Our penultimate Scout Notes article from Gameweek 5 looks back at the remaining two matches from Saturday, as Manchester United and Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners at Watford and Newcastle United respectively.
Ashley Young (£5.8m) grabbed an assist in Luke Shaw‘s (£5.1m) absence, while Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m) continued his fine run of form by scoring his fourth league goal of the season.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£7.1m) was once again forced to make do with a cameo appearance off the bench as Mesut Ozil (£8.3m) – who was effectively playing in the Armenian midfielder’s stead on the right flank – came away from St. James’ Park with a 10-point haul.
Alexandre Lacazette (£9.4m) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m), starting together for the second successive league match, both registered “Fantasy assists” as Arsenal secured their third win on the spin.
Reaction to tonight’s match between Southampton and Brighton will come tomorrow morning.
Watford 1-2 Manchester United
- Goals: Andre Gray (£6.0m) | Romelu Lukaku (£11.0m), Chris Smalling (£5.8m)
- Assists: Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.9m) | Ashley Young (£5.8m), Marouane Fellaini (£5.0m)
Ashley Young (£5.8m) laid down a marker to absent team-mate Luke Shaw (£5.1m) at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening with an impressive performance at left-back in the Red Devils’ 2-1 victory.
Young created more chances for his team-mates than any other United player and delivered more crosses than anyone on show at Watford – one of which led to Romelu Lukaku‘s (£11.0m) opening goal.
From a Fantasy Premier League point of view, Young didn’t quite pack the same attacking punch as Shaw has been delivering this season, with the 33-year-old England international not having a single shot on goal and only registering one penalty box touch in 90 minutes at Vicarage Road.
Creatively, though, Young shone: the veteran full-back fired over more crosses in this one match than Shaw has managed all season. Young being on set-piece duties is another feather in his cap, with Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini (£5.0m) and Chris Smalling (£5.8m) dominant in the air and increasing the chances of Young’s deliveries being converted into assists. Young, indeed, “assisted the assister” for United’s second goal when his corner was nodded on by Fellaini for Smalling to volley home.
Mourinho praised both of his left-backs in the post-match press conference and indicated that Shaw would start in the UEFA Champions League match against Young Boys in midweek:
Shaw plays Wednesday. We can’t do it with one left-back and Ashley Young is not just a left-back – he’s also a right-back.
They both are doing well and they both are different players, and they both understand that one is a young player and the other one is the experienced one, and it’s good for us to have these two options.
Mourinho’s comments heighten the worry about rotation in the left-back department – if Shaw plays on Wednesday, then there remains the possibility of Young coming back into the starting XI for the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers next Saturday.
The United boss did highlight Young’s ability to play at right-back, however, and Antonio Valencia (£6.5m) was not particularly convincing in the win over Watford – the Hornets’ consolation goal coming from the Ecuadorian’s flank. The imminent availability of Diogo Dalot (£5.4m) only complicates the full-back situation further.
One United player who is almost rotation-proof is Lukaku. The Belgian striker featured in all 34 matches in which he was fit last season, with only two of those appearances (one over Christmas and another in April when fixture congestion took hold) coming off the bench.
Lukaku was praised as much for his work-rate as his goalscoring contribution in Mourinho’s post-match interview:
I think this last Lukaku tackle as a right-back, I think shows everything. I think he is the image of the team… that played very well in long periods in the first half.
Whilst the United number nine had only two attempts on goal at Vicarage Road, he was also denied by Ben Foster (£4.5m) when clean through on goal after a superb lofted pass from Alexis Sanchez (£10.2m).
No FPL forward has been presented with more big chances than Lukaku this season, with only Callum Wilson (£6.3m) having more shots from inside the box and Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.8m) registering a higher number of shots on target.
Intriguingly and perhaps encouragingly for a player often labelled with a “flat-track bully” tag, all four of Lukaku’s goals have come away from home this season – albeit against sides outside of the “big six”.
Fellaini’s growing importance to this United side was again evident, with the towering Belgian posting impressive Clearances, Blocks and Interceptions (CBI) and recovery statistics for the second match running in a deep-lying midfield role.
While this is largely by-the-by for Fantasy managers looking for value in the budget midfield bracket, Fellaini remains a dangerous threat at set-piece situations: the former Everton midfielder was involved in the build-up to United’s first goal before registering an assist for their second.
Mourinho paid tribute to Fellaini after the match:
We made defensive mistakes against Brighton and against Tottenham. Against Brighton, we didn’t deserve to win, against Tottenham I think we did – but (in the two games we conceded) six goals and made defensive mistakes.
