West Brom 0-0 Burnley
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
- Bonus points: Nick Pope x3 (£5.5m), Sam Johnstone x2 (£4.5m), Darnell Furlong x1 (£4.5m), Conor Townsend x1 (£4.5m), Kevin Long x1 (£4.5m)
In the Nick of time
Nick Pope (£5.5m) finally got off the mark for the 2020/21 season as he secured a textbook double-figure haul in Burnley’s 0-0 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
While many were expecting this Monday-night clash to be a dull affair, the fact that the Clarets got their first clean sheet of the season is still relevant from a Fantasy perspective.
The Baggies have hardly been one of the worst attacking outfits so far this season, their total of five goals level with Wolves and more than Burnley, Sheffield United and Fulham.
As a result of West Brom winning shot count (13 to nine), Pope was able to tack six saves onto his clean sheet, earning him an additional two points as well as maximum bonus.
“The start point for us was to get back to a performance more like ourselves, in both boxes, defending one well and looking a threat in the other, and I thought we did, so that was pleasing. We kept them quite quiet, Popey had some saves where he smothered it far side, so I was pleased with the defensive side of things.” – Sean Dyche
Crucially, Pope’s Gameweek 5 score of 11 points was at least four more than any colleague on Monday night. With his solitary bonus point, Kevin Long (£4.5m) finished second to the goalkeeper on seven, James Tarkowski (£5.4m) and Erik Pieters (£4.4m) managed six, while the booked Charlie Taylor (£4.5m) could only manage a five-point score.
While those assets offer a cheaper route into the Burnley defence it is still worth noting that, despite this season’s price hike, Pope has the best points per million spent among his colleagues after the first five Gameweeks (2.7).
Home meetings with Spurs and Chelsea in Gameweeks 6 and 7 respectively hardly appeal from a clean sheet perspective but, against so-called big-six sides last season, Pope was inside the top four goalkeepers for saves (48). Of those shot-stoppers, Mat Ryan (£4.5m) is the only one other than Pope who remains in the division, Tim Krul (53) and Ben Foster (50) suffering relegation.
Owners of Burnley defensive assets had probably been losing patience ahead of Gameweek 5 but following the 0-0 draw, there is certainly reason to believe that Dyche has improved his back-line over the international break.
The Clarets had conceded seven goals in the two away games before Monday night but they restricted their hosts at the Hawthorns and looked much more like the Burnley defence we have come to know and love in recent years.
Taylor was particularly impressive in the way he kept on top of West Brom’s chief creator Matheus Pereira (£6.0m), save for the Brazilian getting free on the back post late on, only for Pope to produce a decent save.
With Burnley’s defence, it is important to remember the mitigating circumstances behind their struggles thus far. They have had to deal with injuries to Ben Mee (£4.9m) and Tarkowski, as well as Matt Lowton (£4.4m).
“We’re coming through an awkward period with injuries, off the field situations that have needed managing, and pleased we looked more like what we’re about. The injuries have to be factored in, but, within all that, we get on with the challenge, as we have done over many years here.” – Sean Dyche
Furthermore, three of Burnley’s first four matches have been on the road so far this season. In 2019/20, they shipped 27 goals on the road and kept seven clean sheets, compared to conceded 23 and registering eight shut-outs at Turf Moor.
While the Clarets host Spurs and Chelsea next, the following three opponents to visit the Lancashire side are Crystal Palace (Gameweek 9), Everton (Gameweek 11) and Wolves (Gameweek 14) – two of which are currently inside the Premier League’s bottom six for goals scored.
“We’ve had three out of four away games, although it is an awkward time in stadiums of course, the feel of it, but statistically it is difficult to win away games in the Premier League.” – Sean Dyche
Blast from the past
Cult FPL hero Branislav Ivanovic (£4.5m) made his eagerly anticipated Premier League debut for West Brom on Monday night and, unsurprisingly, already looks to be one of their most important players.
Operating as a centre-back, the former Chelsea man added much-needed organisation and leadership to the Baggies’ defence and it should be seen as no coincidence that his first league outing produced a first clean sheet of the campaign.
Admittedly, Burnley’s attack has hardly been inspiring this season but it will be worth keeping an eye on whether or not Ivanovic can make West Brom’s defence harder to beat, especially against some more formidable front-lines.
Not only did Ivanovic offer stability at the back, but he also showed some of his trademark penalty box presence at the Hawthorns, also something to keep an eye on.
The Serbian international went close to scoring twice, each time denied by strong Pope saves.
Phil Bardsley (£4.5m) was the latest Premier League to test positive for coronavirus, which Burnley revealed in combination with the team sheet on Monday night.
With Lowton out injured and Bardsley self-isolating for the next 10 days, Pieters temporarily has a relatively sure route into the starting line-up, covering at right-back against West Brom and in line to do the same when Spurs come to Turf Moor.
“Erik Pieters filling in and doing a good job as he tends to do, all these signs.” – Sean Dyche
Meanwhile, Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.4m) was able to overcome his flag to play 68 minutes on the right of Burnley’s midfield and, despite being a doubt thanks to a lack of match fitness, Callum Robinson (£5.5m) was on the West Brom bench and came on for the last 17 minutes.
West Bromwich Albion XI (4-1-4-1): Johnstone; C Townsend, Hegazi, Ivanovic, Furlong; Livermore; Diangana, Krovinovic (Sawyers 79′), Gallagher, M Pereira (M Phillips 88′); Grant (C Robinson 73′).
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; C Taylor, K Long, Tarkowski, Pieters; McNeil, Westwood, Brownhill, Gudmundsson (Brady 69′); Wood, A Barnes (Rodriguez 77′).
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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