Danny Ings (£6.4m), Jack Grealish (£6.2m) and John Lundstram (£5.2m) were among the standout FPL assets on show over four Gameweek 18 clashes, while Richarlison (£7.9m) disappointed his new clutch of owners.
Their exploits are among our Scout Notes from Everton, Southampton, Sheffield United and Burnley’s latest matches.
EVERTON 0-0 ARSENAL
Richarlison owners were disappointed early on in this drab game as the Brazilian was forced to move from centre-forward to left midfield after 10 minutes.
An injury to Alex Iwobi (£5.6m) saw Cenk Tosun (£5.7m) introduced to partner Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.7m) in Duncan Ferguson’s 4-4-2 formation.
Arsenal managed just one off-target effort in the first half but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.8m) came closest to opening the scoring after the restart.
His close-range attempt, which came after Calum Chambers (£4.4m) flicked on a corner, was stopped on the line by Jordan Pickford (£5.4m). Considering Aubameyang’s proximity to goal and the sun in his eyes, the England keeper did well to deny the Arsenal forward.
Moments later, Emile Smith-Rowe (unlisted) found Aubameyang in the box but a tame effort was easily gathered by Pickford. Those early efforts were the best the Gabon striker could manage before his 78th-minute substitution for Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m).
At the other end, Richarlison created a good chance for Calvert-Lewin in the 67th minute but the forward’s shot was bravely blocked by Lucas Torreira (£4.7m).
Chambers was the first player to fall off the suspension tightrope in Gameweek 18, with his late yellow-card tackle on Mason Holgate (£4.4m) ruling the Arsenal man out of Gameweek 19.
Speaking after the game, outgoing Toffees caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson said:
It wasn’t the best game but it’s a point and we kept a clean sheet, which we’ve not had in a long while. It was a struggle out there but I can’t fault the effort again.
[Carlo Ancelotti] is a brilliant appointment. I’ve said all along we want a world class manager at Everton – and we’ve got one. I’ve had a word with me and I’m still in a job! I can’t wait to start working with him.
Ferguson’s fellow interim manager Freddie Ljungberg had this to say on his last game in temporary charge, a positive take considering how poor the Gunners were in the opening half.
I wanted to win the game but we’ve taken strides. I want to keep possession and we played through them quite well. I liked that we dominated with a young side.
I think we have a lot of talent but from what I said before against [Manchester] City, I wasn’t happy with the effort we put in. We played a top team and of course they’re very good, but you still need to run and you need to put in an effort.
What I put on here today, I know they’re young and don’t have any experience – some even made their Premier League debuts and we had an 18-year-old [Bukayo Saka] at left-back who’s a winger – but they did really, really well and dominated a game against Everton away from home. We, as a club, should be very proud of that.
Asked about Mesut Ozil (£7.2m) – who officially missed out with a foot injury – Ljungberg stated that the midfielder would have been left out of the squad even if he had been fit.
He [Ozil] walked off the pitch [in the Man City game] and then kicked his gloves. The fans were not happy. I got asked about it and said, ‘At Arsenal, that’s not how we behave and not what we do’.
I stand by that. Mesut was injured but I would not have picked him for the squad because I want to make a stance that it’s not what I accept from an Arsenal football player. That’s my decision. I won’t make the decisions again but that’s what I think.
Everton XI (4-4-2): Pickford; Digne, Mina, Holgate, Sidibe; Iwobi (Tosun 11′ | Kean 80′), Delph (Delph 72′), Sigurdsson, Davies; Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Saka, David Luiz, Chambers, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Torreira; Martinelli, Smith-Rowe (Willock 66′), Nelson; Aubameyang (Lacazette 78′).
ASTON VILLA 1-3 SOUTHAMPTON
The Fantasy stock of Jack Grealish (£6.2m) and in particular Danny Ings (£6.4m) rose once more at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon.
Ings grabbed the first of his two goals after 21 minutes, with Shane Long (£4.6m) doing the hard work for Southampton.
The Irishman robbed Frederic Guilbert (£4.4m) of the ball before seeing his effort parried by Tom Heaton (£4.5m), which left Ings the simple task of tapping in.
