The Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Sunday’s two matches are covered in our latest Scout Notes article of Gameweek 11.
This time we’re looking at Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa and Luton Town v Liverpool.
Following last weekend’s error at Anfield, Matt Turner (£4.1m) was dropped on Sunday, with deadline day signing Odysseas Vlachodimos (£4.5m) making his debut in goal.
The Greek responded with a solid display to clinch a clean sheet, helping Forest end a six-match winless run in the process.
Discussing his decision to bench Turner, Steve Cooper said:
“It felt like the right time. We have been pleased with Matt [Turner] and we have got a strong goalkeeping department and then we want our guys fighting for positions and it’s just a change that we feel is the right one to make.
So yeah, I made the call pretty early in the week, I spoke to Matt about it and he understood the situation. There’s also some stuff that we want to work with him on. So we’re committed to that and now we support Odysseas [Vlachodimos] in his first game.” – Steve Cooper speaking about starting Odysseas Vlachodimos in goal
Goals from Ola Aina (£4.5m) and Orel Mangala (£5.0m) sealed the three points for the hosts, with both assisted by Harry Toffolo (£4.4m).
The latter picked up a knock but was particularly impressive on the overlap, linking very well with Anthony Elanga (£5.0m), who himself got plenty of joy attacking Villa’s high line.
If Unai Emery adopts a similar approach in Gameweek 13 they could be vulnerable in transition again, which bodes well for Son Heung-min (£9.6m), who is a viable captain shout that week with Manchester City and Liverpool squaring off.
Elsewhere, Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.4m) made his first start since Gameweek 7 after a groin problem. He went close on several occasions and almost won a penalty when bundled over in the first half.
Sunday’s win means Forest have lost only two of their past 20 top-flight fixtures at the City Ground and with some decent fixtures coming up, including four of the next seven at home, cheap assets such as Murillo (£4.5m) and Awoniyi could start to pick up a bit of interest.
“It’s a really good win. We came up against an in-form Aston Villa side with really good players. We were committed to the plan and we’ve scored two goals from where we could create chances. Villa had a lot of the ball and we were okay with it because I never felt like we conceded any chances. Odysseas Vlachodimos made saves that he should be making. I never felt we were in danger of conceding today.
We could have managed the ball a bit better. Villa play with such a high line and an opportunity to attack quickly. We had to get the balance right between taking the opportunity and staying on the ball a bit more.” – Steve Cooper
VILLA RUN OUT OF IDEAS / CASH INJURY
Aston Villa have been excellent this season but they deservedly lost on Sunday, despite having far more of the ball, with 74% possession.
Whenever Forest play at home they are difficult to beat, but Unai Emery’s men lacked their usual cutting edge, with Ollie Watkins (£8.4m) fluffing their best chance. He was feeding off scraps for much of the game but missed a golden opportunity to score in the second half, failing to direct his header goalwards.
Moussa Diaby (£6.8m) was unusually quiet too, with the pair firing off just three shots between them in Gameweek 11.
“We won 11 matches in a row at home and that is fantastic. Away it is a challenge. Today I learned again. We are calm and relaxed, we have to be stronger defensively away and try to work hard if we want to get to be one of the top seven teams in the Premier League.” – Unai Emery
Meanwhile, Matty Cash (£5.2m) went off just before the hour mark at the City Ground, having picked up a shoulder injury.
The right-back could be seen alerting the Aston Villa bench to the issue moments before being replaced, although Unai Emery wasn’t asked directly about the issue in his post-match press conference.
We will at least get a chance to hear more about Cash’s fitness in midweek, however, with the Spaniard scheduled to hold a UEFA Conference League presser ahead of Villa’s clash with AZ Alkmaar.
Prior to his withdrawal, Cash had volleyed just over in the first half, but his latest blank means he’s averaging just 2.3 points per match in the last four Gameweeks, with his sole return – a clean sheet v Luton in Gameweek 10 – fortunate to say the least.
Still, with Fulham and Bournemouth in the next three, owners will probably be content to hold, providing his shoulder injury isn’t anything serious.
Meanwhile, fellow full-back Lucas Digne (£4.7m) was particularly threatening on the left.
He found himself in some promising positions high up the pitch, with Boubacar Kamara (£5.0m) dropping in as a right-sided centre-half when Villa had the ball, which is captured below.
It meant the Frenchman was a constant outlet down the left wing, receiving 41 passes in the final-third, at least 21 more than any other Villa player.
