Some key injury updates represent the main talking points as we review three of Saturday’s Gameweek 7 fixtures.
Bournemouth v Arsenal, Newcastle United v Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool are the fixtures in question.
SAKA + JESUS INJURY UPDATES
Of the myriad Arsenal injury doubts who apparently hadn’t trained this week, only Gabriel Martinelli (£7.7m) missed out on Saturday’s clash with Bournemouth. This was a reminder that a) much of what Mikel Arteta says in his press conferences is of little use and b) the club photographer is clearly instructed not to give too much away with his gallery shots.
Bukayo Saka (£8.7m) not only made the trip to the south coast but also Arteta’s starting XI, too, taking just 17 minutes to punish the 840,000+ FPL managers who sold him ahead of Saturday’s deadline. Following his early goal against the Cherries, the Arsenal winger is now the outright top-scoring midfielder in FPL this season.
He’s also now (just) the leading midfielder for expected goal involvement (xGI) in 2023/24, even discounting his penalties.
We’re back to square one with his fitness, however, as he limped off in the closing stages of the match at the Vitality Stadium. Gabriel Jesus (£8.0m) was also spotted hobbling after full-time.
“I don’t know yet, I haven’t had a chance to speak to him. I think this one was a stamp, it wasn’t the same area. I don’t know. And Gabi was limping after the game, let’s see how they are.” – Mikel Arteta, when asked about Bukayo Saka’s injury
We will at least get a chance to hear more about Saka’s fitness long before the Gameweek 8 deadline, as Arteta will face the media on Monday ahead of the Gunners’ UEFA Champions League clash with Lens.
ARTETA ON ARSENAL’S PENALTY TAKERS
Saka left Bournemouth with a nine-point return but it could easily have been a monster haul.
The Gunners were awarded and scored two penalties against the Cherries but Saka twice handed the ball to teammates to take, firstly Martin Odegaard (£8.5m) and secondly Kai Havertz (£7.1m).
Arsenal have been awarded five spot-kicks in 2023/24 so far and Saka has given three of them away.
After the match, Arteta suggested that Saka was still first in line for penalties – but didn’t complain about the sharing of responsibility.
“That’s the beauty of it, they take initiative and they take the leadership to make those calls.
“I haven’t asked them, I imagine Bukayo has to take it so first of all he gives it to Martin and then he gave it to Kai, it doesn’t really matter, the beauty is in the gesture and the fact that the players can make those steps and decisions.” – Mikel Arteta on Arsenal’s penalty takers
“I think it shows just how special we are as a group. I don’t know with other teams, maybe there’s a specific penalty taker, but we know in this moment how much we’re all behind Kai.” – Declan Rice
The Gunners were in utter cruise control on the south coast, racking up their third successive clean sheet away from home. A cut-price Gabriel Magalhaes (£4.7m) looks back to his best, while Ben White (£5.5m) delivered a second attacking return in as many weeks.
Bournemouth barely laid a glove on their visitors, registering just one shot on target, with Andoni Iraola calling it their worst display of the season.
Dominic Solanke (£6.4m), an injury doubt before the game, at least came through unscathed.
BOTMAN BLOW, WILSON LATEST
There were two big names absent from the Newcastle teamsheet on Tyneside on Saturday.
Sven Botman (£4.7m) and Callum Wilson (£7.8m) missed out on the comfortable win over Burnley, with Botman also now set to sit out Gameweek 8.
Joelinton (£5.8m) lasted just four minutes of a substitute appearance and is another addition to a lengthening injury list.
“Sven has got a knee problem. I don’t think we will see Sven before the international break but hopefully, we’ll see him very quickly afterwards.” – Eddie Howe on Sven Botman
“Callum has got a very minor hamstring problem. We hope he’ll be back soon, we hope we see him before the international break but there’s no guarantee.” – Eddie Howe on Anthony Gordon
“It looks like a hamstring. That would be a huge blow if we lose him but we’ll wait and see.” – Eddie Howe on Joelinton
GORDON MISSES GAMEWEEK 8
Another red-flagged Newcastle asset is Anthony Gordon (£5.6m), who picked up his fifth booking of the season against Burnley. He’ll now miss the trip to West Ham in Gameweek 8.
The winger claimed his sixth attacking return of the season when winning the penalty that Alexander Isak (£7.6m) converted. He’s returned in all four home appearances in 2023/24 to date.
With Gordon, Harvey Barnes (£6.4m) and possibly Joelinton out, Newcastle are down three left-wing options for the trip to West Ham. Even Isak, who has played out wide in the past, may not be an alternative, as the Swede will be needed through the middle should Wilson fail to recover.
Jacob Murphy (£4.8m), Elliot Anderson (£4.4m) and even Lewis Hall (£4.4m) are the budget Fantasy picks who could be asked to deputise in east London.
If there was a degree of fortune about Kieran Trippier‘s (£6.7m) assist for Miguel Almiron‘s (£6.3m) goal (the Paraguayan scored a solo stunner after Trippier had won a tackle), the in-form full-back can point to the four other chances he created against Burnley.
Trippier is creating chances at an even quicker rate than he was in 2022/23, averaging one every 28 minutes in the current campaign.
