Lessons Learned: FPL Gameweek 2

In a brand new weekly feature, we’re going to be reviewing the Gameweek just gone by in order to pinpoint the foremost interesting lessons learned to take forward into the next FPL gameweek 

So, another action-packed Premier League weekend has come and gone, and as a result, has a lot of FPL managers scratching their heads.

Here’s my attempt of trying to make sense of all that’s gone on…

Arsenal 2-1 Burnley – Ceballos looking classy but Barnes continues scoring form

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Arsenal Lessons: Firstly, it looks like, in the absence of Mesut Ozil, that Dani Ceballos, the new signing, will be on set-pieces for the Gunners.

Their first goal came as a result of Ceballos’ set-piece taking ability, with Alexandre Lacazette finishing on his first start this season. Ceballos also looks like he has more of a free-roaming role within the team, so should be right up there with the attacks.

It also looks like Aubameyang should be almost guaranteed starts. This was proven by his inclusion on the left wing in this game, while Lacazette played up front.

And while this isn’t an ideal situation for FPL managers, there is still potential for both goals and assists, with the Gabon international being able to cut in from the left side.

However, they still looked slightly edgy at the back, as I mentioned last week. Ceballos’ attempt at fending off Dwight McNeil was weak, and none of either David Luiz or Matteo Guendouzi pounced on Ashley Barnes, after the resulting shot deflected into his path.

Burnley Lessons: Despite conceding two goals, Nick Pope seemed to play a blinder at the Emirates, making 7 saves to keep his team well and truly in with a shout.

It’s not just the significance of those saves to his team that matters, but also the fact that there are 2 extra FPL points riding on those saves. Added to this, he made 3 saves against Southampton in GW1, which is another point.

In short, Pope is a save magnet, and seems a very solid option for your teams.

At the other end of the field, Ashley Barnes also seems to be proving himself as a form-over-fixture type player, with the Austrian fox-in-the-box grabbing another goal to take his tally to 3 goals in 2 games.

Burnley go to Molineux next, to face a Wolves side who will have played in Turin just 3 days before this game. Wolves are usually very organised at the back, but this could be a factor which knocks them off their stride and gives Barnes a good chance for points.

At the back, the Clarets did seem vulnerable at times, especially in the second half, to the pace of Aubameyang, although this is likely to be a problem for most teams in the league this season.

Aston Villa 1-2 Bournemouth – Villa accident-prone in defence

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Aston Villa Lessons: Despite a strong defensive showing for most of their opening game at Tottenham, Villa looked a lot more nervous in this match.

I would, personally, put this down to newcomer Douglas Luiz, and the fact that he has replaced Conor Hourihane in the defensive midfield spot, epitomized by him leaving an easy pass for Harry Wilson’s goal.

Despite scoring a brilliant goal, the Brazilian doesn’t quite seem to have bought into Dean Smith’s system just yet, and has looked out of place as a defensive midfielder since his introduction as a sub at Spurs.

This means, of course, a certain lack of stability when sitting back and defending. Which might be somewhat pleasing for owners of Tom Heaton, or members of Villa’s opponents, but it means that Villa just aren’t quite there in terms of defence.

Anyway, the nervous showing in the match seemed to carry through the entirety of the ranks, as even Tom Heaton himself made a silly error in bringing down Callum Wilson, before Josh King slotted the penalty away inside 2 minutes.

John McGinn looked promising, with some dangerous long-range efforts being fired very close to goal by the Scotsman, and you would think that his persistence will pay off in the near future, in the currency of goals.

Bournemouth Lessons: In terms of Bournemouth, we’ve seen their first penalty of the season, and therefore, we have it confirmed that Josh King will take them again this season ahead of Wilson.

The other goal scorer, Harry Wilson, is another player who seems as if he is ready to take this season by storm.

He doesn’t seem afraid of a shot from range, evidenced by his goal in this game, as well as his time at Derby, and time will only tell if he becomes a regular on free-kicks, given he was so good at them for the Rams last term.

Callum Wilson seems to be ticking over on “FPL” assists and doesn’t appear to be offering good value at his £8m price tag currently.

This of course could change with them still having good fixtures in the foreseeable future but with King £1.5m lower than him, on penalties, and with Pukki on fire, it’s difficult to justify owning Wilson currently.

