While Fantrax EPL only directly involves games from the EPL, the players we all roster play other games outside of the league, believe it or not. Whether it's international matches or domestic and European cup games, other matches can often impact and indicate future EPL performances. In this special feature we cover cup performances, set piece takers, and what they might mean going forward.
EFL Cup Performances (Pre - GW19)
Result: (5-1 vs Sunderland - EFL League 1 side)
Real-life Performances: Many of the Arsenal backups, mixed with a few regulars, cruised to a dominant win. Nketiah had a hat-trick, Pepe had a goal and 2 assists, and youngster Charlie Patino capped off his debut with a goal of his own. The fullbacks Tavares and Soares each had an assist as well. Nketiah was obviously the star of the show (mostly tap-ins), but Pepe, Tavares, and Odegaard were particularly bright as well. ESR had a slow game and struggled to be too involved despite the score line. Soares put up all sorts of stats and was very energetic, yet was still pretty poor defensively. Fantasy Performances: Nketiah had around 37.5 fantasy points and 10 ghost points, Pepe had 36 and 15, Soares had 24 and 16. Tavares had 13 and 5, ESR 8 and 8, Odegaard 6 and 6 (in 73 minutes), Balogun 2. Pepe had 5 Successful Dribbles and Soares had 5 Key Passes Pepe had 5 Successful Dribbles and Soares had 5 Key Passes.
Looking forward: Smith-Rowe, Odegaard, and White were the regulars who started in the cup. All 3 subbed off early, likely to preserve their legs for the weekend. Due to ESR starting though, I expect him to be benched and Martinelli to retain his starting spot alongside Laca and Saka on Boxing Day. The rest of the team should be identical to GW19 as well, with the possible exception of the injured Tomiyasu. The Japanese right back wasn't in the squad on Tuesday and no word if he'll be fit in time. If he isn't, Cedric Soares will be a very nice streamer against the lowly Norwich. Nketiah and Pepe both made good cases for more starts, but Arteta won't be looking to change his winning side for GW20. Maybe in GW21, we could see a start for Nketiah, who Arteta said deserved more minutes after the game (probably just trying to get him to sign a new contract). Pepe is always a great streamer, but I still don't see him getting time in the next couple weeks.
Set Pieces: Arsenal only had 1 corner (an inswing right-footed take) and Soares was on it. Odegaard took 2 free kicks(including 1 shot) and Soares took 1 free kick as well. If Tomiyasu misses more time, and Soares gets the nod he looks likely to steal some set pieces from the right-footed takers Smith-Rowe and Martinelli.
Result: (0-2 vs Chelsea)
Real-life Performances: Brentford kept Chelsea scoreless until the 80th minute admirably, but were ultimately undone by a Jansson own goal and then a penalty conceded by Fernandez. They only had 33% possession and 3 shots on target, so not a ton of offensive stats to go around. Most of their fantasy-relevant players performed decently but none spectacularly. Canos and Jansson, with a rip of an own goal, were probably the worst of a bunch. Fantasy Performances: All Brentford points came from ghost points. Jensen had 9 ghost points, Baptiste 7, Henry 5.5, Mbeumo and Wissa 5, Norgaard 3, Canos -1.5 (via a yellow card) and Janelt -3 (also yellow). The defenders (including Pinnock) were all at 0 or in the negatives due to goals conceded. Fernandez made 7 saves and scored around 10 fantasy points. Besides Pinnock, almost no other Brentford players won aerials.
Looking forward: Toney was back from his COVID absence and on the bench, so he can be expected to start on Boxing Day. Wissa started in his place but I expect him to drop back out. The only other regular benched/rested was Norgaard, with Janelt and Jensen starting alongside Baptiste in mid. He can reasonably be expected to come back into the side, but who drops out is the real question, with Jensen potentially being the favourite, considering historical lineups.
Set Pieces: Jensen took 2 corners and 1 free kick. Janelt started and got 0, but maybe he was just unlucky to not have any left footers.
Result: (2-0 vs Brentford)
Real-life Performances: The significantly COVID-hit Blues side consisted of multiple youngsters alongside some deep-cut backups. Yet they came away with a hard-fought 2-nil win against the Bees after bringing some of their regulars on. Kante set up a Reece James cross which led to the Brentford own goal, and Pulisic got fouled in the box for a Jorginho penalty. The backline played well, particularly Chalobah and Azpi. Alonso looked maybe the most dangerous of any attacker, and Reece, after subbing on, was his usual quality self. The midfield 2 were solid, with Kova back from injury and maybe a tad out of shape and Saul upping his level and having 1 of his better performances for the Blues. On the other hand, Barkley in front of them had a particularly poor game, and looked generally outclassed by the young teammates surrounding him. The other senior subs (Kante, Puli, Mount, and Jorginho) all played well when they came in. Fantasy Performances: Alonso scored 19 fantasy points and 13 ghost points, Azpi had 18 and 12, Chalobah had 15 and 9, Jorginho had 12 and 3 (in 45 minutes), Sarr had 11 and 4,Kova had 9 and 9 (in 45 minutes), Barkley had 9.5 and 8.5 (in 76 minutes), Saul had 8.5 and 7.5 (including a yellow card), Kante had 4 and 4 (in 15 minutes), Mount had 3.5 and 3.5 (in 25 minutes), James had 2 and 2 (in 25 minutes), Pulisic had 1 and 1 (in 45 minutes).
Looking forward: Chalobah made his case for more time in defense and I could see him partnering Rudiger and Silva on Sunday, but its just as likely Azpi or Christensen are the 3rd CB. In midfield, Kante and Jorginho both came off the bench so seem to be the likely favorites to start, with Kova next up. Alonso did play 90 again (as he did last weekend) so I wouldn't be surprised to see him benched 1 of the next 2 games, despite Chelsea not having quality backups (Saul? Puli?). Tuchel said Lukaku and CHO could be back in the squad for Sunday, but maybe not ready to start. No word on Havertz or Werner, but their timeline is likely longer. Ziyech took a knock in GW19 and wasn't present in the midweek. Mount and Pulisic look most likely to start in GW19, after coming off the bench here, but who partners them is the big question. Barkley didn't do himself any favors but could be the only fit option? I'd still lean Ziyech or CHO getting the nod before him though, despite their ailments.
Set Pieces: Barkley had 2 corners and 1 free kicks and James(on as a sub) had 1 free kick (a shot on target). None for Alonso (possibly unlucky to not have lefties to take).
Result: (3-3 vs Liverpool (4-5 on penalties))
Real-life Performances: A back and forth match with Liverpool's B team saw Leicester go up 2-0 and 3-1 at various points in the game but they couldn't hold on and lost on penalties. Vardy had a brace and Maddison had the other goal. Maddison and Daka each an assist. The front 3 in at he 3-5-2 were all quite effective and impressive. Dewsbury-Hall shined bright again, and outplayed his Belgian colleague, Tielemans in this one (who only touched the ball 28 times, less than all his teammate starters). The backline were decent, despite conceding 3. Ricardo and Ndidi were caught out defensively a few times and Ricardo had to be subbed off after a harsh tackle on him. He just can't find any luck, that poor guy. Soyuncu also had to come off injured. Iheanacho subbed on and looked rusty and Albrighton subbed on and looked solid at right back. Fantasy Performances: Vardy scored around 27.5 fantasy points and .59 ghost points, Maddison had 22 and 7, Daka had 12.5 and 6.5, KDH had 8 and 8 (in 60 minutes), Ndidi 8 and 8, Tielemans 2 and 2, Ricardo 1 and 3, Soyuncu 5.5 and 7.5, and the other defenders were in the negatives. Ndidi had 5 Successful Tackles and 4 Aerials Won
Looking forward: Soyuncu and Ricardo had to come off injured. Vardy was injured as well, and did not take a penalty as a result. Barnes and Castagne were not present, after missing training earlier in the week. The presumption is illness or injury so I wouldn't count on their availability on Boxing Day. Lookman, Iheanacho, and Perez were back on the bench though. Depending on formation and who's missing I could see Vestergaard, Albrighton, Lookman, and/or Iheanacho all possibly coming in on Boxing Day.
Set Pieces: Maddison had 1 corner and 1 free kick.
Result: (3-3 vs Leicester City (5-4 on penalties))
Real-life Performances: Predominantly backups started the game for Klopp' side, went down 2, and then fought back to a tie with the help of a few starters. Oxlade-Chamberlain scored their first and looked generally bright in the midfield. Jota subbed on and scored via a Minamino assist. Takumi, also scored the equaliser, deep into extra time via a Milner assist. The Japanese forward did smash his penalty off the bar, but his miss wasn't enough to sink the Reds as backup keeper, Kelleher, made 2 fine saves on Thomas and Bertrand. Tsimikas looked quality going forward and shaky at the back, and Neco Williams the opposite (despite starting in the forward line). Gomez looked out of it and it seems to make sense why he's 4th choice at this point. Konate subbed on at half and solidified the back line. He's still coming for Matip's job. Firmino looked his usual class, but nothing spectacular yet. Fantasy Performances: Minamino scored 23 fantasy points and 8 ghost points, Ox had 17 and 8, Firmino had 17.5 and 11.5, Milner had 15 and 9, Jota had 14 and 5 (in 45 minutes), Tsimikas had 7.5 and 13.5, and Hendo only 1 point.
