Leicester City 2-0 Arsenal
Goals: Jamie Vardy (£9.5m), James Maddison (£7.4m)
Assists: Youri Tielemans (£6.6m), Vardy
Bonus Points: Vardy x3, Çaglar Söyüncü x2 (£4.8m), Ricardo Pereira x1 (£6.3m), Maddison x1
Goals from Jamie Vardy (£9.5m) and James Maddison (£7.4m) helped take Leicester City to second in the league and the pair ever further into the hearts and minds of Fantasy Premier League managers worldwide.
Since losing, narrowly and unluckily, at Liverpool in Gameweek 8, the Foxes have become something of an irresistible force, so it felt almost inevitable they would sweep aside an Arsenal team far from being an immovable object at present.
The only surprise was that it took Brendan Rodgers’ men nearly 70 minutes to find a way past Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno (£5.0m).
When they did, it was with a slick team goal to warm many a Fantasy heart, involving four of the side’s most owned players.
Maddison and Ricardo Pereira (£6.3m) exchanged passes on the right, allowing Youri Tielemans (£6.6m) to burst into the box and centre for Vardy to guide the ball home.
Of the quartet, only Tielemans (9.4%) does not have double-digit ownership in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), and that is surely only a matter of time.
The Belgian has two goals and as many assists from the last four Gameweeks and shared top billing with Maddison for both attempts and chances created against Arsenal. His £6.6m price tag makes him slightly better value than his midfield partner, although Maddison edges it for overall points scored, by 62 to 57.
The England man notched his second goal in three Gameweeks to secure the win against the Gunners, rifling home from the edge of the area following Vardy’s lay-off. Only Liverpool and Manchester City players are now ahead of him in FPL’s midfield scoring charts, with all four of them considerably more expensive.
As for the game’s highest overall scorer, it’s… Jamie Vardy.
He has 11 goals for the season, eight of which have come in the last five Gameweeks, and two of his three assists this campaign have arrived since Gameweek 10.
Much has been made of the striker’s relatively low shot total. He’s had 25 attempts – a figure matched or bettered by 13 other forwards – but delve a little deeper and you’ll find only three have had more big chances than his 12 this season.
Add Vardy’s clinical finishing to Leicester’s dynamism and creativity and 92 FPL points are the result.
Rodgers was understandably happy to praise his striker after the match.
“He is up there with the very, very top strikers in European football with what he brings to a team, his pressing. We’ve allowed him to do essentially what he wants to do – he’s so honest, he’d press the whole back four if he could.” – Brendan Rodgers
The Foxes will face Brighton (minus Lewis Dunk (£4.6m)), Everton, Watford, Aston Villa and Norwich after the international break. Little wonder, then, that seven of the top 20 most bought players heading into Gameweek 13 (a full fortnight away) are from Leicester.
And the 21st is Pereira.
The wing-back, at £6.3m, is the most expensive route into a defence that’s kept three consecutive clean sheets and now leads the way for both shut-outs (five) and goals conceded (eight).
Pereira’s offensive threat is the reason for his lofty price tag, although he’s only produced attacking returns (two goals) in two matches this season having proved rather unfortunate.
He did earn a bonus point against Arsenal, but there are cheaper and equally cheerful alternatives to be had.
Top of that particular shop is Çaglar Söyüncü (£4.8m), who has been outstanding over the last three Gameweeks, providing three clean sheets, a goal and five bonus points, two of which came on Saturday.
On another day, he could have been on for a second assist of the season when he was blatantly fouled in the box by Matteo Guendouzi (£4.7m), only for VAR to turn a blind eye based on an arguable offside call involving Maddison.
As a result, he’s ‘just’ produced the 28 points since Gameweek 10 and it is no shock to see him behind only Vardy and Maddison for transfers-in among Leicester players.
Another defender gaining owners is Ben Chilwell (£5.7m), who brought in a monster 19-point haul in the 9-0 drubbing of Southampton in Gameweek 10 and was half a post away from scoring again last week against Crystal Palace.
He’s more than doubled his ownership, to 11.6%, in a fortnight, but was unusually quiet against the Gunners, creating just the one chance and having no goal attempts whatsoever.
