Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa
- Goals: Tammy Abraham (£7.9m), Mason Mount (£6.6m)| Trezeguet (£5.2m)
- Assists: Reece James (£5.0m), Abraham | Ahmed El Mohamady (£4.2m)
- Bonus: Abraham x3, El Mohamady x2, Trezeguet, James x1
Having missed out in Gameweek 14, Tammy Abraham (£7.9m) made a swift return from a hip injury in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Wednesday evening.
The Chelsea striker duly delivered his fifth double-digit haul of the season, nodding the Blues ahead from a Reece James (£5.0m) cross before brilliantly teeing up Mason Mount (£6.6m) for the winner when chesting the ball into his team-mate’s path.
Just as the Fantasy Premier League managers who retained the services of Abraham were reaping the rewards of their patience, the highly owned forward gave them another scare.
Abraham seemed to pick up a knock to his knee in a goalline scramble involving Tyrone Mings (£4.5m) and it wasn’t long before he was withdrawn by Lampard, walking gingerly from the field of play after some attention from the Chelsea physios.
The good news is that it seemingly wasn’t a recurrence of the hip injury sustained in the match against Valencia last week.
Lampard’s post-match comments were also heartening, with the Blues’ boss saying:
It doesn’t seem too bad in there, so I’m presuming no, he’s alright.
There were no obvious signs that the hip injury was adversely affecting Abraham throughout the match, with the in-form striker a constant menace to the visitors’ defence.
The former Villa loanee could quite easily have had further attacking returns, missing a handful of other chances including a 72nd-minute effort that skewed narrowly wide of Tom Heaton‘s (£4.5m) post.
For those that witnessed Olivier Giroud‘s (£6.6m) line-leading display against West Ham United in Gameweek 14, these were chalk-and-cheese performances.
Lampard had rung the changes for that defeat to Manuel Pellegrini’s side, with the mass rotation looking like a misstep when the Blues produced arguably the worst performance under their manager to date.
It was perhaps no coincidence that the Blues carried much more of a potent threat up front with Abraham, Willian (£7.1m) and Mount back in the starting XI, who were again joined by the superb Christian Pulisic (£7.5m).
It has to be said that Mount’s form has dipped of late, and we’re not just talking FPL returns – of which there had been only one in the preceding six Gameweeks.
A benching had been coming for a while as his overall contribution dipped and there were signs of his malaise in an unimpressive first-half showing, with two half-chances going begging.
Mount’s superb volleyed goal just after the interval seemed to reinvigorate him, however, and his remaining owners would have been pleased to see him getting into the advanced central positions that made him so appealing in the early part of this season.
Lampard said of the midfielder after full-time:
I don’t think Mason should be measured solely on goals. We had an international break and he did not start a couple of games but goals are part of his game and his all-round game in the second half is what we expect of him, because it wasn’t just the goal, it was the threat he had from the edge of the box, his link-up and his winning the ball back in high areas which is his game. I thought he had a really good second half.
Mount himself said of his recent form and his relationship with Abraham:
We were actually in the tunnel before the second half. We spoke to each other and said if the ball falls to Tammy and he can’t shoot, I would be near him and he would set me. That’s what happened and I was buzzing it came off.
It’s been five or six games where I haven’t had a goal or an assist, and I obviously put that pressure on myself to step up and try and help the team. When you’re not scoring it’s difficult at times, so to get that goal and that confidence back up, hopefully I can carry that on.
Pulisic blanked for the third Gameweek in a row and has, rather predictably in this sometimes short-termist Fantasy world, already been ditched by over 40,000 FPL managers in the run-up to Gameweek 16.
His remaining owners needn’t fret too much as he was again heavily involved in Chelsea’s attacking play, evoking memories of Eden Hazard with some of his gliding runs through the centre of the park: the USA international’s total of eight take-ons, six of them successful, was more than any other player recorded at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
A bit like Hazard, who tended to attract the attention of a swarm of defenders with his mazy dribbles, there were a number of Pulisic’s shots that were blocked but the American did test Heaton with a low shot late on and teed up Willian for an early chance that the Villa goalkeeper beat away.
Lampard said of the former Borussia Dortmund player:
He is playing really well. He can score more, we have a player in Christian who is someone who is really exciting us but when you see this type of player, you see another level which is goals and assists and he has the ability to go on to that extra level which is the top level of world football.
At the moment he is doing really well and hopefully, that will be the next part of the progression.
