West Ham United 4-0 Bournemouth
- Goals: Mark Noble (£5.0m) x2, Sebastien Haller (£7.0m), Felipe Anderson (£6.6m)
- Assists: Robert Snodgrass (£5.2m), Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m), Declan Rice (£4.7m)
- Bonus: Noble x3, Fredericks x2, Rice x1
David Moyes’ second stint as West Ham United manager got off to the best possible start on New Year’s Day but he could hardly have wished for more obliging opponents than a woefully out-of-sorts Bournemouth side.
Fantasy Premier League managers will be monitoring the Hammers’ players ahead of Double Gameweek 24, although the fact that the Londoners face Leicester City and Liverpool in that round of fixtures will be off-putting to many.
Forthcoming matches against high-flying Sheffield United and a resurgent Everton will also be truer tests of their abilities, with Wednesday’s opponents Bournemouth the division’s worst team based on form over the last ten Gameweeks.
Still, West Ham couldn’t have done any more than what they did on New Year’s Day, recording their biggest league win in over 12 years.
Moyes didn’t have much time to work with his new troops and didn’t look to make any sweeping tactical changes, retaining a 4-2-3-1 set-up with attacking midfield trio Robert Snodgrass (£5.2m), Felipe Anderson (£6.6m) and Pablo Fornals (£6.0m) playing behind central striker Sebastien Haller (£7.0m).
Michail Antonio (£6.9m) reportedly missed out with a minor hamstring injury.
Haller and Anderson produced arguably their best performances in months, with the hitherto out-of-form striker brilliantly volleying in a Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m) cross and the Brazilian rounding off the scoring when delicately controlling a superb Declan Rice pass (£4.7m) and slotting beyond Aaron Ramsdale (£4.7m) midway through the second half.
Mark Noble (£5.0m), who Moyes has repeatedly praised since his re-appointment as head coach, had opened the scoring with a heavily deflected shot before grabbing his second from the penalty spot after being fouled himself.
There could have been further goals, too, with substitute Manuel Lanzini (£6.2m) heading straight at Ramsdale from six yards and Fornals forcing the Bournemouth goalkeeper into a save with an effort from the edge of the box.
Speaking of the attacking options at his disposal, Moyes said:
We have got so many players who have got the ability. Anderson, Haller, Lanzini, Fornals, all technically gifted players so we want to get them all in the team but we have to play football to win and get ourselves out of this position in the Premier League.
Brazilians score goals, Brazilians make the difference, they do something which makes us all excited, I said [to Anderson] you’re not doing that. Give me a Brazilian goal and to be fair, he did.
Even when Lanzini came on, he looked lively, he had two good opportunities. They are people I know I enjoy working with and hopefully, they felt the same.
Lanzini is one of the players who Moyes worked with in his first stint in east London, with another being Arthur Masuaku (£4.2m) – the FPL defender was deployed ‘out of position’, as he effectively was as a gung-ho wing-back in 2017/18, in a seven-minute cameo against the Cherries on Wednesday.
Lukasz Fabianski (£4.9m) will rarely enjoy an easier afternoon, with his only two saves coming from shots from narrow angles, although his clean sheet was very nearly spoiled late on when Dominic Solanke (£5.2m) nodded against the inside of the post.
Angelo Ogbonna (£4.5m) deserves a mention, too, with the recalled defender delivering an impressive display at centre-half.
Reflecting on his impact on the West Ham players, Moyes said:
I tried to make it as simple as I possibly could.
In truth, I don’t know most of them, maybe eight or nine from before, but I tried to go over with them on yesterday morning, tried to use every bit of time to have conversations with them. I have spoken to one or two individuals who I think will make the difference for us.
But, really, we worked on being in a good defensive shape and when we lost possession, we were in a good place.
What I saw recently is the minute the ball changed over, we couldn’t get back into a good enough shape in transition. We have the ability to run fast forward, play off a big centre forward, and we could do with crossing the ball a bit more. Thankfully today, Seb did that.
Bournemouth were, as they have been for large chunks of the last two months, well below-par.
Callum Wilson (£7.4m) hasn’t delivered an FPL attacking return since September and was anonymous, touching the ball on fewer occasions than Ramsdale.
The Cherries’ injury-hit defence were repeatedly carved open and their most-owned player in FPL, Diego Rico (£4.4m), departed at half-time with a minus score having conceded three goals and picked up a yellow card.
Rico was one of a few players namechecked by his manager afterwards as not being fully fit, with Howe saying:
There were players today playing who were not 100 per cent fit either so that’s not to make excuses and to try and shy away from what we’ve delivered, because it hasn’t been good enough. I thought the players gave everything today but we weren’t in the best physical condition to play.”
I think the difference probably from this to previous years is the amount of injuries that we’ve had. The lightness of the squad, I’ve never had a smaller group of players to pick from.
Even some of those players, if you look aren’t 100 per cent fit. Steve Cook, Junior Stanislas, Diego Rico, Simon Francis, Jefferson Lerma are all coming into the game on the back of injuries and haven’t trained. I don’t think we were in the best physical condition today.
Josh King (£6.1m) and Jack Stacey (£4.3m) joined the ever-growing injury list after picking up hamstring strains in Gameweek 20, with Howe saying after full-time on Wednesday:
I think they’re going to be out for about five to six weeks. They’ve got very similar injuries. Both hamstring injuries, both been given the same grade, so a massive, massive blow.
All of which adds up to an appetising fixture for in-form Watford in Gameweek 22, with Bournemouth out of sorts and short of several first-team players.