He also whipped in 11 crosses, a match-leading total, although it is worth noting positional rival Alex Moreno (£5.0m) was back on the bench on Sunday, having not featured at all this season because of a hamstring injury.
Above: Aston Villa’s average position map v Forest in Gameweek 11, featuring Boubacar Kamara (no 44), Matty Cash (no 2) and Lucas Digne (no 12)
KLOPP ON DARWIN / TSIMIKAS BENCHED
Darwin Nunez (£7.5m) attempted a whopping nine shots on Sunday, the joint-highest total for a player in the Premier League this season, but failed to find the net at Kenilworth Road.
The Uruguayan clipped the crossbar and twice tested Thomas Kaminski (£4.5m) from range in the first half, but later missed a sitter from four yards out after being teed up by Mohamed Salah (£12.8m).
The flag went up so it wouldn’t have counted, although it looked onside and might have been given by the VAR.
Above: Darwin Nunez’s xG shot map v Luton in Gameweek 11
Darwin has shown great improvement in the final-third from his first season at Anfield, but Sunday’s display wasn’t clinical enough, with Jurgen Klopp discussing his performance after the match.
He also touched on his side’s lack of counter-pressing in the first half.
“Our five offensive players are all in the team, they are all in the team. We just have that many games that they cannot play all the games, so that’s how it is. One has a little bit of a problem and hopefully all other four are then healthy and then we find three of them who can start together and one will come on. And then we have young kids or Harvey [Elliott] can play up front there, different solutions. That’s how it is for Darwin. So Darwin is 100 per cent in the team, it’s just sometimes you cannot start again, so that’s how it is, but then you come on. The first chance he had was really well done, great pass, first touch top and then he nails it on the crossbar, I think. And in other moments is just how it is.
The whole team was not in a goalscoring mood today obviously and that’s then not helpful. But Darwin, what makes him really different is that he’s involved in pretty much everything, so that’s good. We are calm. Even when we should have finished better, but I don’t think our problem was really finishing. It was other things. We should have created more and then we would have finished one or two situations off, and I would have been completely fine with winning here 1-0, I would’ve been very, very happy. But for that we should have played better.” – Jurgen Klopp on Darwin Nunez
“What I didn’t like, particularly in the first half, was that we had 0.0 [per cent] counter-pressing and that is something I take personally, to be honest. I told the boys, it’s not OK, but because I know that they actually want to do it the question is then why didn’t they do it? So I have to figure that out. But I will, it’s not rocket science probably but that I have to watch it back. I have enough time for that.” – Jurgen Klopp
Luis Diaz (£7.4m), meanwhile, had just one chance but took it, equalising for Liverpool deep into injury time after coming on as a late substitute.
However, the big FPL news arrived at the back, as the curse of the ‘most-bought player’ struck again, with Kostas Tsimikas (£4.6m) benched.
Joe Gomez (£4.5m) was instead preferred at left-back, his first start in the position since 2015, with the decision potentially made with Luton’s set-piece threat in mind.
Tsimikas did appear off the bench on 66 minutes in an attacking move aimed at winning the game, however.
Elsewhere, Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.9m) was given some tough moments by Chiedozie Ogbene (£4.9m) but he was Liverpool’s main creator, racking up six key passes. Every time the Reds created a problem for Luton, it generally came from him.
Meanwhile, Alexis Mac Allister (£5.8m) will miss Gameweek 12 after picking up his fifth booking of the season.
Having conceded in the 95th minute, Luton are still yet to keep a clean sheet this season, but they are at least showing some fight.
In addition, some of their play on Sunday was really encouraging.
Budget defender Issa Kabore (£4.0m) was one of their best players on show, earning his second assist of the season for Tahith Chong’s (£4.8m) strike, while new signings Ross Barkley (£4.9m) and Andros Townsend (£5.0m) also made an impact.
However, Marvelous Nakamba (£4.4m) is edging closer to a one-match ban, having received his fourth yellow card of the season.
Speaking after the game, Rob Edwards said:
“I’m really proud of the whole football club today. It was a big day for us against a big club. We showed a lot of quality in the game. It shows you have to [hold on] for 98 or 99 minutes to get something. I was pleased with our counter-attacking. We kept Liverpool thinking ‘there’s something to think about here’ and the goal was the best example of that. The players have improved. There were elements of our game a team like this would have exposed. Belief. We’re going around things the right way. We have a lot of injuries. There are five players who could have started. I thought Ross [Barkley] was excellent, Andros [Townsend] too. A lot of the counter-attacking moments came from Ross. He is able to get away and find the space. The goal was the best example of that.” – Rob Edwards