Back To The FPL Future: GW6

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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 GW6 fixtures:

Chelsea v Manchester City

The headline fixture of the weekend, and we get to see it play out first in the Saturday early kick off. This promises to be an intriguing game between these two title contenders, and in recent years it has been a tight fixture. Chelsea boast 3 wins to City’s 2 and both sides have similar average goals per game in that time. It’s hard to call this one, and you can envision a scenario where with either side win.

Chelsea possibly have the more balanced team and also boast recent bragging rights over the visitors after victory in the Champions League final. Chelsea also seem to have the ability to win games even when they have not played particularly well, as we saw against Aston Villa in Gameweek 4 where the 3-0 scoreline flattered the Blues, and Lukaku scored 2 goals from his only 2 shots of the game.

In contrast, City have already slipped up a couple of times this season; losing on the opening day at Spurs and drawing 0-0 at home to Southampton last week, a match in which City only had 1 shot on target all game. At Spurs it was more a case of City failing to take their chances despite being the better team, whereas against Southampton they struggled against a dogged defensive performance.

So, the decider here there then could be the elite finishing ability of one of the best forwards in the world: Romelu Lukaku. It’s foolish to write City off of course; they always have the ability to score goals and they put 3 past the Chelsea in this fixture last season. It’s hard to imagine a repeat of that this time though with both sides producing elite defensive stats so far this season. We might see a tighter game, but with the home side probably looking the more likely if we are to see a winner.

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Manchester Utd V Aston Villa

Another early kick off fixture here means both Manchester clubs kick off at the same time. Whilst Chelsea v City might be the headline act, there will still be many eyes on this fixture as it boasts the most popular captaincy choice for Gameweek 6 in Christiano Ronaldo. We only have a couple of season’s worth of data, thanks to Villa’s time in the Championship, but both games were surprisingly close with a 2-2 draw followed by a narrow 2-1 home win last season.

2 seasons of data is not a lot to go on, but Villa have put in some improved performances in the last couple of weeks after a shaky start to the season. Could we see another close match here? It seems very likely that Utd will at least match their 2 goals from the last couple of seasons against the Villains, and if they do there is a high chance Ronaldo gets at least one if not both of them. Utd, like most teams so far, are also appearing to benefit greatly from the home crowd advantage and have scored 9 goals in 2 games so far at Old Trafford.

There is a decent chance Utd can improve on the apparent 2 goal floor then, and a higher ceiling can only be good news for a Ronaldo captaincy. He has scored at least 1 goal in every game for Utd so far of course. Villa meanwhile have not failed to score at Old Trafford since promotion, which possibly throws doubt on Utd clean sheet points, especially if Villa’s new signing Leon Bailey makes a similar impact to last week where the Jamaican was extremely impressive.

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Everton v Norwich

Just the one fixture in the past 5 years to look at here then so we can’t really draw any conclusions from it, but interestingly it was a 2-0 away win. It would be a surprise if we saw that again here on Saturday, but then it would have been a surprise last time too. They couldn’t do it again, could they?

Norwich are still looking for their first point of the season whilst Everton will certainly be favourites for all 3 in this one. The Toffees will again be missing key man Calvert-Lewin so it remains to be seen how this will continue to affect the home side. They did put 3 past Burnley without him, but then followed that up with a blank and a 3-0 loss against Villa last week. By all accounts Everton were not bad in that defeat, however, so all is not lost.

Gray and Doucoure have both looked like decent budget options for the home side so far, especially Gray who has been playing as the most advanced attacking player in the side even when Calvert-Lewin was fit. Interestingly, it appears that Gray and Townsend may now be sharing set piece duties which further enhances their appeal and deals another blow to Digne’s.

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Leeds v West Ham

Another fixture with just the 1 game to look at, thanks to Leeds’ 16 year spell out of the top flight. We saw an away win last time out, and unfortunately for the home side it’s looking likely that we might see the same again here. Bamford has now been ruled out of this match through injury, whilst Ayling’s injury means the home side are likely to be missing yet another first choice defender. This could see £4.0 defender Charlie Cresswell make his league debut for the home side.

