Aston Villa 0-3 Leeds
- Goals: Patrick Bamford x3 (£5.8m)
- Assists: Rodrigo (£5.8m), Mateusz Klich (£5.6m), Hélder Costa (£5.7m)
- Bonus points: Bamford x3, Robin Koch x2 (£4.5m), Ezgjan Alioski x1 (£4.4m)
Patrick Bamford (£5.8m) proved on Friday night that he is more than just an early-season bandwagon, as he netted a spectacular second-half hat-trick at Aston Villa.
The Leeds forward made the perfect start to life in the Premier League with five attacking returns in the first three Gameweeks but had registered two consecutive blanks
Just as comparisons with Teemu Pukki were incoming, Bamford lit up Villa Park on Friday night, terrorising what we thought was the best defence in the league to score three well-deserved goals.
Still priced below £6.0m, the former Chelsea man simply cannot stop offering exceptional value for his 24.8% ownership. As of Saturday morning, he has six goals to his name, behind only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£7.7m) in that department among forwards, while Harry Kane (£10.8m) is the only player in his position with more FPL points.
That puts significant pressure on virtually every other forward in the rest of Gameweek 6, especially the similarly priced Callum Wilson (£6.5m), Aleksandar Mitrovic (£5.9m) and Neal Maupay (£6.6m) to deliver – because, even after a couple of price rises, signing Bamford would still be an easy switch.
Thus far, away matches seem to be where he truly thrives, perhaps not entirely unsurprising considering the way Leeds excel in transition and on the counter-attack. Bamford is yet to blank on the road this season, 32 of his 49 FPL points (65.3%) coming outside Elland Road.
The Whites’ upcoming road trips between now and Gameweek 11 take them to Crystal Palace, Everton and Chelsea, who combine for just two home clean sheets from a possible nine this season.
While Jack Grealish (£7.2m) now has blanks in each of his last two Premier League outings, the 27.5%-owned midfielder was very unfortunate not to come away with attacking returns against Leeds.
Those not watching the game on BT Sport’s Box Office will have missed two of his glorious opportunities to find the net on Friday night.
In the first half, Grealish hung back to pounce on a loose ball in the box, firing a powerful left-footed effort back across Illan Meslier‘s (£4.5m) almost unguarded goal – only to see it cleared off the line by a last-ditch Luke Ayling (£4.5m) block.
Then, in the second period, Grealish won the ball in his own half, shrugged off Hélder Costa (£5.7m), put the ball beyond Robin Koch (£4.5m) and ran past him, danced beyond three Leeds defenders and finally concluded his skilful mazy run with a close-range shot saved by Meslier.
“Jack’s gone on a mazy run and forced a save from the goalkeeper. You have to make the most of those moments.” – Dean Smith
“It wasn’t (Grealish’s night). They’re the moments you need in games like this.” – Dean Smith
Considering how high a line Southampton have been playing recently, such close calls with the back of the net will surely encourage Grealish owners to fancy their chances in Gameweek 7.
Barkley impact on Grealish
Filling in for Phillips
Any Fantasy managers who had jumped on emerging £4.0m defender Pascal Struijk (£4.0m) for Gameweek 6 were left with perhaps the worst possible outcome known to an FPL asset.
In his pre-match press conference, Marcelo Bielsa unveiled the versatile 21-year-old as his chosen replacement for Kalvin Phillips (£5.0m), currently out for up to six weeks with a shoulder injury.
That was, of course, music to the Fantasy community’s ears. How often do we get Premier League managers revealing a £4.0m defender will play out of position for the next six weeks?
However, it was clear just a few minutes into Leeds’ trip to Villa Park that Struijk was somewhat out of his depth.
With the Whites dominating possession but leaving themselves open on the counter, Struijk seriously struggled to keep up with the driving runs of Grealish, Barkley and John McGinn (£5.5m) when Villa were in transition.
He picked up a yellow card for a late tackle on Grealish in the 10th minute before crunching into another mistimed challenge on Douglas Luiz (£5.0m) just moments later, which he was lucky not to receive a second booking for.
With Struijk looking like a red card waiting to happen, Bielsa made the bold, but admirable, decision to substitute him in the 21st minute, replacing him with Jamie Shackleton (£4.8m).
“[Struijk] got a yellow card early on, and there was a lot of agility and mobility in the middle of the park. I wanted to take him off, as a result. After the yellow, he had another foul that was at the limit.” – Marcelo Bielsa
Such a disastrous evening is unlikely to do wonders for Struijk’s confidence. Given how well Shackleton played upon taking to the field, it seems unlikely Struijk will feature from the beginning in Gameweek 7.
Meanwhile, the other impact of Phillips’ absence was Mateusz Klich (£5.6m) assuming the Englishman’s corner-taking duties. Considering the mid-priced midfielder has three attacking returns from open play this season, as well as a penalty, the fact that he has set pieces to his name until Phillips returns seriously increases his FPL appeal.
The fact that Leeds were able to keep a clean sheet against one of the form teams in the Premier League is certainly worth taking note of.
The achievement is even more impressive when we consider the absence of Phillips, Struijk’s terrible start to the game and the fact that first-choice centre-back Liam Cooper (£4.4m) also missed out, still carrying a groin injury sustained on international duty.
With the club captain out and Struijk used in midfield, Bielsa was forced to tuck Ayling into centre-back alongside Koch, while Ezgjan Alioski (£4.4m) deputised at left-back with Stuart Dallas (£4.5m) filling in on the left.
That rather necessary tactical tweak certainly tempered Ayling’s attacking potential compared to what he typically offers as a marauding full-back.
That said, Ayling did come close to an assist even playing at the heart of Leeds’ defence. In the second half, he lofted forward a through-ball from the Virgil van Dijk (£6.4m) or David Luiz (£5.5m) playbook. This connected with Jack Harrison (£5.5m), who cut inside and troubled Emiliano Martínez (£4.8m) with his powerful effort.
The Aston Villa shot-stopper managed a total of six saves in Gameweek 6, a welcome silver-lining to his conceding three goals, leading to a three-point score.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Martínez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, Cash; Barkley, D Luiz, McGinn; Grealish, Watkins, Trézéguet (B Traoré 66′).
Leeds United XI (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Alioski, Ayling, Koch, Dallas; Struijk (Shackleton 21′); Harrison, Rodrigo (Hernández 79′), Klich, Costa (Costa 83′); Bamford.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM FPL GAMEWEEK 6
- Aston Villa 0-3 Leeds United
- West Ham United 1-1 Manchester City
- Fulham 1-2 Crystal Palace
- Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea
- Liverpool 2-1 Sheffield United
- Southampton 2-0 Everton
- Wolves 1-1 Newcastle United
- Arsenal 0-1 Leicester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 West Bromwich Albion
- Burnley 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
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