Leeds United 0-1 Aston Villa
- Goals: Anwar El Ghazi (£5.3m)
- Assists: Ollie Watkins (£6.5m)
- Bonus: El Ghazi, Emiliano Martinez (£5.3m) x3, Tyrone Mings (£5.4m), Ezri Konsa (£4.6m) x1
Aston Villa continued life without Jack Grealish (£7.6m) in rather more convincing fashion than their previous attempt against Leicester City.
Dean Smith’s side followed up that feeble defeat with a narrow win at Leeds in which their opponents were caught cold by a high-pressing start and then ran out of ideas to find a way past the visitors’ low block after the interval.
With Grealish still injured, and his obvious understudy Ross Barkley (£5.9m) poor last time out, Smith gave Jacob Ramsey (£4.5m) only his second start of the season in midfield.
But it was Anwar El Ghazi (£5.3m) who filled the attacking void created by the skipper, the Netherlands international scoring early and leading the way for attempts on the day, with five.
Real-world aficionado Smith was clearly happy with his team’s performance, but back in Fantasy land, Grealish’s absence wasn’t the biggest news in town.
The most-owned Villa player on display was keeper Emiliano Martinez (£5.3m and 38.7%) and he treated his troops to a third double-digit haul in six starts thanks to three saves and maximum bonus, awarded jointly with El Ghazi.
Kudos, in particular, went to the 14,170 who captained the stopper.
Another popular Villa player, Ollie Watkins (£6.5m and 27%), treated his 318,364 new owners to a first return since Gameweek 23, even if his assist for the winner came from a miscued shot.
The striker went into the match the subject of various (bogus) injury reports, while Martinez ended it with an issue (genuine) that Smith later confirmed led to him having painkillers during the match:
Yeah. He had a tight groin which just restricted him playing out a little bit with our centre-backs taking the goal kicks. I’m not sure what the latest is.
Villa play again on Wednesday, against Sheffield United and Smith has not ruled out the 24.3%-owned Grealish returning for that match.
Many more FPL managers would rather see Martinez still fit for a schedule that looks kindly in the short term and includes a Gameweek 29 fixture, albeit against Spurs.
Leeds’ next few matches are considerably more challenging as they’ll face West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs between now and the end of April.
And they’re currently in a slump, with three defeats in the last four Gameweeks.
A lack of a second fixture in Gameweek 26 meant their key FPL assets all suffered sales heading into the game.
Their most-owned player, Patrick Bamford (£6.8m and 52.7%), was ditched by nearly half a million managers and even the in-form Raphinha (£5.4m and 9.2%) lost a net 88,432 despite producing returns from the previous seven straight Gameweeks.
The midfielder very nearly punished those sellers, only to waste Leeds’ best chance when he fluffed a header from close range late on.
The home team’s other major FPL asset, the 21.1%-owned Stuart Dallas (£5.0m), was returned to the back four by Bielsa, with fellow defender Pascal Struijk (£4.0m) preferred in midfield.
That experiment lasted 52 minutes, with Ezgjan Alioski (£4.4m) brought on and Dallas moved forward.
But the loss further cemented the Northern Ireland international’s boom or bust feel of late. His last six scores have been: 1, 12, -1, 2, 15 and 2.
Leeds XI (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Dallas, Cooper, Llorente, Ayling; Struijk (Alioski 53); Costa (Harrison 64), Roberts (Hernández 71), Klich, Raphinha; Bamford.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-2-1): Martínez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, Elmohamady; Nakamba, McGinn, Ramsey (Sanson 79); El Ghazi (Trézéguet 88), B Traoré; Watkins.
Newcastle United 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Jamaal Lascelles (£4.2m) | Ruben Neves (£5.1m)
- Assists: Ryan Fraser (£5.6m) | Pedro Neto (£5.7m)
- Bonus: Neves x3 Adama Traore (£6.0m) x2 Lascelles x2
A 1-1 draw kept Newcastle United dangerously close to the relegation places and Fantasy managers comfortably distanced from their – or Wolves’ – players.
The most-owned home star was the injured Callum Wilson (£6.5m and 6.5%), with mercurial midfielder Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.1m) next up on 2.5% ownership.
The latter limped off after 62 minutes on Saturday with a groin problem. Magpies manager Steve Bruce also had to deal with a knee issue that forced Miguel Almiron (£5.6m) off at half-time, while Emil Krafth (£4.2m) picked up a knock and was replaced after 71 minutes.
Bruce delivered a specific update on Almiron, and a rather more general one on the other two, post-match:
It’s too early, but for him (Almiron) to come off and be in the state he is in, we fear the worst. He was in distress at half-time. He will have scans on Sunday to see how he is. Unfortunately in the second, we were disrupted again with injuries, so we’ll see how we are tomorrow and hopefully get a few of them back.
Wolves players aren’t much more popular in FPL, although the 7.1%-owned Pedro Neto (£5.7m) produced a third attacking return in five games with the assist for Ruben Neves’ (£5.1m) equaliser.
And while Adama Traore‘s (£6.0m) goalless run continued for a 25th league appearance, he did manage to bring in two bonus points thanks, in the main, to four key passes and an impressive 14 successful take-ons.
Saint-Maximin’s departure indirectly led to Newcastle’s goal, with substitute Ryan Fraser (£5.6m) providing a fine cross for Jamaal Lascelles (£4.2m) to head home.
That put paid to the visitors’ hopes of a third clean sheet in four matches and with Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool to come before a blank Gameweek 29, new investment in their back line is unlikely.
Nuno Espirito Santos’ side is also as goal-shy as Newcastle – they’ve both scored 27 goals from 26 games – so neither team’s attacking assets will merit much consideration either.
Two strikers did come close to breaking the deadlock late on Saturday evening, however.
Joelinton (£5.7m) saw his close-range effort somehow helped over the bar by a Romain Saiss (£4.9m) block, while substitute Fabio Silva (£5.2m) had a point-blank header brilliantly saved by the returning Martin Dubravka (£4.8m).
Newcastle will face fellow strugglers West Brom, Brighton and Burnley over the next five Gameweeks.
There will be tension, there might be drama, but there won’t be many with Fantasy investment in the Magpies for those fixtures.
Newcastle United XI (4-2-3-1): Dúbravka; Lewis, Clark, Lascelles, Krafth (Ritchie 72); Hayden, Shelvey; Saint-Maximin (Murphy 63), Willock, Almirón (Fraser 45); Joelinton.
Wolves XI (3-4-2-1): Wolves XI: Patrício; Saïss, Coady, Dendoncker; Jonny (Aït-Nouri 90+4), Neves, Moutinho, Semedo (Hoever 85); Neto, A Traoré; Willian J (Fábio Silva 82).
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