Southampton 1-2 Burnley
Goals: Danny Ings (£7.0m) | Ashley Westwood (£5.4m), Matej Vydra (£5.3m)
Assists: Jeff Hendrick (£5.4m)
Bonus Points: Vydra x3, Westwood x2, Ings x1
Danny Ings (£7.0m) continued to reward his Fantasy Premier League owners by scoring his 15th goal of the season for Southampton in their Gameweek 26 lunch-time meeting with Burnley.
In a round of action that saw Jamie Vardy (£9.8m), Raul Jimenez (£7.7m), Troy Deeney (£6.2m) and Neal Maupay (£5.8m) all register blanks, Ings remains a model of consistency as his ownership continues to rise.
While Southampton themselves struggled to do enough to beat Burnley, their number-one centre-forward’s efforts were sufficient to inspire further investment ahead of appealing fixtures.
Admittedly, Ings was not at the forefront of the Saints’ attack on Saturday afternoon, as they found themselves enjoying almost obscene levels of possession (68.1%) without much creativity or end-product to show for it. Nathan Redmond (£6.2m) was a particular miss for them, who looks set to be out for at least a month.
In the end, Ings did not offer much in the penalty area but scored an incredible goal from outside of it. After a one-two with Stuart Armstrong (£5.2m) broke down, the striker picked up the loose ball, ran along the edge of the box and, on the half-turn, rifled a curled shot deep into the bottom corner of Nick Pope‘s (£4.7m) net.
Originally, Ings was on for maximum bonus points but a second-half winner for Matej Vydra (£5.3m) was enough to bring him down to just one. However, it is still an impressive achievement that 14 of Ings’ 15 league goals have been combined by at least one FPL bonus point this season.
Either way, with three goals in his last six outings, Sergio Aguero (£12.1m) the only forward with more during that period (six), upcoming matches against Aston Villa (home), West Ham (away), Newcastle (home) and Norwich (away) are perfect fixtures to help Ings continue his form.
However, those investing in Southampton’s defence may not be as happy with Ings as his actual owners were. That’s because the centre-forward was the culprit for Burnley’s opening goal, registered inside the first two minutes at the St Mary’s Stadium.
Arguably, there was not much that Fantasy managers could have legislated for with the strike. It was certainly a “freak” goal, but there was no influence from the blustery conditions on this occasion. Instead, the fault could be firmly placed at the door of Ings and, perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, Alex McCarthy (£4.4m).
Ashley Westwood’s (£5.4m) corner arrived at the front-post with some whip but Southampton’s in-form striker opted to swerve his body out of the way, presumably because he assumed it was going wide. That allowed the ball to dip over the line, which goalkeeper McCarthy was also standing behind.
Southampton defenders all lost an additional point in the second half when Vydra netted his aforementioned goal in the second half. Completely against the run of play, the former Reading man chested down a fantastic forward ball from Jeff Hendrick (£5.4m), toed it around debutant Kyle Walker-Peters (£4.4m) and fired it back across goal into the top corner.
Despite that, with Southampton’s fixtures still looking attractive over the next four Gameweeks, it seems too soon to pull the plug on investing in their defence.
As already mentioned, there was an element of misfortune for the Saints as they conceded the first, while the quality of Vydra’s second-half strike is not necessarily something they will face every week. After all, it was the player’s first goal for 17 months.
Outside of those two moments, Burnley offered very little all afternoon, and the fact that the Clarets scored twice and took all three points did not tally with how the game played out.
Perhaps one concern for investors of Southampton defenders, particularly those in possession of Jan Bednarek (£4.4m) was a rare start, and poor performance, from Jannik Vestergaard (£4.6m). That meant Polish international Bednarek missed out on a place in the starting XI at home for the first time season.
Vestergaard’s introduction into the team turned out not to be on account of his height with manager Hasenhüttl claiming he wanted to use the player’s superior ability when in possession of the ball.
“(Asked about Vestergaard coming in for Bednarek) It’s about having more possession today and Jannik is calmer (on the ball). They are defenders, that’s the most important thing, but we have different solutions on the ball.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
Despite Hasenhüttl’s praise, Vestergaard looked less than confident on the ball and Burnley’s rare glimpses of threat tended to come whenever possession moved towards the Danish centre-back. He was caught out twice in the first half, misplaced several passes and gave up the ball directly to Westwood in a dangerous area in the 33rd minute, who was able to feed Vydra for an effort on goal. Vestergaard was arguably at fault for Burnley’s winner too as he allowed Vydra to turn him and find the space to shoot. Bednarek owners will be hoping he can reclaim his spot at the first attempt when Aston Villa come to St. Mary’s in Gameweek 27.
The more secure option in Southampton’s defence, and the best performer in their backline against Burnley, continues to be Jack Stephens (£4.4m). The former Plymouth Argyle man was an important asset to the Saints at both ends of the pitch, heading a first-half Sofiane Boufal (£5.5m) cross against the bar as well as making some exciting marauding runs forward. In the second half, Stephens could have won Southampton a penalty as he carried to ball forward into the Burnley penalty area, his cross cut out by the arm of Ben Mee (£5.0m), which was deemed by VAR not to be in an unnatural position.
Sean Dyche’s men were, of course, not helped in their offensive efforts by the enforced withdrawal of an injured Chris Wood (£6.3m) in the first half. While Ings continued to reward his owners, it was a different story for those using the New Zealand international as a differential option. Wood came into Gameweek 26 with more attacking returns (four) in his previous six outings than Ings (three), but his afternoon was cut short after just 22 minutes. Wood was forced off with a hamstring injury.
“Chris Wood has got a hamstring [problem]. We’re happy he got off quick and could feel it early. We’ll wait and see. I don’t think it’s bad.” – Sean Dyche
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Bertrand, Vestergaard, J Stephens, Walker-Peters (Obafemi 73′); Boufal (Djenepo 38′), Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong; S Long (Adams 86′), Ings.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; C Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Bardsley; McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Hendrick; Rodriguez, Wood (Vydra 21′).
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