Wolverhampton Wanderers are still without a league win this season but were thankful to come away from Selhurst Park with a point after a last-gasp leveller on Sunday.
We round up the main Fantasy talking points from their 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace in our Scout Notes article below.
Crystal Palace 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Leander Dendoncker (£4.5m) own-goal | Diogo Jota (£6.2m)
- Assists: Joel Ward (£4.5m) | Adama Traore (£5.0m)
- Bonus: Jota, Traore x3, Ward x1
After an underwhelming start to 2019/20, there were faint glimmers of hope on Sunday that Wolves are beginning to awake from their early-season stupor.
A 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace is hardly Roy of the Rovers stuff and Fantasy managers will likely need a lot more persuading but there were a couple of positives to take from this match at Selhurst Park.
The strength of character needed to fight back from 1-0 down after Romain Saiss‘ (£4.4m) 73rd-minute dismissal was to be applauded, especially after the struggles of recent weeks when succumbing to defeats to Everton, Chelsea and Braga.
Perhaps more significantly, though, Wolves looked more like their usual selves in the opening 45 minutes, creating the better chances and restricting Palace to just one shot on goal.
This was Wolves of old, with Nuno Espirito Santo sending his troops out in a 3-4-3 (the formation favoured in the first three months of 2018/19) and Matt Doherty (£6.0m) evoking memories of last season when popping up in the box to force a superb save from Vicente Guaita (£5.0m).
Leander Dendoncker (£4.5m) also had a gilt-edged opportunity to open the scoring but saw his goalbound shot blocked on the line, while Diogo Jota (£6.2m) fired straight at Guaita after an excellent one-touch Wolves move.
The 3-4-3 saw Adama Traore (£5.0m) join Jota and Raul Jimenez (£7.3m) in a front three, with the Mexico international the spearhead of the attack.
The advantages of that system were evident in the first half with the West Midlands club looking more fluent in attack, although Nuno Espirito Santo’s side reverted to a 3-5-2 from around the hour-mark as Palace fought back into the match and Wolves’ central midfield became overrun.
Still, it needed a huge slice of luck for Palace to take the lead – an off-target Joel Ward (£4.5m) effort being deflected in by Dendoncker – and the Eagles didn’t really carve out too many clear-cut chances until Saiss was sent off and Wolves had to chase the game.
Santo said of his side’s display:
The first half was very good. It was very well played and I think this is what we should stick to and build from the way we played in the first half.
We played very good, created chances, managed and controlled the game and this is what we want from the growing of the team to sustain this performance because one of the reasons is if you play so good in the first half and produce so many things you must punish. That allows you to control the game in a better way.
One thing we Fantasy managers will have to get used to at Wolves is rotation, which remains a major downside to their assets.
Depending on their EFL Cup progress and because of their UEFA Europa League involvement, Santo’s outfit may well play twice a week, every week between now and 2020.
This time it was the turn of Ruben Neves (£5.5m) to drop to the bench, while Ryan Bennett (£5.0m) was missing from the matchday squad for the second Gameweek in a row – although his absence is more about tactical preferences and form than rotation.
Neves’ benching means that Jimenez, Conor Coady (£5.0m) and Rui Patricio (£5.1m) are now the only ever-present starters for Wolves in the Premier League this season. At this stage last year, Santo had yet to make a single change to his starting XI.
The Wolves boss said after full-time:
It will be the same. There are always changes depending on what we need from the game.
The players that we want to manage and realise we have a game-plan. It is impossible to do what we did last season, I think we played ten times with the same XI.
You have to realise the situation but we have a squad and we trust in our squad. Every player has to be ready to grab their chance.
While there were promising signs from a defensive perspective from Wolves, it should be said that they were up against one of the limpest attacks in the division.
Palace had only one shot on target in the first hour of Sunday’s game and no club has scored fewer goals or carved out fewer ‘big chances’ than Roy Hodgson’s side in 2019/20.
Indeed, their only real clear opportunities came late in the game when breaking on the counter-attack, with Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.5m) and Christian Benteke (£5.8m) wasting excellent chances when clean through on goal.
Wilfried Zaha (£6.8m) looked a little more like his old tricky self, at least, and it will be interesting to monitor his form as a mid-price midfielder ahead of Palace’s fixture turn in Gameweek 14.
Zaha is yet to register a goal or assist in 2019/20, with a lack of pre-season and the biannual distraction of a failed move away from south London perhaps affecting his early-season performances.
The Fantasy potential is certainly there given his falling price and reclassified position and he did, after all, bank 21 attacking returns last season.
The Eagles sit bottom of our Season Ticker for defence until Gameweek 13 and few managers will be interested in recruiting any of the Palace backline over the coming two months, despite Hodgson’s side being only seconds away from banking their third straight clean sheet at home.
It could be argued that the return of Mamadou Sakho (£5.0m) has perhaps made the Eagles temporarily weaker at the back, too, with the former Liverpool stopper still getting to grips with competitive football after a lengthy lay-off and looking rusty in the 4-0 defeat at Spurs last week.
Sakho was a little better in Gameweek 6 at least and Gary Cahill (£4.5m) delivered another excellent performance at centre-half, with the spot perhaps his to lose now.
Budget FPL defender Martin Kelly‘s (£4.1m) race may be run, however, as he was back among the substitutes for this match and now faces additional competition at centre-back from the fit-again James Tomkins (£5.0m).
Right-back Ward was culpable for Wolves’ equaliser as he made a complete hash of Traore’s 95th-minute cross to allow Jota to stab in his first league goal of the campaign.
Hodgson said of his side’s display:
I thought that we did more than enough in the second half of the game to win it. It was a very good second-half performance.
Perhaps we should have taken one or two of those very good chances that we created or those situations apart from the obvious chances that we created around the penalty area, then maybe we wouldn’t have been concerned about the last minute of the game and a cross coming into our box. But we didn’t.
We weren’t able unfortunately to manage those last five minutes by preventing them from getting any sniff at our goal or any balls in our penalty area and as a result, they took the chance.
Crystal Palace XI (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Cahill, Sakho, Van Aanholt; McArthur (McCarthy 81′), Milivojevic, Kouyate; Schlupp, Zaha, Ayew (Benteke 69′).
Wolves XI (3-4-3): Patricio; Saiss, Coady, Boly; Doherty (Neves 57′), Dendoncker (Neto 65′), Moutinho, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez (Cutrone 76′), Jota.
Lessons learned from Gameweek 6:
- Southampton 1-3 Bournemouth
- Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Burnley 2-0 Norwich City
- Everton 0-2 Sheffield United
- Manchester City 8-0 Watford
- Newcastle United 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Crystal Palace 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- West Ham United 2-0 Manchester United
- Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa
- Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool
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