We round up the key Fantasy talking points from Brighton v Chelsea and Aston Villa v Burnley in our first Scout Notes article of Gameweek 21.
Brighton 1-1 Chelsea
Goals: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£5.8m) | Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.8m)
Assists: Lewis Dunk (£4.7m) | Tammy Abraham (£7.8m)
Bonus Points: Azpilicueta x3, Jahanbakhsh x2, Bernardo x2 (£4.3m)
Tammy Abraham (£7.8m) owners may have a tough decision to make over the FA Cup third round break.
The centre-forward continues to tick along with points, registering an assist in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at Brighton, but his Amex Stadium performance was another quiet one, just as was the case against Arsenal in Gameweek 20.
Across the 90 minutes, Abraham only touched the ball in Brighton’s penalty box three times and registered just two shots on goal.
Admittedly the first, blocked by Aaron Mooy (£4.8m), led to Cesar Azpilicueta‘s (£5.8m) goal, earning him a Fantasy assist. However, it is this continued drip of points that may make selling Abraham a tricky decision.
Up next for Chelsea is a meeting with Burnley at Stamford Bridge, where the Blues have struggled this season, although the Clarets themselves were exceptionally poor in Gameweek 21.
Abraham was not the only Chelsea asset to struggle at the Amex Stadium as Mason Mount (£6.3m) in particular spent most of the afternoon on the periphery.
Christian Pulisic (£7.0m) was more involved than most but, as has too often been the case of late, his performance largely consisted of snatched shots from the left-hand side that did not trouble the goalkeeper.
The American managed to find space to shoot on five different occasions but regardless of whether he went around the outside of right-back Martín Montoya (£4.4m), or cut inside the defender, Pulisic never really looked like scoring.
“In the first half, the game was there to be won. We weren’t ruthless enough. We got the goal and we had the possession, but we just didn’t kill the game off [The lack of consistency] is a concern. It’s something we absolutely have to look at.” – Frank Lampard
Arguably, the most impressive attacker for Chelsea was right-back Reece James (£5.0m), who surprisingly surfaced in the starting line-up after Frank Lampard had ruled him out for at least a week.
The versatile youngster used his pace to get around Dan Burn (£4.5m) plenty of times in the first half and could have got on the scoresheet with a fierce shot in the first five minutes.
However, James’ forward-thinking helped Brighton maintain a foothold in the game, as Neal Maupay (£5.8m) in particular was able to expose the space behind him.
His runs into that area of the pitch helped set up Steven Alzate (£4.5m) in the fifth minute and Leandro Trossard (£5.8m) just before half-time.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.5m) was called into action for that Trossard effort and was forced into three more important stops in the game too.
Antonio Rüdiger (£6.0m) also had to put his body on the line to keep Chelsea in the game in the second half as Brighton asked plenty of questions.
The Seagulls finally made a deserved breakthrough in the 84th minute when Lewis Dunk (£4.7m) nodded across to Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£5.8m), who scored with a spectacular bicycle kick.
The Iranian international had to go over a year before scoring his first-ever goal for Brighton against Bournemouth and he now has two in as many outings.
However, it remains unclear whether or not Jahanbakhsh can be turned to as a viable Fantasy asset as he featured only as a substitute against Chelsea, which means he still only has one league start to his name all season.
“Everyone is delighted for Jahanbakhsh. He’s worked so hard and waited so long, and to have his freshness off the bench was the thinking and he popped up with a great strike. He’s had to be patient, but he’s got qualities and he’s getting his reward.” – Graham Potter
Brighton’s goal does tell us a lot about what we need to know on Chelsea’s defence.
It ensured that their only clean sheet since Gameweek 13 was that 2-0 win at Spurs last month and with Fikayo Tomori (£4.8m) missing out on Gameweek 21, not even on the bench, the number of viable assets in Chelsea’s defence is rapidly declining.
“We allowed them to stay in the game. In the end, it was a wonder goal but we were lucky not to lose the game. In the end, the tactics matched up for both teams but they were better than us. We have to take that on the chin.” – Frank Lampard
Finally, there may be a budget option emerging in Brighton’s defence following a serious-looking injury to Burn.
The centre-back has done well on the left of defence this season but was replaced in the 22nd minute after injuring his collar bone and is expected to be out for six to eight weeks.
Coming in for him was Bernardo (£4.3m), now available for upcoming games against Everton (away), Aston Villa (home), Bournemouth (away) and West Ham (away) at a reduced price.
The left-back played 68 minutes of the draw with Chelsea but came on after Azpilicueta scored the opening goal, so he claimed a clean sheet and one bonus for a seven-point score.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (4-3-1-2): Ryan; Burn (Bernardo 22′), Dunk, Webster, Montoya; Bissouma (Connolly 46′), Pröpper, Alzate; Mooy (Jahanbakhsh 68′); Maupay, Trossard.
Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rüdiger, R James; Jorginho, Kanté; Pulisic (Hudson-Odoi 66′), Mount (Kovačić 73′), Willian; Abraham.
Burnley 1-2 Aston Villa
Goals: Chris Wood (£6.2m) | Wesley (£5.6m), Jack Grealish (£6.4m)
Assists: Ashley Westwood (£5.4m) | Grealish, Douglas Luiz (£4.4m)
Bonus Points: Grealish x3, Luiz x2, Wood x1, Westwood x1
Jack Grealish (£6.4m) absolutely ran the show for Aston Villa in their 2-1 win at Burnley on New Year’s Day.
The midfielder was comfortably the best player on the park as he registered a goal and assist for a 13-point haul.
Grealish arguably should have been on the scoresheet before he banked his two attacking returns as a controversial Video Assistant Referee review chalked off what would have been the opening goal of the game.
Centre-back Ezri Konsa (£4.3m) played an excellent cross into the box early on, which Grealish nodded beyond Nick Pope (£4.7m).
However, it was ruled out by the VAR for offside against Wesley (£5.6m) in the build-up, whose boot heel was not much more than a millimetre or two closer to Burnley’s goal than James Tarkowski‘s (£5.1m).
“Jack Grealish is unfortunate to not have two goals today. I’m still not sure why it was disallowed looking at the still image.” – Dean Smith
With VAR arguably not a huge helper of Villa this season, the decision galvanised them and Grealish in particular.
Soon after having the goal chalked off, the Villa captain teed up Wesley, who forced a save out of Pope at the near post, before Douglas Luiz (£4.4m) drew another stop from the Burnley goalkeeper.
In the 29th minute, Grealish’s slightly deflected cross was chested down by an unmarked Wesley, who swivelled and slotted home under Pope.
It was a goal that was well-deserved, as Burnley offered very little in the opening exchanges.
Grealish then got his own goal in the 41st minute after some good link-up with Luiz. The Brazilian sprayed wide to Grealish on his left-flank of the attack, who fired an effort into the top corner before Pope had a chance to set himself.
However, it must be said that Villa were helped in their domination of this fixture by an uncharacteristically poor performance from Burnley.
While the Clarets have been somewhat shy in front of goal recently, it was strange to see them so loose in possession in the midfield.
Burnley were so sloppy pn the ball that it was a little easier for Villa to start their attacks in dangerous positions, while Tom Heaton (£4.5m) remained nothing more than a spectator for at least the first hour.
Villa were also helped by a change of formation though, which saw Smith line-up in a 3-4-3 system, featuring the returning Tyrone Mings (£4.5m), Kortney Hause (£4.4m) and Konsa in the defence with Neil Taylor (£4.3m) and Frédéric Guilbert (£4.4m) as wing-backs.
“We changed the system and I thought that we wanted to get on the ball and play. The lads looked really accomplished at it. We’ve only had a couple of days to work on it. A lot of them have played it before at previous clubs. We’ve been conceding too many goals and playing the three helped us get an extra head in the box.” – Dean Smith
Either way, such a big haul will almost certainly increase the interest in Grealish, who is currently owned by 16.4%, especially with his fixtures on the horizon.
Manchester City, who have displayed defensive weaknesses on the road this season, come to Villa Park next, while Brighton (away), Watford (home) and Bournemouth (away) are the three subsequent opponents for Dean Smith’s men.
It must be said that, as per usual, Villa did struggle in the second half. The fact that Burnley worked their way back into the game means that they have still conceded more goals after half-time than any other side this season.
Chris Wood (£6.2m) knocked on the door on more than one occasion before he busted the Villa clean sheet in the 80th minute.
However, Villa were not helped by injuries to Wesley and Heaton in the second half, both of them stretchered off with knee problems.
“Both of them felt their knee. We’re not sure what the prognosis is as of yet obviously, we will let them have a scan and see from there. Wesley felt something following the tackle from Ben Mee and Tom’s was when he was trying to claw the ball out the top corner. Too early to know, but our medical staff are with them now.” – Dean Smith
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; C Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Bardsley; McNeil, Cork, Westwood, Brady (Gudmundsson 46′); A Barnes (Rodriguez 46′), Wood.
Aston Villa XI (3-4-3): Heaton (Nyland 85′); Hause, Mings, Konsa; N Taylor, Nakamba, Douglas Luiz, Guilbert; Grealish, Wesley (Kodjia 71′), Trézéguet (Hourihane 78′).
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