Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Crystal Palace
- Goals: Daniel Podence (£4.9m), Jonny (£5.5m)
- Assists: Matt Doherty (£6.5m), Raul Jimenez (£8.1m)
- Bonus: Doherty x3, Podence x2, Jonny x1
Matt Doherty (£6.5m) bagged his sixth double-digit haul of the season and moved within one point of Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) in the Fantasy Premier League points table after a typical slow-burner of a display from Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.
Wolves have made a habit out of indifferent starts and strong second-half performances and their latest victory over Crystal Palace was no different.
The hosts had registered only two shots on goal in the opening 40 minutes against the Eagles, with the visitors going closest to scoring when Jeffrey Schlupp (£5.4m) whistled a shot narrowly wide of Rui Patricio‘s (£5.3m) left-hand post.
Joao Moutinho (£5.3m), Doherty and goalscorer Daniel Podence (£4.9m) combined beautifully for the deadlock-breaking strike, however, and Nuno Espirito Santo’s side never looked back from that point on, turning in a silky display after the break that culminated in a goal for Jonny (£5.5m).
The Wolves boss echoed that assessment, saying:
Two different halves, it felt much better in the second half, I think we played better. In the first half, I think we should have moved the ball faster. We had a lot of lost possession of the ball that allowed counter-attacks and chances to Palace, so that made the team a bit unstable.
In the second half, what we did better, we were more organised, we won more second balls and we were more threatening in our attack, with more possession of the ball. We had good combinations and good chances.
Jimenez claimed the (fortuitous) assist for Jonny’s goal after a sliced effort of his own and that 24th attacking return of the season was enough to move him into second in the FPL forwards’ standings, just eight points off the magic 200-mark.
He seldom looks like producing a monster score (he only has one double-digit haul to his name in 2020) but the consistency of appearances and returns makes up for it, with the Mexican striker never registering more than three successive blanks this season or last.
While Podence, Adama Traore (£5.6m), Pedro Neto (£4.9m) and Diogo Jota (£6.0m) continue to share pitch-time around him, Jimenez has started 36 of Wolves’ 37 league matches this season.
He may still be a sacrificial lamb in many Gameweek 38+ Free Hit squads but it’s been another phenomenal season for the Mexico international, who, given his track record against the ‘big six’, could still very easily find the back of the net at Stamford Bridge next weekend.
This latest win was again built on a solid defensive showing.
Some early-game wobbles slowly gave way to a more assured display at the back, with Willy Boly (£4.9m) in superlative form after a rare error that led to Schlupp’s chance.
It’s a well-worn stat but it’s no coincidence: Wolves have kept 12 clean sheets in 21 games with Boly in the side and just one shut-out in the other 16 matches without him.
Doherty and Jonny evoked memories of 2018/19 by supplementing their clean sheets with attacking returns, and now Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.8m) is the only FPL defender who has more of those than the Ireland international (12 – four goals, eight assists) this season.
Rui Patricio‘s (£5.3m) owners would have enjoyed their evenings, too, with the Portugal international making his third and final stop – and thus collecting an extra FPL point – deep into second-half injury time.
Romain Saiss (£4.8m) missed out on the points bonanza, however, with Santo indulging in some more low-key rotation and benching the Moroccan for the first time this calendar year.
For Palace, this was almost a repeat of their Gameweek 36+ display against Manchester United in that they battled manfully and had a few half-decent openings but were ultimately outclassed by a better side.
With interest in their Fantasy assets low (none of their starters had an ‘effective ownership’ over 0.2% in the top 10,000 of FPL), their chief role on the final day will be in providing opposition to Spurs and their in-form attacking assets.
This was Palace’s seventh defeat on the spin and they have conceded more goals and big chances than any other team in that time, although the calibre of opposition has to be factored in.
Already without the injured Gary Cahill (£4.4m), Patrick van Aanholt (£5.6m) and James Tomkins (£5.0m), the Eagles lost Mamadou Sakho (£5.0m) to a muscle injury on Monday, with Roy Hodgson turning to midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate (£4.9m) – and not Martin Kelly (£4.1m) – to deputise at centre-half.
For those looking at Harry Kane (£10.9m) or Son Heung-min (£9.7m) next weekend, Palace’s patched-up back four – which included youngster Tyrick Mitchell (£4.0m) at left-back – weren’t particularly overrun or stretched but did concede further presentable opportunities to Traore and Podence in the second half.
Hodgson said of Mitchell’s full Premier League debit:
I’m full of praise for his [Mitchell’s] performance. I thought he was excellent today and he must be delighted to have got through that game as he did, albeit on the wrong end of a [losing] scoreline.
I don’t think he could have done any better than he did and I don’t think I can say his playing instead of Patrick van Aanholt was the difference between us winning and losing.
Wolves XI (3-4-3): Patricio, Dendoncker, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny, Traore (Neto 81′), Jimenez, Podence (Jota 72′).
Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Guaita, Ward, Dann, Sakho (Kouyaté 23′), Mitchell, Townsend, McArthur, McCarthy, Schlupp (Riedewald 72′), Zaha, Ayew.
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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