Sheffield United 1-0 Newcastle
- Goals: Billy Sharp (£5.5m)
- Assists: None
- Bonus points: Ethan Ampadu x3 (£4.3m), Aaron Ramsdale x2 (£4.7m), Sharp x1
Sheffield United finally showed some of the form of last season to record their first win over the season over a poor Newcastle side.
A penalty club legend Billy Sharp (£5.5m) controversially awarded by VAR was enough to give them the 1-0 win.
Free Hitters plumping for Newcastle assets like Karl Darlow (£5.0m) and Callum Wilson (£6.6m) in Blank Gameweek 18 will be fuming at the Magpies display, who were vulnerable at the back and toothless up front.
The performance was made even worse by Ryan Fraser (£5.6m) getting sent off in the first half for two bookable offences. But the Toon were poor even with 11 men on the pitch.
Owners of premium assets looking to target the Blades may also be having second thoughts after a much improved performance.
Chris Wilder’s backline which was a staple of so many manager’s teams last year has been rightly avoided this season, conceding the third-highest amount of goals in the Premier League.
The Blades had been without a clean sheet all season, and conceded goals to some of the league’s weakest attacks.
Even their last four games where they played Crystal Palace, Burnley and Brighton yielded no clean sheet returns.
But, albeit it against a poor Newcastle team, their defence looked well organised and was barely troubled all game.
Chelsea loanee Ethan Ampadu (£4.3m) scooped the maximum bonus after a strong defensive display. He may even have picked up an assist had Oliver Burke’s (£4.3m) touch not deserted him when going through on goal.
Aaron Ramsdale (£4.7m), who has received a lot of stick since returning to the club from Bournemouth, looked assured between the sticks as he collected two bonus points.
And had Karl Darlow (£5.0m) not been at his best, then wing-back Jayden Bogle (4.3m) would also have added to his goal tally.
Chris Wilder praised his side for their battling display, while playing down any talk of a great escape.
Regardless of what people say about Newcastle, you look at their team and they’ve got some good players, they’ve got some fabulous players off the bench and they’re an established Premier League side and we’re not. They’re established Premier League players and our players aren’t and they’re fighting for their lives and I think you saw that tonight. You saw a team that was fighting for their lives that was brave enough to play as well in and out of possession, stuff was good.”Chris Wilder
With Sam Baldock (£5.0m) injured, Bogle looks to have nailed down the right wing-back berth at Sheffield United and has put in some eye-catching displays.
The former Derby man bombed down the right hand side and had two attempts in the box well saved by Darlow.
On Tuesday evening, only Anthony Martial (£8.8m) had a higer expected goals tally than Bogle, without scoring.
Add this to his goal and all-round attacking display at Brighton, Bogle could be worth considering once the Blades’ fixtures clear up.
Time up for Bruce?
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle have remained bottom of most stats tables throughout the season.
The Magpies managed to defy the stats and the eye test in the first half of the campaign, picking up some impressive results along the way.
But it appears that these performances are coming home to roost.
The loss to the Blades means no wins in six now for the Geordies, who are sliding worryingly towards a relegation battle.
Fans are now calling for manager Bruce’s head, after watching their side being outplayed by all the bottom three.
But a clearly dejected Bruce quickly confirmed he would not be resigning in the wake of this result.
“Look, you’re asking the wrong person about that. I’ll never, ever walk away from a challenge and I’ve been in it long enough to have that respect. But I understand that, especially watching the first half, we weren’t good enough and at the end of the day I take the responsibility because I pick the team.”Steve Bruce
Newcastle’s star striker has now gone four games without delivering any FPL returns.
Take penalties out of the equation, and Wilson has not scored since Newcastle’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace back in Gameweek 10.
Part of this is the fault of his teammates and their tactical set-up, with Wilson appearing lonelier than Tom Hanks’ ball for huge parts of the game.
With his side having so little possession, Wilson is often seen drifting back towards his own goal in search of the ball.
But the striker is also starting to miss big chances which he was gobbling up earlier in the season.
The Toon’s only big chance of the game fell to the hitman, who headed wide from close range.
With Wilson shy of goals and service, he no longer looks to be a viable FPL asset.
Newcastle United XI (5-4-1): Darlow; Yedlin (Murphy 84), Fernandez (Carroll 77), Schar, Clark, Dummett (Ritchie 74) Hendrick, Hayden, Longstaff, Fraser, Wilson
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Bogle, Basham (Brewster 51), Ampadu, Egan, Osborn; Fleck, Lundstram, Norwood; McGoldrick (Jagielka 94), Burke (Sharp 59)