Back To The FPL Future: GW10

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Bogey teams. Glaring differences between home and away form. Those players who just always seem to score against certain clubs. Sometimes fixtures past can offer some insight into fixtures future.

Looking at the recent history of the fixtures for the upcoming Gameweek can provide some potentially useful insights as to what we might expect to unfold. This is reinforced by a study of 25,000 games of football, which demonstrated a direct correlation between previous fixture results and the next fixture results. It is the reason why, for example, Everton’s 1-0 win at Liverpool in 2020/21 was so notable as their first win at Anfield in the Premier League since 1999; it was the exception that proved the rule.

In these weekly articles we’ll look at the last 5 seasons of each fixture, which should provide enough data to start to identify patterns and trends whilst at the same time keeping things relevant enough for the current FPL season. We’ll then reconcile this historical data with what we are seeing this season, current form, injuries etc.

Common themes, potential upsets, unexpected blanks or hauls for certain players. There are well known examples like how Jamie Vardy loves to score against Arsenal. Or how Harry Kane loves to score against Arsenal. Or how Kevin de Bruyne loves to score against Ar…. you get the idea.

So, let’s take a look at the GW10 fixtures:

LEICESTER V ARSENAL

The home of the Foxes has not often been a happy hunting ground for the Gunners in recent years. Their record at the King Power in the last 5 games reads lost 3, drawn 1, won 1. They have also only scored 4 goals in that time, 3 of which came in the 3-1 win last season, and have failed to score on 3 occasions. Its fair to say history is not on Arsenal’s side in this one.

Still, they did manage to overturn this last season with the caveat that there were no crowds at the time, which affected the home form of all teams in the league. Leicester have also not been at their best so far this season; they were lucky to win at Brentford with a 1 in 100 wonder strike from Tielemans helping to seal all 3 points. The match finished with an xG score of 1.2 for Brentford and 1.4 for Leicester, showing how even it was. Brentford will feel hard done by to have lost that.

The week before they beat a desperately poor Man Utd team at the King Power, and drew with Crystal Palace the Gameweek before that after throwing away a 2 goal lead. They also lost Vardy to injury at half time, and it remains to be seen at the time of writing whether he is expected to recover in time for this one. It will be a big loss if he does miss out as his scoring record in this fixture is very strong with 4 goals in his last 5, although he did blank last season in the defeat. Tielemans also has a decent record in this fixture with 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 3.

Arsenal themselves are in patchy form. This is to be expected with the youngest squad in the league; inconsistency will come into play at times. Arsenal played very well in the 3-1 win against Villa on Friday, but were poor in the 2-2 draw with Palace in Gameweek 8 (the same scoreline that Leicester managed v Palace incidentally). They were lucky to escape at Brighton with a 0-0 draw in Gameweek 7 but blew Spurs away in Gameweek 6 with an exhilarating performance. It remains to be seen which Arsenal will turn up at Leicester in the Saturday early kick off, but whichever one it is will need to be on top of their game if they are to continue what they started last season and take all 3 points. As an interesting side note (and almost definitely now a jinx), Aaron Ramsdale has yet to taste defeat in an Arsenal shirt since taking the no.1 spot in Gameweek 4

There could be goals for both sides in this one, but the result is hard to call as both sides have not been at their best this season. Much will depend on which Arsenal turn up.

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BURNLEY V BRENTFORD

As with most Brentford fixtures this season there is no table of results to examine here, this being their first ever season in the Premier League.

It may not look it on the surface, but this could be quite an interesting game. Burnley, historically a defence first sort of team who hope to nick a goal or two from a set piece, have suddenly become rather poor at the back. They have conceded 15 goals already this season and have kept just 1 clean sheet.

Instead, Burnley have looked more potent in attack than we have seen them before, epitomised by exciting new signing Maxwel Cornet who seems very un-Dyche like in his play and is very dangerous with the ball at his feet. He scored a brace at a defensively solid Southampton last week, taking his tally for the season up to 3 since his debut in Gameweek 5. He could be a real threat to Brentford again here and maybe it’s time to reconsider how we think about Burnley fixtures.

