Hive FPL - Game Week 5 Match Previews & Key Stats
Our first midweek fixture list brings a new challenge to FPL managers. Squad rotation is set to be the name of the game from now on and don't be surprised if a few more substitutions happen earlier in games.
By the same token, having a strong bench within your FPL side is a must with managers simply unable to bank on 11 or 12 players definitely starting as we go into a couple of very intense months of football.
I also think that midweek games always have a different feel about about them particularly at certain stadiums where the floodlights seem to provide a special kind of atmosphere. Anfield, for example, is a ground that is always difficult for away sides but turn a set of floodlights on and it seems to get even tougher!
Palace come into this match off the back of a very tough beginning to the season while Brentford have flattered to deceive since wiping the floor with United.
These 2 sides met in the league for the first time in over 50 years last season but both games ended nil nil. For Palace, one of their main goal threats in Wilf Zaha (MID) missed the game at City and remains a doubt for this match too. There has also been late interest from Chelsea in signing the Ivorian so watch this space. Brentford meanwhile hit the woodwork no less than 3 times as Everton hung on for a point against the Bees last time out.
For Brentford Ivan Toney (FWD) has been a popular pick for many based on his early season form but it's fellow forward Bryan Mbeumo (FWD) who has been the most threatening according to the ICT index and so he could be worth consideration as a budget buy.
Given the calibre of opposition that Palace have faced to date, the fact that Eberechi Eze (MID) is 2nd only in assists provided and big chances created to KDB so far this season suggests he's a player to really pay close attention to going forward.
Fulham's early season performances have certainly suggest they'll be able to mix it at this level. Having a goal threat is always key for a promoted side's chances of staying up and in Aleksandar Mitrović (FWD) they certainly have that. However, don't discount Bobby De Cordova-Reid (MID). He is currently ranked as the 6th most threatening midfielder by the ICT and managed 4 shots at goal in Fulham's last match against Arsenal.
Meanwhile Brighton are flying high with 3 wins from 4 and will have the opportunity to go top of the league if they can claim victory on Tuesday night. Against Leeds, the Seagulls created a lot of overloads down the left hand side through, Gross, Trossard and Estupiñán so Fulham will have to be careful not to leave their full-backs exposed as they did at times against Arsenal.
It's admirable that Fulham as well as Notts Forest have looked to play football in the early part of the season but the fact remains that in regards expected goals against, the 3 newly promoted teams find themselves with the worst records to date alongside struggling Everton.
Putting the ball in the back of the net has been the biggest problem for both these sides so far this season. No team currently above the Saints in the table has a lower goals expected record, while for Chelsea, their overall build up play has lead to to expected goals of 6.2 but they've only actually scored 5 times. Of course, it is worth remembering that back in April, Chelsea did put 6 past Southampton in this same fixture...
It might well be that by the time this game week ends, both teams have brought in reinforcements to help with that fact but for now, it remains Raheem Sterling (MID) who carries Chelsea's main goal threat. If Chelsea can engineer the former City man approximately 3 shooting opportunities a match from within the penalty area then he will score them goals as his Premier League record suggests.
Given Chelsea's usually tight defence, the signing of Wesley Fofana (DEF) might well lead to a few fantasy players bringing him into the side for just £4.4 million. The addition of another centre back should also mean that Reece James (DEF) moves to his preferred wing back position. His expected assists per 90 mins as a wing back double from when he plays at centre back.
For Southampton, Joe Aribo (MID) has already found the back of the net once and regularly gets himself in advanced positions suggesting that more goals will surely come. His goal threat according to ICT is currently higher than the likes of popular picks such a Maddison, Gross and Ødegaard and he costs just £5.5 million.
Leeds and Everton conclude the Tuesday night matches with the home side looking to continue their good start to the season. Jesse Marsch has certainly made Elland Road a tough place to go since he took over. Since losing his opening home fixture against Villa in March, only top 6 clubs have managed to come away with 3 points from a trip here. Everton meanwhile managed just 10 points on the road last season, the equal worst record with bottom side Norwich. However, they do have a decent record against Leeds with just 2 defeats in their last 10 meetings.
Luis Sinisterra (MID) made an impact off the bench for Leeds as they chased an equaliser at the Amex on Saturday. With the games coming thick and fast, it may be that he is inline for his full Premier League debut.
Chelsea's interest doesn't seem to have distracted Anthony Gordon (MID) who continues to be Everton's best chance of getting their first victory of the season. For me, £60 million sounds a lot for a player without a huge amount of top flight football behind him but Gordon is 16th in the overall ICT ranking and his price tag of £5.5 million makes him cheaper than any other player in the top 25. However, with just 11 points from 4 matches, he needs to turn that threat and creativity into goals and assists, particularly if he's going to move to a Champions League club
This match sees the team that just can't stop conceding versus the team that keeps struggling to put it in the back of the net. Something's got to give!
Bournemouth have had a horror run of fixtures but to be honest they haven't come close to laying a glove on either Man City, Arsenal or Liverpool. Meanwhile Wolves have played some decent football so far but are yet to get a win and are now without victory in their last 11 Premier League matches, a record that they'll surely be looking to improve on here.
New signing Matheus Nunes (MID) seems worth a look at just £5.0 million. He's already had 6 shots on goal in his first 2 games for Wolves with an expected goals of 0.31 per 90 mins and 2 key passes to boot. However, Pedro Neto (MID) who was a popular pre-season pick, has delivered just 9 points in 4 games. Managers might be tempted to give him one more shot to see if he can turn things around before considering alternatives...
Bournemouth have very few silver linings to cling to at the moment but perhaps one is the fact that Dominic Solanke (FWD) managed 40mins at the weekend and he might be able to start this game. Injuries in general are hurting the Cherries already understrength squad, they have 8 players nursing niggles at the moment and surely need to dip into the transfer market before the window shuts.
