Back To The FPL Future: GW5

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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.

We’ll look at the last 5 seasons of each fixture in these articles, 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. 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 GW5 fixtures:

Newcastle v Leeds

We have just a couple of fixtures in the last 5 seasons to look at here, one of which was a Championship fixture back in 16/17. It’s not a lot to go on but both of these games were close, with Leeds running out 2-1 winners last season. So far Leeds have looked a shadow of the side we saw last season, so perhaps it will be a close game again despite Newcastle having some of the worst defensive stats in the league and the worst xGC (expected goals conceded) of any team so far. Having said that, the underlying stats for Leeds aren’t terrible even though the results haven’t been there as they still seek their first win of the season.

After Calvert-Lewin was ruled out through injury at the 11th hour and Antonio got himself suspended, many FPL managers will be looking for replacements around a similar price point. Bamford will be one of those options, and is actually posting very similar stats to what we saw from him last season. Combined with Newcastle’s poor defensive stats, this definitely makes Bamford an option for the foreseeable. Raphinha scored and assisted in this fixture last season too so also puts himself in the frame, although like many of the Leeds players he has still yet to find form this season. Saint-Maximin has looked strong for the home side with attacking returns in 3 of their 4 games so far, so this could be a good fixture for him again. Although it remains to be seen how the long term absence of Callum Wilson will affect the Frenchman.

With both sides still looking for their first win of the season this should hopefully be an open and entertaining game, which may well suit Leeds more.

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Wolves v Brentford

Again only a couple of games here, both Championship ones at that. Wolves put 3 past Brentford on both occasions, although it would perhaps be surprising if this was repeated again here. As impressive as Wolves have been so far, including posting very strong underlying stats, Brentford have been equally impressive defensively and have only conceded 2 goals so far this season.

The Bees have not done much going forwards however, which suggests we may see a Wolves clean sheet in addition to any attacking returns they manage. This could be particularly good news for the extremely attacking wing backs Semedo and Marcal who could easily help themselves to both in the Saturday early kick off. This could be an attack vs defence/counter type game, but you’d expect Wolves are more likely to get the result and they do have the advantage historically.

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Burnley v Arsenal

This has mostly been a close fixture in recent years with 2 draws in the last 2 seasons. Both teams have been poor this season, although Arsenal may have turned a corner in their win over Norwich in Gameweek 4. The 1-0 scoreline flattered Norwich somewhat as Arsenal were quite impressive and managed an incredible 30 shots on goal, their highest total in a match since 2017. Arsenal racked up 2.7 xG against the Canaries, confirming how flattering the 1-0 was for Norwich and the increased creativity and goal threat Arsenal have with a fully fit side.

Burnley meanwhile have been awful, and in recent games this season they have seemed more intent on winding up and injuring their opponents rather than trying to actually play football. We saw Tarkowski fly in with a potential leg-breaker type tackle on Richarlison on Monday night, and in Gameweek 3 Arshley Barnes made a flying tackle on Stuart Dallas whilst the Leeds defender was still in the air following a jump, something which is illegal even in Rugby. Both challenges somehow only drew a yellow card, despite the fact we have seen reds this season for far less, and you dread to think how long this will go on for before referees finally clamp down on it or a seriously nasty injury occurs and forces their hand.

Arsenal will certainly be hoping it’s not the latter on Saturday, as they have only just been able to call upon a relatively a full strength side in Gameweek 4 after widespread injury problems early in the season. The referee could have a big say in how this one unfolds, but on the footballing side so could Arsenal captain Aubameyang who has 3 goals in his last 3 at Turf Moor and got the Gunners up and running for the season against Norwich last week. Pepe made 6 key passes and had 6 shots against the Canaries, Tierney had 6 key passes whilst Saka made 4; any of these guys could also have a hand in attacking returns at Burnley, where we would expect to see an Arsenal win. Hopefully Burnley actually try to play football this time.

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Liverpool v Crystal Palace

This, as you might expect, appears to be a very one-sided fixture in recent years. Liverpool have won the last 4 after a shock Palace win in 16/17, are averaging 2.4 goals per game and put 4 goals past the visitors on 2 consecutive occasions. All of Palace’s 5 goals have come in just 2 games, meaning the Eagles have blanked thrice in the last 5 at Anfield. Not looking good for the away side then.

Palace were very impressive in their win against a poor Spurs side last week, but this is possibly a challenge too far right now. For a team still in transition to get a result against a well drilled and hungry Liverpool side in front of their own fans would take one hell of a performance and considerable luck. If Palace stick to their new, more open style of play and playing out from the back, this could cause them a lot of trouble against the masters of the press in their own back yard. This will hopefully be a very entertaining game for the neutral.

Salah has a very strong record against Palace at Anfield with 3 goals and 1 assist in the last 3, meaning he has an attacking return in every one of these fixtures since joining Liverpool. Likewise, Mane has an attacking return in every one of these games since he joined with 5 goals in that time. Salah, then, is a standout captaincy choice this weekend and the Egyptian will no doubt also be one of the most popular. But interestingly Mane could make an excellent differential captaincy choice for his 2.7% owners! With clean sheet points also potentially likely, we may see yet another double digit haul from FPL machine Alexander-Arnold, who offers another left-field captaincy choice for the braver FPL manager!

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Manchester City v Southampton

Another rather one-sided fixture sees Man City take on Southampton at the Etihad. City have won 4 of the last 5 averaging 3.2 goals per game, although this is inflated by 2 thrashings which account for 69% of the City goals in the last 5 seasons. Nevertheless, expect goals in this fixture; Southampton have not been setting the league alight and remain winless with 3 draws and a defeat (although they have faced City, Utd and Everton in the opening games).

