We round up the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Sunday’s three Gameweek 35 fixtures in our Scout Notes summary.
GOALS, ASSISTS AND BONUS
INJURIES AND BANS
Richarlison (£7.5m) made it four goals in five matches with the winner against Chelsea on Sunday but his afternoon ended a little prematurely, with the Brazilian seemingly unable to shake off an injury.
Frank Lampard allayed any fears after full-time, however.
“Cramp! He’s a hard one to communicate with. I wasn’t sure how bad it was or not and the way he was moving… it was cramp.” – Frank Lampard on Richarlison
Influenced by the distraction of a Europa Conference League semi-final, Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers made eight changes to his side for their defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Not included in the squad were Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (£4.4m) and James Maddison (£6.9m), who Rodgers claimed were omitted as a precaution – so there’s every chance that these injuries are as serious as the short-lived ones that force players out of international duty.
“We have to assess it. Both couldn’t be involved today, they’ll be getting treatment. Kiernan has played a lot, felt tightness, so we’ll assess it . James Maddison with his hip, we just have to monitor it.” – Brendan Rodgers
Ben White (£4.6m) was absent from Arsenal’s squad in the late-afternoon kick-off at West Ham United, meanwhile. The Gunners cited a “tight hamstring” as the reason for his no-show.
Also limping from the field of play in east London were Takehiro Tomiyasu (£4.5m) and Bukayo Saka (£6.7m) but the news was positive from Mikel Arteta on those two.
“Ben got injured against Manchester United, he felt a muscular problem and we checked him, and we will have to access him in the next few days to see how he is. Bukayo was fine, he was really fatigued and he has been through a little injury as well. Tomiyasu is just that he had been out for so long and could not continue. No, hopefully, he’s fine.” – Mikel Arteta
FPL TALKING POINTS
What a rollercoaster afternoon it was for owners of Dejan Kulusevski (£6.3m), who would have been fearing for the Swede’s game-time, not just today but also in Double Gameweek 36 after a first benching since Gameweek 25.
Ninety minutes later, however, the picture was looking much rosier.
His replacement in the starting XI, Lucas Moura (£5.9m), turned in a poor showing, being hooked for Kulusevski just 10 minutes into the second half.
As if fired up by that omission from the line-up, Kulusevski sparked a humdrum Spurs into life and he claimed two assists for Son Heung-min‘s (£11.0m) superb brace.
“Sometimes it was a pity because we have only the league to play and for this reason, you can’t make a lot of rotation when… it’s not simple to give chances to play. I think this week Lucas deserved to have this chance, also because don’t forget Lucas Moura is an important player for us and I decided in this way, and then when Deki came in I think he played really well. In the same way, Lucas did in the 55 minutes. I repeat we have to think about a team not individual players if we want to reach something important for this club.” – Antonio Conte on Dejan Kulusevski’s benching
Surely now, despite Antonio Conte’s positivity about Lucas’s performance in the quote above, Kulusevski will return to the Lilywhites’ line-up at Anfield next weekend.
Since his first start for Spurs in Gameweek 26, Kulusevski has claimed 12 attacking returns in as many appearances (see above image). Only his two much more expensive teammates can better that tally in that time.
The narrative around Kulusevski was a mere sub-plot at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, of course.
Son Heung-min stole the headlines and 19 points from the victory over Leicester, taking his total to 223 for the season. He’s also now just three goals behind Mohamed Salah (£13.3m) in the Golden Boot race, not that the modest South Korea international is the type of player to fixate on such individual achievements.
His finishing has been underappreciated for some time, as he had routinely overachieved his ‘expected’ goals tally since coming to England.
Only Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) of the 10 FPL assets costing £10.0m or more has required fewer xG to score an actual goal (see below) this season; essentially, the Belgian and Son are pretty bloody excellent at converting half-chances.
What to do with Son now will be a question on many managers’ lips ahead of Double Gameweek 36. Is he a no-brainer ‘hold’ after today’s display? Should be moved on to another premium midfielder with easier fixtures, like De Bruyne?
Matches against Liverpool and Arsenal might not look good on paper but Son has scored against both sides already this season. The Reds’ higher defensive line, indeed, was something he exploited when finding the target at Anfield earlier in the campaign.
EVERTON’S HOME COMFORTS
What a curious team Everton have become. Abject on the road, they have been much more solid on home soil – especially since Frank Lampard took charge.
Everton under Frank Lampard
The effect of a home crowd’s raucous backing is one of those factors that we can’t really quantify but Frank Lampard was in no doubt that the Goodison faithful were the key reason for Sunday’s win:
“Today was a huge game for us and when you see the fans turn up before this game and what they did to this game – they were people of the match. Men, women and youngsters, all Everton crazy, they love this club and they pushed us over the line.
“It was amazing and I can only thank them. I have been through a lot in football but it was a goosebumps moment on the way in. It is not the norm, driving up and seeing the fans like that, it is special, and it makes a big difference when you feel pushed on by the ferocity and nice aggression of the fans’ support.
“The great discipline and work ethic stemmed from the great support.” – Frank Lampard
Everton play twice away in Double Gameweek 36 but twice at home in Double Gameweek 37, so it’s the latter where the form guide is steering us with regards to FPL investment in their players – even if a distracted Leicester and a Championship-bound Watford are very decent opponents in the upcoming Gameweek.
As well as Richarlison and the budget-freeing Anthony Gordon (£4.6m), the defence and Jordan Pickford (£4.8m) are now starting to increase in appeal too.
Unless you snapped up Marcos Alonso (£5.6m) ahead of Double Gameweek 34, this past fortnight has been one to forget for owners of Chelsea assets.
A tired-looking Blues side turned in an insipid display against Everton, with Thomas Tuchel defying pre-match predictions that he would rotate heavily and making only one enforced change; there’s no guarantee that the second string would have done any better but a lack of freshness did look to be one factor at Goodison Park.
Kai Havertz (£7.9m) and Timo Werner (£8.4m) were both poor up top but it was the collective defensive effort that Thomas Tuchel turned his ire towards after full-time, with Chelsea now having kept just one clean sheet in their last four matches.
“If there is something I can do I will try it but if I knew about it I would have done it before. I think, for me, the key is to have a clean sheet. Manchester United was a different game, more open, fluid, more spaces, and we finally scored late and conceded straight away.
“For me, this is more like the game against West Ham. The opponent defends deep, we struggle to find space in the first half, but against West Ham, we had a clean sheet and played without any big mistakes. That gives us the chance to score late. If you run behind against an opponent like this, in this atmosphere and install emotion and belief in a stadium like this and the opponent’s team, you struggle.” – Thomas Tuchel
Reece James (£6.4m) being deemed able to start two matches at wing-back in the space of 72 hours was one positive but the question now has to be asked over how many minutes the key Chelsea assets will get in Gameweek 36, as the second of their two matches – against Leeds – falls three days before the FA Cup final.
His finishing still needs work but Eddie Nketiah (£5.5m) was a lively presence in attack for Arsenal in their 2-1 win over West Ham United, earning plaudits from the watching media.
He was responsible for over half of Arsenal’s shots from open play (six of 11), flashing one effort centimeters wide and spurning at least one opportunity he should have scored from.
Budget forwards are usually cheap for a reason, and Nketiah isn’t some clinical Son-esque finisher; his historical shot-to-goal conversion rate is in the low teens (as a rule of thumb, the top players tend to be nearer the 20% mark).
‘Liveliness’ doesn’t get you FPL points either.
But the standard of forwards is pretty shocking this year anyway and as a budget enabler, or perhaps as a Bench Boost option in Gameweek 36, Nketiah has worked his way into late-season contention.
Alexandre Lacazette (£8.2m) wasn’t even brought on as a substitute against the Hammers and his game-time amounts to one minute in the last three Gameweeks, so Nketiah still seems to have the edge going into Double Gameweek 36.
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