In contrast it’s Brentford who look the most defensively sound between these two sides, putting up impressive underlying numbers despite tough opposition. The Bees have just lost a key component in that defensive setup in goalkeeper David Raya, however, and backup keeper Alvaro Fernandez has big gloves to fill. One of their main goalscoring threats in Bryan Mbuemo has been declared ‘likely to be ok’, however, by manager Thomas Frank in midweek.

Given the current state of both sides its hard to call a result here, but with Brentford its usually an entertaining game of football.

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LIVERPOOL V BRIGHTON

There is unsurprising Liverpool dominance in this fixture, with 3 wins to Brighton’s 1 since the Seagulls’ promotion. What is a little surprising is how close most of these games have been; apart from a 4-0 thrashing in 17/18 the results have been 1-0 or 2-1. Since scoring 4 in the same game, Liverpool haven’t even scored that many across the following 3 years.

Not quite a bogey fixture perhaps, but it suggests Liverpool have struggled in recent seasons to get the better of a Brighton side transformed under Graham Potter, and who currently sit 5th in the table and 2 points off of a Champions League spot.

However, given the imperious form of Liverpool this season, personified by talisman Mo Salah, you would never bet against the Reds in any fixture this season. It’s hard to imagine a situation where Liverpool don’t comfortably win this one by 2 or 3 goals, and we did just see Man City rip Brighton apart in a 4-1 win last week. That Man City win at Brighton went according to historical form though, with City winning by large scores in all but 1 of their last 4 trips trips to the Amex. If this one also goes to recent historical form then it’s a low attacking ceiling for Liverpool assets, and perhaps not the best week to captain Mo Salah. The Egyptian king also hasn’t scored in this fixture since the 1-0 in 18/19.

But i say again, who would bet against him and Liverpool in current form? People who bet against Salah in a tough fixture last week were brutally punished, and the sheer fear of that happening again at Anfield on Saturday means there are few who would dare place the armband on anyone else now (I know he’ll be my captain!). After all, if we get another 4-0 like in 17/18 its got to be him profiting hasn’t it?

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MANCHESTER CITY V CRYSTAL PALACE

Despite a couple of wobbly seasons for the home side, where they suffered a shock 3-2 defeat and then a draw, normal service was resumed last season. This has been a completely one-sided fixture for City in the other 3 games; Palace failed to score once and conceded 14 in reply! Even in the wobbly seasons City still scored 2 on each occasion. It makes for an astonishing attacking record for the home side in this fixture of 18 goals in 5 games, averaging at 3.6 goals per game. This is a lottery you probably want to be buying a ticket for!

Palace are transformed under new boss Patrick Vieira, but for all the slick, attacking football they play they are still vulnerable defensively and have only kept 2 clean sheets all season against a defensive Brentford and Spurs. This new style, whilst admirable and preferable to the old system under Roy Hodgson, may simply play into City’s hands as Brighton found out last week when they tried to match them.

Could we see another big City win here? On current form you could definitely see it happening, and historically it has happened more often than not too. Foden has been in outstanding form for the Citizens and has been their best attacker in most of the games he’s played. It will certainly be an uncomfortable game if you don’t own him; he now has now started 4 games in a row and has 3 goals and 1 assist during that time, which included trips to Chelsea and Liverpool. If he plays again here, it’ll certainly be more enjoyable to be a Foden owner!

It should be noted that De Bruyne has a strong record in this fixture with 2 goals and 3 assists in the last 5 seasons, so he could be another shout. As always it is hard to predict Pep roulette and there isn’t an FPL manager on this earth who hasn’t been burned by it in the past. Still, whisper it quietly but in the current team with the current injury to Torres and Sterling out of favour, De Bruyne and Foden do seem to be the most nailed in that attack.

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NEWCASTLE V CHELSEA

Could we be looking at something of a bogey fixture for Chelsea? Their record at St. James’ Park since Newcastle bounced back up into the Premier League reads lost 2, won 2. For the kind of side Newcastle have been in this time you would expect this to be 4 wins from 4 for the Blues.

It is hard to see Chelsea not winning comfortably in Tyneside given current form and the vast quality difference between both sides, but then you would have said the same in every one of the last 4 seasons and yet Newcastle have 2 wins and a better record of goals scored in this time.

