Crystal Palace 1-2 Everton
- Goals: Cheikhou Kouyaté (£5.0m) | Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.3m), Richarlison (£8.0m)
- Assists: Andros Townsend (£6.0m) | Seamus Coleman (£5.0m), Lucas Digne (£6.1m)
- Bonus points: Richarlison x3, Kouyaté x2, Digne x1
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.3m) went some way to strengthening his Fantasy Premier League appeal as he scored his fifth goal of the season in a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace.
The mid-priced forward was the talk of the town after netting four goals in his first two matches of the season, going into Gameweek 3 backed by 27% of Fantasy managers.
Face-to-face with a defence that had made a positive start to the season, keeping out Southampton and mostly limiting Manchester United, there were some mild fears that Calvert-Lewin’s incredible run might stutter at Selhurst Park – but it did not.
In fact, the player demonstrated something his Fantasy owners will be delighted with: the ability to have a relatively quiet game and yet deliver all the same.
“The performance was difficult. We had difficulties. The first half was quite good, we were able to play as we wanted. The second half was more difficult because Crystal Palace played a good second half putting a lot of pressure on us.” – Carlo Ancelotti
Having lit up his first two outings of the campaign, Calvert-Lewin was largely crowded out by Crystal Palace’s organised defence on Saturday afternoon. Rather than finding himself put through time, and time again, as was the case in Gameweek 2, Everton’s star striker was mostly restricted to half-chances and awkward snatches of the ball from free-kicks and corners.
However, on the rare occasion that he found some space behind Palace’s back-four, he did what all the best forwards do: he found the net.
Seamus Coleman (£5.0m) pounced on a rare lapse of concentration from Tyrick Mitchell (£4.1m) to get around the back in the 10th minute. He cut the ball back for an unmarked Calvert-Lewin who, despite barely getting a mention beforehand, slotted home coolly.
Calvert-Lewin’s increasingly ruthless nature bodes exceptionally well for upcoming fixtures against more favourable defences than what Palace offered on Saturday. Everton face Brighton, Southampton and Newcastle in three of their next four fixtures, each of those sides conceding three goals or more four times so far this season.
Meanwhile, Richarlison (£8.0m) continues to remind Fantasy managers that he is quietly waiting in the background as a viable alternative option in attack.
Not only was he lively as a left-winger in the 4-3-3 system once again, but there is also a chance that the Brazilian is now Ancelotti’s preferred penalty taker.
It was Richarlison who was handed the responsibility for the Toffees’ first-half spot-kick, even though he was sharing the pitch with top goal-scorer Calvert-Lewin and James Rodríguez (£7.6m).
For now, it is difficult to say that the former Watford man is the favoured taker for the whole club, considering that Gylfi Sigurdsson (£6.9m). Obviously, the Icelandic international has lost his place in the team this season, so Richarlison’s chances are good, but we need to see Everton win a penalty when those two players share the pitch before we can categorically install the Brazilian as number one.
By comparison with Calvert-Lewin, James Rodríguez (£7.6m) was arguably the best player on the Selhurst Park pitch on Saturday and yet came away with no Fantasy rewards.
For all his skill, shine, vision and backing of 25.2% of Fantasy managers, the Colombian has now blanked in two from a possible three Premier League outings.
In fact, against Palace, Rodríguez enjoyed an afternoon of ‘assisting the assister’. It was his exquisite through-pass which found Coleman’s penetrative run before the right-back squared for Calvert-Lewin’s goal.
And in the 40th minute, it was Rodríguez’s excellent ball on the counter-attack which put Lucas Digne (£6.1m) through to force a hand-ball and penalty out of Joel Ward (£4.5m).
There were still a number of other opportunities for Rodríguez to get attacking returns, but they did not pan out for his ever-increasing ownership.
In the 29th minute, he played an incredible through-ball to Richarlison on the counter, setting the Brazilian through the middle. However, the forward’s poor first-touch, taken with his right foot when the left would have kept him more central, saw Richarlison drag possession out wide.
Then, shortly after half time, Rodriguez was fouled on the edge of the box and denied Digne’s request to take the direct free-kick. While the Frenchman rattled the crossbar with a fizzing effort in Gameweek 2, Rodríguez produced a tame effort aimed straight at Vincente Guaita (£5.0m).
Rodríguez also aimed a well-placed corner straight at Calvert-Lewin in the 51st minute, only to see the centre-forward screw horribly wide.
For all of Everton’s decent attacking play this season, there do remain some issues defensively. They have kept just one clean sheet in their first three matches of the campaign, despite facing newly-promoted opposition and a side that scored the fewest home goals last season.
With Brighton, Liverpool and Southampton the next three opponents for Everton, Digne owners may have to rely on his attacking returns in the coming weeks.
His assist at Palace came from forcing a handball from Ward, although he continues to do battle with Rodríguez for a say in set pieces.
After a lightning start to the season, Wilfried Zaha (£7.1m) recorded his first blank. While he continues to be deployed out-of-position as a centre-forward alongside Jordan Ayew (£5.9m), the FPL midfielder spent the last 15 minutes shifted back to the flanks after Michy Batshuayi (£ replaced Eberechi Eze (£6.0m).
However, that does not mean Zaha should leave the Fantasy radar, far from it. Gameweek 4 takes Palace to Stamford Bridge, to face a Chelsea defence that conceded three times to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon.
The fact that Zaha has three goals in as many outings this season, and only Manchester City have registered more away wins against the big six than Palace since May 2015 bodes well for next weekend.
Also worth considering is Andros Townsend (£6.0m) as he registered a third attacking return of the season in Gameweek 3. Having assisted against Southampton, scored past Manchester United and now assisting on Saturday afternoon, the former Spurs man has yet to blank in 2020/21 and was comfortably Palace’s best player in their most recent match.
Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Guaita; Mitchell, Sakho, Kouyaté, J Ward; Eze (Batshuayi 75′), McArthur (Riedewald 88′), McCarthy, Townsend; Zaha, Ayew (Benteke 82′).
Everton XI (4-3-3): Pickford; Digne, Keane, Mina, Coleman; Gomes (Sigurdsson 76′), Allan, Doucouré; Richarlison (T Davies 90′), Calvert-Lewin, Rodríguez (Iwobi 86′).
Lessons Learned from FPL Gameweek 3
- Brighton and Hove Albion 2-3 Manchester United
- Crystal Palace 1-2 Everton
- West Bromwich Albion 3-3 Chelsea
- Burnley 0-1 Southampton
- Sheffield United 0-1 Leeds United
- Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Newcastle United
- Manchester City 2-5 Leicester City
- West Ham United 4-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Fulham 0-3 Aston Villa
- Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal