Our write-ups of the Gameweek 15 action begin with the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) talking points from Saturday’s fixtures.
The numbers you see in this article are from our Premium Members area, where you can access Opta player and team data for every single Premier League fixture.
HAALAND FIT FOR GAMEWEEK 16(?)
It was a rollercoaster afternoon for owners of Erling Haaland (£12.1m), some of whom would have found out he wasn’t starting before Saturday’s deadline – not that the FPL server crash allowed many managers to do much with that information.
The Norwegian may have remained an unused substitute had an early Julian Alvarez (£6.0m) goal been built on but a Joao Cancelo (£7.4m) red card and the subsequent Fulham penalty left the game finely poised and led to Haaland’s introduction after an hour.
The up-and-down day continued as a headed effort was chalked off for offside before he – just – squeezed a stoppage-time penalty under Bernd Leno (£4.5m), picking up a bonus-affecting yellow card for his shirtless celebration and ending the day on five points.
Wouldn’t you just know it, City are involved in the early kick-off again next Saturday, so we may witness a similar spike in traffic on the FPL site ahead of the deadline if there is any line-up leakage.
Most of the FPL interest in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI has been because of Haaland’s fitness, however, and now that’s he available for selection again, perhaps we’ll see less bottlenecking on the FPL site as a result.
There were no obvious signs of him lacking any kind of match-sharpness but Guardiola had said ahead of kick-off that he wasn’t “perfect”, so he evidently wasn’t 100% after his recent spell out of training.
“He is feeling better he could play but he is not in perfect situation but he is on the bench just in case we need him. We will see. The game will dictate what we have to do.” – Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland ahead of kick-off
Another seven days of training should, should, ensure a start against Brentford but we do have a midweek cup tie against Chelsea to come, and it’ll be interesting to see if Haaland and any other first-teamers get extended game-time given that their Gameweek 16 match follows less than 63 hours after full-time on Wednesday.
CANCELO AVAILABLE FOR GAMEWEEK 16
Wondering where Cancelo’s red flag is? The City full-back faces a one-match ban as a result of his dismissal against Fulham but, as luck would have it, that’ll be served in the Carabao Cup.
He’ll be available to start in Gameweek 16 as a result – providing he isn’t on Guardiola’s naughty step.
“[Cancelo] has to learn. It can happen in football and they score a goal, but you have to play 11 v 11. Hopefully he can learn for the future.
“He is an exceptional player and all that he has given to us these years is amazing, but he has to learn to control his emotions and control his actions. I am pretty sure he will learn.” – Pep Guardiola
Phil Foden (£8.4m) is now on his longest run of Premier League benchings since May 2021, after he was named among the substitutes for the third straight game on Saturday.
Champions League run-outs have happened in between, of course, but little was really riding on the ties against Dortmund and Sevilla and the likes of Jack Grealish (£6.8m), Kevin De Bruyne (£12.5m) and Bernardo Silva (£6.9m) have all tellingly had their minutes managed in those midweek fixtures.
Short of having a direct line to Guardiola, no-one really knows why Foden has suddenly found himself warming the bench domestically. Wild theories abound: has his limited game-time coincided with Haaland’s absence because the City boss thinks Foden and the Norwegian work most effectively as a pair? Has the England international shown any signs of having his mind on the World Cup and is being punished accordingly? Was it his display in the Liverpool game? Or is it, as Guardiola said on Friday, “no issue” and just something “that happens”.
It’s all conjecture but the notion that ‘it can’t possible happen for another league game’ is weakening and extended game-time against Chelsea in midweek will leave owners sweating ahead of the plum-looking home fixture against Brentford.
MITROVIC INJURY NEWS
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.9m) was a surprise omission from the Fulham squad at the Etihad.
The striker missed out with ankle pain and there is no guarantee that he will recover in time to face Manchester United in Gameweek 16 based on Marco Silva’s below comments, so it’s no surprise to see him topping the forwards’ ‘transfers out’ column ahead of next Saturday’s deadline.
