FPL Matchups for the 2020-2021 Premier League Season

Hello my fellow FPL community members. A special shout out to the @GFCT and @IFCT Telegram chat groups.

We are all familiar with the FDR. This article is meant to add a more granular description of matchup than we have currently. My lens is that of a coach with a B license and 25 years experience in the field. I tend to look at games tactically, dissecting individual matchups, much the way I would for a team I am coaching.

Last season (19-20) I began writing a weekly Twitter thread about individual player matchups in FPL. The threads were speculative at best as I quickly came to learn that it is not easy to find data on specific areas of the field.

Thanks to the more detailed data available through the FFScout members section, I have been able to refine my analysis of the matchups, but please know I am still missing data like xGC, & xAC from specific areas of the field. If you know where I can get this data, please enlighten me. Now, on to the 2020-2021 matchups.

I looked at 15 to 20 data sets for every premier league team that was in the league last season, but only highlight outlying data to create the matchup narrative. Have not included any relegated or promoted teams in my analysis.

LIVERPOOL: 
Conceded same number of big chances as Burnley (64)!
3rd fewest crosses conceded, which means an extra difficult fixture for teams like Chelsea (Giroud specifically) and Everton that rely on crosses and headed chances.
Conceded 31 more crosses from right than the left. 
Balanced attack in terms of chances created (32%/36%/32%) makes Mane an interesting differential when compared to Salah.
Most headed goals (19) means they are extra enticing when facing teams who give up a lot of crosses and headed chances like Newcastle.

MANCHESTER CITY: 
Fewest crosses conceded. (420)
Fewest chances conceded. (200)
4th fewest big chances conceded. (59)
Most big chances (108) – 20 more than 2nd most (88- Liverpool) and 33 more big chances than 3rd (CHE). 
Best offensive underlying stats (no surprise there), but also best defensive stats. Could be positive regression coming for City def.

MANCHESTER UNITED:
Fewest headed chances conceded. (50)
2nd fewest big chances conceded. (50)
Created only 5 more big chances (55) than they conceded. That’s less than Everton and only 1 more than Burnley. – Concern for all of their attacking options.
Only 26.6% of chances created were from R. Combine this with the low number of BC they create and Greenwood becomes problematic.

CHELSEA:
Chelsea is a pretty balanced team as far as the stats are concerned. They have very few outlying stats that would tilt them in one direction or another.
Chances conceded: 90 from left, 69 from center, 83 from right. Indicates they are attacked down the flanks as teams try to avoid their center mids, and take advantage of space left by attacking defenders.
2nd most headed goal attempts (111), but 6th lowest headed conversion rate (8%). Havertz’ biggest weakness: aerial duels.
Lampard has brought in dribblers and passers in Havertz and Werner. Ziyech has a whip on him but also loves to take players on. Style of play must change in order to maximize the potential of the new signings, but that may be a work in progress as key players get healthy.

LEICESTER:
Tied with Liverpool and Burnley for 6th fewest big chances conceded (64).
Conceded 20 fewer chances from the left (85) than the right (105), but conceded 9th most crosses from L (383), & 3rd fewest crosses from R (263). This is how Leicester make play predictable. They set up to stop advances down their left, perhaps because Chilwell is often attacking, forcing teams to cross.
Created 4th most big chances (69)- Not repeatable if they keep falling off the cliff from last season. 

TOTTENHAM:
5th most chances conceded.
Conceded 6th most chances from the L (124), 7th most chances from the CTR (124), 4th most chances from the R (144).
BUT conceded 3rd fewest big chances (58). Bend but don’t break defense.
3rd most headed goal attempts conceded. If you’re going to concede chances, let them be headed chances! Good matchup for headed goal for LIV, MCI, & Giroud.
7th fewest big chances created.
Whopping 40% chances created down the middle. Talisman is center forward.

WOLVES:
Fewest big chances conceded (47).
5th fewest chances conceded (290).
Balanced defense. Chances conceded broken down by area of the pitch (L97/C89/R104).
Jimenez scored 3rd most big chances and had the 3rd highest % big chances scored. Speaks to his consistency and reliability.

