We round up the main Fantasy talking points from two more Premier League matches that took place on Tuesday evening, including a look at how Everton got on ahead of their Gameweek 25 double-header against Wolves and Manchester City.
We also analyse how Arsenal performed in their 2-1 win over Cardiff City at the Emirates.
Huddersfield Town 0-1 Everton
- Goal: Richarlison
- Assist: None
Lucas Digne’s (£5.3m) Fantasy owners endured a nightmare evening that had implications not only for their Gameweek 24 scores but also for their preparations ahead of Double Gameweek 25.
Digne was initially relegated to the bench as Leighton Baines (£5.0m) was handed a first Premier League start since Gameweek 3, with the French left-back going on to miss out on what was only Everton’s second away clean sheet of the season.
The former Barcelona defender was called into action in the second half as Baines picked up an injury but the dreaded “one-pointer” turned into something even worse when he was dismissed for a professional foul after just 11 minutes on the pitch.
Digne could still play some part in Gameweek 25 as he returns for the visit of Manchester City next Wednesday but the nature of that fixture, the uncertainty over how secure his place at left-back is and an upcoming blank in Gameweek 27 may persuade many of his owners to jump ship.
Marco Silva said of Baines’ injury:
He has a problem in his rib, but let’s see.
It is not normal in one game you have to change one left-back and then another left-back comes in and is sent off.
But we are here to solve all the problems and go forward and to fight for what we want.
Jonjoe Kenny (£4.2m) was the third Everton defender to be used at left-back in West Yorkshire and the England under-21 international will be on standby to deputise against Wolves on Saturday.
Silva also gave an update on Yerry Mina‘s (£5.4m) recovery after the match:
I think it will be fast. The feedback I had was that he was due another exam yesterday afternoon, which he had, and it looks nothing special. Let’s see when the pain goes, he will start to train with us so maybe he will be out for one week.
It will be tough to play in the next match, although it is possible,
butI think in one week he will be ready to play again.
This was a match low on quality and clear-cut chances, perhaps unsurprising given how both sides have struggled for form of late.
Richarlison (£6.8m) scored his second Everton goal in as many competitive matches, following up his own saved effort to break the deadlock after three minutes.
Back on the left flank with Cenk Tosun (£6.5m) given a rare chance to lead the line, Richarlison didn’t particularly build on his sharp start and was a peripheral attacking threat thereafter: his only other attempt being a second-half free-kick that sailed high and wide.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.4m) was another mid-price midfielder who failed to put in a convincing audition ahead of the Double Gameweek, with a couple of tame efforts from distance being the sum total of his attacking contributions.
This was an Everton victory that owed more to resolve than flair, particularly after Digne’s dismissal midway through the second half.
The Terriers dominated play after that red card and forced Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) into two excellent saves – his only two of the match, it must be said – via the fit-again Aaron Mooy (£5.0m) and Elias Kachunga (£4.8m).
Had Adama Diakhaby (£4.5m) not been clipped by Digne when through on goal, of course, the hosts would have had another clear-cut chance to level the game.
Diakhaby and Kachunga had lined up in a front three alongside Steve Mounie (£5.8m) in Jan Siewert’s first match in charge, the German manager rolling out a 4-3-3 as expected.
The same old problems reared their head, however, with Town struggling to carve out anything other than headed half-chances before Digne’s dismissal.
A positive was the return of Mooy, who was influential upon his introduction and whose creativity has been sorely missed since picking up a knee injury in Gameweek 16.
Siewert explained his strategy in his first match as a Premier League manager:
The gameplan changed very quickly because of the goal, which is normal. The gameplan was definitely to give us the possibility to play in the last third and, as I think we have shown, it was possible. But we have to work on the scoring – that is very important.
I think we were aggressive and, to be honest, I am really, really proud of the lads because it is not easy when you concede after three minutes.
To come back
likewe did was really good and, normally, when Adama Diakhaby is on his run if he could have continued two more steps then I think it would have been 1-1 and we would have had the possibility to win the game in the last few minutes.
Silva, meanwhile, declared himself satisfied with the Toffees’ display:
When you win away it’s always important but it wasn’t a fantastic performance. Sometimes you have to win games with character and personality.
We started the game well and the game was under control. I told the players to try to score the second goal at the start of the second half, which is the right solution but we kept a good balance.
After the red card, we had to be more compact, and we did that.
Idrissa Gueye (£4.8m) wasn’t involved, with a minor injury reported amid speculation that a move to Paris Saint Germain is in the offing.
Huddersfield Town XI (4-3-3): Lossl; Hadergjonaj, Zanka, Schindler, Kongolo; Hogg (Mooy 55′), Bacuna, Puncheon; Mounie, Diakaby (Depoitre 87′) Kachunga (Lowe 81′).
Everton XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Baines (Digne 55′); Gomes, Davies; Bernard, Sigurdsson, Richarlison (Calvert-Lewin 86′); Tosun (Kenny 70′).
Arsenal 2-1 Cardiff City
- Goals: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette | Nathaniel Mendez-Laing
- Assists: Sead Kolasinac, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang | Kenneth Zohore
Arsenal again had to rely on an improved second-half display to see off a stubborn Cardiff City side, who put in a commendable shift in their first fixture since the tragic disappearance of Emiliano Sala.
The Gunners were well below-par in the opening 45 minutes, with three of their four shots being blocked at source and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.3m)
Indeed, it wasn’t until the 65th minute that Unai Emery’s side recorded a shot on target – Aubameyang opening the scoring from the spot after Sead Kolasinac (£4.9m) had been chopped down by Bruno Ecuele Manga (£4.4m).
