It’s a case of ‘as you were’ for Blank Gameweeks 31 and 33 after Brighton and Hove Albion saw off West Bromwich Albion in their FA Cup fourth-round replay on Wednesday evening.
A defeat for the Seagulls would have seen the number of confirmed Premier League fixtures in each of those two Gameweeks rise to five, with Brighton scheduled to take on Cardiff City and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.
We can still have anything from one to six blanks in Gameweek 31 and one to four in Gameweek 33.
Chris Hughton’s side now entertain Derby County in the fifth round of the FA Cup a week on Saturday.
We’ll round up the Fantasy talking points from Brighton’s extra-time victory over the Baggies.
West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Goals: Florin Andone (£5.0m), Glenn Murray (£6.3m) x2
- Assists: Jurgen Locadia (£5.3m), Davy Propper (£4.8m)
Glenn Murray (£6.3m) came off the bench in extra time to seal a hard-earned victory for Brighton at the Hawthorns.
The veteran striker bundled home a deflected Jurgen Locadia (£5.3m) cross just three minutes after his introduction and later finished tidily from a Davy Propper (£4.8m) pass to put the tie beyond doubt.
The 35-year-old forward looks fairly assured of a start against Burnley in Gameweek 26 given that he only played a cameo role in the Black Country last night and understudy Florin Andone (£5.0m) lasted the full 120 minutes.
Having shared game-time with the Romanian striker over the festive season, Murray has now started the last five Premier League matches on the spin and his medium-term security could be further boosted if the Football Association take any action on Andone for an alleged elbow on the Baggies’ Sam Field.
Andone later pulled Brighton level after a mix-up in the West Brom defence.
Murray said of his own form:
I feel good at the moment, over the Christmas period I had a few little knocks and a bit of an illness but that’s all behind me now.
I feel back to my best and scoring goals helps, we’ve got good competition in the squad at the moment and we have a few faces who are returning from injuries and time away.
We felt as though we dominated the game on Saturday and again on Wednesday – we feel like we’ve put on a good display.
We’ve had some difficult fixtures over the last month and we feel like our performances levels have been consistently good overall.
Hughton praised his evergreen striker but added that he desired to see more of his players contributing on the goal front:
Not only the goal, but it was the attitude Glenn showed. He came on and wanted to make an impact, and that’s what happens when you bring substitutes on, you want them to impact the game.
He certainly came on with a spring in his step and we’re grateful for that.
What we need is to be spreading these goals around the team a little more, but if you said to me ‘would you rather have somebody in form that’s scoring goals than support from elsewhere?’, then, of course, I would say, ‘yes’.
Murray would ordinarily re-enter the budget forward debate given the Seagulls’ superb run of scheduled Premier League fixtures over the next seven Gameweeks but a blank in Gameweek 27 and possibly two more in Gameweeks 31 and 33 will, of course, likely deter Fantasy investment.
Predicting the Brighton line-up at the Amex on Saturday should be a fairly routine operation as this was a second-string Seagulls side that overcame their opponents from the Championship: Hughton made ten changes to the starting XI that drew 0-0 with Watford in Gameweek 25, with just Yves Bissouma (£4.6m) – who himself only featured against the Hornets because of an injury picked up by Dale Stephens (£4.4m) in the warm-up – retaining his place.
Bernardo (£4.2m) made his comeback from injury with a two-hour showing at full-back, with veteran Bruno (£4.4m) also getting a 105-minute run-out.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£6.7m) featured for the first time since injury and international duty in a central midfield role just ahead of Bissouma and Beram Kayal (£4.4m), with Anthony Knockaert (£5.2m) and youngster Viktor Gyokeres (£4.5m) getting the nod on the flanks.
Hughton highlighted the contribution of Knockaert, who hasn’t started a league match since Gameweek 17:
Anthony’s season has been a little bit up and down in regards to playing, but he showed his real quality today – not only the quality he’s got, but he also worked really hard and made an impact.
Deputy centre-backs Leon Balogun (£4.2m) and Dan Burn (£4.5m) had relatively comfortable evenings but won’t have been pleased with their part in West Brom’s opener – Balogun bizarrely letting Kyle Bartley prod home unchallenged after Burn had nodded a Wes Hoolahan free-kick up in the air.
Lewis Dunk (£4.5m) and Pascal Gross (£6.7m) remained unused substitutes, while the likes of Mathew Ryan (£4.4m), Shane Duffy (£4.6m) and Solly March (£4.9m) were handed the night off altogether.
Brighton (4-2-3-1): Button; Bruno (Bong 106’), Balogun, Burns, Bernardo; Bissouma (Propper 88’), Kayal; Gyokeres (Locadia 79’), Jahanbakhsh (Murray 101’), Knockaert; Andone.
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