Brighton 0-3 Man United
- Goals: Mason Greenwood (£4.3m), Bruno Fernandes x2 (8.7m)
- Assists: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.4m), Paul Pogba (£8.3m), Greenwood
- Bonus Points: Greenwood x3, B Fernandes x2, Wan-Bissaka x1
Bruno Fernandes (£8.7m) came back from the Fantasy brink to show his true worth in Manchester United’s 3-0 win at Brighton.
The Portuguese international had been overshadowed by Paul Pogba‘s (£8.3m) return to the starting line-up in Gameweek 31+ before a poor 120 minutes against Norwich in the FA Cup over the weekend, leading to low expectations for Gameweek 32+.
But Fernandes blew those out of the water, coming away with two goals, a clean sheet and two bonus for a 15-point haul on Tuesday evening.
While Pogba’s presence did appear to harm Fernandes’ assist potential once again, having the Frenchman around unlocked something else for his midfield colleague: even greater goal threat.
Fernandes found himself offered up plenty of opportunities and, even though they were often from outside the penalty area, he still looked threatening all evening.
He came close to opening the scoring in the 12th minute when Pogba squared to him on the edge of the box. Fernandes’ sweeping finish curled back in on Mat Ryan‘s (£4.7m) goal, striking the base of the post.
Fernandes then put a direct free-kick over in the 20th minute, before finally netting the goal he attempted earlier when Pogba squared it to him again in the 31st minute, with a little help from an Alexis Mac Allister (£5.5m) deflection.
Fernandes’ finest effort came in the second half, as he finished off an exciting counter-attack move, reminiscent of the Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney glory days. Harry Maguire (£5.3m) headed clear, Nemanja Matić (£4.8m) hooked a through-ball out to Mason Greenwood (£4.3m), who crossed to Fernandes arriving at the back-post with pace, volleying beyond Ryan with aplomb.
“You know, good defending on the set play and you know we’ve got pace on the counter. We want to go forward quickly and a great pass by Nemanja, great cross by Mason (Greenwood) and fantastic finish from Bruno.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
With another haul in the bag, Fernandes owners will be in a good mood ahead of Gameweek 33+ which brings a hapless Bournemouth side to Old Trafford. Especially encouraging was that, with the game won, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was able to substitute the Portuguese midfielder just after the hour-mark – particularly important given his FA Cup exertions over the weekend.
“Great to get that 3-0 early so I could get Bruno and Luke off. They’ve had a hard weekend with 120 minutes in the cup. That worked out well.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
It was fitting that Greenwood’s cross for Fernandes’ second goal sailed over Marcus Rashford (£9.1m) and Anthony Martial (£8.2m) as both players blanked in Gameweek 32+ following decent scores in the previous outing.
While holding each of them for a home match against Bournemouth seems like the obvious decision, there were certainly elements of both players’ performances that were a bit discouraging.
The 20%-owned Rashford was heavily involved in approach play during the first half, as Solskjaer was keen for Manchester United to ask questions of Martín Montoya (£4.3m), but could not find his way into dangerous penalty area situations.
If anything, Rashford played much wider than his owners and backers for the captaincy would have liked, his only effort of the game coming from outside the box, as he cut inside onto his right-foot and blazed high and wide.
Meanwhile, in contrast to the explosive display against Sheffield United, Martial was forced to endure a workmanlike evening at Brighton. As Brighton tried to sit deep, often shifting their back-four into a back-five by tucking the advanced Tariq Lamptey (£4.0m) into full-back and left-back Dan Burn (£4.5m) into the centre-back trio, Manchester United’s centre-forward did not get much space. The role he performed for the team, pulling markers away from team-mates, played a big part in the success of the evening, but left him without a single shot at the Amex Stadium.
While holding Martial and Rashford ahead of Bournemouth is an obvious decision for Fantasy managers, the recent performances of Greenwood will be turning their eye.
He has now started each of the last two matches in a row and made a case for man of the match at Brighton.
The budget forward produced an excellent piece of skill and finished well for the opening goal and it was his pace on the counter that earned him an assist, and all three bonus for United’s third of the evening.
With Daniel James (£5.8m) the main competition for his place, it is hard to see Greenwood benched for the next match. Reliability of starts is not something that has applied to the forward in his time at Manchester United so far, so if he were to finally achieve it, with form and fixtures converging, Greenwood could provide exceptional value between now and the end of the season.
“(Greenwood) played fantastically. He’s a young kid and he’s a special kid. We know when he gets faced up and looking forward he’s dangerous but his hold-up play and link-up play today was great. He’s just as good with his left foot as he is with his right foot. He’s developing into a fine young player.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
As Fantasy managers chase other ways to invest in Manchester United assets, Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.4m) is becoming an increasingly viable option.
The right-back made plenty of forays down his side of the pitch against Brighton, providing yet another assist. That was his third since Gameweek 26, having produced just one in the first 25 matches of the campaign.
With Bournemouth (home), Aston Villa (away), Southampton (home), Crystal Palace (away) and West Ham (home) up next, Wan-Bissaka is sure to combine his newfound assist potential with clean sheets as well.
Manchester United have now recorded six shutouts in their last eight Premier League matches, Wan-Bissaka averaging 7.25 points per game in that time, more than any defensive colleague.
Finally, Brighton assets largely proved once again how difficult it is to invest in their services.
Faced with a tough test, Graham Potter shuffled his pack extensively, deploying a blend of 4-4-2 and 3-5-1-1 during the match.
Key goalscorer Neal Maupay (£5.7m) did not feature until the second half, coming at the interval with Leandro Trossard (£5.8m). Of the two, it was the latter who went closest to scoring, twice shaving the post with fierce shots across goal.
“Purely tactical (the team selection). Using Aaron Connolly’s pace. I think Neal (Maupay) can help us off the bench. It’s important to have players that can come on and finish the game. It’s a big squad. Everybody is ready to help. We’ll need that going forward.” – Graham Potter
Brighton and Hove Albion XI (3-5-1-1): Ryan; Montoya, Burn, Duffy, Dunk (Bernardo 81′), Lamptey (Trossard 46′); Bissouma, D Stephens, Pröpper (Maupay 46′); Mac Allister (Mooy 81′), Connolly (March 87′).
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Shaw (Williams 64′), Maguire, Lindelöf, Wan-Bissaka; Matic, Pogba (McTominay 64′); Rashford (D James 78′), B Fernandes (A Pereira 64′), Greenwood; Martial (Ighalo 78′).
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 32+
- Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
- Watford 1-3 Southampton
- Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley
- Brighton 0-3 Manchester United
- Arsenal 4-0 Norwich City
- Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle United
- Everton 2-1 Leicester City
- West Ham United 3-2 Chelsea
- Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Manchester City 4-0 Liverpool
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