Long then saw his header, from a Ryan Bertrand (£4.8m) cross, hit off Kortney Hause (£4.4m) before being claimed on the line by Heaton.
Southampton doubled their lead through Jack Stephens (£4.3m), who headed home unchallenged from a James Ward-Prowse (£5.9m) corner.
Dean Smith is under no illusions as to where the Villans must improve, while FPL bosses may be slow to invest in players such as Guilbert and Matt Targett (£4.4m) despite a relatively decent run of fixtures.
The Villa manager, who was again without first-choice central defender Tyrone Mings (£4.5m), said:
We all have to take responsibility. Defensively we have to be better and we have to improve quickly.
If you give away a three-goal lead in any league, it’s tough, but in the Premier League it’s tougher. They won the second balls, and that’s what disappointed me today.
We lose a race against [Shane] Long and we give away a free header. We started quite well but after the first goal, you see heads drop.
Ings doubled his tally minutes after the restart, pouncing on a loose ball in the box to turn and fire past Heaton in the top right-hand corner from an acute angle. That was the striker’s 11th goal of the season, seven of which have been scored since Gameweek 12.
Grealish rocketed a shot past Alex McCarthy (£4.3m) in the 76th minute to lift Villa. While it was too little, too late for his side, owners and potential investors will have been impressed.
The midfielder avoided a fifth yellow of the season, while he twice tested McCarthy from inside the area in added time.
On the early leg injury sustained by John McGinn (£5.7m), Smith added:
He’s gone for an x-ray but it doesn’t look good. We’ll wait and see.
Post-match, Saints chief Ralph Hasenhuttl remarked:
It was important. We knew this before the game and I think it was a deserved win for us. We were the better team today, played some good football and scored good goals, and not only good football but also better defending.
It was really committed and in the end it was hard work but when you get three points for it, you like to do it. The performance in away games is absolutely okay and we must also say that in the home games, we have to have a better atmosphere.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Heaton; Targett, Engels, Hause, Guilbert; McGinn (Nakamba 8′), Douglas Luiz, Hourihane (Kodjia 56′); Grealish, Wesley, El Ghazi (Trézéguet 68′).
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Bertrand, Bednarek, J Stephens, Cedric; Redmond, Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong (Romeu 76′); S Long (Obafemi 82′), Ings (Adams 87′).
BRIGHTON 0-1 SHEFFIELD UNITED
John Lundstram (£5.2m) picked up another clean sheet for his 49.7% ownership at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, while Dean Henderson (£4.8m) owners will have rejoiced after the stopper was awarded the assist for Oliver McBurnie‘s (£5.7m) winner.
The Blades had the ball in Brighton’s net after eight minutes but John Egan (£4.5m) unluckily saw his header ruled out for handball. That was much to the relief of Seagulls keeper Mat Ryan (£4.8m), who came for a corner but swiped at thin air to allow Egan an open goal.
Brighton were the next to see a strike ruled out in the 19th minute. Henderson made a good save from a rasping Aaron Mooy (£4.8m) shot, which rebounded into the path of Martin Montoya (£4.5m). His cross was tapped in by Neal Maupay (£5.8m) but the defender was offside from Mooy’s initial effort.
Five minutes later, McBurnie gave United the lead with a great solo effort. After winning Henderson’s long ball against Adam Webster (£4.4m), the striker raced beyond Lewis Dunk (£4.7m) before firing past Ryan via the near post.
Webster redeemed himself soon after by ushering Lundstram off the ball in the Brighton box, after the FPL defender was played in by David McGoldrick (£5.4m).
The Ireland striker missed yet another big chance after the interval. He capitalised on Webster’s dallying to rob the ball before rounding Ryan, only to see his effort go the wrong side of the keeper’s near post.
Disallowed goals were the theme of this clash, with Jack O’Connell (£4.6m) the next to see one chalked off. The defender tapped in at the second time of asking after Ryan couldn’t hold the first effort but O’Connell was offside from Egan’s header after a 55th-minute free-kick.