“He felt a little bit more pain after the last match, was not in conditions to train during the week. He’s a player that we have to assess every day to see how long it will be.” – Marco Silva on Aleksandar Mitrovic
Andreas Pereira (£4.6m) was the key beneficiary of Mitrovic’s absence, as it was he who was given the nod to take the Cottagers’ spot-kick after the foul that led to Cancelo’s dismissal.
LEICESTER: FROM RIDICULOUS TO SUBLIME
|Last seven matches||First seven matches|
|Expected goals conceded (xGC)||8.40||12.90|
A bit of a joke in the first eight Gameweeks of the season, Leicester have been a team transformed since the international break.
No side has kept more clean sheets (five) or conceded fewer goals (three) in the last seven Gameweeks, while Danny Ward (£4.1m) and Timothy Castagne (£4.6m) are FPL’s leading points scorers in their respective positions over that period.
The impact of new signing Wout Faes (£4.5m) can’t be underestimated, the Belgian excellent again on Saturday.
But just as the Foxes’ backline wasn’t as comically bad as the goals conceded column hinted at in Gameweeks 1-8, they are also not quite as good as what their recent defensive output suggests.
No club underachieved more in terms of xGC before the international break – and no team has overachieved more since then.
Leicester’s fixtures have been much easier in this second half of the season to date, too, so profligate finishing from inferior opposition attackers is a contributing factor.
James Maddison (£8.2m) has been individually excellent through Leicester’s good and bad over the last 12 months, hitting 17 goals and 15 assists in his last 35 appearances; those are premium asset-level returns.
MADDISON’S LAST 35 MATCHES
|FPL points per match||6.46|
Another two assists for Maddison arrived on Saturday, one of them being supplied to Harvey Barnes (£6.9m), who himself has scored four goals since the international break.
The World Cup may be coming at a bad time for Leicester, given their momentum.
“If you’re talking technical level, tactical idea and efficiency, he’s right up there. He’s one of the best players in this league, never mind in England. There’s absolutely no question. We’re talking in this league which is full of world-class superstars. He is a superstar. What a player.” – Brendan Rodgers on James Maddison
Nottingham Forest deservedly gained a point from their match with Brentford, a late Zanka (£4.0m) own-goal restoring parity after Bryan Mbeumo (£5.8m) and Yoane Wissa (£5.4m) – in their respective roles as penalty-taker and centre-forward only because of Ivan Toney‘s (£7.4m) suspension – had taken the Bees to the brink of victory.
Forest had opened the scoring through Morgan Gibbs-White (£5.5m), one of just two Forest outfielders to be an ever-present starter since he made his full debut in Gameweek 4.
We can’t get carried away after one double-digit haul, with his goal and assist against Brentford doubling his attacking returns for the season.
But a new role in the Forest attack is something to monitor: he was stationed as a spearhead/false nine of Steve Cooper’s 4-3-3 on Saturday, not just excelling but racking up more shots (seven) than anyone bar Maddison in Gameweek 15 so far.
Above: Forest’s average position map in Gameweek 15 (left) and players involved at the City Ground sorted by shots
“We scored a great goal through Morgan, who I thought was the best player on the pitch and Brennan and Emmanuel got into some really good positions.” – Steve Cooper
Brentford players are off the FPL map right now as they take on Manchester City in Gameweek 16.
Their away form is worth noting for owners of City assets going into that game: the Bees have only kept one clean sheet in their last 23 away games, conceding 11 goals in their last three matches on the road alone.
MITOMA: ONE TO WATCH
“A potential FPL star in the making” was how we described Kaoru Mitoma (£4.9m) in last week’s look at Brighton and Hove Albion assets, albeit with the caveat over short-term game-time.
He has really impressed in cameos off the bench this season and Albion’s superb scouting department appears to have unearthed another cut-price gem.
