We round up the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Saturday’s six Double Gameweek 36 fixtures in our Scout Notes summary.
GOALS, ASSISTS AND BONUS
INJURIES AND BANS
Burnley’s survival hopes took a blow on Saturday, with their defeat to Aston Villa compounded by an injury to centre-half James Tarkowski (£4.9m).
Matej Vydra (£5.2m) was also absent with a previously undeclared knee issue.
“We don’t know at this moment in time, [Tarkowski] felt a tight hamstring. We will have a look at him on Monday or Tuesday and fingers crossed it is not too bad.
“He knew himself that it was getting a little bit tight and he has made the decision but he doesn’t come off if it is not a little bit sore.
“Vyds felt his knee, we will know a little bit more next week. He felt it after the Watford game last week and we are ongoing with that. We will be a bit clearer on Monday or Tuesday.” – Mike Jackson
The Villans were without Jacob Ramsey (£4.7m) and it seems like it will be a big ask for the budget midfielder to be fit for the visit of Liverpool, with Steven Gerrard saying that a recovery is now “looking ambitious”.
Relegated Watford were without Imrân Louza (£5.2m), Juraj Kucka (£5.5m) and João Pedro (£5.4m) for their final-nail-in-the-coffin defeat to Crystal Palace, with Tom Cleverley (£4.8m) and Samir (£4.5m) limping off later in the game. Hassane Kamara (£4.5m) was also sent off for two bookable offences and will miss the Hornets’ second Double Gameweek 36 fixture, at home to Everton.
Marc Guehi (£4.5m) hobbled out of the same match, which could be a blow for Palace ahead of their forthcoming double-header in Gameweek 37. The Eagles will assess his ankle injury in the coming days.
We’ve heard nothing yet from Patrick Vieira on Vicente Guaita (£4.6m), who wasn’t part of the matchday squad at Selhurst Park.
FPL TALKING POINTS
ALONSO’S SUBSTITUTION ‘TACTICAL’
One name you might have expected to see in the above section is Marcos Alonso (£5.7m).
The Spaniard was substituted at half-time of the two-all draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, raising fears of an injury.
But Thomas Tuchel confirmed at full-time that the wing-back’s withdrawal was tactical in nature.
“Marcos was not injured, it was just a decision we made. Azpi had a yellow card and he was very active in the first half but he was too offensive. He took too many risks there and sometimes we only had Ruben as the spare player in the two v twos and that’s why we changed. Azpi had a yellow card and we wanted the runs from him in the second half.” – Thomas Tuchel
Mason Mount (£7.7m) and Kai Havertz (£7.9m) were taken out of an otherwise strong starting XI for the visit of Wolves, the former not getting on the pitch at all. Reece James (£6.4m) meanwhile was moved to centre-back – not for the first time in the last month – in the second half, negating his attacking threat.
Romelu Lukaku (£11.4m) rediscovered some belated form to score his first goals of 2022 but the Blues conceded twice to a team that had drawn a blank against Burnley, Newcastle and Brighton in their last three matches, so it’s now just one clean sheet in five for the west Londoners.
The visitors’ dramatic late equaliser might ultimately turn out to be a good result for owners of Chelsea assets, as the gap between the Blues and the two north London sides remains just about narrow enough for Tuchel not to take his eye off the ball in the league – at least, not yet.
COUTINHO BENCHED – AND BUENDIA TAKES HIS CHANCE
Philippe Coutinho (£7.4m) was benched for the first time in the league since his Gameweek 22 Villa debut.
Compounding his owners’ misery was the dazzling performance of Emi Buendia (£6.1m) in the ‘number 10’ role, the Argentinian scoring and assisting another en route to a double-digit haul.
“We gave Emi Buendia an opportunity today and I thought he was fantastic, really creative. His assist for the first goal was outstanding, exactly what we’ve been working on. And then he gets himself in the box, where we want him, on the penalty spot, to tap home the second.” – Steven Gerrard
Gerrard did offer a little bit of positivity regarding Coutinho’s game-time prospects going forward but it was heavily asterisked, and the rotation may continue not just in ‘the hole’ but across the team in the next fortnight.
“We want Philippe Coutinho here (next season), for sure.
“No, Phil was (not disappointed) to miss out. There’s not much ego in this group. They’re a right good set of lads. The schedule, we’ve been playing one game a week/two weeks which isn’t enough. We want to be in a place where the games come thick and fast.
