Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace
Goals: Tammy Abraham (£7.9m), Christian Pulisic (£7.4m)
Assists: Willian (£7.1m), Michy Batshuayi (£6.6m)
Bonus Points: Fikayo Tomori x3 (£4.8m), Abraham x2, Willian x2
Christian Pulisic (£7.4m) continues to force Fantasy managers to reconsider their investment in the Chelsea attack after scoring in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Since breaking into the first-team in Gameweek 10, the USA international has found the net five times, at least three more than any of his colleagues.
With 50.77% currently in possession of Tammy Abraham (£7.9m), 35.7% ownership for Mason Mount (£6.8m) and 25.3% of managers overall including both players in their squads, Pulisic is increasingly asking us to make tough decisions about our teams.
Over the last three matches in which he has locked down the left-wing position at Chelsea, he has performed better than Mount both in terms of the eye-test and statistically.
Compared to the Englishman, Pulisic has registered more shots in the box, big chances, shots on target and chances created in that time.
📊 Pulisic 🆚 Mount— Fantasy Football Scout (@FFScout) November 9, 2019
🗓 Last 3⃣ matches
🇺🇸 The American is ahead for shots in the box, big chances, shots on target and chances created 🔥
🤔 Man City next though…#FPL #FantasyPL #FFScout #GW12 #cfc pic.twitter.com/nulqblKIEV
“He played some games early on and the pace of the Premier League is tough for anyone to improve in the game. But with Christian, I always believed that he has huge talent and will be a big player for us and he has shown that. I thought he was first class today. His energy, movement of the ball, slipping past people, moving passed people and the quality of getting in areas again, scoring in and around the six-yard box. I think is a huge thing for any wide player.” – Frank Lampard
Thankfully for Fantasy managers, an immediate move for Pulisic does not seem particularly pressing, unless one is worried about missing out on a price rise or two.
That’s because after the final international break of 2019 is out of the way, Chelsea’s next Premier League fixture takes them away to Manchester City in Gameweek 13.
Furthermore, Frank Lampard reported after the win over Crystal Palace that Pulisic had sustained a slight hip injury which will need to be assessed.
“The only frustration is he comes off with a bit of an injury. He was going to be subbed off before he got his goal, he has got a bit of a hip issue. I am hoping it’s not too bad because the way that he is in full flow at the minute is great to see.” – Frank Lampard
Following this week’s research into his recent Stamford Bridge misfortunes, Abraham finally got his first goal at home since Gameweek 4.
However, this was not a performance that will have encouraged his ever-increasing Fantasy ownership.
It was a display partly influenced by a decent defensive showing from Crystal Palace, especially in the first half. Centre-backs Gary Cahill (£4.5m) and James Tomkins (£5.0m) marked Abraham tightly and did a good job of repelling balls into the box.
The centre-forward was a little unlucky not to connect with a Pulisic cross towards the end of the first half but other than that, the opening 50 minutes were quiet for him.
Just as it was looking as if Abraham might have to be hauled off and replaced by Michy Batshuayi (£6.6m) or Olivier Giroud (£6.6m), he was finally played in for a first big chance of the afternoon.
A clever flick-on from Willian (£7.1m) sent him through on goal and made for a simple finish beyond Vicente Guaita (£5.0m).
Even after that, Abraham was not at his best and was indeed hauled off for Batshuayi in the 73rd minute, the Belgian international providing the assist for Pulisic’s goal.
While Abraham is unlikely to lose his place in the team, this performance, coupled with a tricky Gameweek 13 trip to Manchester City, might certainly be enough to hold off signing him over the international break.
“(Abraham) needs to be better in the first half. I suppose with Tammy in some games, he’s a striker and there are games in the Premier League that will frustrate you because good defenders won’t give you much space behind and then maybe not in front because their midfield are in front. It’s a problem to solve and as you say he was quite quiet but if you look at any top striker you expect a lot. You expect everything: goals, hold-up, run behind, etc. it’s not always possible but you need to do it, stay in the game, stay bright and lively and keep trying and keep running, which he did. And he gets his goal, which he takes very clinically, so a great game from Tammy, even if it might not be his best game in the showreel. When you think about tough games and you get the goal that puts you in front to win the game, that’s just as important.” – Frank Lampard
The same probably goes for Mount who is increasingly falling into Pulisic’s shadow.
The former Derby County man did come through his midweek injury scare well and did not particularly show any rusty signs, although did not look particularly likely to score either; primarily offering potential from his set-pieces.
He took a direct free-kick which struck the wall although shared such duties with Willian and Emerson Palmieri (£5.5m) who kept Marcos Alonso (£6.3m) out of the team once again.
The relatively disappointing displays from both Abraham and Mount could potentially be explained by Jorginho‘s (£5.1m) absence from the team.
Chelsea certainly missed his passing abilities in the midfield as they struggled to show too much quality, especially in the first half. Still, Pulisic and Willian were still able to play well without him.
Furthermore, Chelsea fans will have been happy to see N’Golo Kanté (£5.0m) back in the side for the first time since Gameweek 8.
