LEICESTER CITY 1-3 ARSENAL
- Goals: Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) | David Luiz (£5.4m), Alexandre Lacazette (£8.1m), Pepe (£7.6m)
- Assists: | Willian (£7.5m) x2, Pepe
- Bonus: Willian x3, Lacazette x2, Pepe x2
FRESH BLOW FOR FOXES
Already deprived of the services of James Maddison (£7.3m) for their Double Gameweek 26 opener, Leicester saw Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) stretchered off after 50 minutes.
“It looks like Harvey Barnes is going to need an operation on his knee. I just spoke to the doctor; he might be out for six weeks. That’ll be a huge blow for us.
“It’s been unfortunate but it’s the uniqueness of the season. We haven’t cried about it all season, we’re not going to start now.” – Brendan Rodgers
It turns out that Barnes had an ongoing knee issue, which appears to have been the reason behind his benching in the Europa League on Thursday.
“He’s had niggles with it. We tried to recover him on Thursday but it’s a bad one for him and a huge blow for us. It’s been irritable and today it’s made it worse. A bone in the knee has come off.
“He had a clash of knees in the game a few weeks ago so it has been irritable. Then there was a challenge on it today that made it worse. The consolation is it’s not as long as it looked like. I’ll know more tomorrow.” – Rodgers on Barnes
Jonny Evans (£5.5m) is another doubt for Leicester, having limped off after 68 minutes. On the centre-back, Rodgers said:
He’s had this dead calf for a few weeks and he’s aggravated it. He had a shooting pain up through his calf. He’ll have a scan to see where he’s at.
Jamie Vardy (£10.2m), meanwhile, appeared to be struggling in the first half. Rodgers explained:
I think Jamie Vardy is okay. He felt his calf go making a pass but it was fine for the rest of the game.
Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) opened the scoring at the King Power after just six minutes, striding into the Arsenal box before finishing expertly into the left-hand side of Bernd Leno‘s (£5.0m) net.
Things went slowly downhill for the jaded-looking Foxes from that early goal, however.
Nicolas Pepe (£7.6m) gave Leicester left-back Luke Thomas (£4.2m) a torrid first half. Persistent fouling saw Thomas booked and subsequently hooked at half time – that in turn ended Ricardo Pereira‘s (£5.9m) ‘out of position’ deployment on the right flank, with the Portugal international moving to left-back.
A Willian (£7.5m) delivery was headed home by David Luiz (£5.4m) to bring the Gunners level, with the Brazilian midfielder then claiming a second assist for his role in a fine team goal finished off by Pepe.
In between came a spot-kick from Alexandre Lacazette (£8.1m), who was on penalty-taking duties with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.3m) sat on the bench.
Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka (£5.2m) were rested after their exertions in Europe on Thursday, which may be an issue with Arsenal assets going forward.
“It’s not that we have to rotate. I want to rotate and give a chance to the players. The only way to do it is to play them. I’m so pleased that even with making a lot of changes we’re able to produce that kind of performance.” – Mikel Arteta
Martin Odegaard (£5.9m) was brought on in the first half after Emile Smith Rowe (£4.3m) picked up an injury. In his post-match press conference, Arteta said:
Yeah, I am concerned because for Emile to come out and say I cannot continue playing it should be something big, It was something related to his hip. But yeah, he was in a good place after the game.
Despite saying that rotation was not strictly necessary, the Arsenal manager is unhappy with the number of games that clubs have at present – and his cautionary words are an obvious deterrent from a Fantasy perspective.
“That is why as well we needed to change players [today], because if not we were going to expose our players to get injured. But it is insane – the amount of minutes and the games that these players are playing without any pre-season, without any break. You are going to get injuries. We talked about it, all the managers raised our voices at the start of the season and it’s happening.” – Mikel Arteta
While the Gunners don’t play again until Saturday, Leicester are back in action for their second instalment of Double Gameweek 26 at Burnley on Wednesday.
Leicester City XI (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Thomas (Albrighton 46′), Soyuncu, Evans (Amartey 68′), Castagne; Barnes (Under 50′), Ndidi, Tielemans, R Pereira; Iheanacho, Vardy.
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tierney, Mari, David Luiz, Cedric; Xhaka, Elneny (Partey 65′); Willian, Smith Rowe (Odegaard 41′), Pepe; Lacazette (Aubameyang 83′).
ELSEWHERE IN DOUBLE GAMEWEEK 26
Round-up from SkontoRigga
The game-changing impact that Gareth Bale (£9.3m) exhibited in a 45-minute showing at West Ham last weekend carried over into Tottenham Hotspur’s first Double Gameweek 26 fixture.
