Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Burnley
- Goals: Gareth Bale (£9.3m) x2, Harry Kane (£11.1m), Lucas Moura (£6.6m)
- Assists: Son Heung-min (£9.5m) x2, Bale, Sergio Reguilon (£5.5m)
- Bonus: Bale x3, Son x2, Reguilon x1
The signs were there in the second-half showing against West Ham United last weekend, along with Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa League ties either side of Gameweek 25.
And Gareth Bale (£9.3m) finally, belatedly, reemerged onto the Fantasy Premier League scene in spectacular fashion on Sunday, almost eight years after his first heyday ended.
The winger’s 19-point haul included two goals of his own, both set up by Son Heung-min (£9.5m), with the Welshman claiming the assist for Harry Kane‘s (£11.1m) strike with a raking 50-yard pass.
The least-selected FPL asset in the Spurs starting XI on Sunday, Bale’s ownership has, unsurprisingly, doubled overnight.
£9.3m is a significant sum of money to spend on what is still a bit of an FPL gamble, particularly when proven performers – and more secure starters – like Son are available for a very similar price.
For the small minority who already own Bale, they will feel quietly confident of another start in the second instalment of Spurs’ Gameweek 26 double-header.
The Wales international was taken off after 69 minutes of Sunday’s thrashing of Burnley, perhaps with one eye on the trip to Fulham on Thursday.
The question for prospective new owners in Gameweek 27 is this: if he does start at Craven Cottage, will he then be asked to go again 72 hours later against Crystal Palace on Sunday given his patchy track record with fitness and injury problems?
Jose Mourinho’s post-match comments yesterday do cast doubt on that happening:
A player that gives me this kind of performance of course I want to play him on Thursday and on Sunday, and I want to play him next week against Dinamo Zagreb but I don’t think I can. I don’t think I can.
So this is a process that we have to manage day by day and see how he feels tomorrow and see how he feels after tomorrow. He’s a very important part of this decision-making because he has a lot of experience.
DEEP KANE SON FOCUS
With talk of Bale dominating, slightly going under the radar is the return to fitness of Sergio Reguilon (£5.5m).
Reguilon’s recent injury and Serge Aurier‘s (£5.2m) mid-season dip in form has deprived the Lilywhites of the on-song full-back pairing that started the bulk of the games during their autumnal purple patch.
Both were reunited in the same starting XI for the first time since Gameweek 19 and, unsurprisingly, gave Spurs more of an attacking impetus than the more defence-first Japhet Tanganga (£4.9m) and Ben Davies (£4.6m).
While far from Luke Shaw‘s (£5.1m) levels of creativity, the pair do sit in the top ten for ‘big chances created per 90 minutes’ among FPL defenders.
Also to be noted is the recent redeployment of Tanguy Ndombele (£5.9m) as a deeper midfielder alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£4.9m).
Operating as a number ten for much of the season, Mourinho’s decision to shift Ndombele back is an attacking move on two fronts. One, it frees up an extra spot for a Lucas or an Erik Lamela (£5.7m) behind Kane. And two, Ndombele is simply better on the ball than Moussa Sissoko (£4.7m) or Harry Winks (£5.1m) in the double-pivot.
A whopping 92% of his passes in the opposition half were successful against Burnley, with his total of 29 successful passes forward (ie not meaningless, crab-like distribution) the best of any midfielder or forward on show in north London.
So with Bale’s renaissance, the return of two offensive full-backs and a change of role for Ndombele, is this a new attack-minded Spurs we Fantasy managers can get excited about in the run-in?
The Fulham test on Thursday will perhaps be a better gauge of that, as the Cottagers are one of the division’s most in-form defences.
POPE FALLIBLE AFTER ALL
As for Burnley, this was a rare day to forget defensively and the first time that Nick Pope (£5.6m) has shipped more than two goals in a single match since Gameweek 7.
Despite the paragraph title, the England international wasn’t really to be blamed for any of Spurs’ four strikes and actually kept the score down with two excellent second-half saves from Kane and Son.
It was a performance in reverse of what we would expect from the Clarets, in that they looked suspect at the back and offered quite a bit of threat going in the opposite direction – only to be undone by the profligacy or poor touch of Matej Vydra (£4.8m), in particular.
The midweek visit of a tired-looking Leicester side set to be without creative sparks James Maddison (£7.3m) and Harvey Barnes (£6.9m) should give Sean Dyche’s side the perfect chance to bounce back from a defensive perspective, while Chris Wood (£6.2m) could be fit enough to lead the line for the first time since January.
Tottenham Hotspur XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier (Doherty 81′), Sanchez, Alderweireld, Reguilon; Ndombele, Hojbjerg; Bale (Lamela 70′), Lucas (Alli 66′), Son; Kane.
Burnley XI (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brownhill, Cork (Stephens 81′), Westwood, McNeil; Rodriguez (Richardson 88′), Vydra (Wood 73′).
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