What to do with Leicester City and Chelsea’s Fantasy assets is the subject of our latest Scout Notes article.
Whether it be existing owners or those FPL bosses looking to pounce ahead of some favourable fixtures, Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge left us with plenty of questions to mull over.
Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City
- Goals: Mason Mount (£6.0m) | Wilfred Ndidi (£5.0m)
- Assists: James Maddison (£7.0m)
- Bonus: Ndidi, Mount – 3, Jonny Evans (£5.0m) – 1
As happened at Old Trafford on the opening weekend, Chelsea were involved in a match of two halves in Gameweek 2.
The Blues again came out of the blocks the fastest against Leicester on Sunday and achieved something they couldn’t do in Manchester, capitalising on their early dominance to take the lead through Mason Mount (£6.0m).
The familiar failings were again apparent after the break, however, with another goal conceded from a dead-ball situation – there were plenty of those in pre-season – and Chelsea’s high backline looking vulnerable to swift counter-attacks.
Owners of Teemu Pukki (£6.7m) et al would be particularly encouraged by the space afforded to the Foxes’ front three in the second half, with even the presence of N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) not enough to stem the Leicester tide after half-time.
Running out of steam after the interval is becoming a recurring theme, with Chelsea having dominated against Liverpool in the Super Cup before the break but allowing their admittedly excellent opponents to wrestle control of the game thereafter.
Whether it is fatigue kicking in after their aggressive, high-pressing starts or simply mental frailty is unclear but Frank Lampard was quick to highlight the effect of Wednesday night’s exertions in Turkey after full-time, saying:
I hate the tiredness excuse but I think it was a factor in the second half of the game. We’re good enough that if that is a factor we can take it out by being better on the ball, we turned it over too many times, we allowed them counter-attacks which means you run a lot.
We need better game management. When the game turns slightly against us then we need to be good enough to wrestle that back and move the ball better so that’s something for us to keep working on.
Reflecting on the game overall, Lampard said:
The first 25 minutes was how we want to play but the rest of the game wasn’t quite how we want to play.
Credit to Leicester for that, they put us under pressure and we weren’t good enough in possession after the first period. We gifted them possession back and gave them the feeling they were still in the game because we didn’t score that second goal.
In the second half, we left far too many spaces for them. They’re a very good team on the counter-attack, they have good attacking players who can really hurt you and that was the disappointing thing for me, the fact we couldn’t sustain the period in the early part of the game.
I don’t expect that 100-miles-an-hour energy for 90 minutes but I do expect that we keep possession of the ball better when we rest.
The match had started positively for Chelsea, who were in the same 4-2-3-1 shape they adopted at Manchester United last weekend.
Christian Pulisic (£7.5m) and Pedro (£7.5m) flanked Oliver Giroud (£7.0m) in attack as they had done in midweek, while Mason Mount (£6.0m) reprised the ‘number ten’ role he had taken up at Old Trafford – although drifted towards the left flank on occasion.
While there will undoubtedly be rotation in the weeks and months ahead, Mount is clearly a favourite of Lampard’s and seems to have the upper hand over Ross Barkley (£6.0m) in the hole, having started there in Gameweeks 1 and 2.
Barkley failed to even make it onto the pitch on Sunday and his Fantasy stock has fallen as quickly as it rose in pre-season following his eye-catching summer displays.
Mount dispossessed Wilfred Ndidi (£5.0m) on the edge of the Leicester box and scuffed an effort beyond Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) to put Chelsea 1-0 up after just six minutes and the chances continued to come for the young midfielder.
Schmeichel had twice thwarted Mount either side of the opening goal, with the 20-year-old prospect well-positioned in the Leicester box.
An ambitious free-kick that sailed into the crowd late on underlined the fact that Lampard wants Mount and the rest of his players to play without fear, while the ex-Derby loanee was also heavily involved in indirect dead-ball situations, taking three of Chelsea’s four corners.
Whether £6.0m is cheap enough to spend on a midfielder who may well face a benching or two in the weeks ahead is a question for Fantasy managers to decide, with Chelsea’s fixtures looking promising between now and Gameweek 12.
Lampard said of Mount after full-time:
The epitome of his talent was shown in his goal – great energy off the ball to close people down and then the quality to finish it. He could have scored two more goals in that opening period actually but we know he’s going to get better and better.
That was the first of some big moments for Mason and I’m delighted for him on that level but I know he’ll have wanted that to be part of a win.
Rotation is also a worry in the wide areas, with Willian (£7.0m) now back from injury – he emerged as a 71st-minute substitute on Sunday – and Callum Hudson-Odoi (£6.0m) set to return after the international break.
Pedro was again the pick of the Blues’ wingers this weekend, firing into the side-netting in the first minute and giving stand-in left-back Christian Fuchs (£4.5m) an uneasy opening quarter of the game as Chelsea swarmed over their visitors.
