We’ve already brought you the statistical summary of Wednesday’s Gameweek 5 action but we now turn our attention to the wider Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from last night’s fixtures.
The numbers and graphics you see in this article are from our Premium Members area, where you can access Opta player and team data for every single Premier League fixture.
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MANCHESTER CITY 6-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
Back-to-back hat-tricks and 17-point hauls for Erling Haaland (£11.9m) has catapulted the Norwegian 20 points ahead of any other FPL asset after just five Gameweeks.
It’s a phenomenal start to life in the Premier League and the questions now are over whether he can sustain anything like his current rate of returns and whether he’s now in ‘perma-captain’ territory.
As for the first part, he has scored with 40.9% of his shots in the Premier League so far this season. We simply haven’t seen that conversion rate sustained historically in FPL and even anything above 30% is a rarity.
However, Haaland’s shot-to-goal conversion rates in his last two seasons at Dortmund were still elite-level (27.5% and 29.0%), and even a regression to those numbers and the knowledge that rotation/minor injuries will strike at some stage would still see him comfortably smash the 30-goal mark if the current rate of chances (roughly 4.5 shots per match) continues.
As for ‘perma-captaincy’, we haven’t actually seen City play a big-six team in the league yet, so perhaps the jury is out on that – although Haaland saw chances aplenty against Liverpool in the Community Shield. A benching will come at some point, too.
Will that breather be handed out this weekend against Aston Villa? The outcome of the Forest game was near-perfect for Haaland owners and gives him a further chance at extended minutes in Gameweek 6, as he scored a hat-trick early enough to be taken off after 68 minutes on Wednesday.
“I don’t want him to get injured so I substitute him, otherwise he play 90 minutes, 90 minutes and would score more goals, I am pretty sure of it.” – Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland
Positional rival Julian Alvarez (£6.2m) also played the full game, operating behind the Norwegian in attack and scoring a brace on his full competitive debut.
This tactical switch meant that Ilkay Gundogan (£7.6m) played a bit deeper, failing to register a single penalty box touch all game. Given Guardiola’s horses-for-courses selections during his tenure at City, don’t be surprised to see the German back involved in the opposition area the next time he takes to the field.
Above: Man City’s average position map in Gameweek 6
“Erling is our first No.9, but in games where teams defend deep, to have the two guys there with an incredible smell to score goals is so important. Julian deserves everything. The work ethic always pays off.” – Pep Guardiola
One name we can be confident of starting this weekend is Kevin De Bruyne (£12.2m), who was handed one of his rare rests at the Etihad.
As for Forest, it’s a defeat to be brushed under the rug as the good stuff starts now:
Even in an away match at the Etihad, Neco Williams (£4.1m) caught the eye: the budget defender supplied three key passes on Wednesday, including a big chance that debutant Renan Lodi (£4.5m) spurned at the back post.
Williams is remarkably now second among all FPL defenders for chances created in 2022/23, as well as first for goal attempts.
Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Rúben Dias, Stones (Lewis, 87’) Cancelo (Sergio Gómez, 68’), Rodrigo (Palmer, 55’), Gündogan, Bernardo, Julián Álvarez, Foden (Mahrez, 55’), Haaland (De Bruyne, 68’).
Nottingham Forest XI: Henderson, Williams, Worrall, Kouyaté (Biancone, 79’) McKenna, Lodi (Toffolo, 69’), Freuler, Yates (Colback, 69’), O’Brien, Johnson (Awoniyi, 58’), Gibbs-White (Dennis, 58’)
LIVERPOOL 2-1 NEWCASTLE UNITED
A brace of assists for Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) on Wednesday means that the Egyptian now has five attacking returns in as many Gameweeks, averaging a healthy 7.0 points per match in 2022/23 to date.
While analysis continues on his role in an evolving Liverpool attack, the main thing that’s ‘wrong’ with Salah in FPL at present is that Erling Haaland is doing so much better. In a sliding-doors season in which the Norwegian didn’t sign for City, 35 points after five Gameweeks would be seen as a solid-enough start from Salah and indeed one point better than where he was at after five matches of his record-busting 2017/18 campaign.
His non-penalty xG (2.37) is even identical to what it was after Gameweek 5 of 2021/22.
Now, with Haaland hoovering up the points further along the M62, Fantasy fingers are getting twitchy: despite Wednesday’s double-digit haul, Salah has already suffered a net loss of 100,000 owners ahead of Gameweek 6.
Haaland looks set to become a staple of a two-premium squad and will probably be captained more weeks than not by many of us, which does beg the question of how much value Salah offers if he hasn’t got the armband.
At the moment, he does have the advantage of ‘expected minutes’ over Haaland, plus two decent fixtures against Everton and Wolves up next. Many of us FPL owners wouldn’t know what to spend the extra money on, either, unless it was a sideways switch to Kevin De Bruyne.
Gameweek 8-11 might be a different story, as Liverpool have an unfavourable run of games:
He’s been written off on multiple occasions in FPL before, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Salah wrestle his way out of this crisis of Fantasy manager confidence.
