Newcastle United 1-4 Manchester United
- Goals: Luke Shaw (£4.9m) own goal | Harry Maguire (£5.4m), Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.4m), Marcus Rashford (£9.5m)
- Assists: Juan Mata (£5.9m), Fernandes, Rashford x2
- Bonus: Fernandes x3 Rashford x2 Karl Darlow (£5.0m) x1
Manchester United began the long climb back to credibility with a deserved, if not entirely convincing, win over Newcastle.
The game was a surprisingly entertaining affair considering visiting manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could have set up his side simply to avoid another 6-1 Spursageddon, while his opposite number, Steve Bruce, has ‘stay in the game and try and nick a goal’ spliced into his footballing DNA.
Even so, most of the goals came late, with the visitors only taking the lead in the 86th minute of a match they dominated in terms of attempts (28 v 7) while never completely negating Newcastle’s own attacking threat.
But the 4-1 victory did involve decent returns for all three of the winning side’s most popular Fantasy Premier League (FPL) assets and included more reminders that owning Red Devils defenders is, currently, a foolish enterprise.
Fernandes To The Fore
By far the most-owned FPL star on the pitch was Man United’s Bruno Fernandes (£10.5m), and his 21% ownership walked away with a tidy 11-point haul that could have been so much better.
The midfielder finished off a superb team move to make the score 2-1, finding the net from an acute angle courtesy of a Marcus Rashford (£9.5m) assist.
That made it three goals in as many Gameweeks for Fernandes, but he also missed his first penalty in England (at the 11th attempt) thanks to a save from the brilliant Karl Darlow (£5.0m) and was denied an earlier goal via VAR.
Some of that pain was offset by an assist for Rashford’s last-gasp goal and the maximum bonus award and his 31 points for the season, from just four matches, puts him in the top 10 for FPL midfielders. Of the United players, only Rashford comes close to such a lofty position, which underlines how vital Fernandes is to the side.
Even with Chelsea and Arsenal up next, more FPL managers are slowly coming round to buying him in – he’s currently just inside the top 15 for Gameweek 6 purchases – as he continues to show last year’s explosive entrance into English football was not a fluke.
Solskjaer made five changes from the side thrashed by Spurs, among them the benching of Paul Pogba (£7.9m) and Daniel James (£6.4m) being handed a rare start.
But the key decision involved who would replace Anthony Martial (£8.8m), suspended for three matches after his dismissal against Tottenham, up front.
One candidate, Mason Greenwood (£7.3m), didn’t even make the squad, an omission the manager explained post-match.
Mason wasn’t fit to play, so we had to leave him out. We hope he will recover quickly.
That meant Rashford, an FPL midfielder this season, stepped up. And he delivered.
A goal, two assists – he also set up Aaron Wan-Bissaka‘s (£5.4m) first-ever senior strike – and two bonus points helped him to a double-digit haul enjoyed by just 5.8% of FPL bosses.
The fact that only two of his team-mates – Fernandes and Wan-Bissaka – are owned by more managers shows just how little Fantasy faith Solskjaer’s side is inspiring.
The team’s defensive frailties are plain to see, but so is their attacking intent – their 57 attempts this season is not far behind the likes of Everton (64) and Chelsea (65), only from four games, not five.
Cracks, Meet Paper
Wan-Bissaka’s surprise goal helped hand his owners a very welcome eight points, while Harry Maguire (£5.4m) ended a trying week or ten with the same haul thanks to his equaliser, from a Juan Mata (£5.9m) corner, in the first half.
Solskjaer made all the right post-match noises about Maguire’s character, while his Wan-Bissaka comments played up the full-back’s attacking threat.
It was a cross! No, he was due his goal. We wanted him higher up the pitch, making runs in behind. It was great for him.
But anyone seriously thinking of buying into United’s defence should think again.
The backline is currently shipping three goals a game on average and even managed to make Newcastle’s toothless attack look threatening.
The Magpies went into the match having had only eight shots on target across their first four games. They had four against Man United and it took a couple of great saves from David de Gea (£5.5m) to deny Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.3m) and then Callum Wilson (£6.5m).
Yes, the goal the visitors did concede – after just two minutes – was unlucky, Luke Shaw (£4.9m) deflecting an Emil Krafth (£4.4m) cross over de Gea and in.
But a side allowing 14 big chances this season – for context, Newcastle have conceded eight from a game more – clearly lacks balance, whatever Solskjaer might have claimed following Saturday’s win.
We have so many games coming up and you pick a team that you think is going to get a result in that game. You look at the opposition and you look at yourself and what is the best balance and I thought we found the right one today.
Fernandes and Rashford took most of the plaudits (and bonus), but the true hero on Tyneside was home keeper Darlow, who produced a string of fine saves as well as that penalty stop.
A single bonus award meant he limped off with eight points and a knock picked up following a clash with Rashford.
One clean sheet, a penalty save and 27 other stops this season – no keeper has made more – has taken him to the top of FPL’s scoring chart for goalkeepers.
But boss Bruce is not entirely sure he’ll be back for a Gameweek 6 trip to Wolves.
He’s taken a hell of a blow. We hope that he’s not too bad, but it’s one of those difficult ones to assess straight away. Until we see the scans and how he is, then we won’t really know, but it’s fair to say that he’s very sore.
Martin Dubravka (£4.9m) is possibly out until December with a heel issue, meaning Newcastle could be down to the bare bones in goal, with Mark Gillespie (£4.5m) the next in line for a start.
Not that any Magpies goalkeeper is likely to be the choice of many FPL managers – no team has allowed more shots (86) or attempts on target (36) than Bruce’s men.
Newcastle United XI (4-5-1): Darlow; Krafth, Fernandez, Lascelles, Lewis; Hayden (Schar 49′), Shelvey, Hendrick (Almiron 88′), Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Fraser 73′); Wilson.
Manchester United XI (4-3-3): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred (Pogba 69′), Mata (Matic 90′); Bruno Fernandes, James (van de Beek 76′), Rashford.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM FPL GAMEWEEK 5
- Everton 2-2 Liverpool
- Chelsea 3-3 Southampton
- Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal
- Newcastle United 1-4 Manchester United
- Sheffield United 1-1 Fulham
- Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Tottenham Hotspur 3-3 West Ham United
- Leicester City 0-1 Aston Villa
- West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Burnley
- Leeds United 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
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