It was a low-scoring day for many Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, with blanks for many of the most-owned players and the widely backed captaincy picks.
Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m) contrived to hit the post from three yards en route to a fourth blank in five appearances, while Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.7m) owners had to swallow a ‘one-pointer’ after the Manchester United forward was surprisingly named among the substitutes at Old Trafford and reduced to a 35-minute cameo.
Our usual, more detailed Scout Notes will follow for all of the day’s games but in the meantime, our resurrected Scoreboard series rounds up the key goings-on from the day’s Gameweek 7 fixtures.
GOALS, ASSISTS, PROJECTED BONUS
INJURIES AND BANS
Anthony Martial (£8.4m) picked up a knock in Manchester United’s draw with Everton, a match that Luke Shaw (£5.4m) was passed fit for after illness and injury.
Ben Mee (£4.9m) was a surprise no-show when the Burnley teamsheet was released, with the first-choice stopper picking up an ankle injury in training that his manager doesn’t think is serious.
The Clarets lost a further player during the clash with Norwich, with Matej Vydra (£5.3m) suffering a knock.
Watford’s defeat at Leeds was further compounded by the loss of two players to injury, with Josh King (£5.5m) and Francisco Sierralta (£4.3m) both limping off. Xisco Munoz doesn’t yet know the severity of either issue.
King’s departure saw Emmanuel Dennis (£5.3m) move into a centre-forward role, following his recent stint on the left flank.
Leeds lost a key player of their own, with Stuart Dallas (£5.3m) hobbling off – Marcelo Bielsa said after full-time that it was too early for a prognosis on the Northern Ireland international.
Joe Willock (£5.9m) lasted little more than half an hour of Newcastle’s defeat to Wolves before succumbing to a hip injury.
Bukayo Saka (£6.3m) limped out of Arsenal’s match against Brighton and Hove Albion late on but Mikel Arteta said he “should be fine.”
On the ban front, James Ward-Prowse (£6.4m) was sent off for serious foul play against Chelsea and will miss Southampton’s next three matches. One of those games is in the EFL Cup, however, so he’ll be back in Gameweek 10.
THE THINGS WE LEARNED
NOT TOO BIG TO BENCH
Reaffirming Bruno Fernandes (£11.9m) as the club’s penalty taker one week, benching Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.7m) the next… a cynic might suggest that the last fortnight has been some sort of power play from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and/or an audition to be the new voice of Sage.
The Norwegian however cited the need for freshness ahead of kick-off when asked about his decision to leave Ronaldo and Paul Pogba (£7.8m) out of his starting XI:
“Wednesday night was a big effort, big emotional and physical output, so we needed to freshen it up when it’s an early kick-off.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Whatever the motivation for Ronaldo’s demotion to impact substitute in Gameweek 7 (he is 36, lest we forget), it was a notice to FPL managers that even the Portuguese club legend isn’t going to be immune from the odd rest over the coming weeks and months.
WE HAVE A PLAYING £4.0m GOALKEEPER
Ben Foster (£4.0m) had started the last two Premier League matches for Watford but it wasn’t abundantly clear whether he was the undisputed number one at Vicarage Road, given that Daniel Bachmann (£4.5m) had been plagued by a knee injury over the last fortnight.
Passed fit by the Hornets on Thursday, Bachmann returned to the matchday squad against Leeds – but was only among the substitutes, with Foster keeping his place.
The veteran was repeatedly called into action against Leeds and one of the few to emerge from the defeat with any credit.
Watford haven’t kept a clean sheet all season so he’s probably not an option for anything other than emergency bench duty, especially with the fixtures turning iffy over the next eight Gameweeks.
IS HWANG/RAUL THE NEW JOTA/JIMENEZ?
Bruno Lage praised the link-up play between Hwang Hee-chan (£5.5m) and Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) ahead of Saturday’s win over Newcastle and the pair duly combined for both of Wolves’ goals on Saturday.
It certainly wasn’t a vintage attacking display by Bruno Lage’s side, who had fewer shots than all top-flight teams bar Watford on Saturday.
And a conversion rate of 60% (three goals from five shots) isn’t obviously sustainable for Hwang in the long term.
But Wolves having a more clinical striker up top is a welcome change from the profligacy we’ve seen so far in 2021/22 and a potential boon to Jimenez, who has created more chances than any other FPL forward this season.
The Mexican is the only player among the top 10k’s 20 most-owned FPL assets who has delivered a double-digit haul in Gameweek 7 so far:
STRONG BENCHES ARE NEEDED
Not so much a lesson learned as a weekly reminder, in this instance – and not for the first time – from Thomas Tuchel.
Managers whose teams are playing in Europe and are still in the EFL Cup face two games a week from now until the end of the calendar year and the irksome rotation is well underway.
On top of Ronaldo and Pogba at United, we saw Marcos Alonso (£6.0m) and Andreas Christensen (£5.0m) dropped to the bench for Chelsea’s win over Southampton.
STAT WATCH – GAMEWEEK 7
We’re historically used to seeing Andros Townsend (£5.5m) score screamers from distance but the winger earlier in the week discussed the work he was doing under Rafael Benitez to get closer to the goal.
And, wouldn’t you know it, the ex-England wide-man is joint-top for shots in the box in Gameweek 7 so far and at the top of the pile for expected goal involvement (xGI).
Townsend is now joint-second among midfielders for FPL points alongside the man who teed him up for his fifth attacking return of the season at Old Trafford, Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.6m).
He’s also top of the FPL form table, which calculates a player’s average score from all matches played by his club in the last 30 days.
Marc Cucurella (£5.0m) turned in a man-of-the-match showing in the evening kick-off at the Amex and, as is not always the case, the maximum bonus was dished out to the best player on the park.
No player has created more chances than the Brighton wing-back in Gameweek 7 so far and, since his debut in Gameweek 4, only two FPL defenders have registered more final-third touches.