Back To The FPL Future: GW13

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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 GW13 fixtures:

ARSENAL V NEWCASTLE

The Gunners have a flawless record in this fixture over the last 5 years with 4 wins in 4 (only 4 fixtures due to Newcastle’s season in the Championship in 16/17). They have won every game, and Newcastle have failed to even register a goal at the Emirates in this time. 10 goals scored by the home side in the same times suggests there is only one winner here.

Newcastle’s first game under Eddie Howe went exactly as expected; open play, lots of attacking intent from his side but also conceding a lot of goals. 3-3 was one of the most Eddie Howe scorelines there could have been, and was exactly what we expected after his Bournemouth days where they played a very similar way. The only surprise was that he stuck to the back 5 that Newcastle have been used to playing in over the past few years, rather than moving to his usual preferred back 4. Perhaps this was just early pragmatism not wanting to change too much too early, and he may yet shift to a back 4 in future.

Even with the back 5 they still conceded 3 against a Brentford side who were struggling to score goals despite strong underlying stats. It hints a continuation of the theme of Newcastle being poor defensively, and a team to target for attacking returns for FPL managers. Going forwards though they are a different proposition, and seem a level above where they have been in previous years. They have scored more goals than Arsenal this season despite remaining winless, and they seem to just have an ability to score in any match. Perhaps they will break their goal drought at the Emirates in the Saturday early kick off, even if the Gunners are still expected to win the game.

Aubameyang has blanked in his last 3 games this season but has a very strong record in this fixture with 3 goals and an assist in the last 3 games. Saka has a goal and an assist in his last 2, whilst Smith-Rowe assisted here in his breakthrough season last season. There should be attacking returns on offer for Arsenal assets.

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CRYSTAL PALACE V ASTON VILLA

There are only a couple of seasons worth of data here so its hard to draw any conclusions from these. Palace won both of those games though and on paper you’d probably expect the same result on Saturday based on form this season.

Palace have been hugely impressive this season under new manager Patrick Vieira, despite being drawn into the long ball game in the 3-3 draw at Burnley last week. They have had a tough run of fixtures to open up the season but have taken points off many of the top teams in the process including a 2-0 win at the Etihad. Now welcoming back players like Eze from injury, their options in attack have grown even further and they look like a team to challenge for European spots.

Villa are a hard to read this early into Steven Gerrard’s tenure, but the early signs are certainly positive and he got the immediate result he would have dreamed of in front of the home fans in the win over a very good Brighton side last week. They cannot be discounted for the 3 points in this fixture, but Stevie G will be up against it in his first away game at this Palace side and Villa have lost their last two visits.

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LIVERPOOL V SOUTHAMPTON

As you’d expect, Liverpool have been utterly dominant in this fixture. They have 4 wins from 5 whilst Southampton, much like Newcastle at Arsenal, have not managed a single goal in this time. Liverpool have 12 without reply, and everyone will be expecting another comfortable home win here.

After a wobble in GW’s 10 and 11 where Liverpool drew and lost, they were able to regroup following the international break and see off an in-form Arsenal side. Its the exact response Liverpool needed to get their title chase back on track, and they will have been buoyed by it. A bad time for Southampton to be visiting Anfield then. Liverpool top almost every attacking stat in the league and no team has been able to stop them scoring so far this season.

Salah has an incredible record in this fixture with 5 goals and 1 assist in his last 4 home games vs Southampton. They certainly seem to be an opponent he loves scoring against, and it just highlights his credentials as the standout captaincy option once again for GW13. As if there’s much debate about it these days!

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NORWICH V WOLVES

The first two fixtures here are are Championship fixtures, but Wolves have won 2 of their last 3 trips to Carrow Road. Despite 2 wins from their last 2, this is still a poor Norwich team and they will be expected to lose again here.

Dean Smith, like Steven Gerrard, would have been delighted to get a win in his first game in charge of his new club, and there may well be an element of new manager bounce and improvement in Norwich following his appointment. The problem is the improvement will have to be miraculous and sustained for them avoid finishing bottom of the league. It just doesn’t seem likely at this stage, but lets see what Dean Smith’s long term affects will be at the club. He’s certainly used to getting promoted from the Championship and successfully fighting relegation from the Premier league, so on the surface at least he seems an astute appointment.

