Norwich City 1-2 Sheffield United
Goals: Alex Tettey (£4.5m) | Enda Stevens (£5.1m), George Baldock (£4.7m)
Assists: Christoph Zimmermann (£4.4m) | Baldock
Bonus Points: Baldock x3, Tettey x2, Stevens x1
Despite a much-needed win for Sheffield United on Sunday afternoon, there were no returns at either end of the pitch for John Lundstram (£5.1m).
The central midfielder, classified as a defender in Fantasy Premier League, blanked for the fourth time in the last five Gameweeks, causing some to lose faith in his services.
The slight waning of interest in Lundstram is understandable, to some extent, considering the recent form of George Baldock (£4.7m) who scored a spectacular individual winning goal in Gameweek 16.
Having provided the assist for Enda Stevens‘ (£5.1m) equaliser, Baldock left Carrow Road with a 14-point haul having claimed all three bonus too.
That means that since Gameweek 11, the right-back has outscored Lundstram by 34 points to 31, even though that run includes the midfielder’s famous 21-point monster haul in the 3-0 win over Burnley.
Since that time, Baldock has kept the same number of clean sheets as Lundstram (one) but has added two goals, two assists and three bonus.
However, Lundstram owners should certainly keep the faith, regardless of what time they bought him.
Those who have been in possession since the start of the campaign can still only sell him for £4.5m, a bracket which, at the current stage, still offers very few viable alternatives.
But either way, it must be said that Lundstram was extremely unfortunate not to get more returns at each end of the pitch against Norwich.
For a start, the Sheffield United defence largely restricted the Canaries’ attack to low-quality chances, Daniel Farke’s men not fashioning a single big chance in open play, so there could have been a clean sheet were it not for a fortunate bounce off Christoph Zimmermann (£4.4m) following a corner, which Alex Tettey (£4.5m) pounced on to score.
Crucially, Lundstram was very close to involving himself in Sheffield United’s goals.
He assisted the assister for Stevens’ goal, releasing Baldock down the right flank when he probably could have crossed the ball in himself.
Lundstram then did play a ball into the box from the right flank minutes later, which nearly reached the intended target, Baldock. However, the right-back only received the ball after Mario Vrančić (£6.2m) lost possession of his cut-out. Had the cross gone directly to Baldock, Lundstram would have been awarded the assist.
As Sheffield United continued to turn the screw on their hosts, Lundstram had the ball in the back of the net shortly after Baldock’s strike, only for the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to rule it out for offside.
Finally, a late counter-attack pitted Lundstram, David McGoldrick (£5.4m) and substitute Callum Robinson (£5.1m) against two Norwich defenders and a goal looked quite likely. Lundstram played McGoldrick in, who could only blast his effort over the bar, remaining still in search of his first Premier League goal this season.
With all of those events in mind, it certainly makes sense to hold onto Lundstram and consider starting him against Aston Villa in Gameweek 17 considering the defensive vulnerabilities of Dean Smith’s men thus far this season.
We should probably touch on the defensive prospects of Sheffield United considering a recent interest in a double-up on their assets, often involving goalkeeper Dean Henderson (£4.7m).
After keeping four clean sheets between Gameweeks 6 and 11, it has now been five matches since their last shut-out. With Aston Villa (home) and Brighton (away) coming up next, as well as trips to Manchester City and Liverpool in Gameweeks 20 and 21, it seems possible that clean sheets may continue to be an issue for the Blades.
Rotation could also present a slight issue for those invested in their attack over Christmas. Lys Mousset (£5.1m) did return to the side at Norwich, following his midweek benching, but did have to come off with a calf injury after 64 minutes.
He has struggled with some muscle problems in the last few months and may have his minutes managed during the festive period, as we already saw with Oli McBurnie (£5.7m) playing 90 minutes against Newcastle.
Owners of Norwich midfielder Todd Cantwell (£4.7m) may also experience a similar frustration as he was named on the bench for the third time since Gameweek 11.
Onel Hernández (£5.3m) and Emi Buendia (£6.0m) were named on the flanks of attacking midfield for this one, Cantwell replacing the Cuban in the 72nd minute.
The youngster admittedly came close to scoring, forcing a quality save out of Henderson late in the game.
Either way, Farke’s multiple options in wide areas could see Cantwell prove a frustrating asset to own during a busy Christmas period.
Finally, Norwich’s defence remains in a pretty poor shape ahead of the festive schedule, which is good news for owners of assets at Leicester, Wolves, Aston Villa and Spurs, who face the Canaries between now and Gameweek 20.
The first-half was relatively encouraging for Farke as Sheffield United offered little and Norwich largely had control of the game.
However, it all fell apart in the second period, in which the Blades came back into the game and exposed the ongoing issues with Norwich’s defence.
They have now conceded 34 goals this season, an average of 2.2 per game, only Southampton (35) allowing more in the first 16 matches.
Norwich City XI (4-2-3-1): Krul; Byram (Lewis 72′), Godfrey, Zimmermann, Aarons; Vrančić (Srbeny 81′), Tettey; O Hernández (Cantwell 72′), McLean, Buendía; Pukki.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): D Henderson; O’Connell, Egan, Basham; Stevens, Fleck, Norwood (Bešić 65′), Lundstram, Baldock; Mousset (Robinson 65′), McGoldrick (McBurnie 83′).
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