We continue our Fantasy Premier League (FPL) Gameweek 6 Scout Notes with analysis of Manchester United v Aston Villa.
For a summary of all seven of Saturday’s games, click here.
MANCHESTER UNITED 0-1 ASTON VILLA
- Goal: Kortney Hause (£4.4m)
- Assist: Douglas Luiz (£4.5m)
- Bonus: Hause x3, Emiliano Martinez (£5.5m) x2, Tyrone Mings (£5.0m) x1, Luiz x1, Harry Maguire (£5.4m) x1
WHO IS ON PENALTIES AT UNITED?
Bruno Fernandes (£11.9m) skied a stoppage-time penalty as Ronaldo watched on in Manchester United’s defeat to Aston Villa.
Naturally, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was plagued with questions on spot-kicks in his post-match press conference and didn’t give us a completely clear-cut answer on who will take them in future, although comments that Fernandes would “step forward again” could be construed as backing for the midfielder.
“The decision [on who will take penalties] is made before the game, yeah.
“No, [Aston Villa players’ behaviour prior to the spot-kick] didn’t get into Bruno’s head. He’s strong mentally and he’ll step forward again.
“Bruno has been excellent, he’s such a good penalty taker and today, you’d back him with your mortgage. He’ll step forward every day of the week, for the club and the team, sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.
“This is going to be the headline isn’t it? Bruno has been excellent and Cristiano is probably the one who has scored the most penalties in world football. So we’ve got great takers here.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Fernandes himself added:
“Nobody is more frustrated and disappointed than me for missing the penalty and the consequent defeat.
“I’ve always assumed my responsibilities and I’ve always embraced them under pressure in moments like this.
“Today, I failed. But I took a step forward and faced the challenge with the same ambition and responsibility as when, on the many other occasions, the ball ended up in the net.
“Criticism and contrasting opinions are a big part of football. I’ve learned to live with it, even using them to drive me on, and I consider it all a very important part of my commitment to never stop trying to improve and to become the best player I can possibly be, for me and the team.
“Today I once again took the responsibility given to me almost since I joined United and I will take it again without any fear or dread whenever called upon.
“The most important thing for me is to win together and I’ll always do everything I can to help my teammates and the club to be the best we can be.” – Bruno Fernandes
Even accounting for Saturday’s miss, Fernandes still holds a better penalty-taking record at club level: he has a 90.7% success rate after converting 39 of 43 spot-kicks, while Ronaldo has scored 85% of his efforts (125 from 147 penalties).
SHAW/MAGUIRE INJURY LATEST
Luke Shaw (£5.5m) and Harry Maguire (£5.4m) came off with injuries on Saturday but there was no clarity from their boss after full-time, with scans on the pair to follow.
“Sorry, I can’t give you any updates. We will have to use today and tomorrow and Monday or when we get the scans done and see how we are.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
We should get another update on the pair from Solskjaer on Tuesday, when the United head coach faces the media ahead of the Champions League clash with Villarreal.
UNITED PLAYERS – TIME TO SELL?
Four consecutive below-par performances in league and cup competitions, a favourable fixture swing for Chelsea, plus potential injuries to Shaw and Maguire means that United assets will be on the chopping block for many FPL managers ahead of Gameweek 7.
Five of the seven most-sold players of the upcoming Gameweek are on the Red Devils’ books, with Shaw leading the charge:
United’s fixtures also stiffen considerably over the next two months, leaving them bottom of our Season Ticker.
Shaw/Maguire are easy sells for the likes of Antonio Rudiger (£5.6m) or Ruben Dias (£6.1m), while even Mason Greenwood (£7.7m), who has offered excellent value so far, may be considered expendable given the number of cut-price midfielders doing the business elsewhere.
Ronaldo out for Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m) won’t be as palatable for some, particularly as Everton and Leicester City have just three clean sheets combined in 2021/22.
But the form of United as a collective and Saturday’s result may have made the decision a little easier, with Ronaldo well shackled and starved of service, reduced to just one shot in the opposition box.
There were some eye-catching numbers posted by United assets on Saturday, with Greenwood racking up eight shots and Fernandes creating a remarkable ten chances, but the fact that those two players’ non-penalty expected goal involvements (xGI) were 0.51 and 0.72 respectively indicates that most of those opportunities weren’t clear cut.
Villa, indeed, had the more glaring chances despite United registering four times as many shots (28 v 7).
VILLA SOLID AGAIN – BACK THREE HERE TO STAY?
Villa have been impressive over their last three matches, even catching the eye in the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea.
That has coincided with a move to a 3-5-2, with the formation not only making the defence more robust but allowing Dean Smith to include both Danny Ings (£7.9m) and Ollie Watkins (£7.3m) in his starting XI without moving one of them wide.
Watkins, who has looked more threatening more than Ings over the last three, spurned two very presentable chances on Saturday, while Matt Targett (£4.8m) skied a Matthew Cash (£5.0m) cross from point-blank range – a chance that highlighted just how attractive those two FPL options could be if they are continually deployed at wing-back in a system that heightens the Villans’ prospects of clean sheets.
Since Cash took up that role in Gameweek 4, only one FPL defender has registered more penalty box touches.
“At times it was 4v4 at the back, we look at their players, (Paul) Pogba, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Bruno and (Mason) Greenwood, and I thought they had smaller chances than we did.
“We blocked really well. When called upon, Emi (Martínez) has made good saves and we’ve had some good chances.
“Matt Targett missed one from the cross from Matty Cash and I think that chance just epitomised our bravery coming here and trying to get the win.” – Dean Smith
Kortney Hause (£4.4m), always a threat from set plays, was the match-winner on Saturday, although very likely wouldn’t have started had Axel Tuanzebe (£4.5m) not been ineligible.
Villa’s backline and Emiliano Martinez (£5.5m), a BPS magnet who collected bonus points to supplement his clean sheet for the second successive week, will be moving high up the FPL watchlist, although whether Smith sticks with a 3-5-2 in the easier fixtures ahead is another question – particularly with the likes of Emiliano Buendia (£6.4m) and especially Leon Bailey (£6.4m) to crowbar into the team. It goes without saying that Villa had looked more suspect at the back without a third centre-half and three across the midfield, so that has to be a consideration.
Further forward, Watkins is re-emerging onto the mid-price forward radar.
Despite facing Chelsea, Everton and United in his last three, he ranks comfortably among the top ten FPL forwards for shots in the box, penalty box touches and efforts on target since his return to the Villa line-up in Gameweek 4.
Manchester United XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire (Lindelof 66), Shaw (Dalot 34), McTominay (Cavani 81), Fred, Pogba, Fernandes, Greenwood, Ronaldo.
Aston Villa XI: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Hause, Mings, Targett, Ramsey (Archer 85), Luiz, McGinn, Ings (Buendia 77), Watkins.