West Ham United 1-2 Crystal Palace
- Goals: Sebastien Haller (£7.4m) | Patrick van Aanholt (£5.6m), Jordan Ayew (£5.1m)
- Assists: Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m) | Cheikhou Kouyate (£4.9m), Martin Kelly (£4.1m)
- Bonus: Ayew x3, Kelly x2, van Aanholt x1
Andriy Yarmolenko (£6.0m) was the third-most-bought Fantasy Premier League asset of Gameweek 8, with just under 310,000 FPL bosses transferring in the Ukraine international after his run of three goals in four matches.
Yarmolenko’s ownership has increased by over 2000% in the last two Gameweeks but, as is sometimes the way with these bandwagons, the West Ham midfielder duly delivered a ‘one-pointer’ just as his popularity had ballooned.
The thrashing at Tottenham Hotspur apart, Crystal Palace have been one of the more reliable defences this season and in truth, they did a decent job of suffocating West Ham: of the ten home teams in Gameweek 8, only Watford had fewer shots than the Hammers.
Yarmolenko himself was contained well by Patrick van Aanholt (£5.6m) but there were still bright moments as he occupied the space between left-back and centre-half and, on another day, he would have left this game with an assist to his name.
West Ham’s only big chance of the match came from Yarmolenko’s cross from the right flank, with Sebastien Haller (£7.4m) firing straight at Vicente Guaita (£5.0m) from six yards to deny the Ukrainian’s owners an attacking return.
Haller was to later register his fourth goal of the season, converting a Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m) pull-back to briefly give the hosts an advantage.
The West Ham striker has a Harry Kane-like (£10.9m) tendency to drop deep to aid his side’s build-up play but, unlike the Spurs forward, compensates for it by getting into some dangerous positions in the opposition area.
The shot that Guaita kept out was his eighth from inside the six-yard box this season: no FPL asset has had more. Kane, by contrast, has registered one such attempt.
The man who teed up Haller for his goal was someone we highlighted in the Big Numbers piece last week, with Fredericks top among FPL defenders for penalty box touches this season.
The West Ham right-back, bombing on in advance of Yarmolenko after collecting the winger’s pass, did well to spot Haller amid a crowded area and was a creative outlet all evening, also crossing for Felipe Anderson (£6.9m) to head wide earlier in the match.
The Hammers have four of the seven worst teams for shots on target to come between now and the November international break, so there ought to be a clean sheet or two for Fredericks and co before their fixtures toughen from Gameweek 13 onwards.
Roberto (£4.4m), deputising for the injured Lukasz Fabianski (£5.1m), made his full Premier League debut and had a fairly quiet night, palming away one James McCarthy (£4.4m) shot from distance and being left no chance for either of Palace’s goals.
Manuel Pellegrini lamented the defeat and Declan Rice‘s (£4.9m) handball for Palace’s equalising penalty, also highlighting how little the visitors had otherwise created:
It’s a disappointing result because we were ahead in the score and we had other clear chances to decide the game and two set-pieces allowed Crystal Palace, who didn’t have any other shots from inside our box, to win the game with a penalty and a free-kick.
I think we had three clear chances to score in the first half and also had a couple in the second, but you must score. You cannot just create chances; you must score.
We didn’t and we conceded an unnecessary penalty – when Declan goes to the ball, he must keep his hand back and his arm down. It was an instant reaction and the ball hit his hand – and then they scored after the VAR and we lost.
The Eagles normally turn to the trusty Luka Milivojevic (£6.7m) when they are awarded a penalty but with their captain suspended, and with the likes of Christian Benteke (£5.7m) and Andros Townsend (£5.7m) among the substitutes (both of these players had taken a spot-kick for Palace last season), it was van Aanholt who stepped up to convert from 12 yards.
Speaking after the game, the Dutch left-back said:
Luka was suspended today and before the game, the gaffer in the meeting said: ‘Who wants to take a penalty?’
He looked at me and said: ‘Will you take it?’ I said: ‘Yeah. I’m confident enough to take one,’ and I took one and it hit the back of the net.
With Manchester City, Arsenal, Leicester City, Chelsea and Liverpool to come in the next five Gameweeks, interest in Palace assets will be minimal despite their excellent form.
Any Palace players that FPL managers do own, be it Martin Kelly (£4.1m) or Jordan Ayew (£5.1m), would seem likely to be emergency substitutes at best during this period but they are names to monitor ahead of Gameweek 14, when the Eagles enjoy a superb run of eight games without facing a ‘big six’ side.
Roy Hodgson’s side are certainly offering us decent value.
Kelly, van Aanholt and Joel Ward (£4.6m) are among the top six FPL defenders for points per million spent, with Ayew fourth among forwards for that statistic.
While Palace were deprived of what would have been their fourth clean sheet of the campaign (no Premier League club has more than their three), Kelly and Ayew combined for the Eagles’ winning goal – which was only confirmed after VAR intervention – and banked a combined five bonus points to keep their manifold owners happy.
Kelly is a budget defender whose race appeared to be run after the September international break.
Kelly’s injury and Mamadou Sakho‘s (£5.0m) return to fitness saw the former drop out of the side in Gameweeks 5 and 6 but a muscle strain picked up by Sakho has given the £4.1m-rated asset a reprieve in Hodgson’s starting XI.
Sakho is expected to return after the October international break but would Hodgson rush him back into the line-up given what happened at Spurs?
In the six games that Kelly has been in the starting XI, Palace have kept three clean sheets and conceded only three goals.
The fit-again James Tomkins (£5.0m), of course, is also eagerly awaiting his first league minutes of the campaign.
Ayew, meanwhile, has scored three goals in his last six starts and on each occasion he has banked maximum bonus.
It should be said that Fantasy managers shouldn’t expect a deluge of goals from Hodgson’s side: only Newcastle have created fewer big chances than the Eagles this season.
Opportunities were thin on the ground at the London Stadium, too, although Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.5m) perhaps could have done better when picked out by Wilfried Zaha (£6.7m) on 35 minutes, allowing Fredericks to clear his scuffed shot off the line.
Reflecting on the game, Hodgson said:
We subdued them through the bulk of the game really. I think the chances were fairly even on both sides. Certainly we had a lot of possession, as did they for periods of time.
It’s a victory I think the players not only deserve but they certainly worked unbelievably hard for it and got it against a good West Ham team. We didn’t win because West Ham were bad. We were lucky enough to get the decisions we got but good enough to give the quality of performance we gave.
Namechecking a few individuals, Hodgson added:
Joel Ward, Martin Kelly, Patrick van Aanholt, James McArthur, [James] McCarthy, Cheikhou [Kouyate], basically I think they’re all giving the club every single ounce of what they can give.
I think they’re working very, very hard to become a good team and to work together as a very good team. To be honest, I think that it’s too easy to say: ‘you’ve seen nothing yet.’
West Ham United XI (4-1-4-1): Roberto; Fredericks, Cresswell (Zabaleta 84′), Ogbonna, Diop; Rice; Yarmolenko (Wilshere 78′), Lanzini (Fornals 68′), Noble, Anderson; Haller.
Crystal Palace XI (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Van Aanholt, Kelly, Cahill; McArthur, Kouyate, McCarthy (Townsend 81′); Zaha, Ayew (Benteke 89′), Schlupp.
Lessons learned from Gameweek 8
- Brighton 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur
- Burnley 1-0 Everton
- Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City
- Norwich City 1-5 Aston Villa
- Watford 0-0 Sheffield United
- West Ham United 1-2 Crystal Palace
- Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth
- Manchester City 0-2 Wolves
- Southampton 1-4 Chelsea
- Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United
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