It would not feel completely out of place or surprising if another large thrashing came here, but then that feels the case with 75% of games for the reigning Premier League champions. It must be pointed out that Southampton have never failed to score at the Etihad in the last 5 seasons, which does perhaps throw some doubt on City clean sheet points. This is a game to target the City attacking assets then, but which ones will get the points and which ones will even get on the pitch as we prepare for another spin on Pep roulette?

Kevin De Bruyne, now fit again after injury, could return to the starting XI (fitness allowing) and boasts 3 goals and 1 assist in the last 5 home games vs the Saints. Sterling has 3 goals and 2 assists, although has nothing in the last 2 games. In the same 5-2 victory last season Mahrez scored 2 and assisted 1 whilst Foden bagged 3 assists. Clearly, although there is a huge potential for attacking returns, there is also a huge spread for who those points go to. As always with City under Pep, it’s a lottery where they fall and who is on the pitch when they do. De Bruyne has usually been the safest shout amongst the attacking options and could haul again here, largely dependant on whether he even starts of course.

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Norwich v Watford

Another fixture with just a couple of game between these sides in the last 5 seasons, due to Norwich mostly residing in the Championship. Watford decided to join them last season though, and earned a 1-0 win at Carrow road to follow the 2-0 from the season earlier. It’s only a couple of games, but they are in both of the most recent seasons and suggest that Watford may just have the better of Norwich when they meet with their contrasting playing styles.

Both have been poor so far this season, and we could realistically see both of these sides in the relegation zone when Gameweek 38 concludes. It makes this game difficult to call as its not clear which side is worse, but Watford do have the recent results at Carrow road to suggest they have the advantage, and Norwich come into this game off the back of conceding 30 shots against Arsenal last week. Watford wingers have had joy previously, which may bode well for key man Ismaila Sarr.

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Aston Villa v Everton

Another fixture with just the 2 recent games to look at (last one of these i promise) thanks to Villa’s time in the Championship. It’s hard to infer much from just 2 games, but Everton are yet to score at Villa Park since the home side’s promotion. Will the Toffees struggle again on Saturday evening with key man Calvert-Lewin injured for at least 3 weeks? It certainly didn’t stop them on Monday night as they came from behind to blow Burnley away with 3 quickfire goals.

Villa had been poor in the first 3 games, but conversely were much more impressive in Gameweek 4 despite losing 3-0 to Chelsea. That result was harsh on the Villains, who put in a good performance and were very unlucky not to get something out of the game. It is unclear which Villa will turn up here, but it could make for a very entertaining game with both sides capable of scoring and winning. This is a hard one to call, but Everton have yet to taste defeat this season with 3 wins and a draw, and possibly come into this game as favourites.

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Brighton v Leicester

Leicester have won every game at the Amex since Brighton’s promotion. They’ve scored 2 goals in all but 1 of the games, where Brighton have twice blanked. This appears to be a fixture where Leicester just seem to have Brighton’s number. This might be a game to avoid playing your Brighton defensive assets if you can (RIP my Sanchez points) as a clean sheet doesn’t look like it’s on the cards here.

Jamie Vardy has an excellent record at the Amex, with 3 goals and an assist in the last 4 (Brighton were still in the Championship in 16/17), whilst Iheanacho also bagged a goal in the 2-1 win last season and would no doubt love to open his account for the season here. Recent history suggests we’ll see an away win here with perhaps a couple of Leicester goals, and some attacking returns for Vardy.

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West Ham v Manchester Utd

This has been a remarkably close fixture over the last 5 seasons with 2 wins each and a draw, as well as identical goals scored each in that time. Man Utd will be expected to win here, however, especially with Antonio suspended for this one. United have just lost away at Young Boys in the Champions League at the time of writing so may be feeling their European exploits at the weekend, but West Ham also have to travel to Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday night for their Europa League tie.

Man Utd will therefore be more rested and have had more time to prepare by the time these two meet on Sunday, which could tip the scale even further in their favour. Ronaldo continued his goalscoring form for Utd at the Wankdorf Stadium (no giggling), and West Ham have only kept 1 clean sheet this season so it would not be a surprise if Ronaldo extended his run even further against the Hammers.

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Tottenham v Chelsea

We end Gameweek 5 with another relatively even fixture, although Chelsea perhaps have the advantage with 3 wins in the the last 5. Spurs have not scored in the last 2 home games v Chelsea, and, given the abysmal display we saw from Spurs at Palace last week, it would hardly be surprising if they blanked again here. On the other side, Chelsea have not failed to score at Spurs in the last 4, and are a much stronger team now than last season.

Chelsea are clearly the better team on paper, although they played poorly against Villa last week and the 3-0 scoreline flattered them. Similarly to West Ham v Man Utd, the home side here will have to travel away for a European fixture on Thursday for their Europa conference league game at Rennes. Spurs will have the worse of the rest and preparation time for this one, and if they play anything like they did against Palace it could be a lot worse than the heavy 3-0 they suffered there.

Harry Kane set an unwanted record in that game; for the first time in his career he failed to register a shot or even a single touch of the ball in the opposition penalty area as Spurs finished the match on 0.1xG (expected goals) . Spurs clearly have a real issue with creativity this season and haven’t yet scored more than 1 goal per game even with 3 wins. They will be in for a tough test against the Champions League winners on Sunday evening.

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Summary:

GW5 fixtures to target:

Liverpool v Crystal Palace, Manchester City v Southampton

Potential GW5 standout/star player(s):

Salah, Mane, De Bruyne, Vardy

Potential GW5 upsets/traps:

Aston Villa v Everton

Potential GW5 goal fests:

Liverpool v Crystal Palace, Manchester City v Southampton, West Ham v Manchester Utd

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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