Four Premier League matches took place on Sunday, three of them involving clubs who will be in action in Blank Gameweek 29.
And there were possible repercussions for that decimated round of games in the form of injuries and unexpected benchings.
We’ll round up the main talking points below, with our more detailed Scout Notes to follow in the coming days.
ARSENAL 2-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
The north London derby was a dismal watch for most Fantasy managers with Tottenham Hotspur representation in their squads.
Son Heung-min (£9.6m) limped off with an injury, Gareth Bale (£9.5m) failed to make it to even the 60-minute mark and Harry Kane (£11.4m) was denied by an offside flag and a goalpost as Spurs’ three popular attacking assets accumulated just four points between them.
On Son’s issue, Jose Mourinho said:
That’s football. I don’t know how long it is. It’s muscular. Muscular is always not easy. He’s a guy that normally recovers very, very well from any kind of injury.
That’s an accumulation of matches. In the Europa League the other day, I gave him 30 minutes rest… but 60 is still 60. And when you are in so many competitions, some players they have more minutes than others, which is normal. It’s something that can happen.
Bale was hooked because of what his manager described as a lack of “intensity”, meanwhile.
Spurs barely deserved the lead given to them by Erik Lamela‘s (£5.7m) rabona, with another effort on goal not arriving until the 70th minute.
After a quiet game, Kane belatedly found the net with a header that was flagged for offside before seeing a late free-kick smash against the hosts’ goalframe.
Arsenal turned the game around with a deflected effort from Martin Odegaard (£5.9m) and an Alexandre Lacazette (£8.1m) penalty.
Owners of the Gunners’ two most-popular assets were as much out of luck as those with Spurs’ in-demand players.
Bukayo Saka (£5.3m) was withdrawn at half-time with a hamstring injury, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.4m) was an unused substitute for disciplinary reasons.
Their manager explained:
We don’t know [about Saka]. He was feeling his hamstring.
[Aubameyang] was going to start the game. We had a disciplinary issue, we have drawn the line and we move on. We have a process that we have to respect for every game, and that’s it.
We deal with the situation on the day. That’s been done, now we move on.
MANCHESTER UNITED 1-0 WEST HAM UNITED
A fairly low-key match at Old Trafford ended up going the way of the hosts, with Manchester United edging out West Ham United by a single goal.
The Hammers set up in a conservative 3-5-2 and barely threatened Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, failing to register a single shot on target.
The Hammers were missing loanee Jesse Lingard (£6.1m) through ineligibility and Pablo Fornals (£5.9m) because of a minor adductor injury and we’ll surely see a more attacking set-up when David Moyes’ side entertains Arsenal next weekend.
This was the Red Devils’ eighth clean sheet in 14 matches this calendar year, with Luke Shaw’s (£5.2m) fantastic form continuing; he collected three bonus points to supplement his shut-out and now averages 6.8 points per match over his last nine games.
Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m) blanked for the third time in four matches but was a hair’s breadth from registering an assist, with Opta – and consequently FPL – deeming that Scott McTominay (£4.9m) got a feather touch on his 52nd-minute corner before Craig Dawson (£4.5m) turned the ball past his own goalkeeper.
Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) recovered from injury to feature, with Solskjaer offering a fitness update on more of his squad after full-time:
We actually hope five of them will be back [for Milan]. David [de Gea], hopefully, Donny [van de Beek], Edinson [Cavani], Paul [Pogba], maybe, and Anthony [Martial], hopefully – he’s very likely to be back.
SOUTHAMPTON 1-2 BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Brighton and Hove Albion warmed up for Blank Gameweek 29 – and a relegation six-pointer against Newcastle United – with a 2-1 victory over an out-of-sorts Southampton.
Lewis Dunk (£4.9m) will likely be a big target for those on a Free Hit chip or otherwise and he underscored his attacking threat by scoring his fourth league goal of the season; only Stuart Dallas (£5.0m) has more among FPL defenders.
Danny Welbeck (£5.5m), starting his first match in 2021, then teed up Leandro Trossard (£5.7m) for what turned out to be the game’s winner.
FPL managers who were hoping for appearance points at the very least from budget defender Dan Burn (£4.2m) next weekend face a nervous wait ahead of Graham Potter’s pre-match presser.
The towering defender was withdrawn at half-time as Potter made a successful move to a wing-back system but his substitution was actually enforced rather than tactical, with the Albion boss saying:
We lost Dan at half time with a tight hamstring. So we had to adapt and I thought we did it really well.
Che Adams (£5.8m) scored his third goal in as many games for Saints, who now take a back seat until after the March international break – when they should have Danny Ings (£8.4m) freshly available.
LEICESTER CITY 5-0 SHEFFIELD UNITED
Kelechi Iheanacho‘s (£5.6m) superb Fantasy Premier League form continued on Sunday as Leicester City thumped a Sheffield United side marooned at the foot of the Premier League table and starting life without Chris Wilder.
The Nigeria international hit a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over the managerless Blades, taking his total to five goals and 35 FPL points in his last three appearances.
Iheanacho has been flourishing alongside Jamie Vardy (£10.2m) since the budget FPL forward’s return to the Leicester starting XI in Gameweek 26, and has had over twice as many shots as the long-serving striker in that time.
Vardy again failed to find the target on Sunday but was as much a part of the Foxes’ victory as his strike partner, supplying three assists – two of them sublime passes for Iheanacho before Ethan Ampadu (£4.3m) deflected in his off-target effort – en route to his first double-digit haul since Gameweek 14.
The fit-again Ayoze Perez (£6.0m) also got in on the act by finding the net on his return from injury.
This was not a match to gauge the offensive threat or defensive competence of Brendan Rodgers’ troops, however, as Sheffield United turned in a thoroughly abject display under caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom.
The Blades managed just one shot on goal as the hosts cruised to what was their first clean sheet in six matches.
Owners of Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) couldn’t enjoy the routine shut-out, however, as the Portuguese full-back was withdrawn at half-time because of “tightness in his hamstring”.