Manchester City 2-1 Everton
- Goals: Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) x2 | Richarlison (£8.0m)
- Assists: Ilkay Gundogan (£5.2m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.4m) | Theo Walcott (£6.2m)
- Bonus: Jesus x3, Djibril Sidibe (£5.3m) x2, Gundogan, Fernandinho (£5.2m) x1
The 11-day Premier League hiatus probably comes at a good time for Manchester City and owners of their Fantasy assets.
Energy levels had clearly been sapped over Christmas, with the Citizens not helped by having to play over 75 minutes with ten men against Wolves last Friday.
Having named the same front six players in his starting XI in Gameweeks 19 and 20, Pep Guardiola finally delivered the rotation we had been fearing on New Year’s Day.
Raheem Sterling (£11.8m), Sergio Aguero (£11.7m) and Bernardo Silva (£7.8m) were all dropped to the bench, while Kyle Walker (£5.8m), City’s most-owned defender in FPL and an ever-present in the Premier League in December, also made way at right-back.
Kevin De Bruyne (£10.6m), he of the lung-busting runs from deep, avoided a benching but looked to be pacing himself after his exertions over the festive period, operating in a more restrained central midfield role – although, as we’ll discuss shortly, that was perhaps as much about Guardiola’s tactical tweak as it was energy preservation.
Sterling came on for an owner-infuriating one-point cameo in stoppage time, to compound the misery for the 23.3% of Fantasy bosses who still retain the winger’s services.
Explaining the rotation and the omission of Ederson (£6.0m) ahead of kick-off, Guardiola said:
Ederson is sick. The other ones… it has been an incredible amount of games. It’s the toughest period – we need fresh legs.
While the personnel changes weren’t too surprising, the change of formation was.
City switched to a 3-4-3 for this match, with wing-backs Joao Cancelo (£5.2m) and Benjamin Mendy (£5.5m) playing either side of centre-halves Rodri (£5.4m), Eric Garcia (£4.5m) and Fernandinho (£5.2m).
De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan (£5.2m) operated as the two holding midfielders, with Riyad Mahrez (£8.4m) and Phil Foden (£5.1m) flanking Gabriel Jesus (£9.5m) in attack.
We saw very little of De Bruyne in the Everton box as a result, while his distribution was, for once, a little off: the Belgian’s pass completion rate was the worst of any City player in Gameweek 21.
Perhaps De Bruyne most of all needs a breather, which will surely come on Saturday when City entertain Port Vale in the FA Cup.
Asked about his use of a wing-back system, Guardiola said:
We can do it in the future. We make a really good build-up. The five guys – Eric, ‘Dinho, Rodri, Gundogan and Kevin – they are so good with the ball. Everything that happens that starts from there is good. It is better. Riyad received the ball in better conditions. Phil received it in better conditions. It helps us to play better.
City laboured in the first half against Carlo Ancelotti’s side, with a shanked Mahrez effort and a disallowed Foden goal as close as they came to breaking the deadlock.
Everton’s resistance finally caved early in the second half, with Jesus expertly finishing two well-crafted team goals to help City establish what ought to have been a comfortable lead.
A botched pass from Claudio Bravo (£4.8m) led to Richarlison‘s (£8.0m) goal and a nervy final 20 minutes but, in truth, City looked more likely to increase their advantage than concede an equaliser, with Jesus twice denied by Jordan Pickford (£5.3m) and seeing a shot crash back off the upright.
From an Everton point of view, we are hardly likely to be deterred by an away defeat at the Etihad.
The Toffees’ next five matches are appealing (even if the trips to Watford and West Ham perhaps come at the wrong time considering the potential for a continued new manager bounce at both clubs) and they sit near the top of our Season Ticker as a result.
This was Richarlison’s sixth attacking return in the last ten Gameweeks and his advanced role in the Everton set-up is obviously attractive.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.8m) is flourishing under new management, as well: the budget FPL forward has five goals in six matches since Marco Silva departed and, while quiet for long periods, came close to scoring at the Etihad with a header.
Further back, Djibril Sidibe (£5.3m) is enjoying a new lease of life in the post-Silva era.
Whether deployed as a wing-back in a 3-4-3 or a right-winger when the Toffees move to a 4-4-2, the on-loan defender has two assists, two clean sheets and six bonus points in five starts under Duncan Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti.
Two of those bonus points arrived on New Year’s Day, despite Sidibe not banking an attacking or defensive return.
While the Toffees were not as fluent as they had been at Newcastle in Gameweek 20, chances did arrive: Seamus Coleman (£5.3m) forcing Bravo into an early save, Yerry Mina (£5.3m) nodding wide from a good position and Moise Kean (£6.4m) spectacularly volleying off-target.
An honest Ancelotti said after full-time:
Honestly, Manchester City played a really good game and we stayed in the game until the end. At the end City deserved to win – they were better than us.
We were too shy in the first half, we had the possession but we were not able to find the solutions.
In the second half, we showed good spirit, now we have to look forward for the next game.
On Bernard (£6.4m), who picked up an injury in the warm-up and had to pull out of the starting XI, Ancelotti added:
He was not able to play. He had a contact with Yerry Mina in the warm-up. I hope he will be ready for the next game.
Manchester City (3-4-3): Bravo; Rodrigo, Fernandinho, Eric Garcia; Joao Cancelo, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Mendy; Mahrez, Jesus, (Sterling 90′) Foden (D Silva 82′).
Everton XI (3-4-3): Pickford; Coleman (Walcott 59′), Mina, Holgate; Sidibe, Sigurdsson (Kean 66′), Delph, Davies, Digne; Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison.
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