Harry Kane owners are denied more spoils as Man City end a bad week on a fine note, while Chelsea stage a stirring comeback that looks likely to be blighted by a suspension for Marcos Alonso.
Kane went into Saturday night’s contest as the most signed player of Gameweek 34, with 255,000+ new Fantasy Premier League (FPL) owners and wearing just over a million armbands.
More than 27% of managers who employed the Triple Captain chip used it on the Spurs striker, only for their man to effectively blank for a fourth successive Gameweek.
Two of those involved limited pitch-time and the third featured the controversial goal, if not the FPL points, he was awarded after the Stoke City match in Gameweek 33.
And for a second Double Gameweek running, he came out without an assist having provided a pass for a goal.
In Gameweek 22, Kane found Dele Alli, who failed to convert his first shot for a goal at Swansea City.
Last night, Kane’s through-ball released Christian Eriksen, but his first shot was blocked by Aymeric Laporte, with the ball then rebounding off the Dane and into the net.
Though the rules are clear on that, legions of aggrieved Kane owners will disagree. However, it’s difficult to justify any reward for the striker in the 3-1 loss to Man City given his performance. Kane looked dreadfully laboured throughout and managed only two penalty area touches and not a single shot on goal.
It was the first time that Kane has failed to record a shot in a full match since February 2017 and his ninth blank in a home fixture this season.
His 33.3% ownership will now be desperate for much more from Tuesday’s trip to Brighton ahead of his FA Cup semi-final next weekend.
Eriksen was another heavily backed heading into Gameweek 34, with 158,000 new owners making him the most popular purchase among Spurs midfielders.
The 17.5%-owned Dane duly delivered, scoring his fourth goal in three Gameweeks – he’d managed five in the preceding 30 matches.
There was less joy for the equally popular Son Heung-min (17.7%) as Erik Lamela got the nod and the South Korean dropped to the bench.
The Argentine did not impress, however, and Son’s 26-minute cameo makes him highly likely to start at Brighton on Tuesday, although only three of his 12 goals this season have come on the road.
Rotation doubts over Spurs’ most owned defender, Ben Davies (22.2%), had led to sales in the left-back, only for Danny Rose to miss out with a calf injury that could well mean the Welsh international now plays both matches of Double Gameweek 34.
Davies delivered zero points yesterday and it could have been worse as he was arguably lucky not to be dismissed for a rash challenge on Vincent Kompany. That is very unlikely to face any retrospective action as the incident was seen and punished by officials on the night.
City stars shine
The Man City centre-half and captain survived Davies’ attentions and brought in two bonus points courtesy of an assist for the visitors’ first goal, scored by Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian continues to fill the void left by Sergio Aguero’s absence with some solid contributions – he has two goals and as many assists across his last three starts, with one of each coming last night.
Raheem Sterling matched Jesus for output, although the assist he earned for inducing the foul that led to Ilkay Gundogan’s successful penalty was debatable as the winger looked to be have been challenged by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris outside the box.
There was no doubting his goal, however, and since returning to the side in Gameweek 30, Sterling has produced returns in four successive matches – two goals and three assists.
City failed to keep a clean sheet for a third straight Gameweek, and their most popular defender, Nicolas Otamendi (26.0%) spent most of the match watching on from the bench.
He was rested after 20 successive Gameweek starts and was handed a mere 26 minutes as part of a back three Pep Guardiola later employed to help see out the win.
Assuming Man United win today, Guardiola’s team will secure the league title with a win at home to Swansea City seven days from now.
As a result, managers with the Free Hit chip to employ for Gameweek 35’s reduced slate will have to work out which of the side’s stellar squad will be the ones most likely to seal that historic victory.
Giroud stuns sorry Saints
Olivier Giroud’s brace – his first league goals for Chelsea in six appearances – sparked a remarkable turnaround in a match that had been heading towards a vital win for hosts Southampton.
The Frenchman replaced the ineffective Alvaro Morata after 61 minutes with his side 2-0 down.
Nine minutes later he scored a superb header from Marcos Alonso’s cross, and just eight minutes after that netted again to complete a three-goal blitz by the Blues.
Eden Hazard also scored to improve an otherwise parlous recent record of just one assist in his previous five Gameweeks.
That poor run of form means the Belgian is currently owned by just 428,000+ having been signed by a mere 27,000+ for Double Gameweek 34.
