Bournemouth 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Steve Cook (£5.0m) | Joao Moutinho (£5.3m), Raul Jimenez (£7.4m)
- Assists: Ryan Fraser (£7.0m) | Diogo Jota (£6.1m), Adama Traore (£5.2m)
- Bonus: Moutinho x3, S. Cook x2, Jimenez x1
Wolves moved up to fifth in the league with a hard-fought win over ten-man Bournemouth.
The victory was secured by the match’s most popular player in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), the 15.3%-owned Raul Jimenez (£7.4m).
The Mexico international scored for the third straight Gameweek – and for the fourth time in his last five starts – when he sweetly finished an Adama Traore (£5.2m) cross from close range.
That doubled the lead given to Wolves by Joao Moutinho‘s (£5.3m) free-kick, a cross-cum-shot from an angle on the left flank, awarded following a foul on Diogo Jota (£6.1m) by Simon Francis (£4.4m).
The defender, making his first start since Boxing Day last year, was booked for the offence and lasted a mere 16 minutes more before getting a second yellow card.
Two goals, and one man, down, Bournemouth refused to capitulate.
Instead, they produced a stirring second-half display during which Steve Cook (£5.0m) reduced the deficit with a header from Ryan Fraser‘s (£7.0m) corner and Nathan Ake (£5.1m) came close to earning an unlikely point.
That again underlined Wolves’ defensive shortcomings.
A side unbeaten since Gameweek 5 has kept only three clean sheets all season and none for five straight matches now – a run that has left goalkeeper Rui Patricio‘s (£5.2m) 12.2% ownership living off scraps and kept interest in other members of that backline to a bare minimum.
Purchases are unlikely to increase any time soon. Next up is a tough home match with away day kings Sheffield United and, after rather more palatable fixtures involving West Ham and Brighton, Wolves will have to face Spurs, Manchester City and Liverpool during the busy festive period.
That could finally wear down the otherwise astonishing Jimenez.
The striker has now featured in 23 games for Wolves this season, 21 of which have been as a starter, and that doesn’t even factor in his trips back to Mexico for international duty – a workload that would make even Prince Andrew break into a sweat.
For context, the forward directly ahead of him in FPL’s standings, Sergio Aguero (£11.9m), has played just 16 times, four of which have been as a substitute.
Jimenez has been the gift that keeps on giving for manager Nuno Espirito Santo. Christmas, ironically, might well be the time when something has to give.
His ownership is now back past the million mark for the first time since Gameweek 4 and is on the rise again ahead of that Sheffield United fixture, with Jimenez currently the third most popular acquisition for Gameweek 14. When it comes to giving him a much-needed rest, who blinks first out of Nuno and his Fantasy counterparts could be an important moment in many an FPL season.
Pinpointing consistent scorers among Wolves’ other attackers is a trickier proposition.
Jimenez is a full 17 points clear of the team’s next-best performer (Patricio, on 51 points), with Traore, the closest outfield player, a full 20 points off the pace.
The improving winger did at least provide a second straight assist on Saturday, and he earned plenty of post-match praise from his manager.
He’s a very important player, like all the players. The idea is to create versatile players, that can adjust, we have a small squad so we need all of the momentum that the players must have. Now Adama is doing well, but I insist he has a lot of things to improve. It’s exceptional the way he helps the team, it’s not only the offensive work that he does, the defensive in keeping the shape and pressing, it’s amazing.
Amazing would seem rather more appropriate for Jimenez, for while it is overstating it to say that Wolves are a one-man team, the striker has been directly involved in eight goals this season – very nearly half of the side’s total of 18.
Fellow striker Jota’s assist on Saturday was his first return since Gameweek 6, although he was denied one goal by an offside decision and probably should have had another on the break but shot too close to keeper Aaron Ramsdale (£4.7m).
Finding any kind of reliability in Bournemouth’s ranks is much, much harder.
A run of three straight clean sheets from Gameweek 9 suggested some newly-found steel in the Cherries’ backline, but those shut-outs are the only ones they’ve managed this season and a nasty little run of fixtures now awaits.
Eddie Howe’s side will face Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal over the next six Gameweeks and the other two matches – away at Crystal Palace and home to an in-form Burnley – are not exactly pushovers either.
The 14.2% of managers who own Diego Rico (£4.3m) might stick by their man due to his low cost and potential for attacking returns, but the 14.8% with Ake in their squads could be forgiven for cutting and running sooner rather than later.
Further up the pitch, Fraser made it back-to-back assists to suggest he might be getting closer to the player who scored seven goals and set up a further 14 last season, while the jury has to remain out on four-goal Harry Wilson (£6.0m) as he was one of two players sacrificed at half-time when Howe reorganised his troops in the wake of Francis’s dismissal.
Two players definitely shedding owners ahead of that tough run to come are the injured Josh King (£6.3m) and his strike partner Callum Wilson (£7.7m).
The latter defied the stats to produce attacking returns for the first seven Gameweeks of the season, but the numbers have come back to bite him big time since then.
Wilson has now blanked for six straight matches and it’s not hard to work out why. He’s had only seven attempts over that barren period – six defenders have managed more – and he’s lost more than a third of his ownership in the last four Gameweeks as a result.
Bournemouth have scored just three times in six matches and Arsenal’s almost comically generous defence looks like the only one in bad enough shape to help them address that issue over the next six.
With King out a for a little while, the Cherries may be down another striking option in Gameweek 14.
Howe said after full-time:
Ryan got a dead leg, he was very keen to carry on. We obviously didn’t want to take him off so he got through the game. Dominic Solanke injured his hamstring in the warm-up I think at half-time, so we couldn’t put Dominic on.
I’ve got no idea [how serious Solanke’s injury is]. I only heard about it at half-time, that he just felt his hamstring kicking a ball so I need to see what the situation is.
He’s done so well as well lately in training, looked really good – probably the most impressive he’s been since he’s signed for us and now it looks like we could lose him.
All in all, investment in Cherries’ assets anywhere on the pitch looks like being an act of faith over reality at present, while Jimenez continues to be Wolves’ shining light despite the ever-growing risk of burn-out.
Gameweek 13 – FPL Match Reports
- West Ham United 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
- Arsenal 2-2 Southampton
- AFC Bournemouth 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Brighton & Hove Albion 0-2 Leicester City
- Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool
- Everton 0-2 Norwich City
- Watford 0-3 Burnley
- Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea
- Sheffield United 3-3 Manchester United
- Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle United
Nominated for ‘Best in Fantasy Football – Editorial’ at the Football Content Awards 2020
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