The never-ending defensive problems at Manchester United played a large part in their Gameweek 14 draw at Southampton.
That certainly bodes well for owners of Arsenal’s attacking assets in Gameweek 15.
We’ve looked at what has gone wrong at the back for the Red Devils this season in this latest Scout Notes article.
Also, we’ve gone over Brighton’s 2-1 win at Huddersfield and Leicester 2-0 home victory over Watford.
As the turnaround between the two Gameweeks is so tight, we’ve got much lighter on the details from these sets of matches, combining these three in the final article reflecting on Gameweek 14.
Southampton 2-2 Manchester United
Goals: Stuart Armstrong (£5.1m), Cedric Soares (£4.4m) | Romelu Lukaku (£10.7m), Ander Herrera (£5.0m)
Assists: Michael Obafemi (£5.0m), Mario Lemina (£4.8m) | Marcus Rashford x2 (£6.7m)
Mark Hughes made some bold decisions in what proved to be his final game in charge of Southampton. There were first-ever Premier League starts for striker Michael Obafemi (£5.0m) and right-back Yan Valery (£4.0m).
With Ryan Bertrand (£4.8m) missing out on a place in the squad, Cedric Soares (£4.4m) moved to the left flank of the midfield, with youngster Valery taking up the right-back berth in his place. Of particular interest was the Portuguese international’s involvement in set pieces, as he slammed home a 20th-minute direct free-kick.
Danny Ings (£5.4m) was also absent but rather than letting Charlie Austin (£5.5m) or Manolo Gabbiadini (£5.6m) lead the Southampton line, Hughes gave the job to Obafemi. The Republic of Ireland international performed an admirable job in the first half, his link-up play setting up Stuart Armstrong (£5.1m) for his goal.
The Scottish international now has three goals in his last two matches and may creep onto some Fantasy radars accordingly. He seems to have secured his place among the first XI now having struggled with match fitness previously. Armstrong has started the last three and has been a rare bright-spark for Southampton. However, there are some tough fixtures on the horizon with Tottenham (away), Cardiff (away), Arsenal (home) and Huddersfield (away) their next four matches.
However, it could be argued that many of the personnel and tactical decisions taken for the game fade into insignificance with Hughes’ departure. The fact that the Saints go into Wednesday’s trip to Wembley will only intensify the support for Harry Kane (£12.4m).
It was another disappointing result for Manchester United as they found themselves 2-0 inside 20 minutes at St Mary’s Stadium. That continued their dreadful defensive form, with David de Gea (£5.7m) still with just two clean sheets in 14 Premier League matches. Coming into Gameweek 14, the Saints had averaged 0.67 goals scored in home matches but they were still able to score twice against the Red Devils. Furthermore, Manchester United conceded just 28 goals in 2017/18 but have already shipped 23 this time around.
Admittedly, injuries continue to cause serious problems with Jose Mourinho’s defensive options. Chris Smalling (£5.7m) and Eric Bailly (£5.1m) joined Victor Lindelöf (£4.8m) in the treatment room ahead of the game, which meant that Phil Jones (£5.1m) was the only fit centre-back. Marcos Rojo (£4.9m) was declared free from injury but was not considered fit enough to actually start – that may change on Wednesday night. Accordingly, Jones was the central figure in a back-three consisting of him alongside midfielders Nemanja Matić (£5.0m) and Scott McTominay (£4.3m).
“I have only one centre-back. Chris Smalling has a pain in his foot so he is not available to play. Eric Bailly has a pain in his back so he is not available to play. Rojo trained yesterday for the first time with the group after a long absence and he is not ready to play. He’s ready to help but he is not ready to start.” – Jose Mourinho
United’s problems were compounded with Luke Shaw (£5.0m) coming off with a knock and Ashley Young (£5.7m) now suspended for Gameweek 15 after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. Diogo Dalot (£5.3m) came on for his Premier League debut in the 72nd minute and could well have to make his first start with in-form Arsenal come to Old Trafford.
There was more frustration for Fantasy managers who signed Anthony Martial (£7.7m) after his run of six goals between Gameweeks 8 and 12. He was named on the bench for the first time since Gameweek 6 and featured only as a second-half substitute. It could suggest he will start against Arsenal though, another big team with a poor defence.
Marcus Rashford (£6.7m) was Manchester United’s standout player providing the assist for each of their goals. The fact that he was replaced by Martial in the 77th minute could have been Mourinho managing his minutes ahead of Gameweek 15, so he might be in for a second start in a row.
Meanwhile, Paul Pogba (£7.9m) was particularly poor, giving possession away in dangerous areas and coming in for some post-match criticism from his manager. Given that this relationship is often cited as one of the problems with the club right now, another below-par display from the Frenchman should only increase the negative atmosphere there.
“We lost so many balls in midfield. Simplicity is genius, and they keep going to complicated football.” – Jose Mourinho
Southampton XI (3-4-1-2): McCarthy; Vestergaard, Yoshida, Stephens; Cedric, Lemina (Davis 90+2′), Højbjerg, Valery; Armstrong; Obafemi (Gabbiadini 64′), Redmond.
Manchester United XI (3-5-2): De Gea; Matić, Jones, McTominay; Shaw (Dalot 72′), Pogba, Fellaini, Herrera, Young; Rashford (Martial 77′), Lukaku (Lingard 86′).
Huddersfield 1-2 Brighton
Goals: Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jørgensen (£4.4m) | Shane Duffy (£4.7m), Florin Andone (£5.0m)
Assists: Solly March x2 (£5.0m)
Brighton’s win at Huddersfield Town on Saturday was a turn-up for the books as they collected a rare away win. They do appear to make improvements on their travels this season, having recorded as many victories in their last four road matches compared to their previous 23.
