Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea
- Goals: Wilfried Zaha (£6.6m), Christian Benteke (£5.7m) | Olivier Giroud (£6.6m), Christian Pulisic (£7.2m), Tammy Abraham (£7.4m)
- Assists: Patrick van Aanholt (£5.6m) | Willian x2 (£7.2m), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£5.9m)
- Bonus Points: Willian x3, Pulisic x2, van Aanholt x1
Willian (£7.2m) and Christian Pulisic (£7.2m) underlined their Fantasy credentials once again as Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 3-2 on Tuesday evening.
The two midfielders were at the heart of the transfer debate for Gameweek 34+ with managers trying to discern between the pair. Well, once again, the comparisons mattered little in the end as both players rewarded their respective owners at Selhurst Park.
In fact, considering Chelsea host Norwich’s porous defence in Gameweek 36+, the case for owning both Willian and Pulisic gets stronger with each match. After all, Frank Lampard’s men have now hit two or more goals in every match since the Premier League restart.
Both players have also delivered attacking returns simultaneously in each of the last four Gameweeks and neither one looks like letting up.
As per usual, it was Willian who ended up with the most points on the night, his two assists and three bonus making for a third double-figure haul since Gameweek 31+.
His owners will also feel as if they could have come away with more at Selhurst Park, increasing his appeal for the coming matches.
In the 31st minute, Pulisic pressed through the middle of Palace’s defence, spotting Willian catching up with play from the left. The American laid it off to his Brazilian colleague who breezed into the box and forced a decent save from Vicente Guaita (£4.9m).
Then, as the game was hurtling towards a frenetic conclusion, Willian darted inside from his station on the right-wing and squared it to Mason Mount (£6.1m), Guaita denying the Brazilian an assist as he tipped the Englishman’s curled effort around the post.
In the 89th minute, Pulisic made another trademark run down the left-hand side, his lofted cross caught on the volley by Willian but blocked by Patrick van Aanholt (£5.6m).
In the last four matches, he has averaged 11 points per game and, as we have covered here, is capable of pulling in Fantasy points from several different avenues. The Brazilian has penalties, direct free-kicks and set-pieces but also offers plenty of creativity and goal threat from open play as evidenced in the win at Palace. Enough to already form a strong case for the Gameweek 36+ captaincy when Norwich come to Stamford Bridge…
But we should not overlook Pulisic who also enjoyed an impressive outing in south London, also unlucky not to get more attacking returns for his 9.9% ownership.
There was a suggestion that the American got a touch on Olivier Giroud‘s (£6.6m) first-half goal, although replays were inconclusive on that front.
After he finally netted the goal he’d been trying to score for several games in a row (running down the left-hand side and blasted high at the near-post), Pulisic might have got an assist for Willian had his late shot not been blocked by van Aanholt.
“Willian and Christian (Pulisic) have been excellent for us. I am really pleased with what they have done. I knew the talent that Christian has. It’s a physical lead and he has come in and been great for us. The quality for us and the end product is great.” – Frank Lampard
While Chelsea were impressive going forward, Fantasy managers should certainly be aware of the fact that Crystal Palace are fast becoming a much more porous side than many would expect.
They actually came into Gameweek 34+ having conceded more shots in the box than any other side in the previous four, which is why they have now let in at least three goals on three occasions since Gameweek 31+.
Their defensive outlook is arguably even bleaker following a hamstring problem for Gary Cahill (£4.4m) which incapacitated him for Chelsea’s opener and could leave Palace depleted at the back for the coming schedule. That is certainly worth knowing for anyone with Manchester United and Wolves assets for Gameweeks 36+ and 37+ respectively.
However, for all Chelsea’s impressive play going forward, their own defence is becoming increasingly difficult to trust. At Selhurst Park, they were not always in complete control of the game allowing a side typically goal-shy on their own patch to look dangerous throughout and score twice.
“I wasn’t overly delighted with the midfield but I thought that Billy (Gilmour) did okay today. It doesn’t mean anything about his future. I know that he has more to give to us in the future.” – Frank Lampard
One of the usual culprits, Kepa Arrizabalaga (£5.4m) was very much at fault for Crystal Palace’s opening goal as his poor season continues to underwhelm.
It was admittedly an incredible goal from distance scored by Wilfried Zaha (£6.6m) but the goalkeeper reacted too late and was unable to get a hand to the effort, even though it flew in the middle of the goal.
Then, for Palace’s second goal, van Aanholt was allowed to drive forward to the dead-ball line too easily by a static Andreas Christensen (£4.8m), allowing him to square for an unmarked Christian Benteke (£5.7m) to tap in. That was the Belgian’s first Premier League goal in 24 appearances at Selhurst Park, the last one coming all the way back in April 2018.
And, to be perfectly honest, Crystal Palace really should have scored a third in stoppage time, Chelsea very fortunate to leave Selhurst Park with three points.
In the 94th minute, Zaha played an excellent cross to the back-post from his wide-left station, which Scott Dann (£4.3m) headed back across goal. His effort, which appeared destined for the back of the net, struck the post and sailed away from the goal-line past Benteke and Max Meyer (£5.2m) before van Aanholt had an effort blocked.
And almost immediately after, Benteke found himself one-on-one with Kepa before Zouma flew out of nowhere to make a thumping last-ditch tackle.
Part of the issue for Chelsea’s defence has to be the lack of a settled back-four, Kurt Zouma (£4.7m) who, admittedly, had a better game than most in his department, making back-to-back starts for the first time in 2020 at Selhurst Park.
Such a questionable display at the back may not mean much for Fantasy managers with Sheffield United and Norwich up next for Chelsea, but it could bode well for Liverpool assets in Gameweek 37+, as well as Wolves options on the final day of the campaign.
“In the last few minutes, maybe (we lost control). We should have killed the game off. Some slight wrong decisions. Kepa makes a great save, Kurt (Zouma) a great tackle. He (Zouma) was excellent. His tackle was point saving at the end and I’m delighted with him.” – Frank Lampard
Crystal Palace XI (4-5-1): Guaita; van Aanholt, Dann, Cahill (Sakho 8′), J Ward; Ayew (Townsend 80′), McArthur (McCarthy 80′), Kouyaté, Milivojević (Meyer 89′), Zaha; Benteke.
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen, R James; Gilmour (Gilmour 80′), Barkley (Loftus-Cheek 65′), Mount; Pulisic, Giroud (Abraham 65′), Willian.
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