735
Scout Notes

Improved Aston Villa defence rides luck to keep unexpected clean sheet

Aston Villa 0-0 Sheff Utd

  • Goals: None
  • Assists: None
  • Bonus Points: Dean Henderson x3 (£5.3m), Jack Robinson x2 (£4.0m), Tyrone Mings x1 (£4.4m)

Dean Henderson (£5.3m) may have been the Fantasy Premier League hero on Wednesday evening with his 11-point haul at Aston Villa, but it was the hosts’ defence that held our attention on Wednesday evening.

While the Sheffield United goalkeeper was racking up six saves and maximum bonus points, the Villa defence was arguably keeping things much quieter for their custodian Orjan Nyland (£4.3m).

The Norwegian shot-stopper, who made a surprise start ahead of Pepe Reina (£4.5m) faced just five shots all night and only one on target. Such statistics have been unheard of as far as the Aston Villa defence is concerned this season.

However, we should point out that Nyland certainly rode his luck considering he was responsible for the ball crossing the Aston Villa goal-line in the 41st minute.

In fact, he benefited from the first time that the goal decision system ran into a problem for over 9,000 matches.

Oliver Norwood (£4.9m) looped in a free-kick to the far post from the left-hand side, which Nyland stretched to catch. Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, contact with Keinan Davis (£4.3m) pushed him off-balance, and he collapsed beyond the goal-line, ball-in-hand.

Despite the television images clearly showing the ball was beyond the line, Michael Oliver’s watch did not award a goal. It was later revealed by an unprecedented statement from Hawk-Eye that because of the ball’s close proximity to the post, as well as the goalkeeper and defender, the incident was “occluded” and, therefore, unable to give the goal. 

The rest of the football community is sure to debate this controversy for days and weeks to come, especially if Aston Villa stay up by one point or on goal difference.

However, Fantasy managers may be slightly more interested in the fact that Villa were able to produce a defensive display not really seen before in 2019/20.

Coming into Double Gameweek 30+ they were still bottom of the league for shots allowed in the box and big chances conceded but, on Wednesday night, things were much improved.

As already mentioned, Sheffield United were restricted to just five shots on Wednesday. That is a significant improvement for Villa’s defence which, in the first 29 Gameweeks conceded an average of 18.1 per game.

While Sheffield United have admittedly been one of the less troubling attacks in the Premier League this season, it is entirely reasonable to ascribe some of the credit for Wednesday’s clean sheet to Dean Smith.

Aston Villa were especially suffering defensive issues between January and March when a 3-4-3 system was being deployed. The attacking runs of established left-back Matt Targett (£4.4m) and the various options on the other flank often left them exposed.

However, a return to 4-3-3 in Double Gameweek 30+ was also accompanied with much more reserved roles for the full-backs Targett and, on Wednesday night, Ezri Konsa (£4.3m). The latter has typically operated as a centre-back this season but he was trusted on the right-hand side of a defence that kept a conservative shape all evening. In general, Smith’s men produced a display characterised by discipline and organisation, something we have not seen from their defence this season. 

Aston Villa were also bolstered by a surprise start for John McGinn (£5.5m). The box-to-box midfielder put in a strong shift screening the back-four alongside Douglas Luiz (£4.4m) in the anchor-man position, as well as pushing the midfield battle away from the defence with his energetic runs.

The factors mentioned here could signal some newfound hope for Villa fans that they can tighten up in their hunt to stay in the Premier League and such a shift would mean important changes for Fantasy managers.

While assets in the Villa defence are generally few and far between, it could mean Fantasy managers have to show more caution when considering attacking options against them in future.

Of course, we are just one match into Project Restart for Aston Villa so it is hard to tell if things will actually improve long-term. The weekend’s meeting with Chelsea should prove a helpful test in that respect.

There was also plenty of note in the Aston Villa attack as well, which, despite missing a clinical edge, was the busier of the two sides at Villa park.

Most interesting was a surprise start for Keinan Davis (£4.3m) at centre-forward, in the place of Mbwana Samatta (£5.8m). Not only is Davis exceptionally priced, he is also listed as a midfielder in FPL. 

In 69 minutes before Samatta’s introduction, he had more efforts on goal than any other Villa player, although it remains to be seen whether or not he can command the centre-forward position as his own moving forward.

Meanwhile, he was matched in terms of attacking output by centre-back Kortney Hause (£4.4m) who presented himself as a constant threat from set pieces. As this section of the season continues, it may be worth keeping an eye on whether he can sustain that.

It was Conor Hourihane (£5.7m) who was responsible for a fair chunk of Villa’s sustained pressure from set pieces on Wednesday, as he took more corners than any of his colleagues, double the number assigned to Jack Grealish (£6.4m).

The England international, who was quieter than his 26.5% ownership might have wanted, came close to an assist in the first half when his free-kick into the box met the head of McGinn. The Scottish international managed a flick-on but Henderson got behind it.

Anwar El Ghazi (£5.5m), operating on the right flank of the front-three, also went close to claiming an assist. He was found behind the Sheffield United defence by an excellent through-ball from Grealish and his square pass was 

By contrast, Sheffield United’s attack operated below its usual levels at Villa Park.

