Spurs 1-1 Man United
- Goals: Steven Bergwijn (£7.4m) | Bruno Fernandes (£8.6m)
- Assists: Serge Aurier (£4.9m) | Paul Pogba (£8.3m)
- Bonus Points: Bergwijn x3, B Fernandes x2, Hugo Lloris x1 (£5.3m)
In Manchester United’s 1-1 draw at Spurs, Bruno Fernandes (£8.6m) continued his relentless flurry of Fantasy points as if he had never been away.
Despite the three-month gap since his last match, the Portuguese international was arguably the Red Devils’ best player once again, orchestrating things from midfield and getting on the scoresheet in the process.
Fernandes’ 81st-minute penalty was his sixth attacking return since joining Manchester United, who have scored nine times since his Gameweek 25 debut.
Now that the former Sporting Lisbon midfielder has been involved in 66.7% of his club’s goals during that time, he is quickly becoming a near-essential asset. Appealing fixtures for Manchester United between now and the end of the season are a huge draw but Fernandes continues to shoot on sight, with tremendous accuracy to boot, no matter the distance.
Furthermore, he has now consolidated his hold over the club’s penalty-taking duties after the draw at Spurs.
His initial spell of games for Manchester United came at a time when Marcus Rashford (£8.8m) and Paul Pogba (£8.3m) were absent but he has now taken a total of three spot-kicks since their return, two in a friendly and one in competitive action.
Crucially, both of those colleagues were on the pitch when he stood up to convert the penalty, Pogba the man who had shown the drive and guile to win it in the first place.
However, Fernandes’ Fantasy owners may still be a little wary of Rashford, who does appear keen to remain in the spot-kick conversation.
Manchester United were awarded a second penalty in the closing stages, this time won by Fernandes himself. While the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was checking the foul, it was Rashford who claimed the ball and had to give it back to Jonathan Moss when it was chalked off.
Meanwhile, Fantasy managers were given live evidence of how much improved Manchester United assets will be with their key players returned to full fitness. That’s because they were below the levels set pre-lockdown in the first half, perhaps admittedly as a result of the long lay-off.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were transformed when Pogba was introduced just after the hour. Brought on for Fred (£5.3m), the Frenchman formed an effective central midfield partnership with Scott McTominay (£4.9m) and later Nemanja Matić (£4.8m).
As already mentioned, it was Pogba’s drive and skill into the box that earned United’s penalty, but his range of passing was key to revitalising his team’s attack.
There was some excellent link-up with Fernandes, which bodes well for the Portuguese international’s credentials as the number 10 moving forward, while Pogba won the pass-of-the-match award for a cross-field defence-splitting deep-ball to Rashford that most NFL quarterbacks would be proud of.
“Of course (it is exciting to have Bruno and Pogba playing together). We’re a club that wants the best players in the world playing together. We just need to find a balance of attacking and defending. Paul showed he can play with Bruno.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Even before the Frenchman’s introduction, there was plenty to admire from Rashford. The striker, who spent most of this match in his newfound role on the left-hand side of the attack, had the best effort of the first half, denied by Hugo Lloris (£5.3m). However, with Fernandes proving to be the new hub of United’s attacking output, Rashford has serious competition for places in Fantasy squads, unless managers are prepared to double-up.
Owners of Anthony Martial (£8.0m) were also unfortunate not to come away with something from the match. He went closest to scoring for the visitors before they got back into the game.
In the 65th minute, Luke Shaw (£5.4m) won possession from Serge Aurier (£4.9m) in a dangerous area, pressed on around the back and dragged it back to Martial. The French international collected the ball well, shifted it onto his left, blasting a high powerful effort across the goalkeeper, which seemed destined for the top corner – only for his compatriot Lloris to tip over in spectacular style.
However, for all their second-half persistence and promise, Manchester United did look naive defensively, susceptible to the counter-attack on more than one occasion.
It was in the 27th minute that they were caught out in midfield, Aurier intercepting a loose ball and freeing up Steven Bergwijn (£7.4m) to run at an out-position back-line. With Shaw too far up the field, Harry Maguire (£5.3m) was left exposed to his lack of pace by the rapid Dutchman. He pushed through the middle and fired an effort at David De Gea (£5.3m), which the Spaniard poorly deflected into his own net. The prospect of Dean Henderson (£5.3m) taking over as the number one goalkeeper for Solskjaer’s men next season already looks increasingly likely.
In the aftermath of the goal, Solskjaer swapped Maguire with his centre-back partner Victor Lindelöf (£5.3m), as well as pushing Martial onto the left and allowing Rashford through the middle for a few minutes. Despite that tactical tweak, United were soon left open again.