However, they were handed an advantage by Steve Mounié‘s (£5.8m) first-half red card. Up until that point Huddersfield had been on top of the game and led due to Brighton’s Achilles’ heel: headed attempts on goal. The reason we tipped Mounié for success in Gameweek 14 (apologies if you signed him off the back of our Differentials article) was the Seagulls’ vulnerability in the air. It wasn’t the Benin striker who capitalised, but there should be no surprise that Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jørgensen (£4.4m) used his head to put Huddersfield in front after Bruno‘s (£4.4m) wild attempted clearance.
Solly March (£5.0m) seems to be in excellent form. He has registered four assists in as many matches, averaging 5.5 points per game in that time. Interestingly, despite Brighton’s usually poor form on the road, all four of those assists have come away from home. March isn’t quite as sure of a start now that Pascal Groß (£6.7m) is back from injury. He had been playing number 10 in the German’s absence but moved back out to his more traditional role as a left-winger at Huddersfield. He has started three of the last four but Gameweek 15 was the only time in that run that he completed a match. He was unlucky to be the one withdrawn 38 minutes into the Gameweek 12 defeat at Cardiff after Dale Stephens (£4.4m) was sent off.
Glenn Murray (£6.7m) was named on the bench for the third away match in Brighton’s last five. He featured for the last 11 minutes and there has been no confirmation of any injury issues. The decision to leave him out again was simply to have him fit and ready for such a quick turnaround between Gameweeks, given he is now 35-years-old. Combining this with the fact he has just one away goal all season, strengthens the argument against signing Murray when options such as Callum Wilson (£6.8m), Marko Arnautovic (£7.1m) and Raúl Jiménez (£5.9m) can offer such consistent attacking returns.
Summer signing Bernardo (£4.2m) has now been preferred to Gaetan Bong (£4.5m) for the last two matches in a row. With Crystal Palace and Burnley the next two matches for Brighton, he could prove a very cheap differential option for a defensive rotation.
Huddersfield Town XI (3-5-1-1): Lössl; Kongolo, Schindler, Jørgensen; Durm, Billing, Hogg, Mooy, Hadergjonaj; Pritchard (Depoitre 49′); Mounié.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (4-3-3): Ryan; Bernardo, Dunk, Duffy, Bruno (Balogun 78′); Bissouma (Kayal 90+1′), Pröpper, Groß; Izquierdo, Andone (Murray 79′), March.
Leicester City 2-0 Watford
Goals: Jamie Vardy (£8.9m), James Maddison (£6.8m)
Assists: Marc Albrighton (£5.1m)
James Maddison (£6.8m) made up for his Gameweek 13 sending off by scoring his fourth goal of the season against Watford. The red card he received against Brighton only afforded him a one-match suspension, which he served in the midweek League Cup clash with Southampton. Interestingly, despite being more of a chance creator for Leicester than a goal threat, he now has found the net double the number of times he has assisted his team-mates.
Jamie Vardy (£8.9m) made it two goals in two as he converted a 12th-minute penalty he had won himself, drawing a foul from Ben Foster (£4.5m). With Fulham up next for Leicester, both he and Maddison look good options for further points hauls. Vardy himself was pulled off after 72 minutes, presumably to ensure he is fit and rested before Wednesday’s trip to Craven Cottage.
Ricardo Pereira (£5.1m) continues to offer good value. He capitalised on a third clean sheet in four for Leicester, adding maximum bonus points to his tally for the second time in that run. The recent injury to Daniel Amartey (£4.4m) means that he should remain at right-back more often than he will be deployed in attacking midfield. However, he is still getting into very dangerous positions and is offering both creativity and goal threat.
Watford’s form continued to dip as their Fantasy options look less worth owning with each passing week. This 2-0 defeat was their third league match in four where they failed to find the net, Roberto Pereyra (£6.3m) clearly unable to sustain his early season form. Crucially, this was the sixth match in a row that Gerard Deulofeu (£5.4m) has started as an out-of-position striker but in that run, he has completed 90 minutes just once and his advanced position has only yielded one goal and one assist.
Isaac Success (£4.6m) returned to the starting line-up after featuring only as a substitute against Liverpool. However, he continues to offer nothing more than playing points as he missed a golden chance to score against Leicester, blazing it over the bar. The fact that Troy Deeney (£5.9m) and Andre Gray (£6.0m) were used only in the second half while Success finished the whole game could suggest the Nigerian will drop out when Manchester City visit on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Watford’s defence remains an untrustworthy source of investment. The 2-0 win at Wolves in Gameweek 9 is still their only clean sheet on the road this season and while they’ve only conceded 19 goals (fewer than Manchester United), that’s still at a rate of 1.12 per game.
Etienne Capoue (£5.1m) was sent off late in the game for a tackle on Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.9m) that was deemed to be with the use of two feet. On closer inspection, it appeared that as Capoue slipped, only one foot was used in the tackle while the Leicester player admitted there was no contact with him. Watford manager Javi Gracia is planning on appealing the decision.
Leicester City XI (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Chilwell, Evans (Iborra 84′), Morgan, R Pereira; Ndidi, Mendy; D Gray (Söyüncü 69′), Maddison, Albrighton; Vardy (Iheanacho 72′).
Watford XI (4-4-2): Foster; Holebas, Cathcart, Mariappa, Kiko Femenía; R Pereyra (Deeney 55′), Capoue, Doucouré, Hughes (Chalobah 76′); Success, Deulofeu (A Gray 55′).
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