Outside of Salah, it was a disappointing evening for owners of Liverpool players with the Reds failing to keep a clean sheet for the fourth time in five games. Andrew Robertson (£6.8m) has already dropped in price, while Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) might himself lose value by the time Saturday’s deadline comes around. Robertson was here substituted for the fourth straight match, although the early withdrawals for both Liverpool full-backs might actually be a good thing for their Gameweek 6 match-time prospects.
Luis Diaz (£8.2m) meanwhile had four shots in the box to Salah’s one but couldn’t add to his previous Anfield hauls, skying over his best chance after rounding Nick Pope (£5.0m).
Newcastle were understrength for this fixture but showed far they have come under Eddie Howe (and his dark time-wasting arts) with a stubborn display.
Taking the headlines was new striker Alexander Isak (£7.0m), who not only lashed home a debut goal but also finished superbly for a second strike that was ruled out by the tightest of offside calls.
He looks a real prospect for Newcastle’s favourable upcoming fixture run but a fitness check will need to be made before Gameweek 6.
“Alex picked up a slight dead leg. He was limping a bit in the second half. That’s why we withdrew him.
“The finish, and his overall performance, was very good. Really, really pleased with his tactical discipline as well, and how he played off the ball. He gave us that pace in behind, that threat that good teams need. He showed great composure and technique for both goals.” – Eddie Howe on Alexander Isak
Newcastle United XI: Pope, Trippier, Lascelles, Burn, Targett, S.Longstaff, Willock, Joelinton, Almiron (Anderson 84), Isak (Wood 64), Fraser (Murphy 64).
Liverpool XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold (Carvalho 71), Gomez. Van Dijk, Robertson (Tsimikas 71), Henderson (Milner 71), Fabinho, Elliott, Salah, Firmino, Diaz.
ARSENAL 2-1 ASTON VILLA
Arsenal are top of the Premier League table with the only 100% record in the division but their last two wins have come at a cost.
After being able to name an unchanged side in the first three Gameweeks, Mikel Arteta has been forced into a handful of starting XI changes in the last two matches due to injuries.
Two more Gunners were added to the list of walking wounded on Wednesday, with Martin Odegaard (£6.6m) limping off with a knock and Aaron Ramsdale (£5.0m) needing treatment on a muscular issue before finishing the game.
“[Odegaard] got a bad kick, and he was struggling. It was very recent so we’ll have to see over the next few hours how he recovers.
“I think [Ramsdale] felt something, I don’t know what exactly. He managed to finish the game but he’s another we’ll have to assess.
“Not good news [on Elneny], we still need him to see our specialist but I’m afraid we’re going to lose Mo for a while.
“[Partey] is going to be out for a while but we don’t know how long that period is going to be. Obviously, it’s not the first injury that he’s had in that area so it is a recurring injury, so it’s one for the doctors to put a timeline on it and see how he goes.” – Mikel Arteta
We’ll get a further injury update from Arteta on Friday.
It was business as usual for the Gunners, who made it five wins from five despite a late scare in which Douglas Luiz (£4.8m) scored direct from corner-kick to undeservedly bring a wretched Aston Villa level.
Gabriel Jesus (£8.2m) and Gabriel Martinelli (£6.4m) continued their fine starts to 2022/23 with a goal apiece, with Martinelli now joint-top among FPL midfielders for goal attempts this season. Bukayo Saka (£7.8m) contributed his third assist in five matches – although it’s now 15 fixtures without a goal from open play for the winger.
Two clean sheets in five matches has been slightly under-par for the Arsenal defence given the fixtures but no side has allowed fewer big chances, with Luiz’s freakish goal following on from three self-inflicted goal concessions in Gameweeks 2 and 4.
Ben White (£4.5m) managed to get off the pitch to bank clean sheet and bonus points before Villa equalised, but Takehiro Tomiyasu’s (£4.3m) return to fitness will have some owners sitting nervously.
“We are really happy that we are loading some minutes into him and he’s responding really well. He’s been training now for weeks without any issues which is the first period he’s been able to do that in the last six or seven months, and you can see the way he played today when he came on – I think he was really good.” – Mikel Arteta on Takehiro Tomiyasu
As for Aston Villa, they are a team you want your other FPL assets to be facing right now, rather than a side offering us any options of their own. It’s Manchester City up next and Villa could well be bottom by the time they face the reigning champions.
With unpredictably of starts in midfield and up top – not one of their attacking midfielders or forwards has lined up in all five matches – and the defence still without a clean sheet, there’s little endearing about the Villans at present.
Arsenal XI: Ramsdale, Gabriel Magalhães, Saliba, Tierney, White (Tomiyasu 64′), Sambi Lokonga, Xhaka, Gabriel Martinelli, Ødegaard (Smith Rowe 81′), Saka (Holding 88′), Gabriel Jesus (Nketiah 88′)
Aston Villa XI: Martínez, Cash, Konsa, Digne, Mings, Kamara (Ings 83′), Ramsey, McGinn (Douglas Luiz 73′), Bailey, Watkins, Buendía (Philippe Coutinho 73′)
WEST HAM UNITED 1-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
There was little joy for owners of Tottenham Hotspur players on a tough night in east London, while the extended game-time of a number of their key FPL assets leaves Gameweek 6 starts in doubt.