Brighton 1-1 West Ham – Trossard off to a flier

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Brighton Lessons – One thing is for sure, Leandro Trossard looks a really good prospect. The 22-goal Belgian had a brilliant afternoon for the Seagulls, scoring Brighton’s only goal of the game.

He would have had another as well, but Dan Burn was caught offside by VAR, which cancelled out a beautiful volley by the Belgian Pro League winner.

He seemed to be involved massively, in almost everything Brighton did, and looked a classy player on the left wing.

Both Florin Andone and Neal Maupay were left on the bench again, despite their goals against Watford, with Graham Potter preferring Glenn Murray once again.

It was Murray’s work rate which caused the defensive error for Trossard’s goal, with the Belgian then rounding Masuaku, before setting himself, and firing home emphatically.

In short, Brighton look like this system fits them brilliantly, seen as the majority of the squad is geared towards more attacking football.

West Ham Lessons: Manuel Pellegrini’s side looked a little bit more of a threat on the attack this week, although they can be forgiven for not getting a chance to be one in GW1.

Sebastien Haller missed this game through a minor injury, and Javier Hernandez caused his manager a real selection headache by scoring in this match.

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Chicharito latched onto a nice through ball by Manuel Lanzini, and finished passed Mat Ryan, although the Australian didn’t exactly cover himself in glory with his attempted save.

Manuel Lanzini carried on his lively energy from GW1, and now has an assist to his name. This is a good piece of confidence for the Argentine to take into a GW3 trip to joint-bottom Watford, who have conceded 4 in their opening 2 games.

In addition, the 2 matches which follow this game are against newly-promoted sides, with Norwich visiting the London Stadium in GW4, before Aston Villa host the Hammers in GW5. In the short-term, the fixtures definitely aid Lanzini’s appeal.

Everton 1-0 Watford – Toffees still looking wasteful in front of goal

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Everton Lessons: They did get one this time, but Everton could have had many more than that in this match.

For a start, Richarlison missed two free headers, one in each half, both of which were plated up by Gylfi Sigurdsson from free kicks. There was also an effort by young Italian striker Moise Kean, which high and wide by miles.

Having said this, they also let their opponents have more chances than they would have wanted, such as Craig Dawson hitting the crossbar with a header, and Troy Deeney forcing Jordan Pickford to use his face to make a save.

Bernard, as always, looked lively, but this time, he managed to provide an end product for his majestic pace and dribbling. Lucas Digne provided the assist, with a sumptuous long ball setting the Brazilian away down the left wing. Don’t get too used to Bernard scoring, however; this was just his second PL goal, in 36 appearances.

In terms of the Toffees’ full backs, we can see their advancement in this match, especially from Lucas Digne, who was removed on 73 minutes with a minor problem:

Heat Map for Lucas Digne vs Watford

It’s not often that a full back’s hottest spot is beyond the halfway line, but this was the case for Digne.

Already a popular player in FPL because of his threat from corners and free kicks, the Frenchman is clearly being allowed by Marco Silva to push on down the wing, which means his crossing ability can also be adequately used, meaning further assist potential.

Watford Lessons: The Hornets, once again, seemed very reliant on the set-piece potential of Jose Holebas, and it was his corner which caused the biggest problem to Everton in the first half.

Craig Dawson was the man who headed off the crossbar; a player who has become a massive aerial threat over the years. From defence, he has 17 goals in 211 PL appearances, most of which from set-piece situations.

To put this in perspective, his central defensive partner, Craig Cathcart, has scored 11 fewer goals in 196 games. So it’s a lot of goals, and a very good ratio, for a centre back, which proves his aerial threat.

While their team’s defensive frailties mean that neither Dawson or Holebas are viable picks at this stage, it could be a large part of the Hornets’ points potential if their form does improve.

Norwich 3-1 Newcastle – Pukki shines as the Canaries lay down a marker

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Norwich Lessons: Teemu Pukki kept his goal scoring form rolling, as he scored Norwich’s first PL hat-trick for 26 years to down a rather helpless-looking Newcastle side.

The Finn looked exceptional running in behind, and his finishing ability was on a different planet in this match. He also showed brilliant ability to drop in and help the attack forth, as well as fantastic defensive work-rate.

Aside from his stunning volley, Pukki was mainly scoring goals that the Carrow Road faithful have been used to seeing, and for this, he is helped massively by brilliant service.

