We continue our look back at Gameweek 15 with a recap of three matches held on Wednesday evening.
We’ve got all the goals, assists, injury news, Fantasy talking points and relevant manager quotes from the matches at Molineux, Goodison Park and Craven Cottage.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Chelsea
- Goals: Raul Jimenez (£6.0m), Diogo Jota (£5.9m) | Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£5.2m)
- Assists: Morgan Gibbs-White (£4.3m), Matt Doherty (£5.0m) | Eden Hazard (£11.0m)
Just as Bournemouth’s budget/mid-price assets are making it difficult to look elsewhere despite the downturn in their fixture difficulty, so too Wolves’ cut-price Fantasy options keep delivering in spite of some tricky matches.
Raul Jimenez (£6.0m) was on the scoresheet at Molineux on Wednesday evening and now has two goals and three assists since Wolves’ fixtures took a turn for the worse in Gameweek 11.
Matt Doherty (£5.0m), meanwhile, followed up his goal at Cardiff with an assist for Diogo Jota‘s (£5.9m) winner and registered as many penalty box touches as any other Wolves player last night.
Nuno Espirito Santo tweaked his formation from a 3-4-3 to a 3-4-1-2, with Jota playing alongside Jimenez up front and Morgan Gibbs-White (£4.3m) lining up behind the strike pair on his first ever Premier League start.
The decision looked like a savvy one when Gibbs-White teed up Jimenez for Wolves’ equaliser and it will be interesting to see if Santo sticks with both system and personnel going forward, with the 18-year-old midfielder available at such an attractive price in FPL.
Santo said of the teenage prospect:
He brought energy. He brought focus. He has a lot of things to improve on but together we are going to try and build something.
While Ruben Neves (£5.0m) will potentially return to the starting XI at Newcastle on Sunday after serving a one-match ban, it is unlikely the Portuguese midfielder would be deployed in such an advanced position and it would surely be Romain Saiss (£4.2m) who would make way upon his return.
Saiss had shifted from defence to central midfield last night to accommodate the excellent Ryan Bennett‘s (£4.2m) return at centre-back.
In truth, this was more of a backs-to-the-wall performance from Wolves than a free-flowing attacking display.
Jimenez nodded two half-chances over in the first half but apart from their two goals, the hosts didn’t force Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.5m) into another save.
Chelsea dominated the possession and chances, though their goal came courtesy of a huge slice of luck – Ruben Loftus-Cheek‘s (£5.2m) effort taking a wicked deflection on its way past Rui Patricio (£4.6m).
Eden Hazard (£11.0m) has suffered almost a million FPL sales since Gameweek 11 but the Belgian looked a threat at Molineux, without being at his scintillating best.
Hazard had an excellent chance to open the scoring early on when firing straight at Patricio and hit a couple of rasping efforts over the Wolves’ goalkeeper’s crossbar.
No player on show had more efforts on goal or created more chances than Hazard, who picked up a slightly fortunate assist for Loftus-Cheek’s effort but who should have collected another attacking return when Willian (£7.4m) wasted the Belgian winger’s chipped through ball.
Willian and Alvaro Morata (£8.7m) failed to impress, while Marcos Alonso‘s (£7.1m) owners may be getting a little jittery after another unconvincing display from the Chelsea left-back.
As excellent an FPL option as the attack-minded defender undoubtedly is, the worry from a Fantasy manager’s point of view is that his all-round performances have been well below-par in recent weeks, with his defensive positioning (a long-held criticism of the player) and final ball lacking.
Maurizio Sarri is renowned for his loyalty in his players but a continuation of this woeful form will surely see Emerson (£5.2m) handed a start before too long – something Alonso’s owners can ill-afford given his price tag and the Christmas period looming.
All is not well with Chelsea in general at the moment, with Sarri expressing concern about his players’ response after being pegged back to 1-1:
I think that we played very well for 55 minutes. After the first goal, at 1-1, it was an accident because we were in full control of the match. We were suddenly another team, without the right distances, our football, I don’t know why.
I am really very worried, not for the result but for the fact we didn’t react to the first goal. We didn’t react at all, so I am really very worried for this.
