Leicester 1-2 Southampton
Goals: Dennis Praet (£5.3m) | Stuart Armstrong (£5.2m), Danny Ings (£6.7m)
Assists: Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) | Shane Long (£4.6m), Che Adams (£5.3m)
Bonus Points: Praet x3, Armstrong x3, Kasper Schmeichel x1 (£5.4m)
Southampton’s defence duly delivered on its promise to frustrate the masses of Fantasy Premier League managers who captained Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) for Gameweek 22.
The Leicester forward was backed for the armband by 52.3% of the top 10k and comfortably won our Captain Poll too – but finished Saturday afternoon without even a single shot to his name.
As we mentioned in our Captain Sensible article this week, Southampton had restricted their four previous opponents to Leicester to a total of just four big chances, the second-best in the league.
They carried that form into Gameweek 22, with the Foxes managing just five shots on their own turf all afternoon.
Admittedly, Vardy still managed to get himself an assist, playing an excellent ball across the box to opening goalscorer Dennis Praet (£5.3m), but to not even register a single shot is somewhat concerning, considering his underlying statistics this season.
Whether it suggests that his FPL usage has run its course remains to be seen and we must remember that Vardy is still on the comeback from injury. He missed two games over Christmas and had to receive treatment in the first half against Southampton. The fact he is facing an increasingly shaky Burnley defence in Gameweek 23 is an encouraging one for Vardy owners.
Perhaps the most important lesson to take from Vardy’s shot-less outing at the King Power Stadium is just how well Southampton have developed defensively recently. It now feels like centuries since writing arguably the most scathing match report of my career after the Saints were thrashed 9-0 by Leicester.
However, their defensive statistics coming into Gameweek 22 were already impressive, especially considering they were recorded in a period when they faced Chelsea and Spurs, but to stifle Leicester too indicates their defence may be ready for investment.
We’ve already seen roughly a fifth of Gameweek 22 Wildcards played among the top 10k select Alex McCarthy (£4.3m) and it seems likely that interest in him can only increase.
The Saints are about to embark on a run of incredibly appealing fixtures from a defensive perspective, hosting Wolves, Burnley, Aston Villa and Newcastle between now and Gameweek 30, while away trips to Crystal Palace, West Ham and Norwich also hold clean sheet potential considering the way they are currently playing.
The fact that Southampton’s back-four has been increasingly settled in recent months has also helped their defensive effort – and makes it easier for Fantasy managers to select one to invest in.
Jack Stephens (£4.3m) and Jan Bednarek (£4.4m) are very-much nailed-on at centre-back and seem to offer better value than their full-back counterparts Ryan Bertrand (£4.8m) and Cédric Soares (£4.8m).
By stark contrast, Leicester’s defence seems to have completely dropped off a cliff, perhaps bad news for owners of Çaglar Söyüncü (£5.1m), Ben Chilwell (£5.7m) and Ricardo Pereira (£6.4m), all of whom are in at least 11% of Fantasy teams.
Leicester did come into Gameweek 22 among the division’s bottom three for shots allowed in the box and big chances conceded over the previous four matches, although this was a run that pitted them against Liverpool and Manchester City.
But to see the trend continue against Southampton should ring considerably more alarm bells. Not only did they give up 16 shots, they also gave away a penalty, which was only overturned by a VAR call deemed Shane Long (£4.6m) to be offside in the build-up by mere millimetres.
It appears clear that Wilfred Ndidi (£5.0m), who had knee surgery this week, will be sorely missed by Leicester. That said, Kasper Schmeichel (£5.4m) was able to use the increase in shots faced to earn two save points and one bonus despite conceding twice and losing the game.
“I thought both parts of our game were not quite to the level of where we’ve been. Firstly, our defending, we weren’t aggressive enough in our pressing. And Southampton are a team that when they win it, they want to get forward early so you’ve got to try to stop that, and we didn’t do that well enough. You saw the number of chances that we conceded. That’s not us. Throughout the season, we’re normally very tight, very compact and press the game well. We lacked that energy and intensity in our defending.” – Brendan Rodgers
Danny Ings (£6.7m) arguably should have come away from the King Power Stadium with four goals on Saturday afternoon, his owners perhaps unlucky to only pick up five points from him.
