West Ham 1-3 Liverpool
- Goals: Craig Dawson (£4.5m) | Mohamed Salah x2 (£12.6m), Georginio Wijnaldum (£5.3m)
- Assists: Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m) | Curtis Jones (£4.4m), Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.4m), Roberto Firmino (£9.4m)
- Bonus points: Salah x3 Wijnaldum x2 Shaqiri x1
Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) ended a six-match scoring drought/witch doctor curse to bring in a bumper 15-point haul for his ever-loyal Fantasy Premier League managers, his ownership levels dipping below the three-million mark just the once during his barren spell.
The 40.4% who ignored a purported curse from ‘FPL Witch Doctor’ and didn’t blink were rewarded with two goals against West Ham, the second a thing of beauty involving a sublime touch and finish by Salah from a supreme Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.4m) first-time ball.
The Egyptian’s haul was put into stark Fantasy contrast considering Jurgen Klopp benched Roberto Firmino (£9.4m), while Sadio Mané (£11.9m) missed out with a muscle injury downplayed as ‘a short-term issue’.
That meant Salah and Divock Origi (£5.2m) working as a front-two during an underwhelming first half, prompting Klopp to change his system at the interval.
“In half-time we changed the formation, offensive formation, so the set-up, Millie (James Milner) was now slightly deeper, like a double six together with Gini (Wijnladum), Thiago slightly higher.” – Jurgen Klopp
That returned the Reds closer to their more standard 4-3-3 and the rest was history.
Further back, it was a third straight match without a clean sheet for the Reds, although Nathaniel Phillips (£4.0m) earned post-match praise as Klopp also gave an update on the injured Joel Matip (£5.4m).
“Outstanding game, everybody saw it – super professional, super calm, incredibly strong in the air, good challenges, good football. With Joel we don’t have the final diagnosis, specialists must have a look and stuff like this until we know exactly.” – Jurgen Klopp
The signing of Preston’s Ben Davies should ease the side’s centre-back issues, but Phillips would seem to be the current short-term solution available at a knock-down FPL price.
West Ham, meanwhile, were set up to stifle Liverpool, but offered little going forward, meaning a first blank in four for the 17.6%-owned Michail Antonio (£6.5m).
On the plus side, Craig Dawson (£4.5m) scored for the second match running, thanks to an assist from the ever-productive Aaron Cresswell (£5.5m).
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Fornals (Yarmolenko 62), Bowen (Fredericks 79), Benrahma; Antonio (Noble 79).
Liverpool XI (4-3-1-2): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Henderson, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner (Jones 57), Thiago; Shaqiri (Firmino 69); Salah, Origi (Oxlade-Chamberlain 80).
Leicester 1-3 Leeds
- Goals: Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) | Stuart Dallas (£4.8m), Patrick Bamford (£6.6m), Jack Harrison (£5.4m)
- Assists: James Maddison (£7.3m) | Bamford x2 Raphinha (£5.4m)
- Bonus points: Bamford x3 Harrison x2 Barnes x1
Patrick Bamford (£6.6m) starred as Leeds came from behind to beat a disappointing Leicester City.
A three-match run without an attacking return (and four without a goal) had prompted just over a quarter of a million FPL managers to sell the striker for Gameweek 21.
That impatience (or the fear of their man being this season’s Teemu Pukki) was punished most emphatically as Bamford scored one goal and set up the other two for his first double-digit haul since Gameweek 6.
The forward did finish the match with a dead leg, but played down the extent of the injury post-match, preferring instead to rue his decision to take himself off FPL captaincy duties in his own Fantasy team.
His ‘IRL’ manager, Marcelo Bielsa, was less confident about a groin issue that led to Rodrigo Moreno‘s (£5.7m) first-half substitution.
“I wouldn’t be able to tell you right now, but I have the impression that Rodrigo won’t be available.” – Marcelo Bielsa
Otherwise, it was a fine day for those with Leeds assets.
The 13.2%-owned Stuart Dallas (£4.8m) was again employed in midfield and scored his fourth goal of the season, while midfielders Jack Harrison (£5.4m) and Raphinha (£5.4m) continued their fine recent form with a goal and an assist respectively.
Harrison now has three goals from his last five starts while Raphinha made it a goal and two assists in two Gameweeks, although a muscle issue meant he didn’t finish Sunday’s match.
Leicester started brightly and Harvey Barnes‘ (£6.9m) opening goal confirmed his own excellent form – he’s now produced attacking returns in six of the last seven games, while James Maddison (£7.3m) made it four hauls in five with the assist.
The Foxes switched to a back three in the second half in a (failed) bid to curb Leeds’ attacking threat, although they did consistently work keeper Illan Meslier (£4.7m), who made seven saves overall.
But the team struggles without Jamie Vardy (£10.0m) up top and Wilfred Ndidi (£4.8m) to protect the defence, a fact acknowledged by boss Brendan Rodgers.
“Make no mistake, we have won games without Jamie but the physicality of him and Wilf (Ndidi) benefits the team immensely.” – Brendan Rodgers
Neither will be available for Wednesday’s trip to Fulham, and the hamstring problem that forced
Timothy Castagne (£5.7m) off after 37 minutes makes him doubtful too.
Leicester City XI (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Evans, Justin, Fofana (Ünder 80), Castagne (Pereira 36); Mendy, Tielemans; Albrighton (Söyüncü 45), Maddison, Barnes; Perez.
Leeds United XI (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Struijk, Cooper, Alioski; Phillips; Dallas, Harrison, Rodrigo (Klich 21), Raphinha (Costa 80); Bamford.
Brighton 1-0 Spurs
- Goals: Leandro Trossard (£5.7m)
- Assists: Pascal Gross (£5.8m)
- Bonus points: Gross x3, Trossard x2 Robert Sanchez x1 (£4.4m)
A Leandro Trossard (5.7m) strike and a third straight clean sheet was more than enough for Brighton o see off a lifeless Spurs.
It was the Belgian midfielder’s first goal since Gameweek 1, but it was rich reward from a fine team performance that boss Graham Potter rated his side’s best of the last two seasons.
His Tottenham counterpart, Jose Mourinho, was rather less enthusiastic about his players’ reaction to their midweek loss to Liverpool.
“I can imagine that the team when it loses is a sad team. The reaction after that defeat was not phenomenal, the fact that you lose, I don’t like to speak on behalf of the players, but they feel too much the absence of a player like Harry (Kane).” – Jose Mourinho
FPL’s most popular player, Son Heung-Min (£9.8m), added to the sombre air by producing just the two points for his 59.2% ownership for the second match running.
Without Harry Kane (£11.1m) to feed him chances, Son struggled. More than 60,000 FPL managers seem to think that might continue, making him the third-most sold player heading into Gameweek 22. Kane is top of that list.
And with Chelsea and Manchester City to come over the next three fixtures, more Son sales look inevitable unless Mourinho can find the right balance for his Kane-free side.
As for Brighton, a midweek trip to Liverpool is unlikely to inspire immediate investment in their assets, but a decent run thereafter (bur AVL CRY wba) should put some of their defensive stars on the radar, with goalkeeper Robert Sanchez (£4.4m) offering good value.
Brighton XI (3-4-2-1): Sanchez; Webster, Dunk, White; Veltman (Burn 72), March, Bissouma, Gross; Trossard (Connolly 79), Mac Allister; Maupay (Lallana 79).
Tottenham Hotspur XI (3-4-2-1): Lloris; Sanchez (Vinicius 45), Alderweireld, Rodon; Davies, Hojbjerg, Ndombele (Lamela 74), Sissoko; Son, Bale (Moura 61); Bergwijn.