We round up the headline FPL talking points from Sunday’s matches in our whistle-stop review.
Jack Grealish (£7.7m) was absent as Aston Villa succumbed to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Leicester City.
Rumours had swirled about the midfielder’s potential absence both before and after Friday’s Gameweek 25 deadline and there is still an element of mystery about how long the England international will be sidelined for, with the Athletic’s Gregg Evans reporting that Grealish will also miss next weekend’s match against Leeds United and the BBC’s Simon Stone going a step further and declaring (in a subsequently watered down article) that he may miss a month of action.
Interviewed after full-time, Villa boss Dean Smith expressed hope that Grealish could be back in time for Gameweek 26 – although did admit that he would have to be an “optimist” to think that:
Jack had some discomfort on Friday afternoon so we pulled him out of training, assessed him and didn’t think he was right for the game.
It’s not a re-occurrence of a longstanding injury or an old injury. It’s not going to be a long-term injury but I’ll be guided by the medical staff as to how long he’ll be out and Jack himself. I can’t tell you any more than that really.
Pretty much [a case of taking it game by game], yeah. If I’m an optimist maybe he’ll be back for Leeds or, if not, Sheffield United but I have to be guided by him and the medical staff and see how it is.
FPL managers aren’t hanging around either way, with Grealish the most-sold player of Gameweek 26 and already flogged by over 100,000 managers.
MADDISON ALL RIGHT?
Leicester City have their own injury concern as we prepare for the biggest Double Gameweek of the season.
James Maddison (£7.3m) continued his fine form on Sunday and opened the scoring at Villa Park – his 12th goal or assist in his last 14 appearances.
But the England midfielder hobbled from the field of play just after the hour-mark, having twice needed treatment from the visitors’ physios.
Brendan Rodgers said after full-time:
He had an issue with his hip last season. He just felt it when he was taking the corner so as a precaution we’ve taken him off and we’ll examine that over the next couple of days.
Harvey Barnes (£6.8m) is probably the biggest winner from the flags on fellow mid-price midfielders Grealish and Maddison: he is currently the most-bought asset of Gameweek 26.
Barnes recorded his second successive double-digit haul with a goal and an assist in the Foxes’ victory, which took his total to 10 attacking returns in 11 Gameweeks.
Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) was intriguingly deployed ‘out of position’ in that win for the Foxes, lining up on the right of midfield ahead of Timothy Castagne (£5.7m) – although how much that selection was made with a plan to combat Grealish in mind is another question.
1-0 TO THE ARSENAL’S OPPONENTS
Ilkay Gundogan (£6.1m) made a swift return from injury at the Emirates this afternoon but couldn’t add to his season’s goal tally of 11.
The German started and finished the game in his now customary ‘number eight’ role but he, and City as a collective, never really clicked in an attacking sense in north London.
Not that Pep Guardiola’s side really needed to get out of second gear, with Arsenal failing to capitalise on some threatening positions in the final third and mustering only one shot on target in the entire game.
This was City’s 15th clean sheet of the season and their 13th in the last 16 Gameweeks.
Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) made his first start on his return from injury as a ‘false nine’ and managed to look both classy and rusty before being hooked on the hour-mark, while the advanced Joao Cancelo (£6.1m) again saw plenty of penalty-box action and wasted a glorious chance to double City’s lead when toe-poking wide from 10 yards.
Raheem Sterling (£11.6m) was the visitors’ match-winner, nodding home Riyad Mahrez‘s (£8.1m) second-minute cross for his 13th attacking return in his last 14 league starts.
West Ham United defeated Tottenham Hotspur in the first Premier League game of the day, with Jesse Lingard (£5.9m) continuing his purple patch of form in east London.
Lingard’s goal was his fourth attacking return in as many appearances for the Hammers and turned out to be the match-winner, which secured him maximum bonus points and a double-digit haul.
Michail Antonio (£6.6m) was passed fit to play and marked his return with an early goal, although his comeback was ever-so-slightly tainted with a second-half booking.
Tomas Soucek (£5.3m) also picked up a yellow card en route to a one-pointer, with FPL’s most-owned defender, Aaron Cresswell (£5.8m), losing his clean sheet when Lucas Moura (£6.6m) nodded home Gareth Bale‘s (£9.3m) corner.
Soucek and Vladmir Coufal (£4.7m) were involved in separate collisions but recovered to finish the game.
Son Heung-min (£9.5m) and Harry Kane (£11.1m) both blanked but came within inches of a return: the former striking the woodwork late on with a freak, looping touch, with the latter seeing a potential assist go up in smoke in the process.
Kane had also teed the impressive Bale up for a second-half attempt that clipped the bar.
All in all, though, another underwhelming Spurs display (their fifth defeat in six) will leave some FPL managers pondering whether even Kane and Son are worth the outlay for the upcoming Double Gameweek.
“It’s not been his best game but…”
That line has regularly been used in conjunction with Bruno Fernandes‘ (£11.6m) name over the past few months and there was almost an inevitability on Sunday that, after an anonymous first half in which his most notable contribution was to pick up a booking, the Portuguese playmaker would still come good.
A slightly fortunate assist for Daniel James‘ (£6.2m) goal and a customary penalty brought up his 10th double-digit haul of the season and means that he has now racked up 307 FPL points in his 39 appearances for Manchester United.
Matching Fernandes on the day was Marcus Rashford (£9.6m), who won the aforementioned spot-kick after earlier firing United in front.
Anthony Martial (£8.7m) couldn’t take advantage of the injured Edinson Cavani’s (£7.9m) absence and turned in a poor showing, while United’s back four yet again conceded to a Premier League struggler – the bottom five teams in the division have all breached the Red Devils’ defence in 2020/21, with Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.1m) the latest to profit.
Luke Shaw‘s (£5.1m) owners may overlook those deficiencies so long as the left-back continues to create chances a furious rate – the defender was again top for key passes for his side on Sunday.
GOALS, ASSIST AND BONUS
(Courtesy of LiveFPL.net)
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