Straight into it this week. For those of you who haven’t read these articles before, it is basically my take on how the Premier League should look, when you factor in each team’s varying strength of schedule. More information on the nuances of this can be found here, whilst a look back at the week 10 article can be found here.

Last Time: Week 11 and 12 Predictions

  1. TARGET: Gylfi Sigurdsson. Finally the £45 million man is starting to pay back some of his hefty transfer fee. At least from a Togga perspective. Prior to week 10 the Icelandic international was averaging just 6.22, but since then he scored a 7.5 versus Watford and a 19 versus Crystal Palace. This 2-week average PPM of 13.25 would make him the 7th best midfielder in the league had he been doing it from day one. Prediction Verdict: 9/10.
  2. TARGET: James Milner. There was always a risk that Milner, despite his monumental 32-point performance against Huddersfield in week 9, wouldn’t start in Liverpool’s subsequent matches. And sure enough, Klopp has played him for a grand total of 23 minutes over the last two weeks, allowing him to score a paltry 2 points, and making this prediction pathetic. Prediction Verdict: 0/10.
  3. TARGET: Kurt Zouma. The Stoke centre-back may not have got the clean-sheet that I was hoping for in the last two matches, but with his goal against Brighton, Zouma’s 2-week average PPM sits at a very respectable 12.5. Only Shkodran Mustafi, Ben Davies, and Cesar Azpilicueta have routinely scored better than that so far this season. Prediction Verdict: 9/10.
  4. GET RID: Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Following a sensational start to the season, Mkhitaryan’s form has well and truly hit a brick wall. And if you took my advice on board two weeks ago, you should have managed to get good value for him before the rest of the league noticed. Just 2.5 points in the loss against Chelsea (where he was subbed off after 62 minutes) was followed by being dropped altogether for the Newcastle game. Prediction Verdict: 9/10.
  5. GET RID: Dusan Tadic. The Southampton winger scored 8.5 in week 11 against Burnley and 5.5 in week 12 against Liverpool. Not terrible amounts, particularly when you consider that Southampton lost both games without scoring. But Tadic is meant to be the club’s main attacking threat – and from a Togga perspective, you would be hoping for around 10PPM from this type of player. He failed to finish both matches as well. Prediction Verdict: 6/10.
  6. GET RID: I picked on Arsenal again. Specifically, right back Hector Bellerin and (as of 2:30pm Saturday) the “world class” Mesut Ozil. This prediction really is a tale of two matchups. After the Manchester City game in week 11 – where Bellerin scored -5 points (that’s right, MINUS FIVE), and Ozil scored -0.5 – I was ready to proclaim myself a genius. But week 12’s shock victory (okay “shock” may be exaggerating it a little, but it definitely was a surprise) in the North London derby swung this prediction right back in the opposite direction. A 10.25 for Bellerin and a 17.5 for Ozil – who was fully deserving of his man of the match award – means that anyone who stuck by this duo was well and truly rewarded. Prediction Verdict: 5/10.

Strength of Schedule

The above graph illustrates the strength of the schedule each team has faced so far this season (i.e. the opening 12 games). Minus numbers indicate a tougher than average schedule, whilst positive numbers indicate an easier than average schedule.

Random facts: Manchester City have the second easiest two-game stretch for weeks 13 and 14 (behind only Everton), despite already having had the 7th easiest schedule of the season as a whole. Huddersfield Town have the toughest week 13 and 14 fixtures, which is less surprising given that they’ve had the 3rd easiest schedule so far. Liverpool, owners of the 6th hardest schedule on the whole, have the 3rd most difficult two-game stretch in weeks 13 and 14.

