Arsenal 4-0 Norwich
- Goals: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang x2 (£11.0m), Granit Xhaka (£5.1m), Cédric Soares (£4.8m)
- Assists: Aubameyang
- Bonus Points: Aubameyang x3, Xhaka x2, Hector Bellerín x1 (£5.4m)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) finally rewarded his patient owners with two goals, an assist and a double-digit haul in Gameweek 32+.
Faith in the Arsenal forward had ebbed away since the Premier League restart, especially after blanks against Brighton and Southampton.
However, if Aubameyang and his 24% ownership were rather unlucky in Gameweeks 30+ and 31+, they were more than repaid by the Fantasy fates in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Norwich.
For the opening half an hour, the Gabon international did not look any more dangerous than usual, afforded three opportunities that were far from clear cut.
In the ninth minute, Aubameyang cut inside on his right foot from his usual wide-left station, bending a shot straight at Tim Krul (£4.6m). Shortly after, Reiss Nelson (£5.3m), who found plenty of space against Jamal Lewis (£4.4m) in the first half, lofted a clipped cross to the back-post, but Aubameyang could only nod a tame effort at Norwich’s goalkeeper. It was the same story a few moments later when Dani Ceballos (£5.2m) got around the back of Lewis’ flank, his cross too high for Aubameyang to bring under control.
These were the sorts of chances, mixed in with some bad luck, that had led to those recent blanks, but arguably, the forward’s luck was due based on what happened next.
The first stroke of good fortune occurred in the 31st minute when his high-press on Krul, and the goalkeeper’s over-confidence on the ball, led to him winning possession in the Norwich penalty area. Pulled a little wide by the tackle, Aubameyang had no problems sliding the ball into an unguarded net.
His involvement in Arsenal’s second goal was much more about Aubameyang’s own skill. David Luiz (£5.7m) played an excellent crossfield ball from the back to Kieran Tierney (£5.3m), who slid Aubameyang into an advanced position on the left-hand side. His quick-thinking fed a rapidly approaching Granit Xhaka (£5.1m), who pulled his shot back across goal and underneath Krul.
Lady Luck (who we assume captained Aubameyang for Gameweek 32+) then smiled again in the 67th minute when Josip Drmic (£5.3m) played a blind ball back to his defence from a wide-position, sliding Aubameyang instantly into a one-on-one with Krul. With the confidence of an earlier under his belt, Arsenal’s number 14 made no mistake from close-range.
While we cannot rule out the flukey nature of Aubameyang’s two goals against Norwich, his latest outing might just ask some questions of his remaining owners.
Many of those who held onto him for Gameweek 32+ (this author included) did so after watching the unfortunate nature of recent blanks, seeing enough efforts on goal to predict a haul at some point. Therefore, you could argue that Aubameyang’s luck evened out over the three Gameweeks we’ve had so far.
And the position that period has left the striker in is certainly an interesting one. Not only has he become Arsenal’s fastest ever player to reach 50 Premier Leagues (77 games), he is now joint-top of the race for a second Golden Boot in a row. Sharing that prize with Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) and Sadio Mané (£12.5m) last season is almost certainly motivation enough for Aubameyang to end the season on a high, especially with his contract situation still up in the air.
“I’m really happy that Bukayo signed (the contract). We’ll see. We’ll talk with the club and see what happens. I’m really focused on the games. Since Mikel is in we’re doing well. We’re working well. We have signs we’re improving.” – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
“A credit to him. He’s always trying to be the best and help the team. I am really happy for him not just for the goals but his attitude overall.” – Mikel Arteta
However, the remaining fixtures for Arsenal are not pretty at all. Up next is a Wolves side with seven clean sheets from their last eight, then it’s Leicester and Spurs, before Liverpool come to the Emirates Stadium in Gameweek 36+.
That same caveat of fixtures also applies to other Arsenal assets recently considered by Fantasy managers.
While Wednesday evening was one of much-needed rejoicing for Aubameyang owners, those invested in Nicolas Pépé (£9.2m), Bukayo Saka (£4.7m) and Eddie Nketiah (£4.4m) were left ruing what could have been. Even though the Gunners ran out as 4-0 winners over Norwich, that trio were all left on the bench. Saka stayed there all evening while Pépé and Nketiah emerged for one-pointers.
Saka seems the most likely to hold his place in Fantasy teams considering his price and position, fully capable of operating as a useful fifth-midfielder. Furthermore, this was the first time since the Premier League’s restart that Saka had been absent from the starting line-up, so he was more than owed his rest.
However, despite Joe Willock‘s (£4.7m) late shot nearly earning him an assist, Nketiah remains a rotation threat for those looking at going ultra-cheap in the forward line. This was the second time in four matches that the former Leeds loanee was superseded in the centre-forward role by Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m). Considering that Mason Greenwood (£4.3m) has started each of the last two, earning praise from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the process, the Manchester United man, who has nicer fixtures too, arguably looks a better option for the run-in than Nketiah.
Meanwhile, Emiliano Martínez (£4.3m) proved his worth as a budget goalkeeper once again. He has now contributed to two clean sheets in a row for Arsenal, although he stopped short of amazing his 2.0% ownership with his five-point haul. Norwich’s rather subdued nature led to just two saves for the goalkeeper, one short of an additional point and he picked up a yellow card just after the hour-mark.
Also, the chances of Martínez earning starts from his Fantasy owners over the next four matches seems low, considering those aforementioned tough fixtures against Wolves, Leicester, Spurs and Liverpool. A Gameweek 37+ trip to Aston Villa looks like the next chance for Martínez to ask his owners a difficult question from the bench.
Despite drawing a fourth successive blank, Norwich did offer some threat at Arsenal, although, as usual, fell short of actually finding the net.
Ben Godfrey (£4.4m) stepped out of defence and into midfield in the 19th minute, firing a fierce shot from distance against Martínez’s post.
Kenny McLean‘s (£4.8m) powerful free-kick forced a diving save from the Arsenal goalkeeper just short of half-time before Daniel Farke made some changes at the break.
Teemu Pukki (£6.5m) and Emi Buendía (£6.0m) were both withdrawn allowing for a very central front-three of Drmic, Todd Cantwell (£4.6m) and Adam Idah (£4.4). This new set-up could be something that Farke tries in the remaining games of 2019/20 as it nearly led to a breakthrough in the 46th minute, Idah stinging Martínez’s palms with a fierce shot from the edge of the box. During this period, Norwich arguably saw more joy going forward than Arsenal, but all their confidence was dispelled when Drmic handed the game to Aubameyang in the 67th minute.
Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Martínez; Kolasinac, D Luiz, Mustafi (Holding 46′); Tierney, Ceballos, Xhaka, Bellerín (Cédric 77′); Aubameyang (Pépé 82′), Lacazette (Nketiah 76′), Nelson (Willock 58′).
Norwich City XI (4-1-4-1): Krul; Lewis, Tettey, Godfrey, Aarons; Trybull (Idah 46′); Cantwell (Stiepermann 75′), McLean, Rupp (Vrančić 75′), Buendía (O Hernández 46′); Pukki (Drmic 46′).
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 32+
- Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
- Watford 1-3 Southampton
- Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley
- Brighton 0-3 Manchester United
- Arsenal 4-0 Norwich City
- Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle United
- Everton 2-1 Leicester City
- West Ham United 3-2 Chelsea
- Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Manchester City 4-0 Liverpool
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