Wolves 0-0 Brighton
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
- Bonus Points: Romain Saïss x3 (£4.5m), Willy Boly x2 (£4.8m), Conor Coady x1 (£5.0m), Mat Ryan x1 (£4.8m)
Despite widespread interest in their forward players, it was Wolves defenders who emerged as the key assets from their 0-0 draw with Brighton on Saturday.
While Nuno Espirito Santo’s men laboured to a first blank since Gameweek 26, after scoring three times in Gameweeks 27 and 28, they remained solid at the back once again.
The fact that since Gameweek 25, no team in the Premier League team has kept more clean sheets than Wolves (four), is proof that they are finally delivering on their impressive underlying defensive statistics – encouraging considering they face West Ham (away), Bournemouth (home) and Aston Villa (away) between now and Gameweek 32.
“We were also organised, it was a game of not too many chances, but it’s about how we perform, how we want to do things.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
“We didn’t concede, that was kind of the goal at the start of the game, keep a clean sheet and see if we can win the game, but we didn’t manage to do that. The more clean sheets you have, the more chance you have of winning. That is a positive, but we didn’t win the game.” – Matt Doherty
Their recent upturn in defensive returns has coincided with the return of Willy Boly (£4.8m) to the team from an ankle injury but several of his colleagues have arguably proved better Fantasy assets than him because of it.
|GW25-29||Price||Points per game|
Among those is cheaper asset Romain Saïss (£4.5m) who has proved great value since Gameweek 25 and picked up maximum bonus points from Double Gameweek 29.
In the last five matches, the Moroccan international has averaged 6.4 points per game, accruing bonus on two occasions, even on the latest outing when he picked up a yellow card.
Saïss has historically been something of a booking-magnet, the one he earned against Brighton his eighth of the campaign, more than any other Wolves player. However, it has been noted by the local press that in recent months, Saïss has been making improvements in this area, which is reflected in the timings of his yellows this season. In 13 appearances between Gameweeks 1 and 18, Saïss was booked seven times, every 150 minutes, but since Gameweek 19, he has picked up just one yellow card in 10 starts.
Fantasy managers should also keep an eye on Ruben Vinagre (£4.2m), who scored six points from 90 minutes at left-back on Saturday afternoon. He came into the team in light of an injury to Jonny (£5.5m) and could hold onto it, at a budget FPL price, if the Spaniard is out for much longer.
Naturally, Matt Doherty (£6.2m) is another of those defensive assets to average more points than Boly since his return to the team but he had to make do with a standard six-pointer against Brighton, with attacking returns largely the source of any bonus for the wing-back.
Tasked with providing the width in Wolves’ 3-5-2 formation, Doherty arguably came in for some slight criticism from his manager, who appeared to admit at full-time that the team should have done better in wide areas.
Nuno had opted to leave Adama Traoré (£5.8m) on the bench for the third time in the last four Gameweeks, the Spaniard adding some much-needed impetus in his 26-minute second-half cameo, although it was too little too late.
Whether or not that leaves Traoré in a position where he will start Gameweek 30, remains to be seen though.
“We expected this kind of game and we must find unbalanced situations, mainly in our wide areas and one versus one situations. We know our opponents, we knew today would be like that, we should have done better. We tried to find solutions for the game. Sometimes it works out, Adama [Traore] helped the team, Daniel [Podence] entered well, but we didn’t create too many situations. Brighton were very well organised.”
With Wolves getting bogged down in wide areas at Molineux, it ensured that the supply for Raúl Jiménez (£8.0m) and Diogo Jota (£6.4m) was largely cut off.
There had been huge interest in the strike partnership for Double Gameweek 29, especially with a favourable fixture in Blank Gameweek 31 fixture on the horizon. That is still likely to continue though, as this was only the third blank for Jiménez since Gameweek 23, while Jota still has five attacking returns in that time.
Brighton should also take some credit for their defensive performance on Saturday, as it was an important contributing factor in Wolves’ blank as both Nuno and Doherty referenced at full-time.
“We should collect the ball faster, try to unbalance them faster. Brighton were very organised, had good possession of the ball, and we didn’t create too many chances, as they didn’t.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
“Whatever shape they had, they stayed nice and compact. They made us go out wide and we didn’t create too many chances. They had a game plan and stuck to it really well. Hence, we had shots from outside of the box and didn’t create too much.” – Matt Doherty
Yves Bissouma (£5.0m) was arguably Brighton’s best player at Molineux, putting on a disciplined midfield performance at both ends of the pitch. The Malian international was a key man in breaking up Wolves’ play and added plenty of drive to the Seagulls when they were going in the opposite direction.
This was Bissouma’s third start in a row and could be the start of many more. He held his place in the team despite stalwart Dale Stephens (£4.4m) returning to fitness, and such a strong performance, if he can build on it, should make Brighton harder to score against moving forward. That may sound particularly ominous to those invested in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.1m), Nicolas Pépé (£9.2m) and other Arsenal attackers for Gameweek 30.
“Bissouma has had to be patient this season but recently he has been doing really well, training really well. I thought it was probably his best performance, certainly his best that I’ve seen. He won a lot of balls back and physically he is in a good place at the moment. He will get better and better the more he plays. He shows a discipline and quality so I am really pleased for him.” – Graham Potter
However, those looking at the Brighton defence, either for investment or targetting with attacking players, should consider that, despite Bissouma’s recent improvements, Lewis Dunk (£4.8m) is currently treading a fine line.
The centre-back’s performances continue to be reliable, putting in another strong display at Wolves, but he is now just one yellow card off a two-match suspension. When Dunk does eventually pick up that tenth booking of the season, it could leave a big gap in the Brighton defence.
The Seagulls are still struggling for goals though, registering a second blank of their own in the last two Gameweeks.
This time out, Graham Potter went with Leandro Trossard (£5.8m) and Solly March (£4.6m) either side of Neal Maupay (£5.7m) and while the former was busy creating chances, very few of them were clear cut. Meanwhile, Maupay probably should have done better in terms of his positioning to make the most of the balls that came his way.
Such continued struggles for Brighton could be good news for those invested in Arsenal and Manchester United’s defences as they are their next two opponents.
That said, there are exciting things expected from Alexis Mac Allister (£5.5m), who finally made his first appearance for Brighton in Double Gameweek 29, coming on for March in the last 10 minutes.
“I thought as the game maybe opened up, you could see (Mac Allister’s) quality in seeing a pass – and a forward pass. His set-play delivery is of a high level. It was finding the right time for him to play, the right time for him to come on to the pitch because of his adaptation process. But he is ready to help, as are a lot of other players. We just try to select the right ones and then you want a performance and I thought we got that against a good team.” – Graham Potter
Wolverhampton Wanderers XI (3-5-2): Patrício; Saïss, Coady, Boly; Vinagre, Moutinho, Neves (Traoré 64′), Dendoncker, Doherty; D Jota (Podence 74′), Jiménez.
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (4-3-3): Ryan; Burn, Dunk, Webster, Montoya; Mooy (D Stephens 89′), Pröpper, Bissouma; Trossard (Jahanbakhsh 82′), Maupay, March (Mac Allister 80′).
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