WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 2-1 NEWCASTLE UNITED
- Goals: Hwang Hee-chan (£5.6m) x2 | Jeff Hendrick (£4.8m)
- Assists: Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) x2 | Javier Manquillo (£4.0m)
- Bonus: Hwang x3, Jimenez x2, Marcal (£4.6m) x1
IS HWANG HEE-CHAN THE REAL DEAL?
Hwang Hee-chan (£5.5m) is proving popular among FPL managers and is the most-bought forward of Gameweek 8 following his double-digit haul against Newcastle.
Many of us will be unfamiliar with the South Korean striker, who has spent much of his time playing centrally in Austria and Germany but who has occupied a left-wing berth for Wolves so far.
A historic minutes-per-goal average of 179 is very decent (that’s similar to what Patrick Bamford (£7.8m) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.0m) boasted in the Premier League last season) but, of course, many of his strikes were scored for RB Salzburg in a league of inferior quality.
His record in Germany was poor: two goals in 20 appearances in the second tier was followed by a goalless year in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig, although 17 of his 20 top-flight run-outs were from the bench.
A serious Covid infection blighted his time with Leipzig, while his skillset wasn’t ideally suited to his then-coach Julien Nagelsmann’s set-up, as The Athletic report:
“With Hwang being quite a specialised player – ie, a wide-ish attacker who likes space to exploit, he didn’t really fit in as a winger or a striker in what was often a 4-2-3-1 formation or a 3-4-2-1. The lone striker role didn’t suit him as he preferred having that space around him, so they couldn’t quite make it work, and Nagelsmann was believed to have felt Hwang wasn’t quite playing to his instructions.
“With the 25-year-old being fairly quiet, a little shy and perhaps even sensitive, the struggles had knocked his confidence and it was decided he needed to get out and play somewhere else, with Wolves being an ideal fit formation-wise.
“Indeed, in terms of style (a pacy, willing and direct runner with an excellent work ethic and an eye for goal), Hwang is as close as Wolves have had to anyone resembling Diogo Jota, whose presence as a roaming second striker has been missed, since his departure to Liverpool last summer.”
WhoScored’s shot data takes the Austrian league out of the equation and instead focuses more elite competition: Hwang has a goal conversion rate of just under 14% across his appearances in German football, the Europa League and the Champions League.
That’s a more realistic figure for a budget FPL forward, who has currently converted an unsustainable 60% of his shots into goals this season.
Bruno Lage praised the link-up play between Hwang and Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) ahead of Saturday’s win over Newcastle and the pair duly combined for both of Wolves’ goals.
Even though the 60% goal conversion rate is not going to last, Wolves having a more confident finisher 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 pair could be what one another needs, and the Jota/Jimenez comparisons have already started.
“Myself and Raul had good conversations to build the chemistry but this is what the manager wants between the attackers and the midfielders. He tells me to move between the sides and the centre with Raul so he can make creative passes. This is all in the tactics.” – Hwang Hee-chan
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Just to dampen the enthusiasm about Wolves, it certainly wasn’t a vintage attacking display by Bruno Lage’s side, who had fewer shots than all top-flight teams bar Watford, Liverpool and Southampton in Gameweek 7 and who played better in defeat in Gameweeks 1-3.
Adama Traore‘s (£6.0m) stock continues to plummet after a second successive benching, while owners of Marcal (£4.6m) were treated to an unexpected bonus point but another unconvincing display in possession won’t have eased fears over future rotation.
As for Newcastle, they now have the worst defensive record in the top flight, level with Norwich for goals conceded but without a clean sheet to their name.
Steve Bruce changing formation during games and between them smacks of desperation, and the sight of Isaac Hayden (£4.5m) moving from attacking midfielder to right-sided centre-back midway through the first half was a head-scratcher.
The Magpies still pose an attacking threat: they have only failed to score in one match this season and are ranked eighth for goal attempts.
But the defensive woes will be of great interest to owners of the in-form Son Heung-min (£10.0m) ahead of Gameweek 8.
Wolves XI: Sa, Semedo, Kilman, Coady, Saiss, Marcal, Neves, Moutinho, Trincao (Dendoncker 85), Hwang (Traore 90), Jimenez.
Newcastle United XI: Darlow, Manquillo (Murphy 70), Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Longstaff, Willock (Hendrick 35), Almiron (Gayle 79), Joelinton, Saint-Maximin.
Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Arsenal
- Bonus: Marc Cucurella (£5.0m) x3, Lewis Dunk (£5.0m) x2, Ben White (£4.4m) x1
The first-half blitz in the north London derby may have masked lingering doubts about Arsenal’s attack, as it’s now just two goals in three matches for the Gunners against Burnley, Norwich City and Brighton.
Luckily, all is well at the other end of the pitch.
Mikel Arteta’s side made it three clean sheets in four at the Amex, withstanding some heavy Albion pressure to secure a draw.
The north London side continue to give away headed chances, especially from set plays, with Shane Duffy (£4.3m), Lewis Dunk (£5.0m) and Dan Burn (£4.4m) all having opportunities to break the deadlock on the south coast.
Above: Premier League clubs sorted by headed chances conceded in the last four Gameweeks
But Aaron Ramsdale (£4.6m), Ben White (£4.4m) and Gabriel (£5.0m) in particular look a lot more secure in open play than the pre-September Arsenal backline, with Takehiro Tomiyasu (£4.6m) a promising acquisition despite a difficult night in soggy Sussex.
“[I’m impressed] because they’ve never played together and because they have struggled a little bit with the language and they didn’t have any time to work together in pre-season either. They’re getting a really good connection, good chemistry, and I think their qualities match and complement each other really, really well. I think both of them today were terrific.” – Mikel Arteta on Ben White and Gabriel
Albion’s defence, who let’s not forget didn’t have the injured and influential Yves Bissouma (£4.6m) in front of it, was even better in Gameweek 7, with a breakaway Emile Smith Rowe (£5.3m) shot the only real moment of alarm.
Robert Sanchez (£4.6m) has only one save point all season, a sign of how watertight that Albion backline is.
A lot of the talk in the FPL community is over double-ups on City and Chelsea defenders but Brighton and (a full-strength) Arsenal are two of the best rearguards outside of these two clubs and there are some real bargains to be had from each team.
Marc Cucurella (£5.0m) is available at an awkward price point and will be overlooked by many of us but he 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 created more chances than the Brighton wing-back in Gameweek 7 and, since his debut in Gameweek 4, only three FPL defenders have registered more final-third touches.
“His contribution has been brilliant on and off the pitch. He has settled in really well, the way he plays the game is so refreshing. He brings energy to the team, but I thought the whole team performance was amazing, and I don’t want to single anyone out as the team were fantastic.” – Graham Potter on Marc Cucurella
Brigthon and Hove Albion XI: Sanchez, Veltman, Duffy, Dunk, Burn, Cucurella, Moder (Mac Allister 77), Lallana, Gross (March 84), Trossard, Maupay.
Arsenal XI: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Lokonga, Saka (Maitland-Niles 90), Odegaard (Pepe 63), Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, (Lacazette 71).