Fantasy Premier League managers were left confused over the status of Marko Arnautovic during Saturday’s lunch-time FA Cup matches.
The West Ham forward was substituted early on but did not seem happy with Manuel Pellegrini’s decision.
Elsewhere, Brighton were the latest side to exploit Bournemouth’s defensive problems, Burnley went for an experimental formation against Barnsley and Manchester United won again.
The Fantasy talking points of all these matches are the focus of this latest Scout Notes article.
Bournemouth 1-3 Brighton & Hove Albion
More defensive errors from Bournemouth cost them an FA Cup run this season as a clinical Brighton side took advantage. The fact that the Seagulls are typically poorer away from home perhaps highlights how vulnerable the Cherries are at the back. The hosts were on top of proceedings for the first half an hour but failed to take their chances before Brighton quickly established 2-0 lead, both first-half goals coming within three minutes of each other.
Nathaniel Clyne (£4.4m) was thrown straight in at right-back after joining on loan from Liverpool on Friday. Diego Rico (4.2m) played on the opposite flank of a back-four with Steve Cook (£4.5m) and Jack Simpson (£3.8m) in the middle.
What caught the eye most about the 4-4-2 formation named by Eddie Howe was the fact that Ryan Fraser (£6.1m), fresh from a 12-point haul in Gameweek 21, was deployed as a striker alongside Lys Mousset (£4.9m). Josh King (£6.3m) and Callum Wilson (£6.7m) were given the afternoon off entirely while new signing Dominic Solanke (£4.7m) was also absent, presumably connected with the muscle injury he is currently carrying.
As expected, Luke Steele (£4.0m) started in goal for Brighton with David Button (£4.0m), Premier League number one in Mathew Ryan‘s (£4.4m) absence, on the bench. Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) was the centre-back to get a rest, with Shane Duffy (£4.6m) paired with Leon Balogun (£4.2m), while Bruno (£4.4m) and Gaetan Bong (£4.4m) came in for Bernardo (£4.2m) and Martin Montoya (£4.3m).
Chris Hughton diverted away from his usual 4-4-1-1 formation in this one, opting instead for a 4-3-3. Dale Stephens (£4.4m) kept his place in midfield, with Yves Bissouma (£4.7m) and Beram Kayal (£4.4m) coming in to play either side of him. The front three consisted of Jurgen Locadia (£5.3m) and Anthony Knockaert (£5.3m) on the left and right flanks respectively, Florin Andone (£5.0m) was picked to lead the line. Locadia’s start was his fifth in all competitions, Hughton presumably not worried about his minutes considering his bit-part role with the side until Gameweek 18.
Knockaert’s first-half goal will help him fight to reclaim his place after he failed to feature in either of Brighton’s last two Premier League matches, with Locadia and Solly March (£5.0m) preferred in wide areas recently.
Bournemouth XI (4-4-2): Boruc; Rico (Daniels 78′), Simpson, S Cook, Clyne; Pugh, Surman, Taylor (Brooks 45′), Ibe (Stanislas 70′); Fraser, Mousset.
Brighton XI (4-3-3): Steele; Bong, Duffy, Balogun, Bruno (Montoya 86′); Stephens, Bissouma, Kayal; Locadia (March 73′), Andone, Knockaert (Gyokeres 90+1′).
Burnley 1-0 Barnsley
Nick Pope (£4.8m) made his long-awaited competitive return for Burnley in their FA Cup tie with Barnsley. The goalkeeper has been out with a shoulder injury since pre-season but was back in the squad to keep a clean sheet on Saturday afternoon. That will further confuse the situation between the sticks for the Clarets with Joe Hart (£4.5m) and Tom Heaton (£4.8m) also available. The former was Burnley’s Premier League custodian from the start of the campaign until Gameweek 19, with Heaton taking over for the last two top-flight matches.