ARSENAL: 
No team conceded more chances from the right side of the field than Arsenal (160). Similarly to TOT, ARS concede a lot of chances, but many of them are headed chances (91) 4th most among premier league teams. Good news for GK as it means easy saves. Created 1 fewer big chance than TOT, SOU, & BHA (48).
ARS have created 6 more big chances in only 2 more games played under Arteta. Auba scores an impressive 63% of big chances. Clinical and could see numbers jump with increased service.

SHEFFIELD UNITED:
Conceded 115 more crosses from the L (438) than the R (323). Only AVL & NEW conceded more.
Despite lopsided crosses, chances conceded are balanced in terms of area of the field (L108/C115/R103).
Created 42% of chances from L, compared to 32% from R. Stevens more intriguing than Baldock.
Created 5th most big chances after restart (32).
Conceded same number of big chances as palace last season (77). 

BURNLEY:
Conceded 4th most chances (404), but 6th fewest big chances (like TOT & ARS). 
Everything else is straight forward with Burnley.

SOUTHAMPTON:
Conceded 139 chances from the left (42%). 31 y.o. Bertrand being exploited.
Pre 9-0 / Post 9-0 stats:
GWs 1-10
Conceded 28 big chances (2.8/gm). xG  1.58/gm

GWs 11-38
68 big chances 11-38 (2.4/gm). xG = 1.51/gm

GWs 30-38:
1.8 BCC/gm post restart. 1.29xG. 

Ings has one of the highest big chances conversion rate in the league 64%, but with the rise of Che Adams, and the low number of big chances SOU create (49), sustainability for Ings is in question. 

EVERTON:
Tied with MUN for 4th fewest chances conceded from the L (89). Does the right side of defense need updating with Coleman aging?
27.9% chances created from center as opposed to 36.5% from L, and 35.6% from R. Concerning stat for DCL who operates exclusively from a central location. Richarlison .28xG from left, center, right. Can most profit from the flank-based attack.
DCL one of the best aerial duel attacking players. He wins 46.2% of aerial duels. Good news for a team with the most headed goal attempts (115) last season.
Richarlison also has a 63% big chance conversion rate (8/13) compared to DCL at 37% (10/27). Increased creativity with new signings should see Richarlison break out as long as he keeps his big chance conversion rate.

NEWCASTLE:
Conceded 3rd most big chances (89) of premier league teams from last year.
Dubravka out w/ an ankle injury.
Conceded the most crosses (868) and headed attempts (124) last season. Target headers against Newcastle.
Create a lopsided 42.1% of their chances from the L compared to 25.4% CTR and 32.4% from R. ASM occupies the attacking left side, so it makes sense that is where most of Newcastle’s chances are created. Will that be more balanced with the introduction of Fraser?

CRYSTAL PALACE:
3rd most crosses conceded (843).
2nd most headed goal attempts conceded (97).
Fewest big chances created (32).
Tied with strikerless AVL for fewest headed goals (3).
All in all good matchup for both attacking and defending opposition. Palace are bad.

BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION:
5th most big chances conceded (82).
Conceded most chances from the R (142).
Balanced attack. Chances created L 34.4%, C 32.4%, R 33.2%.
Created same number of big chances as Tottenham (49).

WEST HAM UNITED:
6th most chances conceded (388).
Most big chances conceded (102).
Exactly the same number of crosses conceded from left and right (385). Weird.
Only create 25.6% of chances through the middle as opposed to 39.9% from the left, and 34.5% from the right.
Created 1 fewer big chance (54) than MUN last season.
3rd most headed goal attempts (98).
Only DCL (46.2%) wins a higher percentage of aerial duels than Antonio (44.9%).

ASTON VILLA:
Here is the season data
2nd most big chances conceded (99).
Most chances conceded (460).
131 more crosses conceded from the left compared to the right (L494/R363). Target right sided players against them for assists.
Villa is the quintessential tale of two seasons. I did not have the time to compartmentalize the data, but suffice to know that from GW 30 to 38, AVL was top 4 in fewest big chances conceded (12) and lowest xGC (9.67).
Villa created a staggering 41.5% of their chances from the left. Target their attackers on this side of the field.

I hope you found this article useful for your preseason FPL planning. I will be writing a weekly matchups column that may help you with captain choices and transfers as the season progresses. I am always up for a conversation so please feel free to reach out via the Telegram chat or Twitter. Thanks for your time and I’ll see you after week 1!

By – Gabriel Penaloza

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