The Cardiff defender had twice rapped Alexandre Lacazette‘s (£9.3m) ankles in his own box in the first half but those two penalty shouts and a blocked effort from the French striker were as close as Arsenal came in a desperately disappointing first 45 minutes.
The Bluebirds, indeed, enjoyed the best of that opening period and Bobby Reid (£5.2m) wasted two excellent chances when firing wide and then heading off-target when unmarked.
Emery had lined up in the same 4-3-1-2 (or 4-4-2 diamond) formation that he had employed against Chelsea but it was soon obvious that the system that worked so well when out of possession against the Blues was nowhere near as effective against a side they were expected to boss.
Mohamed Elneny (£4.2m), one of three defensive midfielders to be named in the starting XI, was hooked at the break and the introduction of Alex Iwobi (£5.4m), plus the switch to a 4-2-3-1, saw the Gunners improve after the interval.
The first half, if one team deserved to score then maybe it was them. The best thing to do
inthis moment when we were in the dressing room was to speak about it.
The first half, at 0-0, was good for us because we conceded chances to them and they didn’t score. But we had the opportunity to change this situation in the second half and we had to play in that second half with patience because we knew this match was not easy.
They play well in one against one in all areas of the pitch and it’s not easy to play or find space in these duels. In the first half, this happened a lot. But then in the second half, also in the 90 minutes, the individuals working hard can become tired in some moments.
In the second half, with our
patience, we found the best offensive solutions to score and to win this match.
Patience has become a watchword in Arsenal’s home fixtures against Huddersfield, Fulham and Burnley lately, with a similar pattern emerging in this game against Neil Warnock’s side.
The frustration for those Fantasy managers who own the likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette is that it continues to take so long for Emery to suss out a way to break down so-called inferior opposition, even if the Arsenal coach deserves some credit for not being afraid of shaking up both system and personnel at half-time.
All four of Arsenal’s “big chances” came in the final 25 minutes as Cardiff pushed for a way back into the game, with substitute Aaron Ramsey (£7.2m) wasting crosses from Lacazette and Aubameyang either side of a presentable opportunity for the Gabonese forward himself.
After mostly failing to deliver on some excellent underlying stats in the preceding four Gameweeks, it was somewhat ironic that Aubameyang banked a double-digit FPL haul from just two shots and a fortunate assist for Lacazette’s excellent solo goal.
Lacazette was arguably the pick of Arsenal’s players with his movement in and around the Cardiff box and he has quietly become a more permanent fixture in Emery’s starting XI, having started in six of the last seven Gameweeks (only missing Liverpool away).
Mesut Ozil (£8.0m) was far from terrible but didn’t have a particularly influential game in “the hole”, not helped by a lack of runners ahead of him given how narrow the Gunners were in the first half.
Emery was asked about his decision to make Ozil captain for the night, replying:
Another journalist asked me the same question. He’s in the four captains with Laurent Koscielny, Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey. Number five is Granit Xhaka, so it’s normal. When, for example, Koscielny’s injured and can come back to play, he’s captain. It’s the same with Mesut. He didn’t play some matches but it’s the same in the captain group.
Kolasinac didn’t perhaps get forward as much as his owners would have liked and indeed registered fewer final third touches than veteran Stephan Lichtsteiner (£4.5m) on the opposite flank, though did bank a Fantasy assist for Aubameyang’s penalty and created an early chance for Lacazette.
Lichtsteiner was used at right-back in the absence of Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.4m) and long-term injury victim Hector Bellerin (£5.4m), with Emery giving an update – or not – on the former after full-time:
I don’t know now. We can recover some players, I think, but we need to know tomorrow in training, then Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We have five days to wait and see which players can play on Sunday. I hope some players can be back with us after injuries. We need to wait.
The Arsenal boss was asked about Barcelona midfielder Denis Suarez in his press conference, too, responding:
We need wingers and if you have a player like Denis, I know him because he played for me at Sevilla. His quality is this. If he can come, it’s a challenge for him and it’s also to help us.
Warnock, meanwhile, was effusive about his own side’s display in such difficult circumstances, saying:
I thought it was probably our best performance of the season away from home.
People expected us to lie down, but I don’t think we’ve ever had 19 shots away from home against a good side like that. I thought overall, we were the better side for large periods of the game tonight.
I know we’ve lost a game of football but there are more important things. I am really proud of the players tonight and proud to be their manager.
Warnock named a 4-3-3 for the trip to north London, with Reid and Callum Paterson (£5.0m) joining Oumar Niasse (£5.0m) in the front three.
On top of Reid’s earlier spurned opportunities, Paterson wasted another two presentable chances with the score at 0-0 but the attacking trio generally performed well, with Niasse leading the line admirably.
Victor Camarasa (£4.6m) wasn’t involved for the first time since Gameweek 1, missing out with “a little niggle” that Warnock said he didn’t want to take a risk on.
Arsneal XI: (4-3-1-2) Leno; Lichtsteiner (Jenkinson 60′), Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac; Torreira, Elneny (Iwobi 46′), Guendouzi; Ozil (Ramsey 76′); Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Cardiff City XI: (4-3-3) Etheridge; Peltier, Bamba, Manga, Bennett; Arter (Harris 82′), Ralls, Gunnarsson; Paterson, Niasse (Zohore 73′), Reid (Mendez-Liang 70′).
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