We’ve Fantasy-flavoured write-ups of two Premier League matches to bring you from Sunday, with both north London clubs emerging victorious.
It should have been three matches summarised, of course, but Manchester United v Liverpool was postponed earlier today.
A new date is yet to be announced for that fixture, with further details in the linked article here:
Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Sheffield United
by Neale Rigg
- Goals: Gareth Bale (£9.1m) x3, Son Heung-min (£9.6m)
- Assists: Serge Aurier (£5.2m) x2, Son, Steven Bergwijn (£7.0m)
- Bonus: Bale x3, Aurier x2, Son x1
Gareth Bale‘s (£9.1m) hat-trick against Sheffield United on Sunday took his tally to nine Premier League goals for the season, four of which have been scored under interim Tottenham Hotspur manager Ryan Mason.
But his 21-point haul against the Blades was a mere continuation of the flat-track bullying he was only sporadically allowed to mete out under Jose Mourinho.
All nine of his goals have arrived in home matches and all nine have been scored in encounters with bottom-half teams.
An away fixture against a much-improved Leeds United defence in Gameweek 35 might not be a good match-up for the Welshman, then, considering how he’s either struggled or been overlooked against trickier opposition – although the availability of Kalvin Phillips (£4.9m) could determine just how unfavourable that game is.
|Leeds with Phillips in starting XI (per game)||Leeds without Phillips in starting XI (per game)|
It’s also a Double Gameweek for eight other teams while Spurs play just the once, so any inbound transfer activity in Fantasy Premier League might be more muted as a result.
But two more favourable mid-table opponents then follow in Gameweeks 36 and 37.
Wolves are fresh off the back of a 4-0 hammering by Burnley, while Aston Villa haven’t kept a clean sheet in seven Premier League matches – that’s the division joint-longest current run without a shut-out.
A “happy” Bale aimed another sly dig at Mourinho in his post-match interview:
I feel good, I just needed to play games and just get a run of games. I’m happy and when I’m happy, I normally play well.
We’re more on the front foot, we’re closer to the goal and able to score more. We’ve been working on that for the last few weeks. It’s not going to happen overnight but I feel like we’re taking a step in the right direction and we’re playing football the Tottenham way.
Four Spurs goals and not a single involvement from Harry Kane (£11.9m), who was backed with the Gameweek 34 captaincy by huge swathes of the Fantasy community.
It was simply one of those matches for the England international who, while far from his best and perhaps still not at full tilt after his recent ankle injury, still had plenty of opportunities to emerge from this clash with more than appearance points to his name – a stoppage-time ‘big chance’ spurned by Sergio Reguilon (£5.6m) denied Kane even a consolation assist and capped off a frustrating evening.
Son Heung-min (£9.6m), who curled home a superb fourth goal for Spurs after earlier setting up a breakaway Bale strike, made it back-to-back double-digit hauls under Mason, as many as he managed in his final 15 appearances under Mourinho.
BACK FOUR GOOD
Mourinho’s final days in north London saw some chopping and changing of personnel at the back, which unsurprisingly resulted in a glut of chances and goals being conceded.
Mason has kept it simple since his appointment and has named an unchanged back four in all three of his competitive matches in charge.
Full-backs Serge Aurier (£5.2m) and Reguilon will be of most interest to Fantasy managers, having supplied three assists between them in Gameweeks 33 and 34.
It was Aurier’s turn to shine against the Blades, with the right-back setting up Bale’s first and third goals.
The Ivory Coast international created four chances in Gameweek 34, getting forward a lot more than he had done when Reguilon had assumed attacking responsibilities against Southampton.
As for defensive competency, a match against Leeds will be a truer test of the Spurs backline’s ability given that a feeble Sheffield United side provided little menace in north London.
Spurs XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Lo Celso (Winks 70), Bale (Bergwijn 75), Dele (Lamela 78) Son, Kane.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale, Basham, Egan (c), Stevens, Baldock, Norwood, Osborn, Fleck, Bogle (Berge 46), McGoldrick (Mousset 84), Brewster (Burke 46).
Newcastle United 0-2 Arsenal
by David Wardale
- Goals: Mohamed Elneny (£4.2m), Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang (£11.3m)
- Assists: Aubameyang, Gabriel Martinelli (£4.9m)
- Bonus Points: Elneny x3 Hector Bellerin (£5.0m) x2 Aubameyang x1
- Red Cards: Fabian Schar (£4.8m)
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang (£11.3m) delivered a first double-digit haul since Gameweek 24 as Arsenal cruised past a seemingly disinterested Newcastle United.
