We were treated to a surprisingly entertaining match at Goodison Park on Sunday, with Everton edging out Wolverhampton Wanderers in a five-goal thriller.
Both sides had struggled offensively this season and came into this match having only scored three goals between them in as many Gameweeks.
We analyse the main Fantasy talking points from what was the penultimate Premier League fixture before the international break in our article below.
Everton 3-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Richarlison (£7.9m) x2, Alex Iwobi (£5.9m)| Romain Saiss (£4.4m), Raul Jimenez (£7.4m)
- Assists: Moise Kean (£6.8m), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.8m), Lucas Digne (£6.1m)| Willy Boly (£5.0m)
Wolves were one of the safest bets last season when it came to security of starts for their Fantasy assets.
Nuno Espirito Santo named the same starting XI for the first nine matches of the season and eight of their first-choice team started at least 34 league games – only injury likely preventing Diogo Jota (£6.4m) and Jonny (£5.5m) from doing the same.
That trustworthiness in Santo’s Premier League team selections is on the wane, however, with Wolves’ ongoing involvement in the UEFA Europa League looking like it will have a significant impact on their FPL assets.
Last week was a bit of a warning, with Leander Dendoncker (£4.5m) benched after playing the full 90 minutes in Turin less than 72 hours earlier.
There was more widespread rotation this time round, with Jota, Matt Doherty (£6.0m), Jonny and Joao Moutinho (£5.5m) all making way from the starting XI that drew with Burnley last weekend – all bar Doherty (who is set for minor knee surgery) of that quartet had played at least 80 minutes against the Serie A side on Thursday night.
Should Wolves progress to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, they will now play two games a week, every week, from now until 2020 (except during international breaks, of course).
Rotation could be here to stay then, particularly as Santo has shown a keenness to name strong teams in the Europa League.
Speaking after the match, Santo said:
It was a tough cycle, everybody knows what we’ve been through. We played Thursday night, it was a big high on emotions but we recover. Coming to Goodison Park is very difficult, even if you have 15 days of rest it’s going to be hard.
We want to play and challenge ourselves by playing two times a week against fantastic teams. The Premier League is very tough, and we have a new challenge ahead of us, but I’m proud. The cycle was tough but the answer very good.
This match saw Doherty and Jonny replaced by Adama Traore (£5.0m) and Ruben Vinagre (£4.4m) on the flanks, with the pros and cons of those two options at wing-back apparent in Sunday’s match on Merseyside.
Adama has really impressed from an attacking sense in the last fortnight and it was from one of his rampaging runs down the right that Wolves’ first goal came: Lucas Digne (£6.1m), who struggled against the former Middlesbrough man, unable to stop a cross that eventually found its way to goalscorer Romain Saiss (£4.4m).
The defensive side of Adama’s game has always been in question though and Wolves look less secure at the back with him in the side.
Indeed, Alex Iwobi (£5.9m) left Adama for dead for Everton’s second goal, nipping in front of the stand-in wing-back to head the Toffees back in front.
Vinagre is arguably less of a secure option than Jonny on the opposite side, too, and it was noticeable how many crosses Everton managed to fire over in this match: only Crystal Palace attempted more in Gameweek 4.
The pair couldn’t be blamed much for Everton’s other two goals, though: Conor Coady (£5.0m) and Rui Patricio (£5.1m) getting in a mix-up for Richarlison‘s (£7.9m) opener and Willy Boly (£5.0m) caught ball-watching for the Brazilian’s headed winner.
Boly was then sent off for a second bookable offence late on and will miss Gameweek 5.
Speaking after full-time, Santo said of his side’s defending:
Very bad. We made mistakes that usually we don’t, but it’s part of the process, keep on going and work.
I wish I had the answer, but it’s work – lack of communication, it happens, I’ve been there, I know how it is.
Both situations of crossing and players coming from behind attacking the box, we should defend better.
All of a sudden, with Boly suspended, Doherty’s fitness an issue, rotation a possibility and the wing-back understudies not offering that same amount of protection, Wolves’ defence isn’t quite looking the formidable unit it did in Gameweek 1.
