Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Steven Bergwijn (£7.5m), Serge Aurier (£5.0m) | Matt Doherty (£6.2m), Diogo Jota (£6.3m), Raul Jimenez (£8.0m)
- Assists: Dele Alli (£8.3m) x2 | Doherty, Jota
- Bonus: Jota x3, Doherty x2, Jimenez x1
After successive benchings in the Premier League, Adama Traore (£5.9m) returned to the Wolverhampton Wanderers starting XI on Sunday as Nuno Espirito Santo switched back to a 3-4-3 for the trip to Tottenham Hotspur.
The winger was his usual bustling self and unsettled the Spurs backline at times but again ended up without an attacking return (his seventh blank in nine Gameweeks), leaving owners of the sixth-most-popular Fantasy Premier League midfielder with plenty to ponder ahead of Gameweek 29.
Security of starts is the obvious concern, with Traore having been the makeweight when Santo revisited a 3-5-2 recently. Should the Wolves boss continue to flip-flop between formations, then anticipating when and how regularly Traore gets a start becomes difficult.
Santo even hinted at the downsides of a 3-4-3 after the game, saying:
The moment we put Leander (Dendoncker) on the pitch, I think we were more balanced and the spaces were not there.
I was not very pleased at half-time because we didn’t start the game well. We gave too much ball to Tottenham. Tottenham have such quality players, we were unbalanced and it’s always very difficult.
Then there are the ongoing fitness problems.
Traore had picked up a calf injury before the winter break but it’s the Spain under-21 international’s shoulder that seems to be the main cause for concern, with the former Middlesbrough man again suffering a dislocation (his third in the space of a few months) on Sunday.
While the joint was swiftly popped back into place and the winger – briefly – stayed on the field, the recurring issue is becoming a cause for concern for his manager and the question of corrective surgery is one that might have to be considered at some point down the line.
Santo said after full-time:
Again, he dislocated [his shoulder]. It happened before. I’m worried about him. He struggles with it, it’s a lot of pain. He’s a strong boy but he suffers, like everybody else.
While Traore’s troubles drag on, the rest of the Wolves side are filling their boots with FPL points.
There was to be no clean sheet for Santo’s troops this weekend, with a run of three successive shut-outs coming to an end just 12 minutes into the clash in north London.
Steven Bergwijn (£7.5m) opened the scoring after Dele Alli (£8.3m) had spurned an excellent chance from close range and, after Wolves had equalised, Serge Aurier (£5.0m) reestablished the hosts’ lead with a curling effort just before half-time.
While the likes of Romain Saiss (£4.5m) and Willy Boly (£4.8m) were left with meagre scores as a result of the clean sheet wipe-out, Matt Doherty (£6.2m) underscored the fact that he can compensate for goal concessions with returns at the other end of the pitch.
The Irish wing-back had made one of his trademark diagonal darts from the right flank to level the scores at 1-1, capitalising on Japhet Tanganga‘s (£4.1m) inability to clear Ruben Vinagre‘s (£4.2m) cross and prodding the ball past Paolo Gazzaniga (£4.2m) from six yards.
Doherty then turned provider for Wolves’ second equaliser of the game, galloping into the Spurs box and sending in a cross/shot that Diogo Jota (£6.3m) helped over the line from close range.
It’s now nine attacking returns for the season for the Republic of Ireland international; only Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) has more among FPL defenders.
No player in any position has scored more points than Doherty over the last four Gameweeks, meanwhile.
While chasing points can be a mug’s game in FPL, Doherty’s form is coinciding with some excellent fixtures for his team, and there is every chance of further returns between now and Gameweek 32.
All of Wolves’ next four fixtures are against clubs in the bottom half, while Santo’s side are one of just four clubs who are definitely guaranteed a fixture in Blank Gameweek 31 – although the pool of teams will be bigger by the time the FA Cup fifth round has reached its conclusion this week.
Doherty is not the only Wolves asset worthy of consideration, of course.
Raul Jimenez (£8.0m) scored his 13th league goal of the season on Sunday (as many as he managed in 2018/19), latching onto Jota’s pass and finishing superbly to hand the visitors all three points.
