We dissect the remaining two of Saturday’s Gameweek 10 matches in our latest Scout Notes article.
Chelsea v Brentford and Bournemouth v Burnley are the focus here.
There was frustration for Cole Palmer (£5.0m) owners on Saturday – but some more encouragement, too.
Attacking returns somehow eluded him, with Noni Madueke (£5.3m) hitting the bar from a Palmer pass before both Marc Cucurella (£4.8m) and Raheem Sterling (£7.0m) spurned excellent chances teed up by the former Manchester City man.
Palmer himself then wasted a clear opening in the second half, failing to get adequate contact on a Reece James (£5.3m) cross.
Above: Cole Palmer is joint-top for chances created (four) in Gameweek 10 so far
Glass half-empty: all the chances you create mean nothing if you haven’t got clinical team-mates to convert those key passes.
Glass half-full: he’s at least on a share of penalties, is looking increasingly assured of starts and at least has the return of Christopher Nkunku (£7.3m) to look forward to next month, someone who should be able to convert some of those opportunities he supplies.
Five tricky matches now follow but a favourable Gameweek 16 fixture swing is on the horizon.
“He’s showing a great performance, character and personality. You know, it’s always about the team and when you don’t win. For sure he is disappointed and we are all disappointed. We are happy in the way he arrived. He arrived in the last moment of the transfer window, he’s playing like he’s here for 10 years and showing his character and personality.” – Mauricio Pochettino, when asked whether he would build the team around Cole Palmer
GUSTO BENCHED, ABSENCES EXPLAINED
Malo Gusto‘s (£4.2m) FPL race might be run for the time being, with Axel Disasi (£5.1m) starting at right-back against the Bees – perhaps a ploy to deal with Brentford’s aerial threat – and the fit-again Reece James sent on to replace him.
The brittle James likely won’t be trusted with starting all of Chelsea’s upcoming games, particularly in a busy December, so there will, of course, be the odd run-out for Gusto. But as a budget defender, he’s not going to be someone to rely on for minutes – until James inevitably picks up his next injury, anyway.
Speaking of injuries, Chelsea were without Enzo Fernandez (£4.8m) and Mykhailo Mudryk (£6.3m) because of minor problems.
“Both Enzo and Misha felt something in training yesterday, small muscle injuries for them both. We hoped they would be okay to be in the squad but unfortunately, they aren’t quite ready. Neither of them are big issues but we didn’t want to take any risks.” – Mauricio Pochettino
Those two absentees prompted a reshuffle, with Conor Gallagher (£5.4m) moving deeper into the double-pivot, Palmer operating in the no. 10 role, Madueke brought in on the right flank and the much-maligned Nicolas Jackson (£6.8m) recalled up top. The mediocre performances of Madueke, Jackson and Sterling suggest Palmer has little to worry about with regards to losing his place when the versatile Nkunku returns.
THE MAN THEY CALL BRYAN
Bryan Mbeumo (£6.6m) has suffered a net transfer loss of 1.2 million in the last four Gameweeks as attention wandered to other mid-price midfielders with perhaps better fixtures.
Successive double-digit hauls have now seen him shoot up into fourth place in the FPL points table, at least temporarily before Sunday’s matches.
Mbeumo had crossed for Ethan Pinnock (£4.5m) to score Brentford’s opener before he himself got a little lucky for the game-sealing, breakaway second goal, tapping into an unguarded net when Neal Maupay (£4.9m) fluffed his lines with the goal gaping.
“To be fair, I think he tried to score! I wanted him to get the goal, I think Sanchez almost caught him.
“He just got out of balance in that situation” – Thomas Frank on Neal Maupay’s ‘assist’ for Bryan Mbeumo’s goal
Fortunate or not in this instance, Mbeumo being a 90-minute man has really paid dividends in 2023/24. He’s not been substituted in a single match this season and has racked up more minutes (900) than any other FPL midfielder.
Crucially, half of his league goals have been scored in injury time. With all the extra added time we’re witnessing, his durability is an asset to add to his penalty-taking responsibility and set-piece duties.
Above: Bryan Mbeumo’s goals in 2023/24, via Transfermarkt
FLEKKEN PRAISE – BAD NEWS FOR STRAKOSHA
Thomas Frank admitted after the match that Brentford were “average at best” in the first half in Stamford Bridge, with only Chelsea’s wastefulness keeping the scores level.
However fortunate they have been in getting there, it’s now back-to-back clean sheets for the Bees.
Frank gave praise to Mark Flekken (£4.5m) after the match, the goalkeeper who had attracted criticism from some quarters in the opening two months of the season. As if there was much doubt anyway, Thomas Strakosha (£3.9m) isn’t likely to be budging from the Brentford bench anytime soon.
“One player I think who also deserves praise is Mark Flekken. Coming in, needing to step up, playing after a good goalkeeper like David Raya. We know how good Mark is and I think he’s been really showing that. Not only the two clean sheets but his calmness, distribution, good positions. Very good.” – Thomas Frank
KOMPANY PRAISES £3.9M TAYLOR
In Saturday’s other match, Bournemouth defeated Burnley in an early six-pointer at the bottom.
Lyle Foster (£5.0m) missed out on this clash due to illness, and much of the Clarets’ goal threat stayed sidelined with him: Burnley had mustered only one shot in the box until the 97th minute.
Someone who chose an opportune time to score his first goal in over eight years was Charlie Taylor (£3.9m), whose first-half strike from distance – a shot carrying an xG of 0.0074! – put the visitors in front.
Benched by over 90% of his owners in FPL, he’ll nevertheless be emerging as an auto-substitute for the likes of Gusto, Destiny Udogie (£4.9m) and Gabriel Magalhaes (£4.8m) across FPL land.
This was Taylor’s seventh successive start in the league, and the budget defender earned Vincent Kompany’s praise after the match.
“Charlie has been an integral part of this season, he was an integral part of what we did last season.” – Vincent Kompany
Even though the Cherries emerged victorious, there was precious little evidence to suggest that they’re going to make life difficult for Manchester City in Gameweek 11. This was their first win of the season and while just about deserved, they were indebted to the tightest of VAR offside calls to cling onto all three points. Even their winner owed more to Burnley’s ineptitude, with Philip Billing (£5.2m) latching onto a loose Clarets pass and chipping the suspect James Trafford (£4.5m).
Budget forward Antoine Semenyo (£4.5m) was back in the team and on the scoresheet. While we FPL managers are always on the lookout for a cheap pick in that price range, there’s too much competition in the wide areas at Bournemouth to be making any game-time guarantees for the winger. He hadn’t previously started a league match, indeed, since Gameweek 4.