Fulham 1-2 Crystal Palace
- Goals: Tom Cairney (£5.3m) | Jairo Riedewald (£4.4m), Wilfried Zaha (£7.2m)
- Assists: Harrison Reed (£4.5m) | Zaha, Michy Batshuayi (£5.8m)
- Red cards: Aboubakar Kamara (£5.0m)
- Bonus points: Zaha x3, Cairney x2, Riedewald x1
Za-hard to ignore
Wilfried Zaha‘s (£7.2m) best-ever start to a Premier League campaign is making it hard for non-owning Fantasy managers to ignore him.
The out of position FPL midfielder’s double-figure haul in a 2-1 win at Fulham on Saturday took him to six attacking returns for 2020/21 and a total of 48 points. At the time of writing that was the highest score of any midfielder priced below £9.4m, perhaps unsurprising considering he continues to line up as a striker for Crystal Palace.
Zaha’s previous best start to a season was in 2018/19 when he reached five attacking returns inside the first 10 Gameweeks, an average of 0.5 per match. This time, the Palace man is averaging double that. Having scored five goals in his last six Premier League matches, Zaha has managed as many as he did in his previous 41.
“(Wilfried was) excellent. He’s an excellent player, isn’t he? That’s what Wilf is capable of and we all know that. He just reminds us that when he’s on form, on top of his game and playing with that kind of determination, he’s a very hard player to stop.” – Roy Hodgson
Admittedly, two penalties taken in the absence of Luka Milivojevic (£5.7m) may have helped slightly inflate Zaha’s long-term credentials and it is certainly worth noting that the Serbian international made his first Premier League start of the season in Gameweek 6.
However, Zaha demonstrated that he does not necessarily need spot-kicks to register a double-digit haul, scoring, assisting and taking all three bonus away from Craven Cottage.
Apparently suffering no ill-effects from a collision with the post in the second half, Zaha is sure to attract new owners in the coming days.
21.2% own the Eagles’ man worldwide, while 29.3% of the top 10k were in possession of him at the Gameweek 6 deadline, making Zaha the fifth-most-popular midfielder at that level.
Those worried about not owning him may feel comfortable waiting one more week before making a switch, considering Palace must travel to Wolves in Gameweek 7, who registered three clean sheets from their first five matches of the season.
Once that fixture is out of the way, though, Roy Hodgson’s men will face Leeds (home), Newcastle (home) and West Bromwich Albion (home).
Fantasy managers in possession of a Crystal Palace defender (guilty) found it hard to contain their frustration in the closing stages of the 2-1 win at Fulham.
The Eagles had expertly managed Saturday’s match, allowing a rather unadventurous Cottagers side the lion’s share of possession defending their mostly meagre efforts behind an organised 4-4-2 formation.
“There was some tempo issues, definitely. We’re playing a game against a team where there’s often nine or 10 players in front of you. Have to try and move it around, break between the lines. You have to be clinical in those moments.” – Scott Parker
However, just as was the case against Brighton last weekend, Palace conceded in the closing stages. That is starting to become something of a concerning occurrence for the Eagles.
“Obviously we’ve conceded another injury-time goal but throughout the 90 minutes I thought we defended very well.” – Roy Hodgson
That said, the Eagles’ fixtures remain positive in this respect. Wolves have scored just five times this season, while Palace also face Burnley and West Brom between now and Gameweek 11.
Tom Cairney‘s (£5.3m) impressive late strike ensured the only defender to come away from Crave Cottage with a clean sheet was Nathaniel Clyne (£4.5m), making his debut at right-back.
Which brings us onto the more positive update for Mitchell owners, in light of Patrick van Aanholt‘s (£5.4m) return to fitness.
When the Dutchman came on in the second half, rather than replace his understudy, Hodgson took off debutant Clyne. That allowed van Aanholt to play in his preferred position on the left but also saw Mitchell’s run in the team continue, staffing the right-back berth for the final 18 minutes.
While that is far from confirmation of Mitchell’s starting chances for Gameweek 7, it is certainly something for his owners to cling to as they plan ahead.
Meanwhile, they can also take encouragement for his increased advanced movement. In the second half, Mitchell got all the way around the back of Fulham’s defence and unleashed a low, powerful shot at goal, which Alphonse Areola (£4.5m) saved with his feet.
On the Look-out
Fresh from a name-check in the Scout Squad and Spot the Differential articles, Ademola Lookman (£5.0m) was one of Fulham’s most lively players once again.
As already mentioned, the Cottagers did not offer very much in the way of attacking threat on top of their possession in Gameweek 6, but Lookman arguably went closest.
After scoring and putting up three key passes on his full debut, the former Everton man hit the post twice against Crystal Palace.
“Ade brings us (good performances). In terms of our attacking impetus, Ade can be crucial. Lookman is going to play a big part in that. He hit the post twice today.” – Scott Parker
Meanwhile, Fulham’s defence continues to look very vulnerable. Even though they largely controlled possession on Saturday afternoon, Palace did not have to do much on the counter to get their two goals. Good news for attackers from West Brom, West Ham and Everton, the Cottagers’ next three opponents.
Fulham XI (4-2-3-1): Areola; A Robinson, Ream, Adarabioyo, Aina; Lemina (Reed 79′), Zambo Anguissa (Kamara 66′); Lookman, Loftus-Cheek (Decordova-Reid 74′), Cairney; Mitrović.
Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Guaita; Mitchell, Dann, Kouyaté, Clyne (van Aanholt 72′); Schlupp (Eze 76′), Riedewald (Sakho 85′), Milivojevic, Townsend; Zaha, Batshuayi.
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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