It was clear they missed the energy of John Fleck (£5.0m) in the middle of the park. The budget midfielder picked up a training ground injury in the build-up to Double Gameweek 30+ but could be back in time for the trip to Newcastle on Sunday.

“One went down during the game last week, that was (John Fleck). Hopefully, he’ll be fit for Sunday.” – Chris Wilder

However, in the mean-time, it did allow John Lundstram (£4.9m) to last the full 90 minutes in central midfield, producing a five-point score for his 42.8% ownership, clipped by a first-half yellow card.

Whether or not Lundstram will start the second outing of Double Gameweek 30+ remains to be seen. It was Sander Berge (£4.8m) who had his game-time managed against Aston Villa, replaced by Luke Freeman (£5.0m) in the 68th minute potentially with a view on the trip to Newcastle. Of course, Fleck could still make a comeback in time, which we will likely know more about after Chris Wilder’s next press conference.

Improved Aston Villa defence rides luck to keep unexpected clean sheet

Sheffield United were also unable to put as much pressure on the Villa defence as they would have liked with Jack O’Connell (£4.7m) unavailable.

The marauding centre-back, responsible for providing the extra-man on the overlap so often for the Blades this season, recently sustained a potentially season-ending knee injury.

“O’Connell tried to stop a goal in training and collided with Dean Henderson. That’s his attitude. If his attitude changed in training, it’d change on a match day.” – Chris Wilder

His absence did result in a more reserved role for Sheffield United’s back-three, and therefore left the rest of their team without the usual rhythm, but it may open up a new option for Fantasy managers.

O’Connell’s replacement was budget defender Jack Robinson (£4.0m) who played 90 minutes and secured two bonus for an eight-point haul.

Sheffield United’s remaining fixtures in 2019/20 are far from appealing but the potential emergence of a new regular starting £4.0m defender from a reasonable productive back-line is not to be sniffed at. Robinson is certainly one to watch the minutes of in upcoming Gameweeks.

Fantasy managers will almost certainly have a tough decision to make over Henderson as well. It was his six saves that ensured Sheffield United added their 11th clean sheet of the campaign on Wednesday. Half-way through the Double Gameweek, he is already on 11-points, and could make a considerable addition to that against Newcastle.

However, he will miss the Gameweek 31+ meeting with Manchester United as he is ineligible to face his parent club and beyond that, the Blades must face Spurs (home), Burnley (away), Wolves (home) and Chelsea (home).

Finally, it is worth noting the impact of substitutions on the game, with the cap increased to five during Project Restart.

Smith made four changes in the match, bringing off McGinn, El Ghazi and Davis around the 70th minute, perhaps with an eye to use them against Chelsea.

Meanwhile, the ever-purist Wilder stuck to just three substitutions at Villa Park, not opting to use the other two available to him.

Aston Villa XI: Nyland; Targett, Mings, Hause, Konsa (El Mohamady 76′); Hourihane, Luiz, McGinn (Nakamba 76′); Grealish, K Davis (Samatta 69′), El Ghazi (Trezeguet 69′).

Sheffield United XI: D Henderson; J Robinson, Egan, Basham; Stevens, Berge (L Freeman 69′), Norwood, Lundstram, Baldock; Sharp (McGoldrick 69′), McBurnie (Mousset 80′).

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735 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Liastro ⭐️
    • 8 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Anyone else not taken a hit all season?

    1. Cahill
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Ha no, impossible to do

    2. Distinctly Average
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      8 hits here

  2. Cahill
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 10 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    GTG?

    Guaita
    TAA AWB Boly
    KDB Salah Bruno Barnes
    Kane Vardy Jota

    Cantwell Taylor Egan

    1. Distinctly Average
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Yep

  3. TeddiPonza
    • 10 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    How is this WC team. Any changes needed?

    Leno (Martin)
    TAA Doherty Maguire (CTaylor Lascelles)
    Salah KdB Bruno Son Cantwell
    Jimi Rashford (Nketiah)

    Thanks.

    1. Odin
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 4 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Nice, I like it, well balanced.

    2. Distinctly Average
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Very solid

  4. Jon Walter's Hatty
    • 6 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Maybe a bit early to judge but the lack of atmosphere in stadiums means the 'blood and thunder' end to end games may not happen. Both games got stretched late on but maybe playing 4 defenders is more of an option with fewer chances.

    1. Giggs Boson
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Have fewer goals been scored in the Bundesliga?

      1. Jon Walter's Hatty
        • 6 Years
        3 months, 2 days ago

        I've not looked into it but to me this sort of atmosphere plays into the hands of the technical sides. Sides are not going to be inspired by a crunching tackle or a passionate chase back that gets the crowd going and motivates the underdog a bit.

  5. Fit_to_drop
    3 months, 2 days ago

    This WC any good folks? Did in a rush last night due to fear of price rises

    Patricio (Button)
    TAA Doherty Fernandes (Taylor Simpson)
    KDB Mane Bruno Son Doucure
    Rashford Jimmy Greenwood

    Cheers.

