Sheff Utd 0-2 Wolves
- Goals: Raúl Jiménez (£8.5m), Romain Saïss (£5.0m)
- Assists: Daniel Podence (£5.5m), Pedro Neto (£5.5m)
- Bonus Points: Saïss x3, Jiménez x2, Conor Coady x2 (£5.0m)
Raúl Jiménez (£8.5m) was back to his best at the first time of asking as Wolves beat Sheffield 2-0 on Monday night.
After a decent start to Project Restart, the Mexican’s 2019/20 campaign largely petered out, but that familiar spring in his step returned for the start of 2020/21.
If nothing else, it was a standard outing for Jiménez as he spearheaded Wolves’ attack on the counter, scored what turned out to be the winning goal and took a share of bonus points as a result. That rewarded his 19% ownership with a solid eight-point haul.
In a Gameweek where Harry Kane (£10.5m), Danny Ings (£8.5m) and Richarlison (£8.0m) all blanked, Jiménez took virtually no time to show he means business this season.
During the first half especially, Wolves were offered plenty of space on the counter-attack. It was in the third minute that Daniel Podence (£5.5m), deployed on the left-hand side of the front-three, left John Lundstram (£5.5m) behind to occupy the vacuum left by George Baldock (£5.5m) at right wing-back. His fine left-footed cross dropped beautifully to an unmarked Jiménez, who rifled high into the top corner of Aaron Ramsdale‘s (£5.0m) net.
Two minutes later, Jiménez was in again. This time Leander Dendoncker (£5.0m) had made it to the byline, chopping the ball back towards the forward. Backing away from Baldock, Jiménez chested it down, firing a fierce effort towards goal, stopped only by a sprawling Ramsdale save.
He went even closer to adding to his tally in the 83rd minute as João Moutinho (£5.5m) sent in an excellent corner, which Jiménez directed onto the front post.
Sheffield United were, admittedly, uncharacteristically brittle at the back in the early exchanges, which we will come back to later, but Jiménez passed the eye test with flying colours on Monday night. Considering he has previously shown a ruthless streak against the so-called top-six, a Gameweek 2 meeting with Manchester City, who typically play a high defensive line, may not be as tough for his owners as first feared.
Fantasy managers in search of value in the £5.5m midfielder brackets would have liked what they saw of Podence and Pedro Neto (£5.5m) in Gameweek 1. The two mid-priced options were both deployed either side of Jiménez, keeping Diogo Jota (£6.5m) out of the side and on the bench all evening.
Each player looked lively, especially when they were given the chance to trouble Sheffield United on the counter-attack. And in a Gameweek where Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.5m), Lundstram and Bukayo Saka (£5.5m) all blanked, Podence and Neto each registered a score of six points.
The former got his assist for Jiménez’s opening goal, while Neto managed to wrestle away one corner from Moutinho, which Romain Saïss (£5.0m) turned into the net after five minutes.
However, Fantasy managers should probably approach the Wolves front-line with caution in the coming weeks, as there is plenty of competition for places. While Jota was rooted to the bench on Monday, we know he is good enough to come into the team either as a wide-forward in a 3-4-3 or centre-forward in a 3-5-2. Meanwhile, Adama Traoré (£6.5m) may be used further forward at some point, although, for now, it appears as if he is filling the void at right wing-back by Matt Doherty (£6.0m).
The Wolves defence continues to reward Fantasy managers who invested in the right options. Their clean sheet at Bramall Lane was the 10th since Gameweek 25 of last season. Since then, no other Premier League team has recorded as many shut-outs, Manchester City and Manchester United (both nine), the joint-second-best in that department.
As we have come to expect from Nuno Espirito Santo’s men, they managed Monday night’s game exceptionally well, for the most part, limiting Sheffield United to half-chances.
They were particularly dominant in the opening 25 minutes, where the Blades registered just one touch in the box and no efforts on goal. By the end of the 90 minutes, Chris Wilder’s men had mustered just one shot on target. While such impressive control of the game does not exactly bode well for Wolves defenders as they prepare to face Manchester City, Sheffield United’s troubles in front of goal could be promising for Aston Villa.
In terms of how best to invest in Wolves defenders (probably from Gameweek 3 onwards), Saïss once again emerged as a key option. The Moroccan international offered great value at the back end of last season and, despite a price hike to £5.0m, he was back to his best at Bramall Lane.
Saïss was the man who rose highest to score Neto’s fifth-minute corner and he was unfortunate not to come away from Yorkshire with three goals to his name. He was afforded another free header in the 52nd minute, which he nodded just wide and later in the second half, he was caught advancing almost in a centre-forward’s position. Jiménez led a counter-attack through the middle, sliding Saïss in on the left. His fierce effort was tipped onto the post by Ramsdale, before Jiménez screwed the rebound just wide.
As it turned out, Saïss also claimed maximum bonus points, continuing his BPS appeal from Project Restart, ending up with a 15-point haul. More threatening than Willy Boly (£5.5m) and Conor Coady (£5.0m), the Moroccan currently seems like the best Wolves defender to consider, especially in light of Ruben Vinagre‘s (£4.5m) evening.
Owned by over 10% of managers, the young left-back was not given the chance to hold down the position while new signing Marçal (£5.0m) bedded in. Nuno offered a route straight into the team for the debutant, who lasted the whole game. That said, he did not venture forward too often and was certainly less dangerous in the area than the similarly-priced Saïss.
As Vinagre’s Fantasy owners consider how to upgrade him to the Moroccan in a few weeks, the silver lining was the fact that he remained on the Wolves bench. Accordingly, auto-subs were triggered, although Tyrick Mitchell (£4.0m) was the only of the top-three most-benched defenders for Gameweek 1 who played; Barry Douglas (£4.0m) and Bernardo (£4.0m) the other two.
Meanwhile, Sheffield United defenders were far from useful in their first Gameweek of the new campaign. As already mentioned, they gave up a whole host of chances, especially on the counter. It was a far cry from the Blades we have come to know under Wilder in the Premier League and this was the first time this calendar year that they conceded more than once at home in a match.
It went from bad to worse for the most fashionable Sheffield United asset too as John Egan (£5.0m), owned by more than 16% of Fantasy managers was booked in the first half.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale; O’Connell, Egan, Basham (McGoldrick 71′); Stevens, Fleck, Norwood (Berge 76′), Lundstram, Baldock; McBurnie, Sharp.
Wolverhampton Wanderers XI (3-4-3): Patrício; Saïss, Coady, Boly; Marçal, Dendoncker, Moutinho (Vitinha 86′), Traoré; Podence (Neves 76′), Jiménez, Neto (Buur 69′).