Our second Scout Notes article from Gameweek 13 focuses on the events at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as Bournemouth slumped to a third successive 2-1 defeat and Arsenal extended their unbeaten league run to 11 matches.
Alexandre Lacazette was missing with a groin strain as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang proved to be Arsenal’s match-winner, while David Brooks demonstrated his value in midfield with an assist – though Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson emerged from the Cherries’ loss with nothing more than appearance points.
We round up the goals, assists, injury news, manager quotes and Fantasy talking points from an end-to-end encounter on the south coast.
Bournemouth 1-2 Arsenal
- Goals: Joshua King (£6.3m) | Jefferson Lerma (£4.5m) own-goal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m)
- Assists: David Brooks (£5.1m) | Sead Kolasinac (£4.9m) x2
It seems to be every other week that we make mention of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s (£10.9m) paradoxical performances in our Scout Notes.
The Gabonese forward, not for the first time this season, was peripheral for much of the match, feeding on scraps for long periods and wasting what few opportunities he was presented with.
Aubameyang had sliced wide from six yards from a corner-kick in the first half then blazed over from the edge of the box on 64 minutes, but once again the former Borussia Dortmund striker was to get on the scoresheet in the second half of a league match when he tapped in Sead Kolasinac‘s (£4.9m) low ball with a quarter of the game remaining.
Aubameyang has an incredible knack of popping up with a goal when delivering an otherwise so-so performance and his success is sometimes difficult to fathom from both an eye-test and underlying statistics perspective.
The Arsenal forward – who has admittedly been deployed on the left flank in recent months – has had less than half the number of attempts on goal and shots in the box that Sergio Aguero (£11.5m) has registered this season, but Aubameyang’s winning strike on Sunday moved him alongside the Manchester City striker at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts.
Aubameyang was deployed centrally at the Vitality Stadium in a 3-4-3/3-4-2-1, with the injured Alexandre Lacazette (£9.4m) not risked by Unai Emery.
The Arsenal boss explained his decision:
Yesterday Lacazette felt a small injury and also we need Aubameyang and Nketiah. Today the most important thing for us is that not only did Aubameyang score for us, he was also working in the 90 minutes. He helped us in all the things, the tactical moments and the defensive moments.
The Gunners meet only Liverpool of the “big six” between Gameweeks 16 and 22, with their fixture swing likely to attract Fantasy investment over the Christmas period.
Aubameyang – and Lacazette – must surely enter the premium forward equation at this point, in spite of what we have often seen on the pitch and in the members’ tables.
Perhaps crucially, the Gabonese forward’s goal conversion rate is hovering – as it did last season – around 30%, marking him out as the most clinical big-money striker in the division.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£6.7m) and Alex Iwobi (£5.5m) flanked Aubameyang in attack, and those simply looking at the attacking KPIs from this encounter on the south coast would have been impressed with the Armenian midfielder’s numbers.
In reality, though, Mkhitaryan had an afternoon to forget.
Despite 11 penalty box touches and seven shots on goal, the former Manchester United man lacked any conviction or confidence in attack, only hitting the target with one of his efforts and fluffing his lines in several presentable situations.
Mkhitaryan’s afternoon was summed up on 69 minutes when Aubameyang sent him through on goal, only for the chance to go begging when the Armenian first took a heavy touch and then completely mishit a shot tamely wide.
Iwobi was busy down the left flank without ever looking a real menace and in reality, it was perhaps Lacazette who came out of this match with his reputation enhanced, with his presence missed in the Arsenal frontline.
It will be interesting to see if Emery perseveres with a 3-4-3 when Lacazette is fit, with Aubameyang set to move over to the left flank and one of Mkhitaryan or Iwobi to drop out in whatever system he chooses going forward.
A victim of this formation change is Mesut Ozil (£8.3m), who was only among the substitutes at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.
While Ozil could potentially line up in one of the front three positions, he is undoubtedly more effective when playing in “the hole” behind a central striker. A 3-4-3 certainly doesn’t seem a good fit for Arsenal’s biggest wage-earner.
Emery said of the German midfielder’s omission:
We thought how we can be better in the match today which is very demanding with the physicality and the intensity – but every player is important. Also today we tried with three centre-backs like we’ve done at some stages this season and it’s another possibility for us to improve and find our best performance.
Two beneficiaries of Emery’s tactical experiment were their full-backs.
Kolasinac was the headline-grabber with two assists, with Arsenal’s opener coming from the Bosnian defender’s cut-back that Jefferson Lerma (£4.5m) smashed past his own goalkeeper.