Also back in the side was Stephen Ward (£4.7m) and Steven Defour (£5.3m, at left-back and central midfield respectively. It was something of an experimental line-up named by Sean Dyche with James Tarkowski (£4.7m) named at right-back, allowing Matt Lowton (£4.6m) to get a rest in light of Phil Bardsley‘s (£4.2m) injury.
Further forward, Ward’s return to the starting line-up, with limited fresh alternatives in wide areas of midfield for Dyche, saw him deployed left-back Charlie Taylor (£4.4m) at left midfield. The former Leeds United defender took this role in some Europa League matches and pre-season friendlies over the summer, so could eventually do so in the Premier League, especially if Ward is now back in contention for starts. At £4.4m and classified as a defender, he could present an interesting option.
Burnley were finally awarded a penalty during the first half at Turf Moor although they had to wait until stoppage time to actually take one. A spot-kick was given after a foul on Matej Vydra (£5.7m) in the opening period but was ruled out for offside after a VAR review just as the former Reading forward was running up. However, there was no doubt in the second half as another penalty was awarded which Chris Wood (£6.2m), on as a substitute for Sam Vokes (£5.3m) put away for the win.
Burnley XI: Pope; Ward (Gudmundsson 59′), Gibson, Long, Tarkowski; Taylor, Hendrick, Defour (Cork 78′), McNeil; Vokes (Wood 74′), Vydra.
Manchester United 2-0 Reading
Competition for places in the Manchester United attack took another turn on Saturday lunch-time as Romelu Lukaku (£10.7m) scored in his first start since Gameweek 17. The Belgian now has three strikes in as many matches, having emerged as a goal-scoring substitute in each of his last two Premier League outings. Whether he leads the line against Spurs in Gameweek 22 remains to be seen, especially with Marcus Rashford (£7.2m) still in good form, four goals and four assists in his last six league starts. The Englishman was also named on the bench against Reading, suggesting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to give him as much rest as possible.
Rashford had to come on in the 64th minute to replace Alexis Sánchez (£10.0m), who started the match and assisted Lukaku’s goal. He had to come off with a hamstring problem but Solskjaer seems hopeful that the Chilean will be fit to face Spurs, inferring that he had to come off because he was tired. If he comes through his slight doubt, Sánchez adds a further selection headache for Solskjaer and Fantasy managers targetting the Manchester United attack.
“Hopefully okay. He was feeling his hamstring. He should have told me before, though, because I made two subs. Hopefully, he’ll be okay for next weekend. I think maybe he’s happy that he got through 60 minutes. Hopefully he won’t be too bad, because he’s been out for a month now, he had 20 minutes against Newcastle, maybe, he’s had 60 minutes [today], and of course you know the quality he has. I think maybe when he gets another few games under his belt he would have finished a little bit earlier on in the first-half. Because he had one touch too many, he could have finished when he was driving through that box, but he’ll be fine.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Manchester United’s back-four looked a little makeshift but was able to keep a clean sheet against Championship strugglers Reading. Not surprisingly, Sergio Romero (£5.0m) was in goal, with Lee Grant (£4.9m) on the bench. Ashley Young (£5.7m) and Diogo Dalot (£5.3m) either side of a centre-back pairing of Phil Jones (£5.1m) and Matteo Darmian (£4.6m). That was an unfamiliar position for the Italian full-back, who performed his role admirably according to Solskjaer.
“He is the biggest plus today. Matteo looked like he had played there before. I don’t think he put a foot wrong.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Anthony Martial (£7.3m) and Victor Lindelöf (£4.8m) were unused substitutes while Paul Pogba (£8.4m), Jesse Lingard (£6.8m) and Luke Shaw (£4.9m) were given the afternoon off.
Meanwhile, there was good news for Manchester United’s youth academy as young midfielder Tahith Chong came on for a 28-minute substitute’s appearance in the second half.