The Gabon international has had a stop-start season of injury, illness and form dips, but over his last six starts, he’s produced five goals and an assist – exactly half of his attacking output for the entire campaign.
Unfortunately, those starts have been spread across nearly three months of action/inaction, but a hamstring injury to Alexandre Lacazette (£8.4m) might just allow him to finish the season with the sort of bang expected of a player with such a lofty Fantasy price tag.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has played Lacazette centrally for much of the season, leaving Aubameyang, when available, to flit in and out of games from the left flank.
Handed the lone striker role at Newcastle, he seized the opportunity with hungry hands.
While the midfielder was fortunate to gain an assist when his woefully mis-hit shot flew to Mohamed Elneny (£4.2m) to score his first ever league goal, Aubameyang’s own strike to seal the win was a classy, acrobatic finish from Gabriel Martinelli‘s (£4.9m) excellent cross.
Martinelli was another to impress, producing a second attacking return in three starts.
For context, however, it must be stressed that Newcastle were desperately off the pace from start to finish, conceding early and never looking like finding a way back into the game for the next 85 minutes.
So poor were they that their most notable incident involved Fabian Schar‘s (£4.8m) 18-minute cameo as a substitute ending with a straight red card for his ill-judged tackle from behind on Martinelli.
Arteta’s pre-match comments regarding the fitness of Lacazette (and that of Kieran Tierney (£5.2m)) suggest Aubameyang could be in for a busy end to the season.
They haven’t trained with us yet. So it’s unlikely we’ll have them ready in the next few games.
The Gunners boss used Nicolas Pepe (£7.6m) in place of Lacazette for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final against Villareal and may well do the same again on Thursday.
His comments after the Newcastle win certainly pointed to Aubameyang being eased back into the side:
We missed him for a few weeks with illness. He is getting back to fitness slowly. Today we played him to see how he was and he looked good.
But such was his impact that Aubameyang, as the team’s only genuine goalscorer currently fit, could well be used to help the Gunners’ quest for a Europa League final place, seeing as that competition is their sole chance of getting Champions League football next season.
If so, his pitch-time for Arsenal’s Double Gameweek 35 – they’ll face West Brom and then Chelsea – would probably be rather more limited as the player himself acknowledged how tough has been his return from a recent bout of malaria:
The doctors did incredible work with me and I am really pleased with them and have to say thank you to them. The last five minutes I was dying a little bit, but to tell the truth I felt good for most of the game and I was happy with that.
Less happy was centre-half David Luiz (£5.4m), who returned after a four-Gameweek absence, only to limp off with a hamstring issue early in the second half.
Arteta was not optimistic about his prospects:
He felt something in his hamstring so it’s not good news. He’s put such a shift to be back with the team for the last few weeks after the knee surgery and it’s a real shame.
Arsenal’s end-of-season scenarios don’t exactly scream Fantasy investment.
Should they make the Europa League final, that would surely mean major Gameweek 38 rotation as that league match (a dead rubber against Brighton) comes just three days before the May 26 European showpiece.
Given that the Gunners don’t have a fixture at all in Gameweek 36, that would leave them with just one other match – away at Crystal Palace – once their latest league double is done.
And if they don’t make the final, their season is effectively over anyway.
So, Fantasy managers will essentially be left with a choice of players who will either be rotated with Europe in mind – Arteta made eight changes from the Europa League side for the trip to Tyneside – or deflated and ready for the beach.
Holidays certainly seemed on the Newcastle players’ minds, which is understandable given that they’re nine points clear of Fulham in 18th place and will face Scott Parker’s side on the final day anyway.
Stranger things have happened, but Fulham are unlikely to win their final four fixtures, while West Brom will need to win four of their last five as well for the Magpies to go down instead of them.
And for that to happen, Newcastle will have to lose all of their final four games, although on the strength of Sunday’s performance, that’s not unfeasible.
But to all intents and purposes, Steve Bruce’s men are as good as safe, which is just as well when they’ll face Leicester and Manchester City next.
Newcastle United XI (5-3-2): Dubravka; Clark (Gayle 84), Dummett, Fernandez (Schar 72), Ritchie, Murphy; Shelvey, Longstaff, Almiron (Joelinton 73); Saint-Maximin, Wilson.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ryan; Bellerin, Luiz (Chambers 53), Gabriel, Xhaka; Elneny, Ceballos; Odegaard (Partey 85), Willian, Martinelli; Aubameyang (Pepe 78).