In all probability though this should be 3 points for Wolves given the difference in quality between the two sides and Wolves once again putting up strong statistics. Jimenez and Hwang owners will be hopeful of attacking returns here.

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BRIGHTON V LEEDS

There was 1 Championship fixture between these two in our timeframe in 16/17, and just the one Premier League fixture. Its not a lot to go on, but Leeds’ last two visits to the Amex have both ended in 2-0 defeats.

Interestingly, 3 of Brighton’s last 4 goals in this fixture have been penalties, so it will be interesting to see if Leeds give away another one here. The away side certainly seem to be in trouble this season and are hovering dangerously close above the relegation zone with a squad decimated by injuries to key players. In fact, they even brought 15 year old youth player Archie Gray in their travelling squad with them to the game at Tottenham, although he ultimately did not make the matchday squad.

We should be looking at a Brighton win here on paper, helped in no small part by the Leeds injury situation, although the Seagulls have not managed to win a game of football since GW5 in their 2-1 win over Leicester. Since then they have drawn 5 and lost 2, which is surprisingly worse than Leeds’ record over that time. With the state of play of both teams currently, however, Brighton seem most likely to get the win, and historically this is what they’ve done in recent seasons.

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BRENTFORD V EVERTON

There is no table of results to examine here as there have been no league meetings between these sides in the last 5 seasons.

Everton are a team seemingly in freefall at the moment and can now also add Demarai Gray to their injury list. Now seems to be a good time to play the Toffees, who have only earned 2 points since GW6.

Brentford, meanwhile, were their typical unpredictable selves in their 3-3 draw last weekend. Could this unpredictability lead to another goal fest here? It certainly seems likely against a team as in poor form as Everton. It feels like i say this every week, but there could be attacking returns for Mbuemo and Toney owners here. At least the latter finally bagged a goal last week to the relief of his long suffering owners.

Brentford have been conceding a lot in recent weeks, especially since Raya was injured, but this Everton side are struggling to score with all their injuries. Perhaps Brentford will earn a first win since GW7?

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BURNLEY V SPURS

Spurs have a decent record at Turf Moor, with 3 wins in the last 5, although 2 of those were at the tail end of our time period. Their most recent 3 results have been a mixed bag with 1 loss, 1 draw and 1 win.

They are still adapting under Conte and were desperately poor in the first half of their game against Leeds, who played a lot of their kids due to first team injuries. In fact Spurs looked like the away side in that first half, and had to come from behind with an improved second half performance to get the win they were expected to get. It remains to be seen if that second half improvement was a watershed moment, or simply a necessary improvement due to game state.

Burnley meanwhile are like a different animal this season to the typical Burnley we think of. They are more attacking and less defensive, as shown in the 3-3 thriller with Crystal Palace last week. They’ve been like it most of the season though, and have been epitomised by the very impressive new signing Maxwel Cornet, who seems very different to the types of players Sean Dyche usually goes in for. The Ivorian now has 5 goals in 6 games since making his debut. Perhaps we are looking at a change of approach for Dyche’s Burnley side. Certainly, it may pay to alter our thinking around Burnley now. They have scored 9 goals in their last 4 games, which included a trip to Stamford Bridge, and conceded 7 in the same time. They certainly seem a more open, attacking side than at any time in recent memory.

Perhaps this could be something of a trap fixture for owners of Spurs assets. Spurs are still struggling for rhythm and fluidity in their play, and Burnley seem no longer a side to sit back and be passive on the ball. It’s hard to say. Spurs could struggle against the intensity of Burnley, as they did in the first half vs Leeds in GW12, or perhaps they could benefit from a more open game. Harry Kane certainly has a strong record against previous Burnley sides at Turf Moor with 4 goals and 1 assist in his last 5 visits, although 3 of these goals all came in the same game.