He received one bonus point and Giroud the maximum, while the 17.3% who have made Willian FPL’s most owned Chelsea midfielder had to make do with four points from an assist and a yellow card.
It was the Brazilian’s first assist since Gameweek 24, although that hasn’t been for the want of trying. The six chances he created yesterday is currently a Gameweek 34 high, and he also produced the same figure in last week’s draw with West Ham.
Chelsea don’t keep it clean
Coach Antonio Conte opted for a full-strength team despite a second match to come in Gameweek 34, away at Burnley on Thursday, and an FA Cup semi-final against Southampton next weekend.
But they again failed to keep a clean sheet – that’s six straight Gameweeks without one now – as the argument for retaining their premium-priced defenders grows ever thinner.
The 1.1 million+ who own Alonso haven’t been able to rely on the wing-back’s attacking output either as his assist at St Mary’s was his first return since Gameweek 22.
And there could well be worse news to come for his 19.7% ownership.
The Spaniard escaped scot-free from what looked like a particularly spiteful challenge on Saints stiker Shane Long yesterday, with Southampton manager Mark Hughes in little doubt post-match that action needs to be taken.
“It was a poor challenge, it should have been a red card in my view. Maybe people need to look at that again, retrospectively. We’re not here to accuse people, and no sour grapes, but a decision needs to be made on that because it’s not acceptable.”
If that does prompt action by the FA, Alonso would be in line for a three-match ban which would rule him out of the Burnley match, the FA Cup semi-final and a Gameweek 36 trip to Swansea.
The potential suspension would hit his owners hard for this Double Gameweek, but he would at least be back – and presumably assured of starts – for Chelsea’s second double (LIV HUD) in Gameweek 37.
Then again, Thursday’s trip to Turf Moor should involve a good deal of rotation anyway, with Giroud likely to be a certain starter and one of either Davide Zappacosta, who played 60 minutes yesterday, or Emerson coming in if Alonso is indeed banned.
Saints go marching out
Two goals to the good and controlling the match, Southampton looked on course for their first win since Gameweek 26 when it all came crashing down.
Charlie Austin was the most signed Saints player for their double, which also involves a trip to Leicester City, with 39,000+ new owners hoping the striker would be handed a start as reward for his 18-minute goalscoring cameo last week.
Instead, they got a mere 11 minutes and just one point from their man as Hughes continued to manage his forward’s minutes following a long-term hamstring injury.
Southampton’s goals instead came from Dusan Tadic and debutant Jan Bednarek.
The Serbian midfielder produced his first return since Gameweek 23 courtesy of an assist from Ryan Bertrand, who created three chances on the day.
That’s five assists for the season now from the left-back, with his counterpart on the opposite flank, Cedric, failing to produce for the 23,000 who had made him the side’s most popular defensive signing of Gameweek 34.
Bednerak was drafted in to replace the suspended Jack Stephens as Hughes stuck to his seemingly preferred system of three centre-halves and wing-backs.
The 4.1-priced defender scored from James Ward Prowse’s free-kick, which was the midfielder’s first assist in five starts.
Southampton’s performance was encouraging, but the result chastening, and they are now five points adrift from safety.
Desperate times might well prompt desperate measures, with Austin perhaps set to start at Leicester, depending on Hughes’ tactics.
And a Double Gameweek 37 (eve swa) should prompt those who own Saints assets, most of whom are being used as part of a Bench Boost strategy this week, to hold until then.
Ayew back with a bang
One of our differential tips, Jordan Ayew, marked his return to the Swansea City side with a vital goal to remind us all of his qualities ahead of a Double Gameweek 37 (bou SOT).
The 6.2%-owned striker had missed three matches after being red carded in Gameweek 30, but earned the Swans a vital point in a 1-1 draw with Everton yesterday.
Ayew, who was set up by Tom Carroll, now has six goals from 13 Gameweek appearances, with 11 of those starts, although he was cautioned against the Toffees in case we needed reminding of his volatile temperament.
His three shots and four chances created showcased his rather more productive side, while interest in Everton players remains muted as Sam Allardyce’s men play out a season devoid of both the threat of relegation and a Double Gameweek.
Idrissa Gueye earned a first assist of the season yesterday for his part in Kyle Naughton’s own goal.