Gameweek 1 Review

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By Jason McKenna

After months of waiting over the summer, thousands of team tinkerings and the huge constant worry we have got through Gameweek 1! It was a high average of 65 points for the start of the season and there were points to be picked up across all positions, with Sterling being the best scorer bagging a hattrick and an astonishing 20 points. There are a lot of talking points and things to think about from the seasons opening games, plus some players we should really be mad at are emerging. However it is important to bear in mind it only one gameweek. The decisions we made going into the first game of the season were based on the data and facts of the proceeding 38 with preseason and signings slightly shifting our viewpoints. So we are giving you an insight into our feelings on what happened in Gameweek 1 but at this point the main piece of advice is to have confidence in your signings, you can keep calm and carry on for a little bit longer. We hope you enjoy our insights and make sure to get involved with the discussions, we have our community questions section and we love getting emails or tweets from you every week. Make sure to like our twitter, its the best way to stay up to date with all our discussions and content!

Finally this segment is scheduled to be uploaded Thursday every week to allow you time to absorb all the information, but illness has prevented us from keeping to this deadline. Next week the schedule should be on track. 

 

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LIVERPOOL (4) VS (1) NORWICH

The first game of the 2019/20 season was at Anfield where newly promoted Norwich had the tough task of trying to get points against a Liverpool side who have not lost at home since a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace in April 2017. 

Liverpool did not look at their best and a cause for concern was the fact that in a game against a leaky Championship defence Mo Salah had 2 shots. The Liverpool team were second for shots in the box for the gameweek but only achieved an xG of 1.84. On top of this the whole team played an exhausting European Super Cup Final midweek that went to extra time and penalties. The result was good though and showed the clinical nature of their forwards once again plus to boost the attack Sadio Mane should be back into the starting 11 for the weekend. Also the Reds’ opponents in gameweek 2 may make recovery easier as Southampton had a poor defensive record last season and conceded 3 against Burnley at the weekend. Liverpool also have a good record against the Saints, their last Premier League loss to the South Coast side was in 2013. But there are considerations to be made, especially with captaincy choices. Salah will not be dropped but a team made up of players who have been rushed back after international tournaments in the summer and an exhausting midweek fixture may mean that the Liverpool attack may not be as sharp as usual.

Norwich can walk away with a lot of positive from that match. First and foremost it was not the mauling that many had expected when the fixture was announced. At the end of the match the Canaries had an xG of 0.92 and managed the 5th highest shots in the box of the weekend with a total of 8 against Liverpool. Pukki was troublesome for the Liverpool defenders with his clever runs and he opened his account in the Premier League and his xG of 0.49 was in line with his average in the Championship. Buendia also looked good averaging a chance made every 30 minutes and created a big chance against the formidable Liverpool defence too. A total of 10 chances created for the travelling Norwich team was 2 behind their hosts and overall when one factors in that two of the goals conceded were from unlikely situations, a corner header and an unfortunate own goal, plus the fact that Norwich looked the better side in the second half the team made a good first impression. More time is needed to evaluate whether the side is worth investing in but so far the evidence looks good.

 
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WEST HAM (0) VS (5) MAN CITY

Consistency is key to winning leagues. Manchester City are consistently good in opening fixtures and away games at West Ham United. In the 4 occasions the sides have played at West Ham’s new stadium Manchester City have scored a whopping 17 goals with the Hammers finding the net once.The ingredients were all there so the 5 star performance can be hardly surprising. 

What we found interesting is that in the post-match analysis of this game some analysts praised West Ham, they said they could see improvements on last season. But  when analysing the data there were hardly any positives. The game has to be contextualised that it was first gameweek and against Man City, a game where most teams will post bad data. But West Ham  managed 5 shots, 4 in the box and 3 shots on target, although they did manage an xG of 1. However what was most damning is that the problems of last season seemed to continue. West Ham failed to create chances from their midfield to supply their attackers. The teams 2018/19 problems were on show as West Ham were bottom for chances created in GW1 with only 2. It will be an intriguing watch in the coming weeks to see if Fornals and Lanzini can make the much needed improvements to the West Ham midfield. There are also possible injury concerns for the Hammers as question marks are placed on the fitness of Anderson and Haller ready for their trip to Brighton. I think the match against Brighton will be a true test of the quality of the Hammers this season and it will provide an opportunity to see if these sides have made improvements for the 2019/20 season. 

