FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 23
Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 23. Well that last round certainly was…something. I mean, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Of course Ibrahimovic was going to slow down at some point. And of course Tottenham were going to concede a goal or two eventually. I guess the only real certainty was that Chelsea were going to win with a shutout and Aguero was going to blank again (LOL’s to the 20% of you wasting nearly 13m still hoping for a miracle).
But all in all, it was a week that went pretty much according to script. Arsenal and Chelsea both got wins. Sunderland and Leicester looked like complete messes, and owning some WBA coverage paid off big. Really, unless you put down your rent money on Liverpool to win (and I’m sure somebody out there did), there weren’t a lot of surprises to be had.
And if you were that person that bet the farm on Liverpool, that’s what we call a ‘bridge jumper’ bet here in the States. Good luck to you, poor soul. I can’t help you evade the bookies, or explain the eviction notice to your wife. All I can do is break down some fixtures for this next round. My advice may be good for fantasy, may also be good for a ‘double or nothing’. Who knows?
The Tracker in full…
Top 3 Best Bets
#1) Tottenham – SUN (A), MID (H), LIV (A)
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[/three_fifth]The first half of the Man City v Tottenham game this past week had owners everywhere thinking that maybe they had made a great error in putting too much faith into the Spurs. But then when the second half came around, Tottenham showed that they really can be as good as they want to be when they turn it on. And let’s face it, if Lloris hadn’t been a total knob for a second there, Sane wouldn’t have scored and Tottenham would’ve had three points from that match. So the quality is still there. The most telling thing that I saw during that game wasn’t statistical – it was more ‘intuitive’, perhaps? But it really didn’t look like Tottenham were scared of City in the least. Were they frustrated to be down early? For sure. But they never looked like they were pretenders in that game, and that gives me as much confidence as does the hard data surrounding their defensive prowess.
Before I go too much further, let me reiterate: LOL’s to the 20% of you wasting nearly 13m still hoping for a miracle from Aguero.
Getting back on track here, even with the intuitive take on the attitude of Spurs, the data surrounding their defence is still stellar. Only Chelsea and Tottenham remain as the two teams to yet concede 20 goals (they’re at 15 and 16 GA, respectively). And just that base stat alone is a massive success for both clubs. So with a team like Spurs, you tend not to worry when they travel away to face Sunderland this week. Spurs are allowing 0.68 goals per game, and Sunderland are only scoring an average of 0.9 goals per game. It really couldn’t be any more night and day between these clubs.
There’s no sense in spending too much time on the Sunderland game. I mean, it’s already wrapped up, right? That’s as much of a lock as Liverpool v Swansea….
In any event, Middlesbrough shouldn’t be any trouble for Spurs, either. Little known fact: Middlesbrough are the lowest scoring team in the league with only 18 goals scored. Which is crazy, because that stat doesn’t get much air time. I guess the main difference is that they’re out of the relegation zone and, unlike Sunderland, they’ve only conceded a respectable 25 goals on the year. Still, it won’t be enough to outmanoeuvre Tottenham on the road. And finally, as for Spurs playing Liverpool away? It all depends on which version of Liverpool shows up. No doubt Liverpool will be conceding goals, but can they outpace Spurs for 90 minutes? I still give the edge to Tottenham here.
#2) Man United – HUL (H), LEI (A), WAT (H)
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[/three_fifth]Keep in mind that this is a fixtures article – so I have to include United here in this spot. I know that they still have a tendency to play Fellaini, though we don’t know why. I know that their forwards can’t stay onside, though to this point it hasn’t mattered much. United aren’t perfect. Case in point: their last game with Stoke ended up 1-1 and somehow even that felt generous after the way they played. But they’ve done better for themselves in the past, and I think they can get some positive traction again here going forward.
But honestly, look at this run of fixtures here. If you took any team in the top half of the table right now and gave them this list of fixtures, you’d be jumping all over it. And that’s kind of my thought here too. Do United have the talent? Absolutely. But I’m banking more on the failure of their opposition here than I’m banking on United playing to the level of their payroll. But whatever, you know? Wins are wins, and I think United have several coming their way.
Let’s start with Hull – they’re in tough shape. Not only are they not built to win, but now they have to suffer with the fallout of seeing their teammate suffer a truly devastating injury. Add to their woes: they have the worst GD in the league with a -27. Unless they get a miracle loan from the Championship, they’re going down this year, and they seem to know it.
