Manchester United’s dramatic comeback win over Newcastle may have excited even the neutral on Saturday evening, but it papered over the cracks as far as Fantasy Premier League managers are concerned.
An easy clean sheet was expected for the Red Devils but lowly Newcastle still breached them twice.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Bournemouth, whose attacking options look better with each passing Gameweek.
We’ve gone over another two matches in this final Scout Notes article of Gameweek 8.
Watford 0-4 Bournemouth
Goals: David Brooks (£5.0m), Josh King x2 (£6.3m), Callum Wilson (£6.3m)
Assists: Wilson x2, Ryan Fraser (£6.0m)
José Holebas (£4.9m) is already the most sold player ahead of Gameweek 9 after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Bournemouth. That has ruled him out of Watford’s trip to Wolves on October 20. His large ownership may also be reacting to a negative score, as the Hornets’ defence conceded four goals at home to the Cherries.
The result was one which brought Watford crashing back down to earth after such a promising start to the season. Four matches into the campaign Javi Gracia’s side had a 100 per cent record, but from Gameweek 5 onwards they have picked up just one point from a possible 12.
While Holebas may still have some value with Huddersfield (home), Newcastle (away) and Southampton (away) three of the next four opponents for Watford, previously popular options are starting to wane.
Roberto Pereyra (£6.2m) is now without an attacking return for five consecutive Gameweeks, and Ben Foster (£4.5m) still without a clean sheet since Gameweek 1.
Watford started quite positively against Bournemouth but were unable to take the chances that fell their way. The Hornets registered more shots (14 to 10) in this defeat but managed considerably fewer on target; Bournemouth had seven to their hosts’ two.
Watford were of course not helped by the sending off of Christian Kabasele (£4.5m) for a second bookable offence in the 32nd minute. Kabasele will also be absent for the trip to Molineux, his suspension lasting just one game, considering his previous sending off this season was overturned after an appeal. Midfielder Etienne Capoue (£5.0m) was pushed back into defence by Gracia, leaving them open to further attacks. It was only in the second half that he introduced a new centre-back in the form of Adrian Mariappa (£4.3m).
The number of absences in defence may hand the advantage to Wolves and owners of their assets in Gameweek 9. Holebas and Kabasele will not be available while right-backs Daryl Janmaat (£5.0m) and Marc Navarro (£4.3m) remain out through injury.
In fact, Watford could prove a team to target as opposition for Fantasy managers this year given their defensive record. Since being promoted back into the Premier League in 2015, the Hornets have picked up more red cards than any other side in the top flight (13). Also, only West Ham (22) have given away more Premier League penalties than Watford (19) since the start of the 2015/16 season.
Gracia has generally been reticent to make changes from one game to the next this season, most of them enforced because of injuries. However, he was unhappy with the performance on Saturday and may feel the need to switch personnel after the international break. Gerard Deulofeu (£5.4m), without a start this season, claimed that Watford ‘need him’ after the match.
“I think today we have conceded more chances and made more mistakes than in all of the other games together. Maybe because we played around 60 minutes with 10 players, maybe because we started losing early and after that maybe the players felt more pressure and more anxious but it’s true. Today was a bad day and we need to improve for the next games and come back to the level we had before today’s performance.” – Javi Gracia
“Step-by-step I will improve with minutes and help the team because now it’s four games without a win and we have to change this. I think Watford needs me and I want to help the team and my teammates. We have to improve together and change a lot of things because what happened today can’t happen again.” – Gerard Deulofeu
Meanwhile, a victory by such a large margin opened up the debate over which Bournemouth attacker is the best to own. Callum Wilson (£6.3m) emerged as the top Fantasy scorer from the match with 14 points, scoring his first goal since Gameweek 2 and laying on his sixth and seventh assists of the campaign. Strike partner Josh King (£6.3m) registered a 13-point haul from his two goals and had more efforts in the penalty area than his English colleague.
With a selection of other forwards in the budget category delivering at a consistent rate, Ryan Fraser (£6.0m) remains the most popular Bournemouth attacker (22.8%). However, the Scottish winger was involved in just one goal in the rout and has just one attacking return in the last three Gameweeks. Wilson has outscored Fraser by 12 points in that time. But the pair has clearly been working on helping each other to some attacking returns in training, as they linked-up for the fourth and final goal at Vicarage Road.
“We look to do that ball sometimes in training. The Wee Man played it in and it was a bit far in front of me for my head so I had to use my foot. I think the keeper gambled and tried to read it and to my delight, I managed to put it in because he was nowhere to be seen.” – Callum Wilson
Potentially entering the conversation is David Brooks (£5.0m) who now has two goals in as many matches. The former Sheffield United man is the cheapest of the quartet in question by some distance and may see an increase in his 0.1% ownership over the international break. Brooks spent some time near the top of expected goals charts earlier this season, but this was the first time in his career that he has scored in back-to-back games.
