We round up the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Saturday’s seven Double Gameweek 37 fixtures in our Scout Notes summary.
GOALS, ASSISTS AND BONUS
INJURIES AND BANS
Dejan Kulusevski (£6.3m) was a surprise omission from the teamsheet for Tottenham Hotspur’s narrow win over Burnley, only being named on the substitutes’ bench.
The social media rumour mill had suggested that the Swede had been suffering from illness ahead of the game, something that Antonio Conte ratified after full-time.
“It wasn’t easy because yesterday morning the doctor sent me a message that a few players they felt not well and with a stomach problem, vomiting and also fever. For this reason, Kulusevski didn’t have a training session, also Gollini, also Hugo. He was not in a perfect condition today, also Winksy. Despite this we face the game in the right way and I am so happy because I have seen a team that has improved in many aspects. Now this team is ready to fight in every game.” – Antonio Conte
Ezri Konsa (£4.9m) was forced off in Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace and is now due for an MRI scan, with Steven Gerrard not expecting him to feature in either of the club’s remaining two fixtures.
“We’re concerned about Ezri [Konsa]. Normally, someone like him, doesn’t come off the pitch. We’ll send him off for an MRI scan. He’s got a problem in the knee area. We’ll know in the next 24-48 hours. I’ll be surprised if he plays again this season.” – Steven Gerrard
Crystal Palace will be without Michael Olise (£5.3m) for the remainder of their season after the winger picked up a knock in the lead up to Sunday’s game. The injury means he will now miss the midweek trip to Everton as well as the final game of the season against Manchester United.
Michael Keane (£4.6m), meanwhile, missed out through illness, with Frank Lampard hopeful he will be able to return on Thursday, while Samir (£4.5m) was injured in the warm-up for Watford and was subsequently replaced in the starting XI by Craig Cathcart (£4.2m).
Elsewhere, Aymeric Laporte (£6.0m), Fernandinho (£4.7m), Michail Antonio (£7.4m) and Craig Dawson (£4.9m) made swift returns from injury for Manchester City’s dramatic draw with West Ham United, while Mathias Normann (£4.5m) and Daniel Podence (£5.5m) were unexpectedly back from injury for Norwich City and Wolves – only for the former to reinjure himself.
FPL TALKING POINTS
‘SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR’
For those FPL managers who like their players (and more importantly, the head coaches who select the teams) to have ‘something to play for’, there is reassuringly a lot at stake in Gameweek 38.
The fight for fourth, the battle to avoid the drop, the tussle for the final UEFA Europa League qualifying spot and – if Liverpool win on Tuesday – the title race will all go down to the final day as a result of Saturday’s results.
Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester City, West Ham, Manchester United, Leeds and Burnley are the clubs who will have something tangible to contest, while Everton will be added to that group if they fail to beat Crystal Palace on Thursday.
One thing that now looks unlikely is the destination of the title race being decided by goal difference, which looked a distinct possibility when the Hammers were 2-0 up on City at half-time.
Liverpool would have to get four points from their final two games, and City would have to lose at home to Aston Villa, for that now to happen.
Had goal difference been a factor, we might have seen Jurgen Klopp go all out with a full-strength team at Southampton on Tuesday in a bid to narrow City’s advantage. Now, three points and little more is likely all that matters at St Mary’s.
Son Heung-min (£11.1m) couldn’t continue his purple patch of form on Sunday lunchtime, drawing a blank as Spurs ground out a 1-0 win over Burnley thanks to Harry Kane‘s (£12.4m) controversial penalty.
If we’re looking for some sort of convenient explanatory narrative, we can point to Son and Spurs struggling against the five-man-strong, low-block defences of Brighton, Brentford and Burnley in the last few months and prospering when allowed space to break against Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle, Aston Villa and others.
Even then, though, it took two superb stops from Nick Pope (£5.3m) to deny Son yet another goal in north London, while Kane’s inability to add to his strike from 12 yards was as much to do with his own profligacy – he had six shots in all – as it was Burnley’s rearguard.
Norwich, who set up with a five-man defence in their 1-1 draw with Wolves, might seek to do something similar next weekend but a) have they got competent enough players to replicate what Burnley did and b) would they even want to set up with such a negative mindset on their ‘free hit’ Premier League swansong?
There was more joy at the other end of the field, where Spurs kept their 12th clean sheet in 27 matches under Conte – all but one of which has been recorded against a side sitting ninth or below.
The dirt-cheap Ryan Sessegnon (£4.3m) has blanked in only one of his last five appearances and walked away with two bonus points on Saturday. He has created a remarkable five big chances over the last two Gameweeks, registering 11 penalty box touches in the Burnley game alone.
After a run of 11 successive starts in the Premier League, Phil Foden (£7.9m) – who seemed to be second only to Kevin De Bruyne (£12.0m) for security of starts in the Man City midfield – has now been benched in three of the last five top-flight fixtures.
The performance served up by the teammates selected for duty in east London hopefully does his chances of featuring in Gameweek 38 some good, at least, as the reigning champions salvaged a draw from the jaws of defeat in a disjointed display against West Ham, a performance neatly encapsulated by Riyad Mahrez‘s (£8.6m) late penalty miss.