Ratings of 10/10 and 9/10 were given to him in two admittedly biased local publications after Saturday’s win over Wolves, a match in which he lay down a marker for future starts with a headed goal and all-round excellent display.
He is currently operating as a left-winger in Roberto De Zerbi’s 4-2-3-1, so it’s only Leandro Trossard‘s (£7.0m) recent move to a centre-forward role that has allowed him successive starts in Gameweeks 14 and 15. Security of starts can’t be guaranteed just now, then, but more of these types of performances and he’ll leave his manager with no option.
Goal attempts haven’t really been forthcoming this season (only three in 308 minutes) but previous run-outs as a wing-back have to be taken into account and goals have flowed for both previous club Kawasaki Frontale (who are they? exactly) and the Japan national team.
He is also creating chances at a better rate than any of his team-mates:
Above: Brighton players sorted by minutes per chance created (M/CC) in 2022/23
Mitoma was involved in most of the key incidents on Saturday, playing the penultimate passes in Brighton’s first and third goals and scoring Albion’s second himself. It was his pace that also led Nelson Semedo (£5.0m) to be sent off for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity.
While there’s no reason yet to move away from a nailed, corner-taking Pereira as the go-to budget FPL midfielder, Mitoma is definitely one for the watchlist and perhaps, for the maverick few, as a shot-to-nothing Gameweek 16 punt.
“The pace he has is exceptional. One v one he’s really good. He’s a really good player and I think he can have a big impact.” – Pascal Gross on Kaoru Mitoma
Elsewhere at Molineux, Trossard claimed an assist but his wait for a goal or even a big chance against one of the ‘lesser’ sides goes on, as he was often crowded out against 10-man Wolves. Adam Lallana (£4.9m) grabbed a double-digit haul but there was disappointment for owners of Brighton’s defensive assets, who contrived to let Wolves score more than one goal in a match for the first time in 2022/23.
As for the hosts, they’ll soon have a new manager at the helm and an evaluation of their players will begin afresh.
One of FPL’s cheapest defenders, Hugo Bueno (£3.9m), got his fourth straight start here and again impressed – but who knows whether Julen Lopetegui will favour him when he takes charge.
Deputy spot-kick-taker Ruben Neves (£5.5m) is benefitting from Raul Jimenez’s (£6.8m) extended absence, meanwhile, scoring his second penalty in five Gameweeks on Saturday.
THREE IN THREE FOR LEEDS DUO
Rodrigo Moreno (£6.3m) and Crysencio Summerville (£4.4m) both scored for the third straght match in the seven-goal thriller at Elland Road, with Rodrigo benefitting from another Patrick Bamford (£7.2m) injury to start again up front and score a penalty in his sort-of-positional-rival’s stead.
Realistically, not many FPL managers will be bringing Leeds assets into their teams for Gameweek 16 as Jesse Marsch’s side are away at Tottenham Hotspur – although it should be said that the Whites’ best displays this season have come against big-six clubs and they weirdly have the best rate of expected goals (xG) in the division when on the road.
Rodrigo has an incredible knack of not actually looking that good in general play while still being able to find the net, and no FPL midfielder has now score more goals than the Spaniard (seven) in 2022/23.
Summerville is the most intriguing FPL option, given his budget price. He looks good for a start in Gameweek 16 but doubts remain about his long-term game-time prospects, with Luis Sinisterra (£6.5m) back from injury after the World Cup break.
There is a sense that Marsch still partly questions his maturity, too, with some slightly barbed comments about the young winger in recent weeks.
“It’s typical, this is what happened, I saw Willy [Gnonto] and Crysencio and I said ‘Cry, did you see my press conference?’ And he goes, ‘No’. And I go, ‘did you, Willy?’ He goes, ‘yes’. He goes, ‘yeah, I heard it. I agree. I understand that.’
“But at the same time, Cry is developing and you can see his confidence and we’re going to continue to push him to mature and be a complete player. You can see it swelling, you can see it growing and it’s great.” – Jesse Marsch