"Data journalism" is all the rage. With Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight site launching this week, perhaps it's time for me to dip my toes into the water. Other Premier League writers here at Rotoworld are a bit more into this kind of thing, but what I wanted to do was to look at how the ten teams with two matches this game-week match up. At first glance, Liverpool have the easiest schedule, while Arsenal and Swansea have the hardest. But what does the data say? What does science say?
My methodology is as follows. Each team gets a point value assigned to it based on:
* Add up the league table position of their opponents. Yes, I know some teams have games in hand, but I don't want this to get out of hand.
* Add two points for each team's home games this week.
* Add two points for any additional days between matches - ie. any team that plays Saturday and Wednesday (not Tuesday) gets another two points.
So where does that leave us?
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West Brom, @West Ham
Fulham, @Man Utd
Man Utd, Hull
@West Ham, Man City
Quibbles with the methodology aside, the numbers don't lie. Liverpool do indeed have the easiest time this week. And it's not even close. Sunderland have those games in hand, but they're in the relegation zone for good reason. Liverpool should roll the Bluebirds and Black Cats and fantasy managers will be well served to invest heavily in the Reds this weekend.
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Hull City look a good bet this weekend too, thanks mostly to their home match against West Brom. Hull have been better on the road recently, but Pepe Mel's team have only last weekend's win at Swansea to show for the new manager's efforts. Nicika Jelavic, Shane Long, Tom Huddlestone, and Curtis Davies are the pick of the Tiger litter. Alan McGregor is a cheap alternative at keeper, but I won't go back there after getting burned with him against Newcastle.
Manchester City come in third in our little table thanks to their home match against bottom-side Fulham. I'm on Joe Hart and David Silva. Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure are also in the conversation.
Newcastle United ride two home matches to fourth place. They can't score without Loic Remy, but they'll be hopeful of keeping goals against down Palace and Everton. The defence appeals, if the attack doesn't.
West Ham also benefit from two home matches, and an extra day of rest between matches. It's Palace's league position that keeps Newcastle in fourth and the Hammers in fifth. Andy Carroll is a popular enabler, but Mark Noble and Stewart Downing have been returning points in midfield recently. The defence can come up big, though it's still hard to bet against Manchester United's attack. I'm learning to, however.
Everton get a struggling Swansea side and travel to Newcastle, who are whatever the opposite of free-flowing is. Another case for the defence.
Sunderland have two road matches. At Liverpool we all expect to be a slaughter, but at Norwich isn't as easy a task as their league position would indicate. Their position in my table may be as deceiving as their position in the league with those games in hand. Just in the opposite direction.
Manchester United have their derby against title-chasing City, and haven't convinced against any half-competent team - be they from the isles of England or Greece. They also have a quick turnaround from the West Ham game, while City stay at home against Fulham.
Arsenal face league-leading Chelsea. Last time the two played out a drab nil-nil draw. Their second match is much sweeter, hosting Swansea albeit on a two-day turnaround. However, if you want the best opportunities over TWO matches, Arsenal are not your team.
Finally, and it's not even close, Swansea prop up our table. Two road matches against top-six teams, on a short turnaround. Michu has returned from injury, but I'd wait until they host Norwich next gameweek to invest.
I hope this helped. I know it was clarifying for me. I do apologize for the lack of charts. Next time, I promise.