Back To The FPL Future: GW22

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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. It’s not an exact science, but then nothing is when it comes to football.

That being said, looking at the recent history of the fixtures for the upcoming FPL preview could provide some potentially useful insights as to what we might expect to unfold in the Premier League, and therefore in FPL, that week. Common themes, potential upsets, unexpected blanks or hauls for certain players. There are well known examples like how Jamie Vardy always scores against Arsenal. Or how Harry Kane always scores against Arsenal. Or how Kevin de Bruyne always scores against A…. you get the idea.

So, let’s take a look at the GW22 fixtures:

Manchester United v Southampton

This has been a relatively even fixture over the past 5 seasons. There have been 2 draws and a Southampton win in this time, as well as a couple of wins for United. With an aggregate score of 7-5, there has not been a lot to separate the two teams, and so a result is not necessarily easy to call. Southampton have now lost 3 premier league games in a row and were beaten 3-2 in the reverse fixture in November. However, United have also slipped in recent games, losing at home to Sheffield United and following that up with a goalless draw at Arsenal.

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In terms of players of note, Martial scored and assisted in the game last season. Armstrong also has a goal and assist in the last couple of meetings at Old Trafford, although with 0.4% ownership this won’t be reassuring to many. No other players of relevance particularly stand out in recent history; squad turnover for both teams means many names no longer feature in the FPL discussion.

Burnley v Manchester City

This fixture is not as totally one-sided as the reverse fixture’s history, but is still dominated by Man City wins. Indeed, a 1-1 draw in 2017/18 is the only time City haven’t won in recent years. The City wins have generally been closer affairs with a 1 goal margin, except of course for last season which finished 4-1. An average score across the last 5 seasons rounds to a 2-1 City win, however it is hard to see the away side’s defence being breached by a typically goal-shy Burnley on current form. City are currently on a run of 5 games without conceding a goal, and Burnley have only got on the scoresheet themselves once in their last 4.

Bernardo Silva has 3 assists in the last 3 meetings at Turf Moor, whilst Jesus scored a brace last season. Other than this, there are not particularly any stand out players from the fixture history.

Sheffield United v West Bromwich Albion

There is not much fixture history to go on here largely due to Sheffield United’s long stint in League 1, whilst West Brom have been something of a yo-yo club themselves. The previous meeting in 2018/19 (a Championship meeting) was an away win for West Brom, who did also win the reverse fixture in November which was also West Brom’s first win of the season.

It is hard to draw any conclusions about players who may perform well. Connor Gallagher did score in the reverse fixture, but otherwise this doesn’t stand out as a game for the neutrals. Baggies goalkeeper Sam Jonhstone will be the highest owned asset on display here, and owners will be hopeful of an away clean sheet.

Liverpool v Brighton

There has been nothing but Liverpool wins in this fixture since Brighton were promoted for the 2017/18 season. An aggregate of 7-1 on the surface looks one-sided, but most of this comes from that first Brighton Premier League season where Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners. Since then, narrow 1-0 and 2-1 wins suggests this might not be such a one-sided affair.

Whilst Liverpool will have their tails up after a couple of 3-1 away wins on the bounce, as well as Salah re-discovering his goal scoring form in style, Liverpool’s home form this season has not been commanding. Their last home win was 2-1 at home to Spurs on 16th December; since then home results have included a 1-1 draw with West Brom and a 1-0 loss to Burnley. There could be something in this game for Brighton, who were impressive in their win over Spurs on Sunday. This is a tough one to call, where history suggests one thing but current form suggests a potential banana skin for the home team.

It is noted that Liverpool full backs have often done well in this fixture, with Alexander-Arnold bagging 2 assists last season, and Robertson getting a goal and an assist in 2017/18. Salah was not involved in any of the goals in the 2-1 win last season, although he did have 2 goals and an assist in the 2 meetings before that. Many FPL managers will be looking at Salah for the captaincy, and he certainly has the history to be one of the stand-out candidates. For an interesting differential captaincy option, looking at the history, either of the Liverpool full backs could be interesting shouts. They could reasonably expect a clean sheet (Brighton have only scored once in all Premier League meetings at Anfield) and have also been heavily involved in attacking returns.

Spurs v Chelsea

Since a 0-0 draw in 2015/16, each side has taken turns to win this fixture, with Spurs, then Chelsea, then Spurs, then Chelsea again winning bragging rights at Tottenham. If that pattern is anything to go by, then it’s Spurs’ turn to win the next one, and 3 of the last 4 winning margins have been by 2 goals. Possibly not best to rely 100% on this alternating pattern though. This fixture is typically tight, with an aggregate of 6-5 this is another hard one to call. New manager bounce may carry Chelsea through this one and break the pattern.

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It’s hard to pick standout players; Alli probably has the best history with 3 goals and an assist in the last 4 seasons, but the player is currently frozen out of the starting 11 and does not feature in the FPL discussion so far this year. Potentially, an interesting player arises in current circumstances; with Harry Kane injured and Spurs looking toothless so far without him, could Marcos Alonso be a differential shout for GW22? Re-discovered by Tuchel since taking over and playing the full 90 mins v Burnley in GW21, he turned back the clocks with a goal in his first start since GW2. If he is going to continue to be selected by the new manager, Alonso could be a great GW22 differential. He certainly has history on his side, bagging clean sheet points and an assist away to Spurs last season.

Fulham v Leicester

There is only 1 fixture to go on in the last 5 seasons due to Fulham being a Championship side during most of this time. That game was a 1-1 draw. With Leicester disappointing against Leeds and Fulham fighting hard, this could be a banana skin for Leicester, who did also lose the reverse fixture 2-1 at the Kingpower.

Due to the lack of fixture history and low scores, no players clearly stand out.

Wolves v Arsenal

This has been a very even fixture since Wolves were promoted back to the Premier League. With a win apiece and an even aggregate score, it is difficult to predict a result. Wolves did win the reverse fixture, although this did happen at the peak of Arsenal’s slump earlier in the season.

There are no clear goal scorer or assister trends to go on here. Both Saka and Tierney, who have been popular recent picks and got attacking returns last season, are both injured.

Newcastle v Crystal Palace

Every league meeting between these two teams at St. James’ Park in the last 5 seasons has finished 1-0. This has gone on 3 occasions in Newcastle’s favour and once to Palace (Newcastle dropped into the Championship for the 16/17 season). A 1-0 home win here would be true to form, so perhaps don’t expect many goals.

Almiron scored his first goal for the Magpies last season in this fixture, but there are no particular attacking return trends to go on here.

Aston Villa v West Ham

There have only been a couple of league meetings at Villa Park between these teams in the last 5 seasons, but both were draws, (0-0 and a 1-1 at that). There is not a lot to go on, and both sides are having good seasons, so perhaps another draw is the most likely result.

History suggests this is perhaps not a fixture for goals, despite the excellent quality both teams possess. Martinez owners might expect another decent return with clean sheet and save potential.

Leeds v Everton
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There is no fixture history to examine (in our timeframe) due to Leeds’ 16 year spell away from the premier league. We only have the reverse fixture to go on for any indicators, which was a 1-0 win to Leeds with a goal from Raphinha and assist from Harrison.

Everton have been disappointing of late, and Leeds continue to have erratic results. You always feel Leeds can be got at, but they also possess a frightening work rate and strong attacking potential. As with most Leeds games, it is hard to know what the result will be or which Leeds will show up.

Hopefully this relatively brief trip through recent fixture history has at least given some food for thought. As usual it promises to be an exciting week, with no doubt some twists and turns along the way. Check in next week for a look at what we can learn from the history of the GW23 fixtures.

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. Leeds, for example, have been absent from the Premier league for 16 years 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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