The promising start and underlying stats amounted to nothing in FPL terms, though, and both Pulisic and Pedro faded as the game wore on.
The same could be said for Giroud, who was hugely impressive in the first half as his hold-up play carved out excellent opportunities for Pedro, Mount and Kante in the opening 25 minutes.
Be it Giroud’s link-up play or Tammy Abraham‘s (£7.0m) off-the-ball runs, the recurring theme among Lampard’s strikers seems to be that they are more likely to create space and opportunities for their teammates as they are score themselves – something that FPL managers will likely baulk at given the sub-£7.0m options who are more traditional goal-getters.
Emerson Palmieri (£5.5m) again caught the eye from an attacking perspective and looks the pick of Chelsea’s defenders, with Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.0m) struggling at right-back.
Whether Fantasy managers would be willing to spend a considerable amount of money on Emerson given Chelsea’s current aversion to clean sheets, however, is another question.
Having struggled to create many chances of note against Wolves in Gameweek 1, Leicester’s attacking assets were again anonymous in the opening 45 minutes of Sunday’s match.
The Foxes had only one shot in the first half and the closest they came to an equaliser was when Jamie Vardy (£9.0m) almost caught Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.5m) dallying on the ball after half an hour.
That all changed after the interval, with Leicester much the better side and quicker on the break – if not quite clinical.
The stats will show that Vardy had only one shot on goal and blanked for the fourth Premier League game in a row but there were multiple instances of the premium Leicester forward being only a pass away from a gilt-edged chance, only for his teammates to fail to find him.
James Maddison (£7.0m) was perhaps the worst culprit, either hanging onto the ball or delaying a pass until Vardy was offside, but Ayoze Perez (£6.5m) and Youri Tielemans (£6.5m) also failed to feed their centre-forward when he had peeled off the Chelsea stoppers.
Vardy’s one chance was a good one, too, as he flashed an effort across Kepa’s goal and narrowly past the toes of an onrushing Perez on 77 minutes.
With other FPL strikers in fine form and facing appealing fixtures in Gameweek 3, Vardy’s owners may well think about ditching him – indeed, over 100,000 FPL bosses have lost faith since the opening weekend.
The second half of the Chelsea match ought to provide some reassurance, however, even if Sheffield United’s impressive defence may not be as charitable as Chelsea’s next Saturday.
If Maddison was at time selfish on the ball to Vardy’s cost, he was still the driving force behind a lot of Leicester’s attacks.
A couple of teasing deliveries flashed through the Chelsea backline before Ndidi got onto the end of Maddison’s 66th-minute corner to bring the scores level, while the England midfielder himself had two presentable opportunities to score: first being crowded out when rounding Kepa and then blazing over a glorious chance from just outside the six-yard box on 72 minutes.
Rodgers said of his playmaker:
He was outstanding today, so clever, working in the spaces and he is such a good player. He played very well.
While Maddison and Vardy offered some encouragement to their owners, Perez was less effective.
Playing on the right of Leicester’s front three, Perez had, like Vardy, a couple of nearly-moments but looked like he was running out of steam midway through the second half, perhaps – as Rodgers suggested last weekend – because of his pre-season being disrupted by injury.
It may simply take another week or two for Perez to bed in and get up to full speed but there will be understandable twitchiness among his owners, with some trickier tests ahead in Gameweeks 4 to 8.
We weren’t overly impressed with Leicester’s defence in Gameweek 1 despite the clean sheet and indeed highlighted a couple of nervy moments that stemmed from Rodgers’ troops trying to play out from the back in our Scout Notes from the Wolves game.
Those failings were again exposed on Sunday, with Chelsea ripping the Foxes to shreds early on and Mount’s goal coming from a Ndidi mistake on the edge of his own box.
Rodgers took blame for that goal, saying:
I assume responsibility, I always ask my players to play, to show confidence and to play like a top player.
He has just had a wee heavy touch, but I’d rather take that – it’s not even a risk for me, it’s an opportunity when you build the game, because you see throughout the game, after that, the number of times from build-up play that we were able to get out and play through.
Sometimes that will happen, and unfortunately for Wilf, it did, but I’m so pleased that he scored the header because he is such a great player for us and he deserved to get the goal.
Ben Chilwell (£5.5m) missed out through injury but the problem doesn’t appear to be too serious, with Rodgers saying:
Should be fine for next week. He had a hip problem and we tried to give him right until the last minute but unfortunately, he didn’t make it. He should be ok for next weekend.
Chelsea XI (4-3-3) Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, Emerson; Jorginho (Kovacic 70′), Kante, Mount; Pedro, Giroud (Abraham 61′), Pulisic (Willian 70′).
Leicester City XI (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Fuchs; Choudhury (Praet 73′), Ndidi, Tielemans; Perez (Albrighton 79′), Maddison, Vardy.
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