FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 25
Welcome to FPL Fixtures Analysis Gameweek 25. In plotting the ins and outs of a gameweek, you typically try to allow for yourself to be completely wrong about a pick or two. It’s not allowing for ‘human error’ exactly, it’s more allowing for the humans on the pitch that will rise above their station every once in a blue moon. As the adage goes: “This is why we play the game.” But what do you do when multiple pieces of the puzzle don’t seem to fit? What do you do when multiple tribes seemingly topple empires? You grab a beer, count your blessings and move on.
There’s no sense in trying to decipher how Hull went ahead and beat Liverpool by the score of 2-0. Even after Hull had supposedly sold all their best pieces, they still came out on top with a comfortable scoreline. And try figuring out how many simulations you would have needed to see Sunderland nab four goals – on the road – whilst keeping a clean sheet. The odds of that happening were probably 1000/1. And when the over/under lines were set on the day, they probably didn’t even list Everton v Bournemouth at anything higher than 6 total goals on the fringe prop bets – but that game returned 9 goals anyway. Seriously, if you would’ve had a bookie that was game to sell you the bet, you could’ve probably parlayed those 3 final score lines into a payout that you possibly could’ve retired on.
My point being this: if anybody told you they saw one of these scores happening ahead of time, just nod and give them a smile. But if anybody says that they had all of these scores pegged in advance, punch them in the face and call them a liar. And remember that you don’t even have to forgive yourself for not seeing these scores as real possibilities – these were some of the most extreme mathematical outliers that probably could’ve happened. So like I said, grab a beer, be thankful for the games you did get right…and move on. Because after what happened this last week, there’s no way that your picks can’t be better this week. Same goes for me.
The Tracker in full…
Top 3 Best Bets
#1) Everton – MID (A), SUN (H), TOT (A)
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[/three_fifth]That’s right, I’m listing Everton in the top spot this week – and it’s not simply because I’m a homer, they truly deserve it right now. Sure, they conceded 3 goals to Bournemouth, but at the end of the day, they’re still tied for 4th in the league for fewest goals conceded on the year. Simply put, that game was just meant to have goals. But aside from that, Everton can now boast that they have the league’s leading goal scorer (and thank God the transfer window is closed) and they have gone 7 games without a loss (5 wins, 2 draws, combined score of 19-6 in that stretch, 4 clean sheets). And the real bonus here is that Everton won’t have a bye in GW26, and they look safe for GW28 as well.
For their first fixture, Middlesbrough still remain the league’s worst scoring team with only 19 goals on the year – and the last game that Middlesbrough actually won was back on December 17 against Swansea. Now, as all good Evertonians know, Everton have a historic tendency to play down to the level of their opponents – but this run has them bucking that trend, so I’ll remain hopeful for an easy win. Sunderland may have pulled off a miracle score this past week, but I don’t think Moyes will have such an easy time playing back in Goodison with his Everton B squad. If Joleon Lescott is called upon to start, he should fall right into his natural groove of conceding easy goals in front of the Everton faithful. And the Tottenham game could pose a problem or two, but the gains of not having to navigate any byes with Everton outweigh the dangers of that fixture.
#2 Chelsea – BUR (A), SWA (H), WHU (A)
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[/three_fifth]Being completely honest, Chelsea should’ve probably been the top spot this week with this schedule. But Costa is no longer the league leader in goals – and I’m writing this article, not a Chelsea fan. So….¯\_(?)_/¯
Honestly though, Chelsea are in the top spot and it’s looking highly unlikely that they’ll be removed from said platform any time soon. I mean, did you see that run Hazard made this last weekend? And then, did you force yourself to see it like ten more times just to make sure that it was real? It was the type of run that you only see on FIFA when you have set the AI to easy mode. And even if Costa isn’t the league leader in scoring any more, he’s still pretty good eh? Top to bottom, Chelsea are the best team in the league, and now they get a schedule that includes Burnley, Swansea and West Ham? Fuhgeddaboudit.
Burnley have just the smallest outside chance in this game – simply because they’ve developed a pattern of sorts lately. Burnley have yet to win a match on the road this year; in fact, their last four road games were all losses by the scoreline of 1-2 (at Watford, Arsenal, Man City and Tottenham). But give them credit, they hung in there with some very good teams. On the flip side though, Burnley have won their last five home matches – and those with a combined score of 10-3 with 3 clean sheets. But those matches were against Leicester, Southampton, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Bournemouth. With Chelsea coming to town in the form they’re in, I suspect Chelsea will win out with their quality – but don’t be surprised if Burnley put up a fight.
