West Ham United 3-3 Arsenal
- Goals: Jesse Lingard (£6.1m), Jarrod Bowen (£5.9m), Tomas Soucek (£5.3m) | Soucek own-goal, Craig Dawson (£4.5m) own-goal, Alexandre Lacazette (£8.2m)
- Assists: Michail Antonio (£6.7m) x2, Lingard | Lacazette, Callum Chambers (£4.5m), Nicolas Pepe (£7.6m)
- Bonus: Lacazette x3, Lingard x2, Bowen/Chambers x1
Arsenal and West Ham United shared six goals at the London Stadium on Sunday, with the Gunners coming from 3-0 down to snatch a point.
Jesse Lingard‘s (£6.1m) latest goal for West Ham United, a thumping half-volley from the edge of the box in Sunday’s draw with Arsenal, was suggestive of a man in form.
And what form he’s in: it’s eight attacking returns in seven games for the midfielder since he made the loan move to east London in January.
His average of exactly 8.0 FPL points per match – from a small sample size, admittedly – can’t be bettered by any other player this season.
He’s returned against the likes of Manchester City and Spurs in that time, so there’s every chance that he can maintain his purple patch in Gameweek 30 when West Ham face a Wolves side that has allowed more big chances than all bar whipping boys Sheffield United over their last half-dozen matches.
Six of the Hammers’ remaining nine games are, in fact, against bottom-half clubs:
Lingard has bettered even Michail Antonio (£6.7m) for penalty box touches and shots on goal since he made the switch from the north-west, although it was the West Ham striker who had the better chances on Sunday.
Antonio struck the woodwork from point-blank range and had a goalbound shot inadvertently blocked by Kieran Tierney (£5.3m) in the second half, having earlier seen his off-target header diverted into the net by Tomas Soucek (£5.3m).
That was Soucek’s ninth goal of a remarkable season – as many as Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.5m) have managed – and it was encouraging to see the Czech international popping up in some dangerous positions again.
ICE COLD ALEX
Alexandre Lacazette (£8.2m) was given the nod to lead the line for the Gunners on Sunday, with his deployment up top meaning that Aubameyang was used out wide – initially on the right – for the first time in well over a month.
The resulting display from the Gabonese striker, who ended Gameweek 29 with no shots or key passes to his name, was abject and further fuel to the argument that he’s not worth considering as a premium Fantasy asset when farmed out to one of the flanks.
Lacazette, by contrast, made it four attacking returns in as many run-outs, first seeing a shot deflect in off Soucek before capping off the Gunners’ remarkable comeback when nodding in substitute Nicolas Pepe‘s (£7.6m) cross.
ODE TO ODE
With a tired-looking Bukayo Saka (£5.3m) not at his best and Emile Smith Rowe (£4.2m) having a well-earned breather, it was left to Martin Odegaard (£6.0m) to fly the flag for Arsenal’s budget FPL midfielders.
The Norwegian has been increasingly influential week on week and he was excellent on Sunday, recording twice as many final-third touches as any West Ham player.
The lack of attacking returns is off-putting and there is a nagging feeling that he will ‘assist the assister’ more often than not – something he did on two occasions on Sunday.
Back-to-back goals in league and in Europe last week hints at the possibility of future returns, at least, with Arteta keen to have the on-loan Madridista take more risks in front of goal.
Odegaard also created more chances than any other Arsenal player on Sunday (and has done this over the last six Gameweeks), with his role on set plays another string to his bow.
Arteta said of the Norway international:
I think he had an incredible performance, he was very intelligent the way he read the game, the way he affected the game and again he showed how much he wants to win. When everyone was a little bit trembling, he gave us that composure on the ball and he created chance after chance.
I love talented and creative players that all the time are willing to take that ball and make things happen, that are mobile and also hard-working. He is one of them. We have some others with different qualities but it’s true that Martin is now giving us a different level on certain things that we didn’t have.
No Premier League club is on a longer run without a clean sheet than Arsenal.
It’s eight matches without a shut-out for the Gunners, which isn’t a great advert for their defence ahead of their excellent fixture swing in Gameweek 31.
In mitigation, Arteta’s troops have just embarked on a testing run of games and most of their clean sheets have, as one would expect, come against the also-rans of the division:
|v top half||v bottom half|
So there is cause for optimism ahead of an appealing run-in, although the yawning chasms in their defence at the London Stadium and the ongoing rotation risk will have put a few FPL managers off.
Callum Chambers (£4.5m), incidentally, put in a fine shift at right-back and could quite easily have emerged with a hat-trick of assists rather than the one he banked.
FOREVER FORMING BUBBLES
It’s not just injuries that we have to keep an eye on over the international break but illness and quarantining, too.
David Moyes said of Soucek’s impending departure for the Czech Republic:
It is a concern for us. A couple of times going to the Czech Republic it has not been so good, they had problems the last two times from what I can remember.
We have had reassurances from all the doctors from the nations that everything will be correct and all the bubbles will be made correct. I think UEFA have a responsibility as well that everything is carried out correctly.
And asked about Aubameyang’s trip to Africa, Arteta said:
We believe that he’s going to be okay to go. We still have a few other issues with some players that are feeling some issues, so I don’t know. Unless some rules change or some countries are going to the red zone, I don’t know how the situation is going to be.
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianksi; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen (Noble 73), Lingard, Benrahma (Fredericks 79); Antonio.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Luiz, Mari, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka (Smith Rowe 74); Aubameyang (Martinelli 81), Odegaard, Saka (Pepe 74); Lacazette.
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