West Ham 4-0 Wolves
- Goals: Jarrod Bowen (£6.3m) x2, Sebastien Haller (£6.3m)
- Own goals: Raúl Jiménez (£8.6m)
- Assists: Pablo Fornals (£6.4m) x2, Tomas Soucek (£5.0m), Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m)
- Bonus points: Masuaku x3 Bowen x2 Aaron Cresswell (£4.9m) x1
Jarrod Bowen (£6.3m) grabbed two goals as David Moyes’ first game as a work-from-home manager went spectacularly well.
The self-isolating West Ham boss watched from afar, while occasionally ringing assistant Stuart Pearce sat in the stands, as his side outplayed a set of Wolves stars who came with most of the Fantasy ownership and left with hardly any points at all.
Phoning in a performance has never been so effective – the Hammers had just 37% of possession, but did so much more with the ball – but from a Fantasy Premier League perspective, it was a disastrous night for the majority of managers.
The five most-owned FPL assets on display all played for Wolves. They scored two points. In total.
A sixth popular player, the 6.2%-owned Daniel Podence (£5.6m), didn’t even make the squad as he failed to shake off a shoulder injury picked up in the Gameweek 2 loss to Manchester City, as coach Nuno Espirito Santo explained pre-match – but not in Friday’s press conference!
“He was not able to recover. He had a knock against City, fell down on the ground. Hopefully it’s not serious.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
That game finished 1-3, but few would have predicted the Wolves backline conceding even more goals to a West Ham outfit with just one to their name across their first two fixtures. Not to mention how solid their defence has been for most of 2020.
That the Hammers did so was down to a superb performance from a well-balanced home team set up in the same formation (3-4-2-1) as the visitors, with lone striker Michail Antonio (£6.4m) putting in a heroic shift which went unrewarded in Fantasy terms.
The 6.2%-owned forward consistently tormented Wolves’ back three, either holding the ball up, beating his marker or drawing a foul, which allowed midfielders Bowen and Tomas Soucek (£5.0m) to run beyond him at pace.
This was certainly the template for the first goal which, based on events at other grounds over the weekend, could probably have done with a bit of VAR.
Antonio was upended by Willy Boly (£5.5m) and what looked like a brilliant advantage played by the referee, Martin Atkinson, allowed Pablo Fornals (£6.4m) to hit a through ball to Bowen, who curled a shot home from the edge of the area.
It turned out that a free-kick had been awarded and Fornals had merely taken it very quickly. Questions were raised: was the free-kick taken from the spot of the foul and was the ball still moving anyway? The answers were ‘not especially’ and ‘yes’, but VAR stayed in its box, the goal stood and West Ham never looked back.
Soucek caught the eye throughout with his brilliantly-timed runs from deep, and the opening goal inspired the budget midfielder to test Wolves keeper Rui Patrício (£5.5m) with a first-time shot from Arthur Masuaku‘s (£4.5m) cross and then a header following dogged work by Antonio.
The striker also forced a save from Patrício, with Fornals blasting the rebound over the bar from just eight yards out.
Such profligacy might have been punished on another day, yet home stopper Lukasz Fabianski (£5.0m) was never really stretched, with Raúl Jiménez (£8.6m) subdued and the team as a whole producing no truly clear-cut chances. A truly rare thing for this Wolves team.
Even so, it was only 1-0 at half-time, but even a muscle injury to Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m) just after the break failed to unsettle the Hammers, although Fantasy managers will be keeping a close eye on the right-back’s fitness situation moving forward.
“Ryan (Fredericks) felt discomfort in his left hamstring while supporting an attack during Sunday’s win and was unable to carry on. He underwent a preliminary examination on Sunday evening before undergoing a scan at hospital on Monday afternoon. The results of that scan confirmed our initial prognosis and he has already begun a programme of rehabilitation. Should everything go to plan, we hope Ryan will be available for selection again after the October international break.” – Richard Collinge, Head of Medical, West Ham
That’s because he was replaced by budget defender Ben Johnson (£4.0m) who, together with fellow wing-back Masuaku, continued to blunt the threat of Adama Traoré (£6.5m), Pedro Neto (£5.5m) and debutant Nelson Semedo (£5.5m) on the flanks, with the trio showing flashes of brilliance without any real cutting edge.
The same could not be said at the other end.
Having scored just once from four great chances in the first half, West Ham buried their opportunities after the break.
Fornals was again the provider for the second goal, after 57 minutes, when his low shot hit the post and Bowen was there to knock in the rebound.
The 15.8%-owned Traoré was hooked not long afterwards, although his two-point haul turned out to be the best of a very bad pack of Wolves scores.
The highly-rated young striker, Fabio Silva (£5.5m), took his place and five minutes later, it was 3-0, with the goal causing more fantasy anguish than joy.
At first glance, it was all very straightforward as Aaron Cresswell‘s (£4.9m) near-post corner was headed home by Soucek, with a deflection off Jimenez.
A few glances later, the strike was deemed to be a Jiménez own goal, downgrading Soucek’s involvement to an assist and handing a big fat zero points to the Mexican striker’s 23.7% ownership.
And just in case anyone was hoping their Wolves defenders might limp off with one measly point from their Sunday night of woe, a goal for substitute Sebastien Haller (£6.3m), who headed home a fine Masuaku cross in time added on, proved to be a manky bit of icing on a wholly unpalatable cake.
Nuno was clear in his post-match analysis, with three ‘bads’ and a ‘didn’t play good’ in just four sentences.
“We played very, very bad. We made mistakes, we didn’t play good and West Ham were better than us. Since the beginning, we were defensively very bad. We were not able to break them and in the second half, very bad.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
West Ham assistant manager Alan Irvine was, understandably, rather more upbeat.
“We were thrilled with the performance and delighted with the result and we’ll probably look back and think maybe we could have got more.” – Alan Irvine
He also handed out some praise to Bowen.
“He’s great to work with on a day-to-day basis and he works on his finishing every day, and I mean every day, and we feel as if he has got a very good future here.” – Alan Irvine
The future for West Ham, at least in the short term, is not so good, however – they’re about to embark on a four-match run involving Leicester, Spurs and Liverpool away and Manchester City at home.
That will surely force most managers to steer clear of their assets for now, despite Sunday’s excellent performance, with their fixtures easing in early November and looking really attractive from Gameweek 12.
As for Wolves, their immediate schedule (FUL, lee, NEW, CRY) offers plenty of chances for redemption, and FPL bosses seem to agree as Jiménez is currently among the most popular players for Gameweek 4 transfers-in, with far fewer getting rid of him or his team-mates.
West Ham United XI (3-4-2-1): Fabianski; Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Fredericks (Johnson 49′), Masuaku, Rice, Soucek; Bowen (Noble 88′), Fornals; Antonio (Haller 88′).
Wolverhampton Wanderers XI (3-4-2-1): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saïss; Semedo (Hoever 73′), Moutinho (Vitinha 73′), Neves, Vinagre; Traore (F Silva 62′), Neto; Jiménez.
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