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LEICESTER V WATFORD

Like Arsenal v Newcastle also playing this weekend, the home side here have a flawless record in the last 5 seasons against the visitors. Leicester have 4 wins from 4 (with Watford playing in the Championship last season) and, also like Newcastle at Arsenal, Watford have not registered a single goal in any of these games.

Leicester have been in poor form by their own standards, having lost more games than they have won so far this season and are in desperate need of some consistency. Watford meanwhile come off the back of a morale boosting win vs Man Utd, a result which ultimately saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked, so may come into this one with their tails up.

History strongly suggests this will be a Leicester win to nil, however, which it should be given the teams on paper. As a little bit of added spice to the occasion, this fixture will also see Claudio Ranieri return to the stadium where he won a historic league title with Leicester.

The last 3 meetings between these sides at the King Power have all ended 2-0 with Vardy scoring a penalty on each occasion, meaning he has 3 goals and 1 assist in his last 4 games vs Watford. He will certainly be hoping for the gift of another penalty to restart his scoring form after a barren run for the veteran forward.

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MANCHESTER CITY V WEST HAM

City have won every game in this fixture over the past 5 years. You’d expect another City win here on Sunday afternoon, despite West Ham’s excellent start to the season up to this point.

The home side are just a level above the visitors at the moment; now the same is true of Liverpool and West Ham beat them just a few weeks ago, but that was a home game for the Hammers and Liverpool have were having a bit of a blip at the time having lost a 2-0 lead at home to Brighton the week before.

West Ham also lost 1-0 at Wolves last week, so perhaps their momentum was broken up a bit over the international break. With the home advantage, it’s hard not to see a City win here and we may well see back-to-back losses for the Hammers for the first time this season.

With the nature of how they play under Pep, it is hard to predict where the attacking returns are going to land in this City team, and which players will even be on the pitch when they come. Clean sheet points do seem a distinct possibility, however, given West Ham’s struggles in front of goal at the Etihad in recent years.

De Bruyne is currently flagged due to illness so is unlikely to feature, but does have a decent record in this fixture with a goal and 4 assists in the last 5. Having said that, the Belgian is having a poor season by his own standards anyway, so you maybe wouldn’t bet on him extending that record even if he could play. On the West Ham side it is looking like a low ceiling for attacking returns having only scored 3 goals in their last 5 visits to the Etihad. But, within this limitation, perhaps Antonio looks the most likely if they are to get anything, with the Jamaica international having scored 2 of those 3 goals himself.

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CHELSEA V MANCHESTER UNITED

GW13 rounds off with possibly the biggest game of the weekend. This has been a pretty even fixture historically with 2 home wins, 1 away win and 2 draws. On current form though, you’d expect Chelsea to be winning this one comfortably.

All eyes will be on this fixture though given the news that Ralf Rangnick is expected to be appointed as caretaker manager at Utd. The German is not expected to be in charge in time for this game, but the news will excite the Utd fans and news of the highly rated manager’s arrival may buoy the players as well.

Chelsea will still be expected to win here though despite the buzz around Rangnick’s arrival. Chelsea are just on another level to every other club in the league bar Liverpool and Man City, although did suffer an injury blow to key man Ben Chilwell during their midweek Champions League game. He will be a miss, especially from an FPL perspective, but there is a ready made replacement in Alonso just waiting to take his place. Whilst he isn’t as strong as Chilwell defensively, he offers perhaps even more goal threat at the other end and including taking some direct free kicks. Chilwell to Alonso will be a very popular transfer before GW13.

All things considered we should see a first Chelsea win in this fixture since 2017/18 on Sunday evening. This could be yet another game for the Chelsea defence to shine as well, as defenders (for both sides) have history of attacking returns in this fixture with Cahill, Alonso, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Maguire and Wan-bissaka all popping up with attacking returns in recent years.

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Summary:

GW13 fixtures to target:

Arsenal v Newcastle

Liverpool v Southampton

Potential GW13 standout/star player(s):

Aubameyang

Salah

Vardy

Potential GW13 upsets/traps:

Burnley v Tottenham

Potential GW13 goal fests:

Arsenal v Newcastle

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa

Liverpool v Southampton

Brentford v Everton

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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