Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea
- Goals: Alexandre Lacazette (£8.2m), Granit Xhaka (£5.2m), Bukayo Saka (£5.1m) | Tammy Abraham (£7.2m)
- Assists: Kieran Tierney (£5.3m), Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe (£4.4m) | Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.7m)
- Bonus: Saka x3, Lacazette x2, Bernd Leno (£4.9m), Xhaka x1
A much-changed, and much-improved, Arsenal saw off Chelsea to ease the pressure on manager Mikel Arteta.
The result meant a third straight away loss for the Blues, incurring the wrath of boss Frank Lampard, who branded his players ‘lazy’.
Fantasy managers were ill-served by Lampard in the run-up to the match, with injury doubts over full-backs Ben Chilwell (£6.1m) and Reece James (£5.2m) prompting many to sell them on.
As it happened, both started and promptly handed their remaining owners another day without clean sheet points – Chelsea have managed just one shut-out in their last five games.
The team’s most popular attacking player, the 15.3%-owned Timo Werner (£9.3m), made it seven starts without a goal, although his opportunities were severely limited when Lampard hooked him at half-time:
Timo today wasn’t giving us enough with or without the ball and some of it we have to give him time because it is a different league, but also we have to get there quickly. So we’ll see about his tiredness. I will have a conversation with him, but it was a decision I just felt I had to make.
Werner won’t be the only player nervously checking the teamsheet for Gameweek 16’s visit from Aston Villa on Monday either:
I will have to rotate players, I will have to see after Arsenal where players are in their fitness, every individual is different, we will do our best to get the turnaround right.
Arteta has an extra day to plan for the Gunners’ trip to Brighton, with the immediate future of the benched Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.4m and 7.4%) the main Fantasy concern.
In his absence, Alexandre Lacazette (£8.2m), Granit Xhaka (£5.2m) and Bukayo Saka (£5.1m) got the goals, while Emile Smith-Rowe‘s (£4.4m) energy caught the eye.
Tammy Abraham (£7.2m) managed a late consolation goal – his third in two matches – and Bernd Leno (£4.9m) then saved a Jorginho (£4.8m) penalty, but the hosts deserved their win, with the outstanding Saka bringing in maximum bonus points for his 2.4% ownership.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tierney, Mari, Holding, Bellerín; Elneny, Xhaka; Martinelli (Pepe 71), Smith Rowe (Willock 65), Saka; Lacazette (Mustafi 90+2).
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): E Mendy; Chilwell, T Silva, Zouma, R James; Mount, Kanté (Havertz 74), Kovacic (Jorginho 45); Werner (Hudson-Odoi 45), Abraham, Pulisic.
Manchester City 2-0 Newcastle United
- Goals: Ilkay Gundogan (£5.4m), Ferran Torres (£6.9m)
- Assists: Raheem Sterling (£11.4m)
- Bonus: Gundogan x3, Joao Cancelo (£5.6m) x2, Nathan Ake (£5.4m) x1
A routine win for Manchester City came with another unremarkable score from the team’s most popular Fantasy asset, Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m).
More than 189,000 managers sold on the 23.8%-owned Belgian heading into the match after a run of just one assist from three starts.
And a further blank on Boxing Day has prompted another 58,000+ to put him in the top three for Gameweek 16 sales, including (presumably) some of the 561,821 who captained him against Newcastle.
With Gabriel Jesus (£9.1m) ill and Sergio Aguero (£10.3m) still being eased back from injury, City manager Pep Guardiola handed the striker’s role to Ferran Torres (£6.9m), who steered home the team’s second goal of a predictably one-sided contest.
But it was Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) who had he most penalty area touches (12) on the day, and from one of those he set up Ilkay Gundogan (£5.4m) for the opener.
That was the midfielder’s second goal from his last three starts, and although he later picked up a knock, he played it down post-match.
I got a couple of kicks on my foot, but it shouldn’t be that bad. I should be able to go again on Monday.
Based on Guardiola’s penchant for rotation, that confidence looks ill-advised.
And the manager’s comments on Joao Cancelo (£5.6m), who impressed at both ends of the pitch on the way to a fourth clean sheet in five matches, should send shivers down the collective spine of his 6.1% ownership:
He’s a player with incredible quality, and his regeneration and physicality is incredible. He could play tomorrow!
Newcastle, meanwhile, came to defend, did that well, but not well enough and then left, with their main attacking threat, Callum Wilson (£6.6m) missing out with a knock – and boss Steve Bruce’s desire not to risk him after four matches in 12 days.
The next two will take place over five days and involve visits from Liverpool and Leicester, ensuring interest in Newcastle assets – aside from the 15.7%-owned Wilson – remains the wrong side of meh.
Manchester City XI (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Ake; Gundogan (Foden 90+1), Rodrigo (Fernandinho 57); De Bruyne, Bernardo, Sterling; Torres (Aguero 77).
Newcastle United XI (5-4-1): Darlow; Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie (Lewis 66); Murphy, Hayden, M Longstaff, Almiron (Gayle 82); Joelinton (Carroll 71).
Sheffield United 0-1 Everton
- Goals: Gylfi Sigurdsson (£6.8m)
- Assists: Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.3m)
- Bonus: Sigurdsson x3, Michael Keane (£5.1m) x2, Yerry Mina (£5.5m), Mason Holgate (£4.8m) x1
Everton made it four wins on the bounce – three involving clean sheets – with a hard-fought victory over an increasingly desperate Sheffield United.
‘Desperate’ also adequately describes those (few) Fantasy managers still hoping for returns from Blades players, so after a quick mention of yet another blank for the 6.6%-owned Rhian Brewster (£4.5m), it’s back to Carlo Ancelotti’s side for the rest of this report.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£6.8m) scored the winner, his third return in those four victories, from an Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.3m) assist in the 80th minute.
The fact that was the first shot on target in the second half spoke volumes as to the attacking play on offer from both teams.
Then again, with both James Rodriguez (£7.7m) and Richarlison (£7.8m) still out for the visitors, that was no great surprise as the 60.9%-owned Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.0m) blanked for the first time since Gameweek 10.
Ancelotti confirmed that Richarlison would not be ready to return against Man City on Monday:
There is no possibility to prepare the team. We have to think about the players who can recover in two days. After that, we have to rotate some players. Richarlison is following his concussion protocols and has to stay out.
That could prompt plenty of Calvert-Lewin sales – he’s currently sixth for Gameweek 16 transfers out – as the striker struggles for goals without the Brazilian in the team.
And with a clean sheet a tall order against Guardiola’s troops, it’s no surprise to find zero Everton players in the top 30 for purchases either, despite such a fine run of recent form.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Basham, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, McGoldrick (Norwood 63) Osborn, Ampadu, Stevens; Brewster (Mousset 76), Burke (McBurnie 45).
Everton XI (4-5-1): Pickford; Holgate, Keane (Coleman 66), Mina, Godfrey; Doucoure, Davies (Gomes 74), Sigurdsson, Gordon (Bernard 55), Iwobi; Calvert-Lewin.