Norwich 0-3 Southampton
- Goals: Danny Ings (£7.1m), Stuart Armstrong (£5.2m), Nathan Redmond (£6.2m)
- Assists: Armstrong, Ings, Michael Obafemi (£4.9m)
- Bonus Points: Ings x3, Armstrong x2, Redmond x1
Danny Ings (£7.1m) was in a punishing mood as Southampton ran out 3-0 winners at Norwich on Friday night.
He registered a goal and an assist at Carrow Road, even managing to secure maximum bonus despite picking up a yellow card.
The mid-priced forward was sold in droves during lockdown, dropped by 552,825 managers ahead of the Double Gameweek 30+, more than any other player but he had the last laugh with his 11-point haul.
In some respects, shipping Ings did make some sense. Before March’s coronavirus suspension, the former Liverpool man had registered just one attacking return in seven matches, and there was a demand for premium forwards with two matches in Double Gameweek 30+.
However, Ings took full advantage of a poor Norwich defence on Friday night, registering his 16th goal of the season and second assists.
Given the overall impressive campaign he has enjoyed thus far, some Fantasy managers may be considering whether or not they should bring Ings back into their squad, especially if, like many, they are on a Wildcard for Gameweek 31+.
The upcoming fixtures do look good for Southampton in the short-term with Arsenal’s injury and suspension-hit defence up next, before a trip to Watford.
However, beyond that, it might take a brave Fantasy manager to remain invested in the Saints’ attack. Between Gameweeks 33+ and 35+ they host both Manchester clubs, not forgetting they the worst home record this season.
Furthermore, it would be reasonable to say that Ings’ 11-point haul in Double Gameweek 30+ was as much a result of Norwich’s poor defending as it was Southampton’s excellence.
Despite a stronger start to proceedings than their visitors, Norwich were soon exposed to their season-defining defensive problems, not helped by losing Grant Hanley (£4.1m) and Christoph Zimmermann (£4.4m) to long-term injuries before the game either.
On the night, the Canaries found themselves caught in possession all too often, with Emi Buendía (£6.2m), as has happened on more than one occasion in 2019/20, persistently losing the ball in dangerous areas.
As a result, Ings, teed up by Stuart Armstrong (£5.2m), found himself in too much space on the edge of the area in the 49th minute to curl an effort beyond the goalkeeper.
Five minutes later, he exchanged the assist favour with Armstrong, using the overload on Norwich’s defence from another sloppy loss of possession to square to the Scottish international.
Finally, Nathan Redmond (£6.2m) was afforded far too much space after Michael Obafemi (£4.9m) got in behind the defence in the 79th minute, the former Norwich man firing into the bottom corner.
“With so many offensive players on the pitch our defensive behaviour was not good enough. The first goal we had five against two in our box and a player like Danny Ings will always be dangerous. Then the second is a counter. Redmond slips in Armstrong, who has four players around him, and we are not able to stop him. We were not solid enough.” – Daniel Farke
Crucially, Norwich’s loose control of the midfield arguably could have led to considerably more goals for Southampton.
In the eighth minute, Southampton were able to put together a sweeping counter-attacking move, Armstrong’s cross producing a low diving header from Ings, well-saved by Tim Krul (£4.6m).
Ben Godfrey (£4.4m) was also guilty of giving up possession on occasion, pick-pocketed by Ings on the half-way line in the 18th minute, and nearly losing the sprint battle too. Thankfully for Norwich, Godfrey just about got back in time, hurling his body at Ings’ shot.
Then, in the 33rd minute, another loose ball in the midfield allowed centre-back Jack Stephens (£4.4m) to win possession on the half-way line and drive through the heart of the Canaries’ defence. He squared it to Ings whose fierce shot grazed the top of the bar when he arguably should have scored.
While Ings’ performance may have to be tempered by Norwich’s defence reverting to pre-January form, it is probably good news for Fantasy assets set to meet Daniel Farke’s men in the next few weeks.
Gameweek 31+ pits Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.5m) and Richarlison (£8.3m), who were in excellent form pre-lockdown, against the Canaries before they face Arsenal, who many are invested in already, in Gameweek 32+.
For all Norwich’s defensive issues, we should still take note of Armstrong’s contribution to the win, his goal, assist and two bonus combining for a 13-point haul – all for just £5.2m. The budget midfielder could easily have added to that too, denied by Krul in the first-half as he made a sweet first-time connection with a low out-swinging James Ward-Prowse (£5.7m) corner.
Unlike Ings, Armstrong’s display was very much a continuation of some encouraging pre-lockdown form. While Southampton’s talismanic striker had just one goal in seven before Gameweek 29, Armstrong had registered three in his last six when the coronavirus pandemic struck the Premier League.
In fact, he has proved to be particularly potent on the road since January. Including the goal and assist at Carrow Road on Friday night, four of his last five attacking returns have been registered on Southampton’s travels. Watford and Everton are the next two sides to host the Saints.
Meanwhile, the Norwich attack, despite an encouraging opening 10 minutes, sank back into their pre-lockdown slumber against Southampton.
While the visitors strung together 22 shots on goal, Norwich mustered just nine, equal to the number the Saints managed to get on target.
Daniel Farke took the opportunity to try a different shape for this game, ditching the favoured 4-2-3-1 system for a 4-1-3-2, featuring Teemu Pukki (£6.5m) alongside Josip Drmic (£5.3m).
It was Ondrej Duda (£4.7m), arguably one of Norwich’s best players pre-lockdown, who lost his place, featuring only as a second-half substitute when the game had gone.
The new attacking shape did display some promise early-on, largely when Norwich were able to get Pukki on the ball. In the seventh minute, the Finnish international executed an excellent dummy to unleash Jamal Lewis (£4.4m) on the overlap, who found Pukki in space once again. With an overload against the Southampton defence, the centre-forward pushed it along to an approaching Drmic on the right, but he stuttered as he took on possession, squandering the space afforded to him.
In the end, Pukki managed just one shot on goal all game, isolated by Norwich’s inability to control or retain possession in any meaningful way in the second half. If that were to continue for the Canaries’ upcoming games, interest in the defences of Everton, Arsenal and Brighton.
It was also a disappointing evening for Todd Cantwell (£4.7m), who has been without form or Fantasy appeal for some time.
He was largely anonymous against Southampton and has now gone nine Premier League matches without an attacking return. While he was able to get another start, Cantwell continues to be one of the first players Farke turns to when he needs to make changes. He was replaced by Onel Hernandez (£5.3m) in the 62nd minute, meaning the youngster has completed 90 minutes just once since Gameweek 25.
Krul remains the only remotely viable option in the Norwich defence, mainly on account of how obliging they are.
Against Southampton, he produced a total of six saves for a four-point FPL score and, before the Canaries conceded, he was top of the bonus points chart at half-time. Krul’s total stops for the season has now reached 101, the fourth-best in the league, behind only Aaron Ramsdale (£4.5m), Bernd Leno (£5.0m) and Martin Dubravka (£5.1m). With those largely tough fixtures on the horizon for Norwich, Krul may have his sights set on topping the save charts by the end of the campaign.
Norwich City XI (4-1-3-2): Krul; Lewis, Klose, Godfrey, Aarons; Trybull (Vrancic 62′); Cantwell (O Hernandez 62′), McLean, Buendía (Idah 80′); Drmic (J Martin 89′), Pukki (Duda 80′).
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Bertrand, Bednarek, J Stephens, Valery (Walker-Peters 90′); Redmond (Boufal 89′), Højbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong (Smallbone 82′); Ings (Tella 88′), Obafemi (Adams 82′).
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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