Antonio Conte didn’t make any unenforced changes to his starting XI and made only one substitution all evening, replacing Dejan Kulusevski (£8.2m) with Richarlison (£8.5m) after 75 minutes, so rotation looks likely when Fulham come calling this weekend.
“I think at that moment I didn’t want to change the balance of the team. Skippy was the first time with us. He trained with us for only two days, and I wanted to give him the possibility to come on the bench and breath the atmosphere and risk to play because Hojbjerg received a really bad tackle. Then I wanted to make only one change with Richy because in that moment, we needed energy, strong energy.
“In other situations, I prefer to keep the balance in that moment and also because in two (sic) days we have to play against Fulham and for sure I will make rotations. My players know very well, but they are ready, and we are ready to face this many games in a row, in two or three days.” – Antonio Conte
Spurs actually created little of note against the Hammers but there were fine margins for owners of their players: Harry Kane (£11.4m) was denied a penalty after a very long VAR review, Son Heung-min (£11.8m) would have tapped into an empty net had Thilo Kehrer (£4.5m) not bundled Kane’s cross into his own goal, and Ivan Perisic (£5.6m) was in the mix for two bonus points before a stoppage-time booking for dissent left his owners empty-handed.
Perisic and Son are surely two of the leading candidates for a breather in Gameweek 6 given the short turnaround, with Conte well-stocked with wing-backs and Son looking subdued further forward.
Spurs also had the misfortune of encountering a West Ham side at a time when they are slowly starting to kick into life, having lost their first three league matches – something David Moyes mentioned in his post-match presser.
“I was encouraged by what I saw on Sunday, I was encouraged by what I have seen tonight. I have seen us just beginning to get a little bit of rhythm going a little bit, trying to introduce some of the new players.” – David Moyes
Lucas Paqueta (£6.0m) made his debut as a second-half substitute and had a great chance to open his account, only for a mix-up with Emerson Palmieri (£4.0m) to result in neither of them having a shot.
Tomas Soucek (£5.4m) grabbed West Ham’s goal and it wouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to underlying stats fans, as the Czech international sits an impressive joint-eighth among FPL midfielders for shots in the box this season. Is the 2020/21 incarnation of Soucek back? What we do know is that he’s mostly rotation-proof, which is not the case for the players further forward after the Hammers’ summer of spending.
One of the recent acquisitions, Gianluca Scamacca (£7.0m), sat the match out through illness but should be fit for Gameweek 6.
“He was ill. There’s a name for it where your gums and your throat [hurt] and he’s had it since after the Aston Villa game. Wasn’t well and hasn’t trained since then. We’re hoping the antibiotics would have maybe kicked in but they didn’t. With a bit of luck, we will get him back tomorrow and get him started, if his temperature is down, but he wasn’t well.” – David Moyes on Gianluca Scamacca
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianski, Coufal, Kehrer, Zouma, Cresswell (Ogbonna 72), Soucek, Rice, Bowen, Benrahma (Paqueta 67), Fornals (Emerson 85), Antonio.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (3-4-3): Lloris, Royal, Sanchez, Dier, Davies, Perisic, Hojbjerg, Bissouma, Kulusevski (Richarlison 76), Son, Kane.
BOURNEMOUTH 0-0 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
If you’ve just lost 9-0, you couldn’t wish for a more obliging opponent than Wolves in order to settle things down again.
Only the three relegated clubs scored fewer Premier League goals than Bruno Lage’s troops last season, while no side has fewer than Wolves’ two in 2022/23.
There were plenty of openings for the visitors at the Vitality Stadium, with Raul Jimenez (£6.9m) and Daniel Podence (£5.5m) wasting the best of them, but the end result was predictable as chance after chance went begging.
Wolves now haven’t scored from inside the box since Gameweek 1, despite dominating against most of the teams they have played this campaign.
Matheus Nunes (£5.0m) did strike the woodwork here: he’s caught the eye with some advanced positioning since his arrival, registering seven shots in three starts, but any fresh investment in Wolves now looks completely off the table with both form and favourable fixtures lacking.
Pedro Neto (£5.2m), who has suffered three price drops already, looks set to further depreciate in value as a result.
The Cherries’ fixtures are altogether more appealing from now until the World Cup, and indeed they sit top of our Season Ticker from Gameweeks 6-16.
But not many of us will be considering a Bournemouth player until we’ve seen a new manager appointed and sussed out his favoured tactics and personnel, and even then, there are going to be limitations to what this group of players could offer FPL managers.
Neto (£4.5m) replaced Mark Travers (£4.5m) for this fixture, the latter having been between the posts for that 9-0 thumping.
Bournemouth XI: Neto, Smith, Mepham, Kelly, Zemura (Fredericks, 69), Cook, Lerma, Billing (Moore, 77), Tavernier, Solanke, Christie (Anthony, 86)
Wolves XI: Jose Sa, Semedo (Ait-Nouri, 59), Collins, Kilman, Jonny, Nunes (Podence, 74), Neves, Moutinho, Guedes (Traore, 74), Jimenez, Neto.