Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United
- Goals: Bruno Fernandes (£8.9m), Mason Greenwood (£4.7m), Paul Pogba (£8.3m)
- Assists: Anthony Martial (£8.3m), Fernandes
- Bonus: Fernandes x3, Pogba x2, Greenwood x1
Bruno Fernandes’ (£8.9m) personal crusade to score more Fantasy Premier League (FPL) points in 14 games than most players manage in a season remains firmly on course.
The Manchester United midfielder is the hottest of Fantasy properties at present, delivering a third straight double-digit haul for his growing army of managers.
Fernandes earned and then converted the penalty that handed United the lead at Villa Park, although it could be argued the United player initiated contact when trying to spin past Ezri Konsa (£4.3m), even if the defender’s decision to go to ground was unwise.
Home manager Dean Smith called the decision a disgrace, but VAR, never a shrinking violet when it comes to getting stuck into a controversy, decided referee John Moss had not made a clear and obvious error and the Portugal international did the rest.
There is little Fernandes can’t do at present. In ten league games since joining from Sporting Lisbon, he’s blanked just twice, has five scores of 10 or more and 94 points at an average of 9.4 points per game. For context, Arsenal’s highest-scoring midfielder, Nicolas Pepe (£9.0m), has 100 points. From 27 appearances.
He’s even managed to rouse Paul Pogba (£8.3m) from his torpor, setting up the Frenchman’s first league goal of an injury-ravaged season.
That made it 3-0, and in between times, arguably FPL’s second-hottest (and definitely best value) property, Mason Greenwood (£4.7m), finished off a swift break, from an Anthony Martial (£8.3m) assist, by smashing home a fourth goal in three Gameweeks.
Nearly half a million managers had bought into Greenwood for the Villa trip and he didn’t disappoint them, although such is his superb form, seven points on the night was his worst tally since a Gameweek 31+ blank.
Much is being made of United’s front three at present, with the most-stated stat the fact they’ve outscored Liverpool’s fabled attacking trio this season.
But while Greenwood and Martial – 44 points from his last four starts – have been outstanding, Marcus Rashford (£9.1m) and his 20.6% FPL following have had to make do with the merely okay.
One goal and two assists from the last four Gameweeks is solid enough, but pales beside his teammates’ plundering, and he endured a frustrating evening against Villa.
Of the three big chances United had, Rashford was involved in two of them, missing one himself and seeing Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m) blow a golden chance to score his first ever league goal when he steered a diving header wide of the post from close range.
Then again, Fernandes’ owners could have seen their man bring in an absolutely monster haul on the night, the midfielder missing a header of his own and then watching Martial hit the underside of the bar from his pass.
The night was, in fact, as much about missed opportunities as anything else, with the home side guilty of wasting two good chances of their own.
The 15.8%-owned Jack Grealish (£6.0m) – easily the team’s most popular FPL asset – half-volleyed wide from the edge of the six-yard box before Trezeguet (£5.2m) clipped the outside of the post with a well-shaped shot.
United responded to that second near-miss by going straight up the other end and opening the scoring, and the game was pretty much up for Villa as they forced just the one (regulation) save from David de Gea (£5.3m) all night.
United are now just one point behind a stalling Leicester City in the race for a Champions League spot, although that will be a moot point should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side win the Europa League.
On present form, that’s entirely possible, but it would be remiss not to mention that United’s current run of four consecutive league victories has involved beating a (then) out-of-form Sheffield United and three teams in the bottom six.
Their final four fixtures do promise more of the same, however, with Southampton and West Ham at home, a trip to Crystal Palace and a last-day, mouth-watering match-up with fellow Euro-wannabes Leicester.
Form and fixtures are very much with United. Unsurprisingly, so are a large amount of Fantasy managers buying into Fernandes, and especially Greenwood, before tomorrow’s Gameweek 35+ deadline.
Solskjaer’s post-match comments about the young striker were music to the ears of all those new owners.
He’s an exceptional finisher and I’m surprised he didn’t score his first chance today. You can’t leave a player out when he’s scoring goals. That’s more or less impossible.
In fact, all four of the team’s attacking luminaries are being well backed, but Wan-Bissaka is the only member of a defensive unit that’s kept three clean sheets in four matches – and seven since Gameweek 25 – currently enjoying a place in the top 30 for transfers-in.
Jumping on the United bandwagon is understandable. And contagious.
But managers who need to make up ground in mini-leagues will have to think outside the box. Pogba could be the solution – he’s now produced returns in three of his last five appearances and was joint-top for chances, and big chances, created at Villa Park.
His manager is certainly singing his praises.
I think he’s proving that he’s getting better and better – he’s been out for so long so that’s only natural. You can see he’s enjoying himself. The team is a different team to the one he left when injured. He’s focused and the attitude is everything. It’s miles better in that dressing room.
Owned by just 3.8% and not picking up many more managers at present, Pogba is the one bona fide differential in a team attracting a huge amount of Fantasy attention right now.
The attention on Villa is not nearly so warm and fuzzy.
Smith was understandably bitter about the penalty award that led to the opening goal last night.
It all turned around on the penalty decision. I can understand Jon Moss getting it wrong but that goes to VAR, I don’t know what they are looking at. It’s a disgraceful decision. I can’t really tell you what I think about it as I’ll get fined. It’s a poor decision. They’ve got a screen they can go to and look at but they don’t seem to be bothered now.
But the fact is his team is in a bad, bad place, with three straight losses and no wins in ten matches, and the talismanic Grealish is really struggling – he’s blanked in eight consecutive games.
Crystal Palace and Arsenal at home, and trips to Everton and West Ham, await. Few Fantasy managers will be along for the ride.
Aston Villa XI (4-4-1-1): Reina; Konsa, Hause, Mings, Taylor; El Ghazi, Luiz, McGinn, Trezeguet; Grealish; Samatta.
Man Utd XI (4-2-1-3): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Matic, Pogba; Fernandes; Greenwood, Rashford, Martial.
FPL Lessons Learned From Gameweek 34+
- Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea
- Watford 2-1 Norwich City
- Arsenal 1-1 Leicester City
- Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle United
- Sheffield United 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- West Ham United 0-1 Burnley
- Brighton and Hove Albion 1-3 Liverpool
- Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
- Everton 1-1 Southampton
- Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United
Become a Member and get unrestricted access to our data and articles
Full-year memberships are now available for the price of £19.99. Monthly subscriptions also cost just £2.99. A FREE trial is now available during December.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to over 150+ exclusive members articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- Enjoy our brand NEW Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.