Onto Manchester City and they were back to their best, the Sterling hattrick adds an extra debate to the best captaincy option for the gameweek 2 fixture against Tottenham. But for those who elected to put their money elsewhere some might have chosen Kevin De Bruyne as their Manchester City midfielder option. As said on the podcast we still believe that he should be in your squad alongside Sterling and not instead of, but there were a lot of positives to De Bruyne’s game against West Ham. He created 3 chances overall, 2 of which were big and he walked away with an assist. He also had 6 touches in opposition penalty area, 1 less than Sterling, but only managed 1 shot which was in the box. However it looks promising. Although Mahrez produced more points in this game realistically De Buryne is more nailed and a safer use of your funds. 

In the preseason we wrote about the “Curious case of Kyle Walker” and we expressed the opinion that maybe if Zinchenko is starting that Walker may be entrusted with a Mendy role. From his first gameweek we will be keeping an eye on Kyle Walker, he got an assist and made some great runs forward but we are not sure if he is as attacking as we thought it might be before the season started. His heatmap on the pitch showed that he was up and down the whole of the right flank but less than half of his touches were in the opposition half. Also the purchase of Cancelo puts the starting places each week for Zinchenko and Walker in doubt.

There are also two big stories surrounding Sergio Aguero. Before he slotted away his retaken penalty against West Ham Aguero had missed 3 penalties in a row and it looks like Sterling in second place. There is no evidence that this has changed, Guardiola has not spoken on the issue but it surely is something that remains on the managers mind and ours. Something that may become clear over the next few weeks though is the Jesus/ Aguero situation. It is a bit of a worry for Aguero owners as he played less minutes in Copa America than Jesus but the young Bazilian striker started the Community Shield and first game of the season.  The likelihood is that it was the Manchester City medical staff being cautious give Aguero optimal rest. It is one game and last season, when fit, Aguero was the favourite. Just monitor at the moment and no action is needed until a clear trend emerges. 

 
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BOURNEMOUTH (1) VS (1) SHEFFIELD UNITED

Bournemouth are a side with a few things to prove in 2019/20, their attack was pretty good last season but the results of the side were all over the place and their lack of defensive quality cost them in many matches. Sheffield United on the other hand came into the Premier League with the best defensive record in the Championship and could be a difficult team to play against with their innovative 3-5-2 system. But they too have to prove themselves, but have the more precarious job of showing their ability to stay up in the top division.

Bournemouth assets were fairly sought after in the preseason period but in this game their attacking options failed to impress. Billing and Ake created more chances than Fraser, plus overall the team seemed to lack a spark in the midfield as Bournemouth were 11th for total chances and looked to be very pinned back by Sheffield United. Fraser, Wilson and King all had 1 shot each, all in the box, but it shows how stifled the team were going forward even though they were at home. Fraser was deployed as an inside forward so he was positioned to be cutting in to take potential shots and this could be a positive for his point output if Bournemouth can find their feet again. The tactics or formation did not work in that game as the team were slow to build up and get the ball from their defence into the attack. What is also worrying is that the record of the side when one of Fraser, Brooks or Wilson was much worse than when they were all fit. With David Brooks having a long term injury this problem could repeat itself as his is creativity and drive was missed in the midfield. But this again is all against a formidable defence of a promoted side that probably worked hard not to lose their first game. Next week’s match against Aston Villa will give another insight into whether we can trust Bournemouth for their “good” run of fixtures.

