Burnley 0-0 West Bromwich Albion
Bonus: James Tarkowski (£5.3m) x3, Nick Pope (£5.6m) x2, Matt Lowton (£4.5m) x1, Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) x1
Burnley and West Brom played out a goalless draw of some drama and considerably less quality.
Fantasy interest revolved around the Burnley defence.
Keeper Nick Pope (£5.6m) was far and away the most popular player on duty, with his 15.7% ownership handed an eight-pointer from the Clarets’ second clean sheet in three matches.
Some 6.6% of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) bosses earned shut-out points from Ben Mee (£5.1m), back after missing the midweek draw with Fulham following a suspected concussion last weekend.
It was a measure of just how poor the match was that much of the Fantasy talk involved whether Pope would be awarded a save, and therefore a save point, when he only partly blocked a goal-bound effort (he wasn’t), while the 3.7% of managers with Matt Lowton (£4.5m) in their teams were left to bemoan a late booking which clipped his bonus point potential.
But in truth, all those bosses were lucky to bank clean sheet returns at all, let alone moan about a missed point here or there.
Despite being reduced to ten men when VAR rightly persuaded Mike Dean to send off Semi Ajayi (£4.8m) for handball, the Baggies grew into the contest and missed excellent late chances to take all three points from the contest.
That confirmed a key issue point regarding West Brom. Even with Semi detached, manager Sam Allardyce bet the house on a win – surely the shape of things to come if he is to retain his relegation-dodging crown.
Matheus Pereira (£5.4m) was the stand-out attacking threat on the day, with his six attempts and three penalty area touches both match-leading figures.
He played (nominally) just behind lone striker Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m), although frequently ran past him on the break or during their occasional periods in possession – the Baggies had just 30% of that across the entire match.
But both were guilty of missing big chances.
That’s a luxury Allardyce’s men can simply not afford as they head into a decent mini-run involving Brighton and Everton at home during Double Gameweek 26, followed by a visit from Newcastle and a trip to Crystal Palace.
A first clean sheet under Allardyce was reward for the loyalty of the 2.2% of managers who have been living off save points from keeper Sam Johnstone (£4.5m), but his boss was left to rue a missed opportunity:
We are getting better and looking more dangerous and all we have to do at the top end of the pitch is be more clinical with our finishing. But if those performances carry on, then I’m convinced they will turn into wins rather than draws.
Then again, Burnley were unlucky that VAR didn’t intervene regarding a second hand ball incident, this time involving Kyle Bartley (£4.4m) in his own area.
Clarets boss Sean Dyche went for the ‘I’ve seen them given’ line on the incident, before delivering his verdict on a poor performance:
We gave the ball away so many times today. That is mental fatigue. Pitch was poor. The players were off, but we came away with a point and a clean sheet. We know these players can play better than that.
‘Mental fatigue’ is not the best preparation for Double Gameweek 26’s trip to Spurs and a home match with Leicester.
That’s a schedule inspiring indifference, with no Burnley players in the top 30 for transfers-in, and Mee currently the only Claret in the corresponding transfers-out table.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; C Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton; McNeil, Westwood, Cork, Brownhill; Rodriguez (Mumbongo 81), Vydra.
West Brom XI (4-2-3-1): Johnstone; C Townsend, Bartley, Ajayi, Furlong; Yokuslu, Gallagher; M Phillips (O’Shea 32), M Pereira, Maitland-Niles; Diagne.
Fulham 1-0 Sheffield United
- Goals: Ademola Lookman (£5.0m)
- Assists: None
- Bonus: Lookman x3, Ola Aina (£4.5m) x2, Joachim Andersen (£4.5m) x1
Fulham’s quest to escape relegation – and find some Fantasy relevance – continued to gather momentum with a dour win over fellow strugglers Sheffield United.
The Cottagers are now unbeaten in four matches, and three of those have come with the added bonus of a clean sheet.
That has sparked some belated Fantasy interest in their back line, with keeper Alphonse Areola (£4.5m and 4.0%) the most popular starter across both teams.
But, arguably, it is two of Fulham’s back four who deserve the attention.
Both Ola Aina (£4.5m) and Joachim Andersen (£4.5m) brought in bonus against the Blades, with the former having produced scores of 11, nine and eight over his last three starts, and skipper Andersen’s 9,239 owners enjoying four straight returns, courtesy of those three clean sheets and an assist.
The centre-half was perhaps unlucky not to be handed the assist on Saturday as it was his pass to Ademola Lookman (£5.0m) that led to the winning goal, but the winger’s subsequent engagement with Ethan Ampadu (£4.3m) was deemed another passage of play.
That disappointment aside, both defenders are offering an attacking threat to go with their new-found defensive solidity, which bodes well for a Double Gameweek 26 involving a trip to Crystal Palace and a visit from Spurs – neither of whom are .
It’s persuaded a modest (circa 7,000) amount of managers to invest in Aina thus far, although Fulham’s schedule following that double (Liverpool away, Manchester City at home) is unlikely to lead to a rush on their key assets.
Lookman’s goal was his first attacking return in seven starts. He’s been a lively presence this season – his 52 attempts has been eclipsed by only five other midfielders, but his goal conversion rate of 7.7% is bettered by more than 80.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, continue to plough a consistently awful furrow, not helped by a terrible run of injuries, with Chris Basham (£4.6m) the latest victim.
One of the mainstays of last year’s superb defence, he started in midfield at Craven Cottage before manager Chris Wilder moved him into a back five after 30 minutes to help counter Fulham’s press.
That worked for a while, only for Basham to succumb to a hamstring issue after the break, leading Wilder to deliver this post-match verdict:
Basham has done his hamstring. He’s the fittest professional in club by a country mile. The record that we have had is ridiculous, only two or three players who have not had injuries this season, which is incredible. We’ll wait ’til we get home to Sheffield and see what the state is.
The state of the Blades’ league campaign is woeful indeed – they’re 14 points adrift of 17th-placed Newcastle.
And their lack of Fantasy appeal is perfectly summed up by their most popular player Rhian Brewster (£4.4m). His 6.4% ownership is entirely down to his cut-price as he’s played just four minutes of the last four Gameweeks.
A Double Gameweek 26 involving visits from Liverpool and Aston Villa isn’t likely to tempt Fantasy managers into buying him or his team-mates.
Fulham XI (4-4-2): Areola; A Robinson, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Aina; Reed, Anguissa; Lookman (De Cordova-Reid 90′), Loftus-Cheek, Cavaleiro (Tete 78); Maja.
Sheffield Utd XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale; K Bryan, Ampadu, Jagielka (Bogle 80); Basham (Norwood 51), Stevens, Fleck, Lundstram (McGoldrick 74), Baldock; McBurnie, Sharp.
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