With the Gameweek 20 deadline fast approaching, we continue our whirlwind review of the Boxing Day games with a look back at four more Premier League matches.
Everton 1-0 Burnley
- Goal: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.7m)
- Assist: Djibril Sidibe (£5.3m)
- Bonus: Sidibe x3, Fabian Delph (£5.3m) x2, Yerry Mina (£5.3m), Calvert-Lewin x1
Carlo Ancelotti made a winning start to life at Goodison Park as a late Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.7m) header handed Everton all three points against Burnley.
From a Fantasy point of view, there was plenty to interest us.
Ancelotti set his new troops up in what was a fluid 3-4-3, with Seamus Coleman (£5.3m) dropping in as the right-sided centre-half alongside Yerry Mina (£5.3m) and budget FPL defender Mason Holgate (£4.4m).
Djibril Sidibe (£5.3m) and Lucas Digne (£5.7m) were the wing-backs in this set-up but when Everton moved into a 4-4-2, generally out of possession, Sidibe was ostensibly an ‘out of position’ right-winger, with Coleman and Digne operating as more orthodox full-backs.
Sidibe is one to monitor as he got forward to create three chances, setting up Calvert-Lewin for the hosts’ winner, and also forcing Nick Pope (£4.7m) into a save with a low shot.
Ancelotti said after full-time:
We tried to build up with three defenders to put more players between the lines, and some situations were good for us and others have to improve. This is normal and I didn’t want to change a lot for the players. I have seen some good things.
Offensively, Sidibe stayed wide and on the other side we had Lucas Digne to cover the space there.
Defensively, Sidibe was working in the line of the midfielders. The shape 4-4-2 defensively didn’t change.
We started to build up with Coleman a little bit back and Sidibe more forward. It went well because he put in the cross for Calvert-Lewin to score the goal.
Calvert-Lewin was, as he had been under Duncan Ferguson, again the spearhead of the Everton attack and had plenty of chances before his goal; indeed, no other FPL asset has had as many efforts on goal as the Everton striker in Gameweek 19 so far.
Five of his six attempts were from his head and two presentable opportunities went begging in the first half.
Ancelotti said of his young striker:
He is a fantastic striker in my opinion. He is strong with his head but he can improve is his movement without the ball.
He has to be more focused on the goal but, of course, he is really unselfish and he moves up and down, right and left.
He has to stay, in my opinion, more focused on the centre of the box.
Richarlison (£8.0m) and Bernard (£6.4m) operated as narrow wingers either side of Calvert-Lewin but neither posed as big a threat, not registering a single shot in the box between them.
Burnley didn’t record a single shot on target all game, with an early looping Jay Rodriguez (£5.7m) header (not counted as a shot by the powers that be) that was cleared away from near the goalline by Mina as close as they came to scoring.
Rodriguez was starting as Sean Dyche deemed Ashley Barnes (£6.2m) unable to handle the rigours of two games in 48 hours, saying after full-time:
He has a chance [v Manchester United] and that is part of the plan as to which game do you choose because two in three days does affect people like Barnesy from a recovery point of view, and any kind of knocks.
But the fully fit lads I expect them to recover well and be right, and ones like Barnesy we have to monitor and be careful, and make those decisions on what game is right and what game is not.
Today was one we considered to be not, to allow him the chance to be possibly playing and starting on Saturday.
Ancelotti also seemed to promise changes in Gameweek 20, saying:
Of course, I have to change players and try to put more players fresh if possible. We are an energetic team. Physically, we are in really good condition, so we look forward to the next game.
We don’t have really time to recover but we are going to check the players that were not able to play – maybe they have more possibility to play against Newcastle.
We have to see how the players recover. I am going to decide on the line-up on the day of the game.
Everton (3-4-3): Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Holgate; Sidibe (Walcott 89′); Sigurdsson, Delph, Digne; Bernard (Kean 76′) Richarlison (Davies 85′), Calvert-Lewin.
Burnley (4-4-2): Pope; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brady (Gudmundsson 66′), Cork (Long 87′), Westwood, McNeil; Rodriguez, Wood (Barnes 73′).