Confidence is high at the Emirates which is more than can be said for Villa. Steven Gerrard managed 8 wins in his first 16 games in charge but since then Villa have won just 3 times in 15 games with 2 of those victories against sides who were ultimately relegated last season.
Gabrielle Martinelli's (MID) value has already increased £0.4 million and with good reason when you look at his stats. 14 shots at goal, 10 key passes and 2 big chances created mean that he's ranked 8th overall in the ICT. If he can sharpen up on his finishing then there's no reason why he can't deliver some really big points.
Despite Arsenal's good start to the season, a couple of individual errors from their centre backs have given managers cause for concern when selecting Gunners' defenders. Oleksandr Zinchenko (DEF) was a very popular pick but missed the game against Fulham due to injury. The latest is that he will continue to be assessed for this game with Kieren Tierney (DEF) also working his way back to full fitness.
For Villa, perhaps the most concerning stat is that alongside Manchester United, they are the only team in the Premier League that is underperforming in both expected goals for and against. To put it another way their forwards aren't scoring as many as expected while their defenders are letting in more than they should. You'd be a brave man to bet on them turning things around against an in-form Arsenal team.
Man City conceded just once from set pieces in 2021/22 but managed to double that tally in a matter of minutes in their last outing against Palace. With 5 goals conceded in their last 2 games, there is some cause for concern but as far as the bookmakers are concerned, City are the most likely side to keep a clean sheet this week so getting in an extra defender might not be the worst way to go.
Equally, despite Forest's work rate against Spurs they only forced Loris into 1 save across the entire 90mins and with just 2 goals in 4 games they'll certainly have their work cut out in a game where they are likely to be without the ball for long periods of time.
Erling Haaland (FWD) now looks like a must have player and again, the bookmakers have him as the most likely player to score this game week so I'd imagine that they'll be plenty of managers who will captain him. Again, while Forest worked hard against Spurs, they looked vulnerable on the break and could ultimately have lost the game by 3 or 4 goals. While they've been keen to take the game to the opposition since their return to the Premier League they will surely have that ambition tested against a free scoring City side.
The Hammers finally got both their goal scoring and points tally for the season underway in their last match albeit in fairly fortuitous circumstances. David Moyes has been busy in the transfer market so he'll hope that the win at Villa plus the incoming players can get some momentum going. As for Spurs, they've now delivered back to back clean sheets and in Davinson Sanchez (DEF) have a player who hasn't conceded a goal in over 9 hours of play.
This is of course Spurs 2nd big London derby of the season and they'll be hoping that Harry Kane (FWD) can continue both his fine form in August (he's ranked 1st overall in the ICT) and in London derbies in general. Indeed, Kane has 15 goal involvements in 20 previous games against West Ham so he could be worth consideration as an alternative captain choice.
Meanwhile, Kane's usual partner in crime, Heung-Min Son (MID) didn't look happy at being subbed off in the 2nd half and Richarlison's (FWD) impact means that he is surely pushing for a starting spot in this game.
West Ham can take confidence from the fact that they've won their last 2 Premier League meetings at home against Spurs with Michail Antonio (FWD) scoring in both games. The big forward was dropped to the bench for the Hammer's last outing but will surely be drafted back in for this match and be looking to continue his fine form against Spurs which includes 6 Premier League goals, more than he's scored against any other team.
A reaction from Liverpool following their performance at Old Trafford seemed inevitable but I don't think anyone quite thought they'd score 9 goals against Bournemouth and even fewer could imagine that if they had, Mo Salah (FWD) would not be direcly involved in any of them!
It's likely that quite a few managers will turn away from the Egyptian as a result but the book makers still have him down as the 2nd most likely goal scorer this round and with good reason too given that he's scored in every home fixture versus Newcastle that he's played in. It's also worth remembering that Newcastle don't have an out and out left-back with Dan Burn (DEF) just filling in there for now so Mo might fancy making up for the last round!
Liverpool in general also have a very strong Premier League record against the Magpies. They are unbeaten in their last 11 league meetings with 7 wins in that time and in matches at Anfield, you have to go all the way back 1994 since the last time Newcastle tasted league success at this particular venue.
Newcastle's Allan Saint-Maximin (MID) has been in inspired form over the last couple of games but limped off late in the match on Sunday and is a doubt for this game. Similarly, the ever popular Kieran Trippier (DEF) played much of the 2nd half against Wolves with what appeared to be a niggle.
The average neutral is likely to be disappointed that United have won back to back games. Ten Haag's decision to drop some of the established stars has been vindicated by those results but the performance against Southampton was hardly polished. Leicester meanwhile seem to be in big trouble. Surely they'll be forced into the transfer market now with the funds made available from Fofana's departure but is it too little too late?
With James Maddison (MID) injured and Youri Tilemans (MID) on his way out sooner or later then the Foxes are left with a major rebuilding job to do . Of course United themselves look likely to be busy in the transfer window which shuts just over an hour after the scheduled finish of this match. It seems unlikely that big money signing Anthony will be registered in time for this game but FPL managers will certainly have a good range of new signings to pick from shortly.
A major concern for the Foxes is that they've kept just 1 clean sheet in their last 10 Premier League matches and that came against an already relegated Norwich so that could make any of the United forward line a decent pick. However, in the same period Leicester have scored in everyone of those games so managers hunting a clean sheet bonus for either side may be disappointed.
Leicester, like so many teams of late, have a pretty good record against United having recorded 3 wins and 2 draws from their last 5 meetings in all competitions. During those fixtures, Kelechi Iheanacho (FWD) has netted 3 times for Leicester and he might be given the opportunity to start this game if Vardy is deemed unable to play 2 matches in quick succession.