Arsenal breezed past sorry Leeds United in the only Gameweek 18 match of the day to survive a postponement.
Our Scout Notes article reflects on the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from the fixture.
The Emile Smith Rowe (£6.0m) train just about keeps chugging along, with back-to-back goals helping to gloss over three successive benchings, but a separate budget Arsenal bandwagon is gathering momentum.
A Smith Rowe injury ahead of Gameweek 15 paved the way for Gabriel Martinelli (£5.2m) to establish himself on the Gunners’ left flank and the young Brazilian has effectively kept his teammate out of the side ever since, although alternative routes back into the starting XI at least do exist for Smith Rowe.
Martinelli made it six attacking returns in as many Gameweeks at Elland Road and while he’ll not sustain an average of 7.0 points per match over the season (he scored from his only two shots of the match on Saturday), he’s keeping company with some big midfielders on the underlying stats front over his last half-dozen appearances:
Above: FPL midfielders sorted by expected goal involvement (xGI) over their last six matches
Martinelli has historically posted some good numbers (he had the best rate of xGI among Arsenal players last season) but the issue with the budget midfielder has always been game-time, which he now has for the time being.
Bukayo Saka (£6.2m), Alexandre Lacazette (£8.5m) and Smith Rowe also chipped in with attacking returns against Leeds, too, but spurned big chances from the French striker in particular left a feeling of ‘what might have been’ for owners of the Gunners’ other attacking assets.
Unsurprisingly, Martinelli is now the most-bought player of Gameweek 19.
If you’re thinking about joining his growing band of owners, first consider that Arsenal’s Boxing Day opponents are Norwich City, a side whose Gameweek 18 fixture was called off on Thursday because of a coronavirus outbreak among the squad – and a 10-day isolation period would just about cover Gameweek 19 as a result. That fixture, then, must be in some doubt.
LEEDS DEFENCE A MESS… AND LIVERPOOL UP NEXT
Having started last season looking shifty (the fourth letter can be interchanged for another consonant) at the back but showing signs of improvement as the campaign went on, Leeds have come full circle.
Marcelo Bielsa’s troops have now shipped 16 goals in their last four Premier League matches and as many big chances – both, unsurprisingly, are league-worst totals.
Above: Premier League defences sorted by shots on target conceded over their last four matches
They allowed 11 shots on target in the first half of the loss to Arsenal alone, a record in the Opta era.
The absurd injury crisis is a huge contributing factor, of course. In the defence in Gameweek 18 were centre-halves Luke Ayling (£4.3m) and Robin Koch (£4.3m), better at right-back and in front of the back four, and Cody Drameh (£3.9m), barely out of his teens. Unavailability further forward was just as key: 10 first-teamers were sidelined in total, while Jack Harrison (£5.6m) limped off after half an hour.
Whether or not any Gameweek 19 fixtures go ahead is another question but if Leeds do make it to kick-off on Boxing Day having swerved a postponement, their next opponents are the Premier League’s top-scoring side, Liverpool.
RAPHINHA AT LEAST SECOND ON PENS
Raphinha (£6.6m) seems to be at least second in command in the Leeds United penalty-taking pecking order.
The Brazilian had scored twice from the spot already this season but both Patrick Bamford (£7.7m) and Mateusz Klich (£5.2m), the Whites’ primary takers in 2020/21, were off the field in those instances.
Klich was on the pitch for the Brazilian’s latest success from 12 yards this evening, however, an emphatic effort that moved him onto eight goals for the season – a total that only two FPL midfielders can better.
Budget FPL forward Joe Gelhardt (£4.6m) bagged the assist for the penalty, his second return in three Gameweeks.
COVID WATCH AND INJURY LATEST
Nine Leeds players were known as being unavailable going into this match but a 10th, Diego Llorente (£4.5m), also didn’t show up. It was later revealed that the centre-back had tested positive for Covid-19, and he will now sit out Gameweek 19 as a result.
Arsenal also have their first cases of Covid-19 in a while, with Albert Sambi Lokonga (£4.8m) and Pablo Mari (£4.2m) contracting the illness.
The Gunners shut their training ground as a precaution on Thursday but returned thereafter.
“We had another player, as well, Pablo has Covid, so unfortunately they [Mari and Lokonga] will be out.” – Mikel Arteta
Takehiro Tomiyasu (£4.7m) banked a clean sheet for his owners before limping from the field of play but Arteta wasn’t too concerned after the game.
“It was more a muscular issue. He’s got a big load on him, he’s played every single minute since he joined us and this week he’s been a bit struggling. We decided to take him off. He wasn’t 100% confident to finish the match and hopefully he’s not injured.” – Mikel Arteta
Bielsa gave an update on the limping Harrison after full-time, as well as some of his other absent players:
“It’s just a big knock [for Harrison], a very painful one just below his hip. It’s just knocks that prevent you from continuing to play, but they’re not injuries that take long to recover from. What was, was that he was on the pitch for thirty minutes where he really couldn’t play. Until the player convinces himself that he can’t play there are moments where he can’t do anything.
“Cooper has a long period of recovery, Phillips has a long period of recovery. Cresswell has a long period of recovery, Bamford and James no – they’re not that long but I can’t tell you if they’re going to be available for Liverpool. Rodrigo Moreno has a problem in his heels and this has made him inactive in the past two weeks. The way to heal or cure this injury is to manage the pain so it disappears.
“The injury of Rodrigo is something that’s not very frequent. In Pascal’s case in the Premier League you have this injury once or twice a season, it also demands the pain disappears for him to be able to play. With respect to Rodrigo he’s not going to play against Liverpool and Pascal I place him on the same range as Bamford and James. They are all subject to the evolution, I never not give up information that I possess. What I try to avoid is to not say something I’m not sure of. I take advantage when I made a reference to the operation of Phillips – I thought you were talking about the possible surgery to his shoulder, and the expression that was understood, perhaps I expressed myself wrong. I didn’t know whether he was operated under on the back part of his knee.” – Marcelo Bielsa
Full-year memberships, monthly subscriptions and a FREE trial are all now available.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to Members content in over 250+ articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- Enjoy our Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.