Leeds have been a shadow of the team we saw last season and have still yet to win a match so far. In every game they have looked open and vulnerable to conceding goals, and concede is what they have done in every game so far to a total of 12 goals in 5 games. A patched-up, injury ridden team is unlikely to halt this slide, especially against a very strong West Ham side.

This is all adding up to hugely promising game for Michail Antonio, who returns after suspension and was rested in the midweek Carabao Cup game so he could be fit for this trip to Elland Road. With Leeds’ openness and West Ham’s strength on the counter, this has the potential to be a bit of a goal fest with a high ceiling for West Ham’s attacking players. As mentioned on the FPL Wire podcast this week, most of the chances Leeds have conceded have come from the central zone where Antonio is likely to operate, which increases his appeal even further.

A double up on West Ham with the likes of Benrahma could be hugely profitable for FPL managers, and Antonio puts himself in the frame here as a differential captaincy choice if you fancy betting on him to outscore the premium options.

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Leicester v Burnley

Leicester have won all but 1 of the last 5, scoring 10 goals in the process. In contrast Burnley have blanked in 3 of these, so there does not appear to be a lot in these fixtures for the Clarets, who still seek their first win of the season. It appears unlikely that will come at the Kingpower on Saturday afternoon.

Harvey Barnes has an excellent record at home to Burnley, with a goal and 3 assists in the last 2 seasons. This might be an opponent he just loves to play against. Vardy, meanwhile, only has 1 goals and 1 assist across the last 5 seasons so this does not appear to be the best fixture for him historically. This is probably due to the low block used by Burnley making it hard for Vardy to run in behind, whilst it suits the lockpicking skills and quick feet of Harvey Barnes much more.

It may be of note that 70% of Leicester’s goals in this fixture in the last 5 seasons have come in just 2 games, so it is not so clear how many attacking returns to expect for the home side here.

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Watford v Newcastle

Newcastle have not failed to score at Vicarage Road in any of their last 3 visits, but they have failed to record a win in that time. It’s not the greatest amount of data to work with, but a similar sort of result does seem likely again here with Watford probably favourites for the 3 points but Newcastle having a decent chance of getting on the scoresheet themselves.

Newcastle are posting some of the worst defensive stats in the league so far, and have been particularly vulnerable down their left side. We saw Raphinha benefit from this last week with his goal, and he was constantly allowed space and time to run. This bodes very well for Watford’s talisman Ismaila Sarr, who comes into this one off the back of a brace at Norwich in Gameweek 5.

For the visitors, Saint-Maximin has looked very impressive even in the absence of Callum Wilson and has attacking returns in all but 1 game so far. If Newcastle are going to get on the scoresheet it seems he is most likely to be the man who gets it.

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Brentford v Liverpool

This fixture has no recent league history as this is Brentford’s first season in the Premier League.

Instead, we are left to ponder the unknown. How will Liverpool’s attack be affected by a Brentford team who play 5 at the back and have posted some of the best defensive stats in the league alongside Man City and Chelsea?

How will Brentford’s apparently strong defence cope against the most elite attack they have faced in the league yet? Will they continue to hold? Or will they simply be outclassed by the calibre of this Liverpool side, who have looked very strong and already have 12 goals in 5 games?

In essence, what will happen when the hard-to-stop force of Liverpool meets the hard-to-move object of Brentford? This uncertainty is what makes a Salah captaincy this week seem a little risky, especially being away from home when we have seen home advantage already playing a huge part in games so far. You can see a situation where Liverpool struggle to break down the home side and goals are at a premium even if they do still eventually win. You can also see a situation where Liverpool just win 3-0 again and Salah bags another goal and assist.

This uncertainty means many people will prefer the relative assurance that Ronaldo at home will provide for the armband. This doesn’t mean Salah is a bad choice though, as he has been in the best form we have seen for a while and you may prefer to zig when other people zag. What we do expect, however, is to see a Liverpool clean sheet; Brentford have not been the best going forwards despite their impressive 2-0 win at Wolves in Gameweek 5. Trent captaincy anyone?

