan on making a few long-term purchases for your fantasy squad.
The away trip to United might give some owners a bit of pause because you simply don’t know what you’re going to get out of them on a week to week basis. On paper, Man U have the ability to hang 3-4 goals on any team they face. But in practice, they’re a hot mess. In such a case as this, I’d just default to Tottenham’s defence (only 10 GA on the year) being able to handle most of what United are able to throw at them. Only once this year have the Spurs allowed more than a single goal while on the road – and that was in a 2-1 loss against Chelsea. So all things being equal, Spurs aren’t really even an underdog for that match.
Even if that United match ends up causing a bit of trouble for owners, the fact that Spurs follow that up with Hull and Burnley makes them too good to pass up. If the way that Tottenham just treated Swansea is any indication of what’s to come, these lower table teams are probably due for a drubbing.
#3) Liverpool – WHU (H), MID (A), EVE (A)
I left Liverpool off the list last week because we didn’t know if they had lost both of their key men or not at that time. And as it turns out, just losing Coutinho didn’t really hurt their ability to score goals. I have no explanation as to how they managed to concede 4 goals so quickly to lose their match against Bournemouth, but still having the ability to score multiple goals will have Liverpool win more often than they lose. Yet even with that being said, part of me thinks that Arsenal are the better pick here, but Liverpool just made the cut because they have West Ham in the schedule.
West Ham currently are the worst in the league for goals conceded (29 GA). Now this article was written prior to the Monday match between Hull and Middlesbrough, so Hull could potentially pass them up…but still, 29 goals allowed through 14 games? When you pair that stat with the fact that Liverpool still lead the league in scoring (35 goals), you have to give the nod to Liverpool to go ahead and correct their mistakes from this past weekend and win in a blowout. Middlesbrough are a bit of an enigma, but I expect Liverpool to have the clear advantage nonetheless. Middlesbrough have only allowed 15 goals on the year, which actually rivals some of the elite clubs; the problem is that they’ve only scored 12 (again, all prior to playing against Hull on Monday), so I think that lack of offence will only bolster Liverpool’s resolve to attack them outright without having to worry about too much of a counter. And for the Liverpool Derby? Eh…Everton are not good right now. And unless Liverpool somehow pick up Fellaini in a super-secret deal prior to the transfer window, I don’t think that Everton have much to offer against their rivals as things stand at this very moment.
3 Teams to Avoid
#1) Everton – WAT (A), ARS (H), LIV (H)
Being completely honest, any team that has to face Arsenal and Liverpool in back to back games would be at a severe disadvantage. But the fact that Everton are finding results hard to come by against every team they face only compounds the issue. Everton haven’t won a match since late October (against West Ham, so it almost doesn’t count), and even playing a team like Watford doesn’t inspire any kind of confidence that they’ll be able to finally get a win. Simply put, Arsenal and Liverpool are probably too strong for Everton in their current form, and playing at home will not help them all that much.
#2 Leicester – MCI (H), BOU (A), STK (A)
Even though we touched on the congested schedule above, we tend to forget sometimes that Leicester will be one of those teams with an extra difficult task because they also play Champions League this week. And fair play to them, they’ve been phenomenal in their Champions League group – but none of that success has really translated to their league play. Manchester City coming to town is probably not going to work out too well for the Foxes, and it’s just wishful thinking on our part to think that maybe Mahrez and Vardy could bust out some of that magic from yesteryear. And following up a very difficult home game with two road fixtures is the last thing that Leicester need; they’ve yet to win a game on the road this year, and they’ve been outscored by a margin of 18-6 whilst playing away.
#3) West Brom – CHE (A), SWA (H), MUN (H)
I feel like any team that has to play Chelsea away has a good shot at being part of this portion of the article, and WBA are no exception. They’re about to find themselves considerably overmatched in their next fixture, and as an owner of their players, you have to hope that the following Swansea game repays what you stand to lose from the Chelsea clash. And as for United? Again, total wildcard. WBA could win 2-0 or lose 4-1, but it’s a non-favorable matchup from a fixtures analysis standpoint.
One Week Punt
Southampton – MID (H)
Southampton got crushed on the road against Crystal Palace this past week. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. We knew eventually that Palace would break their losing streak, but Southampton weren’t high on my list of teams that would be the ones to fall on that sword. It’s interesting how we perceive teams based on name-recognition though, isn’t it? I fall into that trap all too often myself. Of course Southampton should beat Crystal Palace, they’re slightly more famous and get talked about more in the media. At least that’s how our brains work when processing information.
And so when it comes to this match they have this week, we naturally defer to Southampton (more well known) over Middlesbrough (recently promoted, less well known). But when you look at the facts, Southampton are only marginally better than Middlesbrough. The goal splits for the two teams are 13-15 and 13-15, respectively. So if the most basic stats are dead equal, there has to be some reason other than name-recognition for me to recommend them right?
The truth is that Middlesbrough haven’t won a match on the road since August (2-1 over Sunderland, back when playing Sunderland meant a guaranteed win). Southampton, on the other hand, have had a bit of success at home recently, and I think that will translate into a win for them come the weekend. Southampton have clean sheets in their last two home matches, their last being a 1-0 win over Everton. Ok, so maybe Everton aren’t the best barometer for testing a team, but consider then that Southampton shutout Liverpool the week prior in a 0-0 draw. And that game happened the week after Liverpool hung 6 goals on Watford, so they were in form. There’s much more to like about Southy at home (do only Americans call them Southy for short?) than there is to like about Middlesbrough on the road. They get my vote this week.