Crystal Palace 0-2 Southampton
- Goals: Nathan Redmond (£6.2m), Stuart Armstrong (£5.2m)
- Assists: Jack Stephens (£4.4m), Redmond
- Bonus: Redmond x3, Stephens x2, Armstrong x1
Southampton continued their fantastic current form with a deserved win at Crystal Palace.
Over the last six matches, only all-conquering Liverpool can beat, and Manchester City match, the Saints’ run of four wins, one draw and a defeat.
Victory at Selhurst Park also showcased the side’s resilience as they bounced back from a weekend loss to Wolves.
They did so by completely nullifying Palace’s threat.
Never the most progressive of sides, Roy Hodgson’s men were entirely toothless and failed to muster a single effort on target.
But Southampton’s defensive solidity didn’t compromise their own attacking intent.
Goals from Nathan Redmond (£6.2m) and Stuart Armstrong (£5.2m) either side of the break underlined their superiority as the Saints had as many attempts on target (six) as their hosts managed shots.
Small wonder that coach Ralph Hasenhuttl declared it the side’s best away performance of the campaign.
We were unbelievably good in the first half. Quick moving, creating a lot of chances – I can’t believe it was only 1-0. In the second half we showed that we can stay concentrated for 90 minutes. To get a clean sheet here is good and to win here is not easy.
Redmond opened the scoring, from a Jack Stephens (£4.4m) assist, when he showed quick feet to free up space for a shot from the edge of the area.
He then turned provider for the second goal, Armstrong collecting his pass and curling home from range.
The Scottish midfielder’s strike was his second in three Gameweeks and his performance at Selhurst Park was a real eye-opener as he had three times as many shots as any other player.
Redmond’s contribution was more rounded, with the midfielder co-leading the way for chances created.
The pair dominated the bonus points and offer major differential potential over the next few Gameweeks.
Redmond is owned by 0.7% and Armstrong just 0.1% (that’s less than 10,000 managers all told) as the Saints prepare for a run involving Burnley, Aston Villa and Newcastle at home and trips to West Ham and Norwich – once a visit to Anfield is done and dusted, that is.
Hasenhuttl said of the pair:
It’s not easy to pick a player because I’m very proud of every player, especially the ‘number tens’ Armstrong and Reddy, who play the most demanding positions in my shape tactically. They did it fantastic against and with the ball, it was key to our win.
The team’s most popular player, the 29.4%-owned Danny Ings (£7.0m) had a night off. Sort of. He was, as widely touted, benched at Palace after figuring throughout the packed festive schedule.
Why Hasenhuttl then decided to give him a 20-minute run-out with the game as good as won was a bit of a mystery, but at least he survived it unscathed.
One player who didn’t was defender Cedric Soares (£4.8m), who lasted just 20 minutes before succumbing to a knock.
Hasenhuttl said afterwards that the full-back’s injury was “hopefully not too bad”.
Jan Bednarek (£4.4m) was absent with an Achilles problem, meanwhile.
Interest in the in-form Saints should continue apace, especially as they’ve now won four straight matches on the road to further add to their appeal.
Stephens looks to be the pick of a defence with three clean sheets from the last six games as he has also provided two assists and scored a goal in a fine run from Gameweek 18.
As for Palace, less is… less, at present.
The Eagles have drawn six of their last nine matches, keeping just one clean sheet, scoring less than a goal a game and managing a league-low 90 attempts.
Their most-owned player by some distance, Martin Kelly (£4.4m), now faces a challenge for his start from the fit-again Joel Ward (£4.3m), who replaced him at right-back on 61 minutes.
Manager Roy Hodgson decided to look to the future for an optimistic spin on things.
I’m thinking of recovering six players. Six players is a lot to recover in a squad and we’re not just talking about six players who never play. We’re talking about Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend, Mamadou Sakho, Jeffrey Schlupp, Patrick van Aanholt and Luka Milivojevic. All these guys are guys who normally play in the team. If you like, they’ll be new players by the time they come back because we’ve been doing without them for the last four or five weeks.
Their schedule is inviting enough but those returning players will need to make a dramatic impact if Fantasy managers are to be tempted by what is, at present, a decidedly lacklustre lot.
Crystal Palace XI (4-3-3): Guaita, Kelly (Ward 62′), Tomkins, Cahill, Riedewald, McCarthy, McArthur, Kouyate (Meyer 62′), Zaha, Ayew, Tosun (Wickham 69′).
