We round up the key Fantasy talking points from the three UEFA Europa League games that involved Premier League clubs on Wednesday and Thursday.
Manchester United 3-0 Partizan Belgrade
- Goals: Mason Greenwood (£4.3m), Anthony Martial (£7.7m), Marcus Rashford (£8.5m)
- Assists: Rashford, Ashley Young (£5.4m)
Manchester United waltzed into the knockout stages of the Europa League with two games to spare thanks to a performance of dynamism and flair from their front three.
Marcus Rashford (£8.5m) was the star of the show, his pace and directness causing havoc in the Partizan backline.
He set up United’s opener when his ball into the area was calmly dispatched by Mason Greenwood (£4.3m) and rounded off the scoring with an emphatic finish from an Ashley Young (£5.4m) pass.
In between came the goal of the night from Anthony Martial (£7.7m), who pounced on a loose ball from the visitors before beating two players, holding off a third and flicking the ball home as goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic advanced.
The scoreline should have been more emphatic.
United had seven shots on target to the Serbs’ zero and Rashford could easily have walked off at half-time with a hat-trick to his name were it not for Stojkovic’s saves and his own profligacy.
Whether manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is bold enough to field all three of the attackers in the league remains to be seen. Partizan’s defensive shortcomings need to be factored in, but the speed and chemistry of the trio produced a heady mix that will have many a Fantasy Premier League (FPL) boss considering a dabble.
The 13%-owned Rashford is finding some form coming in from the left flank, while midfielder Martial (6.9%) continues to be deployed as a central striker.
Both are in the top 20 for transfers-in ahead of Gameweek 12’s visit from Brighton.
As for Greenwood, his bargain bucket price tag prompted just over a million to invest in him by Gameweek 2, but limited minutes from the bench has produced no goals and a quarter of a million drop in ownership since then.
Solskjaer made only four changes to the side that lost at Bournemouth last weekend, with Daniel James (£6.2m) one of the few to miss out. He stayed on the bench last night and it would be a major surprise if Greenwood was preferred again on Sunday. James, after all, has scored 43 FPL points – second only to Rashford (58) at United this season.
The manager was just happy to praise all three of his starters post-match, saying:
We know they are a dangerous trio, with players behind them who can provide chances. Well done to Mason for a very, very calm finish. He was composed and waited for the keeper. The second one was from Anthony and was probably the skill of the night. Then it was great to see Marcus finishing with his left foot.
Despite denying the visitors a single shot on target all night, United’s backline rode their luck at times, with full-backs Young and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.4m) pushed so high up the pitch that they left huge amounts of space for Partizan to exploit on the break.
Brighton might prove better equipped to punish a defence with just two league clean sheets – and none since Gameweek 5 – to their name, although the Seagulls have scored only once in their last four away matches.
They will face a backline down to its bare bones, however.
Marcos Rojo (£4.8m) replaced the injured Victor Lindelof (£5.4m) last night, while Harry Maguire (£5.4m) played the full 90 minutes despite picking up a knock in the second half.
Solskjaer provided an update on the centre-half, as well as influential midfielder Scott McTominay (£5.1m), who went off with an ankle problem after 75 minutes.
I think Harry will be okay. He finished the game anyway. Scott is more of a concern, so let’s see how he recovers in the next few days. He said he was going to be okay out on the pitch and he said ‘I’ll be fine’. He’s tough, but he had to come off. But I hope he’ll recover for Sunday, but I don’t know.
With Young suspended for the Brighton match, Solskjaer has limited options at the back and could well be forced to give young left-back Brandon Williams (£4.0m) his first-ever start in the league unless more seasoned performers prove their fitness.
Lindelof probably holds the key there. Should he be fit, Rojo could move across to left-back. Phil Jones (£4.8m) is another who could come in, although he’s not played a single minute in the league this season.
Solskjaer will hope the players further up the pitch can continue last night’s excellent form to offset those defensive concerns.
Fantasy managers buying into Rashford and Martial will be of exactly the same mind.
Manchester United XI: Romero, Maguire, Rojo, Fred (Garner 63), Young, Wan-Bissaka, McTominay (Lingard 75), Mata, Martial, Rashford (Pereira 67), Greenwood.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Slovan Bratislava
- Goal: Raul Jimenez (£7.3m)
- Assist: Adama Traore (£5.1m)
A late winner from Raul Jimenez (£7.3m) edged Wolves ever closer to the Europa League’s final 32 on a tricky night at Molineux.
