Our Scout Notes write-ups of the Gameweek 6 action conclude with the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from four more of Saturday’s fixtures.
Here we’re covering the matches involving Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as Brentford v Leeds United.
The numbers 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.
EVERTON 0-0 LIVERPOOL
Most FPL managers’ thoughts were focused on Antonio Conte and his wing-backs when the introduction of five substitutes was announced for the start of 2022/23, but Jurgen Klopp has been wreaking havoc with the additional changes from an FPL perspective.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m) was agonisingly hooked after 58 minutes in the Merseyside derby, while Andrew Robertson (£6.8m) had been substituted off in each of the four preceding Gameweeks and was demoted to the bench for the Saturday lunchtime fixture. The Scot was then introduced for the final half hour of the draw with Everton, with the two premium defenders somehow emerging from Liverpool’s second clean sheet of the season with one point apiece.
The visit of goal-shy Wolverhampton Wanderers next weekend – not to mention Alexander-Arnold still being the top defender for expected goal involvement (xGI) in 2022/23 – is an obvious incentive to ‘hold’ but price drops for both full-backs will likely happen this week, while there may be more nervous glancing of watches in Gameweek 7 when the clock ticks towards 60 minutes.
“We have to [manage his minutes], where can we change in the moment with the players coming in and coming back?
“Millie can play in midfield and both full-back positions so we just thought again, like in the last game, it makes sense to bring in fresh legs there. That’s why we decided it like this. Trent is playing all the time, Robbo is playing all the time and from time to time, like we have in the moment, we have alternatives there so that’s why we have to use them. That’s why we have to use them to bring fresh energy on the pitch, pretty much.
“It’s nothing to do with his performance, even when I know Trent can play better than today definitely but it’s nothing to do with that. It’s just we have to get through this period, how it is, because, yes, players are coming back but they have to be reintegrated. We cannot just bring them back to play 90 minutes or whatever, that’s just not possible. That’s why we need to have a look where we can do the changes and give the game a new dynamic again.” – Jurgen Klopp
A double-up on the Liverpool defence certainly looks like a needless investment at present: the Reds may have kept a clean sheet on Saturday but glaring misses from Tom Davies (£4.9m) and Neal Maupay (£6.2m) ought to have spoiled that. Given the form, fixtures, game-time uncertainty and injuries to key midfielders in front of the back four, Robertson at the very least looks dispensable – if not now then definitely from Gameweeks 8-11.
There are questions further forward, too.
Mohamed Salah (£13.0m) waited until the 93rd minute to have his first goal attempt, with a late flurry of shots – one of which hit the post – masking another peripheral display.
“So marginalised by either doubled-up defences or the Reds’ own tactics so far this season, often crowded out and unable to get any opportunities to run in behind the defence.
“Much more build-up focused than finishing so far, which is not exactly utilising his best traits.” – This is Anfield on Mohamed Salah v Everton
The positives: he’s the leading chance creator in the Premier League this season, is getting regular game-time and was averaging 7.0 points per match going into the Merseyside derby, a mean that would have been even greater had he not skied over from two yards against Bournemouth.
The negatives: his current rate of shots (one every 31.8 minutes) is lower than in any of his five previous seasons, he’s got some tricky fixtures coming up and he’s an expensive purchase for someone who has lost his grip as the ‘go-to’ captaincy pick.
“No, it’s not more than other seasons or whatever, I’m not sure what you see there. We want to have Mo there in this position but we want to have Mo, and we always had him, more often in central positions as well. Today especially we wanted to use the boys a bit more centrally, but we didn’t have a lot of time to train obviously. Actually, we only recovered, we spoke a lot about it, I’m not sure I was clear enough in the first half what we wanted.
“In the moments when we played, when Mo dropped or when Lucho dropped after two or three passes they were completely free in between the lines because Darwin kept the last line back with his pure presence and they like to drop pretty early. But we didn’t do that often enough, you are right. I don’t think in the season he is too often wide, maybe today in a few moments yes. But he could have scored again in the last minute pretty much.” – Jurgen Klopp at least on whether Salah is spending more time out wide this season
Salah has been a 90-minute man this season but he and Luis Diaz (£8.2m) – who was inches away from scoring with a shot that hit the post – may also be set to face fresh competition for their places, with Diogo Jota (£8.9m) back from injury in Gameweek 6 and the likely relief on either flank over the coming congested period. Darwin Nunez (£8.9m) also returned to the squad against Everton, meaning that Klopp had his full complement of five attackers for the first time in 2022/23.
Written off by many of us, the Toffees have now drawn each of their last four matches. The oft-derided Jordan Pickford (£4.5m) has much to do with that: he has ‘prevented’ more xG (2.60) than any other goalkeeper this season.
Maupay meanwhile was straight into the thick of things after his recent move, matching Darwin for shots in the box (give). True to form, all of them were spurned.