Chelsea come off the back of a 7-0 demolition of Norwich in Gamweek 9, whilst Newcastle somehow managed to snatch a draw against Palace despite an xG of just 0.5 versus Palace’s xG of 1.8. Lucky indeed. Newcastle are also manager-less after sacking Steve Bruce, which will lead to further instability and lack of clarity in the short term. Everything is pointing to a Chelsea win this time around. But bogey fixtures, if that is what this is for Chelsea, don’t necessarily follow rhyme or reason or conform to form or expectations, this is precisely what makes them bogey fixtures.

Newcastle have only failed to score in this fixture on 1 occasion, the 2-0 defeat last season. Newcastle so far this season have also scored in all but 1 of their games despite remaining winless, so it seems like goals at least are usually on the cards for Newcastle.

Is a Chelsea clean sheet under threat? Despite having conceded the least goals of any team so far in the league, they certainly have not been as defensively sound as last season under Tuchel when looking at the underlying stats. Indeed, they have been lucky on several occasions not to concede more than they have, and have often relied on the brilliance of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to keep the opposition out.

As a mildly interesting aside, there is also a pattern of results in this fixture with both sides seemingly taking it in turns to win, starting with Newcastle in 17/18, then Chelsea, then Newcastle, then Chelsea….. then Newcastle again next?? Put as much faith in this arbitrary pattern as you will (probably best not to take it too seriously!).

Similarly to Liverpool v Brighton as discussed earlier though, you just wouldn’t want to bet against Chelsea on current form in this fixture, and indeed many people will be targeting this one to bring Chelsea assets in for. I know i have 2 Chelsea players for this one, possibly 3 if i decide to move for Chilwell. But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea lose their clean sheet on Saturday, we may even see a shock Newcastle win if recent history is anything to go by. Or perhaps it shouldn’t be that much of a shock with the historical results there to see.

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WATFORD V SOUTHAMPTON

Southampton have a strong record at Vicarage Road, winning 2 and drawing 2. They also boast a surprisingly high goalscoring record in this fixture, which is something this season’s iteration of Southampton are not exactly known for.

In fact Watford themselves have a decent scoring record in this one, with 7 in 4 games, so could we be on for a low key goal fest here? Neither side has blanked in this fixture in the last 4 meetings, and Watford have found themselves on both ends of 5 goals in Ranieri’s 2 games in charge so far. They were thumped 5-0 by Liverpool in his his first game before coming back to win 5-2 in a thriller at Goodison Park last time out. It means that, in just 2 games, Ranieri’s Watford side have experienced 12 goals, 7 of which were against them!

So perhaps this isn’t a fixture for defensive returns (another Livramento goal then please boys). Both sides, however, will be missing key forwards who had an impressive Gameweek 9 in Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis (suspended) and Southampton’s Armando Broja (ankle injury). It means a likely start for Adam Armstrong who will likely benefit from a goal fest.

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TOTTENHAM V MANCHESTER UNITED

How fitting for 2 sides having poor seasons by their own standards to have such an even record in this fixture. There have been 2 wins each and a draw as well as identical goals scored in that time. Both sides come off the back of defeat in Gameweek 9 (one slightly worse than the other) and it is not just results but performances which have been worrying for fans of both sides.

United have the stronger recent form in this fixture, with 2 wins and a draw in the last 3 meaning Spurs are without a win in this one since the 2017/18 season. The Red Devils will need a serious turnaround in performance though to maintain this recent advantage at Spurs, who will need to stamp their authority on this game early to stifle any attempted Utd response. The question with this Spurs side however is whether they have the ability to stamp their authority on games. It is something we have not really seen so far under the traditionally counter-attacking Nuno Espirito Santo.

Two out of form sides playing each other can make for unpredictable results, and its certainly hard to call one here. We’ll soon see if Utd can keep up their advantage from recent years. It must be pointed out that Pogba, who will miss 3 games following his red card v Liverpool last week, has a consistent record of assists at Spurs, with one in each of his last 3 visits. The Frenchman may be a big loss to this Utd side who have relied on his creativity in the past. There are no other standout players, although perhaps ominous by his absence is Harry Kane who has 0 goals or assists in any of the last 5 home games v Utd. The other Spurs player Heung-min Son has just 1 solitary goal, which was a futile one at that in the 3-1 defeat last season.

