Hive FPL - Game Week 25 Match Previews & Key Stats
Game Week 25 could yet be one of the most interesting and challenging for managers to overcome. 4 teams in Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Wolves have double game weeks while Brentford, Brighton, United and Newcastle don't play at all. Given the form of all 4 of those clubs so far this season, most FPL sides will contain at least 4 or 5 players who won't be scoring any points.
Those who have planned ahead should be ok but if you haven't then it might be an opportunity to take your free hit in order to shuffle some popular players like Rashford or Trippier out of the squad on a temporary basis while taking advantage of the teams mentioned above who place twice.
Oh and don't forget that there's a Friday night fixture this week too...
Given their recent turn around in results, Wolves will be bitterly disappointed to have lost at home to fellow relegation candidates Bournemouth last week. New manager Julen Lopetegui has already shown a willingness to change things around when performances aren't up to scratch suggesting that FPL managers will have their work cut out if they are hoping to benefit from the double gameweek.
Budget defender Hugo Bueno (DEF) could well find himself coming off the bench of many an FPL team this week. He's currently the most owned Wolves player in the game.
Fulham meanwhile continue to quietly go about their business. Only the 2 Manchester clubs have won more league points since the restart after the World Cup and both of them have played a game more than the West London club.
Despite that success, it's difficult to find anyone from the Cottagers squad that you'd think of as an automatic pick for your FPL side. Defensively and particularly at home they tend to be fairly solid with only Spurs and United having won at Craven Cottage this year. It's perhaps no surprise then that their form players at present are all defenders and goalkeepers and given that Wolves have only scored 8 times on their travels this season then another clean sheet seems a real posibility.
2 Teams with new managers since the start of the season. For Everton, Sean Dyche has delivered 2 priceless victories during his time in charge and created a side with far more reslience than they'd shown under Frank Lampard to the extend that the Toffees are yet to conceed at home under their manager.
Aston Villa meanwhile have been leaking goals left, right and centre and even without much in the way of an attacking threat, you'd expect Everton to challenge this Villa defence.
In fact, Everton's best chance could well come from a set-piece. James Tarkowski (DEF) scored against Arsenal and made himself a nuisance against Leeds as well as he forced a good save from Meslier finishing the match with expected goal involvement of 0.66. Better yet from an FPL manager's point of view is the fact that only Bournemouth have conceded more set piece goals than Villa so Tarkowski or any of the big units in the Everton could be a smart buy.
I wrote in the last preview, that Ollie Watkins (FWD) is beginning to look like a player that managers should give genuine consideration to for selection and he continued his fine form with a goal against Arsenal. Only Haaland and Rashford have scored more Premier League goal in 2023 than Watkins.
Massive game at the bottom of the table and a real test for new Leeds manager Javi Garcia. It seemed crazy to me that the club removed Jesse Marsch from post without having someone already lined up to replace him and while Leeds have been faffing around looking for the right candidate, almost all of the other clubs around them have been winning games. Leeds will be hoping to get a bounce from the new manager and that needs to happen straight away!
Southampton will be absolutely thrilled to have taken 3 points from their trip to Stamford Bridge but the fact remains that they haven't gone 2 league games unbeaten since way back in August and that is something they'll need to change with in this 6 pointer. The good news in that regard is that the Saints are unbeaten in their last 3 Premier League matches against Leeds.
Patrick Bamford (FWD) may only have 1 goal this season but he has scored 3 times in his 5 matches v Southampton.
While Leicester may have gone down 3-0 in their trip to Old Trafford there was plenty in their performance particularly in the first half to suggest that they won't be a push over for the league leaders.
Man City will hope that old boy Kelechi Iheanacho (FWD) will be able to continue his fine form and give them an opportunity to retake top spot. The Nigerian has the highest goal threat for all forwards on the ICT ranking over the past 3 game weeks.
Arsenal meanwhile returned to winning ways late on against Villa but will be concerned that they are shipping goals and have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 6 matches. If the 4-2 thriller that we witnessed earlier in the season between these 2 is anything to go by then I would expect goals at both ends again.
Going forward, Eddie Nketiah (FWD) is certainly getting chances to score with his expected goals of 5.46 in EPL games in 2023 2nd only to Haaland. However, the young forward has only hit the back of the net twice this year. Despite that given the double game week, the opposition in question and the fact that he's currently owned by just 12% of managers, he might still prove a shrewd option.
It's another massive game towards the foot of the table particularly for the home side West Ham who looked toothless during their last outing against local rivals Spurs. I suspect that if the performance and result are the same in this game that David Moyes' position would come under serious consideration.
The fact remains that the Hammers have won just once since the league restarted and that came against then bottom side Everton at home. Meanwhile Forest have enjoyed a significant uptick in form with 12 points from their last 8 games.
However, Forest's form has been built on winning at home and they still have the worst away record in the league this year while the Hammers have at least claimed 14 points from their 11 home fixtures to date.
Morgan Gibbs-White (MID) remains a player to watch. He is ranked 2nd for creativity on the ICT over the last 5 game weeks and his goal threat during the same period is higher than popular picks such as Martinelli, Bruno Fernandes and Odegaard. With this match and then 3 of his next 4 at home including fixtures against Everton and Wolves then he could be a very decent differential while ownership remains at 0.4%.
Bournemouth recorded their first league victory since November with a very valuable 3 points away at Wolves last time out. That win also represented just the 4th clean sheet the Cherries have managed in this season's EPL (2 of them have come against Wolves) but you'd imagine it will be tough to make it back to shut outs against City.
