Sheffield United 0-1 Everton
- Goal: Richarlison (£8.2m)
- Assist: Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m)
- Bonus: Michael Keane (£5.2m) x3, Jarrad Branthwaite (£4.0m) x2, Djibril Sidibe (£5.0m) x1
An early second-half goal from Richarlison (£8.2m) settled a fairly tedious affair between Sheffield United and Everton on Thursday evening.
Chris Wilder’s troops have been one of the best defensive sides this season, while the Toffees’ backline has impressed more than their strangely subdued attack since the restart.
Unsurprisingly, defences were on top at Bramall Lane.
Everton managed just five attempts on goal all match, while the hosts failed to register a single shot on target.
It was a bit of a shock when Richarlison broke the deadlock, in all honesty, such had been the dire fare served up in the opening 45 minutes.
The Brazilian, playing on the left of Carlo Ancelotti’s 4-2-3-1 in this match, met Gylfi Sigurdsson’s (£7.3m) 46th-minute free-kick to nod Everton into a lead they seldom seemed like losing.
That was Richarlison’s third goal following the mid-June resumption but Dominic Calvert-Lewin‘s (£6.1m) nine-match drought drags on, with the one-time popular FPL forward blanking and picking up a booking to compound his remaining owners’ misery.
He’s getting closer, at least: the mid-price striker thumped the upright with a close-range header just before the interval and then brought a decent save out of Dean Henderson (£5.2m) with a deflected effort just before the hour-mark.
Any mildly encouraging signs are way too late for many of us, however, and his ‘effective ownership’ in the top 10k was a telling 1.71% going into Gameweek 37+, a far cry from what that figure was before lockdown.
Ancelotti may have even signalled a start for Moise Kean (£6.3m) next weekend, saying of the Italian – who missed out on Monday with a minor injury – after full-time:
I think it’s a small injury and he’ll be ready for the next game. If he is in good condition and recovers well then he can start [against Bournemouth].
At the other end of the pitch, the Toffees kept a clean sheet in spite of Jordan Pickford (£5.2m) rather than because of him.
The England international didn’t make a single save all game but caused unnecessary panic among his backline with his flappy approach to dealing with crosses.
Rather, it was the defenders in front of him who were due much of the credit.
Michael Keane (£5.2m) has been in fine form since the restart and was dominant in the air here, while special word of praise has to go to teenager Jarrad Branthwaite (£4.0m) alongside him, with the full debutant producing a commendable display in the face of some aerial bombardment from the Blades.
Everton’s two centre-halves and the returning Djibril Sidibe (£5.0m) mopped up the bonus points, which was a fair reflection of the game overall.
Branthwaite is a name to consider for those of us looking for a budget defensive option in Gameweek 38+ (if only for bench fodder duty), as he looks poised to start again at home to Bournemouth in the absence of Yerry Mina (£5.3m) and Mason Holgate (£4.3m).
Ancelotti said of his young stopper after full-time:
I am a bit surprised how sometimes he makes mistakes, which you can expect at 18, but never loses control.
He is always focused and confident, this is the character a young player needs to have to improve and learn. If a player deserves to play, he plays, it doesn’t matter if he is young.
Sheffield United have been superb this season, both in terms of their impact on the Premier League and the bargains they have given us in FPL.
They seem to be running out of steam as they approach the finish line, however, which is understandable given how many fixtures they have had to juggle of late and how averse to rotation Wilder is.
This was the Blades’ tenth match in league and cup in the space of 33 days, with seven of his team starting at least nine of those fixtures.
Oliver McBurnie (£5.5m) has particularly looked jaded of late and with the influential targetman out of gas, the hosts’ threat up top was diminished.
Wilder indeed cited fatigue after full-time, saying:
I was pleased with the fight they put up, there’s a lot of tired bodies and a lot of tired minds out there but we went to the end. We just lacked that last little bit at the end to get us back in the game.
There was plenty of heart and desire in our performance, just not so much on the quality front.
Owners of Danny Ings (£7.6m) will have watched this match keenly but the Blades do at least have six days to recover before they take on Southampton in Gameweek 38+, which represents their longest rest period since football recommenced.
Meanwhile, Lys Mousset (£4.3m) wasn’t involved in the Sheffield United matchday squad amid rumours of a bust-up with his manager.
When asked about the striker’s absence after the game, Wilder said:
I don’t want to really comment about that situation at the moment, thanks.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Henderson; Basham (Zivkovic 82′), Egan, O’Connell; Baldock, Berge, Norwood (Lundstram 69′), Osborn (Sharp 60′), Stevens; McBurnie (Fleck 60′), McGoldrick.
Everton XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Sidibe, Keane, Branthwaite, Digne; Gomes, Davies; Walcott (Gordon 84′), Sigurdsson (Coleman 88′), Richarlison; Calvert-Lewin.
FPL Lessons Learned From Gameweek 37+
- Norwich City 0-2 Burnley
- Bournemouth 0-2 Southampton
- Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Leicester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Newcastle United
- Sheffield United 0-1 Everton
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Crystal Palace
- Watford 0-4 Manchester City
- Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal
- Manchester United 1-1 West Ham United
- Liverpool 5-3 Chelsea
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