Back To The FPL Future: GW11

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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 GW11 fixtures:

SOUTHAMPTON V ASTON VILLA

We only have a couple of seasons worth of fixtures to look at here thanks to Villa’s time in the Championship, so we can’t draw too many conclusions from this. There was a win each in those games to make this history even less helpful, and neither side have been setting the league alight so far this season.

Southampton have been quietly solid though; they haven’t been winning much but they have the 2nd most draws in the league (5) after Palace (6) which includes draws vs Man City, Man Utd and West Ham. They are proving hard to beat at least, even though their attack has found it hard to score and beat other teams themselves.

Aston Villa have looked shaky so far, losing 6 of their first 10 games and hovering above the relegation zone joint on points with Watford and Leeds. They have played some tough fixtures in this time though including 7 of the current top 10, and they now start a decent fixture run on paper in which they only play 4 of the current top 10 between now and January.

They have also shown an ability to score against any team in the league so far even in the tougher fixtures; in those games against 7 of the current top 10 they only failed to score in 1 of those games (away to Chelsea). When all are fit, that front three of Watkins, Ings and Bailey are extremely dangerous to anyone. Perhaps we’re on the cusp of a Villa upturn in form due to the fixtures? It’s probably a wait and see for now though and some inconsistency is expected after selling their talisman to Man City in the summer.

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MANCHESTER UTD V MANCHESTER CITY

Saturday football kicks off with the biggest match of the weekend. City have the more recent advantage with 3 wins in the last 5, the other two being a Utd win and a draw.

The last time Utd turned out at Old Trafford was against another big rival and they were embarrassed in front of their own fans. They will be desperate not to allow a repeat of that here, but they will have to stop the reigning champions in the process who are the better side on paper as well as having recent history on their side.

The 3-0 win over Spurs last weekend may have restored some confidence to the ranks at least, but beating Nuno’s Spurs is hardly an impressive feat as they had been desperately poor all season and the manager was rightly sacked the following day. Perhaps it’s a case of Utd winning the battle but losing the war, as reported Utd managerial target Antonio Conte subsequently took over at Spurs.

City have not been scoring as much as the Man City of seasons past, but those are lofty standards anyway. They come into this one off the back of a poor defeat at home to Palace, which was a potentially pivotal moment in the title race as they already find themselves 5 points behind Chelsea. Pep will not have been a happy man after that, and the fans won’t have been happy either. They need a response in order to not lose any more ground in the title race, they need a statement win.

Past meetings between these sides have been a little underwhelming; the Manchester derby often being overhyped compared to the results that have been served up which are usually narrow wins. Context could make this one particularly spicy, however, with both sides needing a statement win and desperate for 3 points. We could be in for a feisty game, hopefully better than the 0-0 that was served up last season!

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BRENTFORD V NORWICH

There is some league history here, a rarity for Brentford fixtures, thanks to shared time in the Championship. Norwich actually have a good record at Brentford with a win and 3 draws, which means Brentford are winless in their last 4 home meetings with Norwich.

It would be surprising for this to be repeated this season as Brentford appear to be the much better side on paper. Norwich just can’t seem to win, passing up their latest opportunity vs a poor Leeds side last week despite being the better team for large spells of the game. Brentford were disappointing last week as well though, where they were expected to win against the previously winless Burnley before being battered 3-1.

It is something that has been alluded to on the FML FPL podcast in recent weeks, that we had only really seen Brentford as the underdogs in games up until now where they can play their strong counter-attacking game and surprise ‘bigger’ teams teams. We had not seen really seen Brentford playing in fixtures where they were expected to get a result like this, and therefore we weren’t really sure how they would handle them. They faltered at the first hurdle at Burnley, and recent history suggests they might struggle vs Norwich again here.

You do have to factor in the key injuries for Brentford of course, missing a key component in their defensive unit in goalkeeper David Raya as well as one of their main goalscoring threats in Bryan Mbuemo, who was only fit enough for the bench following an injury and remained an unused substitute. Raya will be out until 2022, whilst it is hoped that Mbuemo will be fit to start here on Saturday which will certainly boost Brentford’s goal prospects. Historically, there have not been a lot of goals here though, with 1-1 draws being the peak, so perhaps don’t expect too high an attacking ceiling.

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CHELSEA V BURNLEY

There were blips in the 17/18 and 18/19 seasons for Chelsea in this fixture, but normal service has since been resumed in the last couple of years. In fact, outside of these 2 blips (Chelsea had 2 red cards in 17/18 for example), Chelsea have scored 8 goals in the other 3 without reply.

