Leicester City 0-1 Aston Villa
- Goals: Ross Barkley (£5.9m)
- Assists: John McGinn (£5.5m)
- Bonus: Barkley x3, Emiliano Martinez (£4.7m) x2, Tyrone Mings (£5.1m) x1, Matty Cash (£5.0m) x1
A 91st-minute winner from Ross Barkley (£5.9m) maintained Aston Villa’s perfect start to the season as Leicester lost at home for the second straight Gameweek.
The Chelsea loanee took John McGinn‘s (£5.5m) pass and drove towards the Foxes box before hitting a low shot past Kasper Schmeichel (£5.5m) into the bottom corner to make it four wins on the trot for Dean Smith’s side.
In a season of drama, controversy and so many goals, Sunday night’s encounter was of the old school – tight, cagey and, at times, rather dull.
But Villa’s win and Leicester’s woes ensured there was plenty of Fantasy interest.
Last year’s main move by many in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) was a double-up on Liverpool defenders, with a third place in people’s squads for one of the Reds’ exalted front three.
Now, there’s a growing argument that a Villa triple-up is required.
Such is their strength at present, there are Fantasy contenders across the pitch.
Emiliano Martinez (£4.7m), who brought in save and bonus points on Sunday, is the leading FPL points scorer among goalkeepers, while Tyrone Mings (£5.1m) tops the defenders’ chart.
The team also has two midfielders – Jack Grealish (£7.2m) and McGinn – and striker Ollie Watkins (£6.0m) in their respective top tens.
Barkley, with 20 points overall, is close to joining that roll of honour, with 18 of those points having come from his two Villa games, both of which he’s scored in.
The key question is whether Villa’s form is sustainable.
Manager Smith is, as you’d expect, not getting carried away:
To come here, keep a clean sheet and play as well as we did is very pleasing. It’s important we keep our feet firmly on the ground and stay humble.
But with a fine fixture list all the way through to Boxing Day, the prospects of more of the same from Villa look very strong indeed.
McGinn The Groove
How to tap into all this is good stuff is tricky.
Grealish’s 24-point haul against Liverpool meant he went into the Leicester game with double the owners and his blank on Sunday hasn’t dampened managers’ enthusiasm – he’s again in the top five for transfers-in and his price has risen as a result.
The midfielder is all boom and bust so far. Other than his monster haul against Liverpool, he’s managed one eight-pointer and two blanks and he didn’t have a single shot at the King Power Stadium.
In fact, he had a poor game by his standards, with too many wrong choices made in the final third, mostly involving him holding on to the ball for far too long.
But his overall stats for the season – 14 chances created and nine attempts – are strong enough to ensure his 21% ownership will only rise at present.
The same cannot be said of Sunday’s assister, McGinn.
Five Villa players are currently in the top 30 for Gameweek 6 purchases. The 1.5%-owned McGinn is not one of them.
And yet the midfielder has been very consistent, with three straight returns, two of which were for double-digit hauls.
He now has a goal and four assists to his name this season and only Harry Kane (£10.7m) has set up more goals (seven).
Grealish is catching the eye and hoovering up the managers. McGinn remains the differential and currently frees up £1.7m in funds as well.
As for match-winner Barkley, Smith was generous with his praise:
We have seen Ross Barkley do that enough times for Everton and Chelsea so we are pleased he did it for us. It was touch and go whether he started. He had a knock to the knee, but a great goal and a real battling performance by the whole team.
But the midfielder’s previous record of burning brightly and then producing very little has clearly scarred FPL managers as he’s barely out-performing McGinn for purchases at present.
Pick A Defender, Any Defender
As well as being the leading FPL goalkeeper in terms of points, Martinez is also the most popular, with 21.6% ownership (and rising).
But you have to scroll a long way down the defenders list to find Villa names, with Mings (6.7%) and Ezri Konsa (£4.6m and 6.1%) the first to appear, even though the team has kept a league-leading three clean sheets.
The pair also lead the way among Villa’s backline for points – 30 and 28 respectively – with Matty Cash (18 points) and Matt Targett (£4.5m and 17pts) yet to produce attacking returns.
Targett, however, had two shots against the Foxes – no Villa player had more – while Cash has created four chances this season.
In terms of attacking points, the full-backs’ time will come, you feel, and Targett’s price tag could be a key factor for many.
No Vardy, No Party
Leicester out-shot their visitors 11-10, but barely stretched Martinez, a Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) effort the toughest of the five saves he had to make.
Much of the reason for that was down to the absence, with a calf injury, of striker Jamie Vardy (£10.1m).
Leicester started the season by scoring 12 goals in their first three matches, with five of them coming from the forward.
A deep-lying West Ham foiled the Foxes in Gameweek 4, but with no Vardy on Sunday, Villa could keep a higher line and not worry about being hurt in behind by Leicester’s other strikers, Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.7m) and Islam Slimani (£5.0m), who managed just two shots between them.
Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers delivered the latest news on Vardy post-match.
Jamie will probably miss Thursday (Europa League). It’s a recurrence of a problem he’s had for a number of years with his calves. This isn’t serious, so we’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the next league game.
That will be music to the ears of his 22.5% ownership, although a trip to a defensively-improved Arsenal next week is not the fixture for forwards it was last season.
Leicester’s squad is fairly strong, which is just as well with a growing injury list for Rodgers to manage, but they are not the same threat without Vardy to lead the line and stretch defences.
Another key man out injured, the 7.5%-owned Caglar Soyuncu (£5.5m), will not be returning any time soon, as Rodgers confirmed:
Caglar is more serious. The muscle has come right off the bone so he could be three months out.
His absence meant a debut for £32m Saint-Etienne signing Wesley Fofana (£5.0m), and the teenager was, generally, immaculate.
Rodgers was certainly a happy manager:
He was outstanding. Supporters will have great joy watching him. He’s got huge potential and he’ll be a big player for our future.
So while Vardy was sorely missed, Fofana ensured Soyuncu’s absence was fully covered – a welcome piece of news for the 20%+ of FPL managers hoping for future clean sheets from full-backs Timothy Castagne (£5.8m) and James Justin (£4.8m).
Leicester City XI (4-5-1): Schmeichel; Justin, Evans, Fofana, Castagne; Tielemans, Mendy (Choudhury 78′), Praet (Maddison 68′), Perez, Barnes, Iheanacho (Slimani 71′).
Aston Villa XI (4-5-1): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn, Trezeguet (Traore 81′), Barkley, Grealish; Watkins.
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