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Goals: Harry Kane (£11.0m), Dele Alli (£8.9m)| Adam Webster (£4.4m)
- Assists: Serge Aurier (£5.1m) | Pascal Gross (£6.4m)
- Bonus: Webster x3, Kane x2, Alli x1
Tottenham Hotspur bounced back to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion but the Lilywhites’ display wasn’t a great deal more convincing than it was in the defeat to Chelsea.
Again Spurs had problems breaking down a compact three-man defence and a congested midfield in front of it, with there being little room for Harry Kane (£11.0m), Dele Alli (£8.9m) and Lucas Moura (£7.1m) to exploit in behind when the hosts arrowed balls forward from the back.
The one time Kane succeeded in breaking free of Brighton’s backline in the first half, the Video Assistant Referee was on hand to disallow his goal for offside.
Spurs had registered only one shot in the box before half-time and went into the break a goal down, with Adam Webster (£4.4m) having nodded in a Pascal Gross (£6.4m) free-kick to put the Seagulls in front.
Striker Aaron Connolly (£4.5m) indeed wasted an excellent chance to double the visitors’ lead just after the interval, mistiming a jump and seeing a cross bounce wide off his shoulder.
It’s now just one clean sheet in seven league matches for Spurs under Jose Mourinho.
Kane did battle his way to a tenth goal of the campaign, finishing at the second attempt after a save by Mathew Ryan (£4.8m), while Alli looped in the winner from a Serge Aurier (£5.1m) cut-back.
Kane and Alli nearly combined for another goal late on, with the latter forcing a fingertip save out of Ryan in the 89th minute.
Owners of Spurs assets will no doubt be concerned by the swift turnaround in games, with a trip to Norwich to follow on Saturday.
Kane and Alli, in particular, looked exhausted at the full-time whistle, although Mourinho had previously hinted at the former getting plenty of game-time over Christmas.
Speaking after full-time on Boxing Day, Mourinho said:
I cannot imagine these boys, not just my boys, but the Potter boys how they can play in 48 hours. If you go to control the distances they run, the intensity, the breaks, if you are going to control that and if we are going to tell anyone who understands physiology, it is a crime that they are going to play football again on the 28.
On Alli, the Spurs boss added:
People now say since I arrived that Dele has scored three or four goals in the Premier League and one or two goals in the Champions League but I don’t go in that direction. I go in the direction that Dele Alli exhausted from work. I love players who are exhausted from that.
The problem is that we have to play again in 48 hours, but I love for players to finish the game exhausted. That’s why these guys are doing. Sissoko incredible. The defenders they are playing every game and it’s not easy to play in the feeling that have at this moment, which is the feeling of ‘wow we concede a goal every game, we make a mistake and we concede a goal’. That added pressure is not easy to cope with.
Mourinho will be forced into at least two changes against Norwich, with Harry Winks (£5.2m) and Moussa Sissoko (£4.9m) both suspended after picking up their fifth bookings of the season.
Giovani Lo Celso (£7.3m) may well have played his way into contention for a start at Carrow Road after an impressive cameo off the bench, while Christian Eriksen (£8.6m) made an impact as a substitute too – although Mourinho’s post-match comments about the Dane’s future may be a sign that Eriksen is heading for the exit door in January.
Tanguy Ndombele (£5.8m) wasn’t involved in the matchday squad, with Mourinho saying:
I cannot say he is injured, in five minutes we start a training session and you can go to the stands and watch it, he is going to be training normally so I cannot say he is injured. I can say that yesterday he told me he was not feeling in condition to play the game.
Not based on injuries, based on fears of previous injuries that he has had since the beginning of the season. Feeling not ready to start the game, but I cannot say he is injured, I can say he is not in condition to start the game, which is different.
Brighton are about to embark on a series of appealing fixtures and they have massively impressed against tough opposition of late, having more than held their own against Liverpool, Arsenal, Wolves and now Spurs.
For those who are holding onto Chelsea assets, the shape-shifting Seagulls – here operating in a 3-4-2-1 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – will more than likely make life problematic for Lampard’s troops when they visit the Amex on New Year’s Day.
Aaron Mooy (£4.8m) continues to excel (without delivering much in the way of Fantasy returns), while dead-ball specialist Gross banked his fifth assist of the season.