“He had two or three really good moments, as you do when you’re young. You don’t run the game as a first performance for a 19-year-old. But he got the crowd going, and has shown one or two glimpses of what he can do, he has in training anyway. And the game wasn’t won, it was 2-0 and was still go out there and perform. It’s not like it was 4-0 and it’s just a pity, so he did well defensively as well and I think he’ll remember this for a long, long time.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Manchester United XI (4-3-3): Romero; Young, Jones, Darmian, Dalot; Fred (Fellaini 62′), A Pereira, McTominay; A Sánchez (Rashford 64′), Lukaku, Mata (Chong 62′).
West Ham United 2-0 Birmingham City
Confusion was rife among Fantasy managers in connection with West Ham’s FA Cup tie with Birmingham City. Not only was it perplexing that Marko Arnautovic (£6.9m) started the match, having only recently returned from injury, but manager Manuel Pellegrini was forced to substitute him in the 20th minute “as a precaution”. The Austrian forward did not look particularly pleased with being removed from the game as he had given the Hammers an early lead. Even after the post-match press conference, Arnautovic’s status seems unclear and it appears we are set for an important media commitment with Pellegrini next week in the build-up to Gameweek 22.
“It is not important because we won the game. He felt some pain in his back at the beginning of the game, I thought it was better for him to come off. It was not good to take that risk. He was angry one minute. He wanted to carry on. It was just a precaution.” – Manuel Pellegrini
Andy Carroll (£5.4m) stepped up his bid for regular first-team starts by lasting 70 minutes after coming on for Arnautovic, and scoring in stoppage time too. That was his first goal since April, ending another lengthy period without being able to contribute due to injury.
“Well very happy for him but we cannot consider that he hasn’t scored since April because he hasn’t played from April until December. When you are coming off such a long injury, especially as a striker, all you want is to score a goal. If you review his game, he scored a goal, he missed another goal with good play, he clear two or three different balls in our box. In the way he plays he will return to be the player we know.” – Manuel Pellegrini
The former Newcastle and Liverpool forward could seriously provide competition for the centre-forward positions at West Ham, if he is able to regain full fitness. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez (£6.2m) is still out and it feels as if Pellegrini has been asked about Arnautovic’s fitness more times than we care to remember this season.
“I think that if Andy Carroll recovers his shape and continues working every day of the week without injury, there are not too many players with his quality.” – Manuel Pellegrini
Samir Nasri (£5.5m) made his first start since returning to English football with West Ham, lasting 58 minutes before being replaced by Robert Snodgrass (£5.4m). Pellegrini was satisfied by what he saw, to the point that the former Manchester City midfielder could be considered for Premier League matches soon. There was also a return to the line-up of young attacking midfielder Grady Diangana (£4.5m), whose role in the Premier League has become somewhat bit-part since five consecutive starts between Gameweek 9 and 13.
“There were a lot of positive things today. One of those is the minutes that Nasri played after a long time without playing games. I was very happy in the way he played today. He is a player that gives you time with the ball, has good technique that always the ball is around him. He now will be considered in different games. Next is Arsenal, we don’t know if he will start or be on the bench but now he demonstrates that he is back and he will continue to improve his performances in every game he plays.” – Manuel Pellegrini
After that also, other positives are that we won, Andy Carroll scored. Xande Silva and Diangana played and are young players, we kept a clean sheet, it was all positive today.” – Manuel Pellegrini
In an attempt to give Pablo Zabaleta (£4.3m) more time off, Michail Antonio (£6.8m) was used at right-back again, also getting himself an assist against Birmingham. Meanwhile, Fabian Balbuena (£4.3m) continued to be absent with the knock sustained against Watford, which meant Angelo Ogbonna (£4.2m) and Issa Diop (£4.3m) had to keep their places following a busy Christmas period.
West Ham United XI (4-1-4-1): Adrian; Masuaku, Ogbonna, Diop, Antonio; Rice; X Silva (Anderson 79′), Nasri (Snodgrass 58′), Obiang, Diangana; Arnautovic (Carroll 20′).
Become a Member and access our data
Memberships for the 2018/19 campaign are now available for the price of just £10.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to over 130+ exclusive members articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.