Aaron Connolly (£4.6m) – who was brought on alongside Glenn Murray (£5.5m) at half time in place of Leandro Trossard (£5.8m) and Pascal Groß (£6.4m) – tested Henderson with a fine effort on 77 minutes.
McBurnie’s replacement Lys Mousset (£5.1m) matched Connolly at the other end as he tested Ryan from inside the box.
McGoldrick then had another chance to open his Premier League account but his lob found the top of Ryan’s goal, as Chris Wilder’s troops had to settle for just one goal in GW18.
The Blades boss was full of praise for his side after the match, however, saying:
We are a tough team to play against and we’ll take the result. The structure of the team was great. I’ve just got an incredible group of players at the football club.
We weren’t at our best today. We suffered the disappointment of those [VAR] decisions going against us, and rightly so, but I think we created the best chances in the game. We’ve got a bit [about] us, under the shirt. We’ve got to tough it out at times and we did that today.
I just had a hunch [about McBurnie] from what I’ve seen of him in the week. I just think it was the right time for him to go in. It’s a great goal. We hope to make our mark in the division. The players are all enjoying it and stepping up to the challenge. The table doesn’t lie but we’ve achieved nothing yet.
In another plus for FPL bosses, Lundstram also avoided his fifth yellow of the season. Both the defender and Grealish have one more match to get through before the booking threshold increases (for clubs that have played 19 matches) following Gameweek 19.
Brighton boss Graham Potter knew his side were second best against the Blades, as he admitted post-match:
We weren’t good but credit to the opposition. In the first half in particular they were better at what they do than we were. It was a poor goal to concede. We needed to deal with it better.
It was a game of not many chances, but we just didn’t play well – and we have to look at ourselves for that. We’re not the only team who has found it difficult to play against Sheffield United at home.
We didn’t find the space we needed and they deserved to win but there are things we can learn from the game and do better which we’ll have to do.
On his early changes, Potter added:
We had to change the dynamic of the game at half time. In the second half we huffed and puffed and there was better pressure from us but not enough in terms of chances created. The challenge was to find a way through and we couldn’t.
Brighton XI (4-3-3): Ryan; Burn, Webster, Dunk, Montoya (Bissouma 56′); D Stephens, Pröpper, Mooy; Trossard (Connolly 46′), Maupay, Groß (Murray 46′).
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Henderson; O’Connell, Egan, Basham; Stevens, L Freeman (Osborn 53′), Norwood (Bešić 82′), Lundstram, Baldock; McBurnie (Mousset 63′), McGoldrick.
BOURNEMOUTH 0-1 BURNLEY
A late Jay Rodriguez (£5.7m) header was the first and only shot on target at a rain-soaked Vitality Stadium.
On the goal, which was confirmed after a VAR review for handball, Sean Dyche said:
What a header that is from Jay Rod, because we just couldn’t find that spark. We’ve moved a long way from last season and the feel and demand of the group is there for all to see.
The Clarets boss also acknowledged that the game itself left a lot to be desired.
It was a poor game, but it’s hard in this league to play consistently and win, so we’ll take it. We didn’t get a foothold at all with the ball but we stayed resolute and found the good moment at the end. – Sean Dyche
Popular budget defender Diego Rico (£4.4m) picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in an ill-tempered affair. That booking rules the Cherries defender out of Gameweek 19 through suspension, with Eddie Howe’s side welcoming Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal to the south coast.
Owners will have been disappointed by Bournemouth’s late concession but Rico’s booking and absence of attacking returns mean the defender would not have come into bonus-point territory with a clean sheet.
Callum Wilson (£7.4m) was brought on at half time to mark his return from injury but failed to test Nick Pope (£4.7m), who earned his seventh clean sheet of the campaign.
Bournemouth XI (4-5-1): Ramsdale; Rico, Mepham, Francis, Stacey; Fraser, Billing (Solanke 86′), Lerma, Gosling, L Cook (C Wilson 46′); King.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; C Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Bardsley; McNeil (Brady 82′), Westwood, Cork, Hendrick (Lennon 65′); A Barnes (Rodriguez 75′), Wood.
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