Newcastle United recorded their fourth straight home win and third clean sheet in six Gameweeks as they saw off the challenge of Burnley on Tuesday.
The Magpies’ victory ended Burnley’s own eight-match unbeaten run as the Clarets’ budget Fantasy assets suffered a rare blank after the success stories of recent weeks.
We’ll look at how Rafael Benitez’s side chalked up their latest victory and examine how their own cut-price Fantasy options fared ahead of some more appealing fixtures in the weeks ahead.
Newcastle United 2-0 Burnley
- Goals: Fabian Schar (£4.7m), Sean Longstaff (£4.5m)
- Assists: Javier Manquillo (£4.3m)
Newcastle United’s second 2-0 home win in the space of four days was an altogether different affair from the victory over Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
The procession over the ten-man Terriers in Gameweek 27 always had to be treated with caution from a Fantasy perspective but Tuesday’s triumph over an in-form Burnley side was more of a reliable barometer as to how well the Magpies’ assets are currently performing.
As expected, Miguel Almiron (£6.0m), Salomon Rondon (£5.9m) and Ayoze Perez (£6.1m) had a tougher evening against an improved Clarets defence that had only shipped seven goals in the preceding eight Gameweeks.
As Sean Dyche conceded after the match, Newcastle were the better side but clear-cut chances were few and far between: Perez failing to record a single shot on goal and Rondon’s only meaningful effort being a free header in first-half stoppage time that he couldn’t guide on target.
Still, there were more encouraging signs that Newcastle’s front three will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming weeks as they worked well in tandem at St. James’ Park.
Rondon may have struggled to completely impose himself on James Tarkowski (£4.7m) and Ben Mee (£4.6m) but his presence is always a threat and he registered three key passes on Tyneside last night, more than any other Newcastle player.
Almiron’s searing pace was once again evident, with Tom Heaton (£4.8m) having to rush off his line to deny the Paraguayan midfielder a goalscoring chance before the break.
Newcastle’s club-record signing then had an excellent one-on-one chance after half-time, only for Heaton to deflect Almiron’s effort into the side netting.
While this was a second successive blank for the mid-price midfielder, Almiron has shown plenty of encouragement in his first two Newcastle starts to attract interest from a Fantasy perspective – the Paraguay international had similarly broken free of the visiting defence on Saturday only for his chipped effort to strike the woodwork.
With United’s front three drawing a blank despite their promising displays, it was left to a differential FPL defender and midfielder to seal three points for the hosts.
Fabian Schar (£4.7m) once again underscored his goal threat with a rocket of an opener, his 25-yard effort crashing in off Heaton’s left-hand post.
It’s the Swiss centre-back’s threat from open play as well as set-piece situations that catches the eye and the summer signing from Deportivo de La Coruna has a long-standing reputation as a goal-getting defender, having scored on seven occasions for his country in 46 appearances.
His proclivity to accumulate yellow cards (eight in 16 Premier appearances, just two away from a two-match ban) and United’s competition for places at centre-back have perhaps been deterrents but he is now part of a settled back three in the meanest defence outside of the “big six”, with only two of those Champions League-chasing clubs to come in the remaining ten Gameweeks.
Speaking of his in-form defender, Rafael Benitez said:
We know he is capable of doing that. On the ball, he is good, and now he is improving in defence and the understanding with the other players is getting better.
The Newcastle boss also had positive words to say about Sean Longstaff (£4.5m), who scored his first senior goal to put the cap on his side’s victory.
I said so many times when he was coming and training with us he was doing well and he was lucky enough to make his debut sooner rather than later because of injuries.
But he deserved to be there and we decided to keep him in the team because he is working hard and playing well and his understanding with Hayden is quite good.
We are really pleased. To have a local lad playing is an example to the rest of the players. You can guarantee when you have local players they are cheaper! And, also, they are committed. Both things are important.
He had a yellow card and they were trying to play on him, focusing on his yellow card. So we had to protect him [by substituting him].
The return to fitness of Ki Sung-yueng (£4.7m), Jonjo Shelvey (£5.3m) and Mohamed Diame (£4.8m) is a concern but Longstaff and Isaac Hayden (£4.4m) continue to be two of the more appealing options among bargain-bin FPL midfielders, having started seven and ten successive Premier League matches respectively and having chipped in with attacking returns during that time.
