Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
- Goals: Lewis Dunk (£4.7m), Neal Maupay (£5.7m) | Nicolas Pépé (£9.3m)
- Assists: Aaron Connolly (£4.2m) | Bukayo Saka (£4.7m)
- Bonus Points: Maupay x3, Dunk x2, Pépé x1
A serious injury to Bernd Leno (£5.0m) at Brighton typified what proved to be a largely disappointing Double Gameweek for Arsenal players.
After registering five points in the midweek 3-0 defeat at Manchester City, the Gunners’ goalkeeper was only able to increase his score for the round by one.
That’s because Leno only lasted 39 minutes before having to come off with what many suspected was a broken leg, although that is not yet confirmed.
He jumped up to claim a high ball in the Arsenal penalty area, only to be barged over somewhat unnecessarily by Brighton forward Neal Maupay (£5.7m).
Trying to remain in the area with the caught ball, Leno stuck out a leg, which buckled underneath him.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said after the game that the injury did not look positive, but that they would know more after a scan.
“I believe that no player has the intention to hurt anybody and I believe in this case it’s exactly the same, it was unfortunate. Bernd’s injury doesn’t look good and we will have to assess him probably tomorrow, but it can happen on a football pitch. It’s a knee injury, I think he had a hyperextension of the knee and we have to assess the damage. We don’t know [the full extent]. He was in a lot of pain but we will have to wait until tomorrow to see how bad the damage is.” – Mikel Arteta
Leno’s likely absence for the rest of the season does open the door for Emiliano Martínez (£4.2m) to start the remaining games for Arsenal, but it seems unlikely that Fantasy managers will flock towards him en masse.
That’s because the Gunners’ defence continues to completely underwhelm, conceding another two on Saturday afternoon.
With Pablo Mari (£4.8m) and David Luiz (£5.7m) both missing, it was Shkodran Mustafi (£5.1m) and Rob Holding (£4.4m) named at centre-back, the latter making just his second league start of the campaign. Despite initially looking solid, the ever-present Leno’s absence was felt throughout the team, allowing Brighton to grow into the game, especially in the second half.
Lewis Dunk (£4.7m) capitalised on some scrappy defending in the box to get the equaliser before Maupay punished Arsenal on the counter-attack late-on.
The upcoming fixtures for Arsenal certainly don’t scream ‘defensive investment’ either, with Southampton, Wolves and Leicester three of their next four.
However, the £4.2m man Martínez could well be the perfect second-choice goalkeeper for those playing their Wildcards right now, if he can offer regular starts at just £4.2m. In his 50 minutes on the pitch, the budget goalkeeper made three saves, earning an additional point for them.
Outside of their questionable defence, Fantasy managers may be increasingly frustrated with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.1m) who blanked for the second match in a row. For all his Double Gameweek 30+ hype, the forward ended the round with just four points to his name.
While Wednesday night was a largely abject affair from the Gabonese international, Aubameyang’s blank at Brighton was not for lack of trying.
He produced an uncharacteristically busy display at the Amex Stadium and was rather unfortunate not to come away with something from the game.
Aubameyang is usually the sort of player who errs towards the side of languid brilliance, but there was an energy and enthusiasm about him in Sussex, leading to a game littered with shots from Arsenal’s number 14.
He could have arguably had a brace inside the first five minutes with two early chances. Nicolas Pépé (£9.3m) was unleashed on the right-hand side with his pace in the opening minute, looping a cross to Aubameyang, who managed to hook a blocked shot at goal.
Shortly after, the forward was handed a stray pass in a dangerous area by Davy Pröpper (£4.8m). He bore down on goal and, under some pressure, struck his effort just high and wide, but not by much.
In the ninth minute, Aubameyang probably should have had an assist, were it not for some indecision from Alexandre Lacazette (£9.4m). He pressed through the middle and fed his French colleague with a nice through-ball. Lacazette allowed it run across him onto the right foot but took too long to shoot before Adam Webster (£4.5m) was able to slide in and block.
Aubameyang was back at it again in the second half, linking up with Lacazette nicely in the 47th minute. After a neat one-two, he found a great position to shoot but, again, it was Webster who got in the way. Just a few moments after that, he bore down on goal again, his left-footed effort just about stopped by Mathew Ryan (£4.7m).
Just short of the hour, Aubameyang got himself involved in the set pieces in an attempt to find the break-through. Dani Ceballos (£5.2m) rolled a free-kick in his direction, producing a powerful shot from range, blocked by the wall.
After another low effort from the left was parried around the post by Ryan, Aubameyang tried his luck from distance once again, arguably very unlike the penalty-box merchant. His swerving 79th-minute effort nearly caught Ryan off-guard, who had to bat it away and contend with a crowd of players to smother it eventually.
With all of that in mind, the more patient Fantasy managers may consider holding onto Aubameyang, at least for the next two matches, which pit Arsenal against Southampton and Norwich. Neither of those two sides has had a particularly solid year defensively, so it is entirely possible that Aubameyang will get more opportunities to score. That said, it might be worth keeping an eye on any upcoming Arteta press conference about rotation. The forward has now played 90 minutes in each of the first two games since the Premier League restart.
Of the much-discussed Double Gameweek assets, only Pépé and Bukayo Saka (£4.7m) went some way to rewarding their owners at Brighton.
The latter was in especially scintillating mood operating in central attacking midfield, striking the crossbar in the seventh minute and setting up Lacazette for an impressive diving header saved by Ryan later in the first half.
It was in the second that Saka got his just rewards, his laid-off pass what led to Pépé’s impressive curling effort beyond Ryan.
With both of those midfielders, holding them for those upcoming favourable fixtures does also look a smart move, despite Arsenal’s inability to see out the result at Brighton.
Whether or not the Seagulls can be trusted for Fantasy investment does remain to be seen, especially considering their nasty upcoming fixtures, which include Leicester (away), Manchester United (home), Liverpool (home) and Manchester City (home) between now and Gameweek 35+.
However, there were some shoots of promise against Arsenal, not least from Ryan, whose five saves was just one shy of achieving a second additional point in that department. As a result, the Brighton shot-stopper was also only just edged out of the bonus points, which bodes well for the future too.
Fantasy managers should probably keep an eye on Maupay after his late winning goal. The former Brentford man registered more efforts on goal than any other Brighton player and finally delivered on the promise he showed pre-lockdown. In our recap of the best Brighton players ahead of Double Gameweek 30+, we highlighted that, in the six Gameweeks before March’s coronavirus suspension, Maupay had one of the best shots on target totals in the Premier League, implying that he only needed to improve his conversion to offer some value. He did that against Arsenal, so we will have to see if that continues into Gameweek 31+.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (4-3-3): Ryan; Burn, Webster, Dunk, Schelotto (Montoya 71′); Pröpper, Bissouma (Mac Allister 90+4′), Mooy (March 46′); Trossard (D Stephens 87′), Maupay, Groß (Connolly 71′).
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno (Martínez 39′); Kolasinac, Holding, Mustafi, Bellerín; Ceballos (Willock 87′), Guendouzi; Aubameyang, Saka (Tierney 87′), Pépé (Nelson 87′); Lacazette (Nketiah 78′).
Double Gameweek 30+ FPL Lessons Learned
- Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United
- Manchester City 3-0 Arsenal
- Norwich City 0-3 Southampton
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Manchester United
- Watford 1-1 Leicester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 Arsenal
- West Ham United 0-2 Wolves
- Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
- Newcastle United 3-0 Sheffield United
- Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
- Everton 0-0 Liverpool
- Manchester City 5-0 Burnley
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