Aston Villa 0-0 Everton
- Goals: None
- Assists: None
- Bonus points: Emiliano Martínez x3 (£5.4m), Lucas Digne x2 (£6.2m), Ezri Konsa x1 (£4.7m)
Everton defensive assets put on another solid audition for investment as they kept a fourth clean sheet in six against Aston Villa.
During that period, no Premier League team has registered as many shutouts as the Toffees, who face two appealing fixtures in the next two Gameweeks.
Sheffield United and Wolves are the last two sides to visit Goodison Park this season, who have five goals across their respective last five matches combined.
Lucas Digne (£6.2m) and Ben Godfrey (£5.0m) have been the chief beneficiaries of Everton’s defensive returns of late.
The latter finished Triple Gameweek 35 as the Toffees’ top-scoring asset with 18 points, offering decent value in recent weeks.
He has claimed maximum bonus points in two of Everton’s last three clean sheets and his score of 26 on the Bonus Points System at Villa Park was just short of breaking into the top-three on Thursday night.
Godfrey’s versatility forms part of his appeal, considering he can play as a traditional centre-back, the left-hand option in a back-three, or even at left-back or left wing-back, he has played 90 minutes in all but one match since Gameweek 22.
But it was Digne who earned a share of the bonus against Villa, claiming two of them thanks to his creativity as a left wing-back in a 3-5-2 formation.
He laid on three key passes at Villa Park, more than any other player. And, crucially, over his last six, he is joint-top among Everton players for key passes (eight) and big chances created (two).
That said, Gylfi Sigurdsson (£6.9m) continues to take responsibility for Everton’s direct free-kicks as well as some corners.
Against Everton, Emiliano Martínez (£5.4m) put on a show reminiscent of the winter months as he kept a clean sheet, made five saves and claimed all three bonus.
It was the first time Villa had stopped their opponents scoring since a Gameweek 27 draw with Wolves and the first time Martínez had managed more than four points since the same match.
And whether or not Dean Smith’s men can follow that up with defensive returns in their final three matches remains to be seen.
Not only do they face Crystal Palace (away), Spurs (away) and Chelsea (home) between now and Gameweek 38, they could be without Matt Cash (£5.0m) too.
He came off with a muscle injury against Everton which, if it is a reoccurrence of a hamstring issue sustained against Brighton, would likely end his campaign, according to Smith.
“With Cash, I’m not sure if it’s a re-occurrence of the hamstring (picked up vs Brighton) but he certainly felt his hamstring and, if it is, that’s him out for the last three games. Somebody’s just spoken to him and he didn’t feel bad at all so we’ll see with him.” – Dean Smith
That said, Villa’s attack could be worth more of a look in the last three Gameweeks considering Ollie Watkins (£6.5m) returns from suspension in Blank Gameweek 36 and Jack Grealish (£7.5m) is now back from injury.
He was named on the bench for Thursday’s match and played the final 20 minutes on the left-hand side of a front-three, although Matt Targett (£5.0m) continued taking set pieces upon his arrival.
“It’s really good to have him back. It’s small steps at the moment but it’s great to have him back out there. We’ve got three games now in the next 10 days and we’re hopeful Jack will play a part in all three of them games. Whether it’s Tottenham or Chelsea, we’re hoping to get 90 minutes out of him. He’ll be as fit as can be. He’s a naturally fit player anyway. He’s continued to work on his CV (cardiovascular) with a little bit more off feet and, in training, you don’t see a lack of fitness in him, that’s for sure.” – Dean Smith
Aston Villa XI (4-2-3-1): Martínez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, Cash (El Mohamady 45+2′); D Luiz, McGinn; El Ghazi, Barkley (J Ramsey 65′), B Traoré (Grealish 72′); Davis.
Everton XI (3-5-2): Pickford; Godfrey, Keane, Holgate; Digne, Allan, Sigurdsson (Gomes 67′), Doucouré, Coleman (Iwobi 75′); Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison.
Man United 2-4 Liverpool
- Goals: Bruno Fernandes (£11.5m), Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) | Diogo Jota (£7.0m), Roberto Firmino x2 (£9.0m), Mohamed Salah (£12.7m)
- Assists: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£5.7m), Edinson Cavani (£8.0m) | Nathaniel Phillips (£4.1m), Trent Alexander-Arnold x2 (£7.6m), Curtis Jones (£4.4m)
- Bonus points: Firmino x3, Alexander-Arnold x2, Fernandes x1
The absence of Harry Maguire (£5.6m) was arguably the most telling takeaway from Manchester United’s 4-2 defeat to Liverpool on Thursday night.
The centre-back has now missed two Premier League matches in a row for the first time since moving north from Leicester and in that time, the Red Devils have conceded six goals, as many as they had shipped in their previous 11 outings.
Eric Bailly (£4.8m) has stood in for Maguire in each of the last two but endured another poor evening on Thursday, perhaps opening the door for Axel Tuanzebe (£4.1m) to feature in the Gameweek 37 meeting with Fulham.
“Harry’s been really important for us and really good. We’re going to miss him but he’s out so we’ve got to deal with that. We’ve got good enough players to be able to deal with it. Now it’s about regrouping and start building our confidence and momentum again.” – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
As for Manchester United’s attack, the defeat to Liverpool highlighted the two options facing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s very well.
They began the game with Paul Pogba (£7.6m) stationed on the left-hand side of attacking midfield and Marcus Rashford (£9.6m) on the right.
However, after Liverpool had gone 3-1 up, Solskjaer brought Mason Greenwood (£7.2m) on to replace Fred (£5.3m), shifting Rashford to his stronger side of attacking midfield (the left) and dropping Pogba into a deeper midfield role.
What proceeded was the Red Devils’ most productive period of the match, Rashford cutting in, running through the middle and scoring their second goal.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m) was Liverpool’s standout player, producing two assists and claiming two bonus in the process.
He finished this game joint-top among his colleagues for efforts on goal while no player on the pitch could match his five key passes and two big chances created.
He could have added a third assist late-on as he played a pass from deep, of which Kevin De Bruyne (£11.8m) would have been proud, to put Sadio Mané (£11.7m) through on goal, only for the Senegalese international to take it in with a heavy touch.
With West Bromwich Albion (away) up next for Alexander-Arnold, he was one of the first names on the Blank Gameweek 36 Scout Picks team sheet.
Manchester United XI (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Shaw, Bailly (Matić 86′), Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Fred (Greenwood 63′); Pogba, B Fernandes, Rashford; Cavani.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Robertson, N Phillips, R Williams, Alexander-Arnold; Thiago, Wijnaldum (Jones 74′), Fabinho; Jota (Mané 74′), Firmino, Salah (N Williams 90+2′).
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