Leicester are broken, through and through. It’s now been three full matches in which they haven’t scored a goal, and they lost their last two matches with 0-3 score lines. They can’t attack and they can’t defend – so it’s no wonder that they’re only 5 points off the relegation line. I’m amazed Mahrez hasn’t demanded a transfer from his AFCON post. The only thing saving this team is the fact that Mahrez is still technically a part of their team, and hopefully he makes himself available for selection now that Algeria have been eliminated from the competition.
Finally Watford are simply treading water, and they’re not making a major play to stay up. They’re more or less banking on the bottom of the table to stay awful and hoping that’s enough to survive. It’s now been seven matches since Watford have claimed a victory (their last was Dec. 10 v Everton) and they don’t seem to have much hope on the horizon. During this winless streak, they’ve added another -8 to their goal differential, and they’ve lost to everybody from Man City to Sunderland. I don’t think Man United should have a problem with them if they play their game.
#3) Arsenal – WAT (H), CHE (A), HUL (H)
Arsene Wenger ‘assaulted’ an official during his last match. Though honestly, it’s hard to see how a geriatric Frenchman is really able to harm anybody. But rules are rules and he’ll probably have to face some consequences for his actions. Does that derail some of the momentum that Arsenal have going right now? They haven’t sold off any of their major pieces to China yet, so I’m still sticking with Arsenal to run effectively on auto-pilot. They’ll still score goals and do a decent enough job at keeping the scoring low against them. Even with all of the rumours and dust-ups this club goes through every January, this squad is still solidly in second place, and none of that effort has been a fluke.
We’ve already covered Watford and Hull above, and I think that Arsenal will have an absolute field day with them both at home. Honestly, there shouldn’t be less than three goals for Arsenal in either of those two fixtures.
The Chelsea game away is interesting. Odds are, in two weeks time, Chelsea and Arsenal will still be 1 and 2 in the table. That game represents a 6-point swing that would allow Arsenal to close the gap between the clubs greatly. I’m not saying that any team can be relied upon to beat Chelsea away this season, but Arsenal will be sufficiently motivated and we could see some fireworks there.
3 Teams To Avoid
#1) Hull City – MUN (A), LIV (H), ARS (A)
I said last week that this team would be posted here in the #1 spot for weeks to come, and that hasn’t changed any. This is an impossible list of fixtures for any team. We discussed the problems with Hull above, but my prediction is that by the time this run is done, that -27 GD they have could conceivably grow to -36 before February is even half done. And that’s a shame.
#2) Watford – ARS (A), BUR (H), MUN (A)
Again, see above for why Watford aren’t a great squad right now. Honestly, if Heaton and Co. are on form for Burnley in the second match, there’s a real chance that Watford will get 0 points through this stretch. They have a minor cushion right now between themselves and the bottom three in the table, but this team is about to dive even a bit more, and should make the relegation battle even that much more interesting.
#3) Sunderland – TOT (H), CRY (A), SOU (H)
Honestly, I thought about putting Chelsea down here as a team to potentially avoid. I mean, they do have to play Liverpool and Arsenal back to back. But then I came to my senses and decided to put the team in 20th place here – not the team in 1st. And maybe in a normal year, we could look at this schedule and say that there’s at least one point in here for Sunderland – hell, maybe there’s even 4 points in here. But we just can’t say that this year. This team finds ways to lose that are truly ingenious. Even David Moyes stopped lying about the club. He freely admits that any purchase they could muster with their limited funds wouldn’t help this club. Until something drastic changes, I have to mark this team down for another run of no points.
One Week Punt
Bournemouth – CRY (H)
Bournemouth aren’t a bad club. They’re a good little club, actually. But being a little club, they tend to fly under the radar quite a bit. They have some defensive issues, as is evidenced by their 39 goals allowed on the year – but they’ve also put forth 32 goals of their own. So in all reality, a -7GD isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, their scoring puts them at 8th best in the league in that category, so it is a wonder why their most owned offensive player comes in at only 4.1% owned.
The thing is, Bournemouth haven’t turned the corner yet to compete consistently against the top half talent, but their stats indicate that they might indeed hold the title of ‘best of the rest’ as it stands now. Bournemouth have had a rough patch as of late, but included in that patch are Arsenal and Chelsea matches. Palace, on the other hand, are on a 4-game losing streak, and I expect Bournemouth to get right in the next round. Should be some good numbers in here for you Stanislas owners.