West Ham’s role in Fantasy Premier League shifted once again in their Gameweek 21 draw with Brighton.
A blank for the options who have proved popular in recent weeks may cause some movement in midfield, while it was another match without a clean sheet.
We take a look at the Hammers in this latest Scout Notes article.
West Ham United 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Goals: Marko Arnautovic x2 (£6.9m) | Dale Stephens (£4.4m), Shane Duffy (£4.6m)
Assists: Mark Noble (£4.8m), Michail Antonio (£6.8m) | Pascal Groß (£6.7m)
Marko Arnautovic (£6.9m) announced his return to the Fantasy Premier League picture by scoring a brace in West Ham’s 2-2 draw with Brighton on Wednesday. After coming back from a hamstring injury to make his first start since Gameweek 15 at Burnley, the Austrian forward had a much bigger impact against the Seagulls. No player had more efforts on goal than Arnautovic, nor did anyone record more shots on target either. That looks like an almost immediate return to the role he was playing for West Ham before missing four Premier League matches and suggests he could be once again the main Fantasy asset to own from their ranks. By contrast, the popular Felipe Anderson (£7.4m), owned by 20% now, had just one shot in the box, played only one key pass, and now has three blanks in his last four matches.
For the second match in a row, West Ham looked disjointed going forward, frustrating for them after a streak of wins earlier in December. This time it appears that their attempts to play Arnautovic in a front pairing with Andy Carroll (£5.4m) largely unsuccessful. It was the former Liverpool man’s first start in exactly a year so, not surprisingly, he looked rusty and failed to link-up very well with Arnautovic. Ultimately, he was substituted at half-time, although his withdrawal may have had something to do with the facial injury sustained when Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) caught him with an elbow.
“Yes, he did [have stitches] on his eyebrow, yes.” – Manuel Pellegrini
Lucas Perez (£6.2m) was Carroll’s replacement and, given his versatility, was able to drop a bit deeper and support Arnautovic, now the lone striker, from midfield. That and the introduction of Mark Noble (£4.8m) and Michail Antonio (£6.8m) later in the second half saw West Ham play the ball around more comfortably. Those changes were what led to the goals, suggesting that ultimately what cost the Hammers such consistent attacking fluidity over the Christmas period was the need to chop and change personnel from each game to the next. However, Robert Snodgrass (£5.4m) has been a consistent starter over the festive fixtures but has now gone four consecutive matches without an attacking return.
While there was the encouragement for West Ham of their fight-back, the usual defensive problems persisted prior to it. They found themselves 2-0 down inside the opening 13 minutes of the second half. Both of them came from set pieces, to ensure that Lukasz Fabianski (£4.7m) still waits for his fourth clean sheet of the campaign. Just four saves from the goalkeeper meant nothing more than two points for him, registering no more than that in just one of West Ham’s last four matches. Admittedly, the Hammers are still missing Fabian Balbuena (£4.3m) after losing him to injury in Gameweek 18. Accordingly, it was the third start for Angelo Ogbonna (£4.2m) against Brighton.
“I’m absolutely frustrated. The most important way that Brighton scores is from set pieces, they had seven goals from corners. And we allowed them to score two goals this way. I don’t remember any other chances for them, but we didn’t create in the first 45 minutes.” – Manuel Pellegrini
The most important talking point for Brighton was further confirmation that David Button (£4.0m) is the starting goalkeeper while Mathew Ryan (£4.4m) is away at the Asian Cup with Australia. After claiming nine points against Everton it was a less impressive FPL score at the London Stadium but the fact that he has now started two in a row can assuage any doubts over his position in the side. The fact that Chris Hughton has now confirmed Luke Steele (£4.0m) will start against Bournemouth in the FA Cup, further solidifies Button’s Fantasy appeal. However, it may be some time before any potential punters opt to start him again with Liverpool (home) and Manchester United (away) the next two matches for Brighton. A trip to Fulham in Gameweek 24 could be one worth considering for Button, provided Ryan is not back by then.
Jurgen Locadia (£5.3m) continues his run of games in the side operating from the left flank of midfield. He has started each of the last four matches there for Brighton, pushing Solly March (£5.0m) to the right against West Ham. It was the first outing since Gameweek 18 without an attacking return for Locadia, but he does appear quite established in the side now at the very least, interesting for anyone searching for value strikers.
Left-back Bernardo (£4.2m) was forced off the pitch with a hamstring problem in the second half, replaced by Gaëtan Bong (£4.4m).
“I don’t know if it was when I stretched my leg to block the cross or if it was during the sprint. I hoped the ball had gone out of play. I tried my best but it was not enough.” – Bernardo
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup action, Hughton has explained the injury is not quite as serious as first feared.
“He’s certainly better this morning. We are hoping it’s more fatigue, just felt his hamstring.” – Chris Hughton
West Ham United XI (4-4-2): Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Zabaleta; Anderson, Rice, Obiang (Noble 63′), Snodgrass (Antonio 63′); Arnautovic, Carroll (Pérez 45′).
Brighton & Hove Albion XI (4-5-1): Button; Bernardo (Bong 73′), Dunk, Duffy, Montoya; Locadia, Pröpper, Stephens, Groß, March; Murray (Andone 82′).
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