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Southampton v Wolves

Wolves have won their last 2 trips to St. Marys, scoring 5 goals in the process. Southampton won before that, and both sides have posted identical goals scored in this fixture since Wolves’ promotion. Will the away side make it 3 in a row?

Wolves appear a little unpredictable so far this season; despite posting some of the best attacking stats in the league to this point and generally looking very impressive, they have lost 4 of their 5 games including being soundly beaten at home to Brentford last week. Prior to this, Wolves had looked like the better team despite defeat in each of their opening 3 games, and were considered unlucky not to get more from them.

Southampton, meanwhile, have quietly been putting in impressive defensive performances. Although they are still looking for their first win of the season they have also only lost 1 so far, drawing 4, and keeping clean sheets in their last 2 against a strong West Ham side and then away at the reigning champions Man City. This is no mean feat, and you wonder if they will frustrate Wolves again here at home.

You wonder what Wolves we will see on Sunday afternoon, and whether Southampton will keep up their dogged defensive showings. It makes it another slightly unpredictable game and a hard one to call. It’s probably one where you hold your Wolves assets if you have them, but maybe don’t buy any for this one.

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Arsenal v Spurs

Arsenal have won 3 of the last 5 home North London Derbies, scoring almost double the number of goals in that time to Spurs. Spurs have not won this fixture in the last 5 years, and the Gunners have scored 2+ goals in 4 of the last 5, whilst Spurs have averaged just over 1 goal per game. Recent history, at least, suggests it is advantage Arsenal.

Spurs have also been very poor in the past couple of weeks, suffering consecutive 3-0 defeats and they were not particularly impressive even in their 1-0 wins prior to this. Arsenal meanwhile had an awful start to the season, but appear they may have turned something of a corner after getting their first team players back after injury/covid and have consecutive victories in the same time Spurs faced defeats.

So history, as well as current form, favour Arsenal. Easy Arsenal win then right? Well, as always with local derbies, it is not always that simple. Form is often thrown out of the window and games tend to be a bit spicier, and the crowd will play a massive part in this. Spurs will no doubt step up their game as they always do for North London Derbies, and they usually tend to be entertaining affairs for the neutral. That being said, if you had to put money on it, Arsenal appear to have more factors in their favour going into the Super Sunday headline act.

Although it remains to be seen if he’ll even earn any more Premier League minutes here, Lacazette has a very strong home record v Spurs with 3 goals and an assist in the last 4, which means an attacking return in every one of these fixtures since he joined the club. Aubameyang also boasts 3 goals and an assist, but did blank last season (although he did start on the bench for that one).

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Crystal Palace v Brighton

This has been a very close fixture for these rivals. They have a win each and 2 draws, with identical goals scored each in this time.

Palace have looked very impressive in recent weeks under new boss Vieira, even in defeat at Anfield last week. With the home advantage and crowds back, Palace possibly have more in their favour on paper. Brighton, however, are always a tricky opponent and have played some very good football themselves. It’s another ‘derby’ in this Monday night standalone fixture, so it again throws some spice and unpredictability on the game.

Zaha has an excellent record at home to Brighton with 4 goals in the last 4. You can easily see him extending that record on Monday night, and the likes of Gallagher and Edouard (assuming the latter gets game time) could also have a say and have looked very impressive for the Eagles. It’s also worth noting that neither side have blanked in this fixture since Brighton’s promotion, and given both sides’ ability and the derby nature of the game, we could have something of a goal fest on our hands.

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Summary:

GW6 teams/fixtures to target:

Manchester Utd v Aston Villa

Leeds v West Ham

Potential GW6 standout/star player(s):

Ronaldo, Antonio, Zaha, Aubameyang

Potential GW6 upsets/traps:

Brentford v Liverpool

Potential GW6 goal fests:

Chelsea v Manchester City

Manchester Utd v Aston Villa

Leeds v West Ham

Crystal Palace v Brighton

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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