This was provided by Todd Cantwell, who should be taking a massive bow after providing the Finn with two assists, and playing an all-round solid match.

He should be starting every game anyway, because of the freak injury to Onel Hernandez, but also because of his brilliant form, which he has managed to carry over from pre-season.

The Canaries did look very sloppy at the end of the game, where they switched off almost entirely to allow Newcastle in for a consolation, which took the shine off their otherwise stellar performance.

Newcastle Lessons: If Newcastle are going to play like they did at Carrow Road for the rest of the season, then they deserve to be relegated without too much fuss.

They threw in a tame performance against a rampant Norwich side, with very few chances created, and very little defending going on.

Joelinton missed perhaps their best chance of the game, as he headed wide from an Isaac Hayden cross, while Matt Richie had a shot from outside the box saved by former Magpie Tim Krul.

They really didn’t offer a huge amount to threaten Norwich, and their defence looked wide open for large parts of the game.

Jonjo Shelvey got a consolation for the Toon, as he beat Max Aarons easily, before opening his body out and popping the shot into Krul’s left corner. On the balance of the game, this was not a goal Newcastle deserved.

Man City 2-2 Tottenham – Lamela a surprise standout for Spurs

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Man City Lessons: Despite the score line, Man City were, of course, a force to be reckoned with in this match.

They were fantastic on the attack, and really did deserve more than just a point. In total, City managed 30 shots, of which 10 were on target, and also had 15 corners in the game, but couldn’t find a winner.

Kevin De Bruyne gave a huge performance in midfield, and he followed this up by providing both assists, to take his tally to 3 in 2 games. It has to be said that KdB will be, as City always are, fixture-proof, so not having him will likely cause you some nerves, come 2pm on Sunday.

However, it may be worth taking into account that he hasn’t had a goal or assist against Bournemouth, who are City’s GW3 opponents, since 2016.

In other news, both Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero added to their goal tallies for the season, after capitalising on the aforementioned assists from De Bruyne.

Surprisingly, for Spurs’ first goal, City did look wide open, as Erik Lamela simply walked through their defence, before unleashing a curling shot which found its way around a poorly-positioned Ederson.

Consider, also, the fact that Lucas Moura scored with a header from a corner. That’s right, you don’t need to re-read that. This would indicate that City also still have work to do on set-piece defending, despite their rampant campaign last season.

Tottenham Lessons: Rather surprisingly, in a game like this, Erik Lamela was the Tottenham player to step forward and solve their problems.

After walking through City for his first, he also took the corner from which Lucas Moura scored Spurs’ second equaliser of the match.

This now causes a massive headache for Mauricio Pochettino, as he has to work out how to incorporate the returning Heung-Min Son into a side with the on-form Moura and Lamela, as well as also managing to keep Eriksen in the side.

Hugo Lloris made 8 saves in the game to stop City from running away with it, in all honesty, with the French keeper coming in as a candidate for Spurs’ Man of the Match.

He may not be as fixture-proof as Ederson, but as a premium keeper, Lloris still seems to have bags of save potential. Anyway, during this game, he surely proved he has that ability.

Sheffield United 1-0 Crystal Palace – Blades stay solid as Lundstram pops up

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Sheffield United Lessons: Sheffield United really are good fighters in this league. They are a side that are going to be incredibly difficult to get past this season, as they allow no spaces in behind them.

And if there was a Palace player with space and time on the ball, they didn’t have long at all. Chris Wilder’s side is excellently drilled on their press, from front to back, and it more than showed in this game.

An injury to John Fleck meant that Luke Freeman came onto the field, and from there, the Blades took control. He instantly instilled a forward momentum into the side, and it was his shot which was saved, and resulted in John Lundstram’s goal.

Sheffield United also continued with their patented tactic of overlapping centre backs from last season, with Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell being the duo who play this role.

However, these weren’t the only defenders charging forward, as the following heat maps show:

Heat Map for George Baldock vs Crystal Palace
Heat Map for Enda Stevens vs Crystal Palace

These were Sheffield United’s wing backs, George Baldock and Enda Stevens. It isn’t often that even wing backs get this far up the field during a match, and stay there, so make the most of these potential assets.

If these two don’t notch at least 12 assists between them this season, I’ll be incredibly surprised, especially with that level of attacking threat.

Crystal Palace Lessons: For the majority of this match, the Eagles looked woeful. They didn’t have any sort of fight in them, let alone the fight needed to match their hosts.

