FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 33
Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 33. Due to this being the start of a run leading into DGW’s, I’ve decided to slightly change up the format this week. Instead of listing the best three teams and the worst three teams for fixtures, I’ll make a list of who I feel is the best from the teams that don’t have a DGW, and then we’ll go over just the DGW teams separately. Now usually I start out most articles with something a bit more ranty or at least introspective. But that was just a purely informational preface to the article. So I’m sorry, I’ve already failed you. Even I got bored on that intro, but keep reading. You never know, it could get better.
Or maybe it doesn’t get better. Maybe we all have to just look around and consider that this is as good as anything is going to get. Maybe the illusion of getting better is just comfortable for us. Because let me tell you something, folks, the idea of things getting better is just that, an illusion. All we are really doing is trying to stop things from getting worse – but there is no better. This is as good as it gets.
OK. Second apology. My wife saw the results of my blood pressure test this week and has taken away my lunches, bread and most sugars. And when I say she took away my lunches, I mean that where I used to get a lunch, I now get a shake that includes kale, ginger root, cucumbers, celery and a dollop of greek yogurt. I may be just a bit on edge right now. So pardon me if I just have a rather bleak view of the world this week. There is no better. This really is as good as it gets for me.
Top 3 Best Bets (non DGW34 teams):
#1) Liverpool – WBA (A), CRY (H), WAT (A)
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[/three_fifth]Well, we didn’t really get Bingo or Bango here in this pick, but on the whole, this still sets up very nicely for Liverpool. Of course, now that I put them here, they’ll probably screw this whole thing up, because that’s just the team they’ve been this year (kind of Everton-esque from years past). And for that reason, I’m glad that I’m the fixtures writer – I don’t have to worry about whether the team turns into a basket case on any given Saturday, I just report on the best projected matches.
And I’m not being too harsh here on Liverpool, I think most will agree with me that they’ve showed enough talent and skill to deservedly be in the Top 4 this year. But they’ve been so manic in their approach to accumulating points that it does tend to make them a gamble at times. If the Liverpool team that beat Arsenal 3-1 and beat Spurs 2-0 shows up, then they will have no problems dominating this schedule. But if the Liverpool team that lost to Hull and Swansea show up, they’ll be in a bit of trouble.
And the frustrating thing about Liverpool is that these inexplicable dropped games don’t seem to happen as some sort of pattern in form. They can be completely dominant one week and botch it all the next week. But there are some indications that maybe that fluctuation in form is now behind them. Liverpool haven’t lost a match in either March or April to this point, and outside of the 2-2 draw to Bournemouth, there hasn’t really been any cause for concern lately. In fact, in the six games they’ve played since the beginning of March, Liverpool have secured 14 of 18 points and have scored an average of 2.2 goals per game over that stretch. The only cause for concern is that they haven’t kept a clean sheet in that time, but they’ve faced more than a few good teams, so we can let that slide for the time being.
As for their opposition in this run, I think the secret is out on West Brom: don’t let their defenders shoot the ball, and you’ll do just fine. West Brom have been shut out of 4 of their last 5 games, and the threat they posed in the recent past has now gone. Palace had been on a massive surge in form prior to their defeat this past weekend, but they’ll be facing Liverpool to start their DGW, and we’re not sure how rotation will work into their game plan yet. Finally, Watford are a hot mess at the moment. They’ve recently kept clean sheets in wins against Sunderland and West Brom, but they’ve conceded 4 goal each to Southampton and Spurs – so there’s definitely a hard line as to how far the ability of this team can affect a result. And once they cross that line, they simply get taken out by better competition. All in all, if Liverpool keep their heads about them, there shouldn’t be any real struggles here.
#2) Tottenham – BOU (H), CRY (A), ARS (H)
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[/three_fifth]First off, kudos to Spurs for making the title race interesting until the very last. If I was a betting man (and I am), I’d still give the nod to Chelsea to close this thing out with their 7 point lead, but Spurs have refused to concede even a single point for some time now in their most recent attempt to take the title, and it at least makes for a more exciting watch on the weekend. Of course, we’ve all seen this movie before…so it’s kind of like a perpetual sequel, but hey, you get the point. Good football is just good football.
The Spurs own the longest currently active winning streak in the league with 6 games, and their performances in that span have been superbly impressive. They’ve averaging 3 goals per game in that time, and they’ve only conceded 4 goals total to go along with 3 clean sheets. They’ve simply outclassed every team they’ve come up against. As a result, they’ve edged out Chelsea to once again be the best defence in the league with only 22 GA on the year, and they now own the best GD with a +42. But like I said before, this is all just kind of a predictable sequel of sorts for this lot. Maybe they can’t win the title, but they’re always good to help you win some points.
Looking at their opponents, Bournemouth have a bit of swagger about them now that they have a proven scorer, but the rest of the team doesn’t stack up if you go tit for tat with Spurs. Palace won’t have anything to offer here in this spot. The real test of this stretch will be Arsenal. Now, I’m writing this prior to the Palace v Arsenal match to close out GW32, but win or lose, I think Arsenal are a very good team (with serious issues) that will be going up against a great team in better form. Nod to the home team Spurs in that clash.
