Back To The FPL Future: GW25

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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, Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Old Trafford in 2020/21 was so notable as their first win at Old Trafford in the Premier League since 2006; it was the exception that proved the rule.

Common themes, potential upsets, unexpected blanks or hauls for certain players. Sticking with examples from North London, there are well known cases like how Jamie Vardy always scores against Arsenal. Or how Harry Kane always scores against Arsenal. Or how Kevin de Bruyne always scores against Ar…. you get the idea.

So, let’s take a look at the GW25 fixtures:

Manchester Utd v Newcastle

A particularly one-sided fixture, recent history suggests there will only be one winner here, and with the potential for a lot of goals too. Man Utd have averaged nearly 3 goals per game to Newcastle’s 1 in recent meetings at Old Trafford. This hints at a potentially high ceiling for Man United assets, so if you are thinking of selling them it may be worth hanging on at least one more week.

Martial, in poor form this season, actually has a good history in this fixture with 4 goals and 1 assist in the last 3 home meetings. The injured Pogba has 1 goal and 2 assists in the same timeframe, whilst Rashford also has a couple of goals. No other players particularly stand out from the past 5 seasons, although it is worth noting that this fixture last season was played before the arrival of highly owned Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese has not had a chance to make his mark on this particular fixture yet, but with the goals ceiling historically so high you wouldn’t bet against him getting involved.

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Brighton v Crystal Palace

Brighton vs Palace. The Seagulls vs The Eagles. The battle of the birds. This is one of the seemingly more random rivalries which has developed over the years, but is no less hotly contested for it. Indeed, it is a remarkably close fixture in recent seasons, of which there has only been 3 due to Brighton’s time in the Championship prior to the 2017/18 season.

A win each and a 0-0 draw suggests this will be hard to call, although on current form there should only be one winner. Brighton have been magnificent recently, with wins at home to Spurs and at Anfield, and were unlucky to draw in their last game against a Villa side who relied heavily on Emi Martinez to keep the scores level. Palace, in contrast, have lost 3 of their last 5 games including a 3-0 defeat at home to typically goal-shy Burnley.

Palace do concede a lot from set pieces, so if you are looking to target this fixture it may be worth targeting players with set-piece involvement, including the likes of Lewis Dunk from corners.

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Burnley v West Brom

Only a couple of fixtures from the past 5 seasons, and none in the last two. It was surprising to see West Brom actually have a decent record in those two games, with a draw and a win.

West Brom did just enjoy an unexpected draw against Man Utd, so may approach this game with a little more confidence than they might otherwise have done. Burnley will remain the favourites in this tie, however, and owners of Burnley defensive assets will probably be expecting a clean sheet, especially with Ben Mee returning for this fixture.

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Liverpool v Everton

Another strongly one-sided fixture in recent years, the Merseyside derby has often proved to be a goal-fest. Having won 4 of the last 5 meetings at Anfield, and averaging almost 3 goals per game, there looks to be a high ceiling for Liverpool attacking prospects. Added to the fact that Everton have conceded 3 goals in each of their last 2 games, 3 goals for Liverpool in this game would be true to form, whilst Everton have averaged less than 1 goal per game. Liverpool will be desperate to prove a point and bounce back after several damaging defeats recently.

Something that will be of comfort to almost no-one, Divock Origi has an unusually strong record in this fixture with 5 goals in the last 5, including a brace last season. Considering how little he plays, this is a remarkable feat. Mane hauled last season with 1 goal and 2 assists in the 5-2 win. No other Liverpool player particularly stands out, although Salah is conspicuous by his relative absence with only 1 goal in 2017/18.

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Fulham v Sheffield Utd

Only 1 fixture in the last 5 seasons is not much to go on here, and it was a Championship fixture at that. That game was a 3-0 win for Fulham, and a repeat of that score line would not be a huge surprise. Despite a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture earlier this season, Fulham have been in impressive form of late with 2 draws and a win, whilst Sheffield Utd continue to be in miserable form, sitting rock bottom of the league table with just 11 points from 24 games.

This looks to be a favourable game for those with Fulham goalkeeer Areola in their team, whilst it remains to be seen if budget striker Josh Maja will keep his starting place, but could earn returns if he does.

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West Ham v Tottenham

This has been a very close game in recent years, with 2 wins for West Ham and 3 for Spurs, and an almost identical goal tally in that time. Furthermore, there has only ever been a 1 goal winning margin between the two teams in this time. This make it difficult to call; although Spurs have the better recent history, winning the last 3, they are in poor form currently whilst West Ham have had some strong results.

Harry Kane has 3 goals across the last 3 fixtures, whilst Son has nothing before last season but did score and assist in that 3-2 victory. Whilst Michail Antonio did score in the same game last season, that his second goal in 5 seasons at home to Spurs.