Newcastle’s clean sheet was never in doubt after Zeki Amdouni (£5.4m) wasted an early big chance and Sander Berge (£4.8m) fired off target; Burnley went over an hour without another shot in the box after that.
Jamaal Lascelles (£3.9m), who was filling in for Botman here, is a possible one-week punt for FPL managers looking to free up cash for a Son Heung-min (£9.3m) move. West Ham’s set-piece prowess surely means Howe will go with three recognised centre-halves in his backline in Gameweek 8, including Dan Burn (£4.5m) at left-back.
The Clarets still have another Gameweek 7 fixture to go and an eminently more winnable one at that. There’s still time for Jordan Beyer (£4.0m) to get off the mark, then, following his duck-egg on Tyneside.
SON FEARS EASED
James Maddison (£7.9m) and Son recovered from minor knocks to make Ange Postecoglou’s starting XI against Liverpool.
Son opened the scoring, his sixth goal in four Gameweeks, but he lasted only 68 minutes of the controversial win over the Reds, despite the game being delicately poised at 1-1 and Spurs having a man advantage.
The South Korea international looked to be struggling before being withdrawn by Postecoglou but the Lilywhites’ head coach assuaged fears of a fresh injury at full-time, saying that his substitution was pre-planned.
“Look, he wasn’t 100% but I had a chat with him yesterday and he was desperate to play. He was going to give what he could and he did. He was never going to play the whole 90, we were always going to give him an hour or so but he led from the front again and he was the one doing the pressing. He got his goal as well so great captain’s effort.” – Ange Postecoglou on Son Heung-min
Richarlison (£6.7m), and not Manor Solomon (£5.3m), was the man chosen to replace the injured Brennan Johnson (£5.8m) by Postecoglou on Saturday. Son kept his place up top, however, with Richarlison stationed on the left instead.
Perhaps with less of the goalscoring onus on him, the Brazilian was better. One excellent Richarlison cross had already gone unconverted before he teed up Son for the opener, repeating the trick later in the game for a strike that was chalked off for offside. He hit the woodwork himself, finishing top of the shot count – although again failed to find the net.
He’s a maverick punt for anyone looking for a differential route into the Spurs side for the plum-looking fixture against Luton Town, with the game-time prospects looking more positive if Maddison and Son’s minutes are again to be managed in Gameweek 8.
Pedro Porro (£5.0m) grabbed the assist for Spurs’ own-goal winner: since his first start in Gameweek 2, he’s ranked second for shots and joint-fourth for chances created among FPL defenders.
“Pedro has been super. He didn’t start the first game but right from pre-season he’s really adapted. Obviously, with our full-backs we’re asking for a different type of role to what they’re used to but I think him and Destiny have adapted really well to it,” he said in his club interview.
“They’re trying to learn, they’re trying to understand it. I think it suits him in many respects because he’s such a good footballer. Technically he’s a very good footballer and he’s also a great athlete.
“You could see today. We needed both he and Destiny to be at it today, along with Micky because when you see the speed they have up front with the transition we were going to need our guys to be really on it defensively.
“That’s the area he’s working really hard at, particularly Matt Wells and the whole back four, all the defenders have been working really hard with Matty Wells just on their defensive principles and I think you’re seeing the fruits of their labour.” – Ange Postecoglou
Darwin Nunez (£7.4m) was surprisingly named among the substitutes by Jurgen Klopp on Saturday evening, failing to get onto the pitch as the two red cards necessitated more defensive-minded changes.
The good news: the benching wasn’t ‘rotation’ or a lack of form. The bad news: it seems the striker has a niggling injury which could rear its head at any time.
“Darwin pretty much ruled himself out a little bit. He brought something with him from the international break a little bit of a bone thing around the knee sometimes.
“It’s not massive but sometimes more painful than other times. So, yesterday at training, he said it’s not possible, so we took him here overnight.
“The doctor said that it will improve again and it has improved so he’s ready to come from the bench but he’s not ready to start and that’s the reason.” – Jurgen Klopp on Darwin Nunez’s benching
Nunez’s Gameweek 8 starting prospects look much healthier, providing he’s fit.
Diogo Jota (£7.8m) will be suspended after being sent off for two bookable offences, while Cody Gakpo (£7.2m) could be a concern for the trip to Brighton. The Dutchman was subbed at half-time, having grabbed Liverpool’s equaliser.
“Possibly [a bad one], I don’t know.
“He wore a brace. He scored a goal afterwards but after that shot, he felt it even more. It was from the foul before.” – Jurgen Klopp on Cody Gakpo
This defeat wasn’t a dip in form or anything of the sort but chiefly as a result of some contentious officiating. The two red cards divided opinion but there was no debate about the disallowed Luis Diaz (£7.5m) goal that would have given Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) an assist, with “human error” to blame at Stockley Park.
Liverpool almost held on for a point despite the numerical disadvantage and the Reds will be licking their lips at the thought of going up against a Brighton backline that was hit for six by Aston Villa.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.9m) could be back in the line-up for that one, having marked his comeback from injury with a substitute appearance in north London. That’s something to bear in mind re Andrew Robertson (£6.6m), who may now have his attacking instincts curbed.