Away wins for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City are the focus of our latest Scout Notes article, which rounds up the key Fantasy Premier League talking points from Saturday’s games at Vicarage Road and the King Power Stadium.
WATFORD 0-2 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
- Goals: Francisco Sierralta (£4.4m) own-goal, Hee-Chan Hwang (£5.5m)
- Assists: Marcal (£4.5m) x2
- Bonus: Hwang x3, Marcal x2, Joao Moutinho (£5.0m) x1
WOLVES WING-BACKS AGAIN SHINE
Wolves’ first win of the season was the tale of contrasting fortunes for their two wing-backs.
Marcal (£4.5m) delivered his first-ever FPL attacking returns in the 2-0 victory over Watford but Nelson Semedo (£4.9m) ought to have emulated his fellow wing-back with a double-digit haul, spurning two glorious opportunities either side of half-time.
The left-back banked two assists despite not creating a single chance in Opta’s eyes: Marcal’s cross was first turned into his own net by Francisco Sierralta (£4.4m) before the Portuguese defender’s blocked shot was converted by debutant substitute Hee-Chang Hwang (£5.5m).
Marcal and Semedo had three of the six big chances that Wolves created, with the former generally providing service from out wide and the latter drifting infield into more threatening goalscoring positions.
WOLVES FINALLY DELIVER
Boasting the third and fourth-best expected goals (xG) and expected goals conceded (xGC) tallies respectively this season, Wolves were bound to deliver eventually.
“It’s a question of time for the goals and to have the first three points. The most important thing, I said at the beginning, is that we don’t change our pathway. We know what we have to do.
“We want to play this way, create chances and score goals. So, no (it is not a relief). My ambition is the same.” – Bruno Lage
Even in victory, they found a way to ‘underperform’, with a still-rusty Raul Jimenez (£7.4m) and Romain Saiss (£5.0m) missing big chances on top of the brace of gilt-edged opportunities that Semedo wasted.
The openings for Adama Traore (£6.0m) have mysteriously dried up, meanwhile: there were 10 in the first two Gameweeks but just two in Gameweeks 3 and 4.
And while Francisco Trincao (£5.9m) caught the eye, the fact that he again barely lasted an hour before being hooked – goalscorer Hwang replacing him and taking up a left-wing spot – does underscore the fear over reduced pitch-time, if not (yet) a threat to his starts.
As for Watford, the opening-day win over Villa has given way to three goalless defeats on the spin. While there were some nearly moments involving Ismaila Sarr (£6.0m), including one cross that flashed just inches beyond Josh King (£5.5m), the fact remains that they haven’t created a single ‘big chance’ in the last three Gameweeks.
Sarr’s owners aren’t likely to sell before two of the division’s worst defences face the Hornets but Gameweek 7 looks like a good jumping-off point based on recent evidence.
Watford XI: Bachmann, Ngakia, Troost-Ekong, Sierralta, Rose, Etebo (Sema 77), Sarr, Sissoko, Kucka, Dennis, King (Hernandez 53).
Wolverhampton Wanderers XI: Sa, Kilman, Coady, Saiss, Semedo, Neves, Moutinho, Marcal, Trincao (Hee-Chan 63), Jimenez, Traore (Podence 81).
LEICESTER CITY 0-1 MANCHESTER CITY
- Goals: Bernardo Silva (£6.9m)
- Assists: Joao Cancelo (£6.0m)
- Bonus: Cancelo x3, Bernardo x2, Ruben Dias (£6.0m)
CITY DEFENCE BACK TO ITS BEST
It’s three clean sheets on the spin for Manchester City, who boasted the best defence in the division last season and who, based on the Gameweek 1-4 evidence, will likely only have to see off Chelsea to match that feat this time around.
It’s no surprise that, after patching up a makeshift defence in Gameweek 1 at Spurs, Pep Guardiola has found more joy with what seems on paper to be his best back four.
Joao Cancelo (£6.0m), Aymeric Laporte (£5.6m), Ruben Dias (£6.0m) and Kyle Walker (£5.5m) have all started the last three matches, with the first three of those players sitting in the top five FPL points-scorers among defenders, having also banked an attacking return apiece.
Leicester caused City more problems than Arsenal and Norwich did, with Harvey Barnes (£6.8m) striking the top of the bar and almost connecting with Jamie Vardy‘s (£10.4m) cross, but the fact remains that Guardiola’s troops have allowed only one ‘big chance’ and effort on target in the last three Gameweeks – that being an Ademola Lookman (£6.0m) effort that Ederson (£6.0m) smothered at source.
The Champions League will almost certainly see rotation at the back return in earnest but Guardiola knows the value of a solid backline, and there’s always at least one stopper – Dias last season, Laporte in 2018/19 – who he builds his defence around.
“Aymeric (Laporte) is playing incredibly well. Ruben (Dias) like last season with John (Stones) and I know Nathan (Ake) is going to happen. It’s a contribution of everyone.