Looking forward: Liverpool vs Leeds has been postponed for Boxing Day. That gives time for Fabinho and VVD to return from COVID for GW20 and potentially Thiago and Curtis Jones as well. They should likely have almost a full squad there. One exception is Robertson, who will now miss GW20 (Leicester) and GW21 (Chelsea). Jota scored off the bench and continues his impressive run, meaning Firmino may need to continue warming the bench (not during AFCON of course). Speaking of AFCON , Minamino and Neco Williams got the nod next to Bobby Firmino, a good sign for Minamino's chances from GW22-24 (especially after a goal and assist). Firmino, Jota, and 1 more will be the front 3 and my current money is on Minamino.
Set Pieces: In the absence of first-choice full backs, Tsimikas and Milner both took 5 corners. Oxlade-Chamberlain actually started and took 3 before Milner came on. After Tsimikas went off, youngster Owen Beck took 1. Milner had their 1 free kick cross.
Result: (2-1 vs West Ham)
Real-life Performances: The game's 3 goals all were scored in the matter of 5 minutes, near the half hour mark. Spurs were out-performed in nearly every metric, but perhaps that can be written off to them sitting back a bit more after going up. Bergwijn and Lucas were the goal scorers, assisted by Hojbjerg and Bergwijn. The Dutch winger was the star of the night, playing very well, and Conte talked him up after the game. Lucas, Skipp, and Lloris were the other standouts. Outside of that, no great performances, but many good ones. Even Doherty had a rare, decent showing. None of the subs, including Son and Alli did much. Fantasy Performances: Lucas had 17.5 fantasy points and 7.5 ghost points, Bergwijn has 22 and 6 (in 60 minutes), Hojbjerg had 12 and 6, Reguillon 7 and 9, Davies 6 and 8, Skipp 5.5 and 5.5, Kane 5.5 and 5.5, Doherty 4 and 6, Dier and Sanchez both 0 and -2. Son had 1 ghost point in 30 minutes.
Looking forward: The starting XI has been fairly settled for Spurs, but that's changed a little recently. Vs Liverpool in GW18, Alli, Sessegnon, and Winks got rare starts and were all impressive. However, Sessegnon was hurt, so Reguillon should keep his spot. Winks (and Ndombele) will likely still have trouble displacing the duo of Skipp and Hojbjerg, but Winks should be close. Further forward is where it gets interesting. Alli started in GW19 over Lucas (although who knows his fitness levels). Lucas started the midweek, and was subbed off early. Bergwijn played well. As of now, I think it's a tossup between Lucas and Dele and I expect them to each get one game of GW19 and GW20. I think Lucas is still the preferred 3rd attacker but we may see more rotation (as will Son and Kane) going forward. It's also possible this is all a ploy to sell Dele in January, and Conte is still not really convinced in his quality. We'll see the next 2 weeks.
Set Pieces: Reguillon and Dier each had 1 free kicks (Dier's was a shot) and Spurs had no corners. Son didn't start.
Result: (1-2 vs Tottenham)
Real-life Performances: Moyes played a pretty strong side with a few fresh faces in Vlasic, Areola, and Ashby, but they couldn't finish their many chances in the second half vs some superb goal keeping from Lloris. Bowen was the goal scorer, assisted generously via a Vlasic mishit shot. Rice was the other standout, trying and succeeding at many passes and dribbles to move the ball forward. His midfield partner Soucek, and youngster Ashby were pretty impressive as well. Vlasic, Dawson, and Lanzini were all pretty poor. Vlasic had a nice stat line including the assist, but did not pass the eye test entirely for me. He started off hot in the first 30' and drew many rave reviews from Hammers' fans, but I felt he faltered after that. Ben Johnson was solid as a 3rd centre-back next to Dawson and Diop. Masuaku struggled at times, mostly due to Spurs coming often down his side via Bergwijn. Fantasy Performances: Vlasic had 16 and 10, Rice had 14 and 14, Bowen had 13.5 and 4.5, Soucek had 8 and 8, Lanzini had 6 and 6, Benrahma had 5 and 5 off the bench, Masuaku had 5 and 9, Fornals had 3.5 and 3.5, Diop 4 and 8, Dawson had 3.5 and 7.5, Johnson had -3 and 1.
Looking forward: Antonio may or may not be be involved and ready to start at the weekend. If he doesn't I'd expect Bowen up top again, with some combination (or all) of Benrahma, Lanzini, and Fornals behind him. Moyes could also stick to a back 3 which got him his last win (in the past 5 games the sole one) vs Chelsea. However, he'd be forced to play Johnson at RCB like he did vs Spurs here. That would leave Masuaku and Coufal (back from his suspension) as wingbacks. I don't see a start for Vlasic after another poor showing from him.
Set Pieces: Masuaku, Rice, and Bowen each had 1 free kick (with Rice's being the 1 shot). Lanzini had 4 corners, Fornals 2 (off the bench), and Bowen 2.
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