There was some Christmas-influenced rotation by Potter on Boxing Day, with Leandro Trossard (£5.8m), Neal Maupay (£5.8m) and Davy Propper (£4.9m) among the players handed a breather.
Lewis Dunk (£4.7m) missed out with illness, meanwhile.
Maupay will surely return against Bournemouth on Saturday and is perhaps one to monitor for the fixture swing, with rotation less of an issue after this busy Christmas period.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Winks (Eriksen 68), Sissoko; Lucas (Dier 76), Dele, Sessegnon (Lo Celso 56); Kane.
Brighton (3-4-2-1): Ryan; Duffy, Webster, Burn; Schelotto (Bissouma 83), Alzate, Stephens, Bernardo (Trossard 76); Mooy, Gross; Connolly (Maupay 68).
Crystal Palace 2-1 West Ham United
- Goals: Cheikhou Kouyate (£4.9m), Jordan Ayew (£5.0m) | Robert Snodgrass (£5.2m)
- Assists: Ayew, Connor Wickham (£4.4m)| Michail Antonio (£6.9m)
- Bonus: Ayew x3, Kouyate x2, Snodgrass x1
Crystal Palace lost another defender to injury as they saw off struggling West Ham United on Thursday.
With Joel Ward (£4.3m), Scott Dann (£4.3m), Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.5m) and Gary Cahill (£4.5m) already sidelined, Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) limped out of the game after 64 minutes of the win over the Hammers with a recurrence of his hamstring problem.
The Dutch left-back had missed Gameweeks 16 and 17 with the issue before making a swift return to the team.
Speaking after the Eagles’ latest win on Boxing Day, Roy Hodgson said of van Aanholt:
I think it’s all part of the fact that because we are so desperate in that position we hurried him back a little bit. He was keen to get back to be fair so when I say ‘hurried him back,’ he didn’t take any persuasion because he wants to play and was very keen to play.
You are worried of course when that happens it could recur, but speaking to him as he was leaving he didn’t seem to think anything had pulled or snapped so I’m rather hoping it won’t be a long-term thing but of course the scans always show some degree of strain and every one of these strains keep people out for a period of time.
It’s something we can’t really afford but we will have to learn to live with it.
Jairo Riedewald (£4.5m) was again brought in to deputise at left-back when van Aanholt was withdrawn.
Mamadou Sakho (£5.0m) returned from suspension, at least, with his availability at centre-half meaning that Cheikhou Kouyate (£4.9m) moved back into midfield.
It was the former Hammer who grabbed Palace’s equaliser from a Jordan Ayew (£5.0m) knock-down and the Ghanaian striker was at the centre of much of Palace’s attacking play on Boxing Day, being directly involved in all four of the ‘big chances’ that the hosts carved out.
Ayew had missed a sitter in the first half and set substitute Connor Wickham (£4.5m) free for a gilt-edged chance on 75 minutes, with the budget FPL forward shooting straight at Roberto (£4.4m) when Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m) was well placed for a tap-in.
Ayew saved the best till last, though, scoring a superb solo goal in the final minute of normal time to bank his first double-digit haul of the season.
The Ghana international’s expected goal involvement (xGI) of 1.57 is the best in Gameweek 19 so far.
Hodgson said of him after full-time:
He’s scored five in a team that doesn’t score many goals. Five is pretty good by our standards because we’re not scoring that many at the moment, not for want of trying or for want of getting people in the box.
We knew all along that he’s got the capability of scoring those goals. I think his game’s improved, I think his confidence has improved as it should do – he deserves to be confident.
Let’s not get carried away with Ayew’s FPL appeal, though – he had eight successive blanks before Boxing Day’s goal-and-assist return.
But the budget Fantasy striker is, at least, fairly secure in his position, having started all but one Premier League match this season.
While the unconvincing Wickham is another option up front over Christmas should Hodgson need him, Ayew is now down one positional rival in the form of Christian Benteke (£5.7m).
Hodgson said of the Belgian striker ahead of kick-off:
Christian Benteke after the Newcastle game was complaining of a muscle injury. We hoped it was just fatigue but the scans show there is a strain there which will keep him out for the next few weeks.
It’s a great blow for us because [there have been] a couple of games recently where he’s come into the team, he’s done extremely well and the front three has looked good with him in the centre, Jordan to the right and Wilf to the left.