Sheffield United last played in the Premier League 12 years ago, it was a big event for them as a club at Bournemouth and they impressed. Away from home and in their first game back in the top flight Sheffield United did not play it safe. They attacked trying to quality chances. United are not a team that work in large volumes of shots or chances created, but they do stick to creating good chances from the little they produce. This can be seen by the fact that although the side only created 5 chances all game, 4 of them were big. The team also managed a 1.41 xG from their 3 shots, all 3 of them being in the box. In terms of potential interesting differential assets it was good to see O’Connell and Basham sticking to their roaming centre back roles to get forward. The Blades showed us how the 3-5-2 system will cause other teams problems but they looked pretty solid at the back and going forward. Although the team conceded 13 goal attempts, 10 of them were from set pieces, 2 were big chances and the xCon of 1.5 shows that the team did not give away too many quality chances for Bournemouth. The data shows that the draw was deserved.

One final point is that 4.0 out of position defender Lundstram emerged as a creator for Sheffield United at the weekend. He laid on 2 chances, both big, to his teammates and looked like he could pick up assists along with clean sheets. But it remains to be seen if he keeps his place in the side as Freeman may be drafted in to give a more attacking approach, especially in home games. Billy Sharp came off the bench to score and overall manager Chris Wilder will still be looking into who is his best 11. Over the coming weeks we shall see who keeps their places  as the team adjusts to the Premier League.

 
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BURNLEY (3) VS (0) SOUTHAMPTON

This is the 2nd season in a row that Burnley and Southampton have started their season against each other. The Gameweek 1 fixture in 2018/19 ended up 0-0 and at times it looked like this game would end up the same, until the magic of Ashley Barnes kicked in. 

Burnley walked away with 3 goals and a comfortable win but the data shows that the scoreline probably flattered them. It was a game where the big chances were shared 1 each between the two teams and Burnley actually had a lower xG than the visitors Southampton. Ashley Barnes put in some decent numbers and showed his quality in a match that should have been a draw. He was 1 behind Kane and on par with Auba, Sterling and Firmino for shots in the box. From xG data Barnes and Burnley overperformed with 3 goals, but they are a team that seems to buck xG trends and they will be one to keep an eye on. Burnley were back to their best of a low block that limited Southampton to long range shots. Pope returned after a 454 day absence to provide 8 points and reassurances to FPL managers that Burnley may be back as a good, cheap defensive option again.

In terms of Southampton and their game it was a match that would not inspire hope in their fantasy assets as of yet. As mentioned Burnley defended deep so although Southampton had 11 shots with 5 in the box, the Saints only had 3 shots on target. Although they managed an xG of 1.17 they didn’t put their chances away. Burnley seemed to benefit from good movement of their strikers but also maybe a lack of concentration from Southampton defenders allowed the Clarets the three goals in this match. The data indicates equity between these two sides with similar xG, number of shots and shots in the box. 

 
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CRYSTAL PALACE (0) VS (0) EVERTON

In this match the sides were deadlocked and was not a good watch for fans of both sides. The result of the match did ensure that  Everton extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to ten games against Crystal Palace.

In terms of data there is not much to take from Everton’s or Crystal Palace’s performances of that game.  In the context of their lack of summer spending and the loss of Aaron Wan Bisaka it seems impressive that Palace blocked out the Everton attack. Palace limited Everton to 7 chances created and 2 shots on target, but Everton did manage an xG of 1.17. It was not an awe inspiring performance from the team. Digne managed to secure a clean sheet, but in the match he created 1 chance and had 1 shot with an xG of 0.05. He was drafted in for the more premium price of 6 due to his attacking abilities over his team mates, but they didn’t yet show in this match. His position seems more secure than Coleman’s though as Everton acquired Djibril Sidibe as right back competition. We shall see if he eats into Coleman’s playing time. A popular FPL midfielder for Everton’s favourable fixtures was Sigurdsson, but he managed 1 chance created, 1 shot on target and an xG of 0.45. This is all from one difficult Gameweek 1 fixture though, things could change in the next few games. 

