LEEDS UNITED 2-0 CRYSTAL PALACE
- Goals: Jack Harrison (£5.4m) | Patrick Bamford (£6.7m)
- Assists: Stuart Dallas (£4.8m) | Raphinha (£5.3m)
- Bonus: Dallas x3 | Illan Meslier (£4.7m) x3 | Harrison x1 | Liam Cooper (£4.3m) x1
Leeds put on a convincing performance to comfortably see off Crystal Palace 2-0 on Monday evening.
Patrick Bamford (£6.7m) and Raphinha (£5.3m) once again delivered attacking returns and are set to receive added attention ahead of two fixtures for Leeds in Gameweek 25.
But the same cannot be said for Crystal Palace, who looked completely out of ideas without their talisman Wilfried Zaha (£7.1m)
Bamford’s display epitomised why he delights and frustrates FPL managers in equal measure.
Still priced at a modest £6.7m, Bamford was good value for his goal and had the most attempts on goal and shots in the box throughout the game.
But as shown by his attempts, he really should have added to his tally, skying a one-on-one after knocking the ball past Gary Cahill (£4.5m), and miscontrolling a through ball expertly put through by Raphinha.
Still owned by more than half of Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, Bamford looks good value for his price and could start delivering more double-digit hauls if he can find a more clinical edge.
A keen FPL player himself, Bamford revealed he was kicking himself after missing his first chance.
I captained myself. After I missed that one in the first half I was kicking myself so I am glad I scored.
Pundits and FPL players alike who predicted Bamford’s early-season form would come to a halt have been left with egg on their face.
The Elland Road striker and his teammates have shown incredible consistency this campaign, with Bamford having the most attempts, shots in the box, and big chances of all forwards this season.
With Bamford proving he can sustain this level of form, his high ownership could still rise with the Double Gameweek on the horizon.
Players with Bamford may even be looking to double or triple up on assets from Leeds’ impressive attack.
Despite not coming away with any of the bonus points, Raphinha was arguable the best player on the pitch last night.
The Brazilian offered a huge goal threat, bettered only by Bamford, and deserved a lot more than the one assist he came away with.
As well as Bamford’s chance, a wicked set-piece delivery from Raphinha should have been put away by Pascal Struijk (£3.9m), who was guilty of missing two clear chances.
The £17m signing is now stamping his influence on the team, with two goals and three assists in his last four games, and eight returns in nine.
Not even Bamford can boast more FPL points over the same period, and no player in the game has created more goals in the last six Gameweeks.
While Bamford has attracted a 50.1% ownership, Raphinha has stayed largely under the radar.
Despite his impressive run of form, his price has even dropped twice over the last five Gameweeks.
At £5.3m and with 2.3% ownership, he offers a fantastic route into covering Bamford’s points for those who have missed the boat
Also, owners of Bamford may even want to consider doubling up on two of the game’s most in-form players.
Stuart Dallas (£4.8m) recorded maximum bonus points for the second time this season to add to his assist in creating Leeds’ first goal for Jack Harrison (£5.4m)
Marcelo Bielsa’s tactical tweak in moving Dallas further up the pitch has made him even more of a threat going forward than he was at full-back.
As well as setting up the goal for Harrison, Dallas showed he wasn’t afraid of taking on a shot, hitting two from outside the box.
Even with Leeds’ woes at the back, Dallas’ points haul puts him fourth overall out of all defenders in the league, and above highly owned options such as Ben Chilwell (£5.9m) and Andy Robertson (£7.3m).
Leeds’ defensive displays this season, where they have accumulated the second-highest expected goals conceded rating (xGC), will be enough to put some managers off investing in their defence.
But Dallas has the attacking potential to offset this, coupled with a good run of fixtures.
Bielsa’s post-match comments – see below – also perhaps hinted at a renewed focus on defence going forward.
MARCHING ON TOGETHER
What was expected to be a close game turned out to be anything but, with Leeds running out comfortable winners.
Their excellent attacking play has been on display all season but their solid defensive work against Palace caught the eye.
Monday night’s game saw them restrict the visitors to only three attempts on target.
Palace also finished the game with an expected goals rating (xG) of 0.36, which compared to Leeds’ of 1.92, shows how dominant they were in victory.
Speaking after the game, manager Marcelo Bielsa said it had been a target to keep a clean sheet.
We could have scored a few more goals. We defended well, we conceded very few chances, the performance of the team was even and constant.
(A clean sheet) was an objective for today. It was very important we didn’t concede a goal today.
The only bad news coming out of the game was midfielder Kalvin Phillips (£4.9m), a vital part of their attacking and defensive play, limping off near the end of the game.
However, it will be hoped the injury is not too serious, with Phillips on his feet congratulating team-mates at full-time.
Even the most diehard Leeds fan will struggle to claim their side has turned a corner after facing one of the league’s worst attacks, without their most influential player.
But it could be worth keeping an eye on Leeds’ defensive displays in their next few games.
KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU, ZAHA
Crystal Palace fans fearing their side would miss the influence of Zaha were proved right, as their side lacked any cutting edge to their play.
Taking Zaha’s place was loan signing Jean-Phillipe Mateta (£5.9m), partnering Jordan Ayew (£5.6m) up front.
But without Zaha’s ability to carry the ball up the pitch, Mateta was largely forced back into his own half to go looking for the ball.
Hodgson’s experiment of playing Patrick van Aanholt (£5.4m) further up the pitch also didn’t work, with the manager abandoning it at half-time.
Speaking after the game, a dejected Hodgson admitted his side were well beaten.
“We started both halves badly in terms of the goals we conceded. Both were pretty poor technical errors. You can’t afford to go 1-0 down after three or four minutes and then 2-0 down after 50 minutes and come away with a result unless you play outstanding football but we didn’t play outstanding football unfortunately.
“The bottom line for me is we didn’t pass the ball anywhere near well enough and we have to accept that we lost to the better team. We were not able to pressurise them like they pressurised us. We are a passing team and when we don’t pass the ball well we fall below our standards. We were deservedly beaten but we made life difficult for ourselves.”
With Zaha suffering from a hamstring injury that is likely to keep him out for the next few games, interest in Palace assets will be low.
Without Zaha, Palace have failed to score a single goal and have conceded nine in the four games he has missed, so their immediate future looks bleak, even with a favourable run of games coming up.
Leeds XI (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, Struijk, Alioski; Phillips (Shackleton 88); Harrison, Klich, Dallas, Raphinha; Bamford
Crystal Palace XI (4-4-2): Guaita; Clyne, Dann, Cahill, Mitchell; van Aanholt (Townsend 46), Riedewald, Milivojevic, Eze; Ayew (Benteke 76), Mateta (Batshuayi 65)
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