No Premier League player in any position registered more penalty box touches than Kolasinac in Gameweek 12, underscoring just how prominent the Arsenal wing-back was in Bournemouth’s area.
Only Mkhitaryan had more touches in the final third than Kolasinac in this match, with the Bosnia and Herzegovina international firing into the side netting with a chance on 78 minutes having had a presentable opportunity with his head midway through the first half.
Hector Bellerin (£5.4m) got into plenty of threatening positions too, registering as many penalty box touches as Aubameyang and Callum Wilson (£6.8m) managed at the Vitality Stadium – though without much end product.
From an attacking perspective, both Bellerin and Kolasinac are tempting mid-price options for the fixture shift in Gameweek 16.
Unfortunately, though, the Gunners offer precious little in the way of clean sheet potential (it’s now just two shut-outs in 13 Premier League matches) and Emery’s side were often exposed down the flanks, particularly when the Cherries hit them on the break.
Bournemouth’s equaliser on the stroke of half-time indeed came from a counter-attack after an Arsenal corner.
Emery discussed his switch to a wing-back system after full-time:
We played like that in pre-season and in Qarabag, and it was an opportunity for us to find our best performance, best system and best combinations.
For example today there was Sead Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi which is a very interesting combination. Also when we are pushing with Hector Bellerin wide we need some players for balance.
The most important thing for us is finding balance in the defensive moments because we are conceding more goals than we want, but we don’t want to lose our good performances in attacking moments with scoring and the players performances.
But we need to improve and we need to do more.
From a Bournemouth perspective, their performance mirrored the one given in their 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United earlier this month: full of effort, occasionally threatening but ultimately outclassed.
Joshua King (£6.3m) came back into the side alongside Wilson up front, with David Brooks (£5.1m) moving over to the right flank to accommodate the Norwegian’s return to the Bournemouth attack.
Brooks and King combined for the Cherries’ leveller, building on good work from Wilson and Ryan Fraser (£6.2m) after a swift breakaway from the home side.
Brooks’ move back to the right of midfield didn’t dent his attacking threat too much and indeed he had what looked like a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside on eight minutes, before driving a low shot at Bernd Leno (£4.8m) that the German goalkeeper comfortably held.
The Wales international was also only a yard or so away from connecting with Fraser’s whipped cross after the break.
Brooks’ assist means he is now narrowly outscoring Fraser over the last eight Gameweeks, by 35 FPL points to 33.
Fraser’s performance, while full of industry and far from awful, was worrying from a Fantasy perspective, with the Scottish winger not registering a single key pass and only having one effort on goal – a free-kick from out wide – in his 90-minute showing.
That he only recorded one penalty box touch was indicative of how on the fringes he was when Bournemouth were mounting their attacks.
Set-piece duties remain a valued weapon in his armoury but the tricky Brooks looks the bigger threat in open play and, at £5.1m, is eminently more “benchable” for trips to Manchester City, Spurs, Manchester United and perhaps Wolves, plus the visit of Liverpool, in the next seven Gameweeks.
Wilson blanked on Sunday too, not really having any clear sights of goal and perhaps being outshone by King, though Howe paid tribute to both of his strikers after the game:
Joshua King did well physically today and added a different dimension to the front line, working well with Callum Wilson. I was very impressed, they were a threat in the opening period. They pinned the centre-backs back and gave them a problem in behind.
The goal was great from my perspective, defending deep and transitioning into a clinical finish at the end of a counter attack, so it’s a shame for them we didn’t get anything from the match.
Nothing went right for Lerma on Sunday, with the Colombian midfielder hitting the post from distance in the second half after his comical own-goal in the opening 45 minutes.
His afternoon was summed up when he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, meaning that he will miss the trip to the Etihad next weekend.
Charlie Daniels (£4.2m) came in for the injured Adam Smith (£4.5m) in Howe’s only other change to his starting XI.
Emery meanwhile downplayed any injury worries surrounding Lucas Torreira (£4.9m), who had a solid game in central midfield before his withdrawal on 79 minutes:
He said to us that he was a little tired and that there was a possibility. He was giving us good balance but also we have to be clever because he played with the national team for two matches and sometimes you need to listen to the player when they sometimes need rest. This change was because we need to give him a rest.
Bournemouth XI (4-4-2): Begovic; Francis, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Brooks (Stanislas 72′), Gosling (Cook 72′), Lerma, Fraser; Wilson, King (Mousset 80′).
Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding; Bellerin, Torreira (Guendouzi 78′), Xhaka, Kolasinac; Mhitatyan, Iwobi (Ramsey 80′); Aubameyang (Nketiah 90′).
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