“We’ve just entered the period where it’s going to change with five games in a short space of time. Phil and Emi will both get enough game time to keep them satisfied. They know that you can’t go Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday all of the time. Phil understood it.” – Steven Gerrard
The Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) and Danny Ings (£7.7m) partnership continued to flourish up top, the latter making it seven attacking returns in as many appearances with his goal, while Lucas Digne (£5.0m) provided an assist and interestingly registered almost three times as many final-third touches as Matty Cash (£5.3m) on the opposite flank.
TITLE AND CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RACES IN BALANCE
A 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Spurs did little for either side’s end-of-season aims.
Spurs could be out of the top four race by Thursday night if Arsenal win their next two fixtures (the second being the north London derby) and Chelsea get one more point, while Manchester City can now afford to draw one of their remaining four fixtures and still win the Premier League title.
Fantasy returns were few and far between for the key FPL assets, with only Son Heung-min (£11.0m) of the usual suspects leaving Anfield with more than appearance points – his deadlock-breaking goal took him to 23 attacking returns in as many run-outs under Antonio Conte.
Joel Matip‘s (£5.2m) run of 19 league starts without a benching came to an end, while a flagging Andrew Robertson (£7.3m) was hooked not long after the hour mark – owners of the Scottish left-back will be hoping that this early withdrawal helps him avoid a midweek benching after seven successive competitive starts.
Some of the less-heralded FPL assets impressed, meanwhile: goalscorer Luis Diaz (£8.0m) was the pick of the Liverpool front three and had more shots than anyone on show, while the visitors’ defence was superb. With the Spurs front three in such good form of late, it’s easy to forget that only Liverpool and City have conceded fewer goals and kept more clean sheets than the north Londoners since Conte took over.
PALACE ROTATION A CONCERN AHEAD OF GAMEWEEK 37
With six clean sheets in their last 12 matches, Crystal Palace boast one of the division’s form defences. They also have two fixtures in Double Gameweek 37 and have an in-form, penalty-taking talisman – Wilfried Zaha (£6.8m) – who has scored eight goals in his last 13 appearances.
One small problem, like Villa, is rotation. Comfortably safe in mid-table, Patrick Vieira has repeatedly pledged to take a look at squad and academy players in the run-in. He made another five starting XI changes on Saturday, with Jean-Philippe Mateta (£5.3m) among those missing out.
Only four of their players have started all six fixtures since the international break:
Zaha has mostly been rotation-proof at least (his benching in Gameweek 35 was attributed to the after-effects of a physical battle against Leeds), while the defence hasn’t changed too much – although that’s not to say that Vieira won’t take a look at other options in the run-in. A potential injury to Guehi may also affect Palace’s clean sheet prospects.
BURNLEY DOWN BOTH FIRST-CHOICE CENTRE-HALVES IN GAMEWEEK 37?
As mentioned in the injuries and bans section above, Burnley saw Tarkowski hobble off with hamstring discomfort on Saturday.
Already without their other first-choice centre-half, Ben Mee (£4.6m), the Clarets now face the prospect of fielding reserve stoppers Kevin Long (£4.0m) and Nathan Collins (£4.3m) together in Gameweek 37 if Tarkowski is ruled out.
That’ll pique the interest of owners of Spurs attackers ahead of their clash with Mike Jackson’s side on Sunday, as well as Villa’s forward players for the swift rematch next Thursday.
Above: Despite sitting near the top of our Season Ticker over their last six matches and being the only club to avoid any of the ‘big six’, Burnley are at the wrong end of the table for expected goals conceded (xGC) in that time.
HOW THE SINGLE GAMEWEEKERS FARED
The Fantasy equivalent of a Partridge shrug, four of the six clubs who don’t have a double in Gameweeks 36 or 37 met on Saturday.
All four sides also have little meaningful left to play for in the Premier League but the problem with the ‘on the beach’ argument has been laid bare by these clubs’ contrasting form.
If Brentford and Brighton are at the seaside, they’re liberated and having a whale of a time in the process. United and Southampton meanwhile are scratching their arses down on the shingle, plodding back to their B&Bs with sunstroke-and-San Miguel headaches.
United don’t even have a match in Gameweek 37 and have now disappeared completely from the FPL radar, while Southampton look like a team to really attack next Tuesday when Liverpool come calling to St Mary’s. We’ll have the benefit of seeing the teamsheets and minutes from the FA Cup final ahead of Sunday’s deadline, too, to cement our picks from Klopp’s troops.
Saints have conceded more goals, expected goals (xGC) and big chances than any other side from Gameweek 28 onwards, with a booed-off Ralph Hasenhuttl sounding deflated after Brentford’s win on Saturday.
“We were simply not good enough. When you defend like this, against a team like this in the Premier League you are not able to win games, that’s for sure.” – Ralph Hasenhuttl
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