West Bromwich Albion 0-4 Arsenal
- Goals: Alexandre Lacazette (£8.2m) x2, Kieran Tierney (£5.5m), Bukayo Saka (£5.3m)
- Assists: Emile Smith Rowe (£4.4m) x2, Rob Holding (£4.5m), Tierney
- Bonus: Tierney x3, Lacazette x2, Holding x1
Arsenal brushed aside a hapless West Brom side that has now scored just once while conceding 13 times in the four league matches since Sam Allardyce took charge.
That keeps Baggies assets the wrong side of pointless, in so many senses, while Arsenal stars offer intriguing Fantasy possibilities in both the short and medium-term.
Gameweek 18’s seven fixtures are tempting managers to consider using their Free Hit chip, with the Gunners’ home match against Crystal Palace catching the eye.
The north London side have won three games on the bounce now, although their south London rivals are likely to show considerably more resistance than West Brom, having taken four points from the last six available, conceding just once along the way.
Alexandre Lacazette (£8.2m), who scored twice in four second-half minutes on Saturday, should be a strong bet to be a Free Hit striker for many.
He’s owned by just 4.6% of FPL managers and isn’t feeling huge regular transfer love despite four goals from his last three appearances, one of which was a 24-minute match-winning cameo at Brighton.
Instead, the Gameweek 18 money is going on Bukayo Saka (£5.3m), who was outstanding at West Brom, scoring his second goal in three matches.
The midfielder is currently the most-popular transfer in, with 100,000+ new managers.
But like most Arsenal assets, he’s still something of a differential, even if his 7.7% ownership figure is bettered by only Bernd Leno (£4.9m and 8.3%) among his team-mates.
Saka is providing a lot of bang for relatively little buck, with 27 points over the last three Gameweeks.
And so is Emile Smith Rowe (£4.4m), who set up two goals against the Baggies and is shaping up to be a team talisman.
He’s started the last three matches, producing three assists and helping the Gunners to three wins at exactly 6.0 points per match – no midfielder at that bargain bucket price can offer such a return.
For those on the tightest of budgets, Smith Rowe is a tempting prospect if he continues to hold down a starting spot.
An understandably delighted Mikel Arteta reserved his biggest praise for defender Kieran Tierney (£5.3m), in part simply for being Scottish on a snowy night:
He’s got something special in his blood because we’re all wearing snoods, gloves and hats. He just goes out in his shorts and t-shirt! He is a joy to work with and I’m so happy for him with the goal he scored and everything he’s put in to be better every day towards the team and towards the club.
Tierney ended up with a match-leading four chances created and, with a second straight clean sheet under his belt as well, he produced a bumper 18-point haul for his 5.7% ownership.
The 6.3% on Hector Bellerin (£5.1m) were rather less well served as their man’s first-half booking persuaded Arteta to take him off after 53 minutes.
So while Tierney produced his first double-digit total of the season, the Spaniard brought in zero points.
Centre-half Rob Holding (£4.5m) also made it into double figures, thanks to an assist and one bonus point.
He’s put on over 100,000 new owners over Christmas and his price has moved up a notch as a result, but he’s still relatively cheap for a player who’s currently looking like a reliable starter in an improving backline.
Gunner Be Interesting
Free Hit or not, Arsenal players need monitoring.
After the visit of Palace, their fixtures are a mix of the good (Newcastle at home), the tough (Manchester United, also at home) and the harder to call (Southampton, Wolves and Aston Villa away, Leeds at The Emirates).
But the form of Lacazette, and the cut-price delights of Saka and co, should prompt investment, especially for those in need of a differential or two.
The Gunners could be further boosted by the return to fitness of Thomas Partey (£4.9m), with Arteta providing an injury update post-match:
Well, he hasn’t trained fully with us, but he has done most parts of training in the last few days. He’s feeling good and we will assess him if he needs another two or three sessions to see if he’s 100 per cent available to play [v Newcastle in the FA Cup].
Finding space in the midfield for a player of such quality will need to be achieved without upsetting a side that has clearly found some balance in his extended absence, of course.
As for West Brom, Allardyce continues to play the just-arrived card:
Another game gone by where we learn more about the players we have. We have learned an awful lot about what we can and cannot do.
‘Awful’ is the word and Fantasy managers learned that long ago – the only starter with anything approaching a vaguely significant ownership is keeper Sam Johnstone (£4.5m and 2.4%), who made eight stops against the Gunners to continue leading the way for saves in FPL, with 74.
West Bromwich Albion XI (4-1-4-1): Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Ivanovic (Bartley 66), O’Shea; Sawyers; Diangana (Austin 45), Gallagher, M Phillips (Harper 81), M Pereira; C Robinson.
Arsenal XI (4-3-3): Leno; Tierney, Mari, Holding, Bellerín (Maitland-Niles 54); Xhaka, Ceballos, Smith Rowe (Willock 77); Saka (Willian 71), Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Lessons learned from FPL Gameweek 17
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