Southampton XI (4-2-2-2): McCarthy, Cedric (Romeu 21′), Stephens, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Redmond, Long (Ings 70′), Obafemi (Adams 84′).
Everton 2-2 Newcastle United
- Goals: Moise Kean (£6.4m), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.0m) | Florian Lejeune (£4.4m) x2
- Assists: Bernard (£6.4m), Lucas Digne (£5.8m) | Fabian Schar (£5.0m), Isaac Hayden (£4.3m)
- Bonus: Kean x3 Digne x2 Lejeune x1
An even more ridiculously late comeback from Newcastle stole a point and all the accolades from what was an otherwise dominant Everton display.
When the much-maligned striker Moise Kean (£6.4m) walked off to a standing ovation after 70 minutes, he’d finally opened his account for the Toffees, the score was 2-0 and all was well on Merseyside.
Little had changed as the match entered the third of five minutes of time added on, but two minutes later, Magpies defender Florian Lejeune (£4.4m) had scored twice to stun the Goodison Park faithful.
The turnaround prompted Steve Bruce to issue some sage words of advice.
We probably didn’t deserve to get anything but we didn’t give up. It just shows you shouldn’t leave a game early:
His players clearly didn’t do that, but they didn’t exactly turn up early either – their only two shots on target all match came from Lejeune’s late, late goals. The first was an overhead kick from a corner and the second a finish from a scramble following another set play.
The assists came from Fabian Schar (£5.0m) and Isaac Hayden (£4.3m), the latter’s second big contribution in two matches after his (equally late) winner against Chelsea.
How Newcastle were ever allowed to nick a point from the game was down to a number of factors.
Kean, who broke his Everton duck with a decent finish under Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) after collecting Bernard‘s (£6.4m) through ball, formed an excellent partnership with Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.0m).
As if to prove that point, the English striker then doubled the advantage with his fifth goal in six matches, from a Lucas Digne (£5.8m) assist.
But despite firing in 17 attempts, eight of which were on target, the Toffees were either sloppy in front of goal, or found Dubravka at his usual shot-stopping best, with Kean, Bernard, Calvert-Lewin and the recalled Djibril Sidibe (£5.4m) all failing to convert good opportunities.
And when coach Carlo Ancelotti took both Kean and Bernard off in the second half, much of Everton’s attacking impetus went with them.
That allowed Newcastle some breathing space, and then their never-say-die attitude kicked in at the last.
Ancelotti was remarkably sanguine about it all post-match:
The fact is we played really well, the result is not what we wanted, but the performance can give us confidence for the next games.
Those next games will severely test that confidence.
After a trip to Watford and a visit from Crystal Palace, Everton will have to face Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Leicester and Spurs over a horrendous seven-match run.
That will surely dilute interest in their players, although their recent form – four wins and four draws from their last nine – has been highly promising.
Newcastle, meanwhile, are almost beyond rational examination.
They’ve won just once since Gameweek 18, but the nature of that victory, and Tuesday night’s draw, will have done wonders for their self-belief and their next 11 fixtures, trips to Arsenal and Manchester City aside, offer excellent prospects for further points.
Finding Fantasy gold in their ranks remains tricky, however.
They’re in the bottom three for attempts and chances created and are fourth-worst for goals scored, while defensively only Aston Villa have allowed more shots than the 378 they’ve given up.
Last-gasp goals aside, the only consistent theme of their season has been the form of Dubravka, who is Fantasy Premier League’s third-best keeper, with 92 points, and the game’s most prolific shot-stopper, with 97 saves to his name.
On the injury front, Bruce said of the players that were missing on Tuesday and of Joelinton (£5.5m):
Joelinton was struggling with an injury and we had no strikers. I didn’t want to put Jonjo on because he wasn’t right. I’m asking people to play out of position but they stuck at it.
I couldn’t play Saint-Maximin after seeing him yesterday so we left him behind. We hope he’s available for Saturday.
Andy Carroll, DeAndre Yedlin and Nabil Bentaleb should be available too.
Everton XI (4-4-2): Pickford, Sidibe, Holgate, Mina, Digne, Walcott (Niasse 88′), Schneiderlin, Delph, Bernard (Davies 83′), Kean (Coleman 71′), Calvert-Lewin.
Newcastle United XI (5-4-1): Dubravka, Hayden, Clark (Lejeune 70′), Lascelles, Fernandez, Ritchie, Atsu (Krafth 62′), S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Almiron; Joelinton (Schar 78′).
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