FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 29
Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 29. Did you all enjoy your four games last weekend? How much fun was that to have so many blank spots in your roster? And in typical FPL fashion, nothing worked out like we thought it should. But one brave soul out there put the screws to the game in his own unique way: the ‘highest’ score over the weekend scored 115 points, took a -52 to do so…and played his bench boost. See? That’s living, folks. Say what you will about how stupid that move is, but that football fan had fun this weekend.
But we can finally start to get things back to normal now, and I think that’s a welcome change. All teams are back in action, we actually have some games that you’d want to sit down and watch, and we can start to forget about how the Premiership tried to hijack our season with some last-minute scheduling changes that even the MLS had to respect. So let’s just get to the meat of the article, because I don’t know how it works in the UK, but Americans just set their clocks ahead an hour – and losing an hour of sleep has sapped my powers of preamble.
Top 3 Best Bets:
#1) Chelsea – STK (A), CRY (H), MCI (H)
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[/three_fifth]Let’s start with the obvious here: Chelsea are 10 points clear at the top of the table and have shown themselves to be the very best that the Premier League has to offer this year. That’s not to say I’m a fan per se, but when the best team in the league makes their standing so obvious, it makes writing a fixtures articles a bit easier. Because truth is, most games will be favourable to a Chelsea side – especially when they have 2 out of 3 of their next games at home.
Just so you know, Chelsea have had 13 games at home so far this year and they’ve only lost 1 – the other 12 games were all wins. And it’s not that Chelsea just sneak by in their home games, they’re completely dominant in most cases. In the 12 games they won at home this year, they’ve managed to secure 7 clean sheets and have won by a total margin of 36-8. That type of form is just ridiculous, it’s almost like they’re playing FIFA on easy mode.
So, do we worry about Stoke away? Not so much. Of all of the teams in the top half of the table, Stoke are the worst with a -8 goal differential. And it’s not like they’ve made their home turf much of a fortress, at least not against the bigger clubs. Sure, Stoke have kept clean sheets in wins recently against Middlesbrough, Palace and Watford – but it’s a different story for them this year when they play clubs with a bit more substance. Stoke have lost 0-4 twice to Spurs this year, they’ve lost to City 1-4 and they’ve also lost to Chelsea 2-4. So yeah, when the big games come around, better teams will absolutely tag them.
As for Palace, they’re now just a point above relegation and going away to Chelsea isn’t going to do them a whole lot of good in staying afloat. And as for City travelling to Chelsea, well they still have Chelsea’s massive home favour to overcome. And Chelsea have already beat City this season 3-1, so there’s not much saying that City should be favoured at much more than a lucky draw here.
#2) Arsenal – WBA (A), MCI (H), WHU (H)
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[/three_fifth]Now this is going to be one of those cases where I have to qualify that this team “on paper” should have a favourable run of fixtures here. But we all know that Arsenal are a bit of a head case again. Their coach is once more the target of the fans. Their best players are in turmoil and their contracts are winding down without much hope of early renewals. And they were completely embarrassed in the Champions League. But, like we saw against Lincoln in the FA Cup, this team is still dangerous enough to take care of business against lesser opponents when they’re up for it.
Will Arsenal fare well against City at home? They have the ability, and maybe that’s all we can say about that. But can they get some easy wins against West Brom and West Ham? They absolutely should. If nothing else, even if the Arsenal players aren’t playing for the love of club anymore, they are at least playing to audition for life elsewhere – and that’s as key for motivation as anything else I suppose.
West Brom were fantasy darlings for a minute with all of the goals that their defenders were giving. But they’ve gone two straight matches now being shutout themselves, and it looks like other Premier League teams have sort of figured them out at this point. They lost 0-2 to Palace and 0-3 to Everton in their most recent games and they didn’t look anything like the side we thought them to be just a month ago. Arsenal can probably build on that momentum and push them down even further. And as for West Ham, they’re winless in their last four. And even though they haven’t been shutout in any of their most recent games, they absolutely can’t stop anybody from scoring. Even Arsenal on a mediocre day should be able to secure a result against that defence.
#3) Leicester – WHU (A), STK (H), SUN (H)
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[/three_fifth]I know, right? Leicester? For real?
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I could’ve put Man United here with their schedule, but with Zlatan missing games it felt like too much of a crapshoot. I could’ve put Everton here even, but I’m sure you’re all tired of me talking about how wonderful Everton are by now (but seriously, Everton are super awesome at the moment). Heck, I could’ve even put a team like Watford or Burnley in this spot just going off of the schedule.
But Leicester have changed their ways and deserve a second look now. Remember when Leicester couldn’t score? Like, they seriously couldn’t score to save their lives. And then they fired their most beloved of coaches, and the players were sad and the fans were devastated…but they started scoring again. And not only scoring, they were winning?!
Leicester’s last two matches have both resulted in 3-1 victories (over Liverpool and Palace), and the goalscorers look like they’re straight out of 2016. Vardy, Mahrez and Fuchs, all mainstays in teams last year, are now on the goals again. Vardy went 10 straight weeks in the game without scoring over 2 points in any game, and now he has 18 points in his last 2? I know this isn’t a tips article, but from a fixtures standpoint, any team that can turn things around so abruptly at least deserves a shout.
We just covered West Ham above, and like I said, they can’t stop anybody from scoring right now. Even when teams seemingly miss a penalty on purpose, West Ham still let them get that goal back just to be sporting. We’ve covered Stoke above too, and even though these two teams are probably evenly matched, Stoke will struggle if Leicester are able to hang 3 on West Ham. A team on that kind of roll will be hard to handle. And Sunderland are still Sunderland. Everybody beats Sunderland. Call me crazy, but Leicester have a fine chance at 9 points here in this run of fixtures and could get somewhere between 6-8 goals if their form continues.
Teams To Avoid:
#1) Man City – LIV (H), ARS (A), CHE (A)
Man City have the hardest schedule of any team on the board. I don’t think anybody could question that. And if you look at each game individually, you can make a case for how City could come out and win that one game. You could look at Liverpool’s tendency to not press their advantage when they clearly have the chance to break. You could look at Arsenal’s mental state right now. I don’t know what you’d say about Chelsea, that’s just a tough game. But you could make cases for each game one by one. But when you aggregate the schedule as a whole, it’s a bleak picture. Sure, City have the talent to beat anybody on their day. But to say that they’ll do it three times in a row is a bit of a stretch for me. Any team in the league with this schedule would be put here in this spot on my list. This week it just happens to be City.
#2) West Brom – ARS (H), MUN (A), WAT (A)
I touched on this a bit above, but West Brom have been found out to some degree. Their defenders had been their biggest source of goal scoring for a while now, and opposition teams have found a way to shut that down lately. And if the defenders aren’t scoring, who’s going to score for this team? Rondon? Chadli? Hardly. Playing Arsenal and United would be bad enough, but if you don’t have any real offence to counter with, what have you got? Maybe WBA come out of this with 2-3 points – but that’s a big maybe.
#3) Liverpool – MCI (A), EVE (H), BOU (H)
This isn’t a dig at Liverpool, but they’ve been wildly inconsistent as of late. And the problem is that I don’t think there’s a team that has more of a ‘feast or famine’ approach to their style of play than Liverpool do. When Liverpool are on their game and it works, it really works. But when they’re just a tad off, it makes you wonder how the team is even in the top half, much less in the top 4. I think this will be a tough schedule for Liverpool. City will be motivated to get just a couple more wins under their belt to secure their top 4 spot, and Everton will be up for the Derby and are in fine form themselves. The thing is, Liverpool could come away from this schedule with 0 points or 9 points – and they’ll look completely in their element achieving either result. They’re not a bad team, they’re just a team of peaks and valleys right now, so I can’t recommend them on this stretch of fixtures.
The Tracker in full…