Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang (£11.0m) is yet to blank after six Gameweeks of the 2019/20 season, with the Gabonese forward scoring the winner in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Aston Villa.
A goal was a fitting reward for his owners, who will have been cursing his generosity from 12 yards earlier in the game – as we will discuss in the Scout Notes article below.
Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa
- Goals: Nicolas Pepe (£9.4m), Calum Chambers (£4.4m), Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang (£11.0m) | John McGinn (£5.6m), Wesley (£6.0m)
- Assists: Matteo Guendouzi (£4.6m) | Anwar El-Ghazi (£5.5m), Jack Grealish (£5.9m)
- Bonus: McGinn x3, Pepe x2, Grealish, Wesley x1
Nicolas Pepe (£9.4m) scored his first goal in an Arsenal shirt in Sunday’s five-goal thriller at the Emirates, although had to rely on a charitable gesture from Aubameyang in order to open his account.
The Gabon international took all five of the Gunners’ spot-kicks in the league in 2018/19 and would have been expected to step up again when Matteo Guendouzi (£4.6m) was felled in the Villa box after 57 minutes of yesterday’s encounter.
It was Pepe who converted the subsequent spot-kick, however, which would have been a source of great frustration to the 1.6 million Fantasy managers who now own the premium Arsenal forward.
Any concerns that Aubameyang can no longer call upon penalties as a route to FPL points were swiftly put to bed by Unai Emery in his post-match presser, however.
Pepe has an excellent record from 12 yards – he scored nine of them for Lille in Ligue I last season – but his new manager confirmed that he was behind Aubameyang and likely the injured Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) in the penalty-taking running order at Arsenal.
Yes, it’s Aubameyang who is responsible for penalties. Also Lacazette, and today for me is a very big decision from Aubameyang to let Pepe shoot to give him confidence and the possibility to score.
Really, the responsibility is Aubameyang and I was happy when I saw that decision from Aubameyang.
He is hungry every day to score, to achieve, individual and collective objectives. Today that decision shows a really great player.
Aubemeyang was again leading the line for Arsenal in Sunday’s clash with Villa, with Pepe and youngster Bukayo Saka (£4.5m) flanking him in a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 – Dani Ceballos (£5.7m) floating between being a ‘number ten’ and a more withdrawn central midfielder.
The Villans dealt with Arsenal’s attack fairly comfortably for the large part, with the excellent Tyrone Mings (£4.6m) – who later was to cost his side a goal with an uncharacteristic error – snuffing out the threat of Aubameyang in open play.
Instead, the Gabon international had to rely on a superb 83rd-minute free-kick to continue his purple patch of form.
Aubameyang’s fixtures are excellent from Gameweeks 8-16 and a whole lot more attacking points surely beckon.
He is almost inscrutable from a statistical analysis perspective given his ability to wrestle points from virtual anonymity, although it should be stressed that he is very much benefitting from playing as a central striker – rather than a left-winger – in Lacazette’s absence.
Despite the goal and slightly improved display, Pepe still hasn’t shown enough – yet – to convince us that he can compete with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne (£9.9m) and Son Heung-min (£9.6m) in the same price bracket.
Ceballos, meanwhile, managed just one shot and one key pass and only took two of the Gunners’ nine corners, having previously looked like a possible dead-ball specialist in Gameweek 2.
The impressive Guendouzi deserves a mention: this was his sixth straight start in the top flight and he is now the leading points-scorer among sub-£5.0m midfielders.
Emery said of the FPL ‘bench fodder’ option:
With Matteo, last year when he came here he progressed and he is progressing. Really I like that spirit he has, he has talent but above all his attitude, his energy, his commitment and his behaviour.
He’s one player who is angry when he is not playing but I like that. I like that player because when they are angry they are asking you to play, when you decide that they play today they know they have a commitment to give what you need and he is one player, he is improving. I want to be calm with him, he is humble and continuing improving and growing up with us.
It was another horror show from Arsenal’s defence, however, with not one of their back four convincing and Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£5.1m) capping off a dismal display by being sent off for two bookable offences just before the interval.
Maitland-Niles’ owners at least won’t lose him to suspension (the one-match ban being served in the EFL Cup), while the ‘injury’ that saw him helped from the field after his dismissal wasn’t declared by the Gunners in Monday’s medical bulletin.
Asked about the Arsenal right-back, Emery said:
I was thinking of the possibility to change him in the first half. Why? Because it’s not easy to play in a defensive situation with one player like El Ghazi, very strong in running back on our defence. He used the yellow card, the second yellow card, he first touched the ball and really I was thinking it’s not a red card. But we needed to accept that decision and after to work with one less player.
What is our challenge in the first half, we were speaking to play here with our supporters with one less player and how we can respond and how we can make a step ahead in our response and working with our quality also and take the possibilities to come back, and we did that, but really I couldn’t have nothing to say to Ainsley for that action.
The north London side at least will be able to welcome back Hector Bellerin (£5.4m), Kieran Tierney (£5.4m), Dinos Mavropanos (£4.4m) and Rob Holding (£4.5m) from injury soon, so that may well have positive effect on their backline – but whether a club with the attack-minded Emery at the helm will ever be solid defensively is another question.
Villa themselves were better at the back than three goals conceded suggests, going down to a penalty, a direct free-kick and a Mings error for Calum Chambers‘ (£4.4m) opportunistic strike.
Trezeguet (£5.3m) was a bright spark down Villa’s left and showed why he was missed in the stalemate against West Ham last Monday, while the visitors’ two attack-minded central midfielders perfectly summed up their respective skillsets – John McGinn (£5.6m) the chief goal threat and Jack Grealish (£5.9m) the arch-creator.
One of the downsides to McGinn this season has not so much been his shot count but how few of his efforts have come from inside the opposition area.
The Scotland international rectified that on Sunday with a beautifully timed run for Villa’s opener and the budget FPL midfielder twice stung the hands of Bernd Leno (£5.0m) from distance before narrowly firing wide from 15 yards after the break.
Only three FPL midfielders have had more goal attempts than McGinn this season, although the fact that he doubled his shots-in-the-box count in one fell swoop in Gameweek 6 highlighted how many of those have been from further out.
Still, for £5.6m, some slack has to be cut and McGinn indeed is ranked third among players in his position for value for money, based on points per million spent.
Grealish, meanwhile, produced a surging run and cross for Wesley‘s (£6.0m) goal to collect his second assist of the campaign.
The Belgian striker took his goal well but didn’t get much of a look-in otherwise and wasn’t blessed with a great deal of service, with Villa’s main goal threat coming from midfield.
For the second game in a row, Villa were unable to press their advantage against ten men and actually looked worse for having a man over on their opposition.
Smith said after full-time:
We should never have conceded three goals, they’ve had some chances. When you come to Arsenal you expect that. A lot of them were outside the penalty box. We had a good shape and structure about us defensibly but, at times, I just felt we let it become a little bit like a basketball game, going end to end.
We gave three stupid goals away. We’ve planted a foot in the penalty box and I don’t think any player in this league needs much encouragement to go down. They get a penalty and we try and cushion a header in the six-yard box and they pounce and score when it should be going out for a corner. We then play a straight pass into midfield, they win it and break.
The be-all and end all, I felt at 1-0 and 2-1, there were periods where we tried to get the next goal but, on the whole, we tried to hold onto the lead rather than extend it. That was the difference, we could have extended the lead and won it comfortably.
But, for whatever reasons at times in the second half, we retracted and, if you do that against good players they can cause you problems.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac; Xhaka (Willock 72′), Guendouzi; Pepe, Ceballos (Torreira 72′), Saka (Chambers 46′); Aubameyang.
Aston Villa XI (4-1-4-1): Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Taylor; Nakamba (Hourihane 85′); McGinn, Grealish, Trezeguet (Elmohamady 68′), El Ghazi (Lansbury 85), Wesley.
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