Despite returning to fitness of late, Diego Rico (£4.5m) did not make it back into the side. Adam Smith (£4.5m) was used at left-back again, with the new signing on the bench for the second match in a row. That meant Simon Francis (£4.4m) was deployed at right-back again. Those alterations, made after the 4-0 defeat to Burnley, have made some improvement to the Bournemouth back-line. They allowed an average of 1.2 big chances per game between Gameweek 1 and 6 but have reduced that to just 0.5 over the last two matches.
Watford XI (4-4-2): Foster; Holebas, Kabasele, Cathcart, Kiko Femenia; Pereyra (Deulofeu 74′), Doucouré, Capoue, Hughes (Mariappa 55′); Gray (Success 55′), Deeney.
Bournemouth XI (4-4-2): Begovic; A Smith, Aké, Cook, Francis; Fraser (Stanislas 66′), L Cook (Surman 78′), Lerma, Brooks (Gosling 70′); Wilson, King.
Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle United
Goals: Juan Mata (£6.2m), Anthony Martial (£7.2m), Alexis Sánchez (£10.0m) | Kenedy (£4.9m), Yoshinori Muto (£5.7m)
Assists: Martial, Paul Pogba (£8.1m), Ashley Young (£5.7m) | Ayoze Pérez (£6.1m), Jonjo Shelvey (£5.4m)
Manchester United’s clash with Newcastle did not go the way many predicted it would. This writer, along with many others, had this down as a routine home win to nil for the Red Devils. However, the script was torn up inside the first 13 minutes when Newcastle, with a poor goal-scoring record on the road, lashed in two goals.
Luke Shaw (£5.1m) had been pinpointed by us as an option to consider for the match but his clean sheet was wiped out within a matter of minutes by Kenedy‘s (£4.9m) precision finish. It goes without saying that, in spite of the dramatic comeback at Old Trafford, United defensive assets are probably best left alone until things settle down. The Red Devils have to face Chelsea and Manchester City in the next four Gameweeks too, which could present them with serious problems.
After switching to 3-5-2 for the ill-fated trip to West Ham, Man United lined up in a 4-3-3 formation at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. However, Jose Mourinho’s plans were soon laid to waste by those two early goals and Eric Bailly (£5.2m) was sacrificed in the 16th minute as Juan Mata (£6.2m) took to the field. Scott McTominay (£4.4m) moved into defence once again, having started in central midfield. The United manager later revealed that he might have taken the youngster off at that stage but did not want to cause him unnecessary embarrassment at such an early stage in his career. Both McTominay and Rashford may well drop out of the side for big games against Chelsea and Man City if Mourinho believes the pressure is too much for them.
“Marcus Rashford was sad on the pitch, Scott McTominay was scared on the pitch. Even older players commit mistakes that are not normal. At half-time, we had a good conversation. We didn’t promise that we would win the match. We promised we would give absolutely everything without any fear, without any pressure, just the pressure of giving everything and of course they gave everything.” – Jose Mourinho
Paul Pogba (£8.1m) had a mixed game although looks set to keep his place in the team. He was poor in the first-half but his movement in and around the box helped created both the equaliser and winning goal. He remains the most cost-effective route into Man United’s attack with another assist recorded, penalty taking duties still under his belt, and the most shots of any player in United’s win over Newcastle. But, as already mentioned, the nature of their upcoming fixtures should temper any interest in him.
Alexis Sánchez (£10.0m) scored the winning goal on his return to the side, his substitute appearance representing his first minutes since Gameweek 6.
Ashley Young (£5.7m) was used at right-back as club captain Antonio Valencia (£6.5m) was absent from the side again. The England man wore the captain’s armband for the match as Valencia’s favour at the club remains unclear.
It was reported after the match that Shaw picked up an injury and is now a doubt for England’s matches over the international break.
As we already explained, this match represents something of an outlier for Newcastle United. In the first seven Gameweeks, the Magpies managed an average of 7.4 shots per game. Against Man United, they recorded 13 and registered double the number of big chances averaged in the first seven games of 2018/19. It does seem clear that United’s troubles off the pitch affected the players in the early phase of the game and there is little to suggest that goal-scorers Kenedy or Yoshinori Muto (£5.7m) are realistic targets for long-term investment.
There was some criticism of Newcastle’s capitulation in the game, with specific reference to manager Rafa Benitez opting to sit back and defend a 2-0 lead. Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (£5.4m) has hit back against that.
“When you are 2-0 up away from home you always try to protect a lead. People will be sitting on their sofas back home but they aren’t the ones playing on the football pitch. It’s a totally different story when you are out there and up against the quality of opposition like that.” – Jonjo Shelvey
Manchester United XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Shaw, Smalling, Bailly (Mata 19′), Young; Pogba, Matic, McTominay (Fellaini 45′); Martial, Lukaku, Rashford (Sánchez 67′).
Newcastle United XI (4-4-1-1): Dúbravka; Manquillo, Fernández, Lascelles, Yedlin; Kenedy, Diamé, Shelvey, Ritchie; Pérez, Muto.
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