Despite the Clarets earning their first win of the season last week and spirits likely being high, you can’t see anything but a comfortable Chelsea win here. And when Chelsea have won in recent years, it has been a win to nil. It therefore seems likely that we’ll see clean sheet points for Chelsea assets as well as attacking returns (cue a 3-0 Burnley win).

Azpilicueta has a very strong recent record in this fixture with a goal and 2 assists in the last 3, and the Chelsea captain returned from injury in midweek to play against Malmo in the Champions League where he played at right wing back. If (and that’s a big IF with Tuchel) the Spaniard starts again at the weekend, he will be confident of extending his record against the Clarets, especially if he gets the wing back spot again.

With an average of 2.4 goals per game, expect goals for the Blues. This is perhaps a fixture to target with transfers given the points potential here.

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CRYSTAL PALACE V WOLVES

Wolves’ results in this fixture have steadily got worse since their promotion; winning, then drawing, then losing. The results have also not exactly been exciting with 2 defensively minded coaches overseeing proceedings up until last season.

Palace’s upward trend in this fixture may well continue as they have been extremely impressive under Vieira, even before their 2-0 win at Man City in GW10. That result was no fluke- the Eagles had played extremely well and deserved their 1-0 lead even when City still had 11 men on the pitch. Palace have now taken points from City, Arsenal, Leicester, West Ham, Brighton and Spurs this season, proving they can not only perform but also get results even in the toughest fixtures.

Wolves have been decent going forwards which has carried them to 4 wins and a draw in their last 5 games this season, but they have been somewhat underwhelming despite this and have looked poor defensively and don’t seem to be able to keep a clean sheet. I would expect Palace to score at least a couple here on Saturday afternoon given their ability and form, and the defensive ability and form of Wolves. It remains to be seen what Wolves can muster from a goal scoring perspective, but this could be a good match for the neutral.

The Palace asset interesting most people is Conor Gallagher given his recent performances, but a word of caution is that we see his FPL output drop off considerably when Milivojevic plays in midfield, as the latter takes over the majority of set pieces and Gallagher plays a slightly different role. Something to monitor at least. Zaha may well be a good pick for Palace’s strong fixture run now, he scored at City last week and also has penalties in his locker.

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BRIGHTON V NEWCASTLE

The 16/17 meeting between these sides was a Championship fixture, but despite this caveat these have mostly been low-scoring games between these sides. Brighton did manage a big win last season, however, and may well be confident of doing something similar this season given the form of both sides so far.

Brighton put in an incredible performance at Anfield last week which only underlines the credentials that have been there for some time. Put simply, Brighton are just a very good team, coached by a very good manager, and deserve to be in and around the European spots where they currently are. The search for Newcastle’s first win of the season goes on, meanwhile, as they sink deeper into the relegation zone and risk becoming the richest team in the Championship.

Trossard scored and assisted in this fixture last season, and also scored at Anfield last week. Will history and form combine for another attacking return or two for the Belgian here?

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ARSENAL V WATFORD

Unsurprisingly, Arsenal have a strong record in this fixture with 3 wins in the last 4 (Watford spent last season in the second tier), scoring 2.3 goals per game in the process.

The Gunners put in a strong performance at Leicester last week, with a Ramsdale goalkeeping masterclass ensuring a clean sheet and all 3 points despite Leicester’s xG suggesting they could have had a goal or two themselves. But Ramsdale said no, so that was that. He was in inspired form, recording 8 saves including several world class ones, meaning he earned a double digit haul in FPL with bonus points included. He has also yet to taste defeat in an Arsenal shirt since taking the no.1 spot from Leno, although that will be put to the test in the coming weeks with Liverpool and Man Utd in the next 4 for Arsenal.

Watford have been a little Jekyll and Hyde since Ranieri took over the reigns, losing 5-0, then winning 5-2, then losing 1-0 at home to Southampton. They are a little hard to predict, but if history is anything to go by we should be looking at another Watford loss here.

Aubameyang has an amazing record of 3 goals and 2 assists in just the last 3 home meetings v Watford, which is all there has been since he joined the club. A potentially high attacking ceiling also bodes well for Smith-Rowe to continue his fine run of form, whilst Saka will be looking to add to his tally of attacking returns for the season.

It is hard to know which Watford will turn up on Sunday, but there is a decent chance of another Arsenal clean sheet, which they have also managed in 2 of the last 4 of these fixtures.