#3) Bournemouth – TOT (A), MID (H), SUN (A)
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[/three_fifth]Looking at the fixtures board, I had two choices here: put Bournemouth in despite their game against Spurs, or put Stoke in. And when’s the last time you remember Stoke winning a game? Yeah, I thought so. Just because a team has a lot of green on their schedule doesn’t mean that they’re put to the task of actually winning those matches (I learned my lesson when I said Middlesbrough had a good schedule in the last article).
Truth be told, I fully expect Bournemouth to lose to Spurs on the road. If they have a bit of run in them they could snag a goal, maybe even two goals if King is really on point. But adding them here really isn’t about that game. Bournemouth really do have a gem of a schedule since they’re the team that gets to play the two clubs that are the deepest in the table. And that counts for quite a bit.
Bournemouth aren’t spectacular on their own merit. Seeing Joshua King come into his own has been fun to watch, but past that, they’re just a decent mid-level team. But when even a mid-level team plays against Middlesbrough or Sunderland, they can look amazing. Combined, Middlesbrough and Sunderland have 46 goals on the year. Bournemouth have 45. So you see, it really isn’t a stretch to think that even a mid-table team is actually twice as good as either of the basement dwellers. As for motivation to play hard in these final stages of the season, Bournemouth know that they’re still only 7 points off the relegation zone – and they may expect to lose a bit of ground during that Spurs game. So I’d look for this club to take full advantage of their easier games and put another 6 points between themselves and the relegation line.
Undoubtedly, people will start to pad their lineups with players from the DGW34 that’s coming up. And on the whole, that’s probably a good thing. After all, if we’re breaking down fixtures based on the upcoming three rounds, it would make sense to start to consider teams that have an extra game in that stretch. And I’m not contracted here to tell you whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but let me just quickly run through how I see the schedule playing out for those three teams.
Crystal Palace – LEI (H), LIV (A), TOT (H), BUR (H)
This…is not great for Crystal Palace. And excuse me for being Captain Obvious here, but I’m having a hard time seeing how Palace comes out of this with any more than 3 or 4 points through this run of fixtures. Leicester may be vulnerable after playing in Champions League midweek, but they’ll be keen to avenge their loss to Everton and will continue to work to finish top half this year. Liverpool and Tottenham are both outclassing Palace in every respect. And Burnley, though they’re not winning a ton of games, have managed to keep 3 clean sheets in their last five games. The upside for Palace here is that they have 3 of these games at home, so any team that has that advantage is worth a look, but it’s unfortunate that their home games couldn’t have lined up with a bit of easier competition.
Man United – CHE (H), BUR (A), MCI (A), SWA (H)
This…is not great for Man United. See what I did there? Yeah, same tired opening, but still warranted. I’m going to make a declarative statement here that you may disagree with: Chelsea are better than Man United. And if you disagree with that, you’re just being a homer and emotion is clouding your judgement. Could United get a result in that first game? Maybe, but chances are dicey. As for the DGW fixtures, they’re both on the road, and one of them is against City. The real shining light in this series is Swansea at home, but whether to carry United players through this gauntlet to get to that game is something you’ll have to answer for yourself.
Maybe you’re thinking of leaving off Man United players until after the Chelsea game and loading up for the DGW and beyond. If that’s your plan, I would offer you this stat: since the new year started, United have played 5 games on the road which resulted in 4 wins and a draw. In fact, their combined score in those matches is 12-2 with 3 clean sheets. And that sounds pretty swell, right? But let me also say, context matters. The teams they beat in that run are: West Ham, Leicester (when they were still bad), Middlesbrough and Sunderland. Just something to think about.
Middlesbrough – ARS (H), BOU (A), SUN (H), MCI (H)
This…I’m just kidding, I won’t do that a third time. But how many of you are going to like Middlesbrough players in your team given these fixtures? DGW or not, this is the run of games that will probably nail down Middlesbrough to the Championship next season for certain. Sure, they have three home games, but what does that matter? Middlesbrough have 24 points on the year, so it’s not like home field advantage has done them any favours prior to this.
Middlesbrough are only marginally better than Sunderland right now. So they could get 3 points from that game. Most likely though? They earn a draw in that spot and get just a single point from the next 4 games. Nothing about this run, not even the DGW potential for extra points, makes this look like a team I want for any duration in my squad.
The Tracker in full…
DGW34 IS ON THERE AS CONFIRMED BUT DGW37 IS VERY MUCH PROVISIONAL!
That’s our best guess as to how it will pan out and there is still Southampton vs Arsenal to be rearranged. That looks likely to be in GW35 or 36. The FPL site itself has said that they expect the remaining games to be confirmed on or around the 7th April.
Teams with DGW’s ahead… (with thanks to Rosco)