Crystal Palace kept up their usual trend of not scoring at home and not scoring without Zaha. The team produced similar data to Everton, but arguably the Eagles were the more clinical of the two teams. All of Palace’s shots were in the box, but just 2 were on target. However this was enough to earn a 0.94xG quite similar to that of their opponents. This was all done without Zaha on the field for most of the match. But when Wilfred Zaha came on Palace pressed well and looked so much better. The crowd showed no anger towards him and their faith was repaid as Crystal Palace’s best chances came in that end period of the match. His addition had an almost instant positive effect and even though his appearance was for 25 minutes he managed 8 opposition penalty area touches which was 4th most of any player this gameweek, Kane had the most with 12, and the most of the match. Hodgson indicated that Zaha started on the bench due to his AFCON involvement, so he will probably start Palace’s game this week against Sheffield United. Last season the Eagles were one of the best sides on the road looking more formidable when playing away from Selhurst, so this could be a match where Zaha repays those who had him in their Gameweek 1 squads. 

 

 

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WATFORD (0) VS (3) BRIGHTON

This was another repeat Gameweek 1 fixture of the 2018/19 season, last season the Hornets had all 3 points and it started their fantastic 6 win run at the start of the season. 

In this match Watford do not have much to be positive about. The lack of summer signings is worrying and it does not look like the defensive problems of last season have been rectified. The Watford team looked fragile at the back, even though Brightons chances were few in number. It now means Watford no clean sheets in 17 Premier League games. Based on xG Brighton had the better chances, but not 3 goals worth. It is only 1 gameweek but questions have to be asked about Watford’s poor run of form extends back into last season where the shortfalls were blamed on the run to the FA Cup Final. Foster was a superb keeper last season, but the team cannot rely on his heroics and from this first match their overperformance through last season has caught up with them. The team will have to show significant improvements to be considerable for FPL purchasing as this poor run of form extends back into last season. The problems extend to the Hornets attack too. Going forward Watford had problems this match. The side had 11 shots, 4 in the box, with 3 of their total shots being on target and an xG of 0.7. 

The visitors of Brighton put in a good first game display, but this performance comes with a warning too due to their poor form season. Tactically the team was worlds apart from the side of Houghton of 2018/19. They seem to have worked on their attacking problems and the teams football was a lot more attractive. Brighton used their press well in the game with a midish block and it directly helped their first goal. There was a lot of speed in their build up and the fascinating thing is that many of the “big” summer signings were on the bench. Brighton were clinical and their movement forward is what was better. When they went 1-0 they continued to attack, sometimes having as many as 7 players attacking the opponent’s half. There is a clear contrast to the hoof-it-up counter attack they had last season where the team always sat deep, even on the break. They were much better going forward but against teams with better attacks the team could be exposed.

Defensively Brighton still have to improve, they could have conceded at the end of the match. Watford seemed unlucky not to get at least 1 goal. From the data Brighton were lucky to have 3 goals. 5 shots, 3 in the box and 3 goals from an xG 0.84 is unlikely to be a trend that can be continued. However the eye test showed that the Seagulls were the better team over the 90 minutes and there are initial signs of improvement. New manager Potter acknowledged the luck of his side. His post-match comments indicate that he is still learning about the side and who are his best players. Both sides will have to be observed to see if things have improved, Brighton have the more favourable run of the two sides and Potter got off his Premier League career to the best possible start. 

 

 

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SPURS (3) VS (1) ASTON VILLA

This was Tottenham’s Gameweek 1 fixture at home since 2010. Incidentally that was a 0-0 game against Manchester City and that game was the last time Manchester City did not win their first game of the season. Now, after their 5-0 win over West Ham, they have claimed the title of the Premier League’s greatest starters with 9 Gameweek 1 wins in a row. Aston Villa’s Grealish would have hoped to have ended his unwanted Premier League record at Aston Villa. But with his side failing to hold onto the 1-0 lead he has now lost 19 consecutive Premier League games, a streak crossing over 3 seasons and the longest ever losing streak for a player in the league’s history.