Then we go to two matches away, difficult matches. I felt that my central defenders need, especially in this moment of a bit of instability, they need somebody to support them and give them the first wall, physically. Marouane is giving us more than that, he is giving that but also quality and simplicity. He is playing simple and well. I’m really happy.
Fellaini’s starting berth looks even more secure for the time being with Nemanja Matic (£5.0m) set to sit out Gameweek 6 after his dismissal for two yellow cards in the victory over Watford.
With just two key passes and one shot on goal between them, Sanchez and Jesse Lingard (£6.8m) failed to further their causes as FPL midfield options. Paul Pogba (£8.2m), however, had more attempts on goal than any player on show at Vicarage Road – only two FPL midfielders have registered more shots than the World Cup winner in 2018/19.
The three most-owned FPL players in Watford’s squad – Jose Holebas (£4.8m), Roberto Pereyra (£6.3m) and Troy Deeney (£6.1m) – failed to emerge from the encounter with any attacking points, with Andre Gray (£6.0m) scoring his second goal of the season from Abdoulaye Doucoure‘s (£5.9m) cut-back.
There were signs of encouragement though, with Deeney only being denied a goal by a smart David de Gea (£5.9m) stop and Pereyra creating more chances than any player on show on Saturday evening. No FPL defender has delivered more crosses than Holebas this season, meanwhile.
Watford were unchanged for the fifth match running and even in defeat, their starting XI looks like one of the most settled in the top flight.
The second-half performance, in particular, was encouraging, as Javi Gracia highlighted in his post-match presser:
We were much better in the second half than in the first. United played better in the first half; they created more chances and had more possession. In the second we were able to take a step forward to have more possession and to create more chances. In the last seconds we had two good chances to score. Today we don’t get the points but I can be proud of the second half.
In the first half we conceded two goals, after that the game was tough, we needed to press higher. We suffered some difficult situations, but we had to try and score two goals. It was a pity.
With matches against Spurs and United out of the way, Watford rank highly on our Season Ticker over the next seven Gameweeks, with Arsenal the only “big six” side that the Hornets face between now and the November international break.
Watford (4-4-2): Foster; Janmaat (Femenia 72′), Cathcart (Success 88′), Kabasele, Holebas (Masina 84′); Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes, Pereyra; Deeney, Gray
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia (Bailly 92′), Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Pogba, Fellaini, Matic; Lingard (Martial 71′), Lukaku, Sanchez (McTominay 84′)
Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal
- Goals: Ciaran Clark (£4.5m) | Granit Xhaka (£5.3m), Mesut Ozil (£8.3m)
- Assists: Federico Fernandez (£4.4m) | Alexandre Lacazette (£9.4m), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s stock continues to fall after he started on the Arsenal bench for the second successive match. Only Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) has suffered more FPL sales since the Gameweek 5 deadline passed, with Mkhitaryan having been transferred out by over 130,000 managers at the time of writing.
The Armenian midfielder was – and remains – the most-owned Arsenal asset in FPL, but if a large chunk of his managers were playing “wait and see” regarding his selection in Gameweek 5, then the exodus will surely continue at a pace this week.
Mkhitaryan may instead get a run-out on Thursday evening, as Unai Emery hinted that he would rotate for the visit of Ukrainian side Vorskla in the UEFA Europa League:
We are going to change and use a lot of players for different competitions, but only thinking about the best performance for us to win on Thursday. Every competition for me is about [doing as well as you can] and normally you use a different goalkeeper in those [other] competitions, but it’s about giving [your best] performance.
Mesut Ozil (£8.3m) was stationed on the right wing again for the second successive match, straying in from the flank to get involved more centrally when Arsenal were in possession.
That inward drift from the wing though seems to be something Emery is encouraging Ozil to do, which bodes well for the German’s goal threat in the season ahead.
His quality helps the team. It is important he scored. I want not only for him to assist, we need him to go in the box and score like today.
Like the rest of his team, Ozil was better in the second half than in the opening 45 minutes, scoring what turned out to be the winner on 57 minutes after following up Alexandre Lacazette‘s (£9.4m) blocked shot.
While that was Ozil’s one shot on goal in the entire match, only Lacazette registered more penalty box touches than the German midfielder on Tyneside.
Ozil also created more chances than any Arsenal or Newcastle player on Saturday afternoon, doubling the number of key passes he had previously made all season.
We will need to see more evidence of Ozil’s progress before he enters our thoughts as a premium FPL midfielder, however, with Aaron Ramsey (£7.4m) indeed having registered more than twice as many penalty box touches and attempts on goal than the German schemer in almost exactly the same amount of minutes this season.
Aubameyang’s slide from favour in the Fantasy community continues, despite the Gabonese forward collecting a “Fantasy assist” for Granit Xhaka‘s (£5.3m) superbly converted free-kick. Aubameyang’s skewed attempt across goal in the second half was the only time he touched the ball in Newcastle’s penalty box in the entire match.