Wolves XI (3-4-1-2): Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Moutinho, Saiss, Vinagre; Gibbs-White (Costa 72’); Jimenez (Dendoncker 81’), Jota (Cavaleiro 88’).
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso; Kante (Kovacic 77’), Fabregas, Loftus-Cheek; Hazard, Morata (Giroud 65’), Willian (Pedro 65’).
Everton 1-1 Newcastle United
- Goals: Richarlison (£7.1m) | Salomon Rondon (£5.7m)
- Assists: None | Jacob Murphy (£4.8m)
Back on the left flank and back among the goals.
Richarlison (£7.1m) ended a three-match run without an attacking return at Goodison Park on Wednesday evening and looked more of a goal threat than he has done over the last month, drifting in from the wing and registering more shots against the Magpies than he had done in the previous three Premier League fixtures combined.
The Brazilian midfielder swept home a loose ball following a corner-kick to level the scores up on 37 minutes and could have added to his tally, seeing two close-range efforts excellently blocked by Fabian Schar (£4.6m) early on and then sending an effort wide after the interval.
No FPL midfielder recorded more attempts on goal than Richarlison in Gameweek 15.
The bad news for those Fantasy managers who are hoping that the former Watford player is now afforded an extended run in the team on the left wing is that Cenk Tosun (£6.6m), the striker brought into the side to allow Richarlison to move back to the flank, produced another ineffective display up top, wasting the best of the Toffees’ chances when prodding straight at Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) from point-blank range just before half-time.
Bernard (£5.9m) and Theo Walcott (£6.3m) were handed a rest last night and would perhaps seem poised to reclaim their places in Marco Silva’s starting XI next Monday, given that Tosun and Ademola Lookman (£5.1m) didn’t particularly convince in their stead.
That would, of course, mean a return to the striker’s role for Richarlison for the visit of his former employers.
Silva discussed his team selection after full-time:
Since the first day I was here, Lookman has shown me every time [in training] and when he has come in during games that he deserved the chance to start.
Not because Theo Walcott or Bernard weren’t performing well – but because we had a game just three days ago, a tough, intense match. I made three changes and could have made more, because I thought in the second half some of the players were more tired than normal.
Lookman performed like I expected. He had some good moments – some others not so good, like the team. Cenk was the same and he worked hard for the team.
Owners of Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.5m) and Lucas Digne (£4.9m) endured a frustrating evening.
The Iceland midfielder was quiet for long stages of the game but should have emerged from this encounter with an attacking return, having looked poised to score from ten yards on 35 minutes only for a desperate lunge from the excellent Federico Fernandez (£4.4m) to deflect his goalbound shot wide.
Sigurdsson’s luck was out when a couple of deflections deprived him of an assist for Richarlison’s goal and his evening was summed up when he was hooked with 20 minutes to go, despite Everton chasing a winner.
Three days after Digne was deprived of a nine-point haul by a late Liverpool goal, the French left-back’s luck was again out as he saw Tosun and Sigurdsson waste those aforementioned “big chances” – both of which were created by the former Barcelona defender.
Digne also saw a deflected shot saved by Dubravka, one of only three Everton efforts that hit the target.
Digne’s Fantasy owners should at least be consoled by how dangerous the full-back looked going forward and a first attacking return since Gameweek 4 looks imminent based on his performances in recent weeks.
Andre Gomes (£5.4m) once again impressed in central midfield, though his classy contributions in the “double pivot” are unlikely to attract any Fantasy investment.
Newcastle produced a superb rearguard effort in gaining a point on Merseyside and it could be argued, having witnessed the capitulation against West Ham on Saturday, that they are more at ease playing on the back foot.
Benitez set his side up in a 5-4-1, with Jamaal Lascelles (£4.7m) back in central defence after an injury lay-off.
That Dubravka only had two saves to make said much about the performances of the defence in front of him, but the Slovakian goalkeeper oozed confidence in claiming a succession of crosses into the Magpies’ box.
Newcastle posed a threat on the counter-attack too and could have stolen all three points when Christian Atsu (£5.1m) twice fired straight at Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) when in excellent positions.
