A Little Bit of History Repeating

As the climax to the season draws closer, many of us find ourselves needing to gamble on transfers in order to catch our mini league rivals. At this stage we’re looking for any inspiration we can get and statistics can provide such a source of that inspiration.

One of the more interesting theories that is often bandied around amongst football pundits is the uncanny knack of players scoring against the same opponent again and again. Just this weekend for example, Villa’s Gabby Agbonlahor faces Birmingham and you’re sure to hear pundits spout just how he has scored in his last three meetings against his local rivals. Even Mark was guilty of this in this week’s Scout Picks.

So I thought I’d take this theory and, with the help of some historical Fantasy Premier League (FPL) statistics, identify those players who fair particularly well against their remaining opponents over the last three gameweeks…

First an explanation on the logic. In order to identify potential high point scorers, I looked how each player scored against his forthcoming opponents in games since the start of the 2007/08 season. I only included games where the player played 60 minutes or more and I also made sure each player had played in at least four matches as to avoid any erroneous results.

When we focus on those players who averaged over six points per game (PPG) during those matches, the following list was generated:

Player Games Vs Future Opponents Total FPL Points Average FPL Points (PPG)
Yossi Benayoun 4 41 10.3
Darren Bent 5 41 9.0
Andrei Arshavin 5 33 6.6
Emmanuel Adebayor 11 71 6.5
David Dunn 7 44 6.3
Nani 4 25 6.3
Ashley Young 13 80 6.2

At the top of the list is Liverpool’s Yossi Benayoun. Over the course of their remaining three fixtures, Liverpool travel to Burnley and Hull who Benayoun has faced four times previously. During those games he scored 4, 5, 8 & 24 points. Even without these stats, Benayoun looks a decent gamble if Steven Gerrard is too rich for your blood. The obvious “con” to this “pro” is however Rafa’s selection policy. Benayoun appears to be favoured for Liverpool’s Europa League matches, making him prone to rotation in the remaining league encounters starting at Burnley this weekend.

Next is Darren Bent who faces Hull, Man Utd and Wolves. In five previous games against these teams he has scored 2, 6, 9, 10 & 18 points making him a strong option if your mini league opponents aren’t already in ownership. Bent is of course pushing for a place in the England squad so has plenty of motivation to up his game. Some are considering benching Bent at Hull today – going against the “never bench Bent” popular myth. Dangerous?

Andrei Arshavin represents more of a gamble, especially as he is just returning from injury and is out of this weekend’s meet with Man City. Also, despite appearing third in the list, his PPG is noticeably lower than Bent’s in second. His points against Man City, Blackburn and Fulham read 3, 3, 3, 8 & 16.

Further down the list, Emmanuel Adebayor is interesting with a forthcoming double fixture and strong form. David Dunn is a great cheap option if you want to gamble on his avoidance of recurring injury problems. Nani is certainly an interesting alternative. He can be great on his day and is this week’s Scout Picks for today’s encounter with Spurs . Last on the list is Ashley Young, he has the ability to hit big points against most opponents, however after a disappointing recent double gameweek, interest in him could be tentative at best.

So there we have it. The myth that players have their favourite opponents explored and broken down in Fantasy terms. Pure nonsensical fodder for football pundits? I guess we shall see over the next three gameweeks.

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