With the Fantasy Premier League deadlines hurtling by at a tremendous pace, we won’t be able to cover some of the Gameweek 33+ match reviews in the same detail as we normally would.
So, with time against us, we’ll instead touch on the main discussion points from Leicester City v Crystal Palace, Chelsea v Watford and Newcastle United v West Ham United in our abridged Scout Notes below.
Leicester Formation Change
With Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.7m) having had a positive impact at Goodison Park in Gameweek 32+ when brought on as a second-half substitute, it always looked likely that the Nigerian would feature in Brendan Rodgers’ line-up at the weekend.
How Rodgers would accommodate two strikers into his side was the big question and his solution was to switch to a wing-back system for the visit of Crystal Palace.
James Justin (£4.7m) started the game as a right-sided centre-half with Marc Albrighton (£5.1m) used as a wing-back in what was a 3-4-1-2, with Ayoze Perez (£6.1m) supporting Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy (£9.7m) in attack.
Ryan Bennett (£4.8m) was then brought on at half-time to play at centre-back, allowing Justin to move forward down the right flank.
Rodgers said of his system change:
We played 3-4-1-2, and firstly it was to get, defensively, a greater press and a higher pressure up the pitch, with Jamie and putting Kelechi up there as the two.
We played Ayoze Perez just behind and it’s about getting goalscorers into the game. We haven’t been scoring goals so that’s been the issue for us, and not being anywhere near as creative as what we would have liked. So we tried to get people who can score goals onto the field.
So with those three up front, the wing-backs… Marc Albrighton had to fill in as a wing-back but he did that marvellously well, and James Justin was up against one of the top wingers at this level, and once again he’s come through, he was defensively brilliant. There wasn’t much change out of Wilfried Zaha today.
Then playing with three defenders. When Ryan comes in, he’s a natural centre-half. James Justin started as that right-sided centre-half and he worked it very well in both positions he played.
It gave Ben [Chilwell] the chance to get forward that bit more as well, but still giving us security from behind with the three centre-halves, and the defensive midfield players. It worked well, the guys coming into the game worked very well. We showed a real mentality to not concede and to get our goals.
Vardy Drought Ends
Vardy scored his first goals of the post-restart era, registering just his third and fourth strikes of 2020 in Saturday’s victory.
In truth, the striker again looked short of his best for the majority of the match against Palace and he was indebted to a horrendous error from Mamadou Sakho (£5.0m) to finally record his 100th Premier League goal, with the Eagles’ centre-half slipping in his own area and allowing substitute Harvey Barnes (£6.0m) to square it to an unmarked Vardy eight yards out.
Having wasted a number of clear openings before that goal, the weight seemed to be lifted off Vardy’s shoulders and he raced onto another Barnes pass in stoppage time to finish brilliantly.
A trip to an in-form Arsenal defence on Tuesday is not the easiest prospect but a rejuvenated Vardy perhaps looks a good one-week punt for Gameweek 35+ when the Foxes take on a leaky Bournemouth side on the south coast.
The New Zaha/Milivojevic?
Willian and Christian Pulisic (both £7.2m) were at it again on Saturday, combining for their third goal in two Gameweeks.
All three strikes have been free-kicks or penalties dispatched by the Brazilian for fouls on his teammate, with Pulisic this time winning a spot-kick against Watford.
The pair have plundered 63 FPL points between them since the restart, averaging 8.75 and 7.00 points per game respectively over the last four Gameweeks.
Pulisic looked a menace every time he picked up the ball against the Hornets and his manager said of the American after full-time:
He was playing very well, he got injured at the start of January and he’d been injured until the restart. But what he looks now is sharp and hungry and his quality is there for everyone to see at the moment. He’s going past players, he’s moving at pace, he always works very hard for the team in all senses to be fair.
So I’m very happy with him and considering his age, considering what could be coming from him, I’m very, very pleased and we’ve got ourselves a very good player and he’ll get even better.
Azpilicueta’s Assist Potential
Marcos Alonso (£6.2m) was benched at the weekend and, while he may return to the side in Gameweek 34+, it’s fair to say that there might be a bit of rotation in the full-back department between now and the end of the season.