  6. RVP 20
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Little help guys, on a WC here?

    A) Salah + DCL
    B) Richarlison + Vardy

    Already got up front: Son Bruno KDB Rashford Jimenez

    1. Distinctly Average
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      I'd go A.

      B if you're chasing and fancy taking more of a risk

      1. RVP 20
        3 months, 2 days ago

        Cheers mate, currently leading mini league by 70 pts so ill go with option A probably

  7. TeddiPonza
    • 10 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Have a dilemma.

    A. Son and Doherty
    or
    B. Auba and Saiss

    A seems the obvious option but Auba is the standout captain option for gw +32.

    Thoughts?

    1. TeddiPonza
      • 10 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Saiss can be Boly in option B

    2. POLSKA GOLA
      • 6 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      A surely

      1. Distinctly Average
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        3 months, 2 days ago

        Agreed

    3. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      That's not a dilemma mate, easiest decision I've ever seen. A.

      Also Auba is a great player but he rarely hauls, he's not as good a captain option as it looks at first glance.

  8. Distinctly Average
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Repost:

    Any major movements needed here? (no WC)

    Leno
    TAA, AWB, Boly
    KDB, Son, Grealish, Duda
    Jimenez, Rashford, Auba
    (Henderson, Lascelles, Saka, Egan)

    1FT, 0.3 itb

    1. Fit_to_drop
      3 months, 2 days ago

      I think thats very good. A strong bench too. Duda i dont know much about.

  9. Odin
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Why no love for Vardy in WC teams?

    1. Vazza
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Better options at cheaper prices..

      1. Odin
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 4 Years
        3 months, 2 days ago

        He's not that expensive though and he's got pretty good fixtures.

        I'm really leaning toward Rashford-Vardy-Jimenez front 3 with a mid of KDB-Mount-Bruno-Mane.

        You would downgrade Vardy to say Pukki/Deeney/DCL/Nketiah and upgrade a mid to Son maybe?

        Current team is:

        Pope-(Martin)
        TAA-AWB-Saiss-(Jack Robinson)-(Lundstram)
        KDB-Mount-Bruno-Mane-(Guendouzi)
        Rashford-Vardy-Jimenez

    2. Distinctly Average
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Front three has so many options.

      Vardy by no means a bad shout, but as Vazza says - arguably better value found elsewhere

    3. Hazz
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Harvey Barnes

    4. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Fixtures for me. Though he is good enough to make a mockery of them if he gets going.

  10. RamaJama
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    On a WC, who would you downgrade to upgrade mid?

    A) Rashford
    B) Jimenez
    C) Vardy

    1. Distinctly Average
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      C

    2. CONNERS
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Shame you need to get rid of one tbh. I would have that front 3 if on WC.

  11. Fit_to_drop
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Reposting

    WC team:

    Patricio (Button)
    TAA Doherty Fernandes (Taylor Simpson)
    KDB Mane Bruno Son Doucure
    Rashford Jimmy Greenwood

    Cheers.

  12. Vazza
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Who is going to score more points in the current GW -

    1. Mount vs AVL
    2. Doherty vs WHU

    1. The FPL Physio
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Doc I expect. Mount rarely gets more than 6/7.

      1. Vazza
        3 months, 2 days ago

        Exactly my thoughts.

        I’m worried that I opted for Mount ahead of Doherty in my FH this week 🙁

  13. The FPL Physio
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Best GK option going forward? Was impressed with Leno last night... Foster and Pope also on the shortlist.

    1. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Pope I reckon.

  14. wilson007
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 2 days ago

    On a WC..

    Any strong thoughts for Mane vs Salah?

    1. CONNERS
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Wait until the weekend game and see who looks sharper I guess.

      Salah has pens in his favour, although he's been carrying a niggling injury for a while.

  15. CONNERS
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 2 days ago

    My current GW31 team (incl. planned transfer of O'Connell to Charlie Taylor).

    Also planning Auba to Rashford after Norwich at home.

    Any other changes you'd make?

    McCarthy
    TAA - Alonso - Doherty
    Salah - Fernandes - KDB - Barnes
    Auba - DCL - Jota

    Krul / Cantwell - Lascelles - Taylor

  16. bluetiger
    • 7 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    What do people think is a better double up going forward - united defence or attack? Will almost certainly have 3 players, just not sure whether to go with just one attacker or one defender!

    1. CONNERS
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Attack for sure (Rash/Bruno) plus AWB.

  17. CONNERS
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Which pairing due you prefer?

    A/ Alonso & Taylor
    B/ Gomez & AWB

    1. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      A but it really depends if Alonso nailed.

  18. navyadav
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 5 Years
    3 months, 2 days ago

    Need help - How does this WC team look ?

    Patricio (Martin)
    TAA , Doherty, Fernandez, Aurier , Robinson(SHU)
    Salah , KDB , Bruno , Sarr , Guendouzi
    Rashford , Ings , Jiminez

    1. navyadav
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      3 months, 2 days ago

      Could Downgrade Aurier to taylor and get Tammy ? good move?