Chelsea 0-0 Manchester United
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
- Bonus: Edouard Mendy (£5.1m), Andreas Christensen (£4.7m) x3, David de Gea x1
An instantly forgettable match at Stamford Bridge saw Manchester United draw a blank against a fellow ‘big six’ team yet again.
The two goalkeepers and Chelsea stopper Andreas Christensen (£4.7m) took home the bonus points in west London, which gives the impression the game had more goalmouth action than it actually did.
David de Gea (£5.3m) did make one excellent stop to keep out Hakim Ziyech (£7.9m) and Olivier Giroud (£6.7m) was inches away from nodding in a teasing right-wing cross but clear-cut chances were scarce, with the visitors managing just two efforts in the opposition area.
FRANK (ASSESSMENT ON) BRUNO
A first blank in five matches for Bruno Fernandes (£11.6m) arrived at an inopportune time for Fantasy managers who had backed him with the armband in Gameweek 26.
The Portugal international was well shackled throughout, with his expected goal involvement (xGI) total a paltry 0.09 against the Blues.
It has to be pointed out that, had there been a different referee than Stuart Attwell in charge at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, we could be sitting here talking about the Portuguese playmaker’s latest double-digit haul.
But this ended up being groundhog day for Fernandes, who has scored only one goal – a penalty, naturally – against the classic ‘big six’ this season.
He’s not created a single ‘big chance’ in any of his seven matches against the traditional elite and has been presented with only one gilt-edged opportunity of his own from open play.
But this isn’t (just) a Fernandes problem, it’s a United one: their last six results against ‘big six’ opposition are: 0-0, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0 and 0-0.
There is a multitude of theories as to why this is: everything from the mental scars of the 6-1 defeat to Spurs and a desire to keep the Champions League-chasing pack at bay to a drop-off in opposition pressing have been floated.
The current lack of an in-form striker, with Edinson Cavani (£7.9m) injured and Anthony Martial (£8.7m) in dire form, doesn’t help, either.
Whatever the reason, United’s defenders now look like better bets than Fernandes and co in these high-profile games, the next of which is this weekend’s Manchester derby.
Five of the Red Devils’ nine clean sheets this season have come against Chelsea (twice), Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal.
Chelsea’s collective frontline isn’t a great deal better on current form: their eight goals scored under Thomas Tuchel has been bettered by nine other teams over the same timeframe.
And then there is the week-to-week uncertainty over who starts in attack – more of which below.
It’s the Blues’ backline that has really caught the eye from an FPL perspective, with five clean sheets banked in their last seven outings.
With the wing-backs as vulnerable to rotation as the forward players, it’s Chelsea’s centre-halves that are starting to increase in appeal.
Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.7m) has quietly gone about his business under his new manager, averaging 6.3 points per match and starting every Premier League game since the change in the hot seat. The budget-friendly Antonio Rudiger (£4.6m) retains his ever-present starter tag, too.
Gameweeks 30-34 look like a good time to pounce, for those not already on the Chelsea rearguard bandwagon.
Bar Azpilicueta and one or two others, tapping into this Chelsea team from a Fantasy perspective is fraught with risks on the rotation front.
Timo Werner (£9.2m) and Marcos Alonso (£5.7m) were the latest victims of Thomas Tuchel’s tinkering, dropping to the bench for this dour draw.
Missing altogether was Tammy Abraham (£7.1m), whose absence Tuchel explained:
We have a strong squad. We have only Thiago Silva injured. It means you have to take hard decisions. It was about judging all the alternatives we had. We opted for Oli [Giroud] to begin, with Timo [Werner] on the bench. We had Kai [Havertz] who can play as a number nine.
Right wing-back Callum Hudson-Odoi (£5.7m) was substituted prematurely for the second week in a row, meanwhile, with his manager explaining his half-time withdrawal:
A little bit injured. It was a tactical reason and a little injury, a combination because we switched to a back five in defence. That was not an option to use Callum there, and that’s why it was a tactical choice.
Chelsea XI (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi (James 45), Kante, Kovacic, Chilwell; Ziyech (Werner 78), Mount; Giroud (Pulisic 65).
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; James, Fernandes, Rashford; Greenwood (Martial 79).
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