While statistics aren't always an accurate indicator for upcoming fixtures in the Premier League, they can help shed some light on trends that have emerged over past meetings between clubs, players and managers. Let's take a look at this week's action, fixture by fixture, to help determine where you may want to invest your fantasy funds for Week 23.
Hull City v. Newcastle
- Newcastle have conceded at least 2 goals in each of their last 5 EPL matches
- Hull City have failed to score in any of the past 3 fixtures across all competitions
- The past 4 Premier League meetings have seen 2 draws and a win for each team
- Newcastle have failed to win their last 3 league fixtures when trailing at halftime
While Tim Krul has emerged as a popular option in goal for this week, the history of this fixture suggests that Hull may find some joy against the Magpies in front of their home crowd. Newcastle's away form may be bolstered by the return of the Dutch keeper, however, and the "new" manager effect could come into play with John Carver being officially given the leading role at the club through the end of the season. Hull's inability to score without Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez may mean Krul and company are good bets, after all.
West Bromwich Albion v. Tottenham Hotspur
- There have been more than 2.5 goals scored in 13 of Spurs' last 15 matches
- West Brom have only allowed 1 league goal since the arrival of Tony Pulis
- 3 of the last 6 meetings ended in a draw with the others decided by 1 goal
- Spurs have a drastically lower win percentage following midweek matches
At first glance this looks like a good place to invest in Tottenham players given their strong League form of late. However, looking at West Brom's form under Tony Pulis and their relative success in past encounters with the London club suggest Spurs may have a tough day out, especially considering their exertions in the Capital One Cup semi-final match on Wednesday. The low-scoring nature of this fixture (a 3-3 draw in the corresponding fixture last season notwithstanding) should lead to minimal investment, particularly at full price, though keeping strong fantasy performers like Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen at a discount would be advisable.
Sunderland v. Burnley
- The Black Cats have only earned 1 point in their past 4 league matches
- Burnley have climbed out of the relegation zone to equal Sunderland's point tally
- The previous match this season at Turf Moor resulted in a scoreless draw
- Burnley have scored 9 goals in their last 4 Premier League matches
A lot of the early teams that have been posted have included multiple players from Sunderland, but they are surprisingly only ahead of Burnley on goal differential heading into this match. Sean Dyche's men have finally started showing signs of a cohesive attack and have scored multiple goals on some of the league's best defenses recently. Gus Poyet's side are in dire form and will be desperate to avoid slipping into the relegation zone, though they'll surely find it difficult against a much more confident Burnley side than when the two met in September.
Stoke City v. Queens Park Rangers
- The Potters have only lost 1 of their last 5 Premier League matches
- Rangers have lost each of their last 11 away fixtures in the league
- QPR have conceded at least 2 goals in 9 of the past 10 away matches
- Stoke have not lost against QPR in their past 3 league meetings
All signs point to investing heavily in Stoke players this weekend. With their most productive player Bojan out for the season through injury, it will be up to the returning Victor Moses to provide the attacking spark for the Potters. Harry Redknapp hasn't been his usual self as yet this transfer window, so it's hard to see much of a change in fortunes, and another away loss looks likely.
Manchester United v. Leicester City
- The Red Devils have scored 3 goals in their last 4 league matches
- Leicester have not beaten United at Old Trafford in the EPL era
- 7 of Wayne Rooney's 8 league goals have been scored at home
- The Foxes have averaged a goal per game in their last 5 matches
Given United's strong home form (5 wins in the last 6), it's difficult to see anything like the 5-3 thriller from the reverse fixture occurring again, and a clean sheet seems like a strong possibility for Louis van Gaal's men. The Foxes' new record-signing Andrej Kramaric will be looking to impress in what could be his first start for his new club, though, and could join the long list of Premier League players to score on their full debut.
Liverpool v. West Ham United
- Liverpool have not lost to West Ham at Anfield in 13 matches
- The Hammers have won just 1 of their last 6 away fixtures
- The Reds are undefeated in their last 6 Premier League games
- Both teams have scored in 5 of the last 6 league meetings
With a difficult run of fixtures coming up for both sides, this match represents a crucial opportunity to put points on the board to keep hope of a Top 4 finish alive, so both teams should be going for the victory. Don't expect a clean sheet for either team, though the Reds have been much more solid defensively since restoring Mamadou Sakho to the starting lineup. Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll will be eager to impress against their former club and could cause trouble from set pieces given Liverpool's struggles defending them.
Crystal Palace v. Everton
- The Toffees have lost their last 5 EPL away matches
- The Eagles have a perfect record under Alan Pardew
- Everton's last league win was on December 15
- Both teams are tied with 23 points through 22 games
Roberto Martinez has a crisis on his hands, with Everton in relegation form of late, while Crystal Palace are thriving with Alan Pardew in charge. The away woes look set to continue for the Merseyside club, and unless they're able to get a result soon their manager could be shown the exit door. Palace attackers should be worthwhile this week. Perhaps a cheeky punt on Yaya Sanogo could return dividends for those brave enough to risk a forward spot on him.
Chelsea v. Manchester City
- Chelsea have won their last 10 home matches in the EPL
- Sergio Aguero scored in the corresponding fixture last season
- Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in their last 5 home matches
- City have the best away form in the league, undefeated in 6 games
This could be one of the most important matches of the season, and Chelsea could be without their two most productive players in Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. The Blues' home form has been incredible this season, though City are no slouch on the road. If Fabregas and Costa both miss out, advantage could tilt in City's favor, especially if Aguero can replicate his goalscoring performance at Stamford Bridge from last season (although that was in a losing effort). I expect a highly contentious (read: card-heavy) affair without many goals, so I'd stay away with the exception of players you have at deep discount.
Arsenal v. Aston Villa
- Arsenal have lost only once in 28 home league matches
- Villa have not won a Premier League match since December 7
- Alexis Sanchez has provided 8 goals & 6 assists at home
- Villa have not scored in their last EPL 5 matches
I wasn't aware of just how incredible Arsenal has been at home until I reviewed the statistics. I'd be willing to bet the Arsene Wenger critics out there probably aren't aware of this stat, either. Paul Lambert hasn't been able to get the same success out of his squad, particularly in the attacking third of the pitch. A comfortable victory for Arsenal should be the order of the day if the stats are anything to go by, and a clean sheet could easily be on the cards as well.
Southampton v. Swansea City
- Southampton are currently in the best form in the league
- Swansea have not won in their last 4 EPL matches
- The Saints have kept a clean sheet against the Swans in their last 4 EPL meetings
- The leading goalscorer available for Swansea this match is Ki Sung-Yueng with 3
Ronald Koeman has his team playing incredible football, and Swansea don't look remotely as dangerous in attack without Wilfried Bony (transferred) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (suspended) in the lineup. Another Premier League clean sheet could be upcoming for the Saints, then, with goals looking likely as well. Fraser Forster and Graziano Pelle look like top picks, and any of you who picked up Eljero Elia before his price spiked will surely be hanging on for at least this week.
There were certainly a few surprises for me after reviewing the statistics. It looks like my early investment into Newcastle, Sunderland and Tottenham players may be ill-advised, while I should perhaps consider further loading up on players from Stoke, Arsenal and Southampton. Have these statistics altered your thinking at all? If so, how are you planning on altering your team ahead of the Week 23 deadline?