Santo gave the following update on Doherty after full-time:
He has to have a small surgery. It’s something that is bothering him. I don’t know [how long he’ll be out]. We have to keep on giving him time to recover, first the pain that he has in the knee, then back to fitness.
Further forward, there was frustration for Jota’s owners as he emerged as a second-half substitute for the dreaded one-pointer – his sixth straight blank in FPL.
Jimenez was fairly quiet all told but popped for his second league goal in as many games, nodding in from close range following a Boly flick-on.
Patrick Cutrone (£5.8m) was arguably the Wolves forward who most impressed, with his movement bright early on – although there understandably wasn’t the same telepathic relationship with Jimenez as the Mexican shares with Jota.
It was the Italian’s near-post run that caused the chaos that led to Saiss’s goal and a promising debut from the summer signing would be a further worry for owners of Jota and Jimenez, given that the pair now have something they didn’t have last season: competition for a place up front.
Everton were also less than secure at the back.
The Toffees had ridden their luck in keeping a clean sheet against Watford in Gameweek 2, while Silva’s side had shipped two goals in the defeat to Aston Villa the week after and then again against Lincoln City in midweek.
Here their full-backs were given a torrid time by Wolves’ wide players, with Digne partly to blame for both of the visitors’ goals – although the Frenchman delivered at the other end with another assist.
The Toffees didn’t concede too many shots, at least (only Liverpool and Manchester City allowed fewer in Gameweek 4), and some frailties were to be expected given that Silva chose this game to bed in three of his summer signings: Iwobi, Moise Kean (£6.8m) and Fabian Delph (£5.4m).
The hard-working Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.9m) and Bernard (£6.5m) were benched, while defensive midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin (£4.5m) was also sacrificed from the centre of the park; Delph was impressive in his stead but is not quite the same sort of midfield spoiler as the Frenchman, the injured Jean-Philippe Gbamin (£4.9m) or, more pertinently, the departed Idrissa Gueye.
We’ll have to give the Toffees more time to see if they can recapture their impressive defensive form of the last six months but going forward, Silva’s side are starting to look more of a threat.
The front four who started today also lined up in midweek, when Everton put four past Lincoln.
Kean battled gamely without looking too much of a threat, nodding over one Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.8m) cross and getting the decisive interception that led to an assist for Richarlison’s first goal.
It was the three players behind him who most caught the eye, however.
Iwobi had a promising full league debut on the left flank, nodding in a Sigurdsson cross to put Everton 2-1 up having almost teed up the Icelandic international with a delivery from out wide early in the game.
For all the talk of Everton’s new signings, it was the tried-and-tested FPL options of Sigurdsson and Richarlison who perhaps impressed the most.
Richarlison registered two attacking returns in the same game for the first time since Gameweek 11 of last season and worked very hard for the cause, while Sigurdsson’s distribution was excellent and he arguably merited more than the five FPL points he collected for his efforts.
Confidence has always looked key to Richarlison’s form, as Silva himself said after full-time:
Richarlison scored two very important goals for us and he will keep improving in our offensive moments. He is a fantastic player and a fantastic boy. How he works not just with the ball, but his work without the ball.
He is a good example to all our players and very good for our spirit inside the dressing room. We will keep working with him and he will keep improving.
He is the type of player who sometimes needs good performances and goals to win more confidence. The way he celebrated the goal against Lincoln shows how he needs those types of moments.
He started the game against Crystal Palace after just 13 days working with the team. He cannot work miracles – footballers are human also. They need time to rest and prepare. He needs time to be in the best physical condition.
Everton’s fixture schedule remains positive but Fantasy managers without representation from Silva’s side may wish to see further evidence of this new-found attacking cohesion before reviving interest in the Toffees’ midfield and forward options, given the goal drought that preceded this week.
For existing owners of Sigurdsson et al, there were at least encoraging signs going into a meeting with a porous Bournemouth side in Gameweek 5.
Everton XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, André Gomes, Delph, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Iwobi (Bernard 76′), Kean (Calvert-Lewin 76′).
Wolves XI (3-5-2): Rui Patrício, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Traoré, Dendoncker, Neves (Neto 84′), Saïss (Moutinho 59′), Vinagre, Jiménez, Cutrone (Jota 68′).