Willian isn’t every Chelsea fan’s cup of tea but he is a favourite of Lampard’s, who has repeatedly praised his performances this season.
Sitting in the awkward price point between Mount and Pulisic, the Brazilian hasn’t quite been able to appeal to Fantasy managers, either.
A modest total of five attacking returns is only one more than Jorginho (£5.1m) has banked but the Brazil international was a threat against Villa, again testing Heaton from inside the box after the break before forcing a superb save from the busy Villa goalkeeper from a free-kick in the 79th minute – the ball tipped onto the post by Heaton and narrowly evading Pulisic on the follow-up.
Lampard’s latest round of rotation also saw Emerson (£5.5m) drop out, while Fikayo Tomori (£4.9m) was benched for the first time in the league since Gameweek 3.
Whether the young centre-half’s omission was a one-off remains to be seen but the 8.8% of Fantasy managers who own the stopper could do without the rotation risk at this time of year, with security of starts an issue up and down the country.
Andreas Christensen (£4.9m) took Tomori’s place on Wednesday and, with Antonio Rudiger (£6.0m) expected back fairly imminently, the competition for places at the heart of the Chelsea defence looks set to intensify – although the Germany international does tend to play on the other side of the defence to Tomori.
Can we expect further rotation against Everton, given that that game follows less than 72 hours after the Blues’ win over Villa?
The likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.6m) and Jorginho are fresh options off the bench, with Mateo Kovacic (£5.3m), Kurt Zouma (£4.7m) and Pulisic the only Chelsea players to have started all four of their competitive fixtures after the November international break.
As we discussed earlier this season, however, Lampard isn’t averse to playing his key players twice a week over an extended period of time.
The Blues lost their latest clean sheet when Trezeguet (£5.2m) scruffily bundled an Ahmed El Mohamady (£4.2m) cross into the net five minutes before the break.
Lampard’s side remain on three shut-outs for the season – eight clubs have more at the time of writing.
It didn’t take a particularly bright Villa performance to breach the Chelsea defence, with a second successive away game against a ‘big six’ side perhaps taking its toll on Dean Smith’s side.
The Villans continue to look porous at the back, which should fill owners of Leicester assets with optimism ahead of their Gameweek 16 clash on Sunday.
Smith’s troops have allowed more attempts on goal and shots in the box than any other Premier League side this season.
Jack Grealish (£5.9m) couldn’t add to his recent FPL returns but again looked the likeliest to make things happen from a Villa perspective and, as we’ve discussed previously, he will be a midfield option that many are monitoring ahead of the fixture swing in Gameweek 18.
His existing and prospective owners will likely face some worrying moments: the division’s most-fouled player was again the target of some special ‘treatment’ in Gameweek 15 and was fouled on seven occasions, more than twice as many times as anyone else in west London.
Smith said of Grealish after full-time:
There’s been a tag team at times, fouling Jack Grealish. I spoke about it the other day. There were five or six. There was a foul on the edge of the box that wasn’t given – then they had one that was given. I’d like to see a lot better officiating.
If he doesn’t get protection then, yeah, you worry for him. You can’t have tag teams having a free whack at him all the time. The officials will have to sort that out.
Villa had only three attempts on goal in the first 73 minutes of the game, with some late pressure boosting their shot count to a more respectable total.
Smith admitted that his side were second-best after the game, saying:
I thought the best team won on the night. I thought they started each half a lot better than we did. We grew into each half, but in the first 20 minutes of each half, they put us under a lot of pressure.
I’m disappointed with the manner of the goals, two crosses. We spoke about stopping crosses and we didn’t do well enough at doing that. We didn’t move the ball quick enough at times and gave it away too cheap.
I feel we can be as good as teams like Chelsea but we have to be more consistent in our play to do that.
Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Kepa; James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Kante, Kovacic; Willian (Jorginho 90+1′), Mount, Pulisic (Hudson-Odoi 85′); Abraham (Batshuayi 82′).
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Heaton; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Nakamba, Hourihane (Luiz 58′); Trezeguet (Jota 76′), Wesley, Grealish.
Gameweek 15 – FPL Match Reports
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Bournemouth
- Burnley 1-4 Man City
- Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester 2-0 Watford
- Man Utd 2-1 Spurs
- Southampton 2-1 Norwich
- Wolves 2-0 West Ham
- Liverpool 5-2 Everton
- Sheffield United 0-2 Newcastle
- Arsenal 1-2 Brighton
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