Back To The FPL Future: GW9

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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 hardly 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 gameweek 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. Well known examples include 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.

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‘Back To The FPL Future’ will be a new series of weekly articles looking at the recent history (specifically the last 5 seasons to allow any patterns to develop) of upcoming Premier League fixtures, along with some notes on each to highlight any potential FPL ramifications. There are a couple of footnotes regarding the data for those nerds (like me) who might wonder about that type of thing.

Let’s get started:

Spurs v Man City

There are a host of premium players on display in this fixture at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but can we expect any significant returns from them? Looking at the last 5 seasons of City away at Spurs, possibly not. Spurs actually have a decent record in this home fixture, with 3 wins in the last 5, an aggregate score of 9-5 and an average score of 1.8-1 (lets just call that 2-1). However, the players who could bring us returns are a little harder to call. Son has just 1 goal and 1 assist across the last 5 seasons. The same is true of Kane. Sterling has 1 goal and a couple of assists, but 2 of those 3 goal involvements were in the same game. Kevin de Bruyne’s record is worse still with just 1 goal in the last 5 seasons, and that goal was in the 2015/16 season, meaning the Belgian is currently enduring a 4 year goal involvement drought away to Spurs.

So, history favours a result for Spurs, but it looks a little more bleak for some of the key FPL assets involved. Cue a 6-6 thriller with hattricks from all of the above.

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Fulham v Everton

So this is where the footnotes are called upon. Due to Fulham’s love affair with the Championship, there is only 1 season in the last 5 where Premier League head-to-head results can be examined. This was in the 2018/19 season where, surprisingly, Fulham ran out 2-0 winners at home. Both teams are currently in poor form (Fulham more so) and need a win. Everton are a much improved team from what they were the last time these two sides met at Craven Cottage, and have key players returning from injury and suspension and should have too much for Fulham, but you never know when a team is desperate for a result. Everton would do well not to take Fulham too lightly; Fulham did win the last fixture in the capital after all.

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Liverpool v Leicester

There is a strong theme of Liverpool wins in games between themselves and Leicester at Anfield, having won 4 of the last 5 with an aggregate score of 10-4 and an average which simplifies as 2-1. One thing that stands out is that Mane absolutely LOVES this fixture with 3 goals and 3 assists across the last 4 seasons, having joined the Reds in July 2016 so not featuring in 2015/16. It now appears that Salah will miss at least GW9 after testing positive for Covid-19 last Friday. Salah does have 2 goals in the 3 seasons he has been present for this fixture, although both were in the same game in 2017/18. He is goal and assist-less in the last 2 seasons, but nevertheless his absence will be a huge blow to Liverpool. Vardy only has 2 goals in this fixture and, like Salah, has none in the last 2 seasons. However, given the injury-ravaged Liverpool defence he will be facing, as well as his own good form, you wouldn’t bet against him adding to his tally at the weekend. This could in fact be a prime opportunity for Leicester to end their poor run at Anfield given that the hosts will be without a lot of their key players now.

Mane owners have history on their side to suggest a potential haul, but Vardy owners should feel quietly confident despite his relatively poor recent record at Anfield.

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Man Utd v West Brom

No fixtures in the last 2 seasons due to West Brom’s stint in the championship, but there are 3 seasons worth of results in our timeframe prior to this. This is a surprisingly close fixture in recent years, with a goalless draw in 2016/17 sandwiched between a win for both teams. The results were low scoring affairs, with just 3 goals between both teams across 3 years, causing those crazy recurring average scores. History does not suggest any players in particular, although you’d have to imagine the current Utd team will have too much for this West Brom side who are winless and in the relegation zone as it stands. Any of the Utd attacking unit could help themselves to at least a goal or assist, if not both. Managers will no doubt be targeting the like of Bruno and Rashford against this poor West Brom side. That being said, Utd have been very Jekyll and Hyde so far and, incredibly, have not won a single home game all season. Could this provide an opportunity for West Brom to take some points back with them from Old Trafford? They’ve certainly done it in the past…

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Sheffield Utd v West Ham

Similar to the Fulham v Everton fixture, there is minimal data to go on here. Sheffield Utd earned a narrow win last season, but West Ham definitely carry the form into this game. Sheffield Utd by contrast have endured a dismal start and only have 1 point from the opening 8, sitting rock bottom of the table. They will be desperate to start getting some points on the board, and may feel they can do this against a West Ham team who do sometimes struggle to deliver results when it’s expected of them.

