The injury to Erling Haaland (£14.0m) was undoubtedly the main Fantasy Premier League (FPL) headline from a busy, and controversial, day of football.
We’ve transcribed everything Pep Guardiola said about the Norwegian striker’s fitness in this Scout Notes article.
The Gameweek 11 inquest begins with not just Manchester City v Bournemouth but also Newcastle United v Arsenal, with analysis of more matches to follow over the weekend.
HAALAND INJURY: EVERYTHING PEP SAID
Having somehow swerved the attacking returns in the first half of Manchester City’s 6-1 win over Bournemouth, Haaland was then seen in a bit of discomfort shortly before the half-time whistle.
Failing to emerge for the second half, the Norway international ended Gameweek 11 with one point – the joint-lowest FPL score of his City career.
Three very similar updates from Guardiola about the forward’s condition followed after full-time.
“He has a twist. I didn’t speak with the doctors yet. Hopefully, will not be… we’ll see in the next days how it develops. [It’s his] ankle.
“I don’t know [if he will play on Tuesday]. I don’t know yet. Hopefully.” – Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland, in his post-match press conference
“A twist, a little bit, ankle. Hopefully, it’s not a big issue. We’ll see in the next hours, next days how he recovers.” – Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland, speaking in a post-match interview
“He has some twist in the ankle, he didn’t feel comfortable. We didn’t take risks. Hopefully, next Tuesday or maybe next Sunday against Chelsea.” – Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland, speaking to Match of the Day
We will have the benefit of hearing from Guardiola on Haaland again long before Gameweek 12, as the City boss is scheduled to hold a UEFA Champions League press conference on Monday afternoon.
The reigning European champions then play Young Boys at the Etihad on Tuesday, so FPL managers should know well in advance of next Saturday’s deadline whether or not he will remain a doubt for the clash with Chelsea.
FOUR ASSISTS, JEREMY?
It wasn’t just Haaland who was points-swerving at the Etihad as Julian Alvarez (£7.2m) managed to get through 70 minutes of action without a goal or assist.
He even failed to have a single shot in the box; that’s now only four such efforts in seven Gameweeks for the Argentina international.
Assists look likelier to come than goals at present, especially as he continues to deliver corner after corner: he’s taken 22 of them in the last two Gameweeks alone. In open play, Haaland nodded a deflected header against the woodwork from one pinpoint, De Bruyne-esque Alvarez cross.
Jeremy Doku (£6.5m) not only stole Jack Grealish‘s (£7.3m) place but the thunder in Eastlands, playing a part in five of the six goals that City plundered.
The scorer of the hosts’ opener at the Etihad, Doku then assisted both of Bernardo Silva‘s (£6.3m) strikes and goals for Manuel Akanji (£4.9m) and substitute Phil Foden (£7.5m). An expected goal involvement figure (xGI) of just 0.50 illustrates just how much everything went right for him on the day but the set-ups for Bernardo’s two goals were pure class, whatever the numbers say.
Doku’s total of 22 points is the second-highest Gameweek score of the season. Naturally, the knee-jerkers are flocking to the Belgian winger: he’s been bought by around 100,000 FPL managers at the time of writing, making him by far the most popular purchase of Gameweek 12.
But will he even start in many/any of the next four league fixtures?
Guardiola famously likes “control” on the flanks in certain high-profile matches, with Grealish often the man trusted on the left. Doku, by contrast, was left out of the starting XI for the recent away clashes at Arsenal and Manchester United.
As Bubz said in the comments section earlier, he may be “a bit like Mahrez used to be” – explosive in one match, benched the next.
“He can play on both sides right or left. He’s an incredible threat over 5 or 6 metres.
“Normally we play teams who sit so deep, and we need players who have ability in small places – and he has that.” – Pep Guardiola on Jeremy Doku
DEFENCES ON TOP ON TYNESIDE
Just like the two keenly contested clashes between these two sides in 2022/23, defences were well on top at St James’ Park on Saturday evening.
Only a controversial Anthony Gordon (£5.7m) goal separated the two sides, the winger delivering his eighth attacking return of the campaign when bundling home an effort that was checked by the VAR for three different indiscretions.
