Brighton and Hove Albion 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Neal Maupay (£5.8m), Davy Propper (£4.9m) | Diogo Jota (£6.1m) x2
- Assists: Leandro Trossard (£5.8m), Dale Stephens (£4.4m) | Raul Jimenez (£7.6m), Jonny (£5.4m)
- Bonus: Jota x3, Maupay x2, Stephens x1
Diogo Jota (£6.1m) doubled his number of Fantasy Premier League attacking returns for the season with a brace in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 2-2 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.
There has been plenty of attention on Raul Jimenez (£7.6m), Adama Traore (£5.2m) and Matt Doherty (£6.0m) of late but Wolves’ upturn in form hasn’t coincided with a glut of goals or assists for Jota, who had just one of each in 2019/20 going into this weekend.
The promising underlying stats had hinted that a return or two could be in the offing soon; Joe’s Goals Imminent table had indeed suggested that in the build-up to Gameweek 16.
They duly arrived at the Amex, with Jota first latching onto a fine Jimenez pass to break the deadlock and then turning sharply in the Brighton box to restore parity after the Seagulls had gone 2-1 ahead.
There could have been other/further attacking returns for Jota, too, with the Portugal international spurning a one-on-one chance with the score at 1-0 and seeing a shot from ten yards blocked by a couple of desperate Brighton challenges on the hour-mark.
The interplay between Jota and Jimenez was superb in the first half especially and something Nuno Espirito Santo highlighted in his post-match interviews.
The Wolves boss said:
It’s good for us. No matter who the scores the goal, it is a team goal. But it’s good to see Raul and Diogo combine for us.
It’s so good. It can give us so much in the future, and it’s something we want to invest in, clearly.
The momentum of players goes up and down but we stick with them, trying to find solutions. It’s football.
Jota was a similarly slow starter last season, registering just one attacking return in the first 14 Gameweeks before going on to bank nine goals and seven assists in his final 20 appearances.
Could lightning strike twice this time around?
Fantasy managers may want to see a bit more of this from Jota before they take the plunge (the fixtures aren’t great either) but at least the focus for Wolves now will be on the Premier League, with Santo’s side out of the EFL Cup and not facing a meaningful Europa League tie – Thursday’s game against Besiktas effectively being a dead rubber – till late-February.
Jimenez was surprisingly the most-sold player of Gameweek 16, with the return to fitness of Tammy Abraham (£7.9m) and the form of Marcus Rashford (£8.9m) perhaps coming at his expense.
The Mexican offered little in the way of goal threat himself, registering no shots, but his Fantasy appeal isn’t just about finding the back of the net.
Jimenez hit double figures for assists in 2018/19 and he was the arch-creator at the Amex, supplying all three of the ‘big chances’ that Wolves carved out.
The mid-price FPL forward had set Jota up for that aforementioned one-on-one opportunity and almost replicated his assist from Gameweek 14, with Mathew Ryan (£4.8m) pawing out a Romain Saiss (£4.4m) header from Jimenez’s cross.
Traore and Doherty didn’t get a great deal of joy down the Wolves right but the former was, as has become increasingly common, the target of some ‘special’ treatment from the opposition, with three Brighton players booked for fouls on him on Sunday.
Santo said of Traore after full-time:
He’s a strong boy. Everybody can see that. No matter how strong you are, if you are being kicked it’s impossible.
Wolves’ clean sheet was ruined by two quick-fire first-half goals, with Neal Maupay‘s (£5.8m) early shot catching out Rui Patricio (£5.2m) before Davy Propper (£4.9m) nodded the Seagulls in front.
While Wolves sit bottom of our Season Ticker over the next ten Gameweeks, Graham Potter’s side lie somewhere near the top.
The Seagulls have exhibited their attacking credentials in trickier games over the last week, taking Liverpool close before beating Arsenal and holding in-form Wolves to a draw on Sunday.
Maupay has two goals in as many games and he is now the leading points-scorer among sub-£6.0m FPL forwards.
He hasn’t always convinced – he is joint-second among Fantasy players in his position for goal attempts this season but the lack of a clinical edge, or too many touches, has meant that many of those chances have gone begging.
Still, the former Brentford striker was a handful on Sunday and his overall link-up play was something his manager highlighted after the game:
Neal thinks he has struggled. I just think he has worked really hard for the team. He has sacrificed himself at times and it is nice when you are a forward and you do that and you get your rewards.
He got the winner on Thursday night (at Arsenal) and again he has contributed to a point.
I thought he was as good as anybody with his link-up play and how he affected the game. That’s six goals now in a team that is going through a transition. He has been fantastic.
Aaron Mooy (£4.8m) had another fine game for the Seagulls and went close to scoring when dragging a shot wide, while Leandro Trossard (£5.8m) returned to the starting XI and set up Propper for Brighton’s second goal.
Potter’s rotation in the wide areas and up front is somewhat off-putting from an FPL managers’ perspective.
Even Maupay didn’t escape a benching in Gameweek 14, while Trossard has been in and out of the team since his return from injury and may well not have started on Sunday had Aaron Connolly (£4.7m) not missed out with a dead leg.
The gaps at the back and the handful of unforced defensive errors were a cause for concern but, as we mentioned on Friday, Ryan’s ability to accumulate saves and bonus points at least provides his owners with some consolation: this was the tenth match in 11 Gameweeks in which he has picked up at least one save point.
Forthcoming matches against Crystal Palace and Sheffield United ought to provide better chances of clean sheets after the Seagulls’ recent tricky run, too.
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