With team news often playing a pivotal part in FPL decisions, we have put together an assessment of how open or closed each Premier League manager was when facing the media over the course of the 2018-19 season. Part One considers Arsenal, Bournemouth, Brighton and Burnley.
While Pep Guardiola is synonymous with rotation in the FPL community, Unai Emery will soon steal that crown. The Spaniard has moved between a four-man backline and a wing-back system with irritating frequency in the past campaign. Of course, there is absolutely no incentive for any manager in the league to reveal line-up specifics, so cryptic references will mostly have to do in that sense.
On the team news side of things, Emery scalded FPL bosses ahead of GW26 when Arsenal were getting ready for a trip to Huddersfield. On joint-Golden Boot winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Gunners boss said: “Today [Thursday], Aubameyang is sick but I think he's okay for Saturday.” As it turned out, Auba did not travel north while fellow premium forward Sergio Aguero bagged his second hat-trick in the space of a week.
In fairness to Emery, he has regularly signalled formation and non-specific personnel changes. Before GW29, he revealed: “We are doing a plan for a lot of matches. Each match is different. Home, away, depending on the opposition. The most important thing is every player is OK for tomorrow.” More of the same in the DGW32 build-up: “We are playing different systems with different players.”
On playing with one or two of his star strikers, Emery explained before BGW33: “Each match is different and each match we need tactically to play with three or four [in attack], sometimes with five, it depends on the opposition. It depends, above all, on the quality with our players. Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang can play together or [else] one [plays], another [is] in the bench. It depends in 90 minutes how we can respond tactically with two or one.”
Something to note is that Emery’s english is not exactly clear, which can lead to different interpretations from reporters and certain points getting lost in translation. This is merely an observation, not a criticism – my spanish is barely cerveza-ble.
The flipside to this is that Arsenal usually release an injury bulletin ahead of gameweek deadlines, though these can often contain that most blurry of phrases – ‘being assessed’. Overall, neither Emery’s pressers nor his penchant for rotation are very helpful for FPL managers.
For all the stick that Pep gets about rotation, I think we’ve found someone worse...Unai Emery! #FPL— FPL Prince (@TheFPLPrince) March 2, 2019
Eddie Howe is notorious for being deceptive at his press conferences. While ‘Pep Roulette’ is the game most known to FPL bosses, ‘Howe Bingo’ is much more treacherous. Will Eddie make it seem like a player is out for longer than he actually will be? How are Ryan Fraser’s calves? Is Josh King really fatigued from Norway duty?
The most recent example of Howe’s needless obfuscation was the return to action of Steve Cook. Ahead of a home clash with Burnley on April 6 [GW33], the Cherries boss said: “Steve Cook is doing okay. He’s still quite a long way from being available for selection. He’s improved, he’s out on the grass for the first time, albeit at a very low intensity. We hope we can build him up in the next few weeks and hope to get him back before the end of the season.” Just a week later, on April 13 [GW34] the central defender was selected in Howe’s XI for the away clash at Brighton.
While Cook was not a key ingredient in many FPL squads, it is a good example of Howe things are done by the Bournemouth head coach. Fantasy managers who benched Ryan Fraser back in GW5 will attest to Howe being untrustworthy in his pre-match briefings. On September 14, the morning before Bournemouth welcomed Leicester to the Vitality stadium, Howe explained of the Scottish winger: “Ryan Fraser had a hamstring problem so has been working with our medical team since he returned here [from international duty].” Despite apparently failing to train [up to the Friday at least] following an injury picked up with Scotland, Fraser played 90 minutes against the Foxes – scoring twice and creating a goal to notch 18 points.
As it turns out, FPL bosses need to be wary of Howe using the word ‘problem’ instead of ‘injury’.
All in all, the Bournemouth manager’s press conferences definitely require a heavy dose of scepticism from FPL bosses.
Which in Eddie Howe terms translates to "ACTUALLY IT'S A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM BUT I'M JUST NOT TELLING YOU. I'LL JUST SPEND THE NEXT 6 WEEKS TELLING YOU HE MIGHT BE BACK FOR THE NEXT GAME. KISS MY ARSE FPL MANAGERS" https://t.co/Dq5maFdDj8— FPL TheAdam (@FPLTheAdam) December 8, 2018
Former Brighton boss Chris Hughton was clear in his injury updates all season, with the club itself reporting his quotes accurately and informatively. New head coach Graham Potter will hopefully be just as helpful. On the ex-Swansea boss, Wales Online’s Mat Davies told Fantasy Football Scout: “He [Potter] is fairly open on injuries.”
While that is a good start for FPL bosses, it sounds as though Potter could potentially be Emery-like in terms of selection. Davies added: “He chops and changes. Guessing a Potter starting line-up was like picking the right lottery numbers. But Potter likes to keep players – and journalists – guessing.”
After being stung by Brighton assets in double gameweeks, it could be a while before FPL managers re-take the plunge despite there being a new coach in place. But whenever Seagulls assets fly back onto the radar, it may be a case of buying a ticket in the Potter lottery.
Think graham potter definitely puts the players names into a hat before a game to determine his line up 🤦🏽♀️ #swans— chloe✨ (@ChloeChantelle1) October 20, 2018
Sean Dyche previously had to deny claims that he ate worms, so he is unlikely to ever pop open a can of the wrigglers at one of his pressers.
The Burnley boss is unsurprisingly no-nonsense and unlikely to engage in any sort of subterfuge in relation to player availability. You could say he offers great Clarety.