The Fantasy Premier League (FPL) headlines from Burnley v Chelsea and Luton Town v Tottenham Hotspur are covered in our first Scout Notes article of Gameweek 8.
SON SUBBED AGAIN
The curse of the ‘most-bought player’ struck again at Kenilworth Road as Son Heung-min (£9.4m) drew a blank in the lunchtime kick-off.
Transferred in by just shy of 1.5 million FPL teams, Son watched on as James Maddison (£8.0m) and goalscorer Micky van der Ven (£4.5m) combined for the only goal of the match.
This was the sixth time in seven Gameweeks that the most-bought player has failed to deliver an attacking return.
Who knows what would have happened had Yves Bissouma (£5.0m) not been dismissed for a moment of madness on the stroke of half-time, a Greg Louganis impression resulting in his second booking of the match.
It was mostly backs-to-the-wall stuff for the Lilywhites after that, depriving Son and co of the chance to run riot a la Burnley in Gameweek 4.
And they had been creating plenty before Bissouma’s swan dive, racking up around 1.7 expected goals (xG) and hitting double figures for shots in the first half.
Richarlison (£6.7m) and Pedro Porro (£5.1m) missed glaring chances, the latter of which was carved by Son. The South Korea international fluffed a couple of presentable opportunities himself.
So the circumstances of this blank can be chalked up as ‘one of those days’ but of more concern is yet another withdrawal around the 70-minute mark. Ange Postecoglou hooked Son in Gameweeks 5 and 7 when Spurs were chasing victories, suggesting it’s not just the course of the match that dictates when he can be given a breather.
The player himself was asked about his fitness after full-time, downplaying the concerns but also hinting that he has been playing through the pain barrier to some extent.
“We’re all good, we’re all good. Footballers, I think everyone has pain. Sometimes you’ve just got to do it and play for your team, also for your team-mates.
“We are all good, we are all fine.” – Son Heung-min when asked about his and James Maddison’s fitness
It’s not often the FPL bonus points reflect who actually played the best in a particular game but the top honours going to van der Ven and Cristian Romero (£4.8m) was fair enough this time.
Postecoglou has named the same back four in each of the last seven Gameweeks, with Porro and Destiny Udogie (£4.9m) attracting the FPL interest because of their attacking threat.
The Spurs boss hailed the importance of having Romero alongside them, and keeping the two centre-halves fit is going to be crucial for clean sheet prospects as there is very little waiting in reserve.
“They’ve been great all year, both of them, the whole back four and Vic. I think a big part of that is Romero because when you look at it, it’s Destiny’s first year in the Premier League, Micky’s first year in the Premier League, Vic’s first year and Porro just beginning his Premier League career, but they’ve got a World Cup winner beside them and I think he makes them feel like they belong. They feel really comfortable having him beside them and you can see them flourish.
“Micky was outstanding today with the way he dealt with it. We knew when playing here against Luton we would have to deal with a lot of long balls and physicality, but you know Micky has outstanding physical qualities but he’s also maturing and learning as a player as well.” – Ange Postecoglou
It has to be said that Spurs rank only mid-table for expected goals conceded (xGC) and many other defensive metrics this season, although they have faced Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and a then-in-good-shape Brentford.
They certainly rode their luck against Luton, with Elijah Adebayo (£4.8m) missing the best of the Hatters’ chances.
Following their ‘double’ in Gameweek 7, Luton are completely off the FPL menu now as they sit bottom of the Season Ticker for fixture difficulty over the next 10 Gameweeks.
Defender Alfie Doughty (£4.4m) continues to produce eye-catching attacking figures amid the dearth of clean sheets: another two shots and as many chances created came against Spurs.
Issa Kabore (£4.0m) meanwhile lost his place, with Rob Edwards initially opting for Reece Burke (£4.0m) at right-back in a back four and opting not to bring Kabore on even when switching to the usual wing-back system.
THE STERLING SHOW
It was the Raheem Sterling (£7.0m) show at Turf Moor as the former Liverpool and Manchester City winger had one of his good days.