Bale conjured up memories of his Spurs heyday in the early-2010s, producing a performance that was brimming with confidence in the Lilywhites’ 4-0 win over Burnley: his 50-yard ball for Harry Kane‘s (£11.1m) 14th-minute goal evidence of that.
The Welshman scored two of his own, twice latching onto Son Heung-min (£9.5m) passes to beat Nick Pope (£5.6m). His second strike, in particular, could have been taken straight from his 2012/13 highlights reel.
Bale was actually the least popular asset in the Spurs starting XI on Sunday, with just 0.4% of FPL managers owning the on-loan Madridista; expect that figure to rise sharply based on early Gameweek 27 transfer activity.
He would also appear poised to feature in his side’s second Double Gameweek 26 fixture, with Jose Mourinho sparing the Wales international for the final 20 minutes at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Bale, Son and Sergio Reguilon (£5.5m) all banked double-digit hauls against the Clarets, with the Spurs left-back teeing up Lucas Moura (£6.6m) for the hosts’ third goal.
Owners of Kane, by some distance the most-captained player in the top 10k in the current Gameweek, may have been feeling short-changed with their six points, however.
Kane wasted a stoppage-time ‘big chance’ that would have doubled his Gameweek 26 score after bonus.
That was one of a remarkable seven opportunities that Son created throughout.
As for Burnley, a rare day to forget defensively and the first time that Pope has shipped more than two goals in a single match since Gameweek 7.
A first blank in five matches for Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m) arrived at an inopportune for Fantasy managers who had backed him with the Gameweek 26 captaincy.
The Portugal international was well shackled throughout, with his expected goal involvement (xGI) total a paltry 0.09 against Chelsea on Sunday.
Manchester United were fairly anaemic overall, mustering just two shots in the box in the stalemate at Stamford Bridge.
An easier test awaits in midweek, at least, with Crystal Palace unlikely to prove such stubborn opposition as a Chelsea side who have now kept five clean sheets in seven Premier League matches under Thomas Tuchel.
Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.7m) has quietly gone about his business under his new manager, averaging 6.3 points per match and starting every game since the change in the hot seat.
It was the two goalkeepers, plus Andreas Christensen (£4.7m), who took home the bonus points in west London, which gives the impression the game had more action than it actually did.
David de Gea (£5.3m) did make one excellent stop to keep out Hakim Ziyech (£7.9m) but clear-cut chances were scarce.
Timo Werner (£9.2m) and Marcos Alonso (£5.7m) were the latest victims of Tuchel’s tinkering, dropping to the bench for this dour draw.
Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) blanked against a bottom-half club for the sixth successive time as Liverpool ended a dismal run of results with a 2-0 win at Sheffield United.
A wasted late opportunity from an Andrew Robertson (£7.2m) cross extended that sequence but there is hope for Salah owners and captainers in that his last four attacking returns have come in matches against clubs around them, and it’s fifth-place Chelsea up next.
Jurgen Klopp sought to address the Reds’ recent attacking woes by moving to a more offensive 4-2-3-1 against the Blades, with Sadio Mane (£11.8m) afforded a freer role in ‘the hole’ and Curtis Jones (£4.4m) stationed on the left wing.
It was budget midfielder Jones, starting his fourth game in a row, who opened the scoring before Roberto Firmino‘s (£9.2m) deflected effort capped off the scoring.
Alisson (£5.9m) was absent on compassionate grounds as Liverpool kept only their second clean sheet of 2021, with the sense of normality returning further as Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.4m) plundered bonus points to go with their clean sheets.
The imminent return of Fabinho (£5.4m) is another boost at the back but there were enough chances carved out by the division’s lowest scorers and hairy moments involving the unconvincing Ozan Kabak (£5.0m) for a healthy scepticism to remain.
Fulham underscored how good a defensive side they now are with their fifth clean sheet in seven Gameweeks.
They won’t face many teams as feeble as Crystal Palace, of course, with the Eagles registering just three shots on goal for the second match running.
But the Cottagers have kept out better clubs than Roy Hodgson’s troops and have conceded fewer goals than all teams bar Manchester City over the last 14 Gameweeks.
They’ll be a tough nut for Spurs to crack in midweek, based on recent evidence.
A vital component of the Fulham backline has been centre-half Joachim Andersen (£4.5m), who hasn’t blanked in any of his last five outings and who racked up a remarkable five attempts on goal in the 0-0 draw against Palace.
He’s a secure starter, too, as rotation frustration sets in at full-back.
Josh Maja (£5.5m) hasn’t been able to build on his brace at Everton and spurned a ‘big chance’ in the second half on Sunday, with Fulham’s familiar failing of being able to create opportunities without finishing them rearing its head again.
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