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NORWICH V LEEDS

We do actually have 3 league meetings between these sides in the last 5 seasons, although the major caveat is of course that these were Championship fixtures. Leeds have 2 wins in their last 3 trips to Carrow Road, scoring 3 goals in each as well as a consolation goal in the intervening defeat.

It would certainly be surprising if Leeds scored 3 again on Sunday given their current form. Indeed, Leeds have only scored more than 1 goal in a game once all season, in the 2-2 draw with Everton in Gameweek 2. Since then it has been like binary code for Leeds with nothing but 1’s and 0’s in the goals for column.

Norwich have contrived to be even worse this season, having scored as many goals as they have points (2) whilst conceding 23 in the process. 7 of these came in the demolition at Stamford Bridge last week, so morale is likely to be at an all time low for Farke’s men. In theory this is an opportunity for more points on the board for the Canaries, but realistically it is hard to see them getting points from anyone.

Most observers will be expecting a Leeds win here, and they certainly have a decent record in recent years. But Leeds will have to overcome their own goalscoring issues this season whilst missing key players, so perhaps don’t expect more than 1 or 2 from Bielsa’s boys.

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ASTON VILLA V WEST HAM

There are only a couple of fixtures in the last 5 seasons due to Villa’s time in the Championship, so we can’t really draw much from this. We saw a comfortable West Ham win last season and you would probably just about expect an away win again on paper.

Villa have been a bit patchy this season but definitely look more dangerous playing in their 4-3-3 shape rather than with 3 at the back. Their attacking unit can score against anyone in this system on their day, with Bailey particularly looking dangerous when fit and Watkins playing well on the left of Ings.

West Ham though just look more solid throughout their side. They look like they can score against even the toughest teams in the league as long as they can keep Antonio fit, whilst we have seen they have the ability to lock games down and shut teams out as they did after going 1-0 up v Spurs last week, and in their midweek Carabao cup win v Man City which finished 0-0 (West Ham won 5-3 on pens). West Ham aren’t sitting in the Champions League places for no reason!

This could be a very entertaining game for the neutral, and whilst both are good sides, you’d say West Ham probably have more about them on paper at least.

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WOLVES V EVERTON

Another fixture with an even history, these sides have a win each and a draw. Everton would probably take the latter in current form.

They are missing key men still in Calvert-Lewin and Doucoure which will continue to hurt their prospects in matches, but they have at least welcomed back Richarlison who scored a brace in the 2018/19 meeting and is a big goal threat.

Wolves are themselves on a bit of a downward curve in many of the underlying stats in which they had looked so good in the opening weeks of the season. This was epitomised in the late draw with Leeds last week in which a beleaguered Leeds side were there for the taking, but after going 1-0 up Wolves just dropped off and let Leeds back into the game.

So, Wolves are on a potential downward trend and haven’t exactly been scoring for fun in the league with 9 goals in 9 games, whilst Everton are in poor form and remain blunted in attack with key attacking players missing. 0-0 anyone? Considering how easy this Everton side have been to score against so far this season it would be surprising, although this Wolves team have consistently underperformed this season so who knows!

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Summary:

GW10 fixtures to target:

Manchester City v Crystal Palace

Potential GW10 standout/star player(s):

Salah

Foden

Potential GW10 upsets/traps:

Newcastle v Chelsea

Potential GW10 goal fests:

Liverpool v Brighton

Manchester City v Crystal Palace

Watford v Southampton

So there we have it. I hope this has given some food for thought, some insight into potential games and players to target for this gameweek, and maybe some potential traps or upsets as well. Good luck all, see you on the other side!

FOOTNOTES:

Past meetings in cup competitions have been excluded from the table of results, as we are only interested in league results. Not to mention cup competitions can have more erratic/unreliable results with unique atmospheres and weakened teams often played.

There are also varying amounts of fixture history in the last 5 seasons to draw upon, by virtue of 3 teams being relegated to and promoted from the Championship every year. Brentford, for example, have never played in the Premier League and so will often have little to no league history in the last 5 years versus certain teams. It was considered to replace those teams in these articles with ‘similar’ teams for the sake of comparison, but it was decided that this would be more unreliable, subjective and arbitrary and therefore would not represent an accurate or fair analysis.

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