#FPLMatchups GW2

So much information to process from GW1, yet it is still very little information to try to glean any sort of matchup pattern. This week, and for the next month or so, I will continue to use last season’s data in combination with what we have learned so far this season. Let’s begin. 


Wolves continued to display their impressive defense against SHU. Following up a season where they conceded the fewest BC (47), they again conceded joint fewest of the first GW (1). That stat is backed up by an impressive 8 chances conceded all game, including 0 from the center of the field. It would stand to reason that those bringing in City players maybe ought to temper expectations.  

Where I see some light from a pure matchup perspective is in the aerial game.  Wolves were in the bottom half for headed goal attempts conceded last season (79) and were joint worst this past GW (4). MCI had the 4th most headed goal attempts (95), and the 3rd most headed goals (11) last season. To add, Wolves concede double the crosses from their left side last game (Marcal) than their right (Adama). Pep could exploit this chink in Wolves’ armor, their thermal exhaust port (if you know, you know) by instructing KDB to find space on the right side to send crosses to Aguero and Sterling. 

Another potential way through is by exploiting the Sterling vs Adama matchup. Adama played at RWB for Wolves, and did a fine job, but was not tested too much. The physical specimen is a fascinating matchup for the compact Sterling. This will be a classic muscle vs mind battle. Not to say Adama is not an intelligent player- indeed he is, but more so in attack, and not to say Sterling isn’t strong –his incredible balance and strength make him extremely difficult to stop. Adama could bottle and frustrate Sterling and Pep, or Sterling could set Adama up to concede a penalty kick. Get your popcorn ready for this one. 


I was going to break down the matchup between Chelsea and Liverpool, but I do not believe we have seen the real Chelsea yet. Half the team missing and new players playing out of position, there is not much we can really say about them as a matchup. I will mention Timo Werner as I conclude the Liverpool analysis. 

There is an ongoing debate as to whether Liverpool’s defensive woes are a result of bad defending or just mental lapses. While mental lapses invariably lead to bad defending, bad defending is not always due to mental lapses. My theory is that Liverpool’s defensive woes are more concerning than more people suspect because it is on account of BOTH above reasons. Let’s look at Leeds’ goals to illustrate the point. 

1.  This play begins with a positional catastrophe, not the only one in this game. Notice how both TAA and Robertson are behind the central defenders. The ball is already in the air and rather than playing a U, the Liverpool defense is playing an N. WTAF? This is a tactical error, and a basic one at that. These mistakes are fundamental and systemic. 

As the play progresses, Harrison smokes Trent TWICE, Gomez runs right past them towards the 6 yard box, VVD meanders vaguely in the way enough to cast a shadow in the lane to the far post, and Alisson decides to cover that same far post. This is a defensive mindset in shambles. These are individual blunders happening simultaneously as a result of an error in shape. 

2. We all remember Leeds’ second goal because of the confusing blunder by VVD, and rest assured we will get to that. That blunder also comes as a result of bad positioning, this time by Gomez. Note in the image below where Gomez is located, and where Liverpool would love to have a teammate. 

The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Who knows why VVD did what he did rather than send the ball from whence it came? The defensive shape compared to the attackers is shocking. Leeds in a spear shape and Liverpool in a sieve shape. This was easy for Bamford and the reason his price went up in FPL. Are we worried yet?  

3. The third goal begins with an out of position VVD. Noticing a pattern? He should be where the check is so that he can recognize runs into the box and met them. Also of note are Fabinho and Klich. This is the moment where Klich begins to make his run past Jones… 

Now we see how much ground Klich has covered compared to Fabinho. Fabinho has hut down mentally. Also look at the impact VVD being out of position. Liverpool are making mistakes at every level: technical, tactical, psychological. With tricky upcoming fixtures, a double up may not be advisable until GW 7 or 8. 

I almost forgot about Chelsea. You know who is good at drifting into space to lull defenses wide? Timo Werner.  


This story is best told with raw data and a graph. Basic plot: Southampton and Spurs are basically the same.  Impossible for me to call any matchup here, which is what makes this interesting to me. It’s remarkable, how these teams had almost identical statistical performances, and are both seemingly shellshocked by it. 

Lastly, as a little bonus, Ings is still better than Che. You decide if he’s 2.5M better, or if either are worth their price. I, for one, don’t rate the touches in the box stat.

Thanks again for making the time to read my point of view. I hope this Information helps you climb the ranks in #FPL. See you all next week for the GW3 instalment of #FPLMatchups. 


Gabriel Penaloza aka FPLLens

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