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EVERTON V TOTTENHAM

Spurs have a decent record at Goodison Park with 2 wins and 3 draws, meaning Everton are winless in the last 5 in this fixture. Spurs have averaged an excellent 2.6 goals per game in this time, although it should be noted that almost half of these came in that one crazy match in 18/19.

All eyes will be on Spurs and how quickly new manager Antonio Conte can have an impact on the team. Many FPL managers are expecting, or perhaps just hoping, for a quick impact ahead of a nice little run of fixtures for Spurs which includes 3 of the bottom 4 sides from GW12. If he can have an immediate impact Son and Kane are expected to become must-have FPL assets once again, although with the latter there may be more work needed as Kane’s poor body language gives the impression he’s already left the club.

Everton have been abysmal in recent weeks, losing 3 and drawing 1 of their last 5 with their only win in this time coming at home to bottom of the table Norwich. This run included a harrowing 5-2 home defeat to Watford. The Toffees are still missing key men but will need to find a way to turn results around quickly without them. If Conte is able to get an immediate tune out the Spurs players then we could be seeing another big score here like we did in the 18/19 fixture.

Kane does have an excellent record at Goodison Park, with 6 goals in the last 5, so it might be a good place for him to rediscover his groove. Those 6 goals came in 3 braces and 2 blanks, however, so perhaps it is a bit of a boom or bust kind of fixture for him. It may depend on which Harry Kane we see on Sunday, and what Conte is able to get from him. Son also has a decent record of 2 goals and 3 assists in the last 5, although, like Kane’s boom or bust history here, 4 of these 5 returns all came in the same crazy 6-2 win in 18/19.

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LEEDS V LEICESTER

There is only 1 league fixture here in the last 5 years, so we can’t really infer much from it. It was a resounding Leicester win last season and you would not be surprised to see another away win here on the league so far.

Leeds have been barely recognisable from the team neutrals fell in love with last season, and struggled to a win against a poor Norwich team last week despite Norwich looking the better side for decent spells. They will be desperate for Bamford to return from injury to give them a boost, as well as Luke Ayling who helps them dominate their right side with Raphinha.

Leicester were perhaps unlucky to come up against an inspired Ramsdale last week and could have had a goal or two on another day. It does continue the trend of the Foxes not exactly being in the best form so far this season though, at least not by their own standards. They have been getting results though despite this, and on paper they should simply be too much for this out-of-sorts Leeds side.

Vardy hauled last time at Leeds with a goal and 2 assists and he will be desperate to get back to scoring ways after blanks in his last 2 games. This was perhaps an expected regression though with an unsustainable conversion rate after 5 goals in 4 games for a Leicester team not exactly firing on all cylinders or creating chances for fun. Tielemans also hauled last season and scored a brace including a penalty.

There should be goals in this for Leicester; even Norwich managed to score against Leeds last week for just their 3rd goal of the season! On the Leeds side, as usual it seems like Raphinha or no-one in terms of scoring goals.

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WEST HAM V LIVERPOOL

Liverpool have an excellent record at West Ham, with 4 wins from the last 5 and averaging 2.8 goals per game. In contrast, we might be seeing a low attacking ceiling for West Ham who are averaging 0.6 goals per game in the same time, blanking in 2 of the last 5.

Like title rivals Man City, Liverpool will be looking for a response after a disappointing result last week, letting a 2-0 lead slip at home vs Brighton. And like Man City, they will want to respond with a statement win away at a top 4 rival. History suggests they may well do just that.

Salah has an excellent record of 5 goals and 1 assist in his last 4 games at West Ham (since he joined Liverpool), confirming him as once again a top captaincy option. Mane has a goal and 2 assists but these all came in 2 games- he has blanked in the other 3.

On the West Ham side, as long as Antonio is fit you feel they can score against any team in the league. They may look to make a fast start against Liverpool and capitalise on any residual nerves/low morale from the Brighton game, which could make the game interesting. But this Liverpool side know how to handle pressure having won the league and Champions League in recent years, and should just have too much for the Hammers. History certainly suggests Liverpool have the beating of them in this fixture.

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Summary:

GW11 fixtures to target:

Chelsea v Burnley

Arsenal v Watford

West Ham v Liverpool

Potential GW11 standout/star player(s):

Azpilicueta

Aubameyang

Kane

Son,

Vardy

Salah

Potential GW11 upsets/traps:

Southampton v Villa

Brentford v Norwich

Potential GW11 goal fests:

Chelsea v Burnley

Arsenal v Watford

Everton v Spurs

Leeds v Leicester

Liverpool v West Ham

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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