Newcastle attacking options have been furthering their cases for inclusion in our Blank Gameweek 31 squads.
The Magpies preceded the weekend’s trip to Bournemouth with a morale-boosting come-from-behind win over Everton on Saturday.
We’ve identified the key players in that 3-2 victory and assessed their credentials for the upcoming Blanks, while Everton’s assets still have some work to do.
Newcastle United 3-2 Everton
Goals: Salomón Rondón (£5.9m), Ayoze Pérez x2 (£6.1m) | Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.3m), Richarlison (£6.5m)
Assists: Pérez, Miguel Almirón (£6.0m), Rondón | Lucas Digne (£5.2m), André Gomes (£5.4m)
Ayoze Pérez (£6.1m) made a late case for inclusion in our Fantasy squads for Blank Gameweek 31 with his 16-point haul against Everton. The Spaniard was involved in all three goals in the 3-2 win, scoring twice and assisting once. Not surprisingly, Pérez was top for penalty box touches, goal attempts, shots in the box and efforts on target of any player at St. James’ Park. He was also second for chances created in the game, which is certainly encouraging for his prospects looking forward.
“Ayo is a player of quality. I can understand sometimes the fans when he is giving the ball away, but he is capable of doing these things. He can miss an easy pass, but after he can score a great goal. He’s someone that you need to manage and he is doing well. Last year, he was the top scorer in the team; this year, he is doing well. His understanding with Almiron and Rondon is quite good so in the end, the understanding that we have with the three strikers at the moment, because they are all quite high, they are doing well and they are enjoying themselves.” – Rafa Benitez
Salomón Rondón (£5.9m) may have been outshone by colleague Pérez in Gameweek 30, but over the last four Gameweeks, he certainly has looked the better option for those after a Newcastle forward. In that period, he has the same number of shots on target as his Spanish team-mate but has shot more often both inside and outside the penalty box. Also, he has created two more chances than Pérez in the last four Gameweeks too. Crucially, in that time, he has marginally outscored him by 27 points to 26, at a slightly cheaper price.
“We changed to two strikers and we have a good relationship. We have a good relationship, Rondon and myself, so we understand each other. In this case I ran behind, and it was about an understanding. He gave me the ball and without looking I knew the movement he was going to make so I tried to put the ball into him. He’s a great goalscorer, so I knew if I was able to put in the right ball he was going to score. It was a good link-up with each other, and it was the hardest goal to get, the first one, and everything started with that goal. It was the hardest one to get, the first one. Everything started with that goal; we pushed and we made it.” – Ayoze Pérez
Whether either Rondón or Pérez can be as dangerous in Gameweek 31, when they will be away at Bournemouth, remains to be seen. The majority of both players’ attacking returns this season have come at St. James’ Park, the pair combining for just three away goals in 2018/19, all of them Rondón’s. That certainly gives him the advantage once again, but you still have to go back to Gameweek 20 for the Venezuelan’s last league goal outside of St James’ Park. The crowd was heavily cited as a reason behind Newcastle’s impressive second-half performance against Everton, something they won’t be able to enjoy at Bournemouth on Saturday.
“We all know what the atmosphere is like at St James’ Park especially when we are doing well. Also, the fans didn’t give up either and after we scored the first goal they were right behind us. When we scored the third one the atmosphere was crazy and I was very pleased for everybody.” – Ki Sung-yeung
There was a first attacking return in English football for new signing Miguel Almirón (£6.0m) in Gameweek 30. The Paraguayan midfielder is slowly climbing his way into consideration and the Blank Gameweek may accelerate in interest in him. Over the last four Gameweeks, just five players have managed more shots on target than Almirón but under half of his total attempts have taken place inside the box.
Newcastle’s midfield is now not quite as settled as it was in previous weeks with Sean Longstaff (£4.5m) recently ruled out long-term with a knee injury. It made for a first start since Gameweek 18 for Ki Sung-yeung (£4.7m), who had not played since before the Asian Cup in January. He played alongside Isaac Hayden (£4.3m), before being replaced by another returnee in Jonjo Shelvey (£5.3m) in the 79th minute. The former Liverpool and Swansea man was making his own first appearance since Gameweek 21 and, despite playing just 11 minutes, he was joint-second for chances created in Saturday’s meeting.
