Over 40,000 Fantasy Premier League managers have taken the plunge on Richarlison after his 14-point return in Everton’s 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers yesterday, although the sight of the Brazilian limping from the pitch late in the match will be of some concern to his new and existing owners.
Ruben Neves also delivered a double-digit haul in the evening kick-off at Molineux, while two-goal Roberto Pereyra was the star of the show in Watford’s victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Our latest Scout Notes dissects the two remaining Premier League matches played on Saturday.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Everton
- Goals: Ruben Neves (£5.0m), Raul Jimenez (£5.5m) | Richarlison (£6.5m) x2
- Assists: Diogo Jota (£6.5m), Ruben Neves | Michael Keane (£5.0m), Cenk Tosun (£7.0m)
An injury to Richarlison (£6.5m) marred the Brazilian’s Everton debut, as the £35m capture from Watford struck twice for the ten-man Toffees in a 2-2 draw with Wolves.
That the former Watford winger was able to walk off the field of play – and return for the post-match pleasantries after the final whistle – would perhaps suggest that the problem is not too serious, and the winger’s substitution was not alluded to in either his or Marco Silva’s post-match interviews.
Having failed to find the net once after Gameweek 12 last season, an infamous barren run in which Richarlison recorded 52 attempts on goal without success, the Brazilian struck with his only two shots of the match at Molineux.
Reports of Leighton Baines‘ (£5.5m) demise as a Fantasy asset appear to have been greatly exaggerated, with the Everton veteran not only getting the nod over Lucas Digne (£5.0m) at left-back but also playing a pivotal role in Richarlison’s opener. It was from Baines’ whipped free-kick that Richarlison prodded home after 17 minutes, with Michael Keane (£5.0m) collecting a fortuitous assist following a penalty box scramble. Baines also took four corner-kicks during the match, although was perhaps afforded more responsibility from set-piece duties due to the early withdrawal of Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.5m) before half-time.
The Icelandic midfielder’s substitution was a tactical one, with Everton having minutes earlier been reduced to ten men following Phil Jagielka‘s (£4.5m) dismissal for a foul on Diogo Jota (£6.5m). With Yerry Mina (£5.5m) soon to be in contention for a starting place after his move from Barcelona and Kurt Zouma joining the club on a season-long loan deal, Jagielka’s days in the Everton defence are possibly at an end.
The salt in the wound for Everton was that Ruben Neves (£5.0m) converted the subsequent free-kick after Jagielka’s red card, with the Portuguese midfielder also collecting an assist for Raul Jimenez‘s (£5.5m) late equaliser.
Neves already enjoyed a double-digit ownership in FPL and his popularity would seem set to increase further ahead of Gameweek 2: the 21-year-old is currently the most bought midfielder of the round.
Much was made of Neves’ weaknesses as an FPL asset prior to the season, with justifications for his omission from our squads ranging from his deep-lying playmaker position to the fact that 90 of his 93 shots last season were taken from outside the opposition box.
As Luka Milivojevic proved in 2017/18, though, dead-ball duties go a long way to furthering a budget midfielder’s Fantasy appeal. Neves not only poses a significant threat from direct free-kicks (this was his third Wolves goal from such a situation) but may also be on penalty-taking duties, having taken two spot-kicks in pre-season – although the last one, in the 2-1 win over Villarreal, was missed.
On a day of bargain basement players starting for their respective clubs, Ryan Bennett (£4.0m) became the latest name to monitor in the budget defender bracket after getting the nod at centre-back ahead of Romain Saiss (£4.5m). Bennett could so easily have collected an assist for his 5%+ of owners, too, having played a sumptuous through ball for Jimenez, who failed to beat Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) when one on one with the returning England goalkeeper.
Nuno Espirito Santo was none-too-pleased about his side’s defensive solidity but was resolute when asked if he would compromise Wolves’ style (last season’s Championship winners once again rolled out a 3-4-3) to shore up his backline:
Honestly, no, We have to build something with a shape that is able to adapt to all of the difficult opponents that we have in front of us. But don’t change your beliefs. What you believe and what you work for every day is what you must do on the day of competition. We believe in what we do.
Ivan Cavaleiro (£5.5m) missed out on yesterday’s draw through injury, but Santo would not put a date on when the winger would be available for selection again. Adama Traore (£5.5m) was also absent with a minor shoulder injury but will be another wide-midfielder to threaten perhaps Helder Costa‘s (£5.0m) starts on his return.
Despite playing for almost an hour with an extra man, Wolves had the fewest number of shots inside the opposition box than any of the teams in action on Saturday.