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Newcastle v Chelsea

History surprised me with this one, with Chelsea struggling in recent years. Just 1 win and a draw in the last 4 fixtures (thanks to Newcastle’s 1 season in the Championship in 2016/17) suggests it may not be as straightforward as it seems. The aggregate score is 7-4 in Newcastle’s favour. Is Newcastle away something of a bogey fixture for Chelsea? You can’t help but think this Chelsea team with their attacking riches will simply be too much for Newcastle, but then we’d have also thought this in previous seasons when the likes of Hazard were on the team. Chillwell is flagged with a back injury and it also appears, according to Simon Johnson at The Athletic, that Pulisic and Havertz will both miss this game. Injuries to key players could provide an opportunity for Newcastle to yet again come away with some points.

This may be a fixture where expectations mean little, and Newcastle forwards have historically done well with Newcastle averaging almost 2 goals a game. Could Callum Wilson be a dark horse in this fixture? My own team features 2 Chelsea players and 0 Newcastle players, so i certainly hope the recent struggles are blown away.

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Aston Villa v Brighton

Limited data is available once again, and a disclaimer on the 2016/17 result: this was a Championship fixture at the time. Familiar players featured regardless, with Grealish grabbing a goal in that game and also helping himself to another goal and an assist in the game last season. Given his electric performances for club and country in recent weeks, and the fact that he has such a good record (so far) against Brighton, it seems a no-brainer to target Grealish for this fixture in GW9. That is, if you don’t already have him!

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Burnley v Palace

The recent history of this fixture surprised me, if only due to the volume of goals scored between these two normally goal-shy teams! Not a goalless draw in sight. It does appear that Palace have gained the upper hand in recent years, with consecutive wins by scores of 3-1 and 2-0. Zaha has 2 goals in his last 2 visits to Turf Moor, so owners may be confident of further returns. Given the poor form of the home side, and the excellent start to the season by the Eagles, it’s hard not to imagine this trend continuing.

Zaha could benefit from this seemingly free-scoring Palace side, and help himself to at least another goal (if not more). Burnley did see the return of Ben Mee in GW8, however, which coincided with a clean sheet away at Brighton. Having him back could be huge, but it remains to be seen if they can blunt the attack of the visitors on Monday.

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Wolves v Southampton

Another fixture with relatively limited data, although we do have the last 2 seasons to examine. A home win followed by a score draw suggests there could be attacking returns from both sides, especially given Southampton’s impressive form.

There were familiar goalscorers last season in Jimenez and Ings, the former also bagging an assist in 2018/19. There will be no Ings on Monday, but Che Adams has certainly shown he has the ability to fill his shoes in his absence in GW8 and boasts 3 goals and 3 assists since GW3.

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Leeds v Arsenal

There is no table for this fixture as there have been no league meetings between these teams in the last 5 years. This will be a relatively common theme with Leeds, who spent 16 years outside the top flight and so will not have recent league meetings with many teams.

Arsenal did beat Leeds 1-0 in the FA cup last season, however this was at the Emirates and cup results are excluded from the table analysis as per the footnotes. That being said, it’s the only recent meeting between the two sides. Both teams need a win and have been displaying contrasting styles, so this could be an intriguing match-up which is difficult to call.

Bamford certainly has the ability and, thanks to the service from his teammates, regular opportunities to score against any team.

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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 GW10 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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