Chelsea vs Fulham

Chelsea vs Fulham Preview: Cottagers will find Spurs hard to imitate

The fixture-laden December period is finally upon us. Chelsea begin theirs by welcoming Fulham to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Chelsea’s unbeaten run ended in smoke when they visited Tottenham at Wembley last weekend. Apparently, Mauricio Pochettino had all the answers for Sarri-ball.

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happens next; as much as possible, the Blues will try to bounce back. Maurizio Sarri can see daylight appearing quickly between his side and table-toppers Manchester City – they’re now seven points adrift. Read More

Premier League Team of Week 13

Premier League Team of Week 13: Aladdin Sané

Our Premier League team of week 13 features six debutants. Some are from struggling clubs, and some are Leroy Sané. But all have earned their place here, and can be found in the upper echelons of this week’s leader board. Let’s see who our algorithm has selected for the XI.

Goalkeeper: Wayne Hennessey. Manchester United 0-0 Crystal Palace.

Hennessey topped the defence leader board in week 13, thanks mainly to making five saves (including one from a clear-cut chance). But he also won four aerial duels, which was the joint-most by any player in their own half in this match. For context, Ederson, Fabianski, Lloris and Schmeichel have won four in total this season. Read More

Premier League Fantasy Football selections: Week 13

Whisper it, but fantasy football games are really difficult to do well at. We certainly proved that with our attempt at Draft Kings‘ Saturday contest prior to the recent international break. Long-term Twelve favourite Roberto Pereyra was the best of our bad bunch, but as none of our players got into double figures, that’s damning the Hornet with the faintest of faint praise.

As always, we go again. Here are the matches which are included this week.

Premier League Fantasy Football selections: Week 13

Using our algorithm, we create a leader board (which you can see here) from which to choose our eight players. Here’s our Premier League Fantasy Football selections: Week 13. Take heed. Read More

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace: Did United learn their lesson?

Jose Mourinho registered yet another loss against Pep Guardiola and it seems their eternal battle came to an end. It’s been a long time since we had the opportunity to live up to the hype of the Manchester derby. The clash between the two Manchester sides at the Etihad was rather one-sided and saw the home side go 12 points clear of their neighbors after just 12 games of the 2018/19 Premier League season.

The brightest spark in Mourinho’s side was once again Anthony Martial. The young French starlet made it five straight Premier League games with a goal from the penalty spot after Ederson had brought down Romelu Lukaku.

But that was all from United at the Etihad. Their only shot on target was the penalty, and Ilkay Gundogan wrapped up the points for City after an amazing 44 passes between City players prior to the third goal five minutes from time. Read More

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea Premier League Preview

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea Preview: Deep lying midfielders pivotal

Here is a clash the whole world will watch with attention. The fourth-placed Mauricio Pochettino meet the third-placed Maurizio Sarri in a London derby full of tactical options and two teams looking for the top of the table.

The name “Maurizio” has its origins in Latin language and it means “the one with the dark skin”. Not that this information means something to the match, but I always like to bring some outside knowledge to my Twelve previews.

Pochettino was Marcelo Bielsa’s apprentice. The Argentinean master, today at Leeds United, had a very similar career as Sarri: the same age, and both started at small amateur clubs while they worked at a bank to pay their bills.

And that’s it. There’s no similarities between the managers and their football philosophies. Sarri plays a 4-3-3 with lot of possession, short passes, acceleration in the final third and trying to master set pieces.

Against a team with these features, Tottenham may have difficulties. Taking a look at Effective Time Possession against Manchester City (who utilise a similar play model to Chelsea), Spurs won the midfield but lost on defense, where Guardiola’s players ruled the match. Read More

West Ham vs Manchester City

West Ham vs Manchester City Preview: What hope the Hammers?

Previewing Manchester City games is like reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time: you know how it ends even if you don’t know how it will quite get there.

Pep Guardiola’s team are favourites to take home the Premier League trophy again this season. If you doubt this fact, then maybe the data will convince you. Take, for example, expected goal (xG) values from the 12 games so far this season. Of the top six teams, Manchester City are the only side who have consistently produced a greater xG for than their opponents have produced against them.

West Ham vs Manchester City Premier League Preview

If this isn’t impressive enough as it is, City’s average xG For – hovering, as it is, just below the 3 xG per 90 line – has only been bettered by Manchester United in one of their games so far (against Bournemouth away). Guardiola, then, is producing an average xG For better than Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United have managed in 11 of their 12 games. Read More

Bournemouth vs Arsenal Premier League Preview

Bournemouth vs Arsenal: Cherries’ European hopes tested by Arsenal

Before digging into the two teams specifically I am going to do a little exercise that I always find fun. I will put the two teams stats in a table but not label the teams. I enjoy doing this because far too often we unconsciously let the club names with the narratives, history and prestige affect the way we look at teams.

All stats are league matches only and are per match.

Team xG Shots Penalty Box Shots xG Against Shots Against Penalty Box Shots Against
Team A 1.9 12.7 8 1.4 13.4 6.6
Team B 1.4 12.1 6.5 1.4 13.9 7.1

The first impression from this exercise is that these two teams are very close on the statistics they have produced through a third of the season. Team A looks like they are a slightly better team with a better expected goals created and a superior shot ratio (even if it is negative overall) and a much better penalty box shot ratio. Read More

Watford vs Liverpool Premier League Preview

Watford vs Liverpool Preview: Should Klopp sacrifice Shaqiri?

Liverpool return to Premier League action after the international break with a trip to Watford. It is sure to be a stark contrast to the Reds’ routine 2-0 home victory over Fulham last time out.

It certainly was a game – and result – Liverpool needed to boost their morale ahead of the two-week break and a timely return to the trademark Reds way. Or at least it was according to the numbers. Liverpool dominated the ball to the tune of 75 percent, and restored a high level of shot quality which put them firmly in control against the Cottagers.

Watford vs Liverpool

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolverhampton Wanderers tactical analysis: A breath of fresh air

We expect promoted teams in the Premier League to be defensive. We anticipate a cautious approach from their managers, and eventually a lack of goals hits them hard as the season progresses. This has been the downfall of many sides in relegation fights.

However, there was one team that chose to have a clear footballing identity to their game, from the first whistle in their first top-flight season after six long years – Wolverhampton Wanderers. Right from their opening game against Everton at Molineux, there were patterns in their build ups, pressing structure off the ball and exquisite work-rate to help each other on the field.

We could vividly witness a football team operating together, and all 11 men are buying into what the manager is asking them to do. It’s working too; at present they have the fourth best underlying statistics in the division.

Credit goes to the gaffer, Nuno Espirito Santo, who arrived at the club in the summer of 2017 and got the Old Gold back into the Premier League in his first season in charge. The former Porto goalkeeper always has his own way of playing football, and he doesn’t back away from that if there is a situational change. Let’s take a closer look at how the 44-year-old sets up his side.  Read More

Premier League

The Premier League is still very competitive (with one big exception)

Last week the Guardian ran an article entitled “Premier League the most competitive in the world? You must be joking” describing what they considered as the poor state of excitement in the World’s most popular league.

The article started with a statistic that caught my attention: “The top five clubs have played the bottom five 19 times this season and won every one.” Last weekend’s matches might be said to have reinforced that picture, with Liverpool beating Fulham 2-0 and Tottenham winning 1-0 away against Crystal Palace.

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