Still, with those fixtures to come, owning Leicester players across the pitch, from the ever-reliable Kasper Schmeichel (£5.2m), whose 52 points has him joint-top of the goalkeeper standings, all the way through to Vardy up top, looks like an absolute no-brainer.
And such is their form at present, even a nasty Christmas double-header of Manchester City away and Liverpool at home doesn’t look beyond them, particularly as the fixtures that follow are set fair again until Gameweek 25 on the dim and distant date of February 1.
As for Arsenal, they’re currently doing a fine impression of an unsettled team full of players shorn of confidence under a manager with an increasingly tenuous grip on his job. Which is, of course, precisely where they’re at.
None of that makes for rich Fantasy pickings.
Leicester fired in 19 shots, to the Gunners’ eight, on Saturday, with seven on target to Arsenal’s one.
None of that was anything new as only Villa and Norwich have allowed more attempts than the 197 conceded by Unai Emery’s side this season.
If save points are your thing, then Leno is your man. The keeper has made a league-leading 49 stops, which is seven clear of his closest rival, Bournemouth’s Aaron Ramsdale (£4.6m).
Emery tried to address that by switching to a back three at the King Power Stadium, with Rob Holding (£4.5m) handed a first start of the season alongside David Luiz (£5.8m) and Callum Chambers (£4.4m) at centre-half.
It didn’t work.
Arsenal were overwhelmed by Leicester’s high press, which forced them to cough up the ball in their own half time and again during a relentlessly dismal first period from the visitors.
They were at least more composed and cohesive as a defensive unit after the interval, a vague positive that Emery was keen to stress post-match.
“I know we are receiving criticism, but I have done before and I have recovered. I accept all the criticism. It is normal. Today we did one step ahead being better defensively.” – Unai Emery
And things could have been so different, had Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) not missed a golden chance from six yards out.
The striker does have the makings of a real differential punt in the short term as the Gunners’ next four fixtures involve Southampton and Brighton at home and trips to Norwich and West Ham.
But the 1.7%-owned Frenchman is yet to score since returning from injury in Gameweek 9 and it showed when he fluffed his one big line on Saturday.
Fellow forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) has eight goals to his name this season, but only one in the last five Gameweeks, Lacazette having started three of those matches.
The Gabonese international was kept to only one shot at Leicester, while having another one, which found the net, correctly ruled out for offside.
Behind them – in every sense of the word – came Mesut Özil (£7.2m).
The midfielder was drafted in by 1,870 managers hoping he might sprinkle his mercurial dust over the fixture. What they got was one chance created and zero shots from 90 minutes of something far removed from the notion of good, honest toil.
Emery allowed the speedier and more direct threat provided by Nicolas Pépé (£9.2m) just 13 minutes against Leicester, but neither he, nor Özil, nor any Arsenal midfielder, in fact, deserves much Fantasy attention at present.
Arsenal usually find a way to score however wretched their form might be. They’ve now blanked twice in four Gameweeks and that’s as damning as the evidence gets for those – and there are now many – who want Emery out as soon as possible.
The manager is well aware of his perilous situation.
“We need to recover our confidence. We need to be patient with some circumstances, and we are going to do that.” Unai Emery
Patience is a commodity valued by Arsenal’s board, but it must be wearing very thin at present. It’s certainly even thinner among Fantasy managers as the side’s most popular asset – the 25.6%-owned Aubameyang – is already experiencing significant sales for Gameweek 13.
Even those tasty fixtures don’t look like saving him as Fantasy heads continue to be turned, quite rightly, by the riches on offer at Leicester.
Leicester City XI (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Chilwell, Söyüncü, Evans, R Pereira; Ndidi; H Barnes (Praet 74′), Maddison, Tielemans, Pérez (D Gray 60′); Vardy.
Arsenal XI (3-4-1-2): Leno; Holding (Pépé 77′), D Luiz, Chambers; Kolašinac, Guendouzi, Torreira (Willock 80′), Bellerín; Özil; Aubameyang, Lacazette.
GAMEWEEK 12 – FPL MATCH REPORTS
- Norwich City 0-2 Watford
- Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace
- Burnley 3-0 West Ham United
- Newcastle United 2-1 Bournemouth
- Southampton 1-2 Everton
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Everton
- Leicester City 2-0 Arsenal
- Manchester United 3-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Wolves 2-1 Aston Villa
- Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City
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