We begin our analysis of the Gameweek 32 Fantasy Premier League (FPL) action in our Scout Notes series.
The focus here is on Arsenal v Southampton.
Any numbers you see in this article are taken from our Premium Members Area, where you can access Opta player and team data from every single Premier League fixture.
Gameweek 32 got off to a thrilling start on Friday night as Arsenal fought back to draw 3-3 with Southampton.
There were goals for midfield trio Gabriel Martinelli (£6.9m), Martin Odegaard (£6.7m) and Bukayo Saka (£8.5m), two of whom feature in the top 10k Free Hit template.
For Saka, he was Arsenal’s biggest offensive threat on the night, providing a smart assist for Martinelli’s opener, before his late equaliser secured maximum bonus, resulting in a 13-point haul. It means Saka has now produced six goals and four assists in his last seven starts at the Emirates.
Elsewhere, Ben White (£5.0m) had a header from a corner cleared off the line and supplied the assist for Odegaard, while substitute Leandro Trossard (£6.7m) hit the crossbar in stoppage time. When asked if Trossard had done enough to start in his post-match presser, Mikel Arteta said:
“He does every day. It’s about how you play everybody together, with the right balance without losing that structure and flow of the team. When he came on he for sure looked good again.” – Mikel Arteta on Leandro Trossard
However, it was a day to forget for Gabriel Jesus (£8.2m), despite completing 90 minutes for the first time since returning from injury.
The Brazilian racked up six shots – more than any other player – with the best of those opportunities carrying an expected goals (xG) value of 0.58 (see below), but he failed to convert, ending Gameweek 32 on just two points.
Above: Gabriel Jesus’ xG shots v Southampton in Gameweek 32
ARSENAL ASSETS – TIME TO SELL?
After being unable to maintain two-goal leads in their previous two Premier League games, Arsenal once again looked defensively fragile against Southampton and were badly affected by the absences of Granit Xhaka (£4.9m) – who missed out through illness – and, in particular, William Saliba (£5.0m). Without the Frenchman, their defence suffers: they have now failed to keep a clean sheet in his absence, conceding nine goals in five games, and you do worry about this Arsenal defence at the Etihad in Gameweek 33.
“It is not a final because there are still six games to go. The concern is turning around these moments especially if the players in some moments are in doubt. In football you go through moments when you make errors and are not in a good moment but you have to come away from that.” – Mikel Arteta
However, their ability to score goals continues to be a real strength. In their last eight league matches, they have found the net 25 times, averaging over three per game. That suggests the in-form Martinelli and Saka can continue offering value, even with a trip to Manchester City up next.
“I cannot wait, these are the games you want to play. When everything is at stake you have to go there to win. The game will be prepared to that, that is for sure. It is the beauty of this sport, you want to be in these positions. We will have an incredible trip to Manchester and we will prepare really well.” – Mikel Arteta
Still, it doesn’t get much tougher than Arsenal’s next four fixtures, which includes games against Man City, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion. We should also consider the volume of matches. Arsenal have just six remaining games still to play compared to Brighton’s nine, which includes Double Gameweeks in 34, 36 and 37. Man City and Manchester United also have eight, making it even harder to hold onto Arsenal assets.
ALCARAZ EXCELLENT… BUT OFF AT HALF-TIME
Carlos Alcaraz (£5.0m) scored his third Premier League goal since his January arrival to put the visitors ahead, before playing through Theo Walcott (£4.8m) to double Southampton’s lead shortly after.
It was a super first-half performance from the Argentine no. 10, but he was surprisingly hooked at half-time, as Ruben Selles opted to introduce Lyanco (£4.4m) and change to a five-man defence.
On his tactical changes, Selles said:
“We had situations in the first half when they find their wingers very quick into the space, and we had Romain Perraud and Kyle Walker-Peters with yellow cards. We needed to make a decision – it wasn’t an easy decision to take Carlos out of the game, but we needed to find five in the back to support the situations on the side two against one, and to have one more header in the defensive crosses. We made a small variation after two or three minutes of the second half because they changed the way they build up. The technical staff is doing a fantastic job. They support and see things very quick and they come with options we can use, and we can make good performances because of that.” – Ruben Selles
Southampton have now failed to win in seven league games and are running out of time to fight for their Premier League survival, but their performance will surely give them confidence as they prepare to face Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest in the next three Gameweeks.
“It’s a massive blow, but we have to take a lot of positives from it and I was surprised to see eight minutes at the end, a strange amount to be added on. But we have to defend better. We lost our identity a bit and Ruben [Selles] has definitely got that back on track with the high aggressive press. I think we tired towards the end and we came up against a world-class side. We need to follow it up with good performance and good results. We always get good points against the so-called good teams but need to follow it up in the following games. There is still a lot of football. We’ve got to keep believing.” – James Ward-Prowse
Arsenal XI: Ramsdale, White, Holding, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Nketiah 72), Partey, Odegaard, Vieira (Trossard 57), Saka, Martinelli (Nelson 85), Jesus
Southampton XI: Bazunu, Walker-Peters, Bednarek (Caleta-Car 41), Bella-Kotchap, Perraud, Elyounoussi, Ward-Prowse, Lavia (Diallo 86), A Armstrong (Onuachu 77), Walcott (Sulemana 77), Alcaraz (Lyanco 45)