Harry Kane (£11.0m) ended his opening-day drought with a brace in Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday but the Lilywhites left it late to see off Dean Smith’s stubborn side.
We discuss all the main Fantasy talking points in the article below.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Aston Villa
- Goals: Tanguy Ndombele (£6.0m), Harry Kane (£11.0m) x2 | John McGinn (£5.5m)
- Assists: Lucas Moura (£7.5m), Moussa Sissoko (£5.0m) | Tyrone Mings (£4.5m)
After the earlier successes of fellow premium options Mohamed Salah (£12.5m) and Raheem Sterling (£12.0m), Kane followed up with a double-digit haul of his own.
Heading for a frustrating blank with 85 minutes on the clock, Kane struck twice in the dying stages and emerged with his biggest single-Gameweek FPL return of 2019 (13 points).
Kane had begun the match in a front two with Lucas Moura (£7.5m) and the familiar drawbacks of Kane starting up top with the Brazilian were again apparent, with Moura staying in fairly central positions as Kane dropped deep and wide.
Kane was presented with few sights of goal in the opening 45 minutes but fluffed his lines on two occasions, heading over from the edge of the six-yard box and screwing badly wide when clean through – although that second chance was later called back for an offside flag.
The introduction of Christian Eriksen (£9.0m) and the switch to a 4-2-3-1 in the second half seemed to aid the England striker’s cause, with Lucas moving to a wider role and Kane becoming the focal point of the Spurs attack.
The premium forward’s two goals indeed arrived after these tactical changes, with Kane first firing in after Erik Lamela‘s (£6.0m) shot had been blocked and then finishing expertly from a Moussa Sissoko (£5.0m) pass.
Despite the concerns, Kane still finished Gameweek 1 with more than twice as many
No player in his position had more penalty box touches or shots in the box this weekend, either.
With Kane and Spurs in general, the consensus seems to be that the Lilywhites have looked a lot more comfortable when playing in a 4-2-3-1 than in the 4-4-2 diamond that Pochettino started the game with.
A compact Villa side frustrated their hosts in the opening 45 minutes and the fact that Spurs’ two gilt-edged first-half opportunities – headers from Kane and Lucas – came from crosses underscored the fact that there was little joy to be had when play was being funnelled through the centre of the pitch.
Spurs’ average position map below shows just how narrow Pochettino’s side were for much of the game:
While Lamela – who interestingly was on corners and free-kicks in Eriksen’s absence – and Lucas toiled to no great effect, Eriksen had a significant impact upon his second-half introduction.
The Dane drew a superb save from Tom Heaton (£4.5m) with a free-kick and set up Davinson Sanchez (£5.5m) for a ‘big chance’ that immediately preceded Tanguy Ndombele‘s (£6.0m) equaliser.
Eriksen continues to be linked with a move away from north-east London and the speculation over his future may have been a contributing factor in his benching yesterday.
While the Denmark international was far from his best for much of 2018/19, Spurs looked much better for his presence in the second half against Villa.
Asked if Eriksen’s introduction had made all the difference, Pochettino said:
I don’t agree. I will agree that we were a little bit predictable
onthe first half, but we never found our best position to play and move the ball quickly. They were very compact. In the second halfwe played very well.
Of course, when Christian went on to the pitch he was
more freshand had more quality, of coursehe is a top player. He helped the team to win the game, I am so happy. That is the advantage of a player that cannot play 90 minutes,but is on the bench and his quality can help you to achieve the victory.
Ndombele opened his Spurs account with a rocket of a goal but whether the Frenchman can enter the Fantasy radar in the long-term is questionable: the summer signing from Lyon had just one league goal to his name in the two preceding seasons before joining Spurs.
Ndombele did bank 14 assists in 69 Ligue I appearances and it may be that he is the supplier of more goals than he actually scores: certainly, there were several instances of the France international opting to play a pass when he was presented with a shooting opportunity.
Having started on the left of the midfield diamond, the Frenchman was later shifted back into the double-pivot alongside Sissoko when Pochettino shifted to a 4-2-3-1.
The Spurs boss said of the debutant:
It was a fantastic performance. But to be honest there is a lot to improve, he only showed 30 or 40 per cent of his potential. He has amazing potential to improve.
Kyle Walker-Peters (£5.0m) put in a decent shift at right-back, meanwhile, even if his end product was sometimes lacking: indeed, not one of his crosses found a teammate against Villa.
Jan Vertonghen (£5.5m) was a surprise omission from the Spurs back four, with Davinson chosen alongside Toby Alderweireld (£5.5m) at centre-half.
Asked about Vertonghen’s omission from the match-day squad, Pochettino said:
I want to play the players who deserve to play, who I think to deserve to play and who
areplaying well. My decision today was to play Toby. If the players didn’t play today, they need to work hard to get their opportunity.