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Aston Villa v Leicester

There are only 2 fixtures in the last 5 seasons due to Aston Villa’s time in the Championship. Leicester have the stronger history in this time with a 1-1 draw in 2015/16 and a 4-1 win last season. Leicester have put in some strong performances recently capped by a 3-1 win against champions Liverpool, whilst Villa, conversely, appear to be struggling recently and were lucky to hold on for a draw against Brighton in GW24, thanks largely to the heroics of goalkeeper Emi Martinez.

Vardy got himself back amongst the goals against Liverpool and could easily have had more than his 1, and the Leicester talisman did score a brace at Villa Park last season in that 4-1 win. Maddison got a couple of assists in the same game, whilst Grealish scored Villa’s only goal of the game. This might be one where Martinez is called upon again to dig Villa out, but surely he can’t keep doing this every week. Can he?

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Arsenal v Manchester City

Arsenal fans have come to dread the visit of Manchester City in recent seasons. City have won 3 of the last 5, averaging over 2 goals per game, so it is easy to see why.

De Bruyne hauled in this fixture last season, with 2 goals and 1 assist in a 3-0 win, and the Belgian was recently welcomed back following his injury as a late substitute in the 3-1 win at Everton. Just in time to face Arsenal, obviously. It remains to be seen what effect this will have on Gundogan, who is expected to be fit to face Arsenal but hasn’t actually featured amongst the goals or assists in the last 5 seasons. Sterling has 2 goals in the past couple of visits to the Capital.

City have been in ominous form lately, cruising to 10 points clear at the top of the table, whilst Arsenal’s form has been patchy. Another home defeat would not be a surprise, and with De Bruyne back from injury just in time to face the Gunners, and likely taking back control of penalties, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is once again amongst the goals on Sunday.

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Southampton v Chelsea

Look away Southampton fans because the recent fixture history doesn’t look pretty from your side. Chelsea have won every fixture at St. Mary’s in the last 5 seasons, scoring almost 3 goals per game in the process. Southampton are also in poor form, having now lost 5 Premier League games on the bounce, whilst Chelsea have not lost since Thomas Tuchel was appointed, winning 4 of their 5 games under the German. All of this paints a pretty bleak picture for Southampton prospects, and the Saints are already averaging less than 1 goal per game in this fixture.

Marcos Alonso, re-discovered by Tuchel having started 3 of the last 4 games, has 2 assists over the last 3 fixtures and faces the prospect of facing up against James Ward-Prowse as an out-of-position right back. This, and the strength of Chelsea’s left-side attack under Tuchel, raises the prospect of attacking returns to add to Alonso’s clean sheet prospects. Alonso therefore has a reasonable chance to haul, as do the likes of Timo Werner, who has much improved his attacking output since the arrival of the new manager. Chelsea left-sided attackers have also done well historically in this fixture, with former Talisman Eden Hazard bagging 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 visits to St. Mary’s.

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Leeds v Southampton

The second game of the Gameweek for both of these teams, and as usual it is a Leeds fixture without any league history to examine thanks to their 16 year absence from the Premier League. There hasn’t even be a reverse fixture played yet this season to look at, with the reverse scheduled to be played in GW37.

This is expected to be an open game with a few goals. This is probably one to target attacking assets such as Bamford, Raphinha and Ings, who could all help themselves to an attacking return or two. A result is hard to call with both playing open, pressing games and both not exactly being tight defensively. Dallas would be the only defender of interest, purely due to his attacking potential, although Vestergaard could be an outside bet due to his threat, and Leeds’ weakness from set pieces.

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Wolves v Leeds

This is one Leeds fixture which does have some league history to examine, although only thanks to both sides’ shared time in the Championship. Leeds actually have the better record in the three fixtures in this time, with two wins and a defeat. Wolves edge the aggregate and average goal tallies thanks largely due to a resounding 4-1 win last time Leeds came to visit.

Due to squad turnover since these two sides last met at Molineux, many players no longer feature. Although it may be worth noting that 18.2% owned Stuart Dallas did get an assist in the 2015/16 meeting, and his owner will be hoping he can add to his attacking returns in Leeds’ double gameweek. Neither side have been in consistent form, and Wolves certainly aren’t the attacking force they have been in previous seasons. Dallas owners might therefore also be hoping for a clean sheet, although this is something you’d never bet on with Leeds.

Wolves did win the reverse fixture 1-0 thanks to a goal from the injured Raul Jimenez, but the meetings at Molinuex have averaged nearly 4 goals per game in recent history, narrowly in favour of Wolves. Many FPL managers will be on 2 or 3 Leeds assets, so will be hoping for a high scoring game for the the Whites.

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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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