Everton XI: Pickford; Patterson, Coady, Tarkowski, Mykolenko; Davies (Gueye 62), Onana, Iwobi; Gray, Maupey, Gordon (McNeil 82).
Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Milner 59), Gomez, Van Dijk, Tsimikas (Robertson 59); Elliott (Matip 80), Fabinho, Carvalho (Firmino 46); Salah, Nunez (Jota 80), Diaz.
ASTON VILLA 1-1 MANCHESTER CITY
Not many of us would have seen this result coming, given the form of both sides going into this fixture, but Erling Haaland‘s (£12.0m) opening goal was seemingly inevitable.
For the third time in four matches, City didn’t have a shot on target in the first half. But Haaland once again rescued FPL points from anonymity with a predatory strike, ably assisted by yet another pinpoint Kevin De Bruyne (£12.2m) cross.
There’s not much left we can write on Haaland after his back-to-back trebles, with the Norwegian now co-boasting the record for fastest to 10 goals in a Premier League season. He avoided rotation yet again to keep up his ever-present record in the English top flight, while his xGI for the season is now 2.25 clear of anyone else.
Now let’s see what he can do against the side who have conceded the fewest ‘big chances’ in 2022/23 to date, Tottenham Hotspur.
City’s defence lost a clean sheet for the third time in four Gameweeks and while some of the defending hasn’t been stellar in that period, they have somehow contrived to concede six goals from a league-best nine shots on target. Villa’s equaliser on Saturday certainly come out of the blue, with Leon Bailey (£4.7fm) sweeping home one of just three shots the hosts had all game. It’s a relatively lean patch for the Citizens at the back but given the troubles of Chelsea and Liverpool, they’re still probably the best defensive side in the Premier League and a string of shut-outs are a matter of when and not if.
Both sides lost a right-back apiece to injury on Saturday, with assessments set to take place this week. Walker isn’t part of City’s squad for their trip to Sevilla on Tuesday.
“He had some problems in the first half and in the second and he could not continue. We will see how he is. I didn’t speak to the doctors.” – Pep Guardiola on Kyle Walker
“Cashy’s got a hamstring situation. We’ll check it out in the next couple of days. He’ll have an MRI scan.” – Steven Gerrard on Matthew Cash
Rotation at City may also be about to kick in a bit more, meanwhile, with the fit-again Jack Grealish (£6.8m) and Nathan Ake (£5.0m) back on the bench at the weekend and Manuel Akanji (£5.0m) now an option from at centre-half. Phil Foden (£8.0m), Ruben Dias (£6.0m) and John Stones (£5.4m) would be the obvious players in danger.
As for Villa, Bailey underscored why he’s again one of, if not the, best £5.0m-and-under midfielder when he’s on the pitch. The last part of that sentence is key: he’s just completed back-to-back 90-minute run-outs but we’re learning from experience that Steven Gerrard tailors his front three to the opposition, so there are no guarantees that the Jamaica international gets the nod against Leicester in Gameweek 7.
Aston Villa XI: Martínez, Digne, Mings, Cash (Young 27′), Konsa, Ramsey, McGinn (Coutinho 65′), Bailey (Buendía 91′), Kamara, Luiz, Watkins.
Manchester City XI: Ederson, Stones, Cancelo, Dias, Walker (Aké 80′), De Bruyne, Rodri, Gündogan, Silva (Mahrez 73′), Foden, Haaland.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2-1 FULHAM
The inevitable rotation happened at Spurs this weekend, with Ivan Perisic (£5.6m) and Dejan Kulusevski (£8.1m) the key losers from a Fantasy perspective. Those two semi-popular FPL buys were among five players dropped to the bench by Antonio Conte, emerging late in the game to bank miserable one-pointers.
What made it worse was that the two players who took their places on Saturday, Ryan Sessegnon (£4.5m) and Richarlison (£8.5m), delivered excellent performances, banking an assist apiece. No player in any position could better Sessegnon’s tally of six shots in Gameweek 6, while Richarlison contributed four chances created.
The Brazilian was praised after the game by his manager, who reminded us that it won’t just be Kulusevski whose game-time he eats into.
“For me, he played in an amazing way, honestly, honestly.
“Richy played really well and in this way, I’m also more relaxed. Because when you play every three days sometimes you need to give a bit of rest. And today I decided to give a rest to Deki [Dejan Kulusevski]. You know that Deki is having fantastic performances for us.
“I’m using him in all the three positions in the front. A number 9 and number 10 on the right or the left. In the previous game he played in Son’s position and today he played in Deki’s position today. I’m not surprised but I enjoyed the fact he worked a lot to understand our ideas quickly.” – Antonio Conte on Richarlison
Son Heung-min (£11.7m) was improved and only a crossbar away from breaking his 2022/23 goal drought, bettering his two strike partners for both goal attempts and chances created.