For most of the game Tottenham’s tactics and attacks relied on crossing. Over the course of the 90 they 38 crosses, only 4 were successful. Their problems were evident in the first half as the diamond shape formation was restricting wing play and the attackers were too close together so Aston Villa’s defending was made easier. After half time 4-2-3-1 was used with a focus on getting play down the wings, which did successfully stretch Villa but even then chances were not great. The biggest chance creator was Danny Rose for Tottenham in that game, and most of his chances were failed crosses. The second highest creator was Eriksen who came on for a 26 minute cameo. Tottenham had 7 shots in the first half but 24 in the second half thus it is clear to see Eriksens substitution into the game changed the match into Tottenham’s favour. He was the main reason for their victory. All 3 of Tottenham’s goals came after he brought on and he was influential in allowing the team’s push for victory. The data shows a dominance from Spurs, and they did have a lot of shots through the match but the chances were not of high quality. It took the skill of Eriksen to break the deadlock for Spurs and this is worrisome for Tottenham assets moving forward. The fate of Eriksen is unsure  and the fact he is so needed in the side may make a blow for their FPL attraction. The data for Kane was good this gameweek, although the surge did come on late. He had the most shots, the most shots in the box and most penalty area touches of any player this gameweek. xG may indicate that he was fortunate to get 2, but Kane only requires half a chance to score as he is so good. 

At points in the first half Aston Villa did look dangerous going forward, but overall their chances were limited. McGinn’s goal was well taken but it was a lucky break for Aston Villa. The runs of their forwards were good and caused problems for the Tottenham defence. They didn’t just run in straight lines. Also Villa were good at playing out from the back, pace going forward and tended to break in numbers. We shall see how their attack adapts to the Premier League after their high scoring antics in the division below. What is interesting is that Villa played differently to their defensive system in the Championship. Last season when they went 1-0 they kept attacking system. Instead this year, against Spurs, they played a low block and absorbed a huge number of shots. This is good for if you have Heaton and if Villa can keep clean sheets but worrying for attacking assets as it may mean that they try and grind wins out, although it may be just because it was an unlikely lead against Spurs that they wanted to protect. 

 

 

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LEICESTER (0) VS (0) WOLVES

Last season the two fixtures between Leicester and Wolves conjured up great entertainment for fans as 9 goals went in. Diogo Jota, in January, helped his side to a 4-3 thrilling victory but also became the first Wolves player to score a top-flight hat-trick since John Richards in October 1977. The tactics of the two sides seemed to bring out some great attacking football so the eventual scoreline was disappointing for those who had invested in both Wolves and Leicester attacking assets.  

The result from this game was partly down to Wolves’ fantastic defence but also down to the conservative tactics of the Foxes. Wolves being solid at the back is something continued from last season and they underachieved with clean sheets, maybe this gameweek showed they can keep more this season.Wolves allowed Leicester 3 goal attempts in the box, the joint fewest from the gameweek, they conceded no big chances and they had a low xCon of 0.72. Some of the assets are overpriced in the Wolves team, but Boly looks like a good player for 5.0 and with a lot of potential to score from set pieces. A big test in the coming weeks will be to see if they can carry this on through the season with the added pressure of Europa League. But at the weekend the backline of Wolves looked solid after a midweek match and then proceeded to stop one of the most inform attacks from the end of last season in being able to score. The side were able to purchase some good reinforcements in many positions for the more hectic season and the match against Manchester United will also give an insight into if they can keep up their phenomenal performances against top 6 sides.  Keep an eye on them but they have a seasons worth of data to suggest that they can carry on producing the goods at the back.

Going forward the team was much less impressive, they  managed to create one big chance, 5 shots in the box and 2 shots on target. Jiminez and Jota were very quiet as the whole team struggled to break down the Foxes backline. A positive is that Wolves deployed their counter attacking system well as even though Leicester had 70% of possession Wolves had more shots in the box, more shots on target and almost the same xG as their opponent. It could have been a much more interesting match if Dendonckers goal had stood and then Leicester would have had to chase the match to pick up points. We saw last season how good the Wolves attack can be, so it is not time to panic yet.

