In the latest article from our team of Hall of Famers and guest contributors, current worldwide champion Ali (FPL Gunz) pinpoints a few teams to focus on before revealing his own Gameweek 11 squad.
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WHEN ‘EASY’ FIXTURES AREN’T QUITE SO SIMPLE
Looking at the fixture difficulty ratings (FDR) on FPL, we can all too easily underestimate the potential of some teams. Data from the first 10 Gameweeks suggests that some of the favourable fixtures might not be so simple in reality.
For example, Wolverhampton Wanderers have only failed to score once this season, and that was on the opening weekend at Manchester United – a match they dominated and were unlucky to lose. Their record of 13 goals in the following nine games equals Chelsea’s attacking numbers for the season. So managers targeting an away fixture at Wolves for clean sheets need to know it’s far from a gimme.
Crystal Palace is another green fixture on FDR. Their total of four clean sheets ranks second-best behind Arsenal and they sit eighth-best for goals conceded, letting in 13 from 10 occasions. Ahead of a great run of fixtures, FPL managers ought to consider defensive assets such as Marc Guehi (£4.5m), Joachim Andersen (£5.0m) and Sam Johnstone (£4.5m).
They’re tough to break down for opposing attackers but it’s not as risky to bank on a quiet attacking day from the Eagles. They’ve only scored one more than Sheffield United, who themselves are the lowest scorers in the league.
Elsewhere, Everton have hit good form in all areas of the pitch. Two clean sheets have arrived in their last three games and they’ve netted eight times from five recent outings. They’re also top-half material for expected goals at both ends of the pitch in 2023/24. Whether they’re an easy fixture is debatable, and they have been impressive of late, as shown by their wins at Brentford and West Ham United.
Fulham might not be as good as last season but, by retaining manager Marco Silva and key player Joao Palhinha (£5.0m), they can still cause trouble for attacking teams. Bernd Leno (£4.7m) is the third-best goalkeeper with 43 points, while the likes of West Ham and Brighton and Hove Albion have conceded more often. Since Palhinha’s move to Bayern fell through and he returned to the Fulham side in Gameweek 5, the Cottagers are ranked sixth for fewest expected goals conceded (xGC). Aside from the underlying stats, Silva’s troops also pass the eye test whenever Palhinha is involved.
Speaking of Roberto De Zerbi’s side, Brighton are one of four teams still without a clean sheet. Their attacking assets are prone to rotation due to European commitments, so Kaoru Mitoma (£6.5m) seems the only one with a high number of expected minutes. Once Pervis Estupinan (£5.0m) is back to full fitness, he could once again be valuable to our teams because of his high attacking potential. With a great fixture run ahead, the first clean sheet is only a matter of time.