Chelsea assets continue to frustrate Fantasy Premier League managers as they recorded yet another awful home result in Gameweek 19.
They were undone by basement boys Southampton on an afternoon when many a captain armband was placed on Blues options.
Meanwhile, we got our first chance to see Arsenal under new manager Mikel Arteta.
We’ve got some analysis on both matches in this latest Scout Notes article.
Chelsea 0-2 Southampton
Goals: Michael Obafemi (£4.9m), Nathan Redmond (£6.2m)
Assists: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (£4.8m)
Bonus Points: Cédric Soares x3 (£4.8m), Jan Bednarek x2 (£4.4m), Obafemi x2
Tammy Abraham‘s (£7.9m) stock continues to fall as he recorded yet another blank in a disappointing result for Chelsea on Boxing Day.
Despite naming a strong line-up, Frank Lampard saw his side lose 2-0 at home to a Southampton outfit that started the match without in-form goalscorer Danny Ings (£6.5m).
It was the third time in four Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge that Chelsea have lost to a relegation-threatened club without scoring – which has gone a long way to causing trust issues when it comes to captaining their players.
Furthermore, with so many so-called smaller clubs coming to Chelsea and registering positive results, it appears that Stamford Bridge is losing fear for the sides that Lampard’s men should be beating. Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl explained his players were motivated by that and it suggests that this sort of problem could potentially create a vicious cycle at home.
“When you see that two teams win here then why shouldn’t you also? This is more of losing the fear, don’t be afraid. Come here, be brave. I spoke before about how we want to win here.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
Despite doing so well against Spurs in Gameweek 18, Chelsea barely got any kind of rhythm going against Southampton on Boxing Day, not managing a single shot on target until the stroke of half-time.
Mason Mount (£6.5m), who was named on the bench alongside Christian Pulisic (£7.2m), replaced Kurt Zouma (£4.7m) at half-time, triggering a switch from the 3-4-3 formation to a 4-2-3-1.
There was something of an impact as Abraham soon after had the chance to lash an effort into the side-netting, his only shot of the match, and even after that, Chelsea were still woeful going forward.
“Mason has been feeling rough the last few days. It brightened it a bit [when he came on at half-time] but not enough. We controlled the game but we are not getting anything in the box. It’s a testing period but we have to deal with that.” – Frank Lampard
It means that Abraham has now blanked in six of his last seven Premier League outings. It will be interesting to see how his ownership suffers over the coming days as Chelsea still have relatively favourable fixtures to come, including trips to Arsenal and Brighton.
While there was a second start in a row for Fikayo Tomori (£4.8m) in a back-three, there was no repeat of the impressive defensive display witness at Spurs in Gameweek 18.
Tomori himself and Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.5m) produced important second-half blocks but could not record back-to-back clean sheets.
The fact that Michael Obafemi (£4.9m) and Nathan Redmond (£6.2m), two players with fairly sketchy scoring histories, were able to find the net adds insult to injury in many respects – as the more ruthless Ings featured for only 21 second-half minutes and one-pointed his 14.5% ownership.
With plenty of options at Lampard’s disposal, the Gameweek 20 trip to Arsenal could well see some rotation for Chelsea.
Given recent displays, it must be said that Abraham is at risk of being replaced by Michy Batshuayi (£6.6m).
However, Mount and Pulisic can probably feel more confident of a start at the Emirates Stadium having both featured only as substitutes in Gameweek 19.
Furthermore, Ings’ absence from the majority of this match, while frustrating, should significantly boost his chances of starting Southampton’s hosting of Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.4m) came in for his first start since Gameweek 9 but was panned by the local press. Despite such a poor performance, Lampard lent his backing to the player after the full-time whistle.