“I was out for two months and away from the pitch. The injury occurred after the first game in the Asian Cup then I came back to training and got injured again. So I had to come back to Newcastle which was very disappointing. I never expected this and I was very depressed and disappointed. But this is the life of a footballer and you get injuries. I couldn’t play until February and I was focused on getting back and waiting for my chance to play for Newcastle again. I am not 100% fit yet but I will be better as I play more games. I am just happy not to get injured and we won the game on my return.” – Ki Sung-yeung
Those looking to sign Bournemouth attackers for Blank Gameweek 31 will have been encouraged by the latest on Newcastle’s defence. Against Everton, they conceded twice from just three shots on target and given the volume of goal attempts they are likely to face at the Vitality Stadium, they might be breached even more.
Crucially, the Magpies will travel to Dorset without key centre-back Fabian Schär (£4.7m) who is now suspended for two matches after he picked up his 10th yellow card of the season in Gameweek 30. Also, Jamaal Lascelles (£4.7m) is currently being assessed for Gameweek 31 with a knee injury. Federico Fernandez (£4.4m), dropped for poor performances and without any Premier League minutes since Gameweek 20, is now probably going to have to come into the side.
“We don’t know. It seems to be that it was not very serious, but he said he could not carry on, and then we made the substitution.” – Rafa Benitez
Anyone still in search of a Newcastle defender will probably have to look to Florian Lejeune (£4.4m) now. Schär’s suspension, Lascelles injury doubts and the fact that the full-back positions at St James’ Park are unsettled make the Frenchman the most likely starter over the next few games. Interestingly, Lejeune finished Gameweek 30 as Newcastle’s top player for chances created. Paul Dummett (£4.4m) earned praise from his manager at the end of the game, after coming on for Lascelles at half time, but does not look worthy of Fantasy inclusion. All of his last three outings have come from the substitute’s bench and it would appear that Benitez sees him as a steady-eddy used only to bolster his defence later in games.
“I said the other day that (Dummett) is someone that you can trust. He can give you always a seven, sometimes and eight, sometimes a six, but always he is around there. It’s difficult for him to give you a 10, but it’s difficult for him to give you a one.” – Rafa Benitez
Everton options are harder to assess for the Blank Gameweeks, mainly because their opponents in Gameweeks 31 and 33 are Chelsea and Arsenal (both at home). The difficulty of those fixtures will naturally put many managers off their players, and it was a mixed afternoon at Newcastle on Saturday for the Toffees.
Richarlison (£6.5m) found the net for the first time since Gameweek 24 at St James’ Park and was one of Everton’s top shooters for the game, although he had no more than two efforts on goal. That put him level with Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.2m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.3m), who also shot just twice. Crucially, previously a favourite of Marco Silva’s, Richarlison has now completed just one match in the last six, featuring from the bench twice and substitute around the hour-mark two more times.
Calvert-Lewin is probably the most dangerous of Everton’s options on current form, with two goals in his last four outings. In that time, despite not starting one of them, no Toffees asset has more shots than him.
Defence continues to be an area of struggles for Everton. Despite keeping Liverpool out at Goodison Park in Gameweek 29, a second-half collapse saw them concede three times to Newcastle.
That is frustrating for the prospects of Lucas Digne (£5.2m) who got an assist for one of the Toffees goals. He was Everton’s top creator in Gameweek 30 as the only one of their players to fashion more than one chance on Saturday afternoon. However, £5.2m might be considered too much to pay for him considering the lack of clean sheet potential.
Silva was forced to make a late change to his defence after Seamus Coleman (£5.2m) was struck down by illness. He was replaced in the warm-up after struggling overnight, Jonjoe Kenny (£4.2m) coming in for him, while Phil Jagielka (£4.3m) was missing with a knock.
“(Coleman) was ill. He didn’t have a good night. He could not sleep during the night and then on Saturday morning, he tried to rest a little bit. But after he started to warm-up he did not feel in any condition to play.” – Marco Silva
After having control of the match and going into half-time 2-0 up, Everton let things slip when they added an extra defender into the game. Yerry Mina‘s (£5.4m) introduction, coming on for Richarlison, and a shift to three centre-backs happened to coincide with Everton’s collapse. It was not completely the Colombian’s fault but with that tactical change proving the turning point in the game, Everton were not able to hold possession as much in Newcastle’s half. Silva is therefore unlikely to go with a back-three against Chelsea and Arsenal.
Newcastle United XI (3-4-2-1): Dúbravka; Lejeune, Lascelles (Dummett 45′), Schär; Ritchie (Kenedy 73′), Ki (Shelvey 79′), Hayden, Yedlin; Almirón, Pérez; Rondón.
Everton XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Digne, Zouma, Keane, Kenny (Walcott 87′); Gueye, A Gomes; Bernard (Lookman 82′), Sigurdsson, Richarlison (Mina 75′); Calvert-Lewin.
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