Man United 1-1 West Ham
- Goals: Mason Greenwood (£4.8m) | Michail Antonio (£7.1m)
- Assists: Anthony Martial (£8.5m) | Declan Rice (£4.7m)
- Bonus Points: Greenwood x3, Antonio x2, Rice x1, Mark Noble x1 (£4.9m)
Fantasy managers wielding the all-powerful Free Hit chip in Gameweek 38+ may have an easier time shedding their Manchester United players after Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.
The Red Devils are set for a crucial Champions League clash at Leicester on the last day of the season, where they will face an injury-hit backline. Such a fixture had largely kept a number of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men in consideration for Gameweek 38+ squads, but two below-par performances, first in the FA Cup and then against West Ham, could reduce reliance on them for Sunday’s showdown.
In light of Wednesday’s tired display, the 30% ownership of Bruno Fernandes (£9.1m) may well be eyeing up midfield options at Manchester City or the funds to sign Harry Kane (£10.9m) this weekend. The Portuguese international put on one of his most anonymous performances since arriving in Manchester and, despite coming into Gameweek 37+ as the top 10k’s most popular captain choice, never really looked like getting an attacking return.
It is clear Fernandes is starting to suffer from Manchester United’s lack of rotation over the Project Restart period, his outing against West Ham showing just how exhausted he is physically and mentally. The evening could have gone differently for the former Sporting man as Marcus Rashford (£8.9m) curled an excellent ball into the box to match his early advanced run. However, just yards away from the West Ham goal he failed to control the inch-perfect pass and, from then on, it was all down hill for him. In the end, Fernandes’ frustrations boiled over in the second half when he was booked for going forehead-to-forehead with Arthur Masuaku (£4.1m).
Was that enough to warrant selling him for Gameweek 38+ though? Looking at his 106 points in 13 Premier League matches for Manchester United, we know Fernandes is capable of delivering, especially on the road. In away matches since the Premier League restart, Fernandes has averaged 11 points per game and let’s not forget he hit the post at Crystal Palace too, so that total could have been even higher. Either way, his owners will need significant improvement from him at Leicester if he is to hold his own in a Gameweek 38+ squad.
The same could arguably be said for owners of Anthony Martial (£8.5m), although to slightly less of an extent considering a moment of nice link-up with Mason Greenwood (£4.8m) for the equaliser. Apart from that, the Frenchman was industrious if unspectacular with his efforts on goal but never really looked like scoring. Not only could he have provided more penetrative runs, Martial certainly suffered from the lack of creativity behind him. If United were to put on a similarly fatigued performance at the King Power Stadium, that would surely affect Martial as well.
His case for Gameweek 38+ is not particularly mitigated in the same way as Fernandes, considering he has been less profitable on the road recently. Despite averaging 13.3 points per game at Old Trafford since the Premier League return, but has scored just 4.8 per match away from it.
Rashford has a similar issue ahead of travelling to Leicester on the final weekend. He may have notched a 12-point haul at Crystal Palace but the FPL forward has blanked in every other away match since Gameweek 30+. Typically more reliable at Old Trafford, Rashford was the shadow of his usual energetic self against West Ham, another asset seemingly suffering from physical and mental exhaustion.
He tested Lukasz Fabianski (£4.9m) with an excellent speculative knuckle-ball strike from distance early on, but outside of that could not trouble the goalkeeper and lacked his usual creativity in advanced areas too. Is that enough to warrant transferring him out to make room for some of the more in-demand Gameweek 38+ forward such as Kane or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m)? Perhaps.
As already mentioned, United do look as if they are limping over the Premier League line this season, but the biggest problem against West Ham was the lack of any creative spark, usually stemming from Fernandes and Paul Pogba (£8.3m). Neither one of them impressed at all on Wednesday evening, the latter especially. Not only did he have little to no impact going forward, he lost possession in the middle of the pitch often and it was his mindless lift of the hands towards Declan Rice’s (£4.7m) shot that conceded the penalty that cost United the win.
That goal afforded West Ham the confidence to press their illustrious hosts in all areas of the pitch, ask questions going forward and have the opposite impact on United’s attack. Therefore, it almost goes without saying that Fantasy managers will have a dilemma over Manchester United attacking assets over the next few days. In order for them to appeal to their owners against Leicester, they will have to make improvements in the coming days, even if the Foxes have defensive issues of their own.
Owners of Michail Antonio (£7.1m) are probably experiencing the opposite reaction to the United attackers. Aston Villa’s defensive showing against Arsenal had initially sowed seeds of doubt among the Fantasy community, but his latest display showed once again just how good his form is.
Not only did he cause Manchester United plenty of problems, helping the Hammers achieve a higher expected goals (xG) than their hosts, Antonio appears to have wrestled penalties away from Mark Noble (£4.9m) as it was the out-of-position midfielder who netted the first-half spot-kick. That goal took his total since the restart to eight, making him even harder to ditch for Aston Villa’s visit to the London Stadium.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.5m) are likely to be in two minds ahead of Gameweek 38+. While he missed out on a start for the first time since the restart, the right-back does not look particularly under threat from the man who replaced him in the XI initially. Timothy Fosu-Mensah (£4.5m) began the game in Wan-Bissaka’s place, but was ineffectual in the final third, and gave away the free-kick which led to the penalty. No wonder he went three years without playing for United and got relegated with Fulham last season.
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; B Williams, Maguire, Lindelöf, Fosu-Mensah (Wan-Bissaka 46’); Matić, Pogba; Rashford (Ighalo 85’), B Fernandes, Greenwood; Martial.
West Ham United XI (4-5-1): Fabianski; Cresswell (Masuaku 75’), Ogbonna, Diop, Johnson; Fornals, Rice, Noble, Soucek, Bowen (Yarmolenko 90+1’); Antonio (Haller 78’).
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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