Gameweek 11 concluded in West Yorkshire on Monday evening as Huddersfield Town recorded their first win – and scored their first home goal – of the season.
Fulham’s lamentable form continued, as did that of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who registered his third “one-pointer” in five Gameweeks.
The Terriers ended a run of seven Premier League matches (dating back to April) without a goal at the John Smith’s Stadium and it was fitting that it wasn’t even one of their own players who stopped the drought, with Timothy Fosu-Mensah deflecting a Christopher Schindler header into his own goal.
We round up the main Fantasy talking points, manager quotes and injury news from last night’s televised clash.
Huddersfield Town 1-0 Fulham
- Goal: Timothy Fosu-Mensah (£4.5m) own-goal
- Assist: Christopher Schindler (£4.3m)
Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.7m) went into Monday night’s match at Huddersfield already as the most-transferred out player of Gameweek 12 and the sales of the Serbian striker will surely only intensify after a below-par showing at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The disillusionment is as much with Fulham as a team as Mitrovic himself, with the mid-price FPL forward being starved of service from the players around him and largely well-shackled by Huddersfield’s three central defenders.
The statistics will show that Mitrovic had more penalty box touches and twice as many goal attempts as any other player on show on Monday night but in truth, he and Fulham never really looked like pegging back the Terriers’ one-goal advantage.
Three of Mitrovic’s four efforts were blocked and his other attempt, a looping header from a corner-kick, drifted harmlessly wide of Jonas Lossl‘s (£4.4m) left-hand post.
The former Newcastle United striker was also flagged offside in the build-up to Andre Schurrle‘s (£6.0m) disallowed goal and his miserable night was compounded when he picked up a booking for dissent on 76 minutes.
As if Mitrovic’s remaining owners didn’t have reason enough to offload the out-of-sorts target-man, that was his fourth booking of the season and he must now walk the disciplinary tightrope for another eight league games if he is to avoid picking up a fifth caution and a subsequent one-match ban.
The frustration from a Fantasy manager’s perspective is that, as the player proved earlier this campaign when the mood was altogether brighter at Craven Cottage, there is still a decent mid-price FPL forward in Mitrovic bubbling beneath his surly surface.
The Cottagers’ abject form is such, however, that morale looks shot to pieces among their squad and no matter what undoubted potential Mitrovic has, the collective angst permeating this Fulham side makes it difficult to see where their next result is coming from.
The visit of Southampton in Gameweek 13 might tempt a minority to retain Mitrovic’s services, but trips to Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United in the next five Gameweeks make it all-the-more easier to look elsewhere.
It could be, of course, that Fulham have a new manager by the time they take to the field again, with pressure mounting on the unfortunate Slavisa Jokanovic – who performed wonders to get his side promoted from the Championship last season – after last night’s meek surrender.
A new head coach could have a galvanising effect on Mitrovic and the Fulham squad, but as things stand, there are surely better options elsewhere in the Serb’s price bracket.
The Cottagers were particularly anaemic in the first half, registering only one penalty box touch in total when Luciano Vietto (£5.5m) fired off Fulham’s only shot on target of the whole 90 minutes.
Vietto, who had lined up on the left of a front three in Jokanovic’s customary 4-3-3, was hooked at the interval along with Timothy Fosu-Mensah (£4.5m) but in reality, it could have been two of any number of Fulham players after their limp showing in the opening 45 minutes.
Jokanovic was fairly scathing of his senior players after full-time:
I don’t know if it’s preparation of the game wasn’t good enough or if they didn’t understand how important this game was, like all the games are in the Premier League.
At the end we were confused, I don’t know if some players were a bit scared of this kind of responsibility that was in front of us, and we didn’t perform enough.
But to perform, you don’t need to be so talented to fight and show energy where we are competing in Premier League game.
This is my sensation that many responsibilities are in front of the youngest man in my team, Ryan Sessegnon, who tried to push and tried forcing the situation.
Other people need to offer more fight, personality, more quality and more work. If players have some kind of words after the game between them, but it’s a bit late.
We have the opportunity to talk between 8 and 10(pm) and we didn’t talk enough with enough personality or power or with quality.
Schurrle wasted perhaps Fulham’s best chance on 81 minutes, curling wide after a through-ball from the recalled and otherwise anonymous Tom Cairney (£4.8m).
While Fulham’s backline wasn’t quite as sieve-like as it had been in recent weeks, they were bullied by the Terriers throughout and the winning goal came when Christopher Schindler (£4.3m) showed more commitment than the visiting defence to meet Chris Lowe‘s (£4.4m) cross and power a header – via a telling deflection off Fosu-Mensah – past Sergio Rico (£4.4m).
The Terriers probably should have had more goals, with Philip Billing (£4.5m) striking the crossbar from distance after 15 minutes and Aaron Mooy (£5.2m) and substitute Isaac Mbenza (£5.9m) failing to hit the target when presented with excellent opportunities in the second half.
Alex Pritchard (£4.8m), playing behind the recalled Steve Mounie (£5.8m) up front, tested Rico’s reflexes shortly before the opening goal and later sent a rising shot over the Fulham goalkeeper’s crossbar following a Mooy corner.
While it may seem “kneejerk” to big up Huddersfield’s defence after a first clean sheet in eight matches, the Terriers’ backline has been showing steady signs of improvement in the last month or so: David Wagner’s troops have conceded fewer big chances than any Premier League side – even Liverpool and Manchester City – in the last four Gameweeks.
Only City and Liverpool have allowed fewer shots on target than Wagner’s troops during this period, too.
While centre-backs Schindler, Zanka (£4.4m) and Terence Kongolo (£4.4m) provided the solid base for Huddersfield’s clean sheet and lurked menacingly at dead-ball situations, Lowe at wing-back caught the eye from a Fantasy point of view, firing in more crosses than any other player on show.
Part of Lowe’s appeal is his involvement in taking set plays and the German defender was desperately unlucky not to register an assist for his role in Huddersfield’s winner, with those three points taken from him following the intervention of the goals’ accreditation panel.
Lowe at least emerged with maximum bonus to bolster his clean sheet return.
Four of Huddersfield’s seven fixtures before Christmas are at home, with West Ham, Brighton, Southampton and Newcastle the visitors to West Yorkshire – all of whom rank in the bottom half of the table for goals scored in 2018/19.
Wagner had one eye on those matches when interviewed after full-time:
This is huge for us. We have the winning feeling back. For sure it is one of the most important wins we’ve had in the last three years. Everybody needed this belief back. It’s massive for us.
Nothing is more important than this winning feeling, happy faces in the dressing room and in the club and we are back in the race after 11 games.
When you look at the fixtures in front of us they are teams in and around the area where they’ll be open games. Today I think we were the team who really wanted this win.
Erik Durm (£4.4m) was revealed to have missed this match thanks to a minor groin problem, while Fulham lost substitute Kevin McDonald (£4.4m) to injury 19 minutes after his introduction.
Huddersfield Town XI (3-5-1-1): Lossl; Jorgensen, Schindler, Kongolo (Bacuna 90′); Hadergjonaj, Billing, Hogg, Mooy, Lowe; Pritchard (Mbenza 82′); Mounie (Depoitre 56′).
Fulham XI (4-3-3): Rico; Fosu-Mensah (Christie 46′), Le Marchand, Odoi, Sessegnon; Anguissa, Seri, Cairney; Vietto (McDonald 46′, Johansen 65′), Mitrovic, Schurrle.
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