Budget Fantasy Premier League (FPL) goalkeeper Mark Strakosha (£3.9m) got more minutes for Brentford in Gameweek 11 – and we’ll explain why in this latest Scout Notes piece.
The Bees’ win over West Ham United, as well as Fulham v Manchester United, form the basis of this article.
FLEKKEN INJURY LATEST
Strakosha was introduced at half-time of the five-goal epic in west London, with Mark Flekken (£4.5m) failing to shake off an injury he had picked up in the opening 45 minutes.
FPL managers’ dreams of a medium-to-long-term absence for Flekken and a string of upcoming starts for Strakosha were dashed by Thomas Frank after full-time, however, with the Brentford boss saying that Flekken merely had a “dead leg”.
The Bees had been dealt a more serious blow ahead of Gameweek 11, with Aaron Hickey (£4.5m) ruled out for the rest of 2023 with a high-grade hamstring injury.
Midfielder Vitaly Janelt (£5.4m) once again deputised at left-back in Hickey’s stead, so there is no bargain-bin understudy waiting for a chance in defence like there is at Newcastle United.
BOWEN AND MBEUMO DELIVER AGAIN
Jarrod Bowen (£7.4m) made a bit of obscure Premier League history by becoming the first player to net in his team’s first six Premier League away games of the season.
Bowen was interestingly used up top in a 4-4-2 against Brentford on Saturday, partnering Michail Antonio (£5.8m).
Bowen and Bryan Mbeumo (£6.8m) delivered for their owners at the Gtech Community Stadium, with the Brentford winger supplying the assist for Konstantinos Mavropanos’ (£4.5m) own-goal.
Other/further attacking returns could and should have been registered, with Antonio missing a sitter from a Bowen pass and Mbeumo whistling two shots inches wide.
These two mid-price midfielders should come into their own in a busy December, the virtually rotation-proof 90-minute men who are almost guaranteed starts even when the schedule gets congested.
Not only that, but their underlying stats continue to impress. They are, indeed, the top two midfielders for non-penalty expected goals (NPxG) in 2023/24:
Neal Maupay (£4.9m) made it three attacking returns in as many Gameweeks with Brentford’s opener, although the budget forward will likely be the fall-guy in the next two matches with Frank expected to switch back to a 3-5-2.
Mohammed Kudus (£6.5m) is one for the watchlist, with a stunning goal for West Ham’s equaliser at 1-1 almost followed by a second in the lead-up to Bowen’s strike.
No Hammer could better him for shots (four) or chances created (two) on Saturday, while his movement and touches around the penalty spot were encouraging – like Bowen, he’s no mere touchline-hugger.
There was more misery for Alphonse Areola (£4.3m) owners, who still only have one clean to their name – and even that came against Sheffield United.
West Ham are now 18th for expected goals conceded (xGC) this season.
SNOOZEFEST AT THE COTTAGE
If you have any aspirations to be anything other than a mid-table side, these are the sorts of matches you need to be winning.
Unfortunately for Fulham, they couldn’t see off lowly Manchester United in the lunchtime kick-off.
All joking aside, the early game was predictably lacking in inspiration in attack.
Only Burnley have scored fewer goals than Fulham this season, while United themselves are only finding the net at a rate of 1.10 goals per game.
The Red Devils could point to an early set-piece goal being contentiously chalked off for offside but otherwise, they were devoid of ideas going forward: they finished this match on 0.69 expected goals (xG).
A late, late Bruno Fernandes (£8.3m) goal barely papered over the cracks, with the winner owing much to defensive indecision from the Cottagers.
Despite their awfulness, United have, at least, won all five games – just – that they’ve contested against bottom-half sides this season. All of them have been by a single goal.
And they have another obliging opponent next in the shape of Luton Town. Expect a win but, on the evidence of this season, not by a huge margin.
Fernandes is having a poor campaign by his standards but he remains the likeliest source of attacking returns, and this was the fourth time in those five aforementioned fixtures that he’s delivered.
BUDGET AT THE BACK
With Raphael Varane (£5.0m) left on the bench once more, United’s backline again had a budget feel.
Jonny Evans (£4.0m), Harry Maguire (£4.2m) and the fit-again Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.4m) joined Diogo Dalot (£4.9m) in the back four as the Red Devils kept their third clean sheet of the campaign.
United’s defence doesn’t inspire huge amounts of confidence, with Fulham on top in the second half, but Maguire’s performances have taken a bit of an upturn. With his historic goal threat, admittedly more so at international level, he’s in the conversation for ‘fifth FPL defender’ – if perhaps behind the likes of Jamaal Lascelles (£4.0m) and Jarrad Branthwaite (£4.0m).
“He was playing a massive, massive game. A very good performance. He showed leadership and in and out of possession he was very good, so I’m very pleased with that performance from Harry.” – Erik ten Hag
WHY RASHFORD MISSED OUT
Marcus Rashford (£8.6m) made the trip to west London but not the matchday squad, a late fitness test ruling him out of the lunchtime game.
Erik ten Hag’s post-match comments suggest his omission was precautionary in nature.
“He had some complaints after training. I didn’t know at that moment. He traveled with us but today the complaints were that much that he couldn’t start. It was a risk to start him, to lose him for more games, so we didn’t take a risk, because we have many important games to play.” – Erik ten Hag on why Marcus Rashford missed out against Fulham
Fulham have a new injury concern of their own, as budget FPL forward Rodrigo Muniz (£4.4m) – who was starting his first ever Premier League game – exited the field in tears.
“We don’t know yet. It’s too soon to give you a statement about it. I hope nothing serious. He had a very good game, in my opinion. Unfortunately, in one moment he felt the knee and let’s hope it’s nothing serious.” – Marco Silva on Rodrigo Muniz