It was Bergwijn who caused the problems again. He found space out-wide against Shaw, looping a cross to Son Heung-min (£9.7m) at the far post.
Operating on the left-hand side of the attacking midfield trio, the South Korean headed an effort back across goal, forcing a save from De Gea – although to save ourselves from Roy Keane’s sharp tongue, we’ll steer away from describing its quality.
Even in the second half, United did look vulnerable every time Spurs broke on them, and it must be said that their back-line is still somewhat unsettled.
When Lindelöf had to come off, Matic replacing him, McTominay dropped back to play centre-back for 10 minutes. He was then replaced by Eric Bailly (£4.9m), who Manchester United fans may want to see more of soon.
Even though their defensive issues improved after Pogba’s introduction, it may be wise to limit investment in Manchester United to their attacking assets, despite their appealing upcoming fixtures.
Spurs’ schedule is also relatively eye-catching, especially their next few home matches.
It is certainly worth noting that Bergwijn has continued his record of scoring in every home league game since arriving at Spurs, having netted three from three now.
However, Fantasy managers were left a little bit disappointed in what they saw from Harry Kane (£10.8m) and Son, who were both making returns from long lay-offs.
It was the centre-forward who was the most uninspiring, producing just one shot against Manchester United, outside the box and off-target. Kane is historically a slow-starter to new campaigns, so we could see a similar story during the Project Restart fixtures, especially as he has not played in some time.
“Really happy to see people like Harry, Sonny, Moussa four months without playing, Harry six months without playing, and then giving us 90 minutes, I think from the boys I can only be really happy with them.” – Jose Mourinho
Spurs’ attacking threat did dwindle in the latter stages of Friday’s encounter, which is perhaps not surprising given the make-up of the two benches.
José Mourinho was without both Dele Alli (£8.3m) and Lucas Moura (£7.1m) through suspension and injury respectively, limiting his ability to add fresh legs to the attack. Perhaps with Alli returning next time and if Moura can recover from his injury, Spurs will pose more of a threat for a more sustained period against West Ham in Gameweek 31+.
“We played with Bergwijn, Lamela, Kane and Son, and our bench was very strong in defensive options. We had Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen on the bench but we didn’t have Lucas or Dele or Lamela or Bergwijn. Imagine Bergwijn on the bench and Lucas playing and coming out minute 60-65 and Bergwijn coming for the last period, I can imagine the impact that we could have. So a bit of frustration but at the same time really happy with the players.” – Jose Mourinho
Finally, uncertainty reigns supreme over the defensive situation at Spurs, not that they have been particularly productive from a Fantasy perspective this season.
Eric Dier (£4.8m) was paired with Davinson Sánchez (£5.3m) at centre-back and had a mixed evening. Occupying the left-side slot of the partnership, for most of the night, it looked as if the England international was the answer to the issues Spurs have had there this season, considering Jan Vertonghen‘s (£5.2m) well-documented struggles. However, despite a mostly solid game, Dier gave away the penalty against Pogba, and was close to conceding another one before VAR overturned. Despite those two moments, Mourinho heaped praise on Dier post-match, but gave his backing to Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld (£5.3m), perhaps indicating that, in this new post-coronavirus world, we could see rotation at centre-back too.
“Eric (Dier) was perfect. I think he had a very strong performance and he was imposing his leadership, physicality, he won absolutely every ball in the air, and won absolutely ever duel. It was a difficult match for Martial, we know he’s a very good player. I think Davinson for the 90 minutes made one technical mistake, not a tactical mistake, which handed them the only chance they had in the first half with Rashford’s shot. I’m really happy with them, but really happy with Toby and Jan. So at the moment, we have four central defenders and no problems.” – Jose Mourinho
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; B Davies, Dier, D Sánchez, Aurier; Winks, Sissoko; Son, Lamela (G Fernandes 70′), Bergwijn (Lo Celso 70′); Kane.
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Shaw, Maguire, Lindelöf (Matić 78′), Wan-Bissaka; Fred (Pogba 63′), McTominay (Bailly 89′); Rashford, B Fernandes, D James (Greenwood 62′); Martial (Ighalo 78′).
Double Gameweek 30+ FPL Lessons Learned
- Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United
- Manchester City 3-0 Arsenal
- Norwich City 0-3 Southampton
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Manchester United
- Watford 1-1 Leicester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 Arsenal
- West Ham United 0-2 Wolves
- Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
- Newcastle United 3-0 Sheffield United
- Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
- Everton 0-0 Liverpool
- Manchester City 5-0 Burnley
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