With all the players fit you struggle to find a starting 11. We have more than 25 players and everyone needs to understand we have plenty of good players in every position. We can only play with 11. It’s always the judgement of the manager and the coaching staff.
After five years I’m going to play the players who deserve to play, there is not
anyissue but my decision today was play with Toby and Davinson to provide a good balance for the team.
With the trip to Spurs out of the way, Villa now sit top of our Season Ticker from Gameweeks 2 to 9 and there were faintly encouraging signs for those Fantasy managers looking to invest in Dean Smith’s side.
The Villans did concede more goal attempts and shots in the box than any other Premier League team this weekend but the performance of their backline, in particular goalkeeper Heaton and centre-halves Tyrone Mings and Bjorn Engels (both £4.5m), was impressive under sustained pressure and they came within 15 minutes of an unlikely clean sheet.
The fact that they had taken the lead early in the game shifted the focus to a backs-to-the-wall approach and Spurs may not have racked up 31 shots had they not been trailing for over an hour.
Mings was especially impressive, registering more than double the number of clearances, blocks and interceptions (CBIs) as anyone else on the pitch.
The former Bournemouth man’s defensive contributions, combined with his assist for Villa’s goal, indeed resulted in him picking up two bonus
On the subject of his defence, Smith said:
There were some really good individual performances, especially defensively.
Bjorn Engels did very well at the back with Tyrone Mings in his first game.
It’s unfortunate we got caught in possession and they got the goal that ultimately killed the game.
There were interesting choices in the full-back department, with Mohamed Elmohamady and Neil Taylor preferred to summer recruits Frederic Guilbert and Matt Targett (all £4.5m).
The attack-minded Guilbert and Targett had featured prominently in pre-season (Elmohamady had admittedly been away at the Africa Cup of Nations) and may well be recalled for games in which Villa are on the front foot but the fact there is already a rotation risk associated with these assets is immediately off-putting.
Asked about Guilbert’s omission from the 18-man squad, Smith replied:
It was just a selection. I decided to go with the team I went with. I felt I wanted two defenders, two midfielders and two forwards on the bench. Either Matt Targett or Freddie Guilbert had to miss out and, unfortunately, he’s had a good pre-season as well.
There’sonly 18 players I can choose. Ezri Konsa was on the bench and Ezri has played a number of games [at right-back] who could go there if one of our full-backs got tired. Matt Targett got the nod over him on the bench.
Three of the back four played the last 15 games of last season and only conceded 11 goals.
We understandably didn’t see a great deal of Villa as an attacking threat after their goal, with lone striker Wesley (£6.0m) having just one attempt all game and spending most of his time tussling with Spurs’ centre-halves.
Trezeguet (£5.5m) caught the eye on the right flank after being included at the expense of Jota (£6.0m) and tested Hugo Lloris (£5.5m) with one first-half effort that was teed up by Jack Grealish (£6.0m).
With Villa seeing only 30.9% of the ball, the talismanic Grealish didn’t have much chance to dictate play but we will likely have a truer test of his FPL credentials in the more ‘winnable’ games to come.
The post-match words of Smith suggested that Grealish and goalscorer John McGinn (£5.5m), who latched
Talking of the goal, Smith said:
We worked on that. We felt we could get some deep runs from John McGinn and Jack Grealish. It was a good ball through from Tyrone Mings, too.
McGinn certainly looked the bigger goal threat, as we will discuss in the Members’ section below.
Reflecting on the game overall, Smith said:
I was disappointed with our second-half performance really. We were too cheap on the ball, gave it away very cheaply. Never retained the ball and giving the ball away and chasing as hard as we did today, defensively, I just thought their physicality shown through at the end hence them getting the win.
We want players to express themselves. I thought Wesley was a handful
up frontwithout having too much of the ball. I didn’t think he was protected enough, to be honest, throughout the game. A number of challenges weren’t given against him and that’s something we’ve got to get used to.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-4-2 diamond): Lloris, Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose, Winks (Eriksen 64′), Sissoko, Ndombele (Skipp 90′), Lamela (Nkoudou 88′), Lucas, Kane;
Aston Villa XI (4-1-4-1): Heaton, Elmohamady, Engels, Mings, Taylor, Hourihane (Luiz 82′), Trezeguet (Jota 59′), McGinn, Grealish, El Ghazi, Wesley (Kodija 74′).
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Lessons learned from Gameweek 1
- Liverpool 4-1 Norwich
- West Ham United 0-5 Manchester City
- Bournemouth 1-1 Sheffield United
- Burnley 3-0 Southampton
- Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton
- Watford 0-3 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester City 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal
- Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea