Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Goals: Sander Berge (£4.7m), Lys Mousset (£4.4m), Oliver McBurnie (£5.6m) | Harry Kane (£10.9m)
- Assists: Berge, Chris Basham (£4.6m), Enda Stevens (£5.1m) | Son Heung-min (£9.8m)
- Bonus: Berge x3, Mousset x2, Kane, Son x1
Sheffield United returned to winning ways in some style as Spurs’ key assets delivered mixed messages for their Fantasy owners.
The resumption of football had not been kind on the Blades, with three straight defeats in league and cup, whereas Jose Mourinho’s men had performed well enough in two outings to prompt solid investment in the likes of Harry Kane (£10.9m), Son Heung-min (£9.8m) and Serge Aurier (£5.0m).
The same could not be said of United players. Their only starter not to experience net transfers out for the Gameweek was defender Jack Robinson (£4.0m). The epitome of a budget enabler, even he seemed overpriced as both sides produced a first half an hour of almost entirely forgettable toil.
And then it all kicked off.
The Blades took the lead with a fine, incisive move finished when Chris Basham‘s (£4.6m) cut-back was drilled home on the angle by Sander Berge (£4.7m).
It was the Norwegian’s first league goal since moving to the Premier League in January. He added to his haul with an assist and the maximum bonus award to bring in 13 points for his, count them, 6,376 owners in Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
If he can build on such a fine display, more will flock to his cause and the (already sketchy) claims of the injured John Lundstram (£4.8m) to be the Supreme Fantasy Lord will finally be laid to rest should Berge keep him out of the starting line-up.
United’s lead lasted precisely two minutes when Kane rode a challenge and found the net, only for VAR to continue its bold crusade to be 2020’s second-worst thing with a decision that managed to be technically correct and completely wrong all at the same time.
Lucas Moura (£7.1m) was fouled in the build-up to the ‘goal’, referee Chris Kavanagh played an advantage and Kane did the rest. VAR then decided Moura had handled the ball on his way to the turf, thus negating the advantage and leading to the goal being chalked off.
How much Moura actually touched the ball was debatable, how ridiculous the letter-of-the-law ruling wasn’t debatable at all, and the only positive to be had from the whole debacle was that United, so many times the loser in VAR controversies, probably deserved their luck.
Mourinho refused, sort of, to blame the decision for the loss:
I think in the second half my players were not mentally strong enough to cope with that disappointment and they have to be. I am not just going to say that goal is the cause of everything. It would be very easy for me to do that, but I don’t want to go in that direction.
His team rallied after the break, in terms of dominating possession at least, only for substitute Lys Mousset (£4.4m) to double the home side’s advantage with a tap-in following excellent work by Ben Osborn (£4.7m) and assister Enda Stevens (£5.1m) down the left flank.
The goal was the match in microcosm – Spurs enjoyed 65% possession over the 90 minutes, but had only two shots on target to United’s five.
The strike also knocked what was left of the stuffing out of the visitors, and it was no surprise when the Blades scored a third, Oliver McBurnie (£5.6m) deftly flicking home an excellent Berge cross.
Despite the VAR shenanigans, a 3-0 result was about right based on the overall flow of the game, only for Kane to finally get his goal as the match was easing into wind-down mode.
The striker was picked out by Son’s fine cut-back and he made no mistake for his second goal in as many Gameweeks. It was also Son’s second assist over the same time frame – reward for the 150,000-odd FPL managers who invested in one or other of the pair this week.
The only worry for those who own the duo – and more are joining for a home match with Everton in Gameweek 33+ – is that they were living on scraps at Bramall Lane.
Kane did lead the way for attempts, but he managed a mere three penalty area touches, while Son had no shots at all. The England captain’s overall involvement was limited, to put it mildly. Thirteen players had more touches than he did in the final third, including substitute Erik Lamela (£5.7m), who managed 21 touches (to Kane’s 14) despite playing over an hour less.
However good a finisher Kane is, he can’t keep producing points without more support and involvement, while Son’s owners will probably settle for his assists, despite expecting more goals, for now at least.
Tottenham’s decent fixture schedule is clearly proving irresistible for Fantasy managers, but Everton are hardly pushovers at present and Mourinho will need to rediscover the right balance in a side that was heavy on attackers but still lacked any bite last night.
Some of that was down to the excellence of Chris Wilder’s team, and the United manager was understandably positive about the performance and result:
It had to be up there with our best in terms of the circumstances, players we’re missing and run we’ve been on. It’s been difficult for everyone to get back to playing but I saw signs on Sunday that we were getting more like ourselves, a bit freer and more positive in our play. When you’re playing teams like this, you have to bring close to your best game to the table.
He also gave an update on player injuries:
Fleck, Lundstram and Freeman will be out for a couple of weeks.
The Blades have a mixed bag of fixtures to finish the season, with Sunday’s trip to Burnley one of the better shouts for a goalless draw and a decent-enough run after visits from Wolves and Chelsea are done.
Berge caught the eye against Spurs, but it was the return to more solid ways at the back – despite the lack of a clean sheet – that might warrant interest.
Left wing-back Stevens once again underlined his attacking potential with his assist – he now has three of those and two goals this campaign – and defensive returns look possible at both at Turf Moor this weekend and over the final three Gameweeks when United will face Leicester, Everton and Southampton.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Henderson, Basham, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Osborn, Stevens; McBurnie (Freeman 90′), McGoldrick (Mousset 63′).
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-3-2-1): Lloris, Aurier (Ndombele 71′), Sanchez, Dier, Davies (Vertonghen 81′); Sissoko (Alli 71′), Lo Celso, Bergwijn (Lamela 56′); Moura, Son; Kane.
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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