A selection of Burnley and Leicester players have made a case for inclusion in Fantasy Premier League squads despite a lack of any Double Gameweeks.
While very few of the popular options from either side lived up to their billing in Blank Gameweek 31, there were still some standout performers.
We’ve assessed their assets in this latest Scout Notes article.
Burnley 1-2 Leicester City
Goals: Dwight McNeil (£4.4m) | James Maddison (£6.8m), Wes Morgan (£4.5m)
Assists: Charlie Taylor (£4.4m) | Youri Tielemans (£6.0m)
The form of popular Blank Gameweek 31 forward Ashley Barnes (£5.7m) seems to have dropped off in the last few matches, much to the disappointment of those who signed him for Burnley’s defeat to Leicester. In the last four matches, the Burnley forward has recorded inferior totals for goal attempts, shots in the box, efforts on target and expected goals (xG) compared to the four before that. However, there were still a few positives from Barnes’ performance as no Burnley player created more chances than him in Blank Gameweek 31. Furthermore, he was top of any player in the match for touches inside the penalty box.
“When a team goes down to 10 men so early it can feel strange unless you get a grip of the game straight away, and we didn’t. In the second half we corrected things and had a lot of the play, but those quality moments that you need to win a game weren’t close enough. You have to have that moment of truth and clarity. I will say it’s not easy to break down a team that set up 4-4-1.” – Sean Dyche
Either way, the upcoming circumstances will probably see Barnes owners cash him in for Double Gameweek options in the next few days, with Free Hit and second Wildcard season upon us. Forward options such as Marcus Rashford (£7.6m), Raúl Jiménez (£6.8m), Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m) and Michy Batshuayi (£6.5m) have already had two matches confirmed in Gameweek 32, while Glenn Murray (£6.3m) and Troy Deeney (£5.9m) are expected to have the same soon.
Chris Wood (£6.2m) looks even less of an option than Barnes still. He has now blanked for the last four matches in a row and continues to be the forward Sean Dyche prefers to replace. This was the third match in a row that the New Zealand international made way for Peter Crouch (£4.5m).
Dwight McNeil (£4.4m) should remain on the radar of Fantasy managers after fifth midfielders though. The youngster continues to hold down his place in the Burnley team, making his 12th consecutive start on the left-wing against Leicester and scored a second goal of the season. In fact, no player had more shots than McNeil at Turf Moor on Saturday, who was also top for efforts inside the penalty area too. While the Clarets have no Double Gameweeks between now and the end of the season, they still have Wolves (home), Bournemouth (away) and Cardiff (home) as their next three opponents. There are few midfielders priced at £4.5m or under with as much goal threat as McNeil so he could still form part of Free Hit squads in Double Gameweek 32, while he could be a shrewd option to start in Blank Gameweek 33.
The 19-year-old’s place in the team was also strengthened by the fact that Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m) is now back in the starting line-up on the opposite flank to him, rather than instead of him. The Icelandic international has made a phased return from injury over the last few months earning just his second start since Gameweek 24 against Leicester. It was Jeff Hendrick (£5.2m), recently shifted out wide, who made way. Gudmundsson continued to re-establish himself as the set-piece taker for Burnley but still shared such duties with Ashley Westwood (£4.6m), as he was substituted in the 78th minute.
It is hard to fully assess Leicester’s prospects moving forward after this match as the odds were stacked against them from the fourth minute. That was when Harry Maguire (£5.4m) was sent off for bringing down Gudmundsson as the last man. The England centre-back is now banned for one Premier League match, which means he will miss the Gameweek 32 meeting with Bournemouth and return for the trip to Huddersfield in Gameweek 33.
“I think (the referee) made the right call, as much as it goes against us. We can deal with it better. Harry is obviously disappointed, but he was happy for his team-mates. He is a really good guy and what I love about Harry is he has come through levels so he knows the other side of football, playing in the lower leagues and coming through. He is a big talent but he knows he still has a lot to work on and improve on. It was just one of those unfortunate incidents in a game.” – Brendan Rodgers
His dismissal forced Brendan Rodgers to shift from a 4-1-4-1 formation to a 4-4-1. Demarai Gray (£5.4m) was the unfortunate individual who drew the short straw and was replaced after just five minutes. The winger had been named in the starting line-up for the second match in a row as he continues to try and re-establish himself in the Leicester side.
Wes Morgan (£4.5m) was the natural replacement at the heart of the defence, where he sat alongside Jonny Evans (£4.8m) for the remainder of the game. He is likely to fill in for Maguire against Bournemouth next time out, although Rodgers has been singing the praises of Caglar Söyüncü (£4.9m), who could feature.
“(Söyüncü) has done very well in training. There has been stability with the two centre-halves Harry and Jonny, but it gives us a chance to look at it for the next game.” – Brendan Rodgers
James Maddison (£6.8m) was the key man for the Foxes in their win as he alleviated pressure on his side in the first half with an excellent free-kick. The midfielder reminded Fantasy managers what he is capable of in dead-ball situations, becoming the first ever Leicester player to score two direct free-kicks in a Premier League campaign. Not surprisingly, Maddison was also the top creator for Leicester at Burnley, recording more shots on target than any of his colleagues too. Even with no Double Gameweek coming up, matches against Bournemouth (home) and Huddersfield (away) in the next two Gameweeks bode well for the former Norwich man. Only one player has played more key passes than Maddison in their last four matches.
“That’s his strength, his technique. Whether it is a through-ball for Jamie Vardy or a free-kick, and it is not by accident. He works very hard at that and he got his reward today. He’s a good boy and knows where he is at. He knows he is going the right way. He is a wonderful talent and will get better and better.” – Brendan Rodgers
The circumstances of the match are largely what led to a blank for Jamie Vardy (£9.1m). Thanks to Leicester playing with 10 men for the majority of the afternoon, their star striker was below his usual level of performance, through no fault of his own. In the four matches prior to Blank Gameweek 31, Vardy was averaging 4.8 penalty box touches per game, 2.5 shots, 2.3 in the box and one on target. Against Burnley, it was three touches in the box two shots, one in the box and one on target.
The same was the case for Harvey Barnes (£5.5m) who also blanked at Turf Moor. Compared to an average of 8.25 penalty box touches, 4.5 shots, three in the box and 0.5 on target between Gameweeks 27 and 30, in Lancashire, the former West Bromwich Albion loanee recorded four penalty box touches, two shots, one in the box and none on target.
Youri Tielemans (£6.0m) continues to go from strength-to-strength since joining Leicester on loan. It was the Belgian who provided the assist for Morgan’s dramatic winner, taking his goal involvements for the Foxes to four in six Premier League appearances. The local press were also impressed with his stamina levels at Burnley given the extra running that was required with the man disadvantage. With Vicente Iborra and Adrien Silva reportedly taking time to adapt to the energy levels required of central midfielders in the English top flight, Tielemans has also taken time to regularly complete matches. Further solidifying his place in Rodgers’ good books, he registered a second 90-minute outing since arriving, spending the last 15 minutes marking marauding full-back Charlie Taylor (£4.4m).
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Heaton; Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Bardsley; McNeil (Vydra 90+1′), Cork, Westwood, Gudmundsson (Brady 79′); Barnes, Wood (Crouch 70′).
Leicester City XI (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Chilwell, Maguire, Evans, R Pereira; Ndidi; Barnes (Mendy 77′), Maddison (Fuchs 64′), Tielemans, D Gray (Morgan 6′); Vardy.