The Mexican, who later fired wide in the dying stages of the game, rose in price again overnight and has the added benefit of being as close to ‘nailed’ as anyone in the Wolves attack, having started all but one of his side’s 28 league fixtures.
Unlike Jimenez, Jota was not someone we could rely on earlier in the campaign, with form, fitness and UEFA Europa League-led rotation all black marks against him.
More than half of his FPL returns this season, indeed, have come in the last two Gameweeks.
The Portugal international is evidently in fine fettle at present, however, and perhaps the most encouraging aspect of this most-recent double-digit haul is that he did it on the left of a 3-4-3, rather than centrally in a 3-5-2.
Jota was superb again at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with one of his trademark take-ons (he attempted eight on Sunday, more than any other player in Gameweek 28) leading to Jimenez’s match-winner.
His tap-ins against Norwich City and now Spurs demonstrated his poacher’s potential, while he also went close with a header from a corner-kick in the second half of Sunday’s encounter.
Minute-management remains a minor issue (he hasn’t completed 90 minutes once since Christmas) with Wolves still competing in the Europa League but, given the form that Jota is in and the race for a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League still in the balance, the hope would be that outright benchings will be few and far between.
As for Spurs, they are not quite as en vogue in the Fantasy community.
A run of fixtures over the next four Gameweeks that includes in-form Burnley, Manchester United and Sheffield United, as well as a possible blank in Gameweek 31, should temper interest.
The Lilywhites at least showed more a bit more attacking threat than they had recently without Son Heung-min (£9.8m) and Harry Kane (£10.8m), with Alli catching the eye in a central role between Bergwijn and Lucas Moura (£7.1m).
The former MK Dons midfielder ought to have scored himself in the run-up to Bergwijn’s goal but at least claimed an assist when Rui Patricio‘s (£5.1m) save fell kindly for the Dutchman.
Alli then drew another stop from the Wolves goalkeeper with a bicycle kick from six yards before planting a header narrowly wide of Patricio’s left-hand post after the interval.
Jose Mourinho thought his side were worthy of a point after the match, saying:
I think it was a very good game with two teams that nobody was happy with the draw. Two teams trying to win it. Of course two teams with different styles. They are what we all know they are, incredibly fast and strong in counter-attack. We are a different team. Obviously, without the strikers we tried different solutions.
I think it worked in the sense that we managed to score goals. We managed to have some opportunities.
We managed to arrive in dangerous positions. I don’t know as I don’t have the data at the moment but I believe we had more possession than them. We had more control than them. I think it’s unfair, the result is totally unfair for us but that’s what it is.
Erik Lamela (£5.7m), who has been playing without training recently, missed out on Sunday as Mourinho said he was “not even ready to go on the bench”.
Hugo Lloris (£5.3m) was also absent with a groin problem, with his manager saying in his post-match presser:
It’s hard to say when he’s going to be back. Is it a big problem? I don’t think it is. But not ready to play today. We have to wait.
Asked about why Eric Dier (£4.8m) had started at centre-half, Mourinho added:
The thinking was simple, the thinking was Davinson and Tanganga are the two fastest central defenders that we have.
Eric is the one who by nature is a midfield player so playing in the middle between those centre-backs is the one who is normally more comfortable to step up, he’s more comfortable with reading the game and passing.
So it was a mixture of giving security but at the same time keeping fast people at the back.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (3-4-3): Gazzaniga; Sanchez, Dier, Tanganga (Ndombele 76′); Aurier (Gedson 82′), Lo Celso, Winks, Davies (Parrott 90′); Moura, Alli, Bergwijn.
Wolverhampton Wanderers XI (3-4-3): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Vinagre; Traore (Neto 75′), Jimenez (Podence 90′), Jota (Dendoncker 79′).
BLANK GAMEWEEK 28 FPL MATCH REPORTS
- Norwich City 1-0 Leicester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion 0-1 Crystal Palace
- Bournemouth 2-2 Chelsea
- Newcastle United 0-0 Burnley
- West Ham United 3-1 Southampton
- Watford 3-0 Liverpool
- Everton 1-1 Manchester United
- Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
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