Assisting Chelsea’s first two goals and scoring their third, he was also instrumental in the build-up to Nicolas Jackson‘s (£6.9m) result-sealing fourth goal.
Sterling was excellent throughout, going close with two other shots before he forced Ameen Al-Dakhil (£4.0m) into putting the ball into his own net.
Cynics will point out that all six of his attacking returns have arrived against two of the three newly promoted clubs, and he was certainly given a helping hand by Vincent Kompany giving Vitinho (£4.4m) a surprise run-out at right-back.
FPL is a cruel mistress at times and there’ll be plenty of managers out there who offloaded Sterling for Son, not just because of the latter’s fixture but because there were doubts that Sterling would even start.
“He is fully recovered now but we felt we shouldn’t take a risk with him, so he starts on the bench with the potential to come on and make an impact for us.” – Mauricio Pochettino on why he benched Mykhailo Mudryk, who suffered a minor quad injury last Monday, and recalled Raheem Sterling
The consolation is that, if you pay any heed to fixture difficulty, you’re probably not going to want Sterling back for a while.
Chelsea have arguably the worst run of matches in the division in Gameweks 9-15, only facing sides that finished in the top nine last season:
PALMER ON PENS?
But while Sterling has too many mid-price positional rivals in FPL with superior fixtures, a budget-friendly Cole Palmer (£4.9m) is a benchable fifth midfielder for any Fantasy manager using a 3-4-3.
Assists are perhaps more likely than goals with the probing, ball-carrying Palmer, as this was his second successive start in which he has failed to have a single open-play shot inside the opposition box.
But he’s playing in the front three for a big-six club (can you even call Chelsea that now?), and there aren’t many other sub-£5.0m midfielders who are able to say that.
We’ve yet to mention the best part: he may be on penalties.
It was Palmer who took Chelsea’s spot-kick on Saturday, despite Sterling winning it (we have seen previously at City how keen he is to get his hands on a penalty) and previous taker Enzo Fernandez (£4.9m) being on the field.
Christopher Nkunku (£7.3m) and maybe even Reece James (£5.3m) may have something to say when they return, of course, and there was an irritating lack of post-match confirmation from Pochettino or anyone else over whether Palmer is definitely first in line.
One word of caution: Football London reported that Palmer was seen in some muscular discomfort before being withdrawn.
There was another sub-£5.0m attacker in Chelsea’s starting XI in the shape of Armando Broja (£4.9m) but he was a lumbering presence and the Blues looked much better for the more mobile Jackson being on the field.
The Blues now welcome back the likes of James, Malo Gusto (£4.2m), Benoit Badiashile (£4.4m) and Trevoh Chalobah (£4.3m) after the international break, so competition is about to heat up at the back.
FOSTER IN FORM, BEYER UPDATE
Speaking of forwards in the £5.0m range, Lyle Foster (£5.0m) is ticking over nicely.
Foster set up winger Wilson Odobert (£5.0m) for Burnley’s opener, claiming his fifth attacking return in six starts.
He’s averaging 5.2 points per match this season, a mean inferior to only three other FPL forwards.
The underlying numbers are poor, it has to be said: a minutes-per-shot average of 51.7 is more akin to a central midfielder than a line-leading striker.
But he and the Clarets have had a mostly awful run of opening fixtures, and you’d expect those numbers to improve given the matches that now lie in wait:
As a third forward who can be called on in an emergency, if FPL budget allows, there are few better picks through till Christmas.
Kompany could perhaps be accused of doing a Pep and overthinking his team selection for this game, making four changes to a winning side.
While it started well with an Odobert goal, the decision to start Vitinho in particular was a head-scratcher.
Kompany didn’t have a choice when it came to dropping Jordan Beyer (£4.0m), however.
“It’s an injury. Jordan is injured. That’s unfortunate for us and comes at a bad time.
“The other changes, we had a lot of things that flagged up during the week. We had two tough away games [against Newcastle United and Luton] in quick succession. Then you come here and play against another top side.” – Vincent Kompany
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