The Alternative EPL Table

Togga Implications

  1. TARGET. This is the third time that I’ll be recommending an Everton player, which goes to show what a brutal schedule the Merseyside club have faced so far this season. It does get easier Toffees fans, I promise you. In fact, the next two games – against Southampton and West Ham United – are the most favourable in the league. Calvert-Lewin (who despite having to make his impact off the bench recently continues to score well) and Sigurdsson remain very good targets, but to vary things up I’ll pick a defender: Leighton Baines. I was considering going with Jonjoe Kenny at right back, but I am bias to the veteran Baines as I traded Aaron Mooy for him about a month ago. Since then he’s averaged over 10 points for me, whilst Mooy has averaged just 6.5 points. The Everton man is currently owned in 63% of leagues.
  2. TARGET. It’s so tempting to suggest Callum Wilson from Bournemouth, but after his hat-trick at the weekend, that would be taking the easy road just a little. So instead, I’ll go with his teammate Andrew Surman. The midfielder, owned in just 11% of leagues, has been Bournemouth’s best player this season according to WhoScored (not including Wilson, who has played just three games). Bournemouth have had the fifth toughest schedule so far this season, so they are due a few nicer fixtures…starting with matches against Swansea City and Burnley in the next two weeks.
  3. TARGET. A schedule that’s easing up and a bounce back in form following the arrival of a new manager means that Leicester City players may be worth a punt in the coming weeks. Mahrez, Maguire, and Fuchs – Leicester’s three best players this season according to WhoScored – are all owned in over 90% of leagues, so let’s go with their 4th best: Vincent Iborra. After a slow start to his Leicester career (not helped by injury), the Spanish midfielder has become a regular in Claude Puel’s side. With, in theory, the more defensively minded Wilfried Ndidi next to him, Iborra should be allowed to continue to get forward and help with attacking moves. He’s also owned in just 5% of leagues!

  1. GET RID. Jonas Lossl. The Huddersfield goalkeeper has become a popular choice in recent weeks, and is owned in 84% of leagues (making him the 4th most selected goalkeeper in the Togga). This seems fair given that he has the 3rd highest average PPM of relevant shot-stoppers, but according to WhoScored, he has been very average, and has been only the 6th best player at Huddersfield this season. The newly-promoted side have had the third easiest schedule so far this season, and the next two games are brutal: home to Manchester City and away to Arsenal. Last season in the Championship Reading were the only side in the top 7 to concede more than Huddersfield…the 4 goals shipped to Bournemouth in week 12 might just be a sign of things to come.
  2. GET RID. At the start of the season I predicted Burnley to go down…and whilst that’s clearly not going to happen, it’s almost certain that they’re not going to maintain the excellent start they’ve had either. They’ve had the 6th easiest schedule in the league so far, and with games against Arsenal and a resurgent Bournemouth next up, the slow slide back down the table could begin this week. With that in mind, you may want to offload any players you have now. Ben Mee and Stephen Ward are surprisingly owned in over 90% of leagues, and whilst I would rather recommend getting rid of their attacking players (even an off-form Burnley should remain solid at the back), these two may be the most applicable. Ward’s numbers in particular may be a little deceiving, given that he’s scored one and assisted one in the 12 games he’s played, so let’s nail our colours to the mast with the left back.
  3. GET RID. I’m going to cheat a little bit with the final one. But for good reason. I’m going to pick the same two players from last week: Dusan Tadic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Yes it may be a bit of a cop out, but Southampton and Manchester United have had the two easiest schedules in the league this season, and whilst United’s next two games aren’t that bad, Southampton have to face the might of Manchester City at The Etihad. Mkhitaryan may have to get used to his place on the bench (or in the stands if week 12 is anything to go by) now that Pogba and Zlatan are back, and whilst Tadic’s starting spot may not be under threat, it’s probably more down to a lack of alternatives. The Serbian has been only the 9th best player at Southampton, and the 76th (!!) best midfielder in the league, according to WhoScored.

If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy the book “The Inner Geek of Football” available from Amazon.co.uk for £3.99 (or Amazon.com for $5.24).

Follow Luke Wilkins on Twitter using @the_innergeek