While Cesar Azpilicueta (£6.0m) isn’t completely free of risk in that regard, his ability to play in either full-back position is to his advantage.
The Spaniard has started more games than any other Chelsea player this season (31 of 33) and he hasn’t been benched since Gameweek 14.
It’s now three assists in four starts for the long-serving full-back, who has created more chances (eight) than any other FPL defender since the restart.
The Blues will have a decent chance of adding to their clean sheet tally on Tuesday, too, with Palace having not scored in their last three matches.
Antonio and Bowen Shine Again
They may have been indebted to an awful error from Jamaal Lascelles (£4.3m) for their attacking returns on Sunday but Michail Antonio (£6.9m) and Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m) followed up their excellent displays against Chelsea with another promising performance in Gameweek 33+.
Antonio lashed home West Ham’s opener after Lascelles failed to deal with Bowen’s cross, with the Hammers going on to register a 2-2 draw against Newcastle United on Tyneside.
Antonio’s ‘out of position’ tag is a big attraction with some attractive fixtures against Burnley, Norwich, Watford and Villa coming up and he was again leading the line for the Hammers at St James’ Park.
Since the resumption in June, Antonio’s expected goal involvement (xGI) total is the best in the Premier League.
Bowen has also caught the eye.
On set plays and a creator of eight chances in the last four Gameweeks (three of them ‘big’ ones), he also regularly drifts inside from the right flank and pops up in central positions – note his opportunistic 31st-minute stab at goal from six yards that was only kept out by Martin Dubravka’s (£5.1m) legs.
He would have had a second assist, too, had Declan Rice‘s (£4.7m) second-half header not crashed against the crossbar; Tomas Soucek (£4.8m) followed up the rebound from that chance to score West Ham’s second.
Bruce Hints at Saint-Maximin Rest
After three double-digit hauls in four Gameweeks, there wasn’t to be any joy for Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.5m) against the Hammers.
At one point it looked as if the talented winger wouldn’t even emerge for the second half, having picked up a knock shortly before the interval.
The Frenchman was eventually hooked during the second-half drinks break and, after five starts in league and cup in the space of a fortnight, may now be finally handed a breather against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Steve Bruce said after full-time:
I don’t think I could ask him to go again on Wednesday, that’s for sure.
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa; James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Barkley, Kante (Gilmour 78′), Mount (Loftus-Cheek 76′); Willian (Hudson-Odoi 76′), Giroud (Abraham 76′), Pulisic.
Watford XI (4-2-3-1): Foster; Mariappa, Kabasele, Dawson, Femenia (Cleverley 64′); Chalobah, Capoue (Welbeck 58′); Sarr (Pereyra 83′), Doucoure, Hughes; Deeney (Masina 64′).
Newcastle United XI (4-2-3-1): Dubravka; Krafth, Lascelles, Fernandez, Manquillo; Shelvey, Hayden (Bentaleb 43′); Saint-Maximin (Lazaro 69′), Almiron, Joelinton (Carroll 81′); Gayle (Ritchie 70′).
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Fornals (Yarmolenko 75′), Lanzini (Noble 57′); Antonio.
Leicester City XI (3-4-1-2): Schmeichel; Justin, Evans, Soyuncu; Albrighton (Fuchs 75′), Ndidi, Tielemans (Choudhury 89′), Chilwell (Bennett 46′); Perez 6 (Barnes 75′); Vardy, Iheanacho (Praet 64′).
Crystal Palace XI (4-2-3-1): Guaita; Ward, Cahill, Sakho, van Aanholt (Mitchell 83′); McArthur (McCarthy 69′), Milivojevic, Riedewald (Kouyate 60′); Ayew, Zaha, Benteke (Townsend 83′).
FPL Lessons Learned from Gameweek 33+
- Norwich City 0-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Leicester City 3-0 Crystal Palace
- Manchester United 5-2 Bournemouth
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Arsenal
- Chelsea 3-0 Watford
- Burnley 1-1 Sheffield United
- Newcastle United 2-2 West Ham United
- Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa
- Southampton 1-0 Manchester City
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Everton
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