Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
- Goals: Kortney Hause (£4.4m) | Christian Pulisic (£6.9m), Olivier Giroud (£6.6m)
- Assists: None | Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.9m) x2
- Bonus: Azpilicueta x3, Giroud x2, Pulisic x1
Arsenal and Sheffield United assets mostly disappointed in their second Gameweek 30+ fixtures and there was little joy for Fantasy managers in part two of Aston Villa’s double-header.
Kortney Hause (£4.4m), owned by 0.1% of Fantasy Premier League bosses and just one manager inside the top 10,000, was the only Villan to score more than two points in Sunday’s defeat against Chelsea, whose second-half comeback left Dean Smith’s side rooted in the relegation zone.
The Villa boss had named an unchanged side for the encounter with Frank Lampard’s troops, meaning another start up front for the ‘out of position’ and misclassified FPL midfielder Keinan Davis (£4.4m).
Davis had looked sharp in the goalless draw with Sheffield United but he was starved of service here, failing to register a single shot or penalty box touch before being replaced in the 57th minute.
Jack Grealish (£6.4m) saw slightly more of the ball but plenty of grass, too, being fouled nine times (the most of any player in Gameweek 30+) as Chelsea sought to thwart Villa’s talisman through any means necessary.
Grealish’s on-field frustrations mirrored those of his owners off it, with the most-bought FPL asset of this Double Gameweek compounding a second successive blank by being booked for a petulant foul in injury time.
Hause had given Villa the lead shortly before half-time, following up his own saved shot to break the deadlock.
The centre-half has caught the eye at attacking set plays in Double Gameweek 30+ but his manager praised his defensive contributions ahead of Wednesday’s match at Newcastle United, saying:
It looks like he’s got a really good partnership going with Tyrone Mings. The back four has looked really solid, which has been pleasing because we have been leaking chances and goals previously. With Bjorn Engels being injured as well.
Villa had defended reasonably well until Chelsea’s two-goal salvo on the hour-mark, with the visitors dominating possession but not crafting a real clear-cut opportunity until Christian Pulisic (£6.9m) fired the Blues level from Cesar Azpilicueta‘s (£5.9m) cross.
The Chelsea right-back was at it again two minutes later, assisting what turned out to be the winner in the shape of Olivier Giroud‘s (£6.6m) deflected strike.
Many of us will be looking at Chelsea assets from Gameweek 32+ onwards but settling on the right player or a combination of them will prove troublesome.
Lampard has a huge squad available to him for the run-in, with Jorginho‘s (£4.9m) imminent return from suspension only swelling the ranks.
A prime example is Tammy Abraham (£7.5m), the most-bought Chelsea asset of Gameweek 30+.
Over 200,000 FPL managers took the plunge on the striker ahead of last Wednesday’s deadline but he found himself only named among the substitutes at Villa Park, emerging for the dreaded one-pointer after the break.
Abraham was a regular starter when fit from Gameweeks 3-25 but Giroud’s fine pre-lockdown form earned him another run-out in the Midlands and the veteran Frenchman’s goal will only increase the ongoing uncertainty over when and how often his positional rival will get game-time.
Pulisic is another asset capable of some explosive returns but only did so from the bench on Sunday, with Lampard opting to start a rusty-looking Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£6.3m) down the left flank instead.
The Chelsea boss said of those two players:
I’m delighted for Ruben to be back in the fold. He’s got in the team on his own merit and for the way that he’s worked for a long time now. In the last few weeks he’s looked good and strong. We have to give him some time to adapt but I felt it was a good game for him to bring his physicality and something different.
He’s going to get much better. It’s been a long time since he last played but he has so much to give us a team and a squad. There were glimpses of it today but there’s much more to come.
The individuals who make the difference should always take all the credit so with Christian and Ross Barkley, who came on at the same time, they’re both players who have trained well and had cases to start this game.
I had some good selection problems and you have to consider the type of game. We knew that fitness would play a part so the idea of bringing on Christian and Ross early in the second half was always something that was in my mind depending on how the game went.
There was at least the familiar sight of Mason Mount (£6.2m) on the pitch, with Lampard’s most-trusted lieutenant keeping up his ever-present record.
Mount has started in 26 of his 30 league appearances this season and was arguably Chelsea’s brightest player throughout, with the three-month break looking like it had done the energetic midfielder the world of good after an arduous 2019/20 campaign.
Buzzing across the pitch from left to right, Mount drew a smart stop out of Orjen Nyland (£4.3m) and fizzed a low ball across the Villa goalkeeper’s six-yard box that evaded both defence and attack.
The young midfielder was namechecked by his manager after the match but it was Azpilicueta who Lampard reserved the most praise for:
I thought Azpi was really good in the game. Obviously he delivers the ball for Christian’s goal and got really high up in areas. We worked a lot before the game on how we wanted to attack and down the right-hand side was certainly an area for us to try to exploit.
Willian, Mason Mount when he moved to that side and Azpi with his energy to keep joining was a huge point of attack for us and eventually, we got the breakthrough from that. He showed his leadership and his quality.
While Azpilicueta delivered the goods, there was no such joy for Marcos Alonso (£6.2m).
The premium FPL defender was collateral damage of that decision to funnel play down the Villa left and he duly blanked, something he hadn’t previously done when starting a Premier League game this season.
The availability of Reece James (£5.1m), whose Gameweek 30+ benching was perhaps as much fitness-related as it was tactical, will also cause week-to-week jitters among Alonso’s owners going forward and the Spaniard remains a high-risk, high-reward punt.
As for Villa assets, Smith’s side at least have a not-too-awful Gameweek 31+ clash with Newcastle United to come, which acts as a bit of a buffer before the fixtures turn really bad.
The Magpies have been resilient at St James Park this season and demolished ten-man Sheffield United 3-0 on Sunday but Steve Bruce’s side does have an FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester City looming large next weekend and this may not be a terrible time to play them, especially as they are well clear of the drop zone and have relatively little to play for in the league.
Smith knows that getting Grealish on the ball and ticking on Tyneside will be key to their chances:
You’ve got to feed him the ball, yesterday we never had enough of the ball to feed him. After two games, I expect him to be right at it against Newcastle.
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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