“This is a period. I continue to tell you I am not worried because when I see this type of performance from my players, Sonny included, I am not worried. I know they are going to score many goals with these strikers.” – Antonio Conte
Harry Kane (£11.4m) can’t stop scoring, by contrast. Six attacking returns have arrived in the last five Gameweeks, while he has now found the back of the net on 21 occasions in his last 24 league appearances under Antonio Conte.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.8m) is keeping pace with Kane and bettering so many more expensive options with his early-season purple patch, meanwhile. He has now scored against some of the division’s better backlines in the form of Liverpool, Arsenal, Brighton and Spurs, with plenty of easier-on-paper tests to come from Gameweek 8 onwards.
His current shot-to-goal conversion rate of 22.2% is considerably above what he was managing in his previous two top-flight spells with Fulham, just to place a caveat over his current output, but it’s similarly worth stressing that he’s playing under a more attack-minded manager than he did in his previous stint under Scott Parker. Mitrovic, indeed, has had even more shots than Haaland, as well as every other Premier League player, this season.
“If you play better as a team, he’ll have more chances to score goals. If you deliver for him and are more dynamic, he has the chance to be even more dangerous. It was good to see that we at least fought until the end and we believed that we could equalise late on against a strong side.” – Marco Silva on Aleksandar Mitrovic
Spurs XI: Lloris, Royal, Romero, Dier, Lenglet, Sessegnon, Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Richarlison, Son (Perisic 84), Kane (Kulusevski 78).
Fulham XI: Leno, Tete, Adarabioyo, Ream, Robinson (Mbabu 29), Reed, Palhinha (Vinicius 85), De Cordova-Reid (James 61), Pereira (Cairney 61), Kebano (Willian 60), Mitrovic.
BRENTFORD 5-2 LEEDS UNITED
Only Manchester City have scored more Premier League goals than Brentford this season, with the reigning champions also the only side to better the Bees’ ‘big chances’ tally.
They’ve had a fairly favourable start to 2022/23 on the fixture front, which partly explains that goal bonanza, but it’s also worth pointing out the more attacking tactics that Thomas Frank implemented towards the end of last season.
Out went the more defensive 3-5-2, saved only for matches against the ‘big six’, and in came the 4-3-3.
A total of 36 goals have been scored in the 17 matches since, which is better than two per game.
Eleven of them have been scored by Ivan Toney (£7.2m), with two hat-tricks accounting for more than half of that total.
His latest treble was a collector’s item, consisting of a penalty, a free-kick and a 30-yard chip after a defensive error – there won’t be many matches in which the stars align as perfectly as they did on Saturday, or when the defences are as calamitous as that of Leeds, while Toney’s 33.3% goal conversion rate in 2022/23 almost certainly won’t last.
But what Toney (and Mitrovic) does offer as we approach a busy autumnal period in which all and sundry are getting rotated or having their minutes managed, is the reliability of appearances. Not substituted once in 2021/22, he’s also the only forward to start and last all six of his side’s Premier League matches in the current campaign.
We can now add free-kicks to his selling points, as well as penalties and a ‘nailed’ status.
“The free-kick, obviously, wow. It’s something he’s been working on and he’s been saying he wants to take more free-kicks, so I’ve told him he needs to practice. He has started practising and it’s a classic Ivan goal where he shows his fantastic technique, you notice how well he connects with the ball with his right and left foot, but also his cleverness to put it to the keeper’s side.” – Thomas Frank
Both defences on show in west London continued to look a bit exposed: despite being near the top of the Season Ticker for the first six Gameweeks, the two sides have just one clean sheet each.
Brentford and Leeds are sixth and seventh for xG at the other end of the pitch, however, and Luis Sinisterra (£6.5m) is the latest mid-price midfielder to catch the eye from Jesse Marsch’s squad in 2022/23. He made it back-to-back goals with a well-taken shot from outside the area, although match-fitness is a work in progress at present and he’s been hooked on the hour-mark in both of his league starts this season.
“At half-time I could see was tired after a full week but we wanted to keep him on the pitch to see if we could make one or two more plays. Even at 2-1, we were pushing the game but I was trying to think how soon to get fresh legs on the pitch and then it goes to 3-1 on a very strange play again.” – Jesse Marsch on Luis Sinisterra
Brentford XI: Raya, Hickey, Jansson, Mee, Henry, Jensen (Damsgaard 83), Baptiste (Onyenka 59), Janelt (Zanka 67), Mbeumo (Wissa 83), Lewis-Potter (Dasilva 59), Toney.
Leeds United XI: Meslier, Drameh (Ayling 70), Koch, Llorente, Struijk, Roca (Greenwood 86), Adams, Sinisterra (Summerville 59), Harrison (Bamford 45), Aaronson, Gelhardt (Klich 59).