Burnley 1-2 West Ham United
- Goals: Chris Wood (£6.4m) | Michail Antonio (£6.4m) x2
- Assists: None | Said Benrahma (£5.9m), Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m)
- Bonus: Antonio x3, Coufal, Benrhama x2
The fit-again Michail Antonio (£6.4m) is back on the Fantasy radar after a brace against Burnley on Monday evening.
It was a trademark Antonio display with two opportunistic goals from inside the six-yard box, a spurned ‘big chance’ and lots of positive underlying numbers to back up his eye-catching performance.
Fitness, not form, is Antonio’s main worry from a Fantasy perspective as he seems as likely to pull up with a muscle strain as deliver a monster score; this double-digit haul, oddly, was his first of 2020/21.
David Moyes at least had some positive words to say on his condition after full-time:
I was a little bit surprised, he has come back in better condition than when he dropped out, but we never really felt that he had such a bad injury that it was going to be so serious. But I thought he looked in super condition, he has been working really hard and he deserved his two goals tonight and on another day he should have scored another two so there is a bit of both.
Not that we need another West Ham midfielder to add to the mix but Said Benrahma (£5.9m) produced possibly his best display of the season in Lancashire.
A beneficiary of Moyes’ decision to switch from a wing-back system to a back four, Benrahma lined up on the left of a 4-2-3-1 and had more final-third touches than anyone else on show.
Registering four shots of his own and creating five chances, Benrahma teed up Antonio’s second goal with a superb inswinging cross.
He remains a risky punt, however, particularly if Moyes reverts to a back five as he so often does.
And the West Ham manager has been reluctant to lavish praise on the winger all season, even finding ways to criticise him last night:
I thought Said did a lot of good things tonight, but I thought there were a couple of things which he didn’t do so well which I think people will see as well and we are looking for consistency from him.
He got himself a couple of chances to score and made his chances, but I am hoping we have got [more of] them coming.
While Jesse Lingard (£6.7m) for once took a backseat – his late on-target effort was his only shot of the game – West Ham’s full-backs were again heavily involved.
Aaron Cresswell (£5.6m) returned from injury and created another five chances to add to his impressive season total, while Vladimir Coufal (£4.7m) contributed yet another assist for Antonio’s first strike.
It’s four assists in five matches for Coufal and he is now only two behind Cresswell for the season, with the pair responsible for a remarkable 32.7% of the goals West Ham have scored in 2020/21.
Not that the Hammers’ backline is in particularly good shape from a defensive perspective, as their seven-match clean sheet drought is the joint-longest in the Premier League.
Burnley’s back four has been all at sea for some time now, too, with just one shut-out arriving in their last nine fixtures. Only relegated Sheffield United have conceded more goals and big chances in that time.
The Clarets have been more expansive at the other end of the pitch, however, and Chris Wood (£6.4m) has been profiting as a result.
His early penalty against West Ham was his tenth attacking return in seven appearances.
With a Fulham side who need a win and nothing else up next for Wood and Burnley, there is every chance that Gameweek 35’s trip to Craven Cottage could provide the space he needs to extend his purple patch of form.
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Goals: Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m) | Fabio Silva (£5.2m)
- Assists: Conor Townsend (£4.4m) | Nelson Semedo (£5.3m)
- Bonus: Semedo x3, Diagne, Silva, Sam Johnstone (£4.6m) x2
Wolverhampton Wanderers produced an improved attacking display in the Black Country derby which nevertheless failed to mask ongoing shortcomings.
This fixture brought to an end a four-match run in which they’ve only faced teams in the bottom five of the Premier League table but they have scored on just three occasions over that period, with even their goal against the Baggies – a looping Fabio Silva (£5.2m) ricochet – owing much to good luck.
Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) did rack up an impressive nine saves for the second successive week but the fact that the visitors’ 20 shots all amounted to less than one expected goal (0.98) summed up proceedings.
With Willy Boly (£5.4m) suffering from the effects of ‘long COVID’ and unavailable, Nuno Espirito Santo’s switch to a back four allowed his full-backs to get forward.
Nelson Semedo (£5.3m) grabbed the assist for Silva’s fortuitous effort and the right-back had as many penalty box touches as anyone else on show, also forcing Johnstone into his best stop of the match.
Not that many FPL managers will be much interested in the Wolves backline beyond this week, with the lack of a ‘double’ in Gameweek 35 and some iffy fixtures beyond that killing whatever appeal they may have had.
The fact that they have only kept one clean sheet in 2020/21 when using a back four, plus another unconvincing defensive display at the Hawthorns, will encourage owners of Harry Kane (£11.9m) and co ahead of Gameweek 36.
As for the Baggies, they are all but down but at least going out with something of a bang.
The pressing need for wins has seen them rack up as many goals (11) as any other Premier League team over the last five Gameweeks – but they have also conceded the highest number of shots on target (38) over the same timeframe.
While a subdued Matheus Pereira (£5.5m) couldn’t continue his rich vein of form, forward Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m) did make it five attacking returns in as many matches for the Albion.
And if the Baggies continue to open up in a tricky-looking run-in (they could admittedly be relegated this weekend), then Johnstone will at least likely finish the season where is he is now, as FPL’s leading save-maker.
He will also very probably be among the save points should West Brom get a Double Gameweek 35, with the clash with Liverpool potentially being brought forward.
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