Back To The FPL Future: GW28

FPL GW28 Preview
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FPL GW28 Preview

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.

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 Ar…. you get the idea.

So, let’s take a look at the GW28 fixtures:

Everton v Burnley
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Burnley haven’t scored at Goodison Park in the past two seasons and aren’t exactly a free-scoring team at the best of times. With Everton averaging triple the goals per game to Burnley in this fixture, there is only likely to be one winner based on recent history.

Lucas Digne got an assist to add to his clean here 2 seasons ago, and his owners would relish a repeat on Saturday. Calvert-Lewin scored last season, and his still significant 39.8% ownership will also be hoping for a repeat. In an interesting side note, Ben Mee has scored 2 own goals in the past 4 meetings at Goodison Park, which is a record his owners will not want to see extended!

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Newcastle v Aston Villa
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There are only a couple of league meetings between these two sides in the past 5 seasons, and the 2016/17 one was a Championship game at that. There is not a lot to go on here; the home side have a narrow recent history, although this game last season ended in a draw. Newcastle are having a torrid time at the moment however and are without a win since 6th February. Aston Villa are themselves enduring a relatively tough time without talisman Jack Grealish, but probably have more about them than this current Newcastle side and did win the reverse fixture 2-0.

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Southampton v Brighton
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The past three meetings between these sides at St. Mary’s have all ended in draws. Another draw on the South coast on Sunday does seem a reasonably likely outcome, but Brighton’s results have been unpredictable of late and Southampton are particularly desperate for points, despite a brief respite in their losing streak against the Blades last weekend.

Unfortunately for Southampton, the injured-again Danny Ings is the only real player who stands out in recent history, with 2 goals in the last 2 games. There hasn’t been a clean sheet in this fixture in our timeframe, so perhaps don’t rely on this for points on Sunday.

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Fulham v Man City
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Only one fixture in the past five seasons thanks to Fulham being largely a Championship side during this time. I don’t think anyone is expecting anything but a City win in this game, despite Fulham’s impressive improvement this season. The last fixture was a 2-0 City win, and the reverse fixture earlier this season was also a 2-0 win to Guardiola’s side. Another 2-0 away win at Craven Cottage on Saturday on the cards then?

As there is only 1 fixture to go on it is hard to get an idea of any trends or patterns, but the 2018/19 meeting was the Aguero and Bernardo Silva show with both players scoring and assisting each other.

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Arsenal v Tottenham
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The North London Derby is always an entertaining game, and The Gunners have the edge in home fixture over the past 5 seasons, with two home wins and 3 draws. Don’t bank on any clean sheets in this one; there has only been a single clean sheet in the past 5 seasons which came in the 2-0 Arsenal win in 2017/18. Arsenal have been a very Jekyll and Hyde team this season and don’t seem to be able to put a run together, whilst Spurs have hit form and look confident at exactly the wrong time for Arsenal fans. Having said that, Spurs’ recent upturn has come against ‘weaker’ sides Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace, so it remains to be seen if they can repeat this against a stronger side like Arsenal. We all know form goes out of the window in a derby anyway- just ask Manchester City fans.

Owned by 7.9% of FPL managers, the increasingly popular (but still differential) Aubameyang has a particularly strong record with 3 goals and 1 assist in just the last 2 home meetings, which means returns in every home game he’s played vs Spurs since he signed for the Gunners in January 2018. Lacazette also has a decent record with 2 goals and 1 assist across the last 3. From the away side we’ve already established Harry Kane’s excellent record against Arsenal, and this is evident in his 4 goals in his last 5 appearances at The Emirates. Son Heung-min has a couple of assists away at Arsenal in the last 2 seasons, but no goals as of yet.

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Leicester v Sheffield Utd
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Just the one fixture again in our timeframe, with Leicester running out comfortable winners at the King Power last season. And that was back when Sheffield Utd were a much better performing side than the current iteration. There is not much to be gleaned from just the one fixture, other than reinforcing expectations of a Leicester win on Sunday, but owners of Leicester defenders will be hopeful of another clean sheet and maybe an attacking return (fourth time’s the charm Ricky P), like last year when budget left-back Luke Thomas helped himself to an assist.

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Crystal Palace v West Brom
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There hasn’t been a fixture since the 2017/18 season when Palace ran out 2-0 winners, but these two teams alternated wins in the first 3 seasons of our timeframe. Does that mean it’s West Brom’s turn again this season? Probably not based on this alone, but Crystal Palace are in terrible form recently and West Brom are slowly getting points from their last few games.

Crystal Palace are welcoming back Wilfried Zaha from injury, however, which is so important for them as a team as they just don’t score without him. Zaha has a goal and an assist in the previous three meetings, and Palace fans will be hoping he adds to his tally this weekend. In fact Zaha has been tip @ff_flay in his GW28 Differentials XI article, so he may be one to watch out for!

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Man Utd v West Ham
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Man Utd have the edge as you would expect in this fixture, although it’s not as one-sided as it may first appear. 3 of the last 5 meetings have ended in a draw, including last season’s 1-1 finish. The aggregate and average scores are heavily skewed by 1 game in 2017/18, where Utd ran out 4-0 winners.

Without wanting to disregard that match, it does account for half of the Utd aggregate score in this time, and the other games have been much closer with 3 draws and a 2-1 Utd win. Utd will have their tails up having just beaten rivals Manchester City on their own turf, but derby games often throw the form book out of the window and West Ham have been a very impressive outfit this season. They will of course be without the hugely influential Messi Jesse Lingard this weekend though, who is ineligible to face his parent club.

Martial has a decent record in recent history, with a goal and 2 assists across the last 3, but Pogba (injured) probably has the best record with 3 goals and an assist over 3 games, although he did blank last season. The ceiling is probably quite low for West Ham attacking returns; they have not scored more than 1 goal in a game at Old Trafford in the last 5 seasons and have blanked twice, and will also be without Lingard which will dampen their attack.

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Wolves v Liverpool
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Just a couple of meetings at Molineux in our timeframe, but Liverpool have won them both and scored 2 goals in each. Liverpool have, by their own high standards, been in awful form lately and lost again last weekend at home to Fulham. Wolves therefore, despite not being at their best themselves lately, will probably sense an opportunity to get at least their first point in this fixture on Monday. Liverpool have tended to be slightly better away from home though, so this will be an intriguing match up and games between these two sides are always entertaining. as a neutral at least.

Out-of-sorts Salah blanked in this fixture last season, but did haul in the season before that with a goal and an assist. Other than this there are no clear players of note, and it will be interesting to see how this game plays out in the Midlands.

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Leeds United v Chelsea

There is no table to review here as there is no fixture history to examine in the past 5 seasons, thanks to Leeds’ 16 year spell out of the top flight. Chelsea won the reverse fixture 3-1 in early December and another Chelsea win is probably the expectation here. Tuchel’s Blues have tightened up significantly since the previous meeting at Stamford Bridge, and now boast statistically one of the best defences in the Premier League. It’s therefore likely to be slim pickings for Leeds’ attacking assets, even with the home advantage. Leeds’ defence, meanwhile, feels like it can concede 4 goals in any given game with the way they play, having recently done so against another London club Arsenal where they were beaten 4-2.

Thomas Tuchel is yet to taste defeat as Chelsea manager, and it’s hard to imagine that starting on Saturday at Elland road. The ceiling appears high for Chelsea assets and distinctly low for Leeds, which is a shame for the home side who are a great addition to the Premier League and many a neutral’s favourite.

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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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