Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
- Goals: Alexandre Lacazette (£8.5m), Eddie Nketiah (£6.0m) | Michail Antonio (£6.4m)
- Assists: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£12.0m), Dani Ceballos (£5.5m) | Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m)
- Bonus: Nketiah x3, Ceballos x2, Lacazette x1
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£12.0m) is top of the charts for Fantasy Premier League transfers out ahead of Gameweek 3, with over 250,000 FPL bosses having offloaded the Gabon international since last Saturday’s deadline.
Modest returns in the opening two Gameweeks is one reason for the exodus but Arsenal’s upcoming fixture run is arguably the single biggest contributing factor, with the Gunners now facing five fixtures against sides who finished in the top half last season.
In nine meetings against these five clubs last season, Aubameyang delivered just two goals and one assist.
Even a player who consistently boasts one of the best goal conversion records in the division would struggle with his underlying numbers in these games: the premium midfielder managed only two shots on target (scoring both, naturally) and averaged less than one effort in the box per appearance.
Top half last season doesn’t necessarily mean top half this season, of course, and the jury is still out on a Sheffield United backline without the services of Dean Henderson (£5.5m).
Liverpool’s high defensive line was exposed by Leeds in Gameweek 1, meanwhile, and Aubameyang put Manchester City to the sword in the FA Cup semi-final in July.
Still, the fact remains that the Gunners’ Gameweek 3-7 opponents were all in the top six for fewest goals conceded in 2019/20.
Aubameyang will almost certainly bag at least one attacking return, maybe even a handful, in his upcoming five matches, but is he likely to outscore the premium assets from the other ‘big six’ clubs over the same timeframe?
And in how many of these fixtures would we realistically captain the Gabon international?
On paper, a premium midfielder exchange seems to be a straightforward decision – but FPL, as this weekend showed, may have other ideas.
Aubameyang was by some distance the most-captained FPL asset of Gameweek 2, with over two million Fantasy managers handing him the armband.
One solitary assist for Alexandre Lacazette‘s (£8.5m) opener was all that he could muster, with the Frenchman nodding home his teammate’s cross after just 24 minutes.
The expected avalanche of points failed to materialise as both player and club struggled to carve out chances, with Aubameyang’s only shot of the match coming from distance in the 90th minute.
There was mitigation for his own display though.
Aubameyang had cultivated a good understanding with Ainsley Maitland-Niles (£5.0m) and Kieran Tierney (£5.5m) down the left flank recently and he was without both of his comrades at the Emirates, with the former benched and the latter succumbing to an injury in the warm-up.
Bukayo Saka (£5.5m) and Sead Kolasinac (£4.9m) came into the side and although Saka “assisted the assister” for both of the hosts’ goals, the rapport simply wasn’t there between the left-sided trio for much of the game.
Mikel Arteta acknowledged a disjointed performance from his troops after full-time, saying:
I think we were a little bit lucky in certain moments, but we found a way in the end to win it and that’s the mentality I want from the team, to always believe that we can do it until the last moment, even when we have difficult games where suffer and make it very difficult for ourselves in certain positions.
But in the end, it’s three points and that’s what we’re here for. We will take some big notes because there are a lot of things to improve.
It’s very strange because we were talking with the staff today that they had their best week in terms of decision making, quality and execution with the ball by far since I joined the club, but then in the first 15 minutes, they gave the ball to the wrong colour too often. We need to improve on that and we know that we still have a lot of work to do here, but at least they kept trying and nobody tried to hide.
On Tierney’s injury, the Arsenal boss added:
Kieran is fine. He had a little muscular discomfort in the last few days. He tried today and worked in the warm-up but he wasn’t feeling comfortable today.
We believed that he was going to be fit but during the warm-up, in the last 10 minutes, he said he wasn’t feeling OK. We had to make a decision. We were prepared just in case and Kola came on and had a good game.
ANTONIO BACK AMONG THE GOALS
After an anticlimactic Gameweek 1, Michail Antonio (£6.4m) was back on the scoresheet at the Emirates.
Encouragingly, he was occupying the sorts of areas that led to his purple patch of form after lockdown ended in June.
His 44th-minute goal from a Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m) cross came from inside the six-yard box and he had an excellent chance to add to that tally after the break, failing to make proper contact on an Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m) delivery from close range.
Antonio then hit the bar with a header midway through the second half and saw a goalbound shot blocked in the subsequent melee.
West Ham’s awful upcoming fixture run will put many FPL managers off but few players could compete with Antonio’s underlying stats after lockdown ended and there were encouraging signs that he could recapture that form on Saturday.
MOYES GOES 3-4-3
With Mark Noble (£5.0m) injured, David Moyes called on Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m) to replace him and turned to a 3-4-3 for the trip to north London.
While Jarrod Bowen (£6.4m) and Tomas Soucek (£5.0m) were not at their best, Masuaku was excellent in a left wing-back role and West Ham delivered a much-improved display following their poor performance in Gameweek 1 – something to perhaps consider for those targeting assets who play the Hammers in weeks to come.
Moyes’ troops registered twice as many shots as their hosts, with their goal not coming under much threat after Lacazette’s opener – that is, until a lapse in concentration allowed Dani Ceballos (£5.5m) to set up Eddie Nketiah (£6.0m) for Arsenal’s late winner.
Moyes said of his side’s display:
We were massively improved from last week. We made chances, played well, wanted to be as good as we could. But ultimately we are playing a form team. I am disappointed that we have not come away with a point at least.
Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka (Luiz 89′); Willian (Pepe 64′), Lacazette (Nketiah 77′), Aubameyang.
West Ham United XI (3-4-3): Fabianski; Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Fredericks, Rice, Soucek, Masuaku (Anderson 85′); Bowen (Yarmolenko 83′), Antonio, Fornals (Haller 87′).
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 2
- Everton 5-2 West Bromwich Albion
- Leeds United 4-3 Fulham
- Manchester United 1-3 Crystal Palace
- Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
- Southampton 2-5 Tottenham Hotspur
- Newcastle United 0-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool
- Leicester City 4-2 Burnley
- Aston Villa 1-0 Sheffield United
- Wolves 1-3 Manchester City