His frustration at being hooked after 69 minutes summed up his underwhelming season so far, though Emery downplayed Aubameyang’s petulance in his post-match press conference:
It’s normal. I want the players when I change the team or when I decide them not to start them in the first XI to be angry and have ambition to play and help the team and stay on the pitch. For me it’s a normal situation.
Ramsey was also withdrawn with ten minutes to go, but Emery slightly eased any injury worries over the Welshman:
He played with the national team two matches and then he played 80 minutes with us, so he asked us to change him. It’s not a big problem but he was tired. I think it is no problem.
Lacazette, as one would expect from a central striker, was Arsenal’s chief goal threat, setting up Aubameyang for his one opportunity and having three efforts of his own. Given Aubameyang’s form of late, the Frenchman must surely stand a chance of an extended run in the first team after another all-round positive display.
While not a budget midfield asset many FPL managers will be interested in, Lucas Torreira‘s (£4.9m) man-of-the-match performance after being introduced as a half-time substitute for Matteo Guendouzi (£4.5m) could have positive repercussions for the attackers in front of him.
Arsenal were much-improved after the Uruguayan’s introduction, with his added steel in the centre allowing Xhaka a tad more freedom – and indeed the Swiss international played an integral role in Ozil’s goal, supplying the initial pass for Lacazette’s blocked effort.
Speaking of Torreira, Emery said:
I am very happy with Matteo and also very happy with Lucas. But maybe in the second half, we needed a little more balance on the pitch with the positioning. Lucas gives us this balance.
Arsenal are still without a clean sheet this season, meanwhile, with Shkodran Mustafi (£5.4m) particularly shaky and getting caught under the ball for Ciaran Clark‘s (£4.4m) headed consolation. Hector Bellerin (£5.4m) and Nacho Monreal (£5.5m), meanwhile, didn’t create a single chance or register an effort on goal.
For the Magpies, it was another spirited but limited performance that resulted in their fourth 2-1 defeat of the season against one of the “big six”.
Their stubborn displays have caused problems for the title-chasing sides in this campaign, but their performance on Saturday was more akin to the opening-day loss to Spurs than it was to the backs-to-the-wall displays against Manchester City and Chelsea.
Ditching the 5-4-1 in favour of a 4-4-1-1, Newcastle took the game to their visitors in the first half and had the better of what few chances were created, with Jacob Murphy (£4.9m) – preferred to Kenedy (£5.0m) on the left flank – forcing Petr Cech (£5.0m) into a save with a header across goal and Matt Ritchie (£5.9m) also impressing early on.
The injury that Jamaal Lascelles (£4.9m) picked up in the warm-up led to the influential United defender’s withdrawal at half-time and that substitution seemed to upset the Magpies’ rhythm, with Arsenal well on top in the second half.
Benitez gave an update on his captain after the match:
He twisted his ankle in the warm-up. We’ll see – the doctor said to check in a couple of days.
He said he was fine but afterwards it was a problem for us because we were making one substitution already.
In the second half when you concede two goals you need to change something but we were a little short of options. As soon as you have made one substitution already you can’t react too much.
The United boss also explained the rationale behind his decision to name Jonjo Shelvey (£5.4m), Kenedy and Salomon Rondon (£5.9m) on the bench.
We had five decisions to take: (Matt) Ritchie was fine, Jonjo (Shelvey) was not fully fit and Kenedy was not fully fit either. (Salomon) Rondon and (DeAndre) Yedlin came back late and we didn’t want to take the risk with both of them.
Joselu was doing well in the week so we thought it would be fine. (Isaac) Hayden, coming back with energy and desire, we thought he would be fine.
There is at least light at the end of the tunnel for the Magpies after their tricky start: Newcastle sit top of our long-term Season Ticker between now and Christmas, with Manchester United their only “big six” opponents between now and Gameweek 18.
Newcastle United XI (4-4-1-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles (Clark 45′), Fernandez, Dummett; Hayden, Diame; Murphy (Kenedy 69′), Ritchie; Perez (Muto 79′) Joselu
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Guendouzi (Torreira 46′), Xhaka; Ozil, Ramsey (Welbeck 80′), Aubameyang (Mkhitaryan 69′); Lacazette
READ MORE GAMEWEEK 5 SCOUT NOTES
- Spurs 1-2 Liverpool
- Bournemouth 4-2 Leicester
- Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff
- Huddersfield 0-1 Crystal Palace
- Man City 3-0 Fulham
- Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal
- Watford 1-2 Man United
- Wolves 1-0 Burnley
- Everton 1-3 West Ham
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