Our recap of the weekend’s Fantasy Premier League (FPL) action concludes with some takeaways from three more of Saturday’s fixtures.
Everton v Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers v Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest v Manchester City are the games in question.
The numbers and graphics you see in this Scout Notes article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can access Opta player and team data for every single Premier League fixture.
BUDGET DEFENDER WATCH
Above: Top 10k ownership figures, via LiveFPL
With four Premier League teams blanking in Gameweek 25, many FPL managers will be calling upon the players they usually bench in order to get something near a full XI out.
Two of the most popular budget defenders among active Fantasy bosses are Hugo Bueno (£3.9m) and Nathan Patterson (£3.9m), both of whom ‘double’ in Gameweek 25.
But there are no guarantees that either player will get two starts in the upcoming Gameweek, with Patterson perhaps struggling to get any minutes at all.
The young Everton defender made a timely return from injury for Everton under-21s on Friday, lasting an hour as planned.
“The aim at the beginning of the night was to get them minutes and for them to come through unscathed and we achieved that.” – Everton under-21 coach Paul Tait on Nathan Patterson and James Garner’s involvement on Friday
So with Patterson nearing full fitness, what owners needed next was a Gameweek 24 injury or disasterclass from positional rival Seamus Coleman (£4.4m). They got neither.
Coleman not only was part of an Everton defence that kept their second clean sheet in three games but he also nullified the exciting Wilfried Gnonto (£5.0m) – and scored!
Given Sean Dyche’s historic record for keeping his defence unchanged unless things are going disastrously, Patterson isn’t about to force his way into the starting XI unless injury hits. Even worse, Dyche tends not to make in-game changes at full-back – during the whole of the 2020/21 season (his last full campaign at Burnley), he didn’t make a single unenforced substitution at full-back.
“A fantastic pro that he is, he gets forward when he can, and with his experience, he makes a good decision. The finish is sublime. The way he struck it looks like a shot, and it’s a sublime finish.
“There’s no question about his professionalism and what he means to Evertonians. The way he goes about his business, and the way he trains; he’s still got that edge. That’s a big thing for me. You saw it today.
“Gnonto’s been playing very well for them, and he shut him down very quickly.
“He’s used to playing in this stadium, so his calmness is important as well.” – Sean Dyche on Seamus Coleman
Bueno’s Double Gameweek 25 game-time prospects look brighter but Saturday was another reminder that he and Rayan Ait-Nouri (£4.2m) are probably going to keep eating into each other’s minutes.
Bueno did regain his place in the starting XI at the weekend but he hasn’t lasted 90 minutes in any of Julen Lopetegui’s Premier League matches in charge and barely made it to the hour mark against Bournemouth before Ait-Nouri was introduced, presumably to provide more attacking threat.
Bueno being seen as the more defensively competent of the two perhaps aids his chances ahead of two tricky away fixtures but there is a curious narrative floating about that Ait-Nouri, despite his deficiencies, is a Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) ‘specialist’, having twice pocketed him in previous meetings – including as recently as Gameweek 22.
Everton go into Double Gameweek 25 with a bit of positivity after two wins from three games but Wolves had their own momentum stalled in surprising fashion when Bournemouth came away from Molineux with all three points on Saturday.
We’ll be covering Everton and Wolves in more detail in a Scouting the Doubles piece but it’s probably fair to say that defensive options from these two clubs will be more in demand, given that no side has scored on fewer occasions (17 each) in 2022/23.
Saturday was a reminder that neither side has a potent scorer available for selection, not so long as Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.9m) remains out.
Neal Maupay (£5.9m) battled gamely up top but simply isn’t a Dyche-type of lone striker; four different players have now had minutes up front since the change in manager, including Saturday substitute and Gameweek 23 starter Ellis Simms (£4.5m).
As for Wolves, they have three forwards with different skillsets – none of which seems to include putting the ball in the net. Matheus Cunha (£5.5m) didn’t bring a stellar scoring record with him to the West Midlands and he had six shots without success against the Cherries, extending his goalless run to nine appearances in all competitions.
Adama Traore (£5.4m) created four opportunities and was arguably the pick of Wolves’ players on the day, with Craig Dawson (£4.8m) again underscoring his attacking threat with two headed chances.
James Tarkowski (£4.3m) matched Dawson at Goodison Park, bettering everyone else on show for expected goal involvement (xGI):
A word on the other sides involved in these two games: managerless Leeds United failed to score for the fourth time in five matches, while Bournemouth’s own recent upturn in displays and results has seen them concede just three goals in their last four games.
The underlying numbers in those fixtures suggest they’ve been a mite fortunate, which bodes well for Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool over the next three Gameweeks.
Above:Teams sorted by expected goals conceded (xGC) in their last four matches
CITY’S CLEAN SHEET WOES
Manchester City were the latest of nine teams who have failed to take all three points away from the City Ground this season.
Nottingham Forest are in excellent form on their own turf, which is worth bearing in mind if you own Everton or Newcastle United assets ahead of their trips to the East Midlands in Gameweek 26 and 28.
FOREST’S LAST EIGHT HOME MATCHES
Substitute Chris Wood (£5.6m) tapped in the excellent Morgan Gibbs-White‘s (£5.5m) low centre to give Forest a point but this was the latest in a string of City clean sheet busts that have come out of the blue, with post-restart goal concessions to Leeds, Everton and Aston Villa still fresh in the mind.
City have now kept just two clean sheets in their last 12 league games; if you went for Ederson (£5.4m) over Kepa Arrizabalaga (£4.7m) at the unlimited transfers stage, you’re 22 points worse off.
It should be said that the reigning champions still have the best rate of expected goals conceded (xGC) in the entire division during that run, so there’s been an element of bad luck there.
Ruben Dias (£5.9m) and Kyle Walker (£4.8m) have now started the last three City league matches, if anyone is willing to go near the City defensive roulette wheel again…
There were hard-luck stories at the other end of the field. Kevin De Bruyne (£11.7m) and Erling Haaland (£12.2m) were far from their best but somehow blanked from a combined expected goal involvement (xGI) of 1.78, with De Bruyne seeing two glorious chances he created spurned by others and Haaland somehow failing to score from two bites of the cherry midway through the second half.