Fantasy Premier League managers will have to monitor the forward situation at Crystal Palace amid recent changes to the side.
There are a host of budget options available but Roy Hodgson has some decisions to make about his formation in the coming weeks.
Their win over Fulham on Saturday is the focus of this latest Scout Notes article.
Crystal Palace 2-0 Fulham
Goals: Luka Milivojevic (£6.2m), Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.4m)
Assists: Michy Batshuayi (£6.5m)
Crystal Palace manager Hodgson has a selection headache on his hands ahead of Gameweek 26, as it is still unclear for Fantasy managers how Michy Batshuayi (£6.5m) fits in at Selhurst Park. The Chelsea striker, who joined the Eagles on loan on transfer deadline day, grabbed himself an assist in his eight-minute debut and certainly showed some promise in his short space of time on the field.
Whether he will be in line to start against West Ham on Saturday remains to be seen though, as Hodgson has serious competition for places in his attacking line now. In Wilfried Zaha‘s (£6.7m) absence, the Palace boss reverted to the 4-4-2 formation he used at the start of the season, having favoured 4-3-3 in recent weeks. A switch back to 4-3-3 would leave just one space for a centre-forward with Zaha and Andros Townsend (£5.9m) likely to take up the wide positions.
Leading from the front against Fulham was an attacking pairing of Christian Benteke (£6.3m) and Jordan Ayew (£5.7m), both of whom played well and earned praise from their manager at the full-time whistle. It was the first start for Benteke since Gameweek 4, as he continues his recovery from a long lay-off. According to Hodgson, the former Aston Villa man still has issues playing the full 90 minutes, although it should be to his credit that there were boos from the home support when he was substituted in the 72nd minute.
“Christian, of course, (did well) coming back from a long layoff. At half-time he was complaining about the onset of cramp, we knew we couldn’t play him for 90 minutes, we knew that we would have to take him off at some time. But the good thing is of course now when you have Batshuayi on the bench and when you have Bakary Sako on the bench you’re not frightened to take him off because you’ve got such a good alternative.” – Roy Hodgson
It was Ayew who Batshuayi came on for in the 82nd minute, but whether he replaces the former Swansea man may also hang in the balance currently. Even though he did not score or assist, Hodgson described Ayew’s performance as his best of the season, having started each of the last five in a row for Palace.
“For Ayew on an all-round performance, it was his best performance. His work rate and efforts in the game at Southampton in midweek was fantastic, today again you see the man has super-human powers in terms of the effort he puts in. Today I thought he succeeded with the ball as well.” – Roy Hodgson
With the nature of Batshuayi’s arrival as a marquee signing at Palace, it is fairly likely that he will start matches very soon. It cannot be ignored that the Belgian international looked fired up as soon as he took to the Selhurst Park pitch, and in just eight minutes on the pitch managed two shots and a one assist. With future Palace team-sheets harder to predict now, questions have been asked to current players about whether the group of forwards can play together.
“Of course we can play together. But now it is up to the manager. Like I say he has got a lot of options, so it is up to him. He is a goal scorer, he is a player who is always going to be dangerous in the box – which is good. We have got a lot of different options, which I think for the manager is going to be a headache for him.” – Christian Benteke
An often overlooked individual at Crystal Palace is second half goalscorer and FPL defender Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.4m), who netted for the second time against Fulham this season. With Zaha out of the team, the former Leicester man was making his first start since Gameweek 20 at left attacking midfield, having featured as a substitute three times between then and the visit of Fulham. No player had more shots in the penalty box at Selhurst Park on Saturday as he continues to prove he has the potential to be a powerful Fantasy asset if he was able to start regularly. In fact, Schlupp actually has goals in two of his last three starts, also netting in the spectacular 3-2 win at Manchester City in Gameweek 18. Unfortunately for him, his area of the pitch is where the most competition for places are with Zaha and Max Meyer (£5.6m) in the mix, as well as any striker pushed out wide.
“I’ve always believed in Jeffrey Schlupp. I believe in him as a left-back, I believe in him as a left-sided player and I believe in him as a left midfield player in a three because he has a lot of qualities and it’s great if you’re going to write something positive about him because it certainly backs up what we feel about him and he’s been a little hard done by. Funnily enough in the area that he plays that’s where the competition has been strongest.” – Roy Hodgson
After surviving a first-half Fulham onslaught, there was a ninth clean sheet of the season for Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.6m) and his Crystal Palace defensive colleagues. It was further proof that the Eagles assets in our Fantasy squads should be trusted more often than not when they are playing at home. In their last four league matches at Selhurst Park they have kept three clean sheets and conceded just once, in the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in Gameweek 20.
“I wasn’t surprised that the first-half was a difficult one for us, we didn’t pass the ball anywhere near as well as we’re capable of in the first-half. But we got a break, a piece of good fortune, the cross was a good cross but I didn’t expect Christie to handle it to give us that penalty, but these things to happen in the game of football. Certainly, in the second half, I thought we played much better. I thought our control was better, our passing started to come back to its normal levels. We piled a bit of pressure on them, not least of all from corner kicks which we were taking.” – Roy Hodgson
Unfortunately for Aleksandar Mitrovic (£6.5m) owners, Fulham were unable to attack Palace with the same ruthlessness they did against Brighton midweek. Despite finding such success playing balls into the middle for Mitrović to thrive on in Gameweek 24, Saturday’s trip to Selhurst saw none of that width in attack. The injured André Schürrle (£5.6m) was replaced not by a natural wide player, but by central midfielder Tom Cairney (£4.6m), who clearly was not suited to the role.
“No, no, no, we continued to play and try to do our game but of course we made a few crosses for Mitrovic and we know Mitrovic is very dangerous when you pass the ball well and cross for him. I ask always to make a cross for him but it’s not possible sometimes and we want to go back and pass the ball behind and restart the action when you can finish and cross. If Mitrovic is ready, he can score.” – Claudio Ranieri
There were other tactical changes that seemed to hinder Fulham, as they reverted to a three-man defence with wing-backs pushing on despite the success they had with a back-four for the second half against Brighton. After going 1-0 down to Luka Milivojevic‘s (£6.2m) penalty, Claudio Ranieri was forced to ditch the back-three once again. Luciano Vietto (£5.3m) was introduced for Tim Ream (£4.2m) at half-time as part of the latest reshuffle.
“I played three at the back and we played better than the second half. I changed to try help my players at Brighton, that was good, but today wasn’t and that’s it.” – Claudio Ranieri
It was an afternoon to forget for Cyrus Christie (£4.2m) as he gave away the penalty in the first half and was forced from the pitch with an injury in the second.
“He was injured, I don’t know (the latest). Tomorrow we will check and on Monday we will know better.” – Claudio Ranieri
Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Guaita; van Aanholt, Sakho, Tomkins, Wan-Bissaka; Schlupp (Sako 90+1′), Milivojevic, McArthur, Townsend; Benteke (Meyer 72′), Ayew (Batshuayi 82′).
Fulham XI (3-4-3): Rico; Ream (Vietto 45′), Le Marchand, Odoi; Bryan, Seri, Chambers, Christie (Fosu-Mensah 62′); Babel (Ayité 88′), Mitrović, Cairney.