We’ve had to change it today because he’s not available and probably won’t be available for a fair while. The problem with our injuries is they’re all long term at the moment.
Zaha was his usual self – lots of penalty box touches (16, the highest in Gameweek 19 at the time of writing) but only one shot to show for it.
A 12-day break didn’t look like it had done West Ham much good, with Manuel Pellegrini’s side serving up the latest in a long line of dreary displays – surprise away wins over Chelsea and Southampton aside.
Robert Snodgrass‘s (£5.2m) goal almost came out of the blue and clear chances were few and far between for the visitors, with the Scotland international also denied by a Reidewald block late on.
Michail Antonio (£6.9m), again playing up front in a 4-4-2, highlighted his own ‘out of position’ appeal with the assist for West Ham’s goal but Fantasy managers will be understandably reticent in going anywhere near the Hammers’ players on current form.
Sebastien Haller (£7.0m), flavour of the month earlier in the campaign, was again unconvincing up top, while the gaps at the back (West Ham’s expected goals conceded total is the third-worst in Gameweek 19 so far) will have been encouraging to owners of Leicester assets ahead of Gameweek 20.
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guaita; Kelly, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt (Riedewald 65′); Kouyate (McCarthy 88′), Milivojevic, McArthur; Meyer (Wickham 75′), Ayew, Zaha.
West Ham (4-4-2): Roberto; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Snodgrass (Ajeti 90′), Rice, Noble, Fornals (Lanzini 58′); Haller (Anderson 75′), Antonio.
Aston Villa 1-0 Norwich City
- Goal: Conor Hourihane (£5.7m)
- Assist: Jack Grealish (£6.4m)
- Bonus: Tom Heaton (£4.5m) x3, Hourihane x2, Max Aarons (£4.4m) x1
Jack Grealish (£6.4m) kept up his fine Fantasy form with an assist for Conor Hourihane‘s (£5.7m) winner in a potentially important victory for Aston Villa against relegation rivals Norwich City.
Grealish now has eight FPL attacking returns in his last ten league starts, averaging 5.8 points per match over that time.
Where Villa would be without their talisman is the big question.
Dean Smith’s side may have gathered all three points against the Canaries but they were by no means the better team, and the fact that Tom Heaton (£4.5m) emerged from this fixture with maximum bonus points said much about the game.
Full-back Sam Byram (£4.5m) headed against the woodwork and then wide either side of the break, while Alex Tettey (£4.5m) had a shot cleared off the line and Teemu Pukki (£6.6m) should have done much better when racing clear of the Villa defence in the first half.
Heaton made five saves in all, keeping out a Tom Trybull (£4.5m) header and a late Onel Hernandez (£5.3m) effort.
Villa, meanwhile, didn’t create too much at all, with Anwar El Ghazi (£5.5m) miskicking and then sending an effort wide in the first half.
This match saw Smith make a tactical change, with El Ghazi and Trezeguet (£5.2m) stationed on the flanks and Grealish moved back into a more central position (but still quite advanced) following his recent stint on the left.
Smith said of Grealish after the game:
I thought he performed really well for us today. He showed a lot of leadership and responsibility and helped to calm things down at the end.
He ran at the opposition all day and he was probably the difference between the two teams.
Frederic Guilbert (£4.4m) was one of the casualties of the Christmas-led rotation, meanwhile, with the Villa right-back missing out on his side’s clean sheet.
Daniel Farke, who named an unchanged side for this encounter, said after full-time:
Performance-wise, we can’t play better away from home. I’m disappointed we’re in a poor position in the table, but I can influence the lads to put in top-class performances on the pitch. Pundits will say it’s just about the result, but we were unlucky to lose. We will keep on going. If everything is against you it’s important to puff out your chest and keep going.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Heaton; El Mohamady, Hause, Ngoyo, Targett; Nakamba (Hourihane 55′), Luiz, Grealish; El Ghazi (Lansbury 90′), Wesley, Trezeguet (Jota 86′).
Norwich City XI (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Hanley, Byram; Tettey (Vrancic 75′), Trybull (Stiepermann 75′); Buendia (Hernandez 75′), McLean, Cantwell; Pukki.
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