The first goalless draw since the opening weekend of the Premier League season brought Gameweek 5 to a close on Monday night.
We run the rule over an underwhelming night for owners of attacking assets from Aston Villa and West Ham United.
Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham United
- Bonus: Lukasz Fabianski (£5.0m) x3, Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m) x2, Bjorn Engels (£4.5m) x1
- Red card: Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m)
Despite Aston Villa spending a significant amount of money on attacking assets in the summer, goals look to be major problem for Dean Smith’s side at present.
Only Crystal Palace have scored fewer in the top flight this season, while the Villans lie second-bottom for shots in the box attempted and fourth-bottom for big chances created.
Save for one close-range header from Wesley (£6.0m) in the first half, their front three players against West Ham posed little meaningful threat.
Jota (£5.9m) and Anwar El Ghazi (£5.5m) disappointed on the wings, while Wesley looked very much like a cut-price version of the visitors’ Sebastien Haller (£7.5m) despite his best intentions.
Villa seem to be heavily reliant on the drive from John McGinn (£5.6m) and especially Jack Grealish (£6.0m) in central midfield but when Grealish has an off-day, Smith’s side struggle in an attacking sense.
Grealish was involved in the only two big chances of the game, whipping in a superb cross that Wesley headed over on 12 minutes and then failing to make significant contact on Douglas Luiz‘s (£4.6m) inviting ball as the game approached full-time.
The omnipresent Grealish was the momentum behind many of Villa’s attacks but his distribution was found wanting on Monday, with only 62% of his passes in the final third finding a teammate.
Speaking of the mid-price FPL midfielder after full-time, Smith said:
I thought he was OK tonight. I thought his final ball or final delivery wasn’t quite as good as what we expect of him but then again, he’s created a really big chance for Wesley.
They’ve all given a lot of effort, it’s just that quality was probably lacking from all of us in the last 20 [minutes] especially.
The tenacious McGinn had a better game alongside him and wasn’t afraid to chance his arm, whistling an effort narrowly wide of Lukasz Fabianski‘s (£5.0m) goal and then drawing a superb save from the Poland international on the stroke of half-time – although an offside flag would have ruled that strike out anyway thanks to Wesley’s inadvertent touch.
McGinn has become a semi-popular budget midfield asset because of his goal threat but it should be stressed how many of his shots are coming from outside of the box and therefore reliant on pinpoint accuracy from distance, although this is a downside that some owners will be able to live with considering his cost.
West Ham were simultaneously menacing and toothless, looking like the more dangerous side when they broke on the counter-attack but ultimately failing to muster more than one shot on target as moves broke down at the final pass.
What threat they did pose involved Haller, who despite the blank, showed enough promise to keep his owners relatively content.
Only a heroic Tyrone Mings (£4.6m) block prevented a likely goal in the 72nd minute but Haller had got the better of the Villa centre-half earlier in the game when narrowly nodding wide a Felipe Anderson (£6.9m) cross.
Haller’s link-up play was more accomplished than Wesley’s at the other end and his little lay-offs led to a handful of chances for his teammates, all of which were spurned.
The Hammers were reduced to ten men with a quarter of the game remaining when Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m) was dismissed after collecting two bookings, with Manuel Pellegrini saying afterwards that he was confident about the ability of Aaron Cresswell (£5.0m) – who wasn’t in the 18-man squad in Birmingham – to deputise for his suspended colleague in Gameweek 6:
Absolutely confident. I see Aaron working every day very hard, you must choose 11 players to start but I trust him the same as Masuaku. It is not a problem.
With both sides not looking overly secure on the flanks, it was left to the four centre-halves on show to do a lot of the eye-catching defensive work.
Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna (both £4.5m) now look very much the settled centre-back pairing for the Hammers, while Mings – who clashed with teammate El Ghazi in the first half – and Bjorn Engels (£4.5m) were solid again for Villa.
Engels walked away with a bonus point to supplement his clean sheet but had Mings not been booked for a foul on Haller, he would have secured two bonus points himself and would have pulled joint-level with Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.1m) as the second-highest-scoring FPL defender of 2019/20.
As it is, Mings and Engels are both in the top five Fantasy defenders for value for money this season based on points per million spent.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Heaton; Guilbert (Davis 85′), Engels, Mings, Taylor; Grealish, Nakamba (Luiz 81′), McGinn; Jota (El Mohamady 66′), Wesley, El Ghazi.
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Noble (Balbuena 89′), Rice; Yarmolenko (Fornals 62′), Lanzini, Anderson (Zabaleta 69′); Haller.
Lessons learned from Gameweek 5
- Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle
- Brighton 1-1 Burnley
- Man Utd 1-0 Leicester
- Sheffield Utd 0-1 Southampton
- Spurs 4-0 Crystal Palace
- Wolves 2-5 Chelsea
- Norwich 3-2 Man City
- Bournemouth 3-1 Everton
- Watford 2-2 Arsenal
- Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham
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