Faith in the City backline was shaken ahead of the final day, too, as neither Fernandinho nor Laporte looked fully fit at centre-half and West Ham found it all too easy to carve out clear chances with what little of the ball they had – think the Norwich defeat two seasons ago.
Even De Bruyne was quiet in east London following his four-goal heroics in midweek but then this always looked to be City’s toughest test in the run-in. Next week’s opponents, Aston Villa, ought to be more obliging, having picked up just one point from a possible 21 in matches against ‘big six’ opposition under Steven Gerrard.
West Ham assets will likely continue to be an afterthought in Gameweek 38 but it’s again worth heralding Jarrod Bowen (£6.8m), who passed the 200-point mark and moved fourth in the overall FPL standings with a brace against City. Eight attacking returns have arrived in his last six starts, a period in which he has been understandably overlooked due to West Ham’s lack of a ‘double’, taking his tally to a superb 29 for the season.
FOXES TRIO HAUL
James Maddison (£6.9m), Harvey Barnes (£6.5m) and Jamie Vardy (£10.3m) were all on the scoresheet at Vicarage Road on Sunday, as Leicester City swept aside relegated Watford 5-1.
With 15, 16 and 13-point hauls respectively, the trio have got their Gameweek 37 double-headers off to the perfect start, and will head to Chelsea on Thursday full of confidence.
As for Maddison, he is now into double-figures for Premier League goals in 2021/22, his best goalscoring season of his career. Add in 10 assists, and it’s 20 attacking returns for the playmaker – only nine other players have more in FPL.
Meanwhile, after 149 consecutive Premier League starts, Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) was dropped to the bench by Brendan Rodgers to give Danny Ward (£4.0m) a rare start in goal.
“When we came out of Europe and I saw we had five games to play, I had spoken to Kasper [Schmeichel] that I would play him in three of those and play Wardy in two. Wardy was supposed to play today and against Norwich, but he felt his knee for the Wednesday game, so we didn’t want to expose him.” – Brendan Rodgers on starting Ward over Schmeichel
However, despite that goalkeeping change, the Foxes were once again all over the place defending set-pieces, with Joao Pedro’s (£5.4m) opener finding the net after they failed to clear a corner.
“It was another unfortunate deflection from the corner which saw us concede. Our response was outstanding. The hunger and momentum and feeling the game was good for us. It’s how we want to play. We want to be difficult to play against with or without the ball. We did both today.
We’ll definitely be doing something [about their struggles defending set-pieces] come the summer. We’ve tried different structures throughout the season. Too many times we’re not getting first contact. We’ll rectify that. It’s also aggression as well. It’s all about first contact. That’s about the mentality and aggression to get there first.
I thought the attacking part of our game was outstanding. James Maddison’s quality was sensational – his passing, his delivery, work rate was very good. We had that intensity. We were penetrating. We talked before about making more runs in behind.” – Brendan Rodgers
TARGET WATFORD IN GW38
Watford’s home campaign ended with another thrashing on Sunday, in a disappointing final afternoon for Roy Hodgson and his side at Vicarage Road.
Now, they will look to avoid finishing bottom when they travel to Chelsea on the final day of the season, although on Sunday’s evidence, they have already thrown the towel in.
As a result, their defence is certainly one to target in Gameweek 38, with Reece James (£6.4m) emerging as an early differential shout for the armband.
That’s because no team has conceded more chances or crosses from their left-flank than the Hornets in 2022, while they also rank 19th for actual goals conceded, with 40.
DIGNE AND WATKINS COMBINE
Ollie Watkins (£7.5m) was fit to start for Aston Villa against Crystal Palace despite suffering a “small injury” earlier in the week, and netted his 11th Premier League goal of the season in the second-half.
The England international converted his only shot on target from an excellent Lucas Digne (£5.0m) delivery, his second assist in his last three games.
And it was a strong all-round showing from the Frenchman – who also went close to his first Villa goal in stoppage time – as he ended the match with team-leading totals for final-third touches, passes received in the final-third, crosses and chances created.
Above: Lucas Digne’s touch heatmap v Crystal Palace in Double Gameweek 37
EVERTON SEE RED BUT RICHARLISON DELIVERS
The third most-transferred in player for Double Gameweek 37, Richarlison (£7.6m), rewarded his new owners with a goal and assist at Goodison Park on Sunday.
The Brazilian took up a slightly wider role with Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) leading the line, but looked lively throughout, recording match-leading totals for shots in the box, penalty box touches and big chances created.
However, it wasn’t enough to secure the win, with Brentford taking all three points.
Premier League survival is still very much in Everton’s hands with teams below them needing to pick up points and just three points from two games enough to secure survival for the Toffees, but it will mean a few more nervous days ahead.
And they’ll have to do it without some key defenders, too. Frank Lampard’s backline was already stretched with Michael Keane, Yerry Mina (£4.9m) and Ben Godfrey (£4.7m) absent, and they’ll now be without Jarrad Branthwaite (£4.0m) after his first-half red card.
“Hopefully Michael Keane will be back on Thursday. I’m not hopeful of Mina or Godfrey. We had three centre-backs out today. it’s very difficult. Seamus [Coleman] played there. We played a back three at the end. Everyone has given everything.” – Frank Lampard
By Tom Freeman and Neale Rigg
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