Maddison, Vardy, Perez and the whole Leicester City team failed to threaten much. Maddison, the top creator for last season, was limited to just 2 chances created over the 90 mins and none were big. But most worrying was Perez and Vardy had a combined total of 1 shot all game with a 0.06 xG. Jamie Vardy, arguably the most in form forward going into the end of the 2018/19 season had no shots at all. The Foxes had 16 shots but they were all of poor quality and managing just 3 shots in the box; they never really troubled Wolves. One must wait on whether this is a problem with Leicester going forward or if it was just the expert defending of Wolves. It is to be expected that both these teams will be vying for the top places this season, so maybe it is like the more usual deadlock that happens when two high quality teams meet in high stakes matches.

Interestingly though, through preseason, Rodgers had experimented with 4-1-4-1 formation in a bid to improve attack and defence. Even in their final pre-season match against Atlanta, who were selected because they play 5 at the back, the team deployed 4-1-4-1 to a great effect. Rodgers may have played Conservatively in front of his home crowd knowing the quality of Wolves and not wanting to lose the first game of the season. The team reverted back to the 4-3-3 that had been used successfully last season but Perez and Madisson were played as wingers, even their best positions are elsewhere. The team suffered because their best creator was stuck playing in the wrong position on the wing and their wide players did not have the pace to bother the wing backs of Wolves. A lot of the work to supply width was left to Perreira and Chilwell. Defensively the team was solid but it came at a cost to the attack who did not come close to replicating their impressive end of season numbers. We will have to keep an eye on whether Rodgers has more of a defensive focus this season or if it was a one off for the season’s opener. 

 

 

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NEWCASTLE (0) VS (1) ARSENAL

Newcastle came into this game with not much hope after the departure of Benitez as their manager. Protests were planned and the fans were unhappy with the Steve Bruce taking control of the team. The Magpies also seemed unable to win at home last season, losing 10, and they have not won an opening fixture since 2012/13. The 0-1 loss was therefore not a huge surprise.

In the match Newcastle’s Joelinton looked quite good in certain flashes. His physicality and speed caused concern for the Arsenal defence at times. But  overall the Magpies did not threaten the Gunners that much. The team created 7 chances, none of them big and a lot of their efforts were spent trying to create from the 15 crosses the team attempted, none of them were successful though. The xG of the team was a pretty poor 0.39, a low 4 shots in the box and finding the target just twice. 

Through the match the Newcastle team attempted to keep it tight at the back, which had been successful in some games under Rafa Benitez, but it did not work against Arsenal. Newcastle allowed a fairly low 8 attempts on goal and 7 attempts in the box, but the xG was 1.08 with Arsenal being afforded 2 big chances as well. We shall see if they can get near their clean sheet data of last season, but the belief is deflated around the whole club so it may be harder for Bruce to inspire a fight from his players.

Immediately it must be mentioned that Arsenal kept a rare away from home clean sheet. The side looked fairly formidable at the back and no big chances were allowed on goal. On top of this the aforementioned 0.39 xG showed that Arsenal goal was never really under threat. It was the first game against a deflated Newcastle side and the defensive data last season was bad, so reactions to this performance must be controlled. However there is positivity as at the moment the defence is back up players and 3 of the starting back 4 are due to be back from injury soon. Bellerin and Holding are two players who are known to improve the defence of Arsenal in the Premier League, plus new signing Kieran Tierney has been analysed by many as a positive addition to the squad. When all these players are fit the possibility of Arsenal performing better at the back is significantly increased. 

There also has to be tempered positivity going forward. Again the best 11 probably was not playing as Ceballos and  Pepe were both on the bench. But Arsenal once again struggled to be creative in the midfield; the 8 chances created, 2 of those big, were not that impressive. So the team had to rely on the amazing finishing abilities of Aubameyang to be able to see the game over the line. In the end Arsenal had 8 shots, but only 2 on target. Also the inter passing data between the midfielders was not good, they did not seem to be able to connect with one another to help transition the ball through the middle of the park. Worryingly the two players supplying Aubameyang the most were Wilock and Monreal. Indeed most of the passing was done through the full backs.

There will have to be improvements for Arsenal to be considered as a consistent provider of attacking or defensive output. The potential with new signings is there but the next few weeks will see if they can turn the potential into results.