In fact, the closest that Palace got to showing fight was when James McCarthy started one with George Baldock.

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Christian Benteke, once again, looked utterly useless, and Wilfried Zaha, despite starting at Bramall Lane, proved completely ineffective, as he was marked out of the game by a solid back line.

The only one of Roy Hodgson’s side that looked anywhere close to being dangerous was Andros Townsend, who had a shot saved smartly by Dean Henderson. Apart from that, Henderson might as well have popped his deckchair in the net.

It wasn’t exactly a busy day for Vicente Guaita either, come to think of it, but in general, the Blades were by far the most threatening side of the two.

Chelsea 1-1 Leicester – Chelsea’s defence letting them down again

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Chelsea Lessons: Mason Mount is really starting to look lively for the Blues, and his goal compiles all the energy that he shows in matches. The Englishman stayed alert to make a great sprint to dispossess N’didi, before placing it well into the bottom corner past Kasper Schmeichel.However, after around half an hour.

Chelsea backed off, and Kepa had a major mishap with the ball at his feet. This nearly gifted Jamie Vardy a cheap leveller, and instilled nerves into the Chelsea back line once more.

Into the second half, Kepa nearly cost Chelsea once more, misjudging when to come out of his goal to close down Maddison. But Leicester came into the game much more in the second half, because Chelsea let them do so.

Their corner defending was poor again, and really, no one in a blue shirt turned up in the second half, just as the case seemed to be against Man Utd in GW1.

Leicester Lessons: The Foxes did take some time to grow into the game, and Wilfred N’didi didn’t cover himself in glory when Mount dispossessed him. They seemed to dawdle during the first few minutes of the game, but came into it when Chelsea tired themselves out.

Into the second half, James Maddison seemed to run the show for the Foxes. He got his well-deserved assist from a corner, giving Ndidi a free header, and was finding spaces all over the park.

The former Norwich man was absolutely impossible for Chelsea to pick up, and because of his performance alone, Leicester should have won the game in the second half. He created multiple chances, and offers a huge FPL assists potential, if that game is anything to go by.

Jamie Vardy was latching onto most of these passes from Maddison, and he seemed to be on the same wavelength, for the most part, as his compatriot. Could this be the start of a deadly partnership at Leicester this season?

Wolves 1-1 Manchester United – Martial scores again whilst Pogba misses penalty 

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Wolves Lessons: Despite their European commitments, Wolves still don’t seem to be letting up too much, in terms of their performance levels.

Given Conor Coady was the only player in the squad who played all of the match against Pyunik, as well as Man Utd, he was the player who seemed the most tired in the squad.

This was proved by his lazy dangling of a leg for the penalty incident, and despite the fact there was very minimal contact, it was always going to be something that Pogba, or any player, would use as an excuse to go down.

He was bailed out by his ‘keeper, Rui Patricio, on this occasion, as he denied Pogba from 12 yards for his only save of the match.

Apart from Coady, Wolves looked fairly fresh, as they piled the pressure on during the second half, with Raul Jimenez hitting the post with a header from Joao Moutinho’s free kick, before they eventually broke through.

It was a set-piece routine again, with Moutinho playing a one-two from a corner, and drilling it to Ruben Neves, who made no mistake from the edge of the area.

Wolves did try a couple of variations on set-pieces in the match, and they tried to bring Neves into the game more from them, despite Moutinho being the set-piece taker.

Man Utd Lessons: After Paul Pogba managed to have yet another penalty saved in this match, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stated in the press conference afterwards that nothing will change when it comes to the penalties. Both of them are the designated penalty-takers and he leaves them to sort it out.

But after Pogba missing, you would think Rashford will be pushing hard for the foreseeable penalties given he scored his against Chelsea.

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Rashford, aside from this, was playing more as a left-sided midfielder again, with the FPL-billed midfielder Anthony Martial once again taking up the number 9 role.

It worked to good effect too, as he was there to finish off a slick passing move that also involved Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard, and Rashford, who got the assist.

However, United seemed to switch off from set-pieces, which is why Wolves came so close to punishing them with Jimenez’s header, and why they eventually did with Ruben Neves’ beautiful curling strike.

David De Gea also had just one save to make, so if it wasn’t for these set-piece frailties, United could have been good value for their second clean sheet of the season.

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