We’ve two more Premier League fixtures to bring you up to speed with from Saturday: Leeds United v Watford and Burnley v Norwich City.
LEEDS UNITED 1-0 WATFORD
- Goal: Diego Llorente (£4.5m)
- Assist: None
- Bonus: Llorente x3, Junior Firpo (£4.8m) x2, Liam Cooper (£4.5m) x1
XISCO DEPARTS, RANIERI ARRIVES
You wouldn’t have got great odds on Watford to be the first Premier League team to change head coach this season and the kneejerking Hornets board have again lived up to their ruthless reputation by dispensing of Xisco Munoz, just seven games into the season.
The Spaniard’s dismissal came after Saturday’s limp defeat at Leeds, where they registered fewer shots on goal than any other team in Gameweek 7.
Replacing Munoz is Claudio Ranieri, the former Chelsea, Leicester City and Fulham manager.
We’ll have a full Scout Report on the veteran Italian on Tuesday, asking what it means for the likes of Ismaila Sarr (£6.3m).
SARR’S APPEAL ON THE WANE?
Watford’s appealing three-game stretch finished with a whimper against Leeds but despite Sarr blanking, the mid-price midfielder still managed to rack up 25 points from Gameweeks 5-7.
Ranieri will have to bring the fabled new manager bounce with him as the Hornets’ fixtures are about to turn very iffy indeed and Gameweek 8 Wildcarders would be forgiven for overlooking Sarr, despite the excellent value he has provided so far in 2021/22:
The Gameweek 5 win over Norwich is starting to look anomalous when we analyse Watford’s other attacking stats this season:
|v Norwich||in the other six Gameweeks combined|
Four of Sarr’s five big chances this season indeed came against the Canaries and it was lacklustre attacking displays against Newcastle and Leeds that helped see off Munoz.
There is one glimmer of hope for those retaining the Senegal international’s services: his biggest-ever Gameweek score came at home to Liverpool in 2019/20, when he plundered 19 points against the champions-elect.
RAPHINHA: WILL HE PLAY IN GAMEWEEK 8?
Raphinha (£6.5m) produced a first blank in three matches against Watford but he was the main dangerman again for the Whites, firing in another five shots to take his total to 13 attempts in the last three Gameweeks, a tally that no other FPL midfielder can better.
The question for existing and prospective owners now is: will he be available for Gameweek 8?
The Leeds winger is part of Brazil’s squad for their three World Cup qualifiers over the October international break, the last of which kicks off at 1.30am next Friday morning – that’s 37.5 hours before Leeds v Southampton gets underway at Elland Road.
The new quarantine rules mean that he will techinically be free to face Ralph Hasenhuttl’s troops but the logistics of getting back to England in such a short space of time suggests that involvement against the Saints seems unlikely. However, the Yorkshire Evening Post report that Raphinha is expected to be available for selection.
‘Available’ and ‘starting’ are two very different beasts, of course, so much doubt lingers over whether he’ll be part of Marcelo Bielsa’s line-up a week on Saturday.
“It’s not common [for a flair player to work like that]. He’s a player that stands out. Due to standing out he does not demand privileges. All the opposite he takes on more obligations, even more so. That’s why he’s a player that’s valued so much by all of us due to his humility and his capacity of effort. [That’s] Not common when accompanied with that talent.” Bielsa on Raphinha, on Saturday
As for Leeds as a whole, the weekend win over Watford was a lot like last season in a nutshell: Stuart Dallas (£5.3m) was shooting at will, fit-again match-winner Diego Llorente (£4.5m) helped solidify the backline in open play, chances were spurned going forward and there were hairy moments defending set plays, including a Watford leveller that was disallowed for a foul on Liam Cooper (£4.5m).
It’s a small step forward after a so-so start and, unlike Watford, the Whites have plenty more decent fixtures ahead, streatching through to the beginning of December.
Dallas hobbled off on Saturday, meanwhile, but Bielsa said after full-time that it was too early for a prognosis on the Northern Ireland international.
Burnley 0-0 Norwich City
- Bonus: Charlie Taylor (£4.4m) x3, Tim Krul (£4.5m) x2, Grant Hanley (£4.4m) x1
The minnows of Burnley played host to the whipping boys of Norwich City on Saturday, making them both seem defensively adequate.
The Gameweek 7 match at Turf Moor saw the previously porous Clarets and the Canaries pick up their first clean sheets of the season, which was more of an indictment of both sides’ attacks than it was a credit to their defences.
Norwich have looked a bit more solid in their last two matches, largely being successful in suffocating Everton last week (only succumbing to two defensive errors) and reducing Burnley to just one clear opening here – and even that didn’t result in a shot, with Dwight McNeil (£5.9m) unable to react when the ball fell his way at close range.
Owners of semi-popular bench fodder options Billy Gilmour (£4.5m) and Brandon Williams (£4.0m) weren’t able to enjoy the clean sheet points, however, with the former benched for the third time in four Gameweeks and the latter losing his place at left wing-back to Dimitris Giannoulis (£4.4m).
Latterly playing in Gilmour’s spot at the base of the Norwich midfield has been new signing Mathias Normann (£4.5m), who has impressed in his three outings. He is top among Daniel Farke’s squad for shots (all outside the box, admittedly) and chances created in that time, also assuming control at direct free-kick situations and on indirect set plays. He is a name to consider in the bargain-bin midfield pond, then, for those managers looking for an emergency substitute.
As for Burnley, who were without Ben Mee (£4.9m) and who lost Matej Vydra (£5.3m) thanks to minor injuries, they were sorely missing the spark of Maxwel Cornet (£6.0m), who would have been an intriguing differential for this fixture based on his eye-catching exploits so far.
A clean sheet against the Premier League basement club doesn’t convince us that they’re reliable picks at the back again just yet (four shut-outs in their previous 25 top-flight fixtures is a better gauge) but, as we discussed last week, pairing the likes of Matthew Lowton (£4.4m) with a budget Arsenal defender does give the following run of favourable fixtures right the way through to the end of the calendar year: CRY, sou, BRE, WAT, CRY, NEW, wol, new, SOU, WAT, lee, nor, WOL.
Burnley XI: Pope; Taylor, Collins, Tarkowski, Lowton; McNeil, Westwood, Brownhill, Lennon (Gudmundsson 60); Vydra (Rodriguez 35), Wood (Barnes 80).
Norwich City XI: Krul; Kabak, Hanley, Gibson; Aarons, Lees-Melou (Rupp 79), Norman, McLean, Giannoulis; Sargent (Idah 89), Pukki (Rashica 79).