Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United
- Goals: Marcus Rashford (£8.9m), Anthony Martial (£8.4m)
- Assists: Bruno Fernandes (£9.1m), Rashford
- Bonus: Rashford x3, Victor Lindelof (£5.3m) x2, David de Gea (£5.3m) x1
Marcus Rashford (£8.9m) bagged his first double-digit Fantasy Premier League haul since January as Manchester United secured a vital three points at Selhurst Park on Thursday evening.
The Red Devils were far from their best and Crystal Palace were vastly improved but the outcome for Fantasy managers was much the same, with United’s three most-expensive assets – Rashford, Bruno Fernandes (£9.1m) and Anthony Martial (£8.4m) – sharing 26 points between them in south London.
Mason Greenwood‘s (£4.9m) owners were left empty-handed for the second successive match, however, with the value-for-money forward again on the periphery.
Greenwood, who came into this match as an injury doubt, managed just one scuffed shot and barely lasted 60 minutes against the Eagles before being withdrawn by his manager.
In all honesty, Greenwood didn’t look fully fit, and the dream scenario for his owners now will be for a breather in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea before a return to the first-team fold in Gameweek 37+.
He wasn’t alone in looking short of his best.
United’s schedule and Solskjaer’s resistance to resting key players may be beginning to catch up with the Red Devils, with even Fernandes and Paul Pogba (£8.3m) appearing sapped of energy at times.
Rashford was in jet-heeled mood, however, and having started the post-lockdown era looking arguably the rustiest of United’s front four, he is now hitting his stride.
His deadlock-breaking goal was beautifully taken on the stroke of half-time and his lay-off for Martial’s 77th-minute strike was perfectly weighted, with only the width of the post having denied him an earlier assist for Fernandes.
Rashford’s 12-point return brought his post-lockdown points-per-match average narrowly above Greenwood’s, which illustrates just how well the teenager has been doing of late:
|Points per match||Double-digit hauls||Blanks||Goals||Assists|
Above: The FPL record of United’s front four from Gameweek 30+ onwards
Solskjaer said of his side’s slow-burner of a display and their fitness levels:
The goals with Marcus and Anthony were just a joy to watch. The goals were great and we know they can do that at any moment. It’s exciting to watch, it’s exciting to coach, it’s exciting to see them want to be better, want to improve – so it’s great. We’ve created chances, scored more goals.
We last the game, so you can see towards the end we’re fitter and stronger. The last 20, 25 minutes were the best ones for us – before then it took some time to get going, but I’m very happy.
Those of us who opted for a United defender as part of a triple-up may be cursing our judgement, what with Rashford and co wreaking havoc at the other end of the field.
Still, this was a fourth clean sheet in seven post-lockdown matches – only their cross-city rivals, who have played a game extra, have racked up more shut-outs than that in the last month.
Bookings for Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m) and Harry Maguire (£5.3m) took the shine (and a point) off their defensive returns and there was more excruciating ‘nearly’ moments in the opposition box for Maguire, with the galumphing stopper thrice getting on the end of Fernandes deliveries without success.
Maguire at least completed the game to bank five points, having earlier taken a bang to the head and undergone on-field assessment.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Luke Shaw (£5.3m) and Brandon Williams (£3.9m) missed out with ankle and head injuries respectively, leading to a first United start in three years for Timothy Fosu-Mensah (£4.5m) – a player previously so out in the cold that he wasn’t even priced by FPL ahead of kick-off.
Palace also now have problems at left-back, with Patrick van Aanholt‘s (£5.6m) season over and his availability for the start of 2020/21 in doubt.
The Dutchman landed awkwardly in the build-up to United’s second goal and his manager confirmed after the full-time whistle that he had dislocated his shoulder in the fall:
He’s dislocated his shoulder, so it’s a bad injury. It’s going to keep him out for a long period of time. I fear it’s going to require an operation and that’s really bad news for us. We might be starting next season without him.
Tyrick Mitchell (£4.0m) could be about to enter the budget FPL defender radar for the last two Gameweeks, then, although the return to fitness of Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.4m) gives Hodgson a more senior alternative in that position.
Palace’s improved display was probably not what owners of Wolverhampton Wanderers’ assets wanted to see, with those two clubs meeting at Molineux on Monday.
The Eagles saw a penalty shout waved away before a Jordan Ayew (£5.1m) strike was chalked off for a marginal offside, and the fact that David de Gea (£5.3m) registered five saves – the most he had made in 23 league games – and walked away with a bonus point was a testament to the hosts’ efforts.
Hodgson said of his side’s performance:
Certainly, we are not fortunate at the moment. The gods of fortune are not smiling on us with certain decisions.
We have won games and got good results against top teams like Manchester United playing a lot worse than we did tonight.
Palace remain towards the bottom of our Season Ticker and far from our thoughts but they’ll nevertheless have a bit of a say in the FPL run-in, with Wolves and Spurs’ attackers hoping for the Gameweek 35+ incarnation to turn up rather than the plucky losers of Thursday.
Crystal Palace XI (4-3-3): Guaita; Ward, Dann, Sakho, Van Aanholt (Mitchell 84′); McCarthy (Riedewald 83′), Milivojevic, McArthur (Schlupp 72′); Townsend, Ayew, Zaha .
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Fosu-Mensah; McTominay (Matic 62′), Pogba; Greenwood (Lingard 62′), Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
FPL Lessons Learned From Gameweek 36+
- Chelsea 1-0 Norwich City
- Burnley 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Manchester City 2-1 Bournemouth
- Newcastle United 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
- Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
- Everton 1-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester City 2-0 Sheffield United
- Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester United
- Southampton 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- West Ham United 3-1 Watford
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