“We’ve worked with N’Golo because he was getting niggles so we had to give him a bit of time. We feel he had enough in his legs for Ajax but we just have to be careful.” – Frank Lampard
As per usual, the performances of Pulisic and Willian, as well as Mount’s quick recovery was frustrating news for owners of Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.9m).
The exciting winger was named among the substitutes for the third match in a row and has registered just 35 minutes since Gameweek 10.
Right now, it seems unlikely Hudson-Odoi will break free from his role as an impact substitute. As already mentioned, Pulisic now has five goals in the last three matches on the left, while Willian has five attacking returns in the last six Gameweeks for Willian, who started each one of those matches and was even handed the captain’s armband for this meeting with Palace.
Of particular note was a first-ever Premier League start for promising right-back Reece James (£5.0m).
His inclusion in the starting XI caused the biggest stir when the team news dropped as it came at the expense of club captain and ever-present option Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.9m).
Almost immediately, James showed his quality, slotting into the first team seamlessly. On more than one occasion he provided some width and excellent delivery and, with experience of playing central midfield with Wigan, drifted into the centre to ask questions of the Palace defence there.
Furthermore, the 19-year-old handled the marking of Wilfried Zaha (£6.7m) with a composed head, completely unfazed by the prospect on his Premier League debut. The Palace winger did not get much of a look-in all day and, because of James’ advanced positioning was actually pinned back himself having to defend against the Chelsea man.
“I’m proud of them and I believe in them, especially Reece. I respect Azpilicueta, he’s the captain, he’s a great leader for the club and so important for us. I just felt it was time we could get Reece in some minutes because he’s deserving them the way he is training and playing. With Zaha, I thought what better a test? Every team has players that can hurt you on the counter-attack, Zaha is one of the best. But I thought, can we hurt them the other way? Make him run back more than he could get forward. I trust Reece defensively and he’s going to get much better.” – Frank Lampard
However, whether James can be relied upon as a regular starter at Chelsea yet does remain to be seen though.
It is clear that the right-back possesses an incredible talent and is likely to be first-choice for the Blues long-term but we cannot say for certain how long it will take for him to assume the mantle from Azpilicueta.
“(Azpilicueta) is a model of consistency and I spoke with him because I have huge respect for him. I think he’s a legend for this club. He is the captain, he is huge in what he delivers. It’s more that I’ve got two choices at full-back there. Reece has done well, Azpilicueta’s is in great form as well so it’s a nice time to give Reece some minutes.” – Frank Lampard
It must be said that this line-up was good news both for owners of Kurt Zouma (£4.7m) and Fikayo Tomori (£4.8m).
There had been a suggestion that James coming into the first team might push Azpilicueta back into centre-back, where he played under Antonio Conte, admittedly in a three-man defence at the time.
Seeing the Spaniard drop to the bench rather than push one of Zouma or Tomori out of the team is certainly encouraging for Fantasy managers.
That said, we still will have to wait and see which one of those centre-backs will be replaced by Antonio Rüdiger (£6.0m) when he returns from injury.
Either way, this was another good afternoon for Chelsea’s defence as they recorded a third consecutive clean sheet at home. While they have to travel to Manchester City next time out, West Ham, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Southampton are the next four to come to Stamford Bridge.
Not only is that encouraging for Chelsea defensive assets, but Tomori also furthered his appeal against Crystal Palace by taking home three bonus points on top of his clean sheet.
Meanwhile, the story of the game from a Crystal Palace Fantasy perspective was that of injuries.
Zaha managed to complete the 90 minutes but Roy Hodgson reported a foot injury after the final whistle.
“Yeah he got caught on the foot, which can happen sometimes and that can be very painful. Sometimes we forget that, the further we get from the field of play, having someone stand on your foot you think that players should shake it off, but it can be painful. At the moment he is icing that part of his foot and we will have to wait and see if anything more serious has been done to him. One hopes it is just a painful moment.” – Roy Hodgson
Also picking up a problem was right-back Joel Ward (£4.5m), who was forced off with a hamstring injury just before half-time.
While we don’t know how long he will be out for, especially with the international break coming along, it could present an opportunity for Martin Kelly (£4.1m) to return as a viable option.
The budget man had not featured since Gameweek 8 but saw out the remainder of Palace’s trip to Stamford Bridge at right-back. He and Ward are certainly ones to monitor, although it is a meeting with Liverpool in Gameweek 13.
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Emerson, Tomori, Zouma, R James; Kanté, Kovačić; Pulisic (Hudson-Odoi 80′), Mount (Gilmour 86′), Willian; Abraham (Batshuayi 73′).
Crystal Palace XI (4-3-3): Guaita; van Aanholt, Cahill, Tomkins, Ward (Kelly 44′); Kouyaté (McArthur 82′), Milivojević, McArthur (Schlupp 69′); Townsend, Ayew, Zaha.
GAMEWEEK 12 – FPL MATCH REPORTS
- Norwich City 0-2 Watford
- Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace
- Burnley 3-0 West Ham United
- Newcastle United 2-1 Bournemouth
- Southampton 1-2 Everton
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Everton
- Leicester City 2-0 Arsenal
- Manchester United 3-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Wolves 2-1 Aston Villa
- Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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