Wolverhampton Wanderers’ comeback win over Chelsea and Nottingham Forest’s draw at Bournemouth are the focus of our next Scout Notes article.
A hat-trick from Matheus Cunha (£5.7m) inspired Wolves to a fine 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Playing off the left, the Brazilian caused Chelsea’s backline all sorts of problems, first drawing Wolves level with a deflected effort, before smashing home Pedro Neto’s (£5.6m) squared pass.
He then capped off a superb individual display by scoring a penalty.
Cunha was never a reliable finisher in his first season at Molineux. However, the Wolves man has now scored seven goals and set up five in his last 12 league games, remarkably outscoring every other FPL forward except Dominic Solanke (£7.1m) from Gameweek 12 onwards.
Returning 18.8 points per million spent, he’s the best-value forward in FPL.
“He’s a fantastic guy. Always had quality, we know he has that. He is so humble and hard-working, all I have worked on him with is his understanding of situations.
“A Premier League hat-trick speaks volumes of the improvements he’s made.” – Gary O’Neil on Matheus Cunha
Cunha will deservedly grab the headlines but Neto’s impact was equally impressive. Continually targeting the space in behind Ben Chilwell (£5.4m), he proved too much for Chelsea to handle, creating two chances and attempting three shots in the box.
The Portuguese has now been involved in 12 goals in 14 league games this season, scoring two and assisting 10.
Rayan Ait-Nouri (£4.5m) also deserves a mention. Pushing high on the left, he popped up in numerous dangerous positions and managed to grab an assist, when his effort took a significant deflection off Axel Disasi (£4.9m) before nestling into the net.
His total of seven penalty box touches in Gameweek 23 is the most of any defender so far.
Above: Wolves’ average position map v Chelsea in Gameweek 23, including Cunha (no 12), Neto (7) and Ait-Nouri (3)
COLE KEEPS IT COOL
Chelsea’s desperately inconsistent season continued on Sunday, with a performance just like the one we got at Anfield in midweek. On both occasions, they shipped four goals.
Here, Mauricio Pochettino started two natural full-backs – Malo Gusto (£4.2m) and Chilwell – which added an attacking threat.
However, at the other end of the pitch, it left their centre-backs, in particular Thiago Silva (£5.0m), exposed.
“We cannot go down, it is a tough moment, but it is a moment to be together and find solutions and try to help the team with our decisions. It is normal that we are not matching the history of the club. It is a different project and it is a matter of time but it is difficult for me to always say [we need more] time, time, time. We need to show more and the circumstances are difficult. We were good until Liverpool but after Liverpool and Wolves it is like everything is going wrong.” – Mauricio Pochettino
Chelsea got their noses in front thanks to a lovely Cole Palmer (£5.9m) goal, his 10th of the season so far. It wasn’t enough, but his impact was better than most in a Blues shirt.
Elsewhere, Christopher Nkunku (£7.4m) started after playing 45 minutes in midweek but was peripheral, while Nicolas Jackson (£6.8m) was on the bench after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Attention for Chelsea now switches to the FA Cup fourth-round replay at Aston Villa on Wednesday. If they can somehow conjure up a win and progress, Palmer and co will blank in Gameweeks 26 and 29.
Dominic Solanke cut a subdued figure on the south coast on Sunday, blanking for the third time in four matches.
The former Liverpool man, who netted a hat-trick in the reverse fixture in December, failed to register a single goal attempt, touching the ball just 25 times, the fewest of any outfield starter (minimum 60 minutes).
Forest centre-back Murillo (£4.5m) did a fine job marking him, but this was a poor performance by Solanke, when many had chosen to hand him the armband.
Instead, it was the wide players who delivered. Justin Kluivert (£4.6m) and Luis Sinisterra (£5.5m) combined for the Bournemouth opener, before Callum Hudson-Odoi (£4.7m) levelled it up on the stroke of half-time.
The Cherries were unable to maintain their fast start (more on that below), but it’s worth noting their goal arrived from a corner.
It means Forest have now conceded 13 goals from such situations this season (excluding penalties), more than any other club.
Next up for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side – dead-ball specialists Kieran Trippier (£6.8m) and James Ward-Prowse (£6.0m) in Gameweeks 24 and 25 respectively.
Bournemouth had to play the latter stages with 10 men, after Philip Billing (£5.2m) hurt Hudson-Odoi.
Antoine Semenyo’s (£4.5m) half-time withdrawal was a tactical decision, meanwhile.
“They had much more rest than us. It affected us. There were 30-something fouls. It was too much. It affected us. It has been a game where there was not a lot of spaces for both teams. Today we started very, very good but once we burnt some energy we couldn’t keep this level.
“We could feel the difference. [Forest played Tuesday]. They were fresher. That is the reason we made the subs early to keep the physical level. I think we pushed a lot from the beginning. We had chances – not clear, clear chances. We have to keep working and keep getting results. We have to keep going.” – Andoni Iraola
Nuno Espirito Santo made six changes to the Forest side which lost to Arsenal on Tuesday, starting Taiwo Awoniyi (£6.3m), Hudson-Odoi and Anthony Elanga (£5.1m) in attack.
There was also a debut for Matz Sels (£4.5m) in goal, who signed from Strasbourg on transfer deadline day.
The Belgian shot-stopper put in a solid display, looking confident and composed, indicating Matt Turner’s (£3.9m) time as number one has come to an end.
The US ‘keeper had previously started seven games in a row but failed to convince, making several high-profile errors.
Elsewhere, another new signing, Giovanni Reyna (£5.0m), appeared as a second-half substitute, replacing Elanga late on.