Arsenal vs Watford Premier League Preview

Arsenal vs Watford Preview: Can the Hornets defence stop the Gunners?

This Saturday’s match-up is an unexpected top of the table clash. Arsenal have put together a run of four wins, moving from the bottom of the table up to a tie for fifth behind… their opponent this Saturday, Watford. Most people would have expected Arsenal to be near the top but Watford being among the top four is the big surprise from the early results.

Watford:

Watford have put together a legitimately good defence this season.

They are over performing their expected goals (‘xG’) this season but still have excellent statistics to suggest this could continue and isn’t just down to a hot goal keeper keeping out goals. They are allowing just 9.8 shots per match (fourth fewest in the league), 1.5 big chances per match (seventh fewest) and 4.7 shots from the danger zone per match (sixth fewest). Read More

West Ham vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

West Ham vs Manchester United: Was Pogba right to attack Jose’s tactics?

It’s been a rough week for Manchester United. The building momentum I wrote about last time collapsed in the next 90 minutes of Premier League football. In between, José Mourinho’s men made a positive start to the Champions League season against Young Boys, but their domestic winning run came to a frustrating end with the 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Not once, but many times throughout the pre-season Mourinho pointed out this could be a difficult season for his team. It seems he was right. The Wolves draw was followed by an unexpected exit from the Carabao Cup as Frank Lampard’s Derby County won at Old Trafford on penalties. But that’s not the only problem United are facing at the moment. The most recent one is Paul Pogba losing his captaincy due to negative comments about the team’s tactics. Read More

Manchester City vs Brighton

Manchester City vs Brighton: How well has Bernardo replaced De Bruyne?

Six weeks in to the Premier League and Manchester City keep chugging along nicely. After the disappointing loss to Lyon in the Champions League, City responded in fine style against Cardiff and Oxford with eight goals scored in total and none conceded.

What’s perhaps been the most impressive element of City’s start to the season is that it comes without Kevin De Bruyne running the entire midfield. Last year, De Bruyne had the highest usage rate (the percentage of a team’s possessions in which a given player has the final action) of any City player by a wide margin, and he also rated as Twelve’s top attacker.

One of the key questions when he went down through injury was who would take on the offensive burden he carried last season. In order to measure that, below is a table showing each player’s usage rate so far this season compared with their record last season (for players with a minimum of 270 minutes in both campaigns): Read More

Premier League Fantasy Football Picks: Week Seven

Premier League Fantasy Football Picks: Week Seven

Here at Twelve, we’ve been wondering if we can use our algorithm in order to do well at fantasy football. To test the theory, we’ve been playing Draft Kings‘ weekly Premier League game, in which you have to select players from their chosen matches.

Our performance has been on an upward trend, but we’re still short of taking home the cash prizes. Perhaps as more player data is accrued for 2018/19, we’ll get even better? We can but hope. Here are the matches for this week’s game, which players would you select?

Premier League Fantasy Football Picks: Week Seven Draft Kings

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Jorginho Premier League Team Of The Week

Premier League Team of Week 6: Jorginho the pass master

There’s a breath of fresh air about our team of the week in week six. For the first time we’re going with a 4-2-3-1 formation. There’s no sign of regulars like Tarkowski, Pogba or Hazard, and we have a whole host of debutants. The likes of Harry Maguire and Jorginho both win their second TOTW caps of the season, with the latter putting in the performance of the week.

But did he actually contribute all that much at the London Stadium? We’ll come to that in due course, and we’ll begin with a shot stopper who hasn’t received too many positive notices in 2018/19. Read More

Guardiola and Klopp

The contrasting use of full-backs by Guardiola and Klopp

Whenever we hear the word full-back in football, there seems to be a varied concept in people’s minds circling around. Back in the day, the job of a full-back was to stay close to their centre-backs and defend, occasionally making runs forward. However, the modern-day usage of a full-back is something different, not really alien to the previous version, but a bit more attacking and adventurous.

A right-back or left-back now acts as a winger in possession moving forward at every opportunity. They should have the awareness of making recovery runs or staying in good positions while defending. As a result, many managers in the past decade have their front-line very narrow, because they depend on the full-backs to provide the width on both sides of the field.

There are two such managers in the Premier League who make use of these players in a contrasting way: Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. The former’s 4-3-3 system is quite different to the 4-3-3 of the latter, so let’s take a closer look at how Guardiola and Klopp employ their full-backs. Read More

Arsenal vs Everton Premier League Preview

Arsenal vs Everton Preview: Will the Gunners keep an elusive clean sheet?

There was something eerily familiar in the final minutes of what should have been a routine victory over Vorskla. The almost unanimous switching off that causes nervy ends to games and the feeling of gratitude at the two short blasts of the referee’s whistle signaling full time. Unai Emery confirmed the worrying inability for Arsenal to shut out games for the whole 90.

“We need to improve in this. The last minute in Newcastle, the last 20 minutes here. Our challenge is to be competitive for 90 minutes in each match.”

Though the goal against Newcastle came in added time, there was a bit of inevitability to it as Newcastle fashioned chances towards the close of the game. Similarly, the goals against Vorksla were sure to come as the Ukrainian side grew into the game with the Gunners conceding possession and losing sharpness. Arsenal have not yet kept a clean sheet this season.

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West Ham vs Chelsea Premier League Preview

West Ham vs Chelsea Preview: Hammers should fear the ugly sorcerer

West Ham claimed their first win of the season last time out while leaders Chelsea are looking to make it six victories from their first six matches. Sarri is striving for perfection and it brought him limited satisfaction to hear that he has emulated Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Craig Shakespeare by becoming the fourth manager to win his first five EPL games.

“I cannot change my mind because of one match,” Chelsea’s manager said. “My target is to be the best team in England, but not in one month. Maybe one season. Maybe a little more. But at the moment, in my opinion, Liverpool and Manchester City are better than us.”

But how can’t we say that Chelsea are favourites when eight of the top 10 players from both sides according to Twelve’s data are from the Blues? Read More

Liverpool vs Southampton

Liverpool vs Southampton Preview: Ode to the One-Eyed King

Anfield rarely disappoints you on a Champions League night.

It could be argued that the Reds were unfortunate to be put in a strong group with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and even Crvena Zvezda who showed this week that passion can get you places even when all the odds are stacked against you.

In a way, it was the case with Liverpool as well, who pulled off a coup against an expensive PSG side, packed with some of the world’s most expensive players. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were, however, given the taste of a genuine football atmosphere where fans and players breathe like one – holding each other’s back and moving forward hand in hand towards unimaginable heights. Read More

Manchester United vs Wolves Premier League Preview

Manchester United vs Wolves Preview: United on the rise?

Manchester United take on Wolves this weekend on the back of some improved form and results following their rocky start to the season. Having lost 3-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur, United supporters were worried about their chances of picking up all three points away to Watford, considering the Hornets had just beaten Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

Yet their fears were eased on the back of a first half performance that saw them deservedly go 2-0 up thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling. United were less impressive in the second half but still managed to hang on to the win, courtesy of some excellent late stops from the ever reliable David de Gea.

This weekend’s fixture against Nuno Espírito Santo’s side should be less of a struggle, even if they are currently just one point worse off than United this season. Still, when you consider they’ve averaged just one goal per game so far, even United’s less than impressive defence should be able to ensure they keep a clean sheet. Read More