That was the only Opta-defined ‘big chance’ of the match as these two sides flexed their defensive muscles. Attacking talents like Bukayo Saka (£8.6m), Eddie Nketiah (£5.6m) and Callum Wilson (£7.8m) were anonymous, with the opposing backlines giving them little change.
|Arsenal (rank v other clubs)||Newcastle (rank v other clubs)|
|Clean sheets||5 (1st=)||5 (1st=)|
|Goals conceded||9 (2nd=)||11 (5th=)|
|Big chances conceded||14 (3rd)||7 (1st)|
|Expected goals conceded (xGC)||9.05 (2nd)||10.88 (3rd)|
Much easier tests await both clubs in Gameweek 12 (and beyond), so there’s no need to press the panic button on Saka and co based on this weekend’s displays.
£4.0m LASCELLES EXCELLENT, BURN INJURED
With Sven Botman (£4.6m) possibly – but not definitely – needing knee surgery, Jamaal Lascelles’ (£4.0m) game-time prospects are looking rosy at present.
Only when we hear confirmation of the operation coming out of Eddie Howe’s mouth will we be able to say with confidence that Lascelles is going to continue starting; Jacob Murphy (£4.8m) being surprisingly named on the bench against Arsenal was proof that Howe can be slippery with his team news. Murphy subsequently dislocated his shoulder again and now faces three months out.
Assuming that Botman is sidelined for some time, then there is arguably no better £4.0m defender than Lascelles in FPL.
He’s been excellent in the Dutch defender’s stead, here collecting maximum bonus points for his efforts in repelling the Gunners.
“Jamaal has been very, very good since he stepped into the team. Today I thought he was a giant for us. Aerially very good, defending crosses, defending set plays. I think he’s used the ball well.
“We were confident that if he got into the team then he’d grow into that position and do well.” – Eddie Howe on Jamaal Lascelles
Further injury updates on the 12%-owned Dan Burn (£4.7m) will also be keenly awaited this week. Not only is that one less possible centre-half for Lascelles to be concerned about, but it may also let another cut-price defender in Tino Livramento (£4.3m) or Lewis Hall (£4.3m) into the side.
Here it was Livramento who got the nod to replace the struggling Burn at half-time, with the versatile Kieran Trippier (£7.0m) switching flanks to left-back.
“Dan jumps for the ball, lands on his back and is in a lot of pain at the moment, so that looks worrying for us.
“He landed on his back going up for a header, and he has back pain. I think he’s potentially worried about it. We’ll wait and see, but I don’t think it’s as normal as when you wake up the next day and it’s gone. I’m not sure, it could be more serious than that.” – Eddie Howe on Dan Burn
Arsenal had their own notable absentee in Martin Odegaard (£8.4m), who – after remaining an unused substitute against Sheffield United last weekend – failed to make a matchday squad for the first time this season.
Arsenal’s website said ahead of the match that the midfielder was “not fit enough for the game”, while the Mirror were among the outlets claiming that an ongoing hip issue was the reason for the Norwegian’s absence.
A seething Mikel Arteta’s post-match presser was dominated by discussion of Gordon’s contentious winner, so we failed to get an update on Odegaard there.
Arteta was asked about the playmaker by Sky Sports, however.
“We don’t know [how long he’ll be out], we have to assess that. But that’s not the topic for now, I already said that he wasn’t fit enough to play and that’s another issue.” – Mikel Arteta on Martin Odegaard
The other surprise starting XI omission from Gameweek 10, Gabriel Magalhaes (£4.8m), did at least return to the line-up here, possibly furthering the notion that he was only rested against the Blades.
GORDON ‘OOP’ AGAIN
Gordon has now returned in every single home league match this season, with his goal potential boosted in recent weeks due to Alexander Isak‘s (£7.4m) unavailability.
Because of the Swede’s absence, Gordon – who Howe has repeatedly said is third in line for the striker’s role – has been used as relief for the injury-prone Wilson late in matches.
Wilson was hooked after 61 minutes against Arsenal and Gordon moved up top; three minutes later, the former Everton winger had broken the deadlock.
He had had the better of the game’s opportunities even before that point, wasting a breakaway chance and then failing to control a back-post cross.
“He did it for Everton last year and that was when we watched him in terms of recruiting him. I really liked him as a centre-forward.
“The thinking today was we had to protect Callum. We are going into two more hugely important games this week and if I run Callum into the ground, he’s not going to be able to perform in the upcoming games. He’s too important, we don’t want to lose him to injury. Anthony seemed like the natural choice to then go up there.” – Eddie Howe on Anthony Gordon playing up front
More minutes through the middle could follow at Bournemouth next weekend, with Isak out of that game too.