DeAndre Yedlin (£4.5m) missed out on Newcastle’s latest clean sheet, meanwhile, being handed a breather to allow Javier Manquillo (£4.3m) a run-out in what was Benitez’s only change to his starting XI.
Dyche made his first alteration to the Burnley line-up in seven Gameweeks, with the sick Ashley Westwood (£4.6m) dropping out, Jeff Hendrick (£5.2m) moved inside to central midfield and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m) reinstated on the right flank.
The Clarets’ boss said of Westwood’s ailment:
I think Westy and Corky have had a tremendous little run together, and the way they’ve connected, but unfortunately he went down with sickness so we had to get him a car back because we didn’t want it going through the camp.
We got him home this afternoon in a car to give him some more recovery time and hopefully it just a bug that passes quickly. He was in a hotel room on his own thankfully so he was not around the group so hopefully, we have contained that.
Dyche also provided updates on long-term injury victims Aaron Lennon (£4.9m) and Steven Defour (£5.3m):
We are just waiting on news of what they are going to [with Defour]. It is a calf thing and there are a couple of different options so we are just waiting on some clarity on what they are actually going to decide to do.
He was seeing one of the specialists (on Tuesday). I will have to wait and see what the specialists’ report is.
Azza is making really good progress but is not there yet obviously.
Burnley created little from open play but preyed on Newcastle’s vulnerability from crosses and at set plays, with the majority of their chances coming from corners or free-kicks.
Tarkowski wasted an Ashley Barnes (£5.7m) assist when volleying over from close range, while Chris Wood (£6.2m) stung the palms of Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) and substitute Matej Vydra (£5.6m) couldn’t scramble the ball past the Slovakian goalkeeper after yet another set-piece delivery.
With his FPL ownership down to 1.1%, Gudmundsson might be an interesting differential for the remaining Gameweeks if he can now nail down a starting role: no player on show at St. James’ Park created more chances or registered more shots, with the Iceland international’s set-piece deliveries a valuable tool in his locker with the likes of Barnes, Wood, Mee and Tarkowski to aim at.
Tarkowski recorded another three attempts on goal on Tyneside and now only three FPL assets in any position (let alone defence) have registered more efforts from inside the opposition six-yard box this season.
Barnes and Wood struggled to get much change from Newcastle’s three centre-backs, with Barnes’ only effort on goal being a blocked shot in the second half.
Both of the Clarets’ in-form strikers were substituted on a rare off-day for the pair but Burnley at least have three home matches in the next four Gameweeks to look forward to, for those Fantasy owners disenchanted with Tuesday night’s returns.
Another Burnley asset to be withdrawn was budget midfielder Dwight McNeil (£4.5m), who was hooked at half-time.
Dyche said of his young prospect:
When you are young, the games do catch you out sometimes.
We wanted him to again because we got him off on Saturday early and we thought he’d be fine, the energy would be there.
I think sometimes it just catches the young players out, particularly physically and sometimes mentally because it was a big game playing on TV against Tottenham and it was another big game tonight for different reasons.
He’s been fantastic. We did wonder: ‘can you get that next one out of him?’, but I thought he was good Saturday and he just found it tough tonight.
Dyche lamented a “really poor” first half and suggested this was perhaps just one game too far for his in-form side:
It’s a strange one to analyse. We certainly weren’t at the races in the first half and you can’t help but think back to Saturday’s result and all the euphoria that goes with beating one of the big six.
If we’d had a free week, all that furore might have calmed down, but when you hit the big teams as we did on Saturday with a terrific performance and you have to go and do it all again a few days later – well, that’s what it looked like.
In the second half, I thought there was a response. We were a little more like our old selves.
The energy came back and without being amazing, we huffed and puffed and created one or two things. At least it looked a bit more like us.
Newcastle United XI (3-4-2-1): Dubravka; Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune; Manquillo, Longstaff (Diame 85′), Hayden, Ritchie; Perez (Joselu 87′), Almiron (Dummett 80′); Rondon.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Heaton; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Gudmundsson, Hendrick, Cork, McNeil (Brady 46′); Wood (Vydra 83′), Barnes (Crouch 71′).
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