“The real reason we won the Premier League last season is because we were incredibly solid. We made, I don’t know how many clean sheets.
“We haven’t conceded much. Against Norwich we had one shot on target [against] and against Arsenal it was the same. On Saturday we had a little bit more.
“Against Leicester it is not easy to do it. If you are able to concede few chances, like we did today, we are going to win games.” – Pep Guardiola
ROTATION, WHAT ROTATION?
Guardiola named an unchanged starting XI for the third consecutive game, the first time that has happened in the Premier League in five seasons with the club.
Ferran Torres (£7.2m) was yet again chosen to lead the line and the ‘out of position’ midfielder saw chances come his way once more but there was to be no repeat of his Gameweek 3 heroics, with the Spaniard, Gabriel Jesus (£8.6m) and Jack Grealish (£8.0m) perhaps a little below their stratospheric pre-international break standards.
Bernardo Silva (£6.9m) popped up with the match-winner and, for those FPL managers who like to try to make sense and draw team selection conclusions from Guardiola’s inscrutable babble, the City boss explained his choices after full-time.
“I like to have one or two players in the side who go to the natural side. So, when Jack Grealish plays right and Gundo plays right, every movement in behind is not on the proper foot, they have to turn. The first action we had when Jack played with Bernardo, he dribbled and made a cross.
“At least one or two of the three need to be on the natural foot to be effective in the final third. They can play both sides of course. Bernardo prefers to play on the right, so it can happen.” – Pep Guardiola
Whatever the methodology behind the teamsheets, there’ll soon be Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) and Phil Foden (£7.9m) – who both made the bench at Leicester – to add to the mix in midfield.
“We will see [if De Bruyne plays on Wednesday]. He made a really good training session this week. When he came back to training, he did really well. Step by step. We have a deep squad, just to see Phil (Foden) was there [on the bench], Kevin was there, Riyad (Mahrez) was there, John (Stones) was there.
“The last two games against Norwich and Arsenal were amazing. They were at an incredible high level and deserved to play. The guys who didn’t play today have to be ready. The quality of the team is so high and that is the only reason that we had success in the previous seasons, everyone made a contribution.” – Pep Guardiola
LEICESTER BOOSTED BY KEY DEFENDER RETURNS
Jonny Evans (£5.4m) and Jannik Vestergaard (£4.9m) shared 90 minutes of game-time between them on Saturday, with both making their returns from injury.
“I’m delighted with Jannik. He gives us that great presence in the box when we defend and you see him, he gets his head on to a lot of things when we’re attacking as well.
“He got some good blocks in and reads the game so well. Then he has that calmness when we have the ball. I was delighted with him.
“The plan was to get him to 60 minutes and when he starts to fatigue then bring Jonny in. I’m delighted with both but really pleased for Jannik in terms of his first game in and I think you can see over the course of the season he’ll do great for us.” – Brendan Rodgers
The Dane was imperious on his comeback and not only does Daniel Amartey‘s (£4.1m) time in the budget FPL defender spotlight seem over, the availability of Evans and Vestergaard could spell bad news for a below-par Caglar Soyuncu (£5.0m).
Like Soyuncu, James Maddison (£6.8m) and Barnes haven’t hit form this season and Rodgers was even forced to defend them after full-time.
“They worked very hard. Harvey is still getting up to speed fitness-wise. He had Covid and injury-wise he didn’t join the group at the beginning of the season so I still think he’s not at his level yet. He’s still such a threat.
“The beauty of the squad now is that it’s competitive. We know if it’s not quite working for us, we can make changes, and like you see with Kels (Iheanacho) and Ademola (Lookman) coming into the game, they give us that extra energy, that pressing element, and they were a threat. But James and Harvey worked very hard.” – Brendan Rodgers on Harvey Barnes and James Maddison
Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodrigo, Gundogan, Bernardo, Jesus (Fernandinho 84′), Grealish, Torres (Sterling 64′).
Leicester City XI: Schmeichel, Castagne, Vestergaard (Evans 61), Söyüncü, Bertrand, Albrighton, Tielemans, Ndidi, Barnes (Lookman 73), Maddison (Iheanacho 73), Vardy.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FROM GAMEWEEK 4
- Saturday summary in brief
- Crystal Palace 3-0 Spurs: Son injury update after Gallagher shines
- Arsenal 1-0 Norwich: How new-look Gunners fared in Gameweek 4
- Brentford 0-1 Brighton: Bees defence impresses despite defeat
- Leicester 0-1 Man City: City defence back to its best
- Man Utd 4-1 Newcastle: Ronaldo’s 13-point debut assessed
- Southampton 0-0 West Ham: Antonio banned for Gameweek 5
- Watford 0-2 Wolves: Semedo and Marcal’s FPL appeal assessed
- Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa: Villa attack causes Chelsea defence trouble
- Leeds 0-3 Liverpool: Alexander-Arnold hauls again as Leeds defence suffers double blow
- Everton 3-1 Burnley: Calvert-Lewin ruled out for two to three weeks
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