West Ham United 1-1 Everton
- Goals: Issa Diop (£4.4m) | Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.9m)
- Assists: Robert Snodgrass (£5.2m) | Mason Holgate (£4.5m)
- Bonus: Holgate x3, Calvert-Lewin x2, Mark Noble (£5.0m) x1
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£5.9m) rewarded his growing army of Fantasy fans with another goal in an evenly-matched encounter at the London Stadium.
The Everton striker has seen his ownership rise from 62,000 to over half a million since Gameweek 16, and he responded with his sixth strike of that run.
Chances to cash in on his form and budget price are receding, however.
The Toffees’ short-term schedule is solid enough (NEW, wat, CRY) but turns ugly after that, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Leicester and Spurs to play over seven brutal Gameweeks.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side fell behind when Issa Diop (£4.4m) glanced home a Robert Snodgrass (£5.2m) free-kick. It was only the defender’s second-ever league goal for the Hammers, while the Scot’s delivery confirmed he is a man in form, with a goal and two assists from his last three starts.
The lead lasted just four minutes, Calvert-Lewin athletically heading in from Mason Holgate’s (£4.5m) flick-on, and chances then came and went for both sides.
Hammers striker Sebastien Haller (£7.0m) had the best opportunity for the home side, only to shoot straight at Jordan Pickford (£5.3m) from close range, while Theo Walcott (£6.2m), Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies (£5.3m) threatened, but couldn’t convert, at the other end.
Maximum bonus points went to Holgate, who has now produced returns in four of his last six starts. His price, and 1.8% ownership, mark him out as a budget differential, but that horrible upcoming fixture list is likely to put off all but the bravest of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers.
West Ham’s assets are equally vexing, despite Gameweek 24’s double helping of matches.
Those two games are away at Leicester and home to Liverpool, and while a Gameweek 25 visit from Brighton looks appealing, the fixtures that follow are anything but: mci, liv, SOU, ars, WOL, tot, CHE.
David Moyes has brought some much-needed stability to a talented, if flaky, set of players, but one win, a draw and a defeat from his three-match tenure is hardly the classic ‘form over fixtures’ justification for investment in their assets.
Snodgrass could be the exception, having registered an attacking return in each of his last three starts.
At least rotation might not be an issue, if Moyes’ post-match comments are to be believed:
We’re a bit short on the bench at the moment, we’ve just not got loads of changes we can make just now, but I’d rather have people here who we know and who we know are going to be reliable, rather than trying people who we don’t exactly know what we’re going to get from them.
Even so, the Fantasy jury will probably remain out on West Ham’s stars, as it should do for assets from both sides until their respective fixtures ease towards the end of the season.
As for those managers already invested in the 11%-owned Richarlison (£8.1m), a return to action in the midweek match at home to Newcastle looks on the cards.
The Brazilian missed Saturday’s encounter, with Ancelotti relatively optimistic that the issue is a minor one:
His problem is on his knee, he had a little twist, but nothing special. I hope he will be available on Tuesday.
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Randolph; Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble; Snodgrass, Fornals (Masuaku 60′), Lanzini (Ajeti 84′); Haller.
Everton XI (4-4-2): Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Holgate, Digne; Walcott (Sidibe 57′), Davies, Delph, Bernard (Gordon 46′); Calvert-Lewin, Kean (Niasse 74′).
Newcastle United 1-0 Chelsea
- Goals: Isaac Hayden (£4.3m)
- Assists: Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.4m)
- Bonus: Federico Fernandez (£4.4m) x3 Reece James (£5.0m) x2 Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) x1
Newcastle’s last-gasp win over Chelsea wasn’t exactly daylight robbery, but only due to the fact that the match had an early evening kick-off.
The winning goal from Isaac Hayden (£4.3m) came in the darkest depths of the 94th minute following the Magpies’ one and only corner as Frank Lampard’s side dominated possession (69.7%) and attempts (19 v 7) but failed to turn any of that into goals.
The Blues also failed to trouble home keeper Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) unduly, with just three of those 19 shots forcing him into a save.
Chief culprit was Chelsea’s most popular FPL player Tammy Abraham (£7.9m).
The 34.5%-owned striker saw the whites of Dubravka’s eyes on a couple of occasions, being unable to finish when rounding the Magpies’ shot-stopper and then seeing an apologetic effort hooked clear from inside the six-yard box as it slowly bobbled goalwards.
Lampard was at pains to deflect blame away from his profligate striker, though, saying:
We can’t absolutely rely on Tammy Abraham. We have to have goals from across the front line if we want to bridge the gap upwards. Tammy has been fantastic this season – it didn’t quite come off for him today, but that’s football.
At the other end, the goal machine (of the past few days at least), Joelinton (£5.5m), hit the bar with a header, but Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.5m) had precious little else to do until he failed to keep out Hayden’s decisive header from Allan Saint-Maximin‘s (£5.4m) pinpoint cross.
The victory came at yet more cost, injury-wise, for Steve Bruce’s side, however.
Their latest victim was Jetro Willems (£4.6m), who had to be stretchered off with a knee problem after just 11 minutes.
The manager was less than optimistic about the defender post-match:
It looks a horrendous injury for Jetro, which is a big blow to us. We fear it’s his cruciate. We’re due a bit of luck. I’ve never known anything quite like it over the last few weeks, so we’re due.
Willems was replaced by Matt Ritchie (£5.3m), who is only just back from a long-term knee injury himself, while four defenders – and five other squad members – are now out for the foreseeable future.
Newcastle remain a tricky team to exploit, Fantasy-wise.
The six clean sheets they’ve kept puts them joint-seventh, but only five teams have conceded more than the 34 goals they’ve shipped and the 22 they’ve scored is only two more than the league’s most toothless sides, Bournemouth and Watford.
Dubravka, with 89 points, is easily the team’s most productive player, and his 91 saves is a league-leading figure.
Other than that, too many players are scoring too few points too inconsistently to promote investment, which is a shame when Newcastle have an excellent schedule all the way through to Gameweek 34.
As for Chelsea, Lampard’s reliance on youth is, perhaps, starting to bite him.
They’ve experienced two defeats in their last three home matches and have had a curious stretch of away games in which they’ve won at Arsenal and Spurs, but only drawn at Brighton and now lost to Newcastle.
Their immediate schedule involves three home matches in the next four games, but those will be against Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs, with their one road trip taking them to Leicester.
That is unlikely to inspire purchases of their key players, at least until Gameweek 28, when their fixtures improve immeasurably for the rest of the season.
Newcastle United XI (5-4-1): Dubravka; Krafth (S Longstaff 71′), Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Willems (Ritchie 12′); Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey (M Longstaff 84′), Saint-Maximin; Joelinton.
Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1): Kepa; James (Emerson 75′), Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Kante, Jorginho; Hudson-Odoi, Mount (Barkley 67′), Willian; Abraham (Batshuayi 80′).
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