The striker headed home Adama Traore‘s (£5.1m) cross in the early stages of 12 minutes of time added on after Jimenez had accidentally kicked defender Kenan Bajric in the head.
Bajric had to be stretchered off with concussion and the Mexican’s later goal celebration was a muted and contrite affair, as is suddenly the trend among innocent-but-guilty offenders.
Wolves controlled much of the game, only to be frustrated by a resolute Bratislava, with visiting goalkeeper Dominik Greif setting the tone when he saved a Ruben Neves (£5.3m) penalty not long after the break.
That miss could have major Fantasy repercussions, as Wolves boss Nuno Espirto Santo explained after the match.
Today was Ruben’s turn, he didn’t make it, next time it’s going to be Raul (Jimenez), hopefully, he will make it – this is the moment that we have to decide. We practise a lot in the training sessions, we have designated penalty takers, today it was Ruben, he was not happy because he didn’t kick well, he’s conscious of that and he must work hard.
Jimenez, with two goals and as many assists from his last four league starts, is now up to 12.3% FPL ownership and in the top ten for Gameweek 12 transfers-in. His growing army of Fantasy fans will be delighted to hear he now has another string to his point-scoring bow.
Greif also did well to deny efforts from Joao Moutinho (£5.3m) and Matt Doherty (£6.0m) as the home side’s pressure threatened to come to nothing.
The fact that Doherty was even playing was a major plus point for his 3.2% FPL ownership, however, as the wing-back had been a doubt after picking up a knee issue in the Gameweek 11 draw at Arsenal.
Espirito Santo had made just three changes from that match, with striker Diogo Jota (£6.1m) an enforced one as he sat out last night’s tie due to European suspension.
He looks likely to return for the weekend derby with Aston Villa, as should wing-back Jonny (£5.4m), who only came on for the final five minutes against the Slovaks.
Wolves XI: Patricio, Kilman, Coady, Dendocker, Vinagre (Jonny 90+7), Neves, Moutinho, Doherty, Neto (Cutrone 69), Jimenez, Traore (Bennett 90+10).
Vitoria Guimaraes 1-1 Arsenal
- Goals: Shkodran Mustafi (£5.2m)
- Assists: Nicolas Pepe (£9.3m)
Arsenal’s defensive fragility was exposed once again as they conceded an injury-time equaliser that scuppered their chances, for now at least, of securing guaranteed progression from the Europa League group stages.
The Gunners dominated possession in Portugal on Wednesday, but did little with it until Shkodran Mustafi (£5.2m) headed home Nicolas Pepe‘s (£9.3m) free-kick with ten minutes to play.
That should have been that, only for the home side to produce a late rally and an even later goal that made it four matches on the trot that Arsenal have had to make do with a draw.
Manager Unai Emery made eight changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Wolves in Gameweek 11, handing the captain’s armband to defender Rob Holding (£4.5m).
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (11.0m), together with back-in-favour playmaker Mesut Ozil (£7.2m), didn’t even travel.
One of the few potential starters for Saturday evening’s tough trip to Leicester City, Kieran Tierney (£5.4m), played the full 90 minutes, although investing in any member of an Arsenal defence with just two clean sheets this season looks ill-advised at present.
In attack, Pepe also started and finished the match; worrying news for his 3.0% ownership after he was dropped in Gameweek 11, playing no part in a league game for the first time this season as a result.
The 1.7% who own Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) will have been rather more heartened to see their man given only a 25-minute run-out from the bench in Portugal.
Midfielder Daniel Ceballos (£5.4m) did start, but had to be replaced after 54 minutes with a hamstring problem and Emery couldn’t provide a positive assessment post-match, saying:
He has a small injury, but I don’t think he is going to be available this week.
The Gunners have indeed since confirmed that Ceballos will miss Gameweek 12 as further assessment is awaited.
Arsenal have a decent run of fixtures to come once the Leicester clash is out of the way, with a Gameweek 17 visit from Manchester City by far the toughest test they’ll face until after Christmas.
But a lack of attacking bite – they’ve been averaging just a goal a game over the last five fixtures – and that defensive frailty means few of their assets are attracting much Fantasy interest at present.
Indeed, while no Gunner is is the top 30 for Gameweek 12 purchases, both Aubameyang and Ceballos are experiencing relatively significant sales.
Arsenal XI: Martínez, Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Willock (Torreira 78), Ceballos (Guendouzi 54), Tierney, Pépé, Martinelli, Saka (Lacazette 65).
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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