United’s goal indeed came from a breakaway, with Salomon Rondon (£5.7m) converting an excellent Jacob Murphy (£4.8m) cross.
Benitez praised the recalled Murphy and Atsu after the game:
It’s a pity because we have two or three situations with Atsu, one v one, that we didn’t find this final pass to make the difference. But, again, I will say that when you get a point against a good team, away from home, you have to be pleased.
Murphy and Atsu were really good because defending all the time and, after, attacking, you need the legs. The goal was a great counter-attack.
Fabian Schar (£4.6m) will be suspended for the visit of Wolves on Sunday after collecting his fifth yellow card in just six appearances.
Kenedy (£4.9m) missed out on Wednesday through injury, meanwhile.
Benitez said of the on-loan Chelsea midfielder:
He has a problem with his toe. He couldn’t put his boots on and he couldn’t train in the last couple of days.
Everton XI (4-2-3-1) Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Zouma, Digne; Gueye, Gomes; Lookman (Calvert-Lewin 78′), Sigurdsson (Walcott 69′), Richarlison; Tosun (Bernard 69′).
Newcastle United XI (5-4-1) Dubravka; Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Fernandez, Manquillo; Atsu, Diame, Sung-yeung, Murphy (Perez 64′); Rondon (Joselu 74′).
Fulham 1-1 Leicester City
- Goals: Aboubakar Kamara (£4.3m) | James Maddison (£6.8m)
- Assists: Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.6m) | Shinji Okazaki (£5.2m)
Fantasy interest had largely cooled in James Maddison (£6.8m) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.6m) towards the beginning of November but the pair have showcased their mid-price credentials in recent Gameweeks and both players emerged from this draw at Craven Cottage with attacking returns.
Maddison swept home a Shinji Okazaki (£5.2m) pass to level the scores up at 1-1 on 73 minutes and was Leicester’s main goal threat in the absence of the injured Jamie Vardy (£8.9m), registering more shots on goal and key passes than any of his team-mates.
The former Norwich City midfielder also supplied Leicester’s only “big chance”, which the ineffective Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.9m) spurned when clean through on goal.
While Maddison’s form has picked up, Leicester’s fixtures are about to get much tougher (three meetings with “big six” sides over the next four Gameweeks) and interest in the attacking midfielder would seem likely to remain cool for the time being.
Fulham, however, enjoy a fantastic run from Gameweeks 17 to 20 and Mitrovic surely enters the mid-price forward equation at this point, particularly given how secure his place looks in Claudio Ranieri’s starting XI.
The Serbian striker held the ball up admirably and linked well with the players around him, setting Aboubakar Kamara (£4.3m) on his way for the budget forward’s first Premier League strike.
No player had more efforts on goal than Mitrovic in this match, with one header creeping just wide and a goalbound strike being deflected off-target late in the game.
The Serbia international still sits on four yellow cards, however, and the possibility of him being cautioned again in the coming weeks may deter some investment over the festive period.
One player who again caught the eye from an attacking point of view was Callum Chambers (£4.2m), who was once more deployed “out of position” in central midfield and who regularly got forward to support the Fulham attack.
Chambers had four attempts on goal, including a free header from a Ryan Sessegnon (£6.0m) corner and a well-hit strike that Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m) did brilliantly to tip away.
A clean sheet still eludes Fulham but there were some positive signs as Ranieri named the same back four for the third game in a row.
The Cottagers’ boss said of his backline:
I think the more times they play together, the movement will be together. I want to see one man, at the moment they are four men but I want to see only one man and slowly, slowly they understand my vision.
Injuries to Vardy and Johnny Evans (£4.8m) forced Claude Puel into making two of four changes to his starting XI, with Caglar Soyuncu (£4.9m) a little shaky on a rare start at centre-half.
Fulham XI (4-2-3-1): Sergio Rico; Christie (Ream 84′), Odoi, Mawson, Le Marchand (Bryan 77); Chambers, Seri; Kamara, Vietto (Cairney 45), Ryan Sessegnon; Mitrovic.
Leicester City XI (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Simpson (Okazaki 72′), Morgan, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Mendy (Iborra 72′), Ndidi; Diabate (Gray 55′), Maddison, Albrighton; Iheanacho.