Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace
- Goals: Sokratis (£5.0m), David Luiz (£5.8m) | Luka Milivojevic (£6.7m), Jordan Ayew (£5.1m)
- Assists: Granit Xhaka (£5.3m), Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) | Wilfried Zaha (£6.7m), James McArthur (£5.3m)
- Bonus: Milivojevic x3, Ayew, McArthur x2
A disallowed goal, a VAR-influenced penalty decision, a set-to between Arsenal’s captain and their fans, a Matteo Guendouzi (£4.7m) rugby tackle, a mass brawl and a two-goal comeback: Sunday’s match at the Emirates was perhaps the most eventful of Gameweek 10.
From a Fantasy perspective, Alexandre Lacazette‘s (£9.3m) return to the Arsenal starting XI for the first time in the league since September 1 was the main talking point.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.1m) has played centrally for the Gunners in the France international’s two-month absence but Lacazette’s Premier League comeback saw Aubameyang move to the left flank to accommodate his fellow premium FPL forward.
A fair number of Aubameyang’s owners will find his move to a wide-left position hard to swallow, given his hefty price tag.
Then there are those who will be undeterred by Lacazette’s availability, pointing to the fact the pair co-existed last season (be it as a bona fide strike duo or with the Gabon international out wide) and that attacking returns for Aubameyang still arrived regularly enough with the two of them in the same starting XI.
The classic fence-sitter’s position is that both arguments are valid.
Aubameyang will continue to rack up the goals and assists and more than likely be towards the top of the FPL forwards’ points list come the end of the campaign, no matter where he is stationed.
There is no question, though, that a central role would be a big help in maximising his Fantasy potential.
Aubameyang has made a habit out of disappearing for large chunks of a match, only to pop up with a goal out of nowhere, so his anonymity against Palace on Sunday was nothing new.
Being played on the left flank, even if he is not a touchline-hugging Dwight McNeil (£6.0m) type, does perhaps make gilt-edged opportunities harder to come by, though.
Aubameyang had only one penalty box touch in Gameweek 10, with both of his shots coming from outside the area.
Lacazette, by contrast, was in the thick of things, forcing an excellent low stop from Wayne Hennessey (£4.4m) early on, seeing a header from a corner saved in the second half and then striking the woodwork from a narrow angle soon after.
In the 256 minutes of pitch-time that Lacazette and Aubameyang have shared this season, the Gabon international has only had one shot in the box.
We’re still talking about a very small data sample in 2019/20, of course, and there are plenty of appealing fixtures ahead for the pair and Nicolas Pepe (£9.3m) to develop more of an understanding and become a potent front three.
It was from two of Pepe’s corners that Arsenal raced into a 2-0 lead: Sokratis (£5.0m) breaking the deadlock after a spot of penalty-box head tennis and then David Luiz (£5.8m) doubling the Gunners’ advantage following a Lacazette flick-on.
Sokratis thought he had grabbed a winner late in the game, only for his strike to be controversially scratched off after VAR intervention.
Arsenal didn’t create a massive amount from open play, however, with Dani Ceballos (£5.4m) again below-par and Granit Xhaka (£5.3m) turning in a display that led to the Arsenal fans cheering his substitution – the Switzerland midfielder reacting petulantly to the provocation.
Kieran Tierney (£5.4m) made his Arsenal league debut at full-back, looking fairly bright down the left flank without threatening to make any headlines with his contributions.
Arsenal’s defensive struggles are as well-documented as Tierney’s attacking attributes, however, and the Gunners let a two-goal lead slip when conceding to a Luka Milivojevic (£6.7m) penalty and a Jordan Ayew (£5.1m) header.
The penalty award, only given after the VAR had overruled the decision to penalise Wilfried Zaha (£6.7m) for a dive, and Sokratis’ disallowed goal clearly irked Unai Emery, who said:
For me VAR is positive and we need VAR. But we need to manage that in the right way. At the moment, to us, it’s not working well. I think the team deserved to win this evening. We played with speed when they equalised. I can only be a little bit disappointed that we didn’t control the match better at 2-0, to make sure that we could get a good result.
Palace’s tricky fixture run still has another three or four matches to go (LEI | che | LIV| bur) but they are giving us some encouragement ahead of the swing in Gameweek 15.
Defending has been the strong suit of Roy Hodgson’s side this season but for once it was their attacking assets who caught the eye, with Zaha, in particular, causing Calum Chambers (£4.4m) problems down the left flank and going close to netting a winner late on.
Ayew, meanwhile, made it four goals in eight Gameweeks and now averages exactly five points per game over that period.
The fit-again Martin Kelly (£4.1m) returned to the matchday squad but was only among the substitutes, so it appears that the budget FPL defender’s 25%+ ownership now has to wait on an injury to one of James Tomkins (£5.0m) or Gary Cahill (£4.5m) before their cut-price Palace defender is a starter again.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Tierney (Kolasinac 75′); Guendouzi, Xhaka (Saka 61′); Pepe, Ceballos, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Crystal Palace XI (4-3-3): Hennessey; Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, Van Aanholt; Kouyate (McCarthy 90′), Milijoevic, McArthur; Townsend, Ayew (Benteke 81′), Zaha.
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