 

 

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MANCHESTER UNITED VS CHELSEA

The biggest game of the opening weekend did not disappoint in providing entertainment. Chelsea were not able to get their first win away at Old Trafford since 2013, instead Lampard suffered the biggest first game defeat since Gus Poyet’s Sunderland lost 4-0 to Swansea, also in 2013. 

Two players are now on everyone’s lips due to Gameweek 1. The questions around Manchester United seem to be silenced for the time being as people focus on whether Rashford and Martial are essential players to bring into their FPL squads. In terms of the front players I think what was amazing, and will trouble teams through the season if it continues, is the use of Martial through the middle and Rashford out wide. It keeps the opponents guessing as Martial likes to go over to his more natural left flank and Rashford floats into the middle often. It will make the forwards hard to track. Pogba’s appeal has been diminished, even though he picked up two assists, as it looks like his sharing penalty duties with Rashford and a few others. It does beg the question are Podgba’s assists enough to justify his 8.5 price tag as he is playing in a double pivot and his shots are mainly long ones.The team had 9 chances created, 3 big, which was fairly good and the fact that their xG was 2.17 showed that their 5 shots on target were quite high quality chances. These xG data is boosted a bit by the fact that one of the goals was a penalty though, take that out and it’s closer to 1.5 xG. The collapse of Manchester United attack and defence at the end of the season should still be in our memories though. The loss to Cardiff at home was pretty embarrassing and the improvements in personnel to the team are two defenders, but no extra attackers. 

A positive cited by some was that Manchester United looked stronger at back due to the acquisitions of Wan Bisaka and Maguire. But to put it into context in 2018/19 the Red Devils kept 2 clean sheets at home and conceded 54 goals. The data was pretty damning throughout their last campaign and a lot has to improve to be able to trust in their 5.5 priced defensive assets. The data from the match was not wholly convincing that things are solved at the back for Manchester United. The xCon of the side was 1.2xG, the team had the 2nd most goal attempts conceded for the weekend and 4th highest shots in the box. Better data and consistency needs to be achieved before Manchester players should be considered. Also in the immediate future Manchester United need to be carefully observed against the formidable Wolves. This is the type of game that will really test if positive changes have really begun at Old Trafford.

Chelsea had an embarrassing scoreline chalked up, Manchester United were the better side but  4-0 was not a fair reflection of the game. Lampard’s team were bright and quick in patches in the first half. There were some nearly chances and the style was much more aggressive than under Sarri. The problems came from defensive errors and mistakes, which Zouma was a big part of. He was not comfortable playing out from the back and Manchester United press was good at making the Chelsea defenders uncomfortable. Zouma may need some time to get his head around Lampard’s tactics. But he could also be joined by, or even replaced by Rudiger who was fantastic at the back last season. Also Kante was missed so his return to the side will be a big boost, he is so valuable to the side. 

Although the Chelsea’s defence was poor Emerson looked to be a good attacking threat. 3 shots in the box, rattled the crossbar and could be a budget Alonsoesque player. Emerson had a xG +xA of 0.9 and a price of 5.5, if in the coming weeks if his position looks secure he seems to be a way into the defence and attack of a top 6 Premier League side. We will have to see if Chelsea can improve defensive output though to justify having him in. 

The attacking data of the team shows that the more fair scoreline should have been 2-1 as the Chelsea side managed to rack up 18 shots, 9 in the box and an xG of 1.04. Mason Mount looked like a threat as he created 4 chances, but Pedro was the biggest provider for his teammates with 5 chances. In total the 15 chances produced by the Chelsea side was the second highest of the weekend, but the fact that only 1 of those chances was big means that the quality of passing to their forwards was lacking and this can explain why even with more shots and chances Chelsea did deserve to lose the match. But the data was not awful for Chelsea  and fact that important, key players are looking to return to the side soon may boost them too. They are top 6 side with problems, much like Manchester United, and the next few gameweeks will be telling as to whether the new boss has improved his side. 

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