Sheff Utd 0-1 West Ham
- Goals: Sebastien Haller (£6.1m)
- Assists: Pablo Fornals (£6.4m)
- Bonus Points: Haller x3, Lukasz Fabianski x2 (£5.0m), Aaron Cresswell x1 (£5.1m), Arthur Masuaku x1 (£4.5m)
A sweet strike from Sebastien Haller (£6.1m) secured a second-straight win for West Ham as Sheffield United’s start to the season remained on the wrong side of hellish.
The striker blasted home from the edge of the area after the ball fell to him courtesy of a Pablo Fornals (£6.4m) ricochet, consigning the Blades to a fourth consecutive defeat their enterprise probably did not merit.
Chris Wilder’s side might have been out-shot 15-9 by the visitors, but they forced Lukasz Fabianski (£5.0m) into five saves and would have had at least a point from the encounter had Oli McBurnie (£5.7m) not hit the woodwork when put clean through.
That lack of ruthlessness is the reason why United have managed only four goals from nine winless matches this season, while their zero clean sheets adds another layer to the Fantasy disinterest in their players at present.
Haller of Fame
The same cannot be said of the Hammers.
Having survived and thrived during a brutal opening run of fixtures, their assets have started on a kinder schedule by winning 1-0 win for two Gameweeks in a row.
Even a hamstring injury to key striker Michail Antonio (£62m) has not disrupted David Moyes’ men too badly, with stand-in Haller putting in a fine shift at Bramall Lane.
West Ham’s replacement striker is owned by just 0.3% in Fantasy Premier League (FPL) and that figure is unlikely to rise on the back of one, albeit excellent, performance.
Moyes was happy to praise Haller post-match.
“He came back from international duty and I could sense in the two days we had back training that he had a spring in his step. His confidence seemed up and we’re really pleased with that. He’s showing signs now, and like today’s goal, we want him to get more goals and to be more involved in the build up play and stronger in some situations.” – David Moyes
But the manager’s recent update on Antonio’s fitness suggests there will soon be competition for the lone striker role and it’s a contest the Englishman will probably win based on his form this calendar year.
“Michail is back training. He’s getting much closer (to full fitness) that’s for sure. He’s a really important player to the team and how we play. If we can get him back, good, but I don’t want to say if we can because at the moment we’re not quite sure if he’s ready yet.” – David Moyes
Gameweek 10’s visit of Aston Villa might be too soon for an Antonio start, but a return to the match-day squad looks ever likelier. Yet another week where many Fantasy eyes will be on Moyes’ pre-match press conference.
Fortunately for Fantasy managers looking for differentials, investment in West Ham players remains low. Defender Aaron Cresswell (£5.1m) is by far and away the most popular pick with 9.3% ownership.
But the side’s midfielders continue to offer attacking potential for relatively low prices.
As explained in more detail in the Premium Members analysis above, Bowen carries a clear offensive threat, but at present it is Fornals who leads the midfield pack with 48 points and a goal and an assist from his last three starts.
The budget appeal of Tomas Soucek (£4.9m) has made him the most-owned of the Hammers’ middle men and his 3.0% following should have seen him add to Gameweek 8’s first goal of the season, only for him to blow a superb chance in the first half on Sunday when set up by Haller’s astute header.
Few Shall Pass
It would not be a Moyes team without some of his focus being on the backline.
“We’re not going to do well enough if we don’t defend well enough, and we’ve started to pick up a few clean sheets, so long may that continue.” – David Moyes
West Ham are currently joint-top for clean sheets this season, with four, and only two teams have conceded fewer goals than the 10 they’ve shipped thus far.
Vladimir Coufal (£4.6m) was the first to work Sheffield keeper Aaron Ramsdale (£4.8m) on Sunday and he also chipped in with three chances created.
It was Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m) who brought in bonus to go with their clean sheet points, however.
Cresswell is currently the only West Ham player in the top 30 for Gameweek 10 transfers-in, putting him on course for a seventh straight rise in ownership.
But West Ham’s immediate schedule is, arguably, not quite as attractive as it might seem at first glance.
Their next two home opponents, Villa and then Manchester United, have performed better on the road, and the three fixtures that follow (Leeds (away), Crystal Palace (home), Chelsea (away)) are likely to be tight and tough affairs.
Picking clean sheet and attacking returns out of that lot looks tricky, although the relatively low prices of West Ham assets should still tempt many.
The temptation regarding Sheffield United players is to bin them off – if you haven’t done so already, that is.
Next Saturday’s trip to West Brom already looks like a must-win game for a team suffering badly from the absence of key players, with the long-term injury to Jack O’Connell (£4.8m) a particular issue for a defence that was so resolute last season.
Only Rhian Brewster (£4.5m and 6.1%) has significant ownership levels, but he’s struggling to even hold down a regular starting berth, which makes his cheap and cheerless status a perfect metaphor for the team as a whole.
Wilder is not about to throw in the towel.
“There’s a long way to go. Without being disrespectful to some of the places this football club has had to go, it is no good taking a backwards step and feeling sorry for yourself.” – Chris Wilder
But without being disrespectful to his players, Fantasy managers are unlikely to be joining them on their journey any time soon.
Sheffield United (5-3-2): Ramsdale; Baldock, Egan, Ampadu (Robinson 62), Basham (Lundstram 76), Lowe; Berge, Norwood (Brewster 65), Fleck; McBurnie, McGoldrick.
West Ham (3-4-2-1): Fabianski; Cresswell, Balbuena, Ogbonna; Coufal, Rice, Soucek, Masuaku; Bowen (Noble 90+2), Fornals (Lanzini 76); Haller.
Lessons Learned from FPL Gameweek 9
- Newcastle United 0-2 Chelsea
- Aston Villa 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion
- Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Manchester City
- Manchester United 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
- Fulham 2-3 Everton
- Sheffield United 0-1 West Ham United
- Leeds United 0-0 Arsenal
- Liverpool 3-0 Leicester City
- Burnley 1-0 Crystal Palace
- Wolves 1-1 Southampton
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