West Ham 3-2 Leicester
- Goals: Jesse Lingard (£6.4m) x2, Jarrod Bowen (£5.9m) | Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.9m) x2
- Assists: Vladimir Coufal (£4.6m), Bowen, Tomas Soucek (£5.3m) | Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m), Marc Albrighton (£5.2m)
- Bonus points: Iheanacho x3 Lingard x2 Bowen x2
Two more goals added to the Jesse Lingard (£6.4m) hype train, which even a late Kelechi Iheanacho (£5.9m) double couldn’t derail.
The in-form striker’s brace did, however, deny the England midfielder the maximum bonus point award, although Lingard still produced a third straight double-digit haul for his 22.8% ownership.
Lingard continues to fly high since making his loan move to West Ham.
He now has eight goals and four assists in nine starts for David Moyes’ men – that’s just two assists shy of his best season at Manchester United (2017/18), but from about 1,000 minutes less pitch-time.
Unsurprisingly, he’s put on over a million managers in FPL over the past three Gameweeks.
Small wonder that Lingard’s ownership levels are rising yet again following Sunday’s star turn and he currently tops the transfers-in table ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Newcastle.
That starts a generally favourable run-in for West Ham during which they will host Chelsea and Everton, but also travel to Burnley, Brighton and West Brom before a final-day home fixture against Southampton.
With a Champions League place now entirely in their own hands, Moyes is unlikely to tinker with his side any more than necessary, further ramping up the appeal of Lingard and his team-mates.
Bowen For Gold
One enforced change for Moyes was replacing the injured Michail Antonio (£6.6m) up front, with Jarrod Bowen (£5.9m) stepping in and stepping up.
He scored for the third straight match, with an assist taking him to a first double-digit score since Gameweek 10.
Should he continue as a frontman, his low cost and ownership (1.8%) make him a strong differential candidate for those looking to steal a march on mini-league opponents.
It is also worth pointing out that Lingard’s latest haul was largely unaffected by Antonio’s absence, further boosting his long-term Fantasy credentials.
On the downside for West Ham, and owners of their defenders, they made it three straight weeks of either blowing, or nearly blowing, a three-goal lead.
Their most popular asset, (and FPL’s most owned defender), Aaron Cresswell (28.3%), spared his managers that pain by limping off with a hamstring injury after 52 minutes. His owners’ agony was one of a different kind, his substitution occurring eight minutes before he would have claimed a clean sheet and his first-half booking meant he scored zero points in Gameweek 31.
Speaking post-match, Moyes was unsure as to the extent of the issue for Cresswell, and also for Mark Noble (£4.5m), who injured his elbow.
“My biggest concern would be we really can’t afford to lose too many more players through injury because it will affect our performances as we go along.” – David Moyes
The pair will undergo scans this week, with any Cresswell news especially relevant for many Fantasy managers.
At least the 5.5% on Vladimir Coufal (£4.6m) gained assist points for the second straight game to offset the goals conceded, but the Hammers’ backline is looking rather too generous to encourage investment at present.
Not So Cunning Foxes
Leicester were poor in the first half, improved in the second and, in Iheanacho, have a red-hot striker.
His brace took him to seven goals from his last five starts, four of which have come with maximum bonus awards, and he now has an ownership (8.3%) bordering on the respectable.
Like Lingard, he’s attracting more managers for Gameweek 32, and the Foxes’ immediate schedule – West Brom, Crystal Palace and Newcastle at home, Southampton away – certainly warrants that interest.
Crucially, he has outscored Jamie Vardy (£10.1m) by 52 points to 23 since Double Gameweek 26, besting him for 21 attempts on goal to nine during the same period.
Many Fantasy bosses would have been hoping to evaluate the form of James Maddison (£7.2m) ahead of those fixtures.
But a Covid-19 breach by the midfielder led his manager, Brendan Rodgers, to drop him (and two others) from the match-day squad.
“We’ve dealt with that. The players are disappointed. They’re good boys, they’re not going to get thrown away. We’ll draw a line under it. They’ll rejoin us next week and we will prepare for the (FA Cup) semi-final.” – Brendan Rodgers
Defensive options remain limited in a side with just one clean sheet since Gameweek 23, although Ricardo Pereira (£5.9m) underlined his attacking credentials with an assist and a match-leading 11 penalty area touches.
West Ham United XI (3-4-1-2): Fabianski; Cresswell (Balbuena 53), Diop, Dawson; Masuaku, Soucek, Noble (Johnson 82), Coufal; Fornals; Bowen (Benrahma 84), Lingard.
Leicester City XI (3-5-2): Schmeichel; Fofana, Evans, Amartey (Thomas 45); Castagne, Praet (Albrighton 59), Ndidi, Tielemans, R Pereira; Vardy, Iheanacho.
SHEFF UTD 0-3 Arsenal
- Goals: Alexandre Lacazette (£8.3m) x2, Gabriel Martinelli (£4.9m)
- Assists: Danny Ceballos (£4.7m), Nicolas Pepe (£7.6m) Thomas Partey (£4.9m)
- Bonus points: Lacazette x3 Rob Holding (£4.2m) x2 Ceballos x1
Alexandre Lacazette (£8.3m) made it four goals in six Gameweeks as Arsenal swept aside an increasingly awful Sheffield United.
So poor were the Blades that the brave souls still invested in the likes of Bernd Leno (£5.0m) or Rob Holding (£4.2m) – and that’s nearly 11% of FPL managers all in – were treated to clean sheet points for the first time in nine matches.
But it was more about the Gunners’ attacking fluency at Bramall Lane, with Lacazette’s opener a fitting finish to a clever flicked assist from the impressive Dani Ceballos (£4.7m).
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has not been afraid to play his younger stars this season and, in the absence of three key attackers, he handed Gabriel Martinelli (£4.9m) a rare start in what has been an injury-hit campaign.
The striker responded with a goal, but the match was more forgettable for fellow starlet Bukayo Saka (£5.2m), who had only just come back from another issue, only to limp off with a thigh problem after 68 minutes.
Arteta was guarded about the injury after the game.
“He had discomfort in his thigh and it’s the last thing that we need because we’re missing some big players at the moment and we don’t want to lose another one. I don’t know the extent. Hopefully, it’s not that serious.” – Mikel Arteta
Some 7.2% of FPL managers will have to wait and see on their man, who could be a key figure in Arsenal’s good run-in, with tricky matches against Everton and Chelsea offset by encounters with four of the bottom five and 13th-placed Crystal Palace.
The problem for anyone considering Arsenal options is Europe, with the Gunners’ only real chance of securing a Champions League place next season involving winning the Europa League.
Should they progress from Thursday’s quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague, Arteta is highly likely to rest key men for the semi-final ties which come before Gameweeks 34 and 35.
That’s a problem for another day, and there is at least only one issue involving Sheffield United players – just don’t own them.
Sheffield United XI (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Baldock, Stevens, Ampadu; Egan, Osborn, Fleck, Lundstram, Norwood; Burke (Brewster 64), McGoldrick (McBurnie 64 ((Mousset 83)).
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Holding, Mari, Xhaka; Ceballos, Partey; Saka (Willian 69), Pepe, Martinelli (Elneny 83); Lacazette (Nketiah 89).
Elsewhere in Gameweek 31
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