Swansea and West Ham have both improved their lot over the last month. Both teams have 3 wins and 2 losses over their last 5, and both are out of the relegation zone at the moment. But it’s all in the tale of the tape for these two. West Ham have recent victories over Palace, Middlesbrough and Southampton – but they’ve lost against Man City and Man United. Swansea, in the same sense, have victories over Palace, Liverpool and Southampton – but they’ve lost to Arsenal and Man City. So these two clubs have figured out how to stay competitive against clubs on their level, but when the big boys come around, they have nothing to offer. I think it will be the same case here. Chelsea should cruise to another 9 points here in this run.
#3) Tottenham – LIV (A), STK (H), EVE (H)
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[/three_fifth]The 1-0 win that Tottenham just pulled out over Middlesbrough might make you think that the Spurs barely just managed a win. But that’s not completely correct. Tottenham were in control of that game completely – Middlesbrough just decided to defend with all of their might and hope for the best. And in that sense, there was some element of real finishing that eluded Tottenham, but the chances were there. I mean c’mon – Spurs had 17 shots, 11 corners and 65% possession in that game. But the stat that really stands out? Middlesbrough had 47 clearances compared to Spurs’ 24. It’s not like Middlesbrough went in and tried to win that match, they just played not to lose. And they still lost. Is that an effective strategy against Tottenham? On some level it is, but of the group above, only Stoke is probably the only team that might just try something like that due to being outmatched on paper. But Liverpool and Everton will be a different story.
Liverpool can’t get right, no matter what they try. But you know what they’re not doing? Winning. I think of all the matches listed above, Liverpool have the worst defence to try to match what the Spurs will do, and I see that being a relatively easy victory for Tottenham. Granted, if the Liverpool offence gets their act together, the game could be interesting – but Tottenham do now have the best defence in the league once again with only 16 GA through 24 games, so nothing is certain as far as it goes for Liverpool getting a result.
Stoke have recently played Everton and Man U to 1-1 draws, and I think that’s the angle they’ll go for against Tottenham. They’ll try to get their single goal and then hope for the best. The only problem is that Tottenham can hit you back in so many ways, and I really don’t see Stoke having any kind of success away in that fixture. As for Everton? It’s too soon to call it, but I like Everton’s chances of getting a result because I like Everton’s chances of getting a result. How’s that for circular thinking? The key here is that Tottenham won’t blank in GW26 and I really like their chances for points in at least the next two games.
Notes on Bye Weeks
I just wanted to mention that I purposefully didn’t put any teams here that have a bye in GW26 as a recommended pick. Even if you plan on holding a couple of players from Arsenal, Man City, Man United or Southy (oops, I did it again…), they’re still going to have a blank with 0 points. And yet maybe that’s worth it for you.
Look at Man City, for example. They have Bournemouth, BLANK, Sunderland. A case could definitely be made to prioritize that schedule ahead of 75% of the league. But that’s a strategic move that’s better covered in our Tips articles. I’m just reporting on the next set of 3 fixtures. And for those purposes, I can’t recommend those teams. Now that being said, just because a team has a blank doesn’t mean that I’m going to put them in the section below. I’m still debating on getting Jesus into my squad this week – bye week be damned. So that kind of shows you where I’m at.
Top 3 Teams to Avoid
#1 Bournemouth – MCI (H), WBA (A), MUN (A)
We’ve had a good time poking at Bournemouth already this week, but they really should be avoided given the schedule they have. Bournemouth have become a little treasure trove for differential players recently considering that they’re still the 8th highest scoring offence in the league (seriously, I couldn’t believe it either). But based on a fixtures-centric view, they can’t be recommended right now given the games they have coming up.
#2) Sunderland – SOU (H), EVE (A), MCI (H)
I dare Sunderland to try to score 4 goals again in any match this year. I can’t see it happening. I’m honestly not sure what to expect from the Southampton game – that’s a team that just can’t seem to win right now no matter what they do. But I’m fairly confident that both Everton and Man City will keep Sunderland comfortably in their little relegation cave for a while longer yet.
#3) Leicester – SWA (A), LIV (H), ARS (H)
I know that our schedule makes it look like Leicester may have a semi-favourable schedule coming up here, but this team is fundamentally broken and should be avoided at all costs. It’s flying under the radar a bit, but Leicester haven’t scored a single goal in their last 5 matches. It’s incredible because we know how good Mahrez and Vardy can play – we saw them win the entire league last year. And to go from the highest level to…this? It’s hard to put into words just how sad it is. And I have to say, avoid this squad like the plague when it comes to your fantasy squad.
One Week Punt
There is no punt this week. We’ll all have enough of a hard time trying to figure out how to navigate the byes this week to worry about throwing a FT on a differential this week. Although, if I had to pick a one week punt, it would be Man City…more specifically Jesus from City. And if I said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: LOL’s to the nearly 20% of you STILL wasting nearly 13m on Aguero. Ha ha ha ha.