In fact, Manchester City have never lost a competitive match of football against Bournemouth and you have to go all the way back to the 1990s when the 2 sides were in the 3rd Tier of English football for the last time the Cherries avoided defeat. In the Premier League, City have won all 11 matches so far, scoring an average of over 3 goals a game.
Bournemouth will certainly be buoyed by the return of Dominic Solanke (FWD) to the starting XI. His 17 Premier League starts this season have brought about 9 goal involvements and you'd imagine that Gary O'Neil will need to keep him fit if his side are to avoid the drop.
It'll be interesting to see what team Pep plays after his side squandered a couple of very big chances in the 2nd half at Forest only to get sucker punched late on. The one form player for City at the moment appears to be Jack Grealish (MID) who is beginning to deliver better numbers as far as goal involvements.
Last season saw 6 goal involvements (3 goals + 3 assists) from 1929 mins of Premier League football, this year Grealish has already beaten those numbers with 7 (4 goals + 3 assists) from just 1294 mins of action. He has a goal involvement in each of his last 3 games and has started all of City's last 6 EPL fixtures with Pep chopping and changing his other midfield options during that time. At £6.8 million he's also very reasonably priced and owned by just 2.6% of sides.
My personal feeling is that Palace are in a bit of trouble and unless they arrest their slump fairly quickly, they will be pulled into the relegation battle that is heating up below them.
With no win in 7 they will be bitterly disappointed to have conceded a 96th minute equaliser at Brentford last weekend. Only Leeds have a worse record in 2023 meaning that while they still sit 12th in the table the gap between them and the bottom is shrinking at an alarming rate.
I suggested Michael Ollise (MID) as a player to watch last week and he duly delivered 8 points against Brentford with an assist and 2 BP. Still without a quality goal scorer it's difficult to imagine that his endeavour will consistently reward FPL managers.
At least in the league, Liverpool will be buoyed by a couple of good wins particularly the 2-0 victory at Newcastle last weekend, a team that had only been been defeated once in the league prior to that. How the react to the 5-2 mauling they got in the Champions League is another question...
Managers have been trading out Liverpool players on a fairly regular basis over the last couple of months but this week is likely to see a reverse in that trend with the double game week. Gakpo, Salah, TAA and Alisson represented 4 of the 5 most popular transfers in for this GW prior to the Madrid match. Will those managers who went early be regretting that decision?.
At £7.8 million and being listed as a midfielder despite generally playing in an advanced position, Cody Gakpo (MID) looks the best value option with only Haaland, Nketiah and Rashford having better expected goals per 90mins in 2023 than the Dutchman.
Just the one game on Sunday but it's a big one as struggling Chelsea visit inconsistent Tottenham.
Chelsea's main problem is that they simply can't get the ball in the back of the net! Since the return of the Premier League they've recorded expected goals of 14.09, the 5th best in the league but they've only actually scored 6 times, the equal 2nd worst record in the league during the same period. It also means that while players like Kai Havertz (FWD) have fairly good underlying stats in regards both threat and creativity, they aren't delivering fantasy points. Will this be the fixture that the dam finally breaks?
Equally, Chelsea have been fairly tough to break down of late with 4 clean sheets in their last 9 matches meaning that their is value to be found in their defence and goal keepers.
They also like to play against Spurs with an excellent Premier League record overall while also being unbeaten in their last 8 league appearance against the same opposition. For under fire manager Graham Potter, I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. It may give the side renewed confidence but at the same time the expectation to win means that if they don't the pressure may reach breaking point.
Harry Kane (FWD) continues his remarkably consistent form this season with goal involvements in 18 out of 24 game weeks to date, better than any other player. With the likes of Haaland and Trippier's form now becoming a little patchy and with Marcus Rashford unavailable this week, Kane looks like a must pick player.
Arsenal know from recent experience just how tough this Everton side can be to break down but you'd have to fancy that the'll be able to get the job done at the Emirates.
The corresponding fixture last year finished 5-1 in favour of the Gunners but that remains Arsenal's only win against Everton in their last 5 encounters of which the Toffees have won the other 4. During that time Everton have also benefited from 2 own goals that Arsenal have scored and with a lack of goal threat up front they'll hope their hosts are in a generous mood again in this fixture.
Martin Odegaard (MID) has gone off the boil in regards goal scoring of late with no goal in his last 5 matches coming into game week 25. He does however have 2 in 4 against Everton.
There shouldn't be any secrets between these 2 sides who are meeting each other for the 4th time in the space of 6 weeks. Wolves have been a pain for Liverpool during that time, taking the defending FA Cup champions to a replay and then beating them comfortably at Molineux earlier in the month in the league.
That being said, the last time they came away from Anfield with anything to show in the league was way back in 2010 during the dark days of Roy Hodgson's tenure on Merseyside. However, Liverpool do have the disadvantage of this being their 5th game in 16 days while Wolves benefit from no midweek match this week and an extra day off over the weekend.
Mo Salah (MID) will no doubt be a popular pick during the double game week and he has 7 goal involvements in 12 previous matches against the midlands club. Liverpool have also recorded 6 clean sheets in their last 10 matches against the same opposition with Wolves having only scored 8 goals on their travels this season, the 4th worst record in the league. Do you feel confident that the current Liverpool squad can continue that tight defensive records?