WOLVES XI (3-4-3): Rui Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Moutinho (Gibbs-White 85′), Neves, Castro (Vinagre 76′); Jota, Jimenez, Costa (Bonatini 71′)
EVERTON XI (4-3-3): Pickford; Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Baines; Schneiderlin, Gueye, Sigurdsson (Holgate 43′); Walcott, Tosun (Niasse 81′), Richarlison (Digne 86′)
Watford 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Goals: Roberto Pereyra (£6.0m) x2
- Assists: Jose Holebas (£4.5m) x2
While Richarlison was making hay at Molineux, his replacement of sorts was showing that the Brazilian winger may not be missed at Vicarage Road this season.
Roberto Pereyra (£6.0m) has now been directly involved in all of Watford’s last six Premier League goals, with his brace in the 2-0 victory over Brighton his fifth strike in seven top-flight appearances.
Pereyra’s opportunities on the left flank were stymied by Richarlison for much of last season, with the Argentinean midfielder either mostly playing behind the striker or out on the right wing on the 17 occasions in which Marco Silva or Javi Gracia started him in 2017/18. A run of five starts on the left wing towards the end of the campaign just gone, however, coincided with the beginning of this ongoing productive spell.
No midfielder had more attempts on goal (four) than Pereyra in the seven Premier League matches contested so far this weekend.
Fantasy managers considering purchasing the £6.0m-rated midfielder should, however, be aware that Torino have been linked with a move for Pereyra in recent days and, with the transfer window still open on the continent, there is still the potential for the Hornets’ match-winner to be playing elsewhere by the end of August.
That Watford would be unable to source a replacement before January means that the club may resist any approach for the 27-year-old, with Gracia stressing the importance of Pereyra to his side this season in his post-match interview:
I don’t expect anybody to go out in the last movement and during the summer I really don’t know the movements. I only want the players who worked with me last season, they stay with me this season as well and Roberto is one of them. He is a high-quality player and I think he’s very important for us.
Watford lined up as we predicted in our Team News section, with Troy Deeney and Andre Gray (both £6.0m) getting starts in attack. Etienne Capoue (£5.0m) and Abdoulaye Doucoure (£6.0m) sat deep in midfield in a formation that resembled 4-2-2-2 at times.
Although Gracia rolled out a 4-4-2 for much of pre-season, the Watford boss hinted after Saturday’s victory over the Seagulls that his side’s shape could change throughout 2018/19, as it did when the Hornets switched to a diamond formation in the draw with Sampdoria last weekend:
If all the players, like Troy and Andre, keep that level, I think it’s a very good option for games like today. In other games, maybe we need to change the shape.
For example, playing in the last pre-season game against Sampdoria, we needed to change the shape because they played a different way and then we need to adjust some things to play with [Etienne] Capoue and with Roberto as a second midfielder.
We can change depending on the opponents and we’ll try to keep our attitude in all the games.
Watford had more attempts on goal (19) than any of the 14 Premier League sides who have been in action this weekend, meanwhile.
As we suggested in our analysis of the Hornets’ numbers from last season and in an evaluation of Gracia’s pre-season tactics, Watford’s full-backs could be excellent budget defensive picks this season. Jose Holebas (£4.5m) duly delivered on that tip with assists for both of Pereyra’s goals; the first from a short corner routine and the second courtesy of some tenacious scrapping from the Greek left-back to set Pereyra on his way.
Holebas created more chances and took more corner-kicks than any other Premier League defender on Saturday.
Brighton, meanwhile, were lacklustre in attack as well as unconvincing in defence, with Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster (£4.5m) not called upon to make any save on his return to Vicarage Road.
The Seagulls also lost Bruno (£4.5m) to injury in the first half, with Hughton elaborating on the veteran defender’s problem in his post-match interviews:
He felt his hamstring. As with all muscle injuries, you don’t really know the extent.
New signing Martin Montoya (£4.5m) could be handed his debut against Manchester United next weekend, then, if Bruno is ruled out. Gaetan Bong (£4.5m) was sent on to replace Bruno yesterday afternoon, with new signing Bernardo (£4.5m) switching over from left-back to fill in for the 37-year-old defender.
The Seagulls’ insipid performance on Saturday could also further the cases for recent captures Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£7.0m) and Yves Bissouma (£5.0m) to start against the Red Devils next weekend, with both players only featuring as second-half substitutes in the defeat to Watford.
Hughton’s side had the worst away record in the top flight last season and their loss to the Hornets was the 14th successive match in which they have failed to win on their travels. Pascal Gross (£7.0m), whose only attacking returns away from home last season were two assists, created just one chance and didn’t register a single shot before being hooked on the hour mark.
WATFORD XI (4-4-2): Foster; Janmaat, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Hughes (Sema 81′), Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra (Femenia 81′); Gray (Success 74)’, Deeney
BRIGHTON XI (4-4-1-1): Ryan; Bruno (Bong 25′), Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March (Jahankabash 71′); Gross (Bissouma 60′); Murray
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