“I thought (Hudson-Odoi) put a lot of effort in today, he was trying things, making runs, not quite coming off for him in the first half. He’s come off the back of a big injury and this is certainly a period where we have to stick with him. He’s very young. A lot of talk last year about contract and would he or wouldn’t he and now he has and he’s in a period now where he has to get his head down and work and he knows that – to show what he can be for this club. It’s down to him now. I showed faith in him playing today and I will continue to do that. But we also have to go with him a little bit. And I’ve sat here and I’ve probably been relatively harsh on Callum a couple of times and I don’t think now is the moment to do that because I think today I saw an effort and a desire, I’ve seen it in training these last couple of weeks.” – Frank Lampard
Chelsea XI (3-4-3): Kepa; Tomori, Zouma (Mount 46′), Rüdiger; Emerson, Jorginho, Kanté, Azpilicueta; Willian (Pedro 84′), Abraham, Hudson-Odoi (Pulisic 67′).
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Bertrand, Bednarek, J Stephens, Cédric; Redmond, Højbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong (Romeu 86′); Adams (Boufal 80′), Obafemi (Ings 69′).
Bournemouth 1-1 Arsenal
Goals: Dan Gosling (£4.9m) | Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.8m)
Assists: Jack Stacey (£4.3m) | Reiss Nelson (£5.3m)
Bonus Points: Stacey x3, Aubameyang x2, Gosling x1
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.8m) scored the first goal of Arteta’s reign as Arsenal manager as he continued his recent impressive form away from home.
In the Gunners’ last four matches away from the Emirates Stadium, Aubameyang has now registered a total of five attacking returns.
The centre-forward did not offer a huge amount in the first half but sprung to life in the second period.
As predicted, he was deployed on the left flank of an attacking midfield trio behind Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m), his wide station helping him remain unmarked by marauding full-back Jack Stacey (£4.3m).
Aubameyang caused plenty of problems when running at the Bournemouth defence and his persistence led to ending up in the right place at the right time to turn in the rebound from Reiss Nelson‘s (£5.3m) shot.
Back in the team for a first start since Gameweek 15, Lacazette showed some threat early on but faded as the game went on and he started missing easy passes.
Of particular note for Arsenal was an impressive performance from Mesut Özil (£7.2m), who earned praise both from the local press and his new manager.
He was deployed in the number 10 role of the 4-2-3-1 formation and was arguably unfortunate not to leave Bournemouth with a couple of assists to his name.
He set up Lacazette for a decent chance but the Frenchman couldn’t get the ball under control while Aubameyang spurned another chance created by Özil.
“Özil’s attitude since I’ve joined has been incredible. We believed he could be the key and he responded and he could have created two or three goals.” – Mikel Arteta
However, there is still not much improvement to Arsenal’s defence as, once again, injuries elsewhere in the squad forced them into starting Bukayo Saka (£4.5m) and Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£4.6m) at left-back and right-back respectively.
As players who have mostly played in midfield, they offered a little extra going forward but remain assets to be exploited.
Bournemouth’s opening goal came after Aubameyang’s pass to Saka did not find its target, leaving room behind to run in.
The Cherries’ attack has stuttered in recent months but they got some joy down Stacey’s flank as his cross was swept in by Dan Gosling (£4.9m) at the near-post.
Callum Wilson (£7.4m) was back in the starting XI for the Boxing Day clash but has now gone 12 successive Gameweeks without any attacing returns.
A suspension for left-back Diego Rico (£4.3m), as well as long-term injuries to Lloyd Kelly (£4.4m) and Charlie Daniels (£4.3m), did not put Howe off deploying a 4-4-2 formation once again.
Rather than switch to a wing-back system, he brought budget defender Jack Simpson (£3.9m), who usually plays centre-back, into the side to operate as make-shift left-back.
Fantasy managers should probably not expect Simpson to stick around in the first-team for too long as Rico will be available for the Gameweek 20 trip to Brighton, likely starting the game having technically had a rest on Boxing Day.
Finally, Bournemouth’s defensive potential has arguably increased somewhat by a surprise return to fitness of Steve Cook (£5.0m), who came in for the injured Simon Francis (£4.4m) and lasted 90 minutes.
Bournemouth XI (4-4-2): Ramsdale; Simpson, Mepham, S Cook, Stacey; Fraser, Gosling (Billing 70′), Lerma, L Cook; J King (H Wilson 66′), C Wilson.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Saka, D Luiz, Sokratis (Mustafi 77′), Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Torreira; Aubameyang, Özil (Willock 75′), Nelson (Pépé 82′); Lacazette.
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