Leicester City v Arsenal gets the Scout Notes treatment as we assess the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Gameweek 25.
The numbers and graphics you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can access Opta player and team data for every single Premier League fixture.
TROSSARD’S IMPACT ON MARTINELLI + NKETIAH
Gabriel Martinelli (£6.5m) returned to the Arsenal XI on Saturday but it was Eddie Nketiah (£6.8m), and not Leandro Trossard (£6.6m), who made way to accommodate him.
While Nketiah’s benching may partly have been a result of game-time management after a succession of 90-minute run-outs, Trossard’s very good performance as the spearhead of the Arsenal frontline would have unnerved the forward’s owners.
The Belgian was the pick of the Arsenal attackers at the King Power Stadium, seeing a superb goal of his own chalked off by the VAR before his clever pass teed up Martinelli for the game’s only goal.
Arteta’s glowing comments below highlighted Trossard’s work in the “tight spaces”, something that the Gunners will almost surely encounter again on Wednesday night when Everton come calling to the Emirates. Nketiah, then, is by no means a certainty to return to the starting XI in midweek, especially as Arsenal struggled to break down Sean Dyche’s side in the reverse fixture three weeks ago.
“He did really well. I think he was really good. I think he got involved in many situations that could have ended up in many more big chances, he was involved in the incredible goal that he scored that was disallowed, involved in the goal of Gabi [Martinelli], the pass that he played to him. He’s so good in small spaces, tight spaces, with his creativity to open people up and I’m really happy with him.
“We had the option to play Gabi as a nine and Leo on the left, we had to see how the game developed and what Leicester wanted to do. I wanted to have that option from midfield to make that change if necessary, and it was great because I think his contribution was really good.” – Mikel Arteta on Leandro Trossard
It wasn’t just Martinelli’s game-time that benefitted from Trossard being up top.
There is a strong theory that the young Brazilian has missed the presence of Gabriel Jesus (£7.9m), as his fellow countryman tended to gravitate towards the left flank more and allow Martinelli the opportunity to come inside, closer to the goal.
Nketiah is less of a ‘drifter’, by contrast, but Trossard’s performance as the tip of the Arsenal attack was more in the Jesus vein, with him and Martinelli interchanging on occasion.
It’s too early to be proclaiming this the return of the early-season Martinelli – he stank the place out in the first half at Leicester – but the outlook looks less bleak than it did a couple of weeks ago, while Jesus himself will return from injury soon.
“[Martinelli’s performance] was really important for him as well, sometimes you have to give someone a breather to come back with more enthusiasm and more energy, he contributed with a fantastic goal that gives us the win, and with his [new] contract, delighted because we’ve been working for a while on that and we want to keep our best players with us, he committed to what we are doing as a club.” – Mikel Arteta
Bukayo Saka (£8.5m) and Martin Odegaard (£7.0m) had relatively quiet days by contrast, with Saka denied a goal by a marginal offside flag, but home comforts await on Wednesday night. Saka in particular has been more dangerous at the Emirates: his minutes-per-expected-goal-involvement (xGI) figure on his own turf is 113.7, compared to 308.6 on the road.
NO MADDISON, NO GOALS
In the five post-restart matches that James Maddison (£8.0m) has missed, Leicester have scored just once.
Things reached a nadir on Saturday as the Foxes managed an expected goals (xG) total of just 0.02 against the league leaders, with this figure reported even lower elsewhere.
The Gameweek 25 display might not have been transformed by the presence their talisman, as there was a similar backs-to-the-wall performance with Maddison in the side agaist Manchester City in Gameweek 14, but you’re of course going to miss a player who has contributed 35 attacking returns in his last 36 Premier League starts.
“He’s one of the best players in the league and when you don’t have him, it makes a difference, but whether he plays or not, we have to find ways to win games and show more moments of quality.
“We can’t just rely on him to be the catalyst all the time for everything. We have to do the basics much better and retain control of the ball. That then allows you to create. But if you keep giving the ball away, then you’re never going to be up there creating opportunities.” – Brendan Rodgers on James Maddison
Despite being flagged as a doubt for this fixture because of ongoing knee issues, Maddison actually missed this game through illness.
“I haven’t heard any more. He had a bug during the night and the doctor told him to stay away. So hopefully he will be okay.” – Brendan Rodgers on James Maddison
After the four-goal victories over Villa and Spurs and the excitement generated over cut-price FPL assets like Kelechi Iheanacho (£6.2m) and Tete (£5.5m), Leicester have been slightly brought back down to earth over the last two Gameweeks.
But bear in mind that they’ve just faced two of the division’s more competent defences, and they certainly gave Manchester United a scare last weekend.
More favourable tests await, including an enticing-looking Double Gameweek 29, and the hope from a Fantasy perspective would be that the Foxes are eliminated in the FA Cup in midweek – a less-than-likely prospect, with Championship side Blackburn Rovers providing the opposition, but a scenario that would give Rodgers’ troops guaranteed fixtures in Blank Gameweeks 28 and 32 and propel them even further up the watchlist.