Ings had a grand total of nine shots against Leicester, rather ironic when compared to Vardy’s tally (9-0), and went close with a number of them.
There was a 60 second period during the first half in which Ings hit the cross-bar twice and he later forced a world-class save out of Schmeichel in the second half when Southampton, once again, caught Leicester on the counter-attack.
“We had 16 shots on the goal and in an away game that’s not so normal. It’s a sign of how well we played. We pushed a lot of good buttons during the week. We never spoke about revenge or something, because we should be thankful for this result. We wanted to show everybody who was watching us that we can do it much better and that we have changed since then.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
Southampton’s talisman Ings now has 10 goals in his last 11 games and can only increase in popularity considering how sustainable his output looks. After all, a total of nine shots in the box across one 90-minute outing is hugely impressive.
However, Ings’ owners will, of course, be fuming at his conduct after finally finding the back of the net on Saturday afternoon. Scoring what proved to be the winning goal, Ings ran over to the travelling fans and promptly removed his shirt and, in the process, one Fantasy point for the yellow card and the chances of any bonus!
Leicester City XI (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Chilwell, Evans, Söyüncü, R Pereira; Choudhury; H Barnes (Iheanacho 58′), Maddison, Praet (Tielemans 77′), Pérez (D Gray 67′); Vardy.
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Bertrand, Bednarek, J Stephens, Cédric; Redmond (Romeu 90+2′), Højbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong (Djenepo 78′); Ings, S Long (Adams 78′).
Everton 1-0 Brighton
Goals: Richarlison (£8.1m)
Assists: Lucas Digne (£5.7m)
Bonus Points: Digne x3, Richarlison x2, Mason Holgate x1 (£4.4m)
Richarlison (£8.1m) continued his impressive start to life under Carlo Ancelotti by scoring his eighth goal of the season against Brighton.
Once again, the Brazilian was deployed as a centre-forward, this time in a 4-4-2 system, and reaped the rewards of such an advanced position.
Both he and centre-forward partner Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.9m) helped Everton dominate this game, each of them enjoying a handful of chances to score.
Out of the two, Richarlison has arguably been the more clinical in the last two matches, as he netted an excellent goal in the first half.
Receiving the ball from Lucas Digne (£5.7m) inside the box, he used some dazzling footwork to get around Adam Webster (£4.4m) and place a curled effort into the bottom corner of Mat Ryan’s (£4.8m) goal.
Grabbing what was the only goal of the game, as well as a clean sheet, helped Richarlison add some additional points to his tally.
However, those who invested in Calvert-Lewin can probably feel somewhat unlucky and possibly hard-done-by too as he managed just a solitary point against Brighton.
It was not for lack of trying, though. Just like Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin was a busy member of Everton’s attack, with his best chances coming in the second half.
In the 64th minute, his point-blank effort was well-saved by Ryan and just a few moments later, he was through on goal and unleashed a powerful drive from just inside the box – forcing an even better stop from the Australian goalkeeper.
Later on, Calvert-Lewin even had the ball in the net, bundling home in a scrappy goal-line exchange. However, somewhat harshly, VAR overturned the goal for a handball and ordered that he be issued with a yellow card for his efforts.
Meanwhile, Everton’s control of the game helped continue to boost the credentials of their defensive players.
This latest clean sheet means the Toffees are yet to concede at home in the Premier League under Ancelotti, particularly encouraging considering that Newcastle (Gameweek 24) and Crystal Palace (Gameweek 26) are the next two sides to visit Goodison Park.
Djibril Sidibé (£5.4m) was the option we were most positive about in the build-up to Gameweek 22 although, against Brighton, a few others helped further the case for their inclusion in Fantasy squads.
Mason Holgate (£4.4m) has become nailed-on at centre-back in this team and emerged with one bonus point on Saturday afternoon, while Digne got the assist for Richarlison’s goal.
Everton XI (4-4-2): Pickford; Digne (Mina 85′), Holgate, Keane, Sidibé; Bernard (Delph 72′), Sigurdsson, T Davies, Walcott (Coleman 74′); Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (3-4-3): Ryan; Dunk, Duffy, Webster; Bernardo, D Stephens (Murray 72′), Pröpper, Montoya (Groß 62′); Trossard, Maupay, Jahanbakhsh (Alzate 62′).
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