Sheffield United 0 Southampton 1
Goals: Moussa Djenepo (£5.4m)
Assists: Sofiane Boufal (£5.5m)
Bonus Points: Djenepo x3, Angus Gunn (£4.5m) x2, Maya Yoshida (£4.4m) x1
A brilliant individual goal by midfielder Moussa Djenepo (£5.4m) earned Southampton a second straight away win in a contentious game at Bramall Lane.
The summer signing from Standard Liege showed strength to hold off Sheffield United skipper Oliver Norwood (£5.0m) and skill to ghost past two more Blades players before finding the bottom corner of keeper Dean Henderson‘s (£4.5m) net with a smart finish.
Sofiane Boufal (£5.5m) was awarded the assist – his second in as many away appearances.
It was, on the face of it, just reward for the Saints, who had seven shots on target to their hosts’ four.
But Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side rode their luck throughout, relying on a combination of VAR decisions and the home team’s wastefulness to secure all three points.
United went into the game with the league’s worst minutes per chance average of 10.1. That improved markedly to 5.7 against Southampton, which meant a busy afternoon for visiting keeper Angus Gunn (£4.5m).
He pulled off four saves, including a vital stop with his legs to deny David McGoldrick (£5.5m) when the striker was clean through, to earn two bonus points.
Gunn now has 24 points for the season – joint top of the Fantasy Premier League goalkeeper standings – and has produced good returns for his 1.8% ownership for three straight Gameweeks.
Then again, he had to rely on VAR to keep a second consecutive away clean sheet.
Oliver McBurnie (£5.9m) looked to have opened the scoring when he swept in Norwood’s free-kick at the back post.
But the delivery had initially been missed by John Egan (£4.5m) and replays showed that the defender was offside.
If that was VAR working as it should, a later decision to deny the Blades a penalty when the ball struck James Ward-Prowse‘s (£5.9m) hand in the area returned the system to its baffling worst.
And just to compound the misery for United, substitute Billy Sharp (£5.8m) was given a straight red card for a challenge on Stuart Armstrong (£5.3m) that, unusually, looked considerably worse in real
Despite these perceived injustices, United mainly had themselves to blame for the defeat.
McGoldrick spurned two excellent chances to score, while midfielder John Fleck (£4.8m), recalled to the side in place of injury doubt Callum Robinson (£5.3m), was another to waste a couple of golden opportunities.
Manager Chris Wilder certainly felt his team had done enough to deserve more from the match.
“We want to win games and we have to open up, so for us to create 17 chances shows we’re playing in a way to try and win games of football. We will always do that.” – Chris Wilder
While that suggests plenty more thrills and spills to come from the Blades, in Fantasy terms, it’s all about John Lundstram (£4.3m).
The defender continued his tempting run as a midfielder in Wilder’s starting XI; a fact that has prompted 23.8% of us to have him in our squads.
To put that figure in context, his ownership levels are more than double the rest of the United squad (10.6%) combined.
Lundstram, however, blanked for the fourth time in five starts and his upcoming schedule is hardly the stuff of which Fantasy dreams are made.
United will face Everton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester City over the next eight Gameweeks, and those managers who bought into Lundstram’s out-of-position goodness at £4.0m might well wish to cash in while he remains at £4.3m.
Finding such value in Southampton’s side has been less easy to come by.
Striker Che Adams (£5.8m) was unlucky not to score his first Premier League goal, hitting the post with one sweetly-struck effort and forcing a fine save from Henderson with a header.
But in the continued absence of key man Nathan Redmond (£6.3m) with an ankle injury, Saints’ attacking assets aren’t exactly clamouring for our attention.
Djenepo’s two goals this season have showcased both his skill and his eye for the spectacular. Whether he can deliver consistency as well remains to be seen.
At the back, Hassenhuttl’s decision to ditch his standard back four might open up some budget potential.
“We had a different shape today again so it’s very interesting to see how quick the guys do what we tell them. I think maybe we surprised them a little bit with the back five in the first-half.” – Ralph Hassenhuttl.
The switch led to a recall for centre-half Maya Yoshida (£4.4m), the veteran earning a bonus point from his first clean sheet of the season.
Should he retain his place, Yoshida’s knock-down price is certainly more attractive than the side’s most popular defensive pick, the 4.1%-owned Jannik Vestergaard (£5.1m).
Much like the Blades, however, Southampton’s schedule is none too tempting.
The Saints have back-to-back matches with Spurs and Chelsea before the next international break, and trips to Man City and Arsenal before the end of November.
Both sides have well-priced players offering points potential.
But based on their upcoming fixtures, that potential might only warrant serious consideration in a couple of months’ time.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): D Henderson; O’Connell, Egan, Basham (Robinson 84′); Stevens, Fleck, Norwood, Lundstram (Mousset 72′), Baldock; McBurnie (Sharp 65′), McGoldrick.
Southampton XI (3-4-2-1): Gunn; Vestergaard, Yoshida, Bednarek; Djenepo (Ings 74′), Høbjerg, Romeu, Cédric; Boufal (Armstrong 85′), Ward-Prowse; Adams (S Long 90+2′).
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