Arsenal 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) | Raul Jimenez (£7.2m)
- Assists: Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) | Joao Moutinho (£5.3m)
- Bonus: Jimenez x3, Aubameyang x2, Moutinho x1
Troubled Arsenal manager Unai Emery received little comfort from a second straight draw in front of an increasingly disgruntled set of home fans.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s (£11.0m) first goal in four matches should have improved the mood at the Emirates, but Raul Jimenez‘s (£7.2m) second-half equaliser was a deserved one for the lively visitors.
The 26.7%-owned Aubameyang is the second most popular Fantasy Premier League (FPL) striker, although his ownership dipped below the two million mark for the Gameweek 11 clash with Wolves.
He rewarded the patience of the majority with his eighth goal of the campaign, set up by a pass from Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) which made it back-to-back assists for the Frenchman.
Lacazette’s 1.7% of backers were then denied one more point when Emery subbed him off after 59 minutes, no doubt making the Spaniard that little bit more unpopular among Fantasy managers as well as the growing army of Arsenal fans.
That unpopularity is rooted in the Gunners’ lack of a clear on-pitch identity, with all-too frequent periods of timidity and a lack of creativity leaving them looking very vulnerable for large parts of recent matches.
That was certainly the case against Wolves, who were allowed a massive 24 attempts on Saturday, with the visitors having eight shots on target to Arsenal’s four.
Only Southampton and Villa – who played the top two – allowed more efforts on goal than Arsenal this weekend, which will be of huge encouragement to owners of Leicester assets ahead of Gameweek 12.
Jimenez finally took advantage of the hosts’ passivity when he headed home a 76th-minute equaliser from a Joao Moutinho (£5.3m) cross, and it could have been so much worse for the Gunners had keeper Bernd Leno (£5.0m) not made seven saves, with stops from Matt Doherty (£6.0m) and Ruben Neves (£5.3m) particularly eye-catching.
Leno has now made a league-leading 44 saves while keeping only two clean sheets this season – a damning indictment of Arsenal’s failure to impose themselves as a defensive unit, something which Emery acknowledged post-match without explicitly blaming his backline.
The Gunners’ head coach said:
We can improve. We must improve that balance defensively. Above all, we deserved more. The key was to have more clear chances to score the second goal and get the result for us.
Those cracks at the back have usually been papered over by swathes of attacking swagger, but the Gunners are averaging just a goal a game over the last five Gameweeks and that lack of bite was there for all to see against Wolves.
The top three players for attempts, and the top two for chances created, all came from the visitors, with the returning Mesut Ozil (£7.2m) one of only three Arsenal stars to make it into the top ten for creativity.
Such is the mood at the Emirates that Ozil – footballing Marmite to so many Gunners fans – is currently seen as a potential saviour of their season. He’ll need to start delivering quickly and regularly to justify that notion, and he’ll also need to be a lot more influential than he was against Wolves if he is to become a Fantasy target once more.
Emery’s take on the German was short and sweet:
He worked, he played well and I think he has quality.
Newly-anointed captain Aubameyang and the fit-again Lacazette aside, Arsenal’s attacking assets remain at the mercy of Emery’s perceived inability to decide upon a settled side. Nicolas Pepe (£9.3m) was the latest victim of the manager’s selectorial confusion, the winger playing no part against Wolves after enjoying eight straight starts previously.
A back four of David Luiz (£5.8m), Sokratis (£5.0m), Calum Chambers (£4.4m) and Kieran Tierney (£5.4m) might now be more set in stone, but it’s a defence that is a long way from watertight and remains heavily reliant on Leno’s shot-stopping excellence.
Arsenal’s schedule should still be a tempting one, with an eight-match run in which only a trip to Leicester City and a visit from Manchester City look beyond them. But their form is too ropey, and their confidence too brittle, to suggest anyone but their strikers are worthy investments.
The outlook for Wolves is rather more rosy, in the short term at least.
Their next five fixtures are favourable and in Jimenez they have a striker in fine form, with two goals and as many assists from his last four starts.
He and Diogo Jota (£6.1m) topped the goal attempts chart against Arsenal, with the latter coming perilously close to grabbing a late winner with a fine run into the box.
Jota was also joint-top for chances created with the excellent Moutinho, while wing-backs Doherty and Jonny (£5.4m) provided their usual solid attacking threat.
The one downer on the day came when Doherty had to be substituted after 71 minutes when he landed heavily on his right knee.
Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo provided an update on the Irish international post-match, saying:
Let’s see how Matt is. I hope it’s nothing serious, but we have other options. Players go down, other players come up.
Unfortunately for him, some key defenders are currently more down than up, with Doherty potentially joining Willy Boly (£5.0m) and Ryan Bennett (£4.9m) on the treatment table.
Not that their backline is particularly tempting at present anyway. Wolves have managed only three clean sheets in the league, with the side coming back from a goal down to draw 1-1 no fewer than six times already this season.
All that leaves Jimenez as the standout Fantasy option and he earned a glowing review from his manager for his latest endeavours.
He’s a very good player, he’s a very good man – a fantastic boy. He works very hard, he believes in himself and he works for the team. I am delighted, and we are delighted to have him.
Some 11% of FPL managers have also been delighted to have him in recent weeks, and there will be more feeling the love over the next few matches as he’s currently just outside the top five for Gameweek 12 transfers-in.
Arsenal XI (4-4-2 diamond): Leno; Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Tierney (Kolasonac 87′); Guendouzi, Torreira (Saka 73′), Ozil, Ceballos; Lacazette (Martinelli 60′), Aubameyang.
Wolves XI (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty (Vinagre 71′), Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez, Jota (Neto 90′).
Lessons learned from Gameweek 11
- Bournemouth 1-0 Manchester United
- Arsenal 1-1 Wolves
- Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool
- Brighton 2-0 Norwich
- Manchester City 2-1 Southampton
- Sheffield United 3-0 Burnley
- West Ham United 2-3 Newcastle United
- Watford 1-2 Chelsea
- Crystal Palace 0-2 Leicester City
- Everton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
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