Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa
- Goals: Olivier Giroud (£6.7m) | Anwar El Ghazi (£5.8m)
- Assists: Ben Chilwell (£6.1m) | Matty Cash (£5.0m)
- Bonus points: Giroud x3, Cash x2, El Ghazi x1
A GREAL G
Anwar El Ghazi (£5.8m) is making a strong case to replace Jack Grealish (£7.8m) in Fantasy Premier League teams after scoring for Aston Villa in their 1-1 draw at Chelsea.
The Dutch winger now has five goals in as many appearances since Gameweek 12, the most of any colleague during that time.
Crucially, the penalty-taking El Ghazi has vastly outscored Grealish over the last five matches – an impressive feat for a man who can offer a £2.0m saving on top of his points potential.
In that time, the cheaper of the two has scored 42 points, averaging 8.4 points per game.
Meanwhile, Grealish has contributed just two attacking returns since Gameweek 12, both of them assists, for a total of 19 points (3.8 per game).
Anyone considering El Ghazi can take additional comfort from Dean Smith’s comments after the draw at Chelsea.
Despite a gap of just two days between Villa’s Gameweek 15 and 16 matches, he made just one change to his team – and even that was enforced. Tyrone Mings (£5.4m) missed out due to suspension so Ezri Konsa (£4.7m) and Kortney Hause (£4.4m) were paired together at centre-back for the first time this season.
That meant El Ghazi, Grealish, Bertrand Traoré (£5.9m) and Ollie Watkins (£6.1m) comprised the front-four once again and, it must be said, none of them looked as if they were suffering from the busy schedule, each putting in a gut-busting shift.
“I’m a big believer that you want to play every game. That’s what footballers want. If they doing well, keep playing them. I didn’t name the team until today but I wanted to check they were alright but I’m still yet to see a player carried off the pitch due to exhaustion.” – Dean Smith
Smith may not be entirely accurate with the second half of that quote (I’ve seen plenty of players forced off with exhaustion and/or cramp and I’m close to half his age) – but his commitment to keeping the same team is encouraging for Fantasy managers.
His squad was possibly helped by the postponement of a Gameweek 11 hosting of Newcastle, as that afforded them 12 days of rest at the start of December – a luxury few other clubs have enjoyed this Christmas.
Either way, looking ahead, it will arguably be much easier to predict the Villa line-up and invest with confidence compared to many other teams – perhaps until they suffer another bad patch of form.
Villa’s short-term fixtures could play a part in that as they face Manchester United (away) and Spurs (home) in the next two Gameweeks – perhaps warranting pause before jumping straight into signing El Ghazi.
By contrast, Frank Lampard wreaked havoc with Fantasy teams on a day where Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£8.0m) and Kevin De Bruyne (£11.7m) were handed an unexpected Blank Gameweek.
Three of Chelsea’s four most-popular assets, Kurt Zouma (27.0%), Timo Werner (14.0%) and Reece James (12.8%), missed out on a place in the starting XI against Aston Villa as Lampard managed the minutes of his squad.
Zouma and Thiago Silva‘s (£5.6m) absences was simply down to the volume of games played recently but in the case of James, he was left out of the squad because of a “minor” hamstring problem suffered after recent issues with his knee.
Despite playing the full 90 minutes, Ben Chilwell (£6.1m) still caused some Fantasy anguish. After losing over 855,000 owners over the last four Gameweeks, the left-back now has the same number of assists in that time (two) than he did during the first 12 league matches of the campaign – and he nearly scored a wonder-volley in the closing stages.
Meanwhile, it was noteworthy to see Christian Pulisic (£8.2m) start a second game in two days and manage to last 90 minutes each time – perhaps suggesting he can offer a robust route into Chelsea’s attack for matches against Fulham (away) and Leicester (away) in Double Gameweek 19.
“Christian was really bright which is great when he’s played two games close together, fitness-wise.” – Frank Lampard
That said, Fantasy managers should keep an eye on any breaking news coming out of the Manchester City camp in the next few days.
Their trip to Everton, originally scheduled for Monday, was postponed due to an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, putting their Gameweek 17 trip to Stamford Bridge in jeopardy too.
“It’s something we’ll discuss considering we’ve got them at the weekend. It’s something I’ll have to pick up with the medical team and the Premier League.” – Frank Lampard
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): E Mendy; Chilwell, Rüdiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Mount, Jorginho (Havertz 72′), Kanté; Pulisic, Giroud (Werner 72′), Hudson-Odoi.
Aston Villa XI (4-2-3-1): Martínez; Targett, Hause, Konsa, Cash